Category Archives: Reloading

Everything from case prep, to components, the reloading category will be home to articles about reloading and reloading items.

RELOADERS CORNER: Salvage

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You’re stuck with a lot of loser loads. Now what? READ MORE

Glen Zediker

Last time I threw out a circumstance where, during the will and want to deliver high-volume output a mistake was made and the result is that you’re left with honking pot full of substandard ammo. We talked about what might have gone wrong, but probably the worst is there’s something that’s created a load too hot. Too much pressure. There are other dimensional issues as well that might prevent graceful reuse. But, for the most part, unless the load produced is well over pressure, I’d be looking to send them downrange. Cut my losses, get the cases back, start over.

Directional miscues are pretty clearly decided on how to overome. Bullets out too far? Seat them deeper. It’s not going to be so little that there won’t be some influence, but not enough to escalate pressures.

I can’t say “how much” overpressure is safe to shoot, but can tell you that it’s likely to be a good deal more than you might think. Now, this doesn’t have to do accuracy or manners, just safety. That’s also not a recommendation from me to willingly ignore your own instincts. There’s varying of degrees or levels of abuse to be enured.

Digging all the way out from under this problem is also liable to require the use of specialty tooling, something like, dare I say, a bullet puller. One of these will salvage both propellant and bullet, and give the opportunity to crank right back up and a have another go at it. I have shot a plenty of pulled bullets and into very small shot groups. It was once popular among mil-spec-type target shooters to break down M193, replace the 55 gr. with a commercial 52, 53, or 55 match bullet and head to the firing line. Groups would be about 60-percent smaller. Right, just pull them and replace them. No extra sizing, no nothing.

Forster is my first choice for a bullet puller because it’s simple an fast, and because it allows the reuse of a bullet. It’s tedious, but way on better than the headache created by a kinetic type puller.

Back to the start: preparation prevents problems, as long as paying attention is involved! Taking time to make notes and run a checklist helps keep race cars on the track and airplanes in the air, and handloading ammunition safe. Take the time.

The preceding is a adapted from information contained in Glen’s Top-Grade Ammo. Available at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads. Also, check out our new lineup of eBOOKS!

RELOADERS CORNER: more mistakes over more time, now what?

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In doing higher-volume loading, one fear is “what if” and that refers to having made a mistake… READ MORE

errors
Not much worse than a bunch of newly loaded rounds tainted by potentially problematic imperfections. I’ve had more of these with pistols than rifles. Not sure why…

Glen Zediker

So you’ve put, say, 500 rounds together and there’s a flaw, and this may (usually always) be constant and consistant throughout. Or, maybe something changed during, someting shifted, at some point from then at the start to now at the end.

This can happen, and you’re fortunate indeed if you have no stories to share.

Before getting far into what it was and what was the influence or effect we’re now facing, this next will suggest a few things to check beforehand to head it off.

I don’t know that I’ve ever read much on handloading that didn’t come with at least a few ideas on checks, checkpoints. One of the first I propellant dispensing. Using a meter for these loads, throwing charges, there’s a question about how often to stop and run a check on your volume progress against the consistency of each charge thrown into each case.

Advice I’ve seen varies and ranges from the way too often to the every now and again. Folks, honestly, I never check or double check once I’m underway. I am also using expensive meters with Culver inserts. These I have proven to meter more accurately than my scale can determine. The level of effort and attention that went into my being able to make that statement is another article, and, along the way, will be. But, if you’re not using a Culver, it is a wise investment in a minute to throw a charge or two, weigh each, and satisfying the self that all’s well. If you see a problem, if your meter won’t hold a setting, that is a huge red-flag that needs fixed.

mistakes
A truly good meter takes worries about case to case weight consistency away. Get one!

