Rounds in the last month

As I reported earlier this month I needed to load up a bunch of ammo for the InSights Intensive Handgun Skills class February 20-22. I now have all the ammo I need for that and now I need to start getting a little ahead of the game on practice and match ammo. Plus I need to reload a few hundred rounds of low recoil self-defense and practice ammo in .40 S&W for my student.

In the last month I reloaded just under 2000 rounds of .40 S&W. This gives me the following lifetime totals:

223.log: 2027 rounds.
3006.log: 467 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1351 rounds.
40SW.log: 43650 rounds.
9MM.log: 21636 rounds.
Total: 69131 rounds.

I expect by the first of March I will have reloaded over 70K rounds.

Student shooter update

Remember the student shooter who was having trouble handling the .40 S&W her husband bought her for self defense at home? Remember the light loads I was working on so she could handle the recoil better?

Yesterday she and her husband went to the range with Barb and I. She shot a Ruger SR22* with a suppressor and did great. She shot it without the suppressor and did great. She really liked the Ruger Mark II. And she shot my gun I have had all the problems (also here) with. With about 100 rounds through it yesterday there was only one failure to feed.

Her husband tried the .40 S&W with the two different light loads. The 148 PF (in my gun, probably less in theirs) worked fine. The first round of the 131 PF loads failed to cycle but worked okay after that.

She wanted to shoot the .40 S&W. I had her shoot my gun with the lightest loads. She did fine. No nausea. And her hits stayed on target although they weren’t quit as accurate as when she shot .22s. She tried her gun with the 131 PF loads. She had nothing but failures to extract even when I had her hold the gun more rigid. Moving up to the 148 PF loads fixed the problem although the ejected shell casing just barely popped out of the ejection port. She handled it fine. And I had her shooting at silhouette targets and around corners all without difficulty before our range time was up:


I sent them home with 100 rounds of the 148 PF practice ammo. And now I’m going to load up some of the self-defense Gold Dot Short Barrel bullets in a similar load for them.

Barb handled the 131 PF loads in my gun just fine too. I might load up a few for her self-defense needs as well.

* The SR22 wouldn’t cycle when using CCI Quiet-22 ammo. But it worked great with Standard Velocity. But wow, was it ever quiet.


Speed Steel match results

Last Saturday, January 23rd, I went to Whidbey Island for the steel match. It was a rainy, dreary, day as I road the ferry to the island but I had rain gear and was dressed warm enough to be comfortable.


The weather wasn’t any better at the range and we put up a canopy to keep things a little drier for our little group of die-hard shooters:


I shot my Ruger 22/45 for the iron sighted rimfire division and did okay with it.

With my STI DVC Limited gun I had changed out the sear spring and adjusted it for about 4.75 pounds of trigger pull rather than the 3.5 pounds it came from the factory with which I have never really gotten used to. It worked fine in practice and I was looking forward to using it. It worked fine some times then on other shots it had a much harder trigger pull. The pull was probably something on the order of 10 or 15 pounds. It was sometimes hard enough that my hands shook from pulling the trigger so hard to get it to fire. My times for centerfire pistol sucked.

Name Division Time
Steve Mooney RF-RI-O 47.66
Steve Mooney RF-O 57.63
Joe Huffman RF-I 67.12
Bruce Barchenger CF-I 91.92
Rev Barchenger RF-O 92.36
Joe Huffman CF-I 111.91
Jim Dunlap RF-O 112.08
Scott Bertino CF-I 123.44

67.12 seconds for five stages works out to an average of 3.356 seconds per five shot string. I’m okay with that.

Here are four of the five stages we shot. They started tearing down the fifth stage before I got around to taking a picture:


Steel challenge match results

On January 10th I shot a steel challenge match. I took video and have been meaning to edit it and post it on YouTube but I just haven’t got to it. Virtually no one watches (40 to ~100 views each) them anyway. So I’m just going to link to the results and tell you want happened.

The overall, all divisions, results are here. There were 34 participants and I came in 11th in iron sighted rimfire pistol and 13th in iron sighted centerfire pistol. My times for the four stages were 67.80 in rimfire and 76.58 in centerfire.

