Hornady 180 grain HAP review

I mentioned the other day that I tried out some 180 grain Hornady Action Pistol (HAP) bullets. In one test of a 20 shot group they gave me better accuracy that any pistol bullet I can recall. I usually shoot a six shot group and “on a good day” get about a 1.5 inch group with the same load with 180 grain Montana JHPs. Using the group calculation feature of Modern Ballistics I converting the 20 shot group into the equivalent six shot group and got 1.26 inches. Hence HAP does appear to be have significantly better accuracy. I’ll shoot some more groups just for fun sometime, but the accuracy criterion for switching bullets, all other things being equal is “nearly as good” as the Montana Gold JHP. It more than meets this criterion.

I also measured the weight variation of the bullets. This is rather important because it can affect whether your ammo will “make major” power factor at USPSA matches. If the chrono man pulls a light bullet or two to compute your power factor you could end up shooting minor power factor.

Here are the results:

Mean 180.1
Std Deviation 0.224
Min 179.5
Max 180.4
ES 0.9
Bullet 1 180.2
Bullet 2 179.5
Bullet 3 179.8
Bullet 4 180.0
Bullet 5 180.0
Bullet 6 180.0
Bullet 7 180.4
Bullet 8 180.2
Bullet 9 180.0
Bullet 10 180.3
Bullet 11 180.2
Bullet 12 179.8
Bullet 13 180.1
Bullet 14 180.3
Bullet 15 180.2
Bullet 16 180.0
Bullet 17 180.2
Bullet 18 180.3
Bullet 19 180.4
Bullet 20 180.0

The extreme spread on the weight distribution would make a different of about +/- 0.44. This isn’t a big deal.

180 grain Montana Gold JHP have a tighter weight distribution but this is much better than what I measured with 180 grain .401 bullets from Black Bullet International.

The weight distribution is acceptable to me.

I loaded all 500 bullets and found something a little irritating:

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Five (only four shown here) of the bullets had the hollow point clogged with what looked like cleaning media, perhaps ground corn cobs. It was easy to remove the foreign material from the bullets but I have never seen this in the 120K+ rounds I have reloaded. It’s not a big deal but I was surprised they would have a process which would allow this to be possible.

Overall their bullets meet my criteria even though they are a little more expensive than the Montana Gold I am currently using. I am switching bullets because they told New York they would not knowingly sell products to them.

Rounds in the last month

I reloaded 3,300 rounds of .40 S&W last month. 3,206 of those rounds were 180 grain Montana Gold JHP to be used for practice at indoor ranges. 94 rounds were 180 grain Hornady Action Pistol (HAP) bullets. The HAPs were those I ordered last May in response to the President of Hornady Manufacturing Company saying they would not knowingly allow there ammunition to be sold to the Government of the State of NY or any NY agencies.

Yesterday I tested the HAP rounds and found they were nearly identical in the mean standard deviation of the velocity for the same powder charge as what I get with the Montana Gold JHP. The accuracy appears to be better. Here is a 20 round group at 30 feet (1.75” of which some of the error was surely mine):

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The price isn’t quite as good as the Montana Gold bullets but I think I will switch over to the HAP bullets when I finish up the Montana Gold bullets because of Hornaday refusing to do business with New York.

This is by far the most number of rounds I have reloaded in a single month all year. And taking into consideration that I used a lot of my “reloading time” to install and get a new reloading press set up I’m very pleased. I also spent a fair amount of time individually checking the length of about 2,300 cartridges which had the potential to have a double charge which blew up my STI DVC Limited. No double charges found so far but I have about another 2000 rounds to go.

I purchased the Dillon XL650 mostly because of the powder check stage. This gives a buzzer warning if there is no powder or a double charge in a case. This should prevent another blown up gun. A bonus is that the new press with the automatic case feeder gives me almost double the production rate of the Dillon 550B press. This is why I was able to get so many rounds out this month.

Also, if you are a reloader, get the LED lights for your press. They give you a much better view of what you are doing:

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The picture above is of both presses with only the press lights on. With room lights on as well the reloading area is exceptionally well lit which makes it easier to see if something is a little off.

