On the right sidebar of this blog is this image:

A little over a week ago contacted me about placing an ad to get the word out about their new “two day shipping”. 97% of people are expected to get their ammo within two days but some may take three days. They gave me a code to order some ammo with and I made two different orders. I had one shipped to Idaho and the other shipped to my Bellevue Washington address. From looking at their map it appeared to me that the Idaho shipment could take three days.

It turned out that, according to FedEx, the Idaho shipment arrived 50 minutes before the Bellevue order and both were on day two after the order. Nice!

An occasional problem I have had with mail ordered ammo is that it is packed poorly and the ammo box breaks and there is loose ammo rolling around in the box. That was not the case this time. This is the box in which I received three bricks of .22 ammo after I had removed the three bricks. It was packed tight with stiff paper:


The other shipment was the original 500 round case, with shipping labels attached, which Federal Ammo packages their American Eagle .223 Ammo in. There were no issues with either packaging.

‘Twas a fine day

There are “new shooters”, many of whom, long ago, had their fathers show them how to shoot a 22 or such, and then haven’t touched a gun for 20 years. Stuff like that, and then there are those who’ve never touched, much less fired, any kind of firearm. Last weekend I had the privilege of introducing one of the latter to the fine art of pistolcraft.

(Long, wordy, self-aggrandizing post, with something of a review of the Walther PK, 380 Auto pistol, and detours into cider-making and “gun psychology”, ensues. You have been warned)

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‘Dangerous game’

It’s a relative term isn’t it?

The vast majority of times, a deer will run if it sees you. They’ll often ignore motor vehicles, but if you’re out walking, a deer will alert on your movements, and if recognizes you as human it will bolt. Anecdote abound, and situations vary widely, but a deer, as a rule, will avoid humans.

On the other hand, a healthy buck in the prime of its life is more than capable of killing you, and quickly, if it gets the hankerin’.

I always carry a sidearm when out and about. Elk and moose are common in my roaming area, and I hear that wolves are getting closer.

The unfortunate in the story was apparently unarmed. Whether that would have made any difference in this case is debatable, but having a heavy caliber pistol cannot but improve one’s odds. What an embarrassing way to die!

Low velocity 9mm self-defense loads

A while back I made up some .40 S&W loads with “Gold Dot® Short Barrel®” bullets (it appears they have been discontinued) and then did velocity and milk jug penetration tests. I was very pleased with them.

A couple days ago I received an email from Drew Rinella. Here is part of it:

I met you very briefly a couple/few years ago at a Boomer shoot, so it was cool to find your site while researching low velocity results for speer gold dots. I saw that people were giving you shit in the comments about your low velocity 40 s&w gold dot SB loadings. I want to let you know that my terminal performance testing results have so far been great with loading the standard 147 gr 9mm gold dot at a low velocity.

I like the properties of the 147 grain 9mm gold dot bullet but I have always been frustrated by the challenging recoil impulse and inconsistent accuracy with their factory loading at nearly 1000 fps muzzle velocity, so I’ve been experimenting with loading at lower velocities. Despite the fact that they do not yet market a SB version of this bullet, I received an email back from that factory recommending a minimum of 850 fps for consistent expansion.

4.3 grains of Silhouette gave me 885 fps from a Glock 17. This was the most accurate and softest shooting load I tested which gave me the min recommended velocity. With this velocity I get consistent penetration of 4 water filled milk jugs, with the bullet puncturing a small hole into and bouncing off of the 5th jug. Assuming a 1.8x ratio of water to ballistic gel this slightly exceeds the FBI standard of 12″ ballistic gel.

Test #1: 2 layers denim

Penetrated 4 full milk jugs; bullet fully intact with signs of stress on the petals Expansion 0.525″

Weight 147.5 grains

Test #2: 4 layers denim

Penetrated 4 full milk jugs; one petal ripped off and stayed in first milk jug; signs of stress on remaining petals Expansion 0.563″

Weight 143.8 grains

As soon as the kids can drink more milk I’ll be testing with more materials including quilted denim, metal, wood, wallboard, and glass. I hypothesize less expansion and deeper penetration through these barriers based on observations of online video testing of factory loadings with this bullet, which I don’t necessarily consider to be a bad thing.

Silhouette was one of the few powders my thrower was able to throw consistently at these low charge  volumes, and gave me a small red fireball with some yellow sparks in low light shooting. CFE Pistol (my favorite powder for nearly everything else) wouldn’t throw consistently. Titegroup accuracy was very poor. AA#2 & 5 were consistent but wouldn’t give me the velocity I wanted without going into +P or +P+ territory.

