Category Archives: Ammunition

ammo, or ammunition category will be host to all topics related to factory ammo and ammunition. Everything from 22 LR to Bulk Pistol Ammo will be discussed here.

8 Reasons to Invest in a 9mm Pistol-Caliber Carbine

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Here is a list of compelling reasons that a PCC might just become your favorite, most-used firearm. Keep reading…

Gil Horman, NRA Publications

Just before our first wedding anniversary, my wife and I were rear-ended at high speed while making a right-hand turn. Our car was totaled and my wife suffered serious soft tissue damage to her neck and shoulder. Although she has healed over the years (the pain has never completely left her), it was a long time before she could participate in any shooting sports, let alone fire guns with stiff levels of felt recoil.

Ruger PC9
Ruger PC9

I started researching low-recoil defensive options that she could use (if you’ve ever wondered why I write about this topic as often as I do, now you know). At the time, Ruger was still making the now-discontinued PC9 Police Carbine chambered in 9mm. If not for the magazine well designed to accept Ruger P Series pistol magazines, the blowback operated PC9 could be mistaken for a 10/22. It was lightweight, compact and easy to operate. I thought my wife would be able to manage the recoil at the practice range so that it could be kept on hand as a home-defense gun. The carbine had the added benefit of using the same magazines as a Ruger 9mm pistol we owned at the time, making for an ideal home-defense pairing.

I strolled into a local gun shop and asked the college kid behind the counter to hand me a PC9 carbine off the rack for closer inspection. His face took on a subtle, but noticeable, look of distain. As if I had asked an English butler to pass me a dead mouse, he slowly reached for the rifle and with forced professionalism dropped it into my hands.

I explained why I was interested in this particular model. I was looking for a low-recoil defensive option for my wife to use. In a perfect dead-pan voice he said, “Yes, and when the ammunition runs out it will make an excellent club.” In other words, after 15 rounds of “wimpy” 9mm hollow points fired through a 16-inch barrel harmlessly bounced off the home invader, like so much confetti, my poor wife would be forced to swing for the bleachers.

This gun store conversation took place in the late 1990s when the 9mm and all of its platforms were still wrestling with the reputation of being weak defensive options. It’s a bias that’s stuck to 9mms of all sizes like glue, even the carbines. That is, until the last few years. Defensive 9mm pistols of all shapes and sizes have moved to the center of the defensive limelight. And this year in particular, pistol-caliber carbines (PCC) chambered in 9mm have enjoyed a surge in sales not seen before.

Here are eight reasons why 9mm PCCs are a good choice for home defense as well as general shooting —

ONE: A Variety of Models to Choose From
Some types of firearms are only available in limited configurations which in turn can make it a challenge to find a good fit for some shooters. This is not the case with pistol-caliber carbines. The 9mm PCC may be enjoying a new level of popularity today but it’s been manufactured by several companies for quite some time. I still hear folks talk about how much they love their Marlin Camp 9 even though the gun has been out of production since 1999. 

NOTE: CLICK ON THE PHOTO CAPTIONS TO VISIT THE WEBSITES

JRC carbines
Just Right Carbines offers a wide range of configurations.

If you enjoy working with the AR-15 type carbines, several 9mms are available from reputable manufacturers including the SIG Sauer MPX 9, and the Wilson Combat AR9. The 9mm AR models tend to come in two varieties, those with dedicated 9mm only lower receivers and those that use standard .223/5.56 lowers fitted with magazine adapters.

Some models, including the Just Right Carbine, are built around proprietary actions that accept AR-15 accessories. The receivers, barrels and controls are unique but the removable grips and six-position adjustable shoulder stocks can be swapped out for popular aftermarket AR-15 upgrades.

If the AR-15 is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other designs to enjoy. For instance, the Chiappa Firearms M1-9 is a modern variation of the WWII-era M1 carbine. One of the more unusual options (if you can find one) is the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 which folds in half for easy storage.

Kel-Tec Sub-2000
Kel-Tec Sub-2000

TWO: Proven Designs
Many semi-automatic 9mm PCC platforms use blowback-operated actions, which are among the simplest and most reliable designs available. The bolt assembly is held in place by its own weight and the recoil spring. The force of the cartridge case being pushed backwards by expanding gases cycles the bolt. That’s all there is to it. There’s little in the way of complex parts, gas tubes or pistons to worry about failing and the guns are often easier to clean and lubricate.

Chiappa M1-9
Chiappa M1-9

THREE: Pistol Magazine Compatibility
Just like the Ruger PC9 mentioned earlier, many of the modern PCC platforms feed from removable semi-automatic pistol magazines. Right now many carbines have magazine wells and bolt assemblies designed to work with the common, easy to find and inexpensive Glock factory and aftermarket magazines. This is especially convenient if you already own, or plan to buy, a Glock pistol. Companies that make pistols as well as carbines, like Beretta, often build their carbines to accept the same magazines as their handguns.



FOUR: Low Levels of Felt Recoil
I continue to be baffled by the notion that if a gun doesn’t leave the owner battered and bruised at the end of a practice session it’s not a legitimate home-defensive option. Guns don’t need to hurt the operator in order to be effective. In fact, low recoil provides a couple of important tactical advantages. Any activity associated with pain can cause us to hesitate. In a fight for your life, when every moment counts, it’s important to avoid any unnecessary hesitations that may cloud a defender’s judgment. Low recoil also aids in placing faster, more precise follow-up shots.