This brings the rounds year to date to 12,228. With the new press it should be pretty easily to meet my goal of getting to 16K by the end of the year. I may even exceed my previous best year of 23,356.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 4,813 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
40 S&W: 90,393 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 121,201  rounds

Free ammo for a year

Widener’s has a raffle for “free ammo for a year”. It’s not really all the ammo I would shoot in a year if it was free. It is a gift card for $1500 which might cover my .22 LR needs but wouldn’t come close to my total consumption. But, a $1500 gift card is nothing to be sneered at.

To enter the raffle visit this blog post and give them your email address in the edit box at the top of the blog post.

I’ve purchased stuff from them over the years (almost $2200 worth in the last 2.5 years) and I almost always check them for price and availability when I am purchasing reloading supplies. I sometimes find interesting things which I couldn’t find anywhere else. An example would be SS109 bullets for .223 in large quantities.

Full disclosure: I was contacted via email by Widener’s about this “free ammo for a year” raffle. If I linked to their blog post about the free ammo they offered to give me a $25.00 gift card and entry in a different raffle with other bloggers who also posted about their raffle.

New shooter report

Sheryl isn’t a first time shooter. But she didn’t have much experience. She recently moved here from the Philippines and Calvin, her former Marine husband, did teach her to shoot. Calvin likes to drive up in the mountains on Forest Service and even unmarked dirt roads and yesterday they showed Barb and I a wonderful viewpoint east of Snoqualmie Pass:

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After getting off the mountain we went to the range where both of them shot a .22 with a suppressor. I gave Calvin a couple of suggestions and let him shoot by himself. I spent a lot more time with Sheryl and here is the result of her first target from about 10 feet away with 10 shots per bullseye:

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I then had them shooting five shots with the requirement that each shot be on a different bullseye from the previous to simulate a Steel Challenge type stage. Then I put them on the shot timer. I told Sheryl that I thought with a little practice she could do it in about five seconds—one second per shot. “No way!”, she said. I told her at first I expected something on the order of seven or eight seconds but we could get her somewhere in the range of five today.

It took a little bit for them to settle down and not get misses but when we were done Sheryl did better than Calvin with one string at 4.44 (IIRC). Calvin’s best was 5.15 (IIRC).

I moved them back to about 20 feet and Calvin did better. Sheryl kept trying to shoot the same speed as at the shorter range and had misses. A another trip or two to the range is going to be required before I take them to a match.

I then put them on my STI Eagle chambered in .40 S&W with low recoil loads:

CherylJoe

They both did well but Sheryl, in particular, had problems with the gun not fully cycling. I gave her a few major power factor loads. She did just fine with them but with the heavier gun, large grip, and her small hands I could tell she was getting tired. It was time to clean up and called it quits for the day anyway so that’s what we did.

Quote of the day—Reggie Reg Davis

The bullets, they do the killing, they kill. It’s up to us to figure out a way to wrap laws around the purchasing of ammunition.

Reggie Reg Davis
Wayne County Commissioner (Detroit)
September 16, 2018
Wayne County leader wants to make it harder to buy bullets
[No.

Just as “wrapping laws” around the purchase of alcohol and other recreational drugs didn’t improve society the restriction of a specific enumerated right not only won’t improve society it will be an infringement upon the natural right to defend ourselves.

People can make ammunition from scrap metal a few relatively simple tools. Just as with recreational drugs, it won’t be of the highest quality but it will be good enough to get the job done. And it this case the job will be restoring our rights.

Reggie Reg Davis, Molṑn labé.—Joe]

Cost/benefit of reloading

The Gun Feed linked to my post about the double charge with the link text of “Reloading Kaboom: All costs savings is lost when your gun blows up…

At first thought you might agree. But it depends on how many rounds you reloaded before you lose a gun and the cost of replacement or repair of the gun. Assuming my gun is a total loss, I doubt this is true but lets go for worst case, I will have to have saved about $3200 to break even.

