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.

RELOADERS CORNER: Standard Deviation

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Improving longer-range accuracy has a lot to with consistent bullet velocities. First comes understanding it! Here’s a start on it… KEEP READING

chronograph

Glen Zediker

It’s springtime (finally) and one of the things on your list might be working up a load for a new rifle, or new bullet. I’ve talked about testing processes and procedures, and also some about those bullets, and especially those with higher ballistic coefficients. The more aerodynamic bullet, by itself, is no guarantee of a smaller group (and whether you’re shooting one shot or 20 shots, you’re always shooting a group…).

To make the “magic” of a high-BC bullet come to life, they all need to be arriving at the destination at really close to the same speed. On target, that’s all about elevation consistency. It’s pretty commonly accepted among long-range competitive shooters that points losses come more from errant high and low impacts than from missed wind calls. High-BC bullets traveling at more consistent speeds reduces dispersions in all directions. But only if they’re traveling at consistent velocities!

The first step to improving velocity consistency is getting a good way to measure it. That there would be a chronograph. Nowadays especially, there are a number of simple-to-use and inexpensive chronographs available, that are accurate. Some have more features, which mostly revolve around providing printouts, digital records, and calculations, but what matters most (to me at least) is one that lets me easily read the velocity of each shot.

Check Misdouth offerings HERE

MagnetoSpeed
The newer barrel-mounted electro-magnetic chronographs make it really easy. I like the idea of being able to chronograph from shooting position, not just from a benchrest. This is a MagnetoSpeed.

So. What’s next is understanding the terms associated with this area of data-gathering.

“Standard deviation” (SD) is the most common measure of shot-to-shot consistency. It reflects on the SD reflects on the anticipated consistency of bullet velocities (some number of recorded velocities). The “standard” part reflects on a sort of an average of the rounds tested.

[Phrases like “sort of” upset mathematically-oriented folks, so here’s the actual definition: SD is the square root of the mean of the squares of the deviations. More in a bit.]

I pay less attention than many to standard deviation because: I don’t think standard deviation is near as important as is the “range,” which is the lowest and highest speeds recorded. Another that matters is “extreme spread,” which, by definition, is the difference between this shot and the next shot. I watch the speed on each shot. I compare this one to the next one and to the last one, and, as said, find the highest and the lowest.

Why? Well because that’s how I shoot tournament rounds. This one, then another, and another. A low velocity difference means that the accuracy of my judgment of my own wind call has some support.

standard deviation
Standard deviation calculation forms a bell curve. The steeper and narrower the apex of the bell, the narrower the fluctuations were. But there’s always a bell to a bell curve and the greatest deviations from desired standard are reflected in this portion of the plot. Depending on the number of shots that went into the SD calculation, these deviations may be more or less notable than the SD figure suggests. So? Watch each shot. That’s the way to know how a load performs with respect to velocity consistency. SD allows you to estimate how likely it is for “outliers” to show up.

A load that exhibits a low SD is not automatically going to group small, just because a low SD. I’ve had Benchrest competitors tell me that sometimes their best groups don’t come with a low-SD load, but do not apply that to greater distance! At 100 yards a bullet’s time of flight and speed loss are both so relatively small that even what some might call a big variation in bullet velocities (+/-25 fps or so) isn’t going to harm a group, not even the tiny groups it takes to be competitive in that sport. On downrange, though, it really starts to matter. (And keep in mind that “it” is a reference to velocity consistency, whether denoted by SD or otherwise.)

For an example from my notes: Sierra 190gr .308 MatchKing. Its 2600 fps muzzle velocity becomes 2450 at 100 yards and 1750 at 600 yards. (These numbers are rounded but serve for a example.)

If we’re working with a just awful 100 fps muzzle velocity change, that means one bullet goes out at 2550 and the next leaves at 2650, in the worst-case. The first drifts about 28 inches (let’s make it a constant full-value 10-mph wind to keep it simple) and the next slides 26 inches. But! Drop… That is THE factor, and here’s where inconsistent velocities really hurt. With this 190, drop amounts over a 100 fps range are about three times as great as drift amounts. This bullet at 2600 muzzle velocity hits 5-6 inches higher or lower for each 50 fps muzzle velocity difference. That’s going to cost on target, big time. And it gets way, way (way) worse at 1000 yards. Velocity-caused errors compound on top of “normal” group dispersion (which would be group size given perfect velocity consistency). Now, it’s unusual for a wind to be full-value and dead constant, so on-target left and right displacement is even relatively less — but elevation displacement is consistent regardless.

So, my 100 fps example is extreme, but half of that, or a quarter of that, still blows up a score, or an important hit on a target.

propellant charge consistency
This is probably the most influential factor in improving SD: consistent propellant charge. It’s not only that each case has an identical powder load, though, because primer factors, and finding the right combination ultimately is why we do all the testing…

So what’s a tolerable SD? 12. There have been, rest assured, much calculation to lead  up to that answer. That’s the SD that “doesn’t matter” to accuracy, meaning it’s not going to be the leading factor in a miss. It’s more than I’ll accept for a tournament load, but for those I’m looking for an extreme spread never more than 10 fps (the range might be higher, but now we’re just mincing terms). More later…

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

RELOADERS CORNER: Bullet Ballistic Coefficient

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Ballistic coefficient is a term that’s often used but sometimes not fully understood. Keep reading to find out exactly what it is, and what it isn’t…. HERE

nosler rdf
BC is essentially a race between a real bullet and a mathematical bullet. Real bullet never wins… The closer the real bullet gets to the “standard” bullet, though, the higher its BC and the better it’s going to fly. I’d love to get a Kroger-sack full of G1s… Until then, one of these Nosler RDFs will do nicely.

Glen Zediker

A “ballistic coefficient,” or “BC,” is a number that suggests a bullet’s aerodynamic performance.

BC is a component in bullet design that matters much, and it matters more the farther it travels. Bullets that flat out fly, fly flat far out, are of great interest to any longer-range shooter. A bullet with a high(er)-BC is also an advantage at shorter distances, especially when there are variations in the shooting distance. A flatter-shooting (one of the traits supported by a higher BC) bullet means a more flexible zero, a smaller difference in the elevation hold from, say, 100 to 300 yards. BC is influenced by sectional density, bullet weight, and, mostly, its shape or profile.