In the rimfire, iron sighted, pistol category I was 5th out of 11. I was the only shooter in the Limited division but if I had been in the iron sighted pistol division I would have been first. They didn’t get my Senior category into the record, but I would have come in with either gun only behind Jeffery with his open division rifle.

Go Fast

Go Hawks

Beast Mode


I shot my new rimfire gun that I have had all the problems with. It worked fine in practice and on the first stage our squad shot (Go Hawks). Then on the second stage we shot (Focus) it started jamming again. I went back to the Ruger 22/45 for the remainder of the match.

Gun madness again

As implied by my last post about the overloading of the NICS system I have been noticing how crowded the indoor ranges are around here. A couple weeks ago, about 2:00 PM, on a Saturday, I was stopped at the local range to practice before a match. The parking lot was full. And it’s not a small parking lot:


Every place you see parking lines, or cars, and on the street in front of the building had parked cars. I drove by the front door and looking into the lobby to see it was packed. I just drove on home.

Recently I’ve been visiting the range at lunch time and while I don’t have a problem finding a parking spot the range has been crowded. The only time it hasn’t been crowded recently was when I went to a different range (because I was in the area anyway) and it was during a Seahawks game. I was far from the only shooter in the place but it wasn’t packed.

Another item of interest is that I ordered a holster and magazine pouches from Kramer Leather yesterday. They quoted me a delivery time of seven to nine weeks.

My speculation is that it’s the threat of more gun control that has people hitting the range and the gun stores in mass again.

Certificates of Achievement

I’ve moved so many times in the last 10 years that many of my boxes still are unpacked. But in the last few days I’ve been making some progress. Here are some of my Insights Training certificates of achievement which I put up on the wall:


I have several others but some are in boxes and the frame glass is broken in still others. Today Barb got prices on replacement glass so those will be going up soon.

The certificate in the upper left is for Intensive Handgun Skills. The certificate is dated nearly 20 years ago, October 25-27, 1996. I signed up to repeat it on February 20-22, 2016. I figured I need a tune up after so many years.

Old primers

The other day I was cleaning out a box of old stuff and I found this:


It’s some very old primers. I’m pretty sure I bought these in Moscow Idaho about 1975. This was long before I was into guns or had ever reloaded ammunition. I think I was going to use them to make an Estes rocket into some sort of missile with a “warhead” for the 4th of July. I never got around to it and all the primers are still in the package.

Herman’s World of Sporting Goods closed their last store in 1996, but I’m pretty sure the one in Moscow was closed many years prior to that.

Today a box of 1000 Small Rifle Magnum Primers cost about $35.00, if they were packaged and sold in 100 piece quantity, as in the picture above, the price would be just about double what they were when I bought mine.

Bad primer

I found a bad primer when reloading some more ammo over the weekend:


This is the second time (out of nearly 70K rounds reloaded) I have found a bad primer. The first time was less than a year ago. Again it was a Winchester Small Pistol (WSP) but it was a different lot this time:


This primer was very obviously bad and would not have inserted into the shell casing without difficultly had I tried.

Rounds in the last year

This last year I reloaded more ammunition than I have in a long, long time. I posted some my updates on the topic January 6th, February 6th, March 1st, April 5th.

For the entire year it was:

9mm.log: 2993 rounds.
40S&W.log: 6538 rounds
Total: 9531 rounds

That’s a decent number but I suspect I will do more this year. I’m taking InSights Intensive Handgun Skills class February 20-22 and I need to make up about 2500 rounds for that class alone.

The total number of rounds since I began reloading my own ammunition:

223.log: 2027 rounds.
3006.log: 467 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1351 rounds.
40SW.log: 41654 rounds.
45.log: 0 rounds.
9MM.log: 21636 rounds.
Total: 67135 rounds.

This really makes a mockery of the stupid proposed law in New York which “would cap the amount of ammunition to no more than twice the amount of the capacity of the weapon every 90 days”. I would have to claim all my guns are belt fed with essentially infinite capacity to keep up my current consumption rate if I were to attempt remaining lawful under such a tyrannical restriction.