My worst case reloading cost (buying once fired brass) of .40 S&W is practice ammo. This is $0.24 per round. The ammo I use for matches is $0.19 per rounds. If I reuse my own fired brass then the cost drops to $0.19 and $0.14 per rounds. Let’s go with worst case reloading costs…

Getting the cheapest brand I recognize from Midway USA in one case (1000 rounds) lots results in $0.329 per round after shipping.

Hence by reloading I’m saving, at least, $0.089 per round. In order to pay for a new gun I would have to reload $3200/$0.089 rounds. This works out to about 36,000 rounds.

I have actually reloaded and fired about 84,000 rounds in .40 S&W. So by reloading, even if I have to buy a new gun, I still have saved nearly $4,500.

Plus, having learned the lesson of how a can get a double charge with this load I can either change loads to completely avoid this or modify my quality control procedures to reduce the chances.

This was using the worst case cost for reloaded ammo. It also doesn’t take into account that my reloads are lower recoil than factory loads and result in less wear on the gun. My actual savings is quite a bit greater than the calculations above indicate. Hence, in this case, the headline writer for The Gun Feed is wrong.

Double charged

Yesterday I invited people to guess what this was:

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chiefjabboby, using some rather flowerily language, got it right. Drew Rinella was more straight forward with a more complete, and correct, answer.

Below, on the left, is a normal primer which has been fired. The primer above is in the middle below. Most of what is left of the case is on the right. The rest of the case is stuck in the chamber of my STI DVC Limited (chambered in .40 S&W).IMG_0795AllCropped

I strongly suspect I got a double charge in one of my reloads. I didn’t think it was possible. It’s true, as I told myself when I started using this load, that a double charge would not allow the bullet to be fully seated. But I didn’t actually try it.The bullet compresses the double charge and the powder pushes the bullet part way out. But it’s only about 0.040 over the usual overall length (OAL). So, it’s quite possible I overlooked this during my final inspection.

The magazine was blown out of the gun and forcibly disassembled. This was essentially all I could find of the pieces. Note the spring is all crooked. What doesn’t show up is that the feed lips are quite a bit wider than a normal magazine.

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There was some damage to the gun. I had to hammer it to get the slide open and the ripped apart shell casing out. I suspect the slide is beyond repair. The ejector pins were sheared off but it’s possible they were broken before the incident. The extractor was loose in the slide and the metal below the head of the extractor was pushed down and slightly torn:

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I was not hurt but there were strange smoke patterns on my hands where gases came out of all the gaps between the slide, frame, and grip:

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My face got peppered with tiny bits of something and stun for a few minutes but it did not break the skin. I had a slightly shadow on my face around my safety glasses giving me a bit of a raccoon appearance.

I disassembled the gun to examine everything carefully. Here is what a mostly disassembled STI DVI Limited looks like:

IMG_0800Cropped

I plan to reassemble it and ship it off to STI to see if they can repair it. And before I use any more of  that ammo I’m going measure the OAL on every cartridge (I think I can use a case gauge). I have a backup gun which I used at a USPSA match today. And I expect I will be using is for a quite a while. STI is notoriously slow in turn around time and I may have to buy a brand new gun. And the last time I checked the wait times were quite long for new guns.

I put about 45,000 rounds through it. This is more than the approximately 40,000 rounds I got out of my STI Eagle 5.1 before it had a serious failure and became my backup gun.

It’s probably time for me to buy another gun regardless of whether the DVC Limited can be repaired or not. Heavy sigh…

Rounds in the last month

I reloaded 2396 rounds of .40 S&W last month. It was all 180 grain Montana Gold JHP to be used for practice at indoor ranges. I just brought home another 7,500 of these type of bullets as I was getting really low.

This is the most number of rounds I have reloaded in a single month all year but it’s about 400 fewer than I reloaded in August of last year.

This brings the rounds for the year to date to 8,928. I hope to break 10,000 rounds for the year this month and maybe get to 16K by the end of the year..