Sig MPX
Sig MPX

FIVE: Cheap and Plentiful Practice Ammunition

Proper practice sessions held on a regular basis are the key to mastering a carbine’s controls and to improved accuracy. The more rounds fired downrange per practice session the better. As of this writing, the only platforms I can find that are cheaper to run than the 9mm are those chambered in .22 Long Rifle. The good news is that practice-grade 9mm is more readily available than .22 (which is still experiencing shortages) and can be found in sporting goods and big-box stores around the country.





SIX: Top Notch Defense-Grade Ammunition

The 9mm cartridge is not just popular in the United States, it’s one of the most common calibers used around the world for military, law enforcement, and civilian applications. Millions of dollars have gone into improving bullet designs and overall cartridge effectiveness. More +P loadings are available now than ever before. This improvement in cartridge performance combined with carbine magazine capacities ranging from 17 to 33 rounds provides a level of firepower not to be taken lightly, especially at home-defense distances.

9mm defensive ammo
There is effective 9mm defensive ammo available, and it’s made more so via the higher velocities attained when fired through a 16-inch barrel.

SEVEN: Improved Ammunition Performance
Generally speaking, 9mm pistols are constructed with barrels somewhere between 3- to 5-inches in length. Carbines, on the other hand, are usually fitted with 16-inch barrels. This increased length boosts the performance of the cartridge because of the longer powder burn time, which increases velocity, and additional rifling that improves bullet stability.

The degree to which performance improves when using a carbine depends on the load fired. But in some cases, especially with +P ammunition, the increase in downrange energy is impressive. This table shows some of the 16-inch barrel performance results gleaned from carbine tests posted to this website along with the manufacturers’ listed pistol velocities for comparison.

The standard velocity loads shown here demonstrated a velocity increase of 101 to 238 fps. resulting in bullet energy going up by 70 to 153 ft.-lbs. when fired through a 16-inch barrel. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But it’s the +P loads that seem to benefit the most from the longer barrel. Velocity jumped between 173 to 684 fps. increasing bullet energy by 94 to 356 ft.-lbs. 



EIGHT: Flexible and Fun To Shoot
Whenever possible, it makes sense to invest in firearms that can fill multiple roles instead of just one. The 9mm PCCs fall into this category. These platforms are ideal for informal plinking, target shooting, home defense, or riding along as a trunk gun. I’ve heard that a good sized part of what is driving the new interest in these guns are the new divisions in 3-Gun and other practical-style competitions that allow the use of 9mm carbines. Imagine spending a day honing your shooting skills at a match, getting home, giving your carbine a quick cleaning, and then staging the gun you know inside and out to defend your home in case of an emergency. That’s about as flexible as a gun gets.

RELOADERS CORNER: Barrel Twist Rate

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Understanding the relationship between bullets and barrel twist helps prevent mistakes. Here’s what you need to know…

Glen Zediker

Sierra 90gr MatchKing

Why am I devoting this space this time to such a topic? Well, because it’s commonly asked about, and, no doubt, because it influences some of the decisions and options faced in choosing the best-performing load for our needs. Making a mistake in choosing twist can limit both the selection and performance in the range of usable bullet weights and styles.

First, barrel twist rate is a component in the architecture of the barrel lands and grooves. The lands and grooves form a spiral, a twist, that imparts spin to a bullet, and the rate of twist is expressed in terms of how far in inches a bullet travels to make one full rotation. “1-10” (one-in-ten) for example means “one full rotation for each ten inches of travel.”

Bullet length, not weight, determines how much rotation is necessary for stability. Twist rate suggestions, though, are most usually given with respect to bullet weight, but that’s more of a generality for convenience’s sake, I think. The reason is that with the introduction of higher-ballistic-coefficient bullet designs, which are longer than conventional forms, it is easily possible to have two same-weight bullets that won’t both stabilize from the same twist rate.

70gr VLD
Good example: 70-grain VLD (left) needs an 8; the Sierra 69-grain MatchKing next to it does fine with a 9. It’s bullet length that determines the needed twist, not just weight.

The M-16/AR15 barrel changes give a good example. Short history of mil-spec twist rates: Originally it was a 1-12, which was pretty standard for .224-caliber varminting-type rounds, like .222 Remington, which were near-universally running bullet weights either 52- or 55-grain. That worked with the 55-grain FMJ ammo issued then. Later came the SS109 63-grain round, with a bullet that was a bit much for a 1-12. The military solution was total overkill: 1-7. That’s a very fast twist.

Commercially, the 1-9 twist became the standard for .223 Remington for years. It’s still popular, but is being replaced, as far as I can tell, by the 1-8. An increasingly wider selection of barrels are done up in this twist rate. I approve.

1-8 twist.
Generally, well, always actually, I recommend erring toward the faster side of a barrel twist decision. 8 is becoming a “new standard” for .224 caliber, replacing 9 in the process. Reason is that new bullets tend to be bigger rather than smaller. Don’t let a too-slow twist limit your capacity to exploit the promise of better long-range performance.

I’d always rather have a twist too fast than not fast enough. For a .223 Rem. 1-9 is not fast enough for anything longer than a routine 68-70-grain “magazine bullet,” like a Sierra 69gr MatchKing. 1-8 will stabilize any of the newer heavier bullets intended for magazine-box cartridge overall lengths, like a Sierra 77gr MatchKing. An 8 twist will also shoot most of the longer, higher-BC profiles, like the Sierra 80gr MatchKing (which is not intended to be assembled into a round that’s loaded down into a magazine).

Other popular calibers have likewise edged toward faster and faster “standard” twist rates, and that includes 6mm and .308. Once those were commonly found as 1-10 and 1-12, respectively, but now there’s more 1-7s and 1-9s offered. Reason is predictable: longer and heavier bullets, and mostly longer, have likewise become more commonly used in chamberings like .308 Winchester and 6XC.