I always start a session checking propellant dispensing weight. I do this more to satisfy that tiny tickle of paranoid uncertaintly than I do for any tangible reason, but we do a lot of things to fix those tickles (like look both ways before crossing a one-way street). Well. I do. I click-dial my meter to where my notes say it should be (and do the same to the other Culver-equipped meters that might be involved in this session), then throw charges with each and see the right weight from each (I usually through 4-5 at a time, weigh the pan, and divide by however many throws are in the pan). Sometimes I think I do this more to just satisfy myself respecting how good this system is.

Next I essentially check die “tightness” by confirming that the sized case dimentions are what they should me. And then also do the same for bullet seating depth.

A few tricks here come from a treat like a good turret-head press. After getting the dies adjusted to what you want for a load (this load), snugging them down and adding index marks means that, one, no there should be no movement between uses, and, also, it will be easily seen becaues of the marks. Index marks are no more complex than a paint-marker-line from die body, to lock ring, to press top. I index the sizing and seating adjustments at the top of the die also.

The fewer times anything is loosened, moved, tightened the radically greater chance it has to stay perfectly in place.

Next I triple check the bullet seating depth. By the way, I’ve also become convinced that the more initial checks made reduce any chance for an erroneous check. I look once, then again, and then again, and by then I sho should have seen all there is to see. I might overlook something, though, if I look only once, and I have done that before setting seating depths.

mistakes
I triple check seating depth before starting long loading session.

The best trick I can tell you to keep tools lined up where they should be, when they have to be moved, is to handle a threaded die ONLY BY ITS LOCKING RING! Never, ever hold on the die body to thread the piece in and out the press top. Handled only by the ring, there’s no chance of movement (well, assuming that the ring was snugged in place as it should have been).

mistakes
Use index lines to easly see if anything changed (moved). And handle dies only using the lock ring!

Next time we’ll look at a few things that might have gone wrong, and see about getting them fixed, or worked around.

The preceding is a adapted from information contained in Glen’s Top-Grade Ammo. Available at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads. Also, check out our new new lineup of eBOOKS!

Proper Ammunition Storage

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If you are hoarding or only keeping what you need on hand don’t let your investment rust away. READ MORE

ammo storage
Fiocchi’s 80 rounds in a can is possibly the best combination of 12 gauge buckshot and easy storage.

Heyward Williams

Storing ammunition is at least as important as properly storing your firearms. After all, the firearm is no better than a stick or a club without ammunition. While many of us like to have an adequate supply of ammunition for a SHTF situation this isn’t my primary motivation. I am more concerned with an adequate supply of ammunition for training and recreation than for possible use in a societal break down. I have had to curtail my personal training and firearms classes during shortages because I simply could not obtain enough ammunition. There was considerable price gouging at times and I no longer patronize those outlets. Finding twenty nine boxes of ammunition when you really need fifty is discouraging. (Fifty students, fifty rounds each, every class for months is a lot ammunition.) Conversely I walked into Academy Sports a few months ago and saw several pallets of Winchester 9mm ball for $6.99 per fifty cartridges. I estimated 20,000 rounds on the floor. The shortage, it appeared, was over. Now it is back. These things run in cycles — even if the current shortage is short lived, we may see another shortage, particularly around election time.

ammo storage
These boxes are arranged in order of caliber — .45 Colt, .45 ACP.

What are your needs?
I don’t hoard things for their own sake. I like to have a few months supply of the ammunition I really need on hand. When I taught handgun marksmanship and tactical movement students seemed never to bring enough ammunition and others brought gun and ammunition combinations that were not proofed and they malfunctioned. I have learned quite a bit about ammunition storage. As an example I have handloaded my handgun ammunition for more than forty years and cannot recall a misfire cartridge due to storage issues. Ammunition isn’t quite in the category with silver and gold but may be more precious and useful if you need it. It is expensive enough that you should respect the investment and take steps to store it properly. This is more important the greater the amount of ammunition you store. Some like to burn up their ammunition on the weekend and call on Monday and replace it. That’s fine, a minimal inventory works for some of us. I am not comfortable with that program. Buying in bulk and keeping ahead on the ammunition supply is important.

ammo storage
Some ammunition is stored in the original box, and others for more long term storage in the original bulk packing box.