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 4,813 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
40 S&W: 87,093 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 117,901  rounds

New shooter report

We have a relatively new intern on my team at work, Nashwa. She grew up in Texas and speaks fondly of it so I figured she was at least comfortable around gun owners. I had taken everyone else on the team, except my boss Jodie, to the range but not Nashwa.

I have invited Jodie many times. While she expresses great interest she has not found a time slot that works. I give her a pass because she recently finished up training with the FBI where she learned to shoot everything from handguns to sniper rifles. I’ll get her to the range someday but today was Nashwa’s day.

I had the training bay reserved just for the two of us from 4:00 –> 6:00. It turns out she had never fired a gun before. I asked if she was right handed or left handed. “Right”. Which eye is dominant? “Right”. I was a little surprised she knew. My surprise must have shown because she then said she wasn’t sure. I did a quick test and found she was left eye dominant. I first taught her shooting left handed and then part way through switched to right handed for a while. She decided to stay with left handed shooting.

I started her out with dry firing of a Ruger 22/45 Light with a suppressor. She looked like she had it down. But her first half dozen real shots were all high. Nice group. But they were about three inches high at 10 feet. I went over sighting again. Still the same problem.

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I fired a few shots. It was maybe a quarter inch low at that range.

We went over the sighting again. “Oh, I wasn’t really looking at what was going on with the rear sight.” Hmm… I’ll have to work on how I explain sights.

I gave her a clean target and she was putting them just below the bulls-eye:

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Ahhh… Yes. The new shooter smile.

I moved her to shooting a simulated steel match with four targets on one piece of paper and removed the suppressor.

She was getting all five hits in under ten seconds.

Next I gave her Major Power Factor loads in my STI DVC Limited. With essentially the same results. But after a few strings the misses started increasing and getting more and more wild. It was time to go back to the .22.

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She still had some misses. Back to dry fire. We needed to end the day on a positive note.

The dry fire looked good. I pretended to put in a loaded magazine and she “fired” again. There was some serious movement of the gun when she pulled the trigger. More dry fire. And then, finally, live fire. She was back to consistent, solid, hits  I shouldn’t have let her fire so many rounds through the .40. She was starting to develop a flinch.

After we cleaned up and packed things up we talked a little bit. She had two questions:

  1. Q: How much do I owe you?
    A: Nothing. The first time is free for new shooters.
  2. Q: How often do you come here? I would like to go again.
    A: Two or three times a week. But you don’t need for me come with you. You can come here by yourself if you want or bring a friend anytime they are open.

We now have a new member in the gun community and a team member at work that fits right in.

Steel match results

As I posted yesterday two new shooters, Chris and Vic, were preparing for todays steel match at Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club on Whidbey Island. We were on the same ferry and chatted on the way across the sound:

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Today’s stages were a bit more difficult than usual and prone to penalties:

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Stage one, above, required the shooter to shoot the white plate four times then shoot the yellow stop plate. This was fairly easy but I was handicapped by the fact that I can’t count very fast. They told me after I had finished that I was shooting the white plate five times instead of six.

Ignore the cardboard to the left of the two steel plates.

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Stage two was one of the tough stages. It was very easy to hit the stop plate and incur the miss penalties for the white plates not yet hit.

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Stage three was a much more typical stage but it was still a bit difficult with the two small plates on the right.

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Stage four was another fairly typical stage. Moderate sized plates at a moderate distance.

20180825_114722Stage five was rather evil. Four large plates and then a tiny plate in front of a “no-shoot” plate (I’m pretty sure this is outside the rule book of any steel match types I have ever seen). A hit on the “no-shoot” plate incurred a six second penalty.

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This deer can be seen in the picture of stage five. Look at the center of the pictures at the top of the berm. It left as soon as we started shooting.

I thought stage four was the easiest stage. But compared to me, Vic and Chris actually did better on stage five

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This is Vic shooting stage 1.