The tell-tale for an unstable (wobbling or tumbling) bullet is an oblong hole in the target paper, a “keyhole,” and that means the bullet contacted the target at some attitude other than nose-first.

Base your next barrel twist rate decision on the longest, heaviest bullets you choose to use, and at the same time realize that the rate chosen has limited those choices. If the longest, heaviest bullet you’ll shoot (ever) is a 55-grain .224, then there’s honestly no reason not to use a 1-12. Likewise true for .308-caliber: unless you’re going over 200-grain bullet weight, a 1-10 will perform perfectly well. A rate that is a good deal too fast to suit a particular bullet may cause damage to that bullet (core/jacket integrity issues), and I have seen that happen with very light .224 bullets, like 45-grain, fired through, say, a 1-7 twist. At the least, with that great a mismatch you might not get the velocity up where it could be.

.224 bullet extremes
Clearly, these don’t need the same barrel twist to attain stability: the bigger bullet needs double the twist rate that will fully stabilize the smaller one. There’s quite an extreme range of .224-caliber bullets, like this 35-grain varmint bullet and 90-grain match bullet. Now. Do not fire the little bullet in the big bullet’s barrel! It probably would not make it to the target… Swap barrels and bullets and the big one will likely hit sideways.

Bullet speed and barrel length have an influence on bullet stability, and a higher muzzle velocity through a longer tube will bring on more effect from the twist, but it’s a little too edgy if a particular bullet stabilizes only when running maximum velocity. My failed 90-grain .224 experiment is a good example of that: I could get them asleep in a 1-7 twist 25-inch barrel, which was chambered in .22 PPC, but could not get them stablized in a 20-inch 1-7 .223 Rem. The answer always is to get a twist that’s correct.

Effects on the load itself? Yes, a little at least. There is a tad amount more pressure from a faster-twist barrel using the same load, and the reason is initial bullet acceleration is slower.

The preceding was adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available here at Midsouth. For more information on this book, and others, plus articles and information for download, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

RELOADERS CORNER: SD Pt. 2

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Here’s how to use (or not use) Standard Deviation calculations in ammo decisions, what they are, and aren’t… Keep reading…

Glen Zediker

A standard deviation plotted out is a bell curve. Chances are outstanding that a range session calculation will plot into what they call a “normal curve.” Like any normal bell curve, it can get divided into three segments and given values, and, technically, these are the “standard deviations.” It’s “a” standard deviation rather than “the” standard deviation.

SD bell curve plot

Assuming a normal curve, the values are that about 68 percent of forecasted results will lie within one standard deviation of the mean, about 95 percent lie within two, and over 99 percent lie within three standard deviations. If we have an SD calculated to be 12, that means that applying one standard deviation means that about 68 percent of all “next shots” will be +/- 12 feet per second. Since, though, the curve is in threes, in effect if not in fact, that means that a scant number of the shots pose a chance for +/- 24 and some teeny chance remains for shots to go to +/- 36. That, however, is extrapolating or predicting with data and that’s not really wise and doubtlessly uncalled for. Data collection is a record of numbers and I do know that there’s 100 percent chance that the highest and lowest velocities collected for an SD calculation did, in fact, happen. That’s what matters. No matter what the shot results calculated into for an SD, those were the two that represent the highest and lowest prints on the target.

It’s mathematically not possible for an SD to be higher than the greatest single raw deviant, but I do for a fact know that an SD can easily be far lower than the worst shot. Given how it’s calculated, along with how many samples contributed, it’s plain that the nearer the majority are to themselves the less impact a bad one or more has.

I said in a very open-ended way last article that a tolerable SD is 12. Anything more than that is not good; anything less than that probably won’t perform noticeably any, if at all, better than a 12. However! It is at this number, so I say, where the often-uttered tune of “…SD doesn’t matter…” and its refrain of “…seen good accuracy with high SDs…” starts and stops. Twelve. That’s it. Now we have an SD that “doesn’t matter.” The reason this is stuck out here is that everyone has heard this chorus but hopefully figured that it couldn’t be taken universally at literal value. Well it can’t.  So now you know! It’s 12. 12 should not be responsible for a points loss, even accounting for or including coincidence of any one shot hitting the edge limit of usual group size.

(Yes, 13 or 14 or 16 or even 20, which is often given as a “limit,” might well be a realistic ceiling but I drew a line to have one. Since there’s a line, now we can cross it and commence argument. I won’t use any load in competition that wouldn’t calculate to a single-digit SD. My 600-yard .223 Rem. load tested to an SD of 3.18 with a Range of 8 fps.)

So after all this has been said, I don’t give SD as much weight in my load decisions as some do. The reason for my focus on it here, as said in the first article, is because that’s the usual “standard” measure of consistency. I look at the speeds as they come up on the chronograph display and write them down. I weigh range and extreme spread more heavily, and I want to see really small variations over the number of test rounds I fire. It’s a matter of waning patience and waxing time. If I see a variance that could cost a point, that load is abandoned.

TESTING TIP
If you don’t have a chronograph or don’t want to burden a testing session with using one, watch for a correlation between the elevation dispersion and the wind dispersion of test groups. At 600 yards I always test from position (prone, “suited up”). No chronograph (muzzle-mounted chronographs now make this a non-issue). I’ll already have speed-checked the load I’m now down on the mat with. When I shoot my groups, I honestly don’t pay much attention at all to anything but measuring how level I got my perforations. Attempting shot-to-shot wind corrections when testing for ammunition accuracy throws another variable into it that might be most misleading. If I come up with a group that’s a foot wide but only three inches tall, I’m happy.