BCs are derived by comparison. Here’s how that works: There are “standard” bullets that are mathematical models. Bullet designers and ballisticians know which model to apply to different bullet styles. Pistol bullets, for instance, are calculated from (compared to) different models. For the majority of rifle bullets we’ll encounter, one common model is a “G1” (there are others, like G7, which is becoming the popular standard for boat-tail bullets; G1 is based on a flat-base). The flight of this G1 bullet has been calculated at varying velocities and distances. It’s “all math” because a G1 doesn’t exist in a tangible sense.

vld blueprint
Here’s a bullet blueprint. It’s the Bill Davis original 105gr 6mm “VLD” (very low drag). Design factors that influence BC are pretty much every design factor: length, ogive, boat-tail, meplat, weight. All these factors, in this instance, calculate a BC of 0.560. By the way, there’s about a 5 point BC increase for each added 1 grain of bullet weight.

The standard bullet has a BC of 1.000. An actual bullet that’s compared to, for example, the G1 at points, distances downrange, will either be flying faster or slower than the G1 model. If it’s faster, its BC will be greater than 1.000; if it’s slower, it will be less than 1.000. So it’s a percentage of the standard or model bullet’s performance.

Comparing bullets with different BCs, the one with the higher number loses less speed over distance. Losing less speed means its flight time will be shorter and it won’t drift and drop as much as will a bullet with a lower BC. So, a 0.600 flies better than a 0.550.

Depending on the bullet-maker, assigned or published BCs are either calculated or measured. More mathematics than I can wrap my mind around can get these calculations done based on a blueprint. Measured BCs involve chronographing at the muzzle and then at other points on downrange, same bullet, same flight.

Which method — math or measure — provides the best information? Some, and this only “makes sense,” believe that a measured, tested BC is more realistic and, therefore, more valuable. But, if the point is to compare bullets, calculated BCs might be more reliably accurate. I know a number of very serious NRA High Power shooters who have gone to great lengths to “field test” different bullets. It’s not easy to chronograph at long range. Given that information, measured BCs are quite often lower, but not nearly always. Reasons follow.

All the drift and drop tables (whether printed or digital) you’ll see are based on a bullet’s assigned BC. The accuracy of those tables clearly revolves around what the actual, at that moment, BC performance is from the bullet you’re shooting. Also, some bullets have a different stated BC based on muzzle velocity to start.

A whopping lot of things affect the actual, demonstrated BC: anything that can influence bullet flight influences the actual BC performance.

Bullet stability is a factor. For a stated BC to be shown on a shot, the bullet has to be “asleep.” If it’s not stable, it’s encountering disruptions that will slow it down. The rotational speed of a bullet in a test can influence BC. We’ve seen differences comparing different twist-rate barrels, and the faster twists often show a little lower BC outcome.

Atmospherics, which add up as a list of factors, influence BC mightily. Air density is probably the most powerful influence. Any conditions that allow for easier passage of a bullet through the air don’t detract as much from its BC as do any conditions that serve to hinder its flight. BCs are based on sea-level so can easily show as a higher number at a higher elevation.

uniformed meplat
BC uniformity is important to a long-range shooter’s score (less elevation dispersion results). There will be variations in any box of hollowpoint match-style bullets, and a source for variation is the meplat (tip). These variations are the result of the pointing-up process in manufacture. I’ve measured as much as 0.020 inches sorting through a box of 100. A “meplat uniformer” tool eliminates this variance. Uniforming reduces BC 3-4 points, but it’s a trade many serious long-range shooters say is worth the effort. Uniformed on right.

meplat uniformer

Range-realized reality is that the demonstrated BC changes from morning to afternoon and day to day and place to place. The calculated BC is not changing, of course, but the mistake is assuming that a BC is a finite measure of bullet performance. If you’re interested, there’s some valuable information from David Tubb (visit DavidTubb.com). He’s done a volume of work on calculating influences from atmospherics as it applies to his DTR project, which, in one way of seeing it, gets down to understanding why it’s really rare to dial in what a ballistics table says for a particular bullet and speed and distance, and hit the target.

One last (for now) bit of information I’ve always found valuable: a BC is a finite thing in one regard, and that is that any BC derived from a G1 model, for instance, fits all bullets with that same BC. This was helpful before ballistics apps were as common and easy as they are now. For instance, if there was a new .224-caliber bullet with an advertised BC, but no tables, just find another bullet, of any caliber, with that same BC, plug in the velocity, and the drift and drop figures will be accurate.

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

SKILLS: 9mm VS. .45ACP: The Ultimate Caliber Conundrum

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This debate has raged for decades, but it’s  important  to settle for yourself when choosing a defensive caliber., Read what some of the best have to say HERE

pistol calibers compared

 

SOURCE: Team Springfield Armory 

And here we go again … you already know that you can’t go wrong with either of these classic calibers. But it’s a debate that continues to create controversy among shooting enthusiasts everywhere. Each round has its pros and cons when compared, yet each remains a staple among firearm fans.

Read on for not just some of the same old argument (there’s some of that), but considerations from our Team Springfield™ SMEs on which caliber may be the best for you.

45 compared to 9mm
There is more to answering this question than just the 0.095 difference in bullet diameters…

9MM
RECOIL
The greatest attribute of the 9mm cartridge is that it has the easiest-to-manage recoil. Pair this with the weight of a full- or mid-sized pistol, and handling will prove to be comfortable and pleasant. And this combination is also a perfect gun for brand-new shooters to start with.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY
If you don’t want to go broke buying range ammo, then 9mm has your back. Due to its prominence among our military and law enforcement communities, and popularity with civilians, the 9×19 is the most commonly-encountered pistol round world-wide.

This and the relatively small amount of material used in the manufacturing process also makes 9mm the most economical center-fire pistol round currently available.

PERSONAL DEFENCE
When it comes to personal defense, the 9mm is more than ready to do the trick, especially with hotter +P (increased velocity) hollow-point loads. Its lighter recoil makes follow-up shots quicker, and the smaller size gives 9mm pistols additional round capacity.