I don’t know if we will face a societal upheaval and you will need that ammunition. I certainly hope not. But if you are in a bad situation the ammunition you have expended in training is the single greatest predictor of survival. My goal for ammunition storage is have a good supply for practice, hunting, and personal defense use as well as training family members. This demands the ammunition be stored properly. I store ammunition in the original box. Sometimes I simply put it on the shelf in the shipping box it arrived in. (Online is so easy!) Unless I am certain I am going to the range the next day or so I never open the boxes and pour the contents into a metal can. Sure, having those 500 9mms in an ammo can is cool enough but they are far more subject to damage from handling and the elements. Also, in the event that you trade one firearm and caliber for another, it isn’t usually possible to trade ammunition as well unless it is in the original box. For most of us, purchasing large quantities of ammunition — a case of five hundred to one thousand cartridges — and storing it properly is important.

ammo storage
Handloads should be plainly marked when in storage.

Ammunition Longevity
I have fired ammunition more than one hundred years old with good results. During my police career I saw ammunition improperly stored in cruiser trunks and in the basement of the PD that became corroded and useless in a few months. Storage is everything for shelf life. Ammunition manufactured since World War One or so was designed to last for centuries. Winchester was given a military contract in 1916 based on one bad primer in 100,000 — and the standard is higher today. I would never purchase older ammunition save as a lark or to feed some non critical use antique. I don’t trust surplus ammunition — there are too many storage and quality issues. Not to mention corrosive primers. Purchasing good quality ammunition means it will last much longer. Quality case mouth seal and primer seal is important for both storage and critical use. My handloads do not have this seal but as I mentioned I have not had misfires, because I store ammo properly. The keys are cool, dry and dark. Cool not cold. A closet in the home is ideal. Stack the original boxes on shelves, on the floor, or in a large MTM plastic box. Heat itself isn’t that destructive in normal ranges but it may cause humidity and condensation. We have all had our glasses or cameras fog up when moving from an air conditioned home to a hot back yard. You don’t want your ammunition supply to be subjected to these highs and lows. Moisture will attack gun powder. In my experience far more failures to fire are related to powder contamination than primer failure. (Don’t store solvents and cleaning compounds with ammunition!) In some instances the cartridge case may even become corroded. This is dangerous as they may lose some of their integrity. Just remember that moisture and humidity are the enemy. Normal fluctuations in household temperatures are okay. I would avoid extremes such as basement storage or storage in the attic. This is especially important with lead bullet loads. Many of them — and some jacketed loads — feature a lubricant on the bullet, in grease grooves. This grease will melt out of the grooves into the powder if the ammunition becomes too hot.

ammo storage
Don’t store ammunition in close proximity with chemicals or cleaning supplies.

Get in Order
Getting the ammunition in the proper order is important. I fire mostly 9mm and .45 ACP handguns. I also use the .223 and .308 rifle. The 12 gauge shotgun is my to go gun. We all need a .22 — then there is the .357 Magnum and the .45 Auto Rim and .45 Colt — so organization is important. Two thousand .45 ACP cartridges are on hand tonight and one hundred .45 Auto Rim, and that’s plenty. I keep handgun ammunition separated by training and service loads. Shotgun shells are more difficult to store and I do not have nearly as many. They are in one corner of the designated closet. My home is one hundred fifteen years old the ammunition storage was once a food larder. Works for me.

ammo storage
This MTM case guard carrier is a good option for smaller quantities of ammunition. MTM also offers much larger boxes that have much utility.

Other points — I keep firearms in a safe. While a couple may be loaded for various reasons I do not normally store ammunition in the safe. Some like to have an ammunition supply in loaded magazines. That’s okay if they are stored properly. Take these magazines, fire them in practice, and rotate the supply. If loaded down from 30 to 26 or 20 to 18 rounds quality AR 15 magazines will run forever. Pistol magazines from MecGar are much the same. Glock magazines loaded to full capacity never give trouble. If you need a stack of magazines loaded at the ready for emergency your zip code is probably written in Cyrillic or located abound Bosnia. These tips, points and cautions will work well for most of us and keep the ammunition supply fresh and uncontaminated.

ammo storage
The author doesn’t store loaded magazines unless a range trip is immediate.