Hornady XTP 147 grain at low velocity wouldn’t open up and looked like I could reload it and shoot it again. I definitely think Gold Dot is the way to go when downloading self defense rounds.

I figured there had to be other powders which would give the desired velocity so I went looking through all the sources on my book shelf. Here is a complete list of the powders for 9mm, 147 grain bullets, which yield velocities in the range of 850 feet per second.

Powder weight is in grains. Expected velocities are in feet per second. Some of the data is quite old and you should verify it with your own loading manuals or online to make sure the data is current and I have not made a catastrophic typo.

Powder C.O.L. Minimum Load Velocity Maximum Load Velocity
HS-6 1.100 4.3 773 5.0 885
Universal 1.100 3.0 803 3.3 869
Titegroup 1.100 3.2 855 3.6 929
SR 4756 1.100 3.2 800 3.8 950
WSF 1.100 3.3 800 4.2 950
AA #5 1.100 3.8 800 4.6 950
Solo 1500 1.100 3.8 800 4.6 950
HS-6 1.100 4.4 850 5.1 975
Blue Dot 1.100 4.2 800 5.5 1000
HS-7 1.100 4.4 800 5.6 950
AA #7 1.100 5.1 800 6.6 1000
Power Pistol 1.130 4.5 872 5.0 975
3N37 1.130 4.4 886 4.9 969
AA #7 1.130 6.1 867 6.8 961
SR 4756 1.130 4.2 841 4.6 957
HS-6 1.130 5.0 845 5.6 956
Unique 1.130 3.8 852 4.3 954
HS-7 1.130 6.1 866 6.8 953
WSF 1.130 3.6 840 4.1 931
AA #5 1.130 4.5 821 5.1 931

Rounds in the last month

I was out of town (and out of the country most of the time) for almost three weeks last month. That drastically reduced my reloading opportunities. I still managed to load 1015 rounds of .40 S&W. It was all Montana Gold JHPs over 3.9 grains of Bullseye. These are for new shooters at indoor ranges. They are accurate bullets with a minimum powder charge.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 2,424 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1591 rounds.
40 S&W: 77,787 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 104,199 rounds.

Year to date I have loaded 18,582 rounds. I’m still on course to reload about 20,000 rounds this year for a lifetime total of over 105,000 rounds.

Favorite, favorite, favorite

That which one of my favorite YouTubers says is his “most valuable” firearm is one of my favorite (carbines?) also, and his has one of my favorite creations on it. OK, he doesn’t mention his M1-B optic mount, and doesn’t have an optic on it for the video, but we’ll take what we get.

He had his AK worked over at Rifle Dynamics, which is one of our distributors. They seem to know what they’re doing, and that is something worthwhile.

Rounds in the last month

In September I only loaded .40 S&W. It was 1875 rounds of Black Bullets for USPSA matches, 93 rounds of Acme Bullet Company’s 180 grain “Lipstick Bullets” (I’m probably going to replace The Blue Bullets with these for steel matches), and 95 rounds of Montana Gold bullets over 3.0 grains of Clays for some “powder puff” loads for new shooters. This is a total of 2063 rounds this month.

I had a revision of some numbers on 300 Win Mag ammo. A few years ago I made some ammo for a friend and didn’t count the rounds. I put them in zip lock bags and gave them to him. In my log I just entered estimates of 300 and 100 rounds for the two different reloading sessions.

Then… earlier this month I was visiting him and found out he still hadn’t shot them. I counted them and found I had reloaded a total of 299 rounds. Whoops. That changes things a little bit. I corrected my log file so that shows up in the numbers below.

The corrected and updated lifetime reloaded ammunition totals are:

223: 2,424 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1591 rounds.
40 S&W: 76,772 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 103,184 rounds.

Year to date I have loaded 17,567 rounds. I’m still on course to reload about 20,000 rounds this year for a lifetime total of over 105,000 rounds.

Steel match results

Ry and I went to the Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club (Whidbey Island) steel match last Saturday. The weather was great and the ferry ride was pretty and pleasant:


As usual the stages were interesting:






Ry had problems with his open class pistol. The red-dot optic kept turning off when he was shooting. Hitting small targets rapidly with no sights is challenging. His score is not representative of his true ability. Rimfire rifle went better for him but he did have problems with one magazine on the first stage he shot.