OUTDATED DATA?
Team Springfield™ SME Ivan Gelo, is a huge fan of the .45, but knows that much of the comparison bullet “data” stems from bullet performance technology that is over 25 years old. Like most tools, equipment and devices, bullet technology has grown by leaps and bounds over that same period, especially in the area of the 9mm pistol round. Ivan says that, “Old 9mm technology was related to the .45 and the concept of the heavier bullet; hence the widespread use of the 147 grain 9mm bullets. With advances in technology though, the more common 9mm 124/125 grain +P loads have substantial stopping power. So with greater mag capacity and the lighter ‘carry’ weight, the 9mm benefits are easy to argue.”

PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS
If you have any physical limitations, i.e. carpel tunnel, tendinitis, loss of hand-strength, etc., Team Springfield™ shooter Kippi Leatham recommends the 9mm over .45 without question: “I shot larger calibers through many of my competitive years. My first competition gun was a 1911 .45 — and I loved it! Eventually though, over several decades, I developed tendinitis in both elbows. With continued proper strength training and a decision to shoot exclusively 9mm pistols, my elbow injuries are no longer an issue.”

So if you have physical limitations or pain, don’t continue to damage your body or create discomfort in exchange for greater stopping power. In Kippi’s opinion, a well-trained, competent and confident 9mm pistol owner is easily able to defend him or herself should the need arise.

.45ACP
STOPPING POWER
The terms “stopping power” or “knockdown power” are concepts popular with the self-defense crowd. The .45 regularly is considered to have more stopping power than a 9. It’s a big reason why it was adopted alongside the 1911 for U.S. military service back in the day. While its velocity is slower than 9mm, what you lack in speed, you more than make up for in a larger and heavier projectile.

To its fan base, the .45 is the best round for law enforcement and personal and while the .45 does obviously have more recoil than 9mm, that is the cost of increased power.

Curiously, decades later the US Military also adopted the 9mm and widely replaced the .45 with it, but for more reasons than power alone. Many Spec Ops groups did not change, and retained the .45 for its greater power.

Team Springfield™ Captain Rob Leatham says, “My position on this subject is well documented: I like the .45. While currently, I do shoot more 9mm in competition than anything else, it’s because of the rules and subsequent advantages the lower-powered, lighter-kicking 9 has. For defensive use, especially in a mid- or full-sized, easily controlled pistol, I would choose the .45 every time.”

FROM THE PREPPER’S MINDSET
Steve Horsman — Team Springfield™ Expert Prepper — has multiple guns in an assortment of calibers. But he does have a preference when carrying for self defense. He likens the .45ACP v 9mm debate to hunting. Steve states that choosing a 9mm for self defense, with the higher-capacity, lighter kick, and lighter-weight, is like him choosing to hunt elk with an AR 15 with a 30 round magazine. “No one in their right mind would ever use a .223 for elk hunting; they would more likely choose a .308 [minimum]-caliber rifle. Given the choice, I will pick the bigger bullet with more power every single time.” Magazine capacity alone cannot and will not substitute for power and accuracy.

AMERICAN AS…
Apple pie, baseball, bald eagles, and .45ACP! This cartridge has a proven track record in America that dates back over a century. It was trusted by the United States through two world wars, and, while its use among the military and LE agencies has lessened more recently, it still serves a large role in many specialized units, as well as remaining a favorite of many civilians.

Supply of this cartridge should also be high. The .45 auto has been around for double-digit decades and while pricier than 9mm, the large quantities in which it’s produced makes it easy to find.

PICK ONE AND PRACTICE
To summarize, both the 9mm and the .45ACP are great self-defense rounds. Though a 9mm pistol will hold more rounds, the .45 ACP definitely packs more punch.

So as with most things firearms related — pick your preference: heavier and more powerful cartridges with more recoil OR a caliber that allows for greater capacity, less recoil and a lower cost to shoot.

And as you read above, even our Team Springfield™ SMEs don’t agree on caliber… but they do agree on this:

Whichever caliber you choose, put some rounds down-range, shoot a lot of them actually, and make sure you train on a regular basis. Become proficient with your caliber of choice, because that is the best way to maximize the effect of any firearm that you carry for self defense.

Great video featuring Rob Leatham, Team Springfield Captain HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: Bullets 101

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Bullet structure should play an important part in your selections. Here’s a short course in bullet architecture, and why it matters!

224 bullet comparison
There’s probably a wider variety of .224 caliber bullets than any other diameter, and there are whopping differences available! Left is a Hornady 35 V-Max, right is a JLK 90gr VLD. That’s the longest .224 I’ve had to work with.

Glen Zediker

These days we don’t have to settle for much of anything. Pretty much whatever it is, there are options. That’s a good thing, as long as we figure out how to sort through all the options. I didn’t count them all, but there are way on more bullets available now than ever. This article sets out to help you all understand the essential engineering of this all-important ammo component.

The reason there are so many bullets is because there are so many different ultimate uses we put them to.

All bullets are designed or intended to do something, and, clearly, the first idea is to hit a target.

There are bullets engineered to perform variously on target, including the proximity of impacts on target. I say it that way because a “match” bullet’s job is to perforate a piece of paper. A bullet designed for varmint hunting, on the other hand, is designed to produce explosive impact, and one for larger game hunting strives to strike a balance between expansion and penetration. All bullets have to meet their target to be effective, and different premiums often also result in a few trades. Specialty hunting projectiles, for instance, don’t usually out and out group as well as those engineered for target shooting.

However! No matter how it’s built inside, there are universal elements of any bullet design, and those are found on the outside.

bullet parts
Here are the pieces-parts of a bullet. Each element is influential not only in downrange performance, but also in how tolerant or flexible the bullet will be in different rifle chamber and cartridge structures.