Vic and Chris did good for new shooters. Complete match results are here. Vic and Chris shot in the rimfire, iron sighted pistol division:

Rimfire PI Iron
Final Name ISSA# Division Time 1: Bay 1 2: Bay 2 3: Bay 3 4: Bay 4 5: Bay 5
1 Huffman, Joe RPII 65.99 8.57 12.78 16.77 15.30 12.57
2 Koch, David RPII 102.13 10.37 24.00 30.99 20.62 16.15
3 Speck, Greg RPII 123.37 12.51 30.21 32.27 32.38 16.00
4 Carson, Vick RPII 146.08 17.26 35.00 27.69 47.39 18.74
5 Stone, Christopher RPII 213.69 22.48 49.38 46.44 68.64 26.75

I also shot in the centerfire, iron sighted pistol division:

Centerfire Pistol
Iron
Final Name ISSA# Division Time 1: Bay 1 2: Bay 2 3: Bay 3 4: Bay 4 5: Bay 5
1 Alldredge,
Thomas
CPI 81.78 10.98 23.65 17.00 16.05 14.10
2 Huffman,
Joe
CPI 88.24 12.68 21.84 20.51 18.18 15.03
3 Bigby,
Alexander
CPI 97.94 12.28 31.81 19.91 18.48 15.46
4 Sun,
Eric
CPI 119.64 11.97 33.49 27.56 28.72 17.90
5 Koch,
David
CPI 132.40 16.21 29.95 25.13 41.63 19.48

Update: Vic gave me some pictures he took—with his drone:

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New shooter report

A few days ago a co-worker, Vic, told me he had someone call him up from “back home” (the Washington D.C. area). It was a young guy, Chris, who just got a job (Support Engineer) at Microsoft and didn’t know anyone in the area except Vic. So Vic has been “taking him under his wing” and helping him get settled in. Vic asked if I would take Chris to the range and teach him to shoot and prepare him to participate in the Fun Steel match at Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club tomorrow. Vic has been wanting to go for several months but never followed through on it. This time, with Chris needing to do something fun and different over the weekend, it looks like Vic will be following through.

Vic was in the Air Force many years ago and had mostly rifle training with a small amount of pistol training. When I took him to the range he was using a “cup and saucer” grip and I offered some coaching. He readily agreed and he picked it up really quick. His accuracy was good and his speed was great for a relatively new pistol shooter.

Chris, on the other hand, had never shot a pistol. He shot a little bit of rifle when in the Boy Scouts several years ago. We started out with the grip, stance, and dry fire. After about 20 “shots” with me chanting the mantra, “Trigger prep. Sight alignment. Squeeze. Follow through.” Chris got to the point where there were no noticeable wobbles of the gun as the hammer fell on the Ruger 22/45. I loaded the gun and told him to keep doing exactly what he had been doing. There wouldn’t be any significant recoil and the suppressed .22 would be very quiet. The target was at 3 yards and the first shots were just to the left of the bullseye. Out of the first 20 shots only one was out of the black with several in the bull (see the right target in the picture below).

We brought the target back and talked a little bit about his shots. I told him things were looking good and to add something new. Keep his focus on the front sight at all times.

He took another 20 shots. It was a much tighter group with more shots in the bull.

Here’s that new shooter smile and his target:

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I took the suppressor off and told him we were going into competition mode. I had him start with the gun pointed at the floor ahead of him, told him about the range commands for steel matches, and told him to shoot five rounds, hitting three targets once and one target twice. His first string was almost funny. He was a little too excited and only put holes in the general vicinity of the targets. I told him to calm down a bit and remember the mantra, “Trigger prep. Sight alignment. Squeeze. Follow through.” for every shot. The next strings were much better. He shot about another 60 rounds at various ranges as if they were strings of fire for the steel match and only had about a half dozen misses. I used the shot timer for about half of those and we could see his times getting better while maintaining good hits.

He is very unlikely to win the match tomorrow but I think he will do well enough to feel good about the experience. Zero to match shooting in less than 24 hours!

Rounds in the last month

I reloaded 1193 rounds of .40 S&W last month. It was all 180 grain Montana Gold JHP to be used for practice at indoor ranges.