5 TIPS FOR LOWER SDs
Aside from finding the perfect and magical load combination, ha, there are a few things that do seem to help tighten shot-to-shot velocity deviations. They’ve all be talked all the way through and back again in this space in other articles, but, considered ultimately that this is the overall effect they have, here they are again:

One. Primer seating: fully seated onto a flat pocket bottom.

Two. Consistent propellant charge: weigh the charges if metering isn’t dead-on perfect.

Three. Ignition efficiency: consider that inside flash hole deburring routine…

Four. Temperature insensitivity: choose propellants that exhibit stability under extremes.

Five. Balance: strive to find a propellant that fills the case, but “loosely” (no compressed charges); even more, avoid an overage of air space. These both allow too much variance in ignition pattern.

Propellant level.

Addition
I learn things all the time. A most knowledgeable and helpful reader pointed out a detail in SD calculation that is better adapted to calculations for ballistics, and it helps because of the usually relatively small size sample involved. We’re not going to chronograph 100s of rounds, usually 10-20. So, instead of dividing the average square of the deviations by the number of samples, but the average square of the values, less one (n-1). That helps any distortion of results toward a number that calculates too small. Keep in mind always that SD is an estimate, in one way of looking at it.

This article is adapted from Glen’s book, Handloading For Competition, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information on that and other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

EVALUATION: Which is Better For CCW, 9mm or .380?

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For the ultimate in concealment and also comfort, a small-framed handgun is great, but consider caliber selection carefully. Here are a few thoughts on a common debate…

Jeff Johnston, NRA Family

9mm vs .380

So, you want a gun for concealed carry, but you can’t decide between the venerable 9mm and the handy .380 Auto. While I’m not going to solve the debate for everyone, I will provide you with some facts and insights to make your choice easier. Before we get started, however, there are some points you should know:

Water capacity is the standard measurement for case capacity comparison, because powder volumes vary.

Due to the laws of physics, any given cartridge will produce less perceived recoil if fired from a heavier gun, while a lighter gun will result in more.

Less recoil, in general, means more accurate shooting and faster followup shots. Gun writers call this “shootability,” although it’s definitely a very subjective term.

9mm Luger
The 9mm Luger (aka 9mmX19, 9mm Parabellum) is likely America’s most popular handgun cartridge because it offers a balance of power, shootability, reliability and concealability. Because of these traits, the cartridge has become so popular that it has gained another advantage: options. If you choose 9mm, you are immediately granted myriad options in loads, handgun models and accessories for your new gun.

A 9mmx19 cartridge features a bullet that is 9mm, or .355 inches in diameter. Bullet weights range from 80 to 147 grains with 115- and 124-grain bullets being the most popular. Its case is .380 inches in diameter, 19mm long and can hold a maximum of 10 grains of water. A typical 9mm Luger load contains about 6 grains of powder used to propel a 115-grain bullet to 1,000 feet per second (fps) out of a 2.75-inch barrel. (Velocities increase along with barrel length.) This produces approximately 255 ft.-lbs. energy while generating 5.36 ft.-lbs. of recoil energy from a pistol weighing 1 pound.

Walther CCP
9mms are available that are just about as small in size as .380s, like this Walther CCP, but keep in mind that the smaller and lighter the gun, the harder it’s going to kick.

.380 ACP
Firearms chambered in .380 Automatic Colt Pistol (aka, .380 Auto, 9mmx17, .380 Browning Court, 9mm Short, .380 Corto) are continuing to grow in popularity. That’s because the cartridge, with its very short case, can be made to function safely and efficiently in extremely small-framed guns. Because the pressures produced by the little cartridge aren’t excessive, the guns don’t require pounds of steel reinforcement, like, for instance a .44 Magnum. Yet the cartridge is more powerful than other small-framed guns such as .22 LR, .25 ACP and .32 S&W. Yet even in a lightweight gun such as the 10-ounce Ruger LCP, recoil is mild thanks to the .380’s modest ballistic data. Consider the following specifications:

The .380 Auto features the same diameter bullet as the 9mm and the same diameter case, yet it is shorter at 17mm in case length. It can hold a maximum of 5.3 grains of water. A typical load carries roughly 3 grains of powder that propels a 95-grain bullet at 845 fps to produce 151 ft.-lbs. of energy from a 2.75-inch barrel. It produces about 2.76 ft.-lbs. recoil energy from a 1-pound firearm.

So, when compared to the 9mm Luger, the .380 is smaller, lighter in recoil but not as powerful when it strikes a target. Now let’s take a look at the numbers in more detail.

WALTHER PPK
The venerable Walther PPK is a well-proven and very concealable .380 that still maintains great shootability.

Head to Head
While 255 ft.-lbs. of bullet energy from the muzzle of a 9mm Luger is not a lot in the firearm world — consider that an average .30-06 deer rifle produces around 2,500 ft.-lbs. energy — a 9mm’s energy is far greater than a .22lr’s piddly 105 ft.-lbs. and many other smaller calibers. It has about 68 percent more energy than the .380 Auto. The question then: Is this extra power worth the 9mm’s extra weight and recoil?

If all things are equal, more velocity means greater penetration. A 9mm Luger typically out-penetrates .380 Auto bullets, but not as much as you might think. That may be due to the fact that the 9mm’s extra energy causes its bullets to expand to a slightly greater diameter, and expansion retards penetration due to greater surface area. But if two bullets penetrate the same distance, the one that has greatest surface area is best because it produces more tissue damage. No doubt, due to its advantage in velocity and energy, the 9mm Luger is the clear winner in terminal performance.