Federal Judge Enjoins Massachusetts Gun Store Lockdown

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Gun stores struggle to remain open during national crisis. READ MORE

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NRA-ILA

Last week, Judge Douglas P. Woodlock of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued a preliminary injunction that allows gun stores to resume operation in the Bay State as long as they adhere to a set of social distancing guidelines. The ruling is an important victory in the fight to protect Second Amendment rights during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

On March 23, Governor Charlie Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 13, which required the closure of all businesses not deemed “essential.” The order did not designate gun stores as “essential” businesses.

On March 28, the Trump administration updated the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) guidance on the critical infrastructure that should remain open during state shutdown orders due to COVID-19. The guidance identified “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges” as critical infrastructure.

Following the federal government’s determination, on March 31, Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 21. Complying with the DHS guidelines, the order designated firearms retailers as “essential” businesses.

However, later that same day the Baker administration removed firearm retailers and shooting ranges from the list of essential businesses. This reversal was cheered by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who declared to her Twitter followers, “Gun shops and shooting ranges are NOT essential businesses during a public health emergency.”

On April 9, a group of Massachusetts gun stores filed suit to halt Baker’s gun store closure on Second Amendment grounds. Later that month, NRA and its state affiliate Gun Owners’ Action League filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.

In the amicus brief, NRA made clear that Baker’s orders were an impermissible violation of the Second Amendment. The brief pointed out that in the landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a total ban on the acquisition of a single class of firearm — handguns. Baker’s order effectively prohibited the acquisition of all classes of firearms in Massachusetts and therefore are illegal under Supreme Court precedent.

Further, the brief noted that Baker’s order was impermissible under First Circuit precedent. In the 2018 case Gould v. Morgan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit adopted a controversial two-step analysis for Second Amendment cases. First the court must determine “whether the challenged law burdens conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee.” If the measure does implicate the Second Amendment right then the court is tasked with determining what level of scrutiny to apply to the measure and whether the law is permissible under that level of scrutiny.

In Gould, the First Circuit “identified the core of the Second Amendment right as ‘the possession of operative firearms for use in defense of the home’ by responsible, law-abiding individuals.” As Baker’s order foreclosed the ability to acquire firearms for this purpose, the order struck at the core of the Second Amendment right.

The First Circuit also made clear in Gould that “A law or policy that burdens conduct falling within the core of the Second Amendment requires a correspondingly strict level of scrutiny.” Therefore analysis of the Baker orders demands strict scrutiny.

Strict scrutiny requires that the Government prove the restriction furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. A closure of all firearms-related businesses is not narrowly tailored. Moreover, the state cannot demonstrate that a blanket closure of firearm retailers will directly or materially alleviate the harms posed by COVID-19 considering the plaintiffs challenging the order stated that they would abide by all social distancing and workforce requirements for the operation of essential businesses.

Woodlock’s order underscores the excessive nature of Baker’s actions, as the standard for obtaining a preliminary injunction is rigorous. A plaintiff must show that they are likely to succeed on the merits of the case, show that there is irreparable harm without the injunction, demonstrate that the balance of equities is in their favor, and establish that the injunction is in the public interest. In granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Woodlock made clear that Baker’s orders are likely unconstitutional, cause irreparable harm to Bay Staters’ rights, and that this attack on Second Amendment rights was against the public interest.

According to Reuters, Baker told the press that his office will review Woodlock’s order and stated, “[w]e will certainly comply with any kind of judicial ruling on anything.” Sincere compliance with a lawful court order would mark a welcome change in the Baker administration. In late 2018, the Baker administration declared its intent to defy court orders issued by the state’s courts pertaining to the issuance of firearms licenses before backing down in early 2019.