Bullet parts: base, that’s the bottom; boat-tail, or not (flat-base); shank, portion of full-caliber diameter; ogive, the sloping “nosecone,”; tip, either open or closed (open it’s called the “meplat”). The shape of the ogive and the first point of “major diameter” are extremely influential elements. The first point of major diameter can vary from barrel brand to barrel brand because it’s the point on the bullet that coincides with land diameter in the barrel — the first point that will actually contact the barrel as the bullet moves forward. When there’s a cartridge sitting in the rifle chamber, the distance or gap between the first point of major diameter and the lands is called “jump,” and, usually, the less there is the better. More in another article.

bullet bearing area
This gives an idea of bearing area. The point that contacts the lands is the first point of “major diameter,” and from there back down the body is what will be in contact with the barrel. Longer area means more tolerant behavior, but lower potential velocity.

The first point of major diameter and the shank combine to determine the bullet “bearing area.” This is how much of the bullet is riding the barrel surfaces. Usually, bullets with greater bearing areas tend to shoot accurately, but, might not get to velocities as high as one with a shorter bearing area. Longer bearing area creates more drag in the bore. Longer bearing area bullets also tend to be more tolerant of jump.

magazine box rounds
This is the round architecture that matters the most to the most of us. We need good on-target performance from cartridges with bullets seated to feed from a box magazine. Choose a tangent profile that’s no more than 8-caliber ogive.

The two essential profiles a bullet can take are “secant” and “tangent.” This refers to the shape of the ogive. A tangent is a more rounded, gradual flow toward the tip, while a secant is a more radical step-in, more like a spike. Secants fly with less resistance, but tangents are more tolerant of jump.

tangert and secant
Tangent, left; secant, right. Tangent ogives are more tolerant of jump, but not quite as aerodynamic at extended distance.

Ogives are measured in “calibers.” That’s pretty simple: an 8-caliber ogive describes an arc that’s 8 times caliber diameter; a 12-caliber is based on a circle that’s 12 times the caliber. The 8 will be a smaller circle than the 12, so, an 8-caliber ogive is more “blunt” or rounded. (So I don’t get comments from engineers, there’s more to it than this, as it applies on blueprints to different profiles; it’s the ratio of its radius to the diameter of the cylinder. But my description is accurate as an overview.)

Bullets with lower-caliber ogives are more tolerant of jump and (usually) shoot better, easier. Higher-caliber ogives fly better, farther. This is an important component in the “high-BC” designs. Same thing comparing tangent and secant: the first is easier, the second beats the air better.

bullets compared
Here’s a good example of the differences in bullets. These are both 75 grains. The one on the left is engineered to be fired from a magazine-length round; the other is engineered to provide better performance over more distance, and it should not be fired at magazine-length. Look at the ogives closely and see the curve difference.

When you see terms like “magazine bullet” or “length-tolerant bullet” that is referring to those with tangent profiles and lower-caliber ogives. (“Length-tolerant” means that it’s not sensitive to seating depth.) If you want to experiment with the longer “high-BC” style bullets, you might find they don’t group well until they get close to or right on the lands when the round is chambered.

More soon…

Check Midsouth for a massive selection of bullets of all calibers HERE

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

RELOADERS CORNER: Pressure Signs

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We usually want the most velocity we can SAFELY get, and here’s all about how to stay safe. Keep reading!

Glen Zediker

I’ve been on the topic of load development — “working up” a load — for the past couple of editions, and, based on the excellent feedback from you all, here’s more. As always, there’s only so much I can write before I have to cut myself off.

I’ve said that velocity is the initial leading indicator of pressure. Velocity, in itself, however, is not a definitive indicator of pressure. I’d like to clarify… The first point is that I am a big believer in establishing a goal for load development, and, for me (and likely most others) that is a velocity. Accuracy is a given! I will never consider a combination that’s not shooting little knots downrange, but accuracy and velocity are not mutually exclusive. I also would never consider a combination that produced very small groups at an unacceptably low velocity, and that’s because I’m shooting (always) beyond 200 yards. The super-accurate low-velocity load gets its bullet shifted that much more in a variable wind, so it’s way on less likely to maintain those small groups.

I want to hit the velocity ballpark I have in mind and that’s why chronograph readings as I’m incrementally increasing the propellant charge are my leading indicator to how close I’m getting. I am also, always, looking for pressure signs on the spent cases — each and every one ejected.

So about those pressure signs…

Primer condition gets first attention.

primer pressure signs
Middle is what I want to see: pretty much a new primer with a nice round dimple in the center. Right, well. Massive pressure! But notice that the primer still shows a radius on the edges and is only a little rougher in appearance, well, aside from the crack…

A primer should have a smoothly dimpled firing pin indention, a shiny appearance, and a visible radius on its edge. If any of those are missing or compromised to varying degrees, there’s your sign… A dull and flattened primer has been abused, as well as one with a pitted or cratered appearance. Clearly, a crack or leak (indicated by black fouling) is way over the limit. After experience, backed up by gauged measurements, you’re liable to find that judging what’s “normal” and “safe” from one rifle can be different from another. I have had individual guns that flattened primers at any point near a safe-maximum charge. And, I’ve had them that just lied. Unfortunately, small-rifle primers don’t show always show pressure signs as reliably as large-rifle primers (structural differences). I’ve had experiences where the primers are all nice and shiny like and then blow out with the next increment. Shame on me for taking it there, and, speaking of: don’t get greedy! That’s one reason a velocity goal is important. Despite what your kindergarten teacher told you, you’re not that special… If you’re reading another 50+ feet per second more than what consensus says you should, better bet you’re over-pressure. “We” went through a lot of that when coated bullets got popular: those changed all the rules for “maximums.”

flattened primer
Here’s flat. My experience has been that large-rifle primers tend to display this indication more so than small. What’s happened is that the primer has flowed quite forcibly to fit the confines of its pocket and the bolt face. It’s also normal for some rifles, but that just means you have to know: pay attention and back off if you see a flattened primer.

The best pressure indicators show at the loading bench.

primer seating
My best “gage” for pressure is seating a primer in a fired and resized case. It’s a feel, gained through comparative experience, but too easy means there was too much pressure.