I thought I generally did well. Things felt good with few misses and fairly consistent times. There were just three people in my divisions. I came in second in Centerfire Pistol Iron sights with a total time for five stages of 77.00 seconds. That is an average of 0.77 seconds per shot. With Rimfire Pistol Iron sights I got first with a total time for the five stages of 63.70 seconds. This is an average of 0.637 seconds per shot.

I did not shoot in the August match as I was helping Barb’s son, Max, move.

In July the same guy, Todd Epps, who won in September beat me in the Centerfire Iron Sights division. I had a total time of 76.83 seconds in this division. And, again, I won the Rimfire Iron sights division with a total time of 55.11 seconds.

In June I won the Centerfire Iron sight division with a total time of 79.03 seconds. I also won the Rimfire Iron sights division with a total time of 66.25 seconds.

Black Bullet anomalies

I’ve mentioned Black Bullet International before (and here, here, here, here, and here) and that I use them for outdoor USPSA matches. They give excellent accuracy, consistent velocity, and are a good price. I have reloaded 7563 rounds of ammunition using these bullets and have about another 875 on hand.

Earlier this month I ran into this:


One of these is not like the others. Instead of the 180 grain 0.40” diameter bullet it is a 124.9 grain 0.359” bullet. Of course, there is no danger of reloading it in a .40 S&W casing and causing a problem. But if it had been a 200 grain bullet while reloading for 180 or a 180 grain while reloading 165 grain bullets there would have been a serious concern.

I thought it was funny and set it aside.

This afternoon I opened a new box of Black Bullets which had been shipped many months after the last batch of bullets from them. I decided to weigh them to make sure they were essentially the same weight as the previous batch (important for making Power Factor for USPSA matches). I weighed 19 bullets and they were essentially the same as the previous batch:

  • Mean: 180.7
  • Standard Deviation: 0.612
  • Max: 182.2
  • Min: 179.7
  • Extreme Spread: 2.5.

When I weighed the 20th bullet I was shocked. It was 177.5 grains. This is over three grains below the mean of the other 19. This is significant enough to endanger “making major” at a match. Hmm…

I weighed another 10 and found a 178.5. Hmm…

I measured their diameter and length compared to typical bullets. The diameter was the same but the length was 0.005 less:



All the typical bullets were within 0.001” in length of one another. Then there were the two out of thirty which were 0.005” shorter.


Then I compared the stats of the Black Bullets to what I find typical of Montana Gold bullets:

  • Mean: 180.22
  • Standard Deviation: 0.159
  • Min: 179.9
  • Max: 180.5
  • Extreme spread: 0.6.

Remember when Barb and I toured the Montana Gold factory Norm told us they keep the weight of their bullets to about +/- 0.3 grains? Yup, that matches my measurements of their bullets.

Now, I did once find a partial jacket in one of the Montana Gold boxes, but I have reloaded nearly 40,000 of their bullets. That is over five times as many as the Black Bullets.

I have to conclude that the Black Bullets International company is not as quality conscious as the Montana Gold Bullets company with 180 grain .40 caliber bullets.

Another good classifier

Last Sunday I shot a USPSA match at Marysville Rifle Club (Marysville, Washington).

In the match I did good, but not great. I got a score of 64.97% of the Limited Class, Grandmaster winner.

I had kind of a rough time the day before and was sort of stiff and sore. I did well on the first few stages then faded in the afternoon. But with the classifier, the third stage of the day, I did pretty well coming in at third place in Limited out of 22 shooters behind one Grandmaster and one Master class shooter. My score of 67 on Lightning And Thunder gave me a solid B-class 74.4444 percentage (75% is A-class). I have the video but it’s three different, rather boring, strings of fire and I doubt anyone really is interested in watching it.

This brings my cumulative USPSA classification up to 63.7697%. I’m approaching my highest ever of 68.5272%

I’m a bit suspect of this particular classifier. It is a fixed time stage and I think it is probably too easy. I suspect that a large number of GMs and perhaps even some Master class shooters clean it with a perfect score of 90. This means that lower class shooters are not really compared to the very best GMs but, instead, are compared to something like the lowest level GM and highest Master class shooters.

Still, I played by the rules and legitimately got the points even if the system is probably warping the indicator of my actual ability.

Be sure of your target and who is in front of it

“All’s well that ends well” isn’t one of the rules of gun safety, at least so far as I know. Nor is, “If you can walk away from it, then it was good gun handling”. Maybe that does apply to rocketry though.

Seen at Zero Hedge

One round skipped off the ground just a few yards from the guy walking in front of the truck. I guess he had a memorable day.