But for the same reasons, the .380 wins in shootability, with one caveat. Because the .380 has 94 percent less recoil (if fired from an equal-weight gun), it’s easier to shoot. But, you must consider that 9mms are typically a few ounces heavier than guns chambered in .380, and so the extra weight reduces that 94-percent figure considerably. Also, the smaller the gun, the smaller its grip and the more recoil it has. So a .380’s advantage in shootability is somewhat negated when fired from the smallest guns available in that chambering. You should also remember that “shootability” isn’t everything, or we’d all carry peashooters. Carry caliber choice, until the laws of physics are altered, boils down to finding a tradeoff between shootability, gun size, and power that works for you. It’s important to remember that the bigger gun you get, the tougher it is to conceal, but the easier it is to shoot.

Some of the smallest and most concealable guns made –which still maintain the prerequisite features for serious carry consideration — are chambered in .380 Auto due to the cartridge’s diminutive size. Examples are the 8.3-ounce Kel-Tec P3AT, the 9.97-ounce Kahr P380, and the 8.8-ounce Diamondback DB380. (All these guns weigh just under a pound when fully loaded.) On average, 9mm versions of these guns weigh 4 to 5 ounces more. Five ounces doesn’t seem like much, but for most people it’s the difference between a true pocket gun that you can wear in your front jeans or shorts pocket without it pulling down your pants, and a 20-ounce (fully loaded) gun for which you probably need a belt and a holster. In terms of pure concealability, the .380 is the clear winner.

For options and choices, the 9mm wins again. More gun models at all price ranges, holsters, ammo and accessories can be found for it than perhaps any handgun (with the possible exception of the 1911). One notable option here is ammunition. The 9mm, because of its larger case capacity, can be downloaded to a .380’s velocity if needed, or uploaded to +P status where it can produce velocities of 1,200 fps and energies nearing 400 ft.-lbs. if called for.

Lastly, while there is no discernible difference in reliability between the cartridges themselves, bear in mind that, in general, lighter-weight guns are less reliable than heavier guns of equal quality. So, if you choose a .380 in a 10-ounce gun, while it shouldn’t jam often, it will likely experience more malfunctions over time than a full-sized handgun would. That’s just how it is.

Hornady .380 ammo.
With a round as small as .380 ACP choose the ammo wisely. The newer breed of specialty loads such as the Hornady Critical Defense series adds some security to a decision to choose a smaller handgun for defense. See Midsouth offerings HERE.

M16 being replaced?

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After some 53 years in service, could the M16-series be on its way out? Keep reading…

Source: FOX News

Army researchers are testing half a dozen ammunition variants for a new prototype assault rifle that fires a larger round in order to introduce a possible M16/M4 replacement by 2020, according to Army Times.

The goal is to create a new light machine gun and inform the next-generation individual assault rifle/round combo, the report says. The weapon designs that are being tested will be “unconventional,” officials said.

Intermediate calibers being tested include the .260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, .264 USA as well as other noncommercial intermediate calibers, including cased telescoped ammo, Army officials said.

6.5 Creedmoor
6.5 Creedmoor

Stay tuned…

Judicial Watch Sues ATF for Records of Attempted Reclassification of AR-15 Ammuniton

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Judicial Watch has announced that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), a component of the Department of Justice, seeking records of communications related to a proposed reclassification that would effectively ban certain types of AR-15 ammunition as armor-piercing.

ball ammo

Source: Judicial Watch

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-00600)).

The ATF is reportedly reconsidering its February 2015 proposal to revise the 2014 Regulation Guide regarding the reclassification of certain ammunition.

In March 2015, more than 200 members of Congress wrote to former ATF director Todd Jones expressing their “serious concern” that the proposal might violate the Second Amendment by restricting ammunition that had been primarily used for “sporting purposes.” The letter asserts the ATF’s move “does not comport with the letter or spirit of the law and will interfere with Second Amendment rights by disrupting the market for ammunition that law abiding Americans use for sporting and other legitimate purposes.”

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the agency failed to respond to a March 9, 2015, FOIA request seeking information on the ammo ban effort:

All records of communications, including emails, to or from employees or officials of the ATF related to the decision to revise the ATF 2014 Regulation Guide to no longer exempt 5.56 mm. SS109 and M855 (i.e., “green tip” AR-15) ammunition from the definition of “armor-piercing” ammunition.

The precise statutory definition of “armor-piercing ammunition” can be found in 18 U.S.C §921(a)(17).

“This is yet another example of how Obama’s wanton use of the ‘pen and the phone’ attempted to undermine the constitutional rights of all Americans, as opposed to upholding the rule of law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Obama ATF simply ignored our request on their ammo ban. Let’s hope the Trump administration finally brings transparency to this out-of-control agency.”

About Judicial Watch
Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.

For more information, visit Judicial Watch

ATF letter

Read the entire letter (PDF): Click HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: The Value of Accuracy

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Can you take a focus on accuracy too far, or never far enough? Here are some thoughts on why better accuracy (really) matters…

Glen Zediker

dial indicator

Anyone who has ever read one of my books knows the extent of tickiness that can be involved in handloading. Competitive shooters also tend to get pretty wrapped up and sometimes entrenched hopelessly in technical rifle details. All these things we do are done in the hope of better accuracy: smaller shot groups.

Why bother with tickiness? Well, the answer (always) depends on the level of tickiness afoot and on the level of reward we get from it. No other answer makes any sense.