Steel match results

Yesterday I went to a steel match on at the Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club on Whidbey Island.

It was cold for the Seattle area, in the upper 20s, but it was a beautiful day for a ferry ride:



I had been sick earlier in the week as well as busy with Christmas stuff on the previous weekend. I hadn’t practiced in several weeks. Things didn’t go well. My new gun crashed and burned with multiple failures to feed on the second stage and I switched back to the Ruger 22/45 for the rest of the match. Even the video glasses messed up on stage two—the audio and video got seriously out of sync. But mostly it was my fault for not practicing and I had lots and lots of misses.

Even had I been shooting as well as I usually do at this match I wouldn’t have come in higher than second place in centerfire. There was new guy, Tony, shooting in the iron sighted centerfire gun category. He is much better than me even on one of my good days:

Tony Ceci CF-I 63.12
Bruce Barchenger CF-I 81.45
Joe Huffman CF-I 87.14
Rick Huggins CF-I 91.17
Scott Bertin CF-RV-I 106.80
Chris Ceci CF-RV-O 91.45
Brian Lawson RF-I 60.86
Joe Huffman RF-I 61.98
Mitch Hardin RF-I 83.24
Steve Mooney RF-O 48.43
Rev Barchenger RF-O 75.71
Steve Mooney
RF-RI-O 41.08
Brian Lawson RF-RI-O 42.28
Tony Ceci RF-RI-O 46.59
MAC RF-RV-I 84.94

RF-RI-O: Rimfire Rifle Optics
RF-O: Rimfire Pistol Optics
RF-I: Rimfire Iron sights
PCC-O: Pistol Caliber Carbine Optics
RF-RI-I: Rimfire Rifle Iron sights
CF-I: Centerfire Iron sights
PCC-I: Pistol Caliber Carbine Iron sights






Powder puff load report

As I reported last week I was trying to make some very light loads in .40 S&W for new shooters. I made up 200 rounds with the 180 grain Rainier FP over 3.9 grains of Bullseye with an OAL of 1.131”. On Christmas day, while at Brother Doug’s place I shot some over the chronograph. This load yielded a mean velocity of 825 fps (standard deviation of 9.6 fps) for a Power Factor of 148.5. The expected result was 800 fps for a PF of 144. Not too far off from the actual. I would have preferred it be on the low side instead of the high side but still, not bad.

My typical handloads run about 940 fps for a PF of 169 or so. 180 grain factory loads run about 1000 to 1025 fps for PFs of 180 to 185. Hence these new loads are have about 80% of the momentum of a factory load and a little under 90% that of my usual handloads. This is better but I would like to do better still.

While in Idaho this weekend I bought a pound of Clays from Alan B. I loaded up 100 rounds of the 180 grain Rainier FP over 3.0 grains of Clays. I ran them over the chronograph today. Remember that the reloading manual said to expect:

180 grain bullet over 3.0 grains Hodgdon Clays => 727 fps with 131 PF

The result was 728.11 fps (standard deviation of 8.8 fps) for a PF of 131.06. Wow! That was freaky close compared to the expected result.

That gives me a load with about 78% of the momentum of my typical handloads and a little over 70% that of a factory load. And get this, it’s right at the same momentum as a typical 147 grain 9mm round but with a muzzle velocity that is about 100 fps less. That is even less velocity than a typical 230 grain .45 ACP. With such a low muzzle velocity it is much more of a push than a “snap” on the recoil. It’s a very comfortable load to shoot.

Thank you Mike B. and Alan B. for the Clays powder. That made a big difference.

I was thinking ahead to how to make a self-defense load with similar recoil properties and found that Speer makes a bullet they call Gold Dot Short Barrel for good self-defense characteristics with lower velocities. This sounds like just the ticket for Cherie. We have another range trip planned for the end of next month to do some more training and test out the new loads.

Bill was correct

Regarding the issues I was having with a new gun and feeding Bill suggested the gun was simply breaking in rather than the different lubricants I was trying actually making a difference.