NRA will continue to monitor the situation in Massachusetts and work to ensure that Second Amendment rights are not a casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. Please visit HERE to stay up-to-date on this and other important COVID-19 related Second Amendment issues.

RELOADERS CORNER: Lockdown continues. So do we.

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Be proud of all yourselves. MORE

Glen Zedikercorona

Due to range issues (not all, evidently, see themseves as “essential”) and general isolation this edition’s Reloaders Corner won’t be standard — no topic that can be handled and settled in a few hundred words. Like most folks, I guesss, I’ve kind of been thrown into pensive mode, and, mostly, find myself reacting to the daily challenges of this virus.

I also know I’m edging over into topics that have an end-of-year feel to them. And here it is not even really Summer. Reason for that is, know it or not, we’ve seen some big changes in our industry, supply side and consumer side. Anyone who’s tried to order and got put on the “be patient” list knows that. We’ve seen changes in shipping schedules, and there have been others in the logistics of promotion. We have survived. We are, from my side of my contribution to our industry, likely to see some changes that are staying around. Right here are Midouth we’re making some focus and topic-content changes in the Blog driven by some of the needs we experienced.

We’re also daggone tired of this daggone virus. Keep, however, firmly in mind that it can and will and has killed us deader than a hammer. When it finally settled into my home state I was frightned well beyond my core’s capacity to accept the toll it took. I know a lot of my competition-oriented friends have been REALLY put out that NRA ceased all tournaments until next year, that’s 2021. NRA take on it is that there needs to be a shot for it before we start shooting again.

And of course we saw some of the silliest, sadly now predictable, attempts to take advantage of the whole pandemic status and undermine gun rights. Good googly moogly. Even better was the radical (radical) increase in gun sales. My good friend Bill called me about a week in and asked me to go shopping with him for his first.

Next edition back on track with an actual reloading topic. I’ll have some to say about high-volume case prep!

Hang in there.

Finally: Please let me know more about what you’d like to see in these pages. Not only Reloaders Corner, but the whole publication.

Let’s get focused also on the “other” dangerous pandemic of misinformation. Not a whopping lot of time left to make some decisions on how some things are going to be decided on.

Berger 205 grain Elite Hunter

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Awesome new bullet! SEE MORE HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: House Arrest Handloading

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It’s on and we’re in and it’s pretty clear what might be a good focus during these times. A few thoughts coming next HERE

Glen Zediker

Corona, Covid-19, is daggone serious. I’m beyond on board taking the precautions I can to protect myself and mine. It can and has killed people. I have to keep that firmly in mind because about the time “we,” or at least those more immediately in vicinity where I live, really started to get into lockdown, shutdown mode now seems like a good while distant. Covid-19 isn’t nearly over with. It’s not yet even hit its stride. I’m not at all saying that to alarm or concern, just to keep firmly in mind that it looks like we’ll be all beyond arm’s length for a good long while.

Some of us will have more or less time on our hands.

But! Since we are interested in shooting, it sho could be worlds worse. There are so many ways to continue to productively participate in elements of our world. And, honestly, that’s an understatement. Some genuinely valuable things can be done and learned following a shooting focus away from target time.

I read and receive a lot of messages from handloaders digging into put-off projects (usually involving case prep or segregation, stockpiling, and on down a long list of opportunities to “finally” get something done that had been pushed back).

You might think about reviewing some of the Reloaders Corner articles in the past with respect to prep and segregation means, and also those dealing with ideas on how to bring the loading machinery into a little more comfortable, closer proximity. And! Always follow all the same rules, especially about cleaning up a the end of a loading session. Don’t leave primers or propellant to sit open.

We could all come out of this with from a little to a lot improved handloading accomplishments. Okay. I am admittedly grasping at straws, folks, because I’d rather just get back to normal, but I can tell you that shooting-related interests are way (way) easier to maintain and improve, certainly compared to something like mountain biking when there’s a forced layoff.