The reason I suggest (strongly) doing load work-up with new cases is because you then have a baseline. Measure the case head diameter (on the case, not the rim or groove) on the new case and compare it to the fired case. Up to 0.0005 (that’s ten-thousandths) is really high but some say acceptable (not me), and 0.0002-0.0003 is what I’d prefer. Plus, since a new case is at its smallest, meaning it will have a little less capacity than a fired case, you’re getting some assurance that the pressure will likely be a little lower from the same load in subsequent reuses of that case.

All dimensions are at their minimum in a new case. Primer pocket expansion is related to case head expansion. I get (what’s proven to be) a very accurate indication of pressure based on the resistance to seating a primer in that resized case. You have to use a priming tool that gives adequate feedback (meaning low leverage) but if the primer just slips right back in, that load was over-pressure. In a more extreme circumstance, the primer won’t stay seated. Yes. I have seen that. Shame on me, again.

Finally, a new case easily points out the difference between a “pressure ring” and a “sizing line” that can show just above the case head along the case body. A bright ring there indicates excessive stretching (a sizing line comes from the die reducing that area, and is perfectly normal). That “pressure ring” sign is also likely an “improper headspace” sign, but that’s another article.

pressure ring
Here’s a “pressure ring.” This poor old fellah used to be a brand-new Lake City Match case. I suspect there was some issue with this rifle’s headspace, but if you see this bright stretch mark, red flag it! It means the case is going to crack right there next use (called an “insipient head separation”).

Pierced Primers
This is a common malady on AR-platform guns, and especially on the big-chassis versions (SR-25, AR-10, and similar). Pressure both isn’t and is the culprit and the solution. Lemmeesplain: What causes the pierce is a firing pin hole that is too large. It is not the fit of the firing pin tip to the hole! An engineer can explain it, but it has to do with surface area covered by the firing pin hole, and then along with it the surface area of the primer. Simply: the firing pin hole turns into a cookie cutter. A primer pierce creates all manner of ills, including wrecked firing pins, gas flow through the charging handle area (where your face is), and abrasive debris scattered throughout the lower interior, including the trigger parts.

firing pin hole size
Blueprints call for a 0.058-inch diameter firing pin hole on an AR15 bolt. If the hole is too large then primer structural failures (pierces) will, not can, rear up. Too big is anything more than 0.062 inches, and I’ve seen plenty bigger than that. I use machinist’s drill bits to quick-check bolts: 1/16 (0.0625) and #53 (0.0595). If the first fits the hole, find another bolt. If the #53 won’t go, use that bolt with confidence.
pierced primer
Notice that this primer doesn’t really show excessive pressure signs. Just has a hole in it…

Excessive pressure gets blamed for a pierce but what’s really going on there is that it’s not certain that amount of pressure would be judged as “excessive.” It’s just gotten high enough to bring on this result. So, yes, lightening the load will stop the piercing, but, in my experience and that of many others, the pierces can start happening before reaching what most might agree on is a max load. I say that because “we” are all shooting about the same bullet/primer/case/propellant combinations in NRA High Power Rifle (with respect to Service Rifle division AR15s, for instance). Seeing pierced primers before hitting the proximity of competitive velocities points to “something else,” and that is the firing pin hole.

In a truly over-pressure load, the primer can crack or blow slap out, but it won’t pierce.

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

A Beginner’s Guide To Choosing Pistol Ammo

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Don’t get lost in the sea of cartridge boxes at the gun shop! This article will point you in the right direction. MORE

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Posted by Kyle Schmidt

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

The authors of the Declaration of Independence were brilliant. The wording they used was so profound that it still has a tremendous impact on our lives today.

Sure, all people were created equal — but when it comes to ammunition, not so much.

THE AMMUNITION SPREAD
As a newer shooter, choosing ammunition can be a daunting task. Full-metal jacket, ball, hollow-point, wad-cutter, round-nose, flat-point, plated, coated, and the list goes on. These terms can seem pretty overwhelming, and these are just common types of pistol bullets.

So, how is a new shooter supposed to know what kind of ammunition to buy?

KEY COMPONENTS
Centerfire pistol and rifle ammunition are made up of four components:
Case
Primer
Powder
Bullet
(NOTE: I often hear people refer to a round of ammunition as a “bullet.” Although this is generally accepted slang for some, it can be confusing when discussing ammunition. For the purposes of this guide, when referring to a “bullet,” I am referring to the individual component that is a part of a single round of ammunition, which is also called a “cartridge”.)

pistol cartridge parts

Generally speaking, the two biggest variables in ammunition come from the powder and the bullet. The type and quantity of powder will predominantly affect the velocity of the bullet. The bullet design has a significant affect on accuracy and performance once the bullet impacts the target.

PURPOSE
When determining what ammunition to choose, the first question to ask is, “What’s it for?”

Ammunition is designed with a variety of purposes in mind — hunting, target shooting, competition, and personal defense among them.

HUNTING & PERSONAL DEFENSE
In general, ammunition made for hunting and personal defense is designed to have a higher velocity, a heavier bullet, and a bullet designed to expand when it strikes the target. Commonly, this type of ammunition is sold in containers of smaller quantities and often comes with a higher price tag. This ammunition generally has more felt recoil, which is more commonly referred to as “kick.”

defensive ammo

COMPETITION
Ammunition made for competition is usually designed with the specific requirements of a given type of competition in mind. Some competitions are heavily designed around extreme accuracy, while others may be more speed-oriented. Because some events require a great deal of accuracy, this may lead to an expensive bullet design and a higher cost. But it’s typically still less expensive than hunting ammunition.

Generally speaking, competition shooters look for ammunition that has less felt recoil. So, keep in mind that many competition shooters modify their guns so they will work with ammunition of different lengths and with ammunition that requires less energy to function the gun. Be cautious when purchasing ammunition designed for competition, as it may not function all firearms.

match handgun ammo

 

 

TARGET SHOOTING
“Target ammunition” is a general-purpose term. This is the ammunition you might see in bulk packaging at the sporting goods store. The bullets and powder used vary significantly. Unlike competition ammunition, this ammo is generally designed to function a wide variety of firearms reliably but does not have the same high level of felt recoil as the hunting or self-defense ammunition. This ammunition is probably the most common type purchased by the typical shooter for practice. This ammunition also gives shooters the most “bang” for their buck, as it can be the least expensive option.

bulk ammo

Most importantly, the ammunition you purchase needs to safely and reliably function the gun.