This is just two rounds short of the maximum number of rounds reload in a single month all year. Still, it only brings the rounds year to date to 6,532. By this time last year I had reloaded 12,712 rounds. I probably will make it something over 10,000 rounds for the year but it will be a lot less than the 23,356 I did last year and the 18,265 I reloaded the year before that.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 4,813 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
40 S&W: 84,697 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 115,505 rounds

If you don’t want to get shot don’t try to stab people

Trying to stab people who carry guns is generally a bad idea:

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All the odd red dots are the result of getting shot while trying to stab a bunch of people with a knife.

For the past three days I have been taking a class, Street & Vehicle Tactics with a bunch of other guys. One of the things we did was work at the Tueller Drill from both sides while being watched and coached. Today we finished up the training using Airsoft guns and (extremely soft) plastic knifes to make it as realistic as possible.

Everyone were pretty good shooters and with some training and coaching we could survive a bad guy with a knife suddenly charging at us from far less than 21 feet. At 21 feet it was trivial to draw from concealment and put a half dozen rounds into someone’s chest before they reached you. We also learned that at less than arms length away your neck could easily be sliced open before you had time to flinch.

Also interesting thing was that no one I talked to remembered seeing or using their sights. At those ranges you just pointed and shot. And you would get good hits too. The only misses I saw were when the shooter stepped off to one side and shot as the bad guy was moving past.

Just how difficult is it to draw and shoot when someone is charging at you? How much time do you really have? What can you do beside just stand there and shoot? It was really good information to know.

But what I found most interesting was that by doing so many repetitions that it almost got routine. I started to get relaxed rather than getting stressed. Then, “Now I remember! I can move faster when I am relaxed.” Deliberately relaxing my muscles and having an almost detached state of mind I could put more rounds into my target or let him start from a much closer position and still get shots on target before he could get to me.

Boomershoot 101

This last weekend I put on a trial class I called Boomershoot 101: Target Production, High Intensity, and Intro to Long Range.

The students made the reactive targets from basic chemicals (photos by Brian, Chris, and Kim):

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They learned safe gun handling and how to shoot an AR-15:

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They distributed targets:

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They had their own High Intensity event:

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They learned the basics of long range shooting (and several claimed they could never hit anything that far away):

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They all connected with 7” targets (and some with 4” targets) at 373 yards. And we have the smiles to prove it:

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We all learned a lot. I will modify the class with what I learned for the next set of students. And before long I will subject this set of students to Boomershoot 102: Long Range Math.

Rounds in the last month

I reloaded 797 rounds of .40 S&W this month. It was all 180 grain Montana Gold JHP to be used for practice at indoor ranges. This was not nearly as much as I had hoped for. Things have been very busy on a variety of fronts and I just didn’t have the time to reload as much as I wanted. I did most of my practice with a .22 pistol instead of the .40.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 4,813 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
40 S&W: 83,504 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 114,312 rounds

Friends don’t let friends use Serpa holsters

If you have a Serpa holster please throw it away. Tell others to throw theirs away. Don’t go shooting with people who use Serpa holsters.

If I know you well enough I’ll tell you the story as to how I came to this very firm conclusion via an email request. Otherwise ask me at match or other shooting event. I won’t be blogging about it.

I was not injured.


Update: Apparently some people aren’t familiar with Serpa holsters:

SerpaHolster

The gun is locked into the holster until you depress the unlocking lever with your index finger. You must keep it depressed until the gun is withdrawn maybe an eighth of an inch. What ends up happening is that the index finger keeps on pressing as the gun is completely removed from the holster. There have been many cases of there being an accidental discharge during the draw because the index finger ends up on the trigger and putting sufficient pressure on it to fire the gun before the gun is pointed away from the shooter.

In the report I have in hand what is believed to have happened was the shooter was moving the gun in and out of the holster practicing the release of the lock. When his finger entered the trigger guard on the partial draw and he then pushed the gun back into the holster catastrophe happened. The shooter survived and probably will make an, essentially, full recovery.