The status of range time access gets different answers. I know that virtually every organized tournament, outdoor or indoor, has been cancelled or postponed. I also just today see some conflicting views on the essential or non-essential angle of shooting ranges.

Finally, it looks like Reloaders Corner and the MSS Blog might be more frequent over the next bit, so keep looking for new material in these pages.

Check out Glen’s newest book America’s Gun: The Practical AR15. Available at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads.

SKILLS: Handgun Stopping Power

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One Shot Stops, 9mm vs. .45, Magic Bullet. READ MORE

Bob Campbell

stopping power
The .45 ACP was developed to offer similar wound potential to the .45 Colt, lower. These are old school handguns perhaps but only a few months old. One is for concealed carry and the other accompanies the author on the trail.

In writing, I prefer my information to be valid and the research verifiable, and the experiments repeatable. I like to give the reader an opportunity to get a handle on things. Quite often the things that the critic points out harshly are the things that majority of the readers find valuable. I have found that the subject of handgun wound potential or stopping power isnt a puzzle at all but remains a puzzle to those that make it so. I realize that there is not natural law that gives a man a reward that matches his endeavor, so I hope that the reader finds something of value in this work. There has been more debate concerning handgun stopping power in the past 20 years than in the previous 100. A lot of gunplay took place in the old west, but period literature covers the tactics and personalities far more closely than the guns and calibers used. The .44 and .45 caliber revolvers in wide use on the frontier seemed to work with authority, and no one much questioned the efficacy of their ballistics. There are reports of the effect of the .44 on horses and the problems with the .36 at long range during the Civil War, but perhaps that is going back too far and reading too much into different technology.

Since the days when word-of-mouth was the only barometer of handgun effectiveness, we have made many advances in measuring handgun power. The standard was once pine boards to test handgun cartridges, penetration being the only criteria. Penetration is still the most important criteria. Ductseal and clay were widely used to test hollowpoints, both unrealistic media. Today we have carefully formulated ballistic gelatin, developed by trauma surgeons to replicate human tissue, as well as some highly significant scientific studies of gunshot effects.

stopping power
With plus P loads with a good balance of expansion and penetration the .38 Special and 9mm Luger are lifesavers. These handguns are the right size for good control.

The study of tactics and human behavior is more important than the weapon, caliber and loading used in combat. Marksmanship can be proven to be the most important component of handgun effectiveness. Wound ballistics is a science, with conclusions drawn from studying bullet tracks in both ballistic gelatin and corpses in the medical examiner’s morgue. Detractors of laboratory tests feel these tests cannot duplicate differences in point of impact, clothing, attitude, muscle structure and intoxication. But a ballistic scientist does not ask us to believe anything. He simply presents the results of his tests. The results are not only verifiable, they are repeatable, the real test of science.

Stopping power “studies,” on the other hand, ask us to believe in someone’s conclusion. Assuming such compilations are valid requires a considerable leap of faith. Reports are often sensationalized, even glamorized. Are such studies grounded in reality? Are they even useful? Can they be supported by scientific methods? I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this — cartridges and loads are not as important as basic shooting skills. I don’t believe trick loads significantly alter the ability of a smallbore cartridge to inflict damage. I simply don’t accept many published reports because they are anecdotal and based on hearsay. Even if the shootings actually occurred — which is reasonable to ask — the methodology is flawed. In other cases, there are conclusions made that are so irrelevant to the reality of interpersonal combat that they are not even worth publishing.

A Skeptical Eye
When it comes to the various handgun “studies,” we must consider their validity. These “researchers” are not writing the King James version of stopping power. Yet the figures expressed are often quoted in the popular press as gospel. A criticism of some of the work might be the inability of others to inspect and review source material. To some, this reduces the validity of the study to zero. Certainly, such unsubstantiated work does not meet an investigative standard. As a longtime officer, I understand both sides of this debate. Confidentiality and respect for families must be considered. Cops who collect shooting histories may not have engaged in much gunplay, but have arrived just after quite a few gunfights ended. Cops from Area Six in Chicago, Fort Apache (the Bronx) in New York, or The Wall in California have a good idea of the type of damage different handgun calibers inflict. They are good investigators as well. They realize that three eyewitnesses testifying in good faith may perceive events three different ways.