Accuracy always matters. If you do something different or new in the handloading process and see better shot groups, that no doubt was worth it. Ultimately, it was worth it. It might have been upgrading tools, experimenting with components, one or more case prep steps you hadn’t tried before. It’s still always a payback over the expense, time, and effort. But. It’s another level, attaining another level. It’s stepped up. I’ve compared all this to other endeavors where attaining that new level forever eclipses the old. But then there’s also the time and the effort. When I load ammunition, I consider its purpose. I do not turn case necks for ammo that’s going through my old SP1 on a Sunday afternoon of tin can hunting with my sons. For that, I’m interested in volume and function: the best way to load a lot of .223 Rem. with bulk-packed bullets and ball gunpowder, and with the fewest number of steps. We need a lot of ammo because we have eradicated entire species of discarded objects.

But, let’s for the rest of this assume that the sole purpose is the smallest group sizes we can get, day in and day out. That’s easier to talk about and make sense of, because, no doubt, there are factors that influence it, and I do know what they are.

I’ve always judged accuracy by group size. No shock. Most people do it thataway. I’m also way on more concerned with the worst group my combination shows me than I am the best group. Not everyone views that the same. When it gets down to it, though, I want to know what the worst shot I can anticipate might be because that information is very valuable in adjusting for the next shot. Now I’m talking about shooting for score in a tournament.

I picture a circle that outlines the group size I warrant for my rifle/ammo combination. For my own purpose of clarity, I call it “the accuracy cone.” This circle gets bigger the farther I’m shooting. Shots outside that circle need correction, shots inside that probably don’t. Yes, no, I don’t always launch a perfect shot. So honesty matters, objective evaluation of the shot break.

Group ilustration
You are always shooting a group! You might be aiming at one point but you’re shooting a group. The aiming point is really the center of the group. That’s a “zero,” by the way, or that’s how to zero, but this is straying beyond the levee here. This drawing is a representation of the importance of smaller group sizes. One of the biggest helps that great accuracy provides is that it’s clear when there’s need for sight correction, and when there isn’t. The smaller circle the ammo covers on a target face, the more defining sight corrections can be. If that’s not clear: A perfect shot break on a correct sight setting at 600 yards from a 1 MOA combination means that a shot 3 inches left, right, up, or down away from target center is still a “perfect” shot, even though the perforation point was imperfect. With a 1/4 MOA combination, we’re defining “perfect” with more certainty, because “imperfect” is anything outside 1 inch of target center. Follow? This isn’t just theory.

Mathematically-oriented people may tell you (and I understand this) that testing with 3-round groups provides accurate feedback of a round’s performance. It has to do with probabilities and such. However! I believe too much in luck, or as Buddy Dave calls it, “The Bullet Fairy.” Math-folk will further tell you that the more rounds fired the bigger the shot groupings will become. I’ve seen many instances where that wasn’t true, where the first two or three rounds defined the outer edge of what ultimately became a 10-shot group. I can’t argue with math, but I can argue with myself to the point that I want to see more rounds, and more groups, before I cook up a big batch of a component combination and call it good, or call it “match ammo.”

If you are a competitive shooter, better accuracy helps you get all the points you hold for. We can’t, any of us, ask for more than that. If you are a varmint hunter, it means a close miss may become a hit. The smaller the target the more it matters, or the smaller the goal area on a target is. Aim small, miss small. So let’s miss smaller… Examples can continue, and they might involve a trophy elk in New Mexico, or something even more important to stop in its tracks. It’s doesn’t really matter if the target is 10 feet away, or 10 yards, or 1000 yards, a more accurate firearm is a more effective tool. You can’t miss! Or you sure don’t want to.

accuracy cone
This equals that. Accuracy, on-target group size, is a “cone” that gets wider, expands across distance. A 1/2-inch 100 yard gun is not a 5-inch 1000 yard gun. It shoots bigger than that. However! A solid load-test group like this one David Tubb fired at 288 yards held up on down the pike at 1000. Tip: velocity consistency is a key to keeping a group together at extended distances.

LAST WORD
The value of accuracy is undeniable, but the value of time and effort and expense does indeed have a limit. No, I don’t do “everything” possible to my ammo to make it perfect. I have found a few things that really help, things that are reasonably (by my standards) good paybacks. Another tip: Get a good barrel! Honestly: that gets the most from whatever you do, or don’t do, to help the cause.

This article is adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information on that and other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

RELOADERS CORNER: Common Problems

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As careful as we want to be, loading-bench mistakes are just about certain at some point. Here are 3 thoughts to help you avoid them, and also some ways to put a mistake behind you.

Glen Zediker

Standard Bullet Puller
Forster Standard Bullet Puller

This isn’t going to be a “troubleshooting” guide of epic proportions because following along with the suggested ops and processes, using the suggested tooling, there’s not a lot that can go worng. But sometimes even when everything is right, things can go awry. We all make mistakes. There may be a few confounding eventualities that will arise.

No case lube
You might forget or overlook putting lube on a case. Well. Lube each case, each time. Lube a case over each time it’s run through. Don’t think it hangs on. A stuck case remover is tool you don’t want to meet, and here’s to hoping you never see one. However, go ahead and buy one because it’s less embarrassing than borrowing one. Ha.

stuck case remover
Here’s to hoping you never see one of these… It’s a stuck case remover, and this is from Hornady. Folks, there’s a drill bit involved… Lube your cases!