While at Boomershoot Mecca on Christmas day I shot it again after lubricating it with Interflon Fin Super. This was the lubricant I thought was causing me problems. It was cold, about 25F, and with two different types of ammo it functioned flawlessly.

I have to conclude that Bill’s suspicion was correct.

Powder puff

I decided I should make some low power loads in .40 S&W for new shooters that are recoil sensitive. “Powder puff” loads. After exploring lots of options I came up with these as the best possibilities. From Hodgdon:

135 grain bullet over 4.0 grains Hodgdon Clays => 940 fps with 127 PF
180 grain bullet over 3.0 grains Hodgdon Clays => 727 fps with 131 PF

Typical factor loads are in the 180 to 190 PF range. So this should be about 70% of the recoil of factory loads.

The difference between power factors of 127 and 131 with equal weight bullets is probably undetectable in your hands. But because the 127 PF load is with 135 grain bullets versus the 180 grain for the 131 PF you get a much different recoil impulse. The lighter bullet is going over 200 fps faster and that means the recoil impulse is much shorter and hence will feel sharper. So, the 180 grain load looks like the winner. That nice because I have lots of 180 grain bullets around.

But I don’t have any Hodgdon Clays powder. I started looking online. Nothing.

[Heavy sigh.]

So what other options do I have and do I have any powders that could come close to this? I have an older version of the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading and they list Bullseye powder for a mild load.

180 grain bullet over 3.9 grains Bullseye => 800 fps with 144 PF.

I have some Bullseye powder left over from my explosives experiments with it about 1996 or ‘97. This would be a good opportunity to get rid of it. This isn’t as good at the loads with Clays but it is still less than 80% of a factory load.

I loaded up 20 rounds Saturday and went to the range to see if it would cycle my gun and if it was accurate. I used some 180 grain Rainier truncated cone FP bullets I had won at a match this summer. I have had problems with the accuracy of Rainier HPs once I went beyond about 7 yards so I was a bit skeptical of these too.

The ammo cycled and fed well in two different guns. The accuracy wasn’t great at 7 yards but it was far better than new shooters can manage. And I don’t have them shoot beyond that distance anyway.

Today I loaded up 180 rounds using some nickel plated brass I had laying around. I used the nickel plated so I could easily keep track of it being “special”. I’ll load up the remaining 300 Rainier bullets in that configuration in the next couple of days.

It turns out the loaded ammo looks particularly pretty. Barb said it looks like Christmas:


I suppose it does. We have Powder Puff Christmas ammo.

Master class

I knew my son-in-law (Xenia’s husband) shot in USPSA Nationals this year. But I never bothered to ask how he did. It turns out he won A-Class. Wow!

I just looked his classification on He is now a Master Class shooter in Limited Division (85% to 95% is Master class):

LIMITED Class: M Pct: 86.56 High Pct: 86.56

And in a couple of stages, (Tables Stakes, and 15VAMD at Southern Maryland Practical Shooters) he had Grandmaster level results.

Nice going John. I’ve got a long way to go catch up. If ever.

Lubrication matters

Of course whenever you have metal parts moving against each other it is important to consider the lubrication. I’ve been using Interflon Fin Super on all my guns and have been very pleased with it. So I didn’t expect to have any issues using it on any gun.

But recently I purchased a .22 that was known, even by the manufacturer, as being very picky about the type of ammo used in it. Okay, fine, I like my guns to be reliable but this gun had some advantages that I was willing to put up with using only certain types of ammo. I’m not mentioning the gun or the brands of ammo because I, legally, obtained this gun without any paperwork and I would like to keep the details as private as is practical.

I had a two of the recommended types on hand and put several hundred rounds downrange with only a few problems which I attributed to it being a new gun and probably weren’t anything to worry about. I cleaned and lubricated the gun and took it to the range again when Cherie was doing some training. The gun failed to feed on almost every round and we quickly gave up on it.