Human perceptions differ. The road to a detective’s badge in many agencies is through the traffic division. Working wreck scenes is small-scale investigation, and separates the sleuths from the duffers in some cases. Applying normal investigative standards to stopping power studies often reveals bankrupt methodology or standards. These “studies” do not even meet the criteria demanded by some agencies in ascertaining who is at fault in a fender bender.

stopping power
The author prefers the balance of control and power in the .45 automatic. The Nighthawk, top, and Colt, below, are frequent companions.

Most police trainers have long abandoned the attempt to study stopping power and instead have concentrated on tactical movement and the actions of felons in combat. Tactics carry the day. By criticizing issue arms and equipment, we undermine an officer’s confidence in his gear, something he is usually unable to change. Sure, a DAO 9mm loaded with subsonic ammunition is not my first choice but a good man or woman behind the sights can make a difference. Tactics and marksmanship are a better answer than hotter loads in minor calibers.

One writer did the boys and girls in blue no favor when he stated in pat terms that load selection is more important than shot placement. His reasoning was that we can control load selection, but not marksmanship. Evidently he does not realize that shots that do not find critical areas are relatively ineffective. Any hunter knows better, and hunting lessons do indeed translate to self defense. A gut-shot man behaves just like a gut-shot deer — both are up and running for quite some time. A man and a deer are similar in size and may be about as hard to put down. The man knows he has been shot, the deer does not, and men are more susceptible to shock.

Most studies, or rather I call them published opinions, eliminate multiple bullet strikes from the data as they ‘confuse the issue.’ This simply makes small caliber bullets look much better than real world experience would indicate. Most handgun fights will be multiple strike incidents. One shot failures would be rare. After all, if the first shot fails, won’t you fire another? Besides, trained shooters often fire double or triple taps before a subject can fall. A problem with handgun histories is qualifying hits. I have on hand a report from police sources in which a coroner and a medical examiner, both reputable men, disagreed concerning the number of hits on a felon’s body. In a class I once attended, a medical examiner spoke in glowing terms of a certain new generation hollowpoint. He showed an impressive slide in which a bad guy — “Satan Lives” was tattooed on his chest — took a single hit which produced a long and wide wound track. Years later, the officer involved in the incident spoke at a seminar. He noted the man took the shot, stopped his attack, and remained mobile for some time, asking the officer to call an ambulance. The felon expired. The officer was certain the man could have continued the fight had he so wished. Two conflicting opinions on the same shooting. Some adversaries are “machinegunned” in shootings — five .38s, seven .45s, or 41 9mms. Excited, frightened men empty their guns under deadly stress. If the felon goes down in such a volley, it may have been a one-shot stop. The volley that leaves a felon standing is always a failure to stop. Dismissing multiple hits eliminates the majority of smallbore shootings.

stopping power
The .357 Magnum, above, pretty much eclipsed the excellent .38 Super, below. In appropriate sized handguns each is a viable personal defense handgun.

There are three components of wound potential that must be stressed — marksmanship, marksmanship and marksmanship. We are not very bright if we have time to arm ourselves with a long gun and fail to do so. In comparison to a 12 gauge shotgun or a .223 rifle, the “weak .38” and “strong .45” are more alike than they differ. A sobering thought.