“Ooopsie” on the propellant charge
Don’t do that. Check two or three times before calling a meter “set.” This was gone over thoroughly in another article. And read the load two or three times, and check your scale setting at least that many times as well. A mistake like that can be disastrous. Too little propellant can likewise create huge problems. Pay special attention to propellant supply level when using a meter, and even more attention when using a progressive press. Fortunately, loading most of the propellants wisely suitable for .223, .308, or most other popular rifle cartridges, it’s easy to notice a short charge. The propellant is, or should be, easily visible within the case neck. It’s a real issue with pistol loading: some of those propellants don’t reach halfway up the inside case walls.

bullet puller
There are different forms bullet-pullers take, and I prefer the slower but somewhat more “gentle” and likewise more secure collet-types. This is a Forster “Universal.” Bullet pullers grip the bullet in the jaws of a collet, which is tightened using a handle or nut, and then withdraw the case, dislodge the bullet. Simple. I do not like the “kinetic” pullers, which are essentially hammers that rely on intertia to dislodge a bullet after beating it a few times. They’re effective but daggone obnoxious in operation.

Triple-checking settings and notes
Same advice goes for indexing to any recorded setting. Powder meters, bullet seaters, anything. Just give it two sober checks before proceeding to shuck away. I’ve put the wrong setting on a bullet seater a few times… I learn all this the hard way, I freely admit, and here’s to hoping you can learn from me.

The wrong load
So what do you do if you realize there’s been a mistake made in a batch of ammunition? Of course, it depends on the mistake and what it might mean. If it’s not over-pressure, it’s probably best to just go ahead and shoot it up and reuse the cases. If it’s a bullet seated too deeply, same advice.

As long as safety is not a question, just shoot it. But there are times that’s not wisely possible.

Breaking down a loaded round requires removing the bullet. Of course, there are tools. Bullet pullers are tedious, as you might imagine. They also purport to allow for the reuse of bullets, but I sho don’t take that seriously. Removing a bullet, having already been seated, and then reseating it, there’s bound to be some compromise somewhere, or more, in the bullet integrity, accuracy at the least. The grip of the puller isn’t going to be benignly harmless either.

Before you pull a bullet, set it a little deeper. Makes this op on easier. Adjust the seating die down another five or ten thousandths. That breaks the “seal.”

Pay attention to what you are doing! For every moment you spend doing it. And write down what you did…

Check out choices at Midsouth HERE and HERE (bullet pullers and stuck case removers, and don’t forget to check HERE to avoid the last one)

ONE LAST…

sooty case neck
Soot means there wasn’t complete sealing there in firing. Don’t worry about the little ding you see here either. Just shoot it again.

Sooty cases. You might see sooty case necks and shoulders. That’s common, and that’s not really a problem. The reason is pressure, lack of it, that has then meant the case areas did not fully (fully) expand. Sometimes this is unavoidable. Just clean it off and use the case again. A little more: because it is necessary to create gaps between cartridge case and chamber wall, some leakage is just about a given. Excessive leakage, again, usually just means the load is a little on the lighter side. The combination of case and chamber also might mean it’s uavoidable. Thinner case neck walls (which means a little smaller net case neck outside diameter) in a more generous chamber might mean there won’t be idealized conformation to the chamber neck area. I see this often on case necks that have been full-circumference outside turned.

This article is adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information on that and other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

AR15 Gas System Enhancements, Part 2

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Reducing the influence of excessive AR15 gas system pressure is most directly done reducing the pressure itself. Here’s how!

Glen Zediker

This is the second of two articles on ways to tame down an “over-functioning” AR15 gas system. Aside from running more reliably, reducing the evil influence of an overly-rapidly unlocking system improves cartridge case condition, which means longer case life. The first article talked about ways to increase the time the bolt stays locked, or delay its unlocking, however you want to see it.

Going more directly to the “source,” there are also ways to reduce the actual amount of gas that gets to the bolt carrier key and that’s up now for this one.

Adjustable gas block
Here’s an adjustable gas manifold. It’s a way to restrict the flow of gases through the system. Don’t get too greedy! Make sure to err on the side of function. These are probably the single most effective means to tame over-function. Check this one out HERE.

An adjustable gas manifold or “gas block” is an effective means to restrict the amount of gas that gets into the system. This device attaches at the port location, replacing the existing manifold (or front sight base if it’s a standard-configuration build) and will have some manner of valving function whereby propellant gases allowed to pass through the gas port in the barrel, through the manifold, and into and through the gas tube are restricted. Some incorporate a valve that regulates the passage dimension. Others provide a vent, more or less, to expel excess gas. I prefer the “valve-type” over the “bleed-off-style” devices.

Installation is straightforward, and these are available from a wide array of sources, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that will fit even a custom-profile barrel. Standard for this area is 0.750-inches diameter. What matters is that the inside diameter of the manifold matches the outside diameter of the barrel at the connecting position.

There are different approaches to using this device but it’s really pretty simple. Figure out the minimum gas flow necessary to function the action and then open the flow-control screw adjustment a half turn more to give a little safety margin. Don’t get greedy. I shut one down all the way (minimum flow) and then open it up until the rifle functions.

The only foible on an adjustable manifold is that it has to fit in with the architecture of the setup you have. A retro-fit requires removing any muzzle device that might be installed and, of course, removing and later reinstalling the gas tube (make sure you check that it isn’t binding).

I have used other products that provide alternate means to do the same thing, like a gas tube with a valved adjustment mechanism. Sometimes something like that is best for anyone wanting to run a more standard gas manifold system. They work just fine, and dandy.

adjustable gas tube
There are other means for softening the system, and this adjustable gas tube is an example. Others include the “pig-tail” gas tubes that spiral around the barrel to increase tube length/volume. They all work…

Other gas tube modifications that work have been those formed in a spiral that wraps around the barrel, and I’ve seen tubes with expansion chambers (area of larger volume) along the span of the tube. What’s happening with these isn’t reducing the amount of gas, it’s just giving it more distance or room to weaken its presence.