Later I took it to the range with the specific goal of diagnosing the problem. The slide appeared to not coming all the way back and hence would not properly strip the round off the top of the magazine. This was consistent with the recommendation to only use 40 grain high velocity ammo in the gun. They want to deliver lots of momentum to the slide and low velocity/mass ammo and/or viscous lubrication would result in a slide that didn’t go completely back. I ordered 1000 rounds of another type of recommended ammo to see if that made a difference.

While waiting for the ammo to show up I cleaned the gun again, carefully lubricated it with Interflon Fin Super and put the disassembled gun underneath an incandescent light bulb to dry the liquid so it would just have the semi-dry film rather than the moist layer I had with the previous trip to the range. About the first five to seven rounds failed to strip off the magazine properly. Then it worked great for probably fifty rounds of every type of ammo I had that the manufacture recommended and even did mostly okay with brand the manufacture specifically said would not work.

That’s odd, I thought. It needs to warm up before it functions properly? Maybe it does! The gun had been cold in my car all morning. The range was pretty cool too. So I set the gun aside with the action open and shot some .40 in my STI DVC for a while. When the .22 was cool I tried some of the ammo, in the same magazine, that was working fine a few minutes earlier. Again, the first half magazine was nothing but failure to feeds, then it worked flawlessly for a couple hundred rounds.

Time to try a new lubricant.

I cleaned the gun again, pulled the Eezox Synthetic Gun Oil off the shelf, lubricated the parts, and put them under the light to dry off for 24 hours and went to the range again. The first couple rounds had a problem then it worked great again. Letting it cool didn’t result in misbehavior like with the Interflon Fin Super. I’m making progress!

I again cleaned the gun, this time I lubricated it with Brownell’s Friction Defense, and again put the parts under the light to dry for 24 hours. I went to the range today at lunch time and the gun worked fine with all the recommended ammo, including the new stuff I ordered which just came in, and, again, even some of the stuff the manufacturer specifically did not recommend. The only ammo which basically didn’t work at all was some “standard velocity” ammo.

Okay, so I have an extremely sensitive gun. It needs the right type of lubricant, the right type of ammo, and probably can’t be counted on to function properly in really cold weather either. I still have an application for it. But it’s more of a hassle than what I had originally planned on.

The Ruger .22s I have eat anything I feed them and with whatever I lubricate them with. But they don’t quite deliver on one thing this new gun does. There are trade-offs in almost everything you do. Now that I know what lubricant works best I can probably avoid the problem most of the time and make it work for my intended use.

Update December 27, 2015: New information here.

Boomershoot 2016 registration

We have another fantastic Boomershoot event planned for 2016. The long range event will be Sunday April 24th with the Precision Rifle Clinic and High Intensity events on Friday and Saturday the 22nd and 23rd.

Boomershoot 2016 registration will be open on the following dates and times:

  • Registration opens for staff 12/20/2015 5:00:00 PM Pacific Time.
  • Registration opens for 2015 participants 12/22/2015 5:00:00 PM Pacific Time.
  • Registration opens for everyone 12/26/2015 9:00:00 AM.

Registration is only online. You sign up here. You should sign up as soon as you can to have a better chance of getting the shooting position you want.

Before and after

Yesterday, as you might imagine, there was quite a bit of talk at work about the shooting in San Bernardino. Two different people who I barely know and seldom see wanted to talk guns with me. Usually I might get one or two conversations a month.

One was a middle-aged woman who lives alone. She wanted to take a shooting class to prepare for home defense. She had done a fair amount of shooting growing up but had never taken any classes. Her boyfriend has quite a bit of rifle shooting but no handgun shooting. They both wanted to take a handgun class or two. I referred her to West Coast Armory and Insights Training. And suggested the specific classes I thought would be appropriate for their skill levels.

The second person was a young guy. He owns at least three guns and has a concealed carry permit. He had just got a new gun and it was shooting to a much different point of aim than his carry gun. He couldn’t figure out why it was so different. I figured I knew what the problem was but didn’t want to tell him until I knew for certain. I offered to take him to the range and look at his guns with him and figure out the problem. He brought the guns to work (left in his car, yes, our parking lot is an okay place for guns) and at lunch time we went to the range to do some tests.