JUST REMEMBER — When purchasing ammunition, there are a couple of other things to consider before filling your home with a new type of ammo.

Quantity — Start in small quantities when purchasing new ammunition. Most places will not take ammunition back, so if you find out the ammunition does not function your gun and you just purchased thousands of rounds of it, you’ll be stuck with trying to sell it to someone else.

Function — Some guns just don’t like some ammunition. The ammo may work fine in one gun, but cause constant malfunctions in another.

Accuracy — Some bullets shoot better out of some guns than others. Even if you buy the latest, greatest new ammunition that your favorite YouTube video depicted to be the most accurate ammo in the history of the galaxy, it may not shoot well out of your barrel. Conversely, you may find that a particular bullet shoots well out of your gun that your know-it-all buddy says is terrible.

Manufacturer — Consider the source. I have seen numerous problems with ammunition over the years, including ammunition that did not have any powder and ammunition that had way too much powder. Occasionally, I have seen ammunition destroy a gun. I have even seen this happen with ammunition from well-known manufacturers. However, they have been responsive when paying for repairs or replacing the gun if needed. That same expectation may not be realistic for the small, garage-based ammunition companies.

ASK YOURSELF
At the end of the day, the ammo questions you need to ask yourself:
Will you shoot it?
Does it meet your reliability requirement?
Does it meet your accuracy requirement?
Does it meet your felt recoil requirement?
Does it meet your cost requirement?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you probably shouldn’t purchase the ammo, as you likely won’t enjoy shooting it. If you don’t enjoy shooting it, the ammunition will just stay in the box and you won’t get any practice. If you don’t get any practice, you definitely will not get any better. And if you don’t get any better, you won’t ever get to experience the great enjoyment that comes from being a competent gun owner.

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory®.

You’ll find all you need HERE!

How to Break in Your New Pistol in 4 Easy Steps

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Don’t wait too long after getting that new handgun to get it, and yourself, ready for use. “Right now” isn’t too soon! Read why HERE

burglar

Jason Hanson

Imagine being the victim of a burglary five times in a six-year period. Not only would you be losing personal valuables during each burglary, but undoubtedly the ongoing victimization would take a toll on your life in other ways.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to a man named Harvey Lembo. Harvey is a retired lobster fisherman who lives in a small apartment in Maine. He takes multiple medications and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around.

Most likely, the criminals who kept breaking into Harvey’s apartment knew he had prescription medications in his home. They also assumed he was an easy victim since he was only able to move around using his wheelchair.

The fourth time Harvey’s apartment was burglarized, the thieves made off with around $1,000 and several prescription bottles. It was then that one of Harvey’s neighbors suggested he purchase a gun to protect himself. About a month later, Harvey decided that was probably a good idea. So he went out and purchased a 7 mm Russian-made revolver that he kept under his pillow.

The same day he purchased the gun, Harvey was awakened in the night by a noise coming from his kitchen. He got out of bed, moved himself to his wheelchair and quietly proceeded to the kitchen with his gun.

When he reached the kitchen, he saw a man going through the cabinet where he kept his medicine. Harvey told him to sit down and wait for the police or he would shoot. The burglar didn’t listen to instructions and Harvey ended up shooting the suspect as he ran out of the apartment.

A short time later, police arrived and followed the trail of blood. It led them to 45-year-old Christopher Wildhaber, who had been shot in the shoulder. Wildhaber was arrested and charged with burglary. He was later sentenced to four years in prison.

According the Maine Criminal Code, “A person in possession or control of a dwelling place or a person who is licensed or privileged to be therein is justified in using deadly force upon another person… when the person reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent or terminate the commission of a criminal trespass by such other person.” Basically, Harvey was perfectly within his rights to do what he did to protect himself in his own residence.

But consider this: Within hours of buying his revolver, Harvey had to use it to defend himself. He didn’t have weeks or months to spend time at the shooting range practicing and breaking in his new gun. That being said, today I want to share with you four steps for breaking in a new firearm — which hopefully you’ll have time to do before ever having to use your gun.

1. Clean your gun
Even if you purchase your gun brand-new straight from the factory, it doesn’t hurt to give it a good cleaning. You never know how long it’s been sitting on a store shelf or under what conditions it’s been kept. Whenever you clean your gun, you should visually inspect each part of the firearm. Make sure there aren’t any loose metal shavings or barrel obstructions. And don’t forget to grease your gun with some sort of oil or lubricant such as Remington oil.

pistol cleaning kit

2. Practice dry-firing
If your new gun is a semiautomatic, you should definitely dry-fire and function-test your gun. In other words, rack the slide to ensure it moves properly, and then dry-fire the gun multiple times. As long as it’s a centerfire gun (not rimfire like a .22), you can safely dry-fire your new gun without damaging it to make sure it works properly.

3. Shoot an FBI qualification
The first time you go to the range with your new gun I recommend shooting an FBI qualification test. This is only 60 rounds, but it’s a good way to get started with your new firearm. Of course, 60 rounds aren’t enough to break in your firearm. Ideally, you should shoot at least 500 rounds through your new gun to break it in. This should include different drills in addition to the FBI qualification test. In short, you need to test out every aspect of your new gun. Now is the time to find out if you have a bad magazine or you need to adjust your sights — not when an intruder is barreling toward you.

4. Test your self-defense ammunition
Go to the range and run your self-defense ammunition through your gun. You need to make sure your hollow points feed properly and the gun doesn’t jam with this type of ammunition. I realize self-defense ammo is a lot more expensive, but this is very important to do. I know some people who shoot two or three rounds of hollow-point ammo and then start carrying their gun. Personally, I’m not comfortable carrying a gun I’ve only shot a handful of defensive rounds through, which is why I recommend putting at least 100 rounds through the gun. Once I’m sure my new gun functions flawlessly with my self-defense ammo, then I’ll give it another cleaning and start carrying it.

self defense ammo

If you follow these four steps to break in your brand-new firearm, you will be better prepared to use it if and when the need arises. It’s lucky that Harvey was successfully able to use his new revolver to keep himself from being robbed a fifth time, but that’s not a chance I’d want to take in my own home.

Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, click HERE.

Check out Midsouth Shooters Supply for a few products mentioned in this article HERE (cleaning supplies) and HERE (defensive ammo).

 

Flooded With Ammo

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Is it safe to shoot ammo that’s been exposed to water? Depends… Read more!

floods

by Jason Hanson

In 2016, the U.S. experienced 19 major floods, which was a record number for a single year. 2017 was been a busy year for flooding as well, especially with Hurricane Harvey and Irma. Combined estimates of the damages of the two recent hurricanes will most likely exceed 150 billion dollars.

The fact is, flooding can occur in every state in the U.S. and floods kill more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Now, with the amount of flooding we have seen this year there is no question that many people in Texas and Florida have lost personal belongings, likely including guns and ammo.

The reality is, it doesn’t have to be a natural disaster for you to experience flooding in your home since a broken water pipe or an overflowing toilet can also lead to a messy situation. Considering the number of gun owners who have most likely experienced flooding recently it leads to the question of whether or not ammunition that has been submerged in water can still be used?

To be clear, there is a big difference between ammo that has been used while you’re training outdoors in the rain or snow compared to ammo that has been sitting in a basement completely submerged in water.

I have trained outdoors in all types of weather from rain to snow and I’ve never had these elements affect my gun or ammo. Of course, I always give my firearms a good cleaning after training so as long as you do this as well, you shouldn’t have any issues when training in wet weather.

For ammunition that has been under water for any amount of time there are a few different issues that could potentially arise. The problem is, there are so many different factors when flooding occurs that it’s difficult to give a one fits all type of answer. For example, the depth of the water, the amount of time the ammo was submerged, and whether the water had contaminates can all affect the ammunition.

Nevertheless, once you remove the ammo from the water you would obviously want to dry it out. However, during this process the ammo could be damaged or deteriorate even more than what occurred when it was in the water.

In addition, you face the risk of a weaker powder charge when you fire the weapon, which could mean there isn’t enough pressure to push the bullet out of the barrel. In other words, you could pull the trigger and the bullet might only move slightly, then, if you pulled the trigger again while the bullet was still stuck you could seriously injure yourself.

Perhaps, the most critical issue with ammo that has been submerged in water is that it could fail to fire for a number of different reasons caused by the water. If you’re like me and carry a concealed firearm everywhere you legally can, then you probably don’t want to risk using ammo that may or may not fire.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize a malfunction can happen with any ammo but that’s why I train to clear the malfunction and move to the next round in my firearm if I need to defend myself. The thing is, I wouldn’t bet my life on ammo that has been submerged in water.

Unfortunately, the problem is there is really no way to tell which ammo is safe to use and which is completely damaged. Basically, you can’t inspect every round because you never really know what kind of internal damage has taken place.

Also, I’ve heard some people mention that the primers in their ammo are sealed so water wouldn’t be able to get in. However, I still wouldn’t risk firing the ammo because there is truly no way to check the primer to make sure its safe.

In contrast, I understand that ammo can be incredibly expensive and if you have thousands of rounds stocked up for an emergency you are no doubt losing a ton of money by getting rid of the ammo. However, I would never risk firing a round that could cause injury or death to myself or someone I was training with or might not work when I needed it to save my life.

Lastly, if you happen to have ammunition that was damaged by flooding I would contact your local police department and ask them if they are able to dispose of ammo.

CHECK OUT AMMO STORAGE SOLUTIONS HERE

Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, click HERE.

RELOADERS CORNER: Incremental Load Work-Up

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To get the most from your load testing, in the shortest time possible, learn the “Audette Method,” and put it work for you. Here’s how!

sight in target
Use a target that’s, one, easy to line up on, and, two, lets you make notes on the target itself. I usually circle and note the 3-shot increments, or you can add a number by each shot hole to indicate which try they belong to. Midsouth has some HERE

Glen Zediker

Last edition I suggested taking the step toward putting together a “portable” loading setup to allow for load development right at the range. This time I’ll talk about an idea on getting the most out of a test session in the quickest and surest way.

I have followed an “incremental” load work-up method for many years, and it’s served me well. Some call it the “Audette Method” named for the late and great Creighton Audette, long-time long-range and Benchrest experimenter.

Backing up a bit: Being able to employ this method efficiently requires having spent the preparation time, doing your homework, to know exactly how much “one click” is worth on your meter. Whether the meter clicks or not, it’s the value of one incremental mark on the metering arm. The value of that click or mark varies with the propellant, but by weighing several examples of each one-stop variation (done over at least a half-dozen stops) you’ll be able to accurately increase the charge for each test a known amount.

harrell's meter mounted
I count on a Harrell’s Precision meter. Its Culver mechanism allows for easy and accurate incremental adjustments in working up a load. The dryer sheet eliminates static electricity.

I usually test at 300 yards. That distance is adequate to give a good evaluation of accuracy and, for the purposes of this test, is also “far enough” that vertical spreads are more pronounced. Testing at 100 yards, sometimes they all look like good groups… So it’s at about 300 yards where we’ll start to see more difference in good and bad.

Get to the range and get set up, chronograph in place. Put up a target. Use whatever gives you a clear aiming point, but it’s helpful to have a light background not only to see the holes easier using a scope, but also to make notes on. More about that in a minute.

Use the same target for the entire session. (Put pasters over the previous holes if you want, but don’t change paper.) The reason for using the same target for the whole session is that helps determine vertical consistency as you work up through successively stouter propellant charges.

I fire 3 rounds per increment. As it gets closer to “done,” I increase it to 5 or 6. At that point I’ve hit a couple of speed points, two or three increments that represent a performance level I can live with (one is on the “iffy” end of the pressure, and I rarely choose that one) and am focusing more closely on group size. Final confirmation comes with one 20-round group. For what it’s worth, I usually pick the one in the middle.

A 3-round volley might seem inadequate, but it’s not if there’s confidence that the rounds are being well-directed and speed is being monitored. If I’m seeing more than 12-15 fps velocity spreads over 3 rounds, I’m not going to continue with that propellant. Same with group size: if it’s a big group over 3 rounds, it’s going to be a bigger group later on.