The best solution I’ve yet encountered is fairly new and is an adjustable bolt carrier key. This requires no modification or labor about the barrel, and also works with virtually any AR15. Remove the old carrier key and replace it with the adjustable key.

adjustable carrier key
Here’s fairly new: an adjustable bolt carrier key from Sun Devil. David Beatty hit a long ball with this device, the ADIGS. I like it because it can be added to virtually any AR15 out there, even one that needs to maintain outwardly stock appearance. Works great. See more HERE.

A good while back I talked about gas port pressure and propellant burning rates and cautioned against using a propellant on the slower-burning side of “suitable propellant chart” center. To reiterate, I don’t think any propellant slower than Hodgdon 4895 should be used, but I know full well I can safely extend that range one more step to say something like Varget or RE15 is the limit. Slower propellants create more gas port pressure because they peak farther down the barrel, nearer the gas port location. Related: I recommend to anyone who’s going to do a longer custom barrel to request that the builder relocate the gas port another inch forward. There’s more gas contained in a longer barrel for a longer time: more pressure hits the carrier key as a result.

long gas tube
It’s common for an NRA High Power Rifle to get its gas port relocated forward another inch, or even two. The reason is because the 24-inch+ barrels we run “trap” more gas inside, which increases the pressure available at the gas port. The port farther forward gives more time and room (all the gas goes out when the bullet exits the muzzle).

No doubt, if you load up an AR15 with a heavy carrier and related parts then combine that with a gas restriction device, the range of propellants can move one or more steps slower-burning. In any of my full-blown across-the-course race guns, I can construct and successfully deploy loads that would wreck a rack-grade AR15. Don’t mess with that. Enjoy smoother and “softer” function and the assurance that you can run closer to a maximum load without fear of the odd and inevitable “pressure spike” causing problems. That’s why to do it.

The preceding was adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available here at Midsouth, click HERE to order. For more information on this book, and others, plus articles and information for download, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

Reloaders Corner: AR15 Gas System Enhancements, Part 1

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AR15s can have problems “over-functioning.” There are two essential ways to make your AR15 behave better! Here’s the first…

Glen Zediker

Right. I know this column is about handloading and reloading, so why am I spending space talking about gas system function? Well, it’s ammunition-related, or, at the least it is influenced by ammunition, and therefore also influences ammunition choices.

First, an AR15 gas system “over-functions” when it fills up too quickly and with too much burned propellant gas. The AR15 uses a “direct impingement” gas system, sometimes called an impulse system, and that means there’s a port hole in the barrel that lets gas out and through a gas tube, and this gas goes directly into the bolt carrier key and sends the whole works backwards. There’s no piston (although piston systems exist that can be fitted to these firearms) or other regulating device beyond gas port hole location and size.

AR15 bolt carriers
An M-16-profile carrier (back photo) weighs about 1 ounce more. Big big difference in slowing down initial movement. Get the right firing pin! If it’s a full-diameter carrier it will have a shrouded firing pin recess and takes a “large-collar” pin for correct operation.

The effect or upshot of over-function is overly quick bolt unlocking. The symptoms include extraction problems, damaged case rims (related), overly-blown cartridge case shoulders, excessive case head expansion, and, generally, accelerated wear on the action hisseff. As with many things, the severity of the excess function likewise increases excess in its manifestations.

What happens is that the case is swelled up under pressure inside the chamber, as it should be, but then it’s still swelled up when the bolt opens and the extractor takes a yank on the case rim to get it out of the chamber.

With respect to handloading ammunition, keeping the bolt in battery a tick longer makes a world of difference in spent case condition. The case has a tick more time to return to closer to normal dimensions and shrink away from the chamber walls. And time is, again, what this is really about. The case will be less stressed and dimensionally nearer original specs, and that means there’s “less” sizing done for next use, in effect. Case life improves and also does longer-term quality for reuse.

So. If we can delay bolt unlocking we’re seriously on to something. The simplest way to slow something down is make it heavier. Heavier things don’t accelerate as fast, they have a greater “moment of inertia,” less resistant to initial movement. Increasing bolt carrier mass is very effective. Keep in mind that what unlocks the bolt isn’t bolt movement, it’s bolt carrier movement. The bolt movement is a natural oucome to rearward travel of the carrier. Minor point but, well, there it is. I run “M-16 style” bolt carriers in all my AR15s. That’s a carrier with a full round section at the end rather than the notched out profile of the standard semi-auto carrier. And, no, an M-16 carrier won’t make a gun full-auto, and, as a matter of fact, carriers with the full-round profile are routinely encountered as “match” bolt carriers. Heavier is better!

Anything contacting the bolt carrier can increase in weight also and be effective. That effectively increases the load against the bolt carrier, and that requires more time to overcome and create movement. The buffer, for instance. I always run heavy buffers in my short guns, and also my hot-rod rifles for Across The Course use. The carbine-length stocks use a shorter spring and also a shorter buffer, and that means a lighter buffer.

AR15 buffers
Here’s an array of buffer components designed to slow the initial back-travel in the carrier. Anything helps, and more than one add-in makes an amazing difference in AR15 manners.

More about the spring’s role in all this next time, along with other more major modifications that will downright tame an AR15. And I’ll also run down a step-by-step on ensuring reliable function in a slowed-down AR15.

The preceding was adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available here at Midsouth. For more information on this book, and others, plus articles and information for download, visit ZedikerPublishing.com