It reminds me of a W.W II story in which an American unit was taking heavy artillery fire. Their commander, realizing that it was friendly fire, reassured his troops saying, “Don’t worry, Boys; those are our guns!” or something to that effect.

John Vlieger in the news

A media release from son-in-law John Vlieger’s sponsor Shell Shock:

Shell Shock Technologies, LLC., an early stage technology and manufacturing company focused on developing innovative case technologies for the ammunition industry, is pleased to announce its sponsored shooter John Vlieger has won High Overall in the Open Division at the 2017 USPSA Area 4 Championship, held at the United States Shooting Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sept. 8 – 10, 2017. Vlieger finished with 1390.928 match points and a time of 148.09. This was his second consecutive Area win.

“Being able to take home a second regional title in such a short time is another goal reached. The time spent traveling, training and competing can take it out of you, but I’m ready and raring to go to the next one. Having reloading components I can trust with my +P+ competition loads helps me focus on competing, and not on whether or not my gear can take the abuse. My Shell Shock Technologies’ NAS3 cases have taken everything I’ve thrown at them and keep on going. I plan on continuing to trust them as I finish out the 2017 competition season, and forward,” commented Vlieger.

The USPSA Area 4 Championship, otherwise known as the Walther Arms-MGM Targets Area 4 Championship, is a Level III (pending) match that runs 12 stages with a round count of 290. Watch Vlieger compete at the USPSA Area 4 Championship on the John Vlieger Shooting YouTube Channel.

Vlieger can be seen competing next at the Tennessee Atomic Blast USPSA State Championship Match, to be held at the Oak Ridge Sportsman’s Association in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Sept. 16 – 17, 2017.

John placed second out of 227 competitors at the Tennessee Atomic Blast.

John Vlieger USPSA wins

Son-in-law John Vlieger, competing against 318 competitors, 79 of them in his USPSA Open division, decisively won the Walther Arms-MGM Targets Area 4 Championship match this year. Area 4 includes Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. The next closest competitor came in with only 95.77% of his score:

He also won the EGW USPSA Area 8 Championship. Area 8 is on the east coast and includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. His margin was only 0.7% but against 493 competitors, 105 in open division, a win by any margin is awesome:

Compare his shooting in the matches above which were in August and September against his shooting in March during Optic Nationals:

At nationals he came in at 11th place, just barely below Rod Leatham, even though he had an equipment failure (broken extractor) on one of the stages. It’s hard for me to say for sure, because the target distance is difficult to judge and I don’t have the exact times for the individual shots, but it seems he is now shooting perceptibly faster and he certainly has fewer misses on the steel targets.

I can see him winning national, and even world titles, soon.

Revolver re-build, Field Carry system, and deer hunt

Deer season is upon us (Joe; no Hunting category?) so I thought this a good time to post it.

Following is a very long, detailed account of customizing a reproduction Colt 1847 Walker percussion revolver and using it in a deer hunt in the 2016 muzzleloader season. It assumes the reader has some understanding of the Colt open top revolver design and its inherent problems, and contains lots of technical photos and jargon. I also introduce a paper cartridge “Field Carry” system which I’ve developed for percussion revolvers, making things simpler and easier for the shooter while in the field on the move. There are bloody butchering (necropsy) photos cataloging the terminal performance of the gun and ammunition. You have been warned– If you read on you may be extremely bored, fascinated, or shocked or disgusted, or all of the above.
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USPSA Classifier “Tight Squeeze”

As I’ve mentioned before my USPSA classifiers have not been as good as I would like. Today, at the Lewiston (Idaho) Pistol Club, was a step up:

Draw: 1.27 S
Reload: 2.03 S
Total Time: 8.59 S
Hits: 11 A-Zones, 1 C-Zone
Points: 59
Hit Factor: 6.8685
Stage Win.
USPSA Limited Classifier: ~66.38%

Even though it was a classifier from 1999 (99-48 Tight Squeeze) with the issue of all the top shooters slowly ratcheting up the best scores over the last 18 years I did fairly well on it with an estimated 66.38%. This is better than I have done on a classifier in over seven years! This is solid B class shooting instead of all the C class results I have been turning in the last few years. It was the stage win for all divisions, including Open! I won Limited Division for the match and came in second overall. If I hadn’t overlooked one target on the first stage and racked up all those penalties I would have won the match.

The video shows my transitions between targets is almost painfully slow and I could do much better reloads. And with more practice I think I could do a faster draw as well.

Well, I know what I need to work on this week when I go to the range.