I’m sho no mathematician-statistician, but from experience I’ve found that, while certainly there’s some probability that the first 3 rounds fired might represent the extreme edges of the load’s group potential, and that all the others are going to land inside them, uhh, that’s not even a little bit likely. If it starts bad it finishes bad. On the contrary: no, just because the first 3 shots are close together and the velocity spread is low doesn’t mean it’s not going to get worse. Groups normally get bigger and velocities get wider, but, we have to start somewhere. It’s a matter of degrees. Also, the quality (accuracy) of the meter factors, and the better it is the better you can judge performance over fewer examples. And this is new brass, so that’s going to minimize inconsistencies further.

I can also tell you that it’s possible to wear out a barrel testing. No kidding.

Back to the “incremental” part of this test: As you increase the charges, bullets impact higher and higher on the target paper. You’re looking for a point where both group sizes and impact levels are very close together. If the groups are small, you won! That’s what Crieghton called a “sweet-spot” load, and that was one that didn’t show much on-target variance over a 2-3 increment charge difference (which is going to be about a half-grain of propellant). The value of such a load is immense, especially to a competitive shooter. It means that the daily variations, especially temperature, and even the small variances in propellant charges that might come with some propellants through meters, won’t affect your score. It’s also valuable to a hunter who’s planning to travel.

audette method loading
Audette Method: If it would only always work this way… This actually did work as shown so I captured and recreated it for posterity. The numbers on the left represent approximate propellant charge weights and the lines each indicate one click on my Harrell’s powder meter, a value about 0.15 grains of the propellant used in this test. Going up two clicks at a time for eight tries took me from 24.0 grains to about 26.0, which is a good range from a reasonable starting charge to pressure symptoms. I didn’t add in the velocities since that’s inconsequential to this illustration, but will say that “8” was too much and I settled on “6.” To make more sense out of this illustration, that ended up being 25.5 grains — step 6. I also went up using three rounds and skipping ahead by adding more clicks to the meter after viewing the (low) speeds on the first three groups (that’s why there’s no number 4 step; I went from step 3 to step 5). This has a lot to do with intuition sometimes. Point is, and should be, that here’s how the “Audette Method” is supposed to work: impact elevation on target goes up (these were fired at 300 yards) with charge increases, groups get smaller (hovering around two inches for this test) and stay small, and then elevation begins to stabilize. Choose a load that’s within this range. Then it’s a “sweet-spot” load. If this happens in your test, ask for no more!

That was the whole point to following this process. First, and foremost, it’s to find a good-performing load. It’s also how you find out if the propellant you chose is going to produce predictably. I can also tell you that I have chosen a propellant and a load using it that wasn’t always the highest speed or even the smallest single group. It was chosen because it will shoot predictably all year long. I base everything on the worst group, biggest velocity spread, not the smallest and lowest. If that doesn’t make sense it will after a summer on a tournament tour. If the worst group my combination will shoot is x-ring, and the worst spread is under 10 fps, it’s not the ammo that will lose the match…

As said to start this series, I started loading at the range because I got tired of bringing home partial batches of loser loads. And, you guessed it, the partial boxes usually contained recipes that were too hot. The only way to salvage those was to pull the bullets. Tedious. Or they were too low, of course, and fit only for busting up dirt clods. Plus, I’m able to test different charges in the same conditions. It’s a small investment that’s a huge time-saver.

If you do invest in a portable setup, exploit potentials. The possibilities for other tests are wide open, seating depth experiments, for instance.

CHECK OUT MORE TARGETS AT MIDSOUTH HERE

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

Federal Premium Launches All-New Hydra-Shok Deep Personal Defense Load

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New for 2018, a proven self-defense handgun load gets a performance boost! Read all about it HERE

Hydra-Shok Deep

Federal Premium Ammunition announced  a new high-performance self-defense load: Hydra-Shok Deep. This new offering builds off the time-tested Hydra-Shok platform with design improvements that better meet modern performance measurements. Shipments are being delivered to dealers.

Federal Premium Hydra-Shok ammunition has proven itself for self-defense since 1989. Hydra-Shok Deep’s redesigned bullet features a more robust center post and a core design that provides as much as 50 percent deeper penetration than classic Hydra-Shok.

 

Larry Head, director and chief engineer of handgun ammunition: “Hydra-Shok Deep offers consumers a round that results in consistent, reliable performance through typical defensive barriers and penetrates to the depth deemed optimum by the leading law-enforcement agency in the United States.”

Hydra-Shok has been a self-defense staple since its debut in 1989. At that time, the FBI had requested a projectile with better terminal ballistics than traditional cup-and-core bullets, and Federal responded with Hydra-Shok, which uses an expanding bullet with a notched jacket, non-bonded lead core and unique center-post hollow-point design. That provided better penetration and more consistent threat-stopping expansion than other bullets at the time.

 

The new Hydra-Shok Deep bullet features a core design that provides up to 50 percent deeper penetration than original Hydra-Shok and similar loads from competitors, and the center post has been improved so it’s more robust, which provides better integrity and performance through barriers. Testing shows that Hydra-Shok Deep penetrates 15 inches in bare ballistics gelatin, which is the optimal depth, according to FBI standards.

“The primary goal of Hydra-Shok Deep was to penetrate to the FBI’s optimum depth of 14 to 16 inches and at the same time provide more consistent performance though the intermediate barriers,” Head said. “We also wanted to develop a round that would score significantly better through the FBI protocol testing than standard Hydra-Shok. Hydra-Shok Deep does all of this with a 70-percent improvement in FBI protocol score.”

Hydra-Shok deep bullet

Although the bullet’s performance in ballistic gelatin is impressive, many shooters might wonder how Hydra-Shok Deep will boost their real-world performance. Head explained why the remarkable improvements in expansion, penetration and integrity through defensive barriers are especially important to self-defense.

 

Hydra-Shok Deep will initially be offered in a 135-grain 9mm Luger, with other loads coming soon.

Check out Federal Hydra-Shok at Midsouth HERE