I had him take a few shots with his gun to demonstrate the problem. I put the target at 15 feet and asked him to shoot at the top right diamond (I very deliberately suggested the TOP). Most of the .45 caliber holes below are the result:


Okay. I know what the problem is, but need him to figure it out on his own. I asked him to shoot a few rounds with his carry gun. The 9mm holes above are the result.

I then shot three rounds with his .45 at the top left diamond on the target. Here is the result:


Oh. He got a big clue and I pushed a little bit more by suggesting, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with the gun or ammo.”

He agreed and had him shoot my .22. The .22 holes mixed with .45 holes in the target above where the result. The first one was the one low and to the left. The rest were in on very close to the diamond. Much better. But I knew he could do better still.

I then had him doing some dry fire exercises. I explained what it meant and repeated the mantra as he pulled the trigger on an empty chamber again and again, “Trigger prep, sight alignment, squeeze, follow through.”

The first half dozen “shots” resulted in the muzzle of the gun dipping down as the hammer fell. He got it under control and after he had “fired” probably 20 in a row holding it rock steady I told him I was going to either have a live round in the chamber for him or it might be empty.

He again had a steady muzzle for five or six rounds before I put a live one in the chamber. It was on target. More empties and another live one. Again on target.

We talked about it for a while and he then wanted to shoot a few more rounds knowing they were all live. The top three holes below were the result:


He asked about how to aim. I explained and he said that because his guns always shot lower than than that he would always aim a little higher than what I suggested. He tried aiming as I suggested and the hole at 9:00 on the target above was the result. Close enough. I told him to go home and do lots of dry fire exercises before going to the range again. And consider getting a .22 to practice with. It will take a while to get the bad habit out of his trigger finger and dry firing 10 rounds for every one live round is what my instructors recommend.

As we left I pointed out the Insights Training flyers in the hallway to the ranges and he and I both picked up a few. He seemed very interested in taking a class and thanked me for helping him.

We went back to work where I gave the flyers I had picked up to the woman I had talked to yesterday and I figured I had done my good deeds for the day.

Changing our culture. One new shooter at a time.

Steel match results

On November 3rd I had surgery on my left shoulder. Over three and half weeks later I still have large bruises and somewhat limited range of motion.


But I had made it to the range a couple of times for practice and my shooting was okay and only occasionally experienced some pain. So Saturday I went to Whidbey Island for the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club steel match.

I tried to take just a little more time before squeezing off the shot but still make the target transitions as quickly as I could. This seemed to work a lot better than if I tried to make everything go fast.

My rimfire results in particular were very good. I cut my total match time by over 10 seconds (this is about a 15% improvement!). This was a total of 56.64 seconds for five stages. Since there are four strings of five shots in each stage this means my average time for each string was 2.83 seconds. And since every stage requires five shots the average time per shot was 0.5664 seconds. I’m constantly amazed this is even possible let alone that I am capable of shooting this fast on targets likes these:


But it’s possible. Here is the video to prove it:

The scores were:

Class: Rimfire Rifle Open  
Name Match Time
Brian Lawson 37.54
Tony Ceci 48.39
Brian Lawson 48.64
Ron Wigger 50.24
Dan Lavaty 54.02
Ethan Kimball 63.90
Class: Rimfire Iron
Name Match Time
Joe Huffman 56.64
Brian Lawson 71.27
Scott Bertino 84.73
Class: Rimfire Open
Name Match Time
Dan Lavaty 64.03
Jim Dunlap 88.05
Rev Barchenger 96.47
Dave Shupe Mechanical Issues
Class: Centerfire Iron
Name Match Time
Joe Huffman 78.44
Bruce Barchenger 90.18
Dave Shupe 124.71
Dennis Bohling 132.05
Scott Bertino 140.83
Class: Centerfire Revolver Open
Name Match Time
Chris Ceci 80.93
Class: Centerfire Revolver Iron
Name Match Time
Ron Wigger 96.82
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