Tactical Info
Shooting histories should be used for tactical information first and bullet performance information second. As for lab work, gelatin is homogenous and flesh and blood are heterogeneous. It is not the same, but gelatin is a good media for comparing bullet performance. What counts is point of impact and perhaps the adversary’s tox sheet. (Certain drugs are not called painkillers for nothing.) Even ordinary water is good for comparing bullet expansion and penetration. Whether or not we regard the studies as valid, one rule we may take away from learned research is that bullet selection is more important in the weaker calibers. One authority, Dr. Vincent J. Di Miao, has stated that perhaps half of all handgun bullets designed to expand actually fail to expand in the body. They strike a portion of the body that doesn’t stop the bullet or they strike bone and close up on the nose. The works of this respected medical examiner do not inspire confidence in smallbore hollowpoints. We are led to the conclusion that all handguns are weak instruments.

stopping power
A fast handling short barrel revolver is a reasonable choice for personal defense. That’s a five shot .45, left, and a six shot .38, right.

Some decades ago the Police Marksman’s Association published a study that I found among the more valid of the day. The calibers included were .38 Special, 9mm Luger, .357 Magnum and .45 ACP. The .40 S & W was yet to come, so, yes, this was some time ago. While the results of the study are valid, the study, which was conducted by a respected researcher and the records were available to interested researchers, also included hit probability. This simply reflected the number of hits per shots fired. This was a reflection on training than anything else but notably the .357 Magnum exhibited the highest hit probability. The .45 auto and .357 Magnum revolvers showed the highest hit probability of any service handguns. Hit probability is a side issue, but one which remains valid. You would imagine if the agency has a hit probability of fifty per cent with the 9mm, the shots that hit are probably not well centered. Some agencies, such as the Kentucky State Patrol, engaged in rigorous training with their Magnum revolvers.

What follows is a divergence from the scientific, but bear with me — life has to have some fun too — and all this about combat reminds us that life is what it is because men live it.

Fun With Math
One “study” shows a 9mm cartridge that has proven to be a 50 percent stopper. Hit probability in this agency has proven to be 50 percent — far higher than average at the time. What are the chances two felons will be stopped with two shots? Given that only one out of two rounds will hit Felon X and Felon Y, at least four shots will have to be fired to connect, and then only one opponent is likely to be stopped.

Here’s the math on that probability: .50 x .50 = .25. What you have is a one-in-four chance of stopping Felon X with one shot.

What about the .357 Magnum revolver, per PMA stats? It works out like this: .75 x .60 = .45. The conclusion, if we were peddling this “study” as a major work, would be this: The .357 Magnum is nearly twice as likely to produce a one-shot stop as a 9mm Luger. So there you have it. How much faith can we put in these studies? We can learn from the PMA study that firing less with more accuracy means a lot. That doesn’t mean we are slower to the first shot but we should fire with greater accuracy.

The Answer
What stops human adversaries during a deadly attack? A brain shot or a spine shot are the only two instant stoppers. Damage to blood bearing organs which causes rapid blood loss and a drop of pressure causes the body to shut down. Common sense is the best guide. Bigger bullets cause more damage. Bigger knives cut better. Bigger engines pull better. However, handgun bullets aren’t very big. We should practice with the largest caliber we are able to control. Accuracy can make up for power. The reverse may not be true.

RELOADERS CORNER: When You Can’t Always Get What You Want

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And here’s hoping that, if you try sometimes, you get what you need. Sorry Mick. READ MORE

weigh brass

Glen Zediker

Yet one mo time: the topic for Reloaders Corner comes from recent letters on a topic, and this time it’s brass. Specifically, some were asking me about this and that such and such brands of brass that I’d had no direct experience with. The reason for the question was because my long-standing and well-known in-print recommendations had, for these folks, just not been possible to find. They were, by the way, looking for “good” brass, which can mean different things, but mostly new cases that were going to be consistent and had nothing that wouldn’t recommend them, if that made sense. If it didn’t, it means that the cases weren’t unusually hard or soft, or expensive, or, generally, exhibiting low or quirky quality.

These were competitive shooters, NRA High Power Rifle, by they way.

Anyone who’s read much from me on this topic knows I’m partial to American-made cases, WW in particular, and also (now) Nosler. Nosler isn’t cheap. You would also know that I am not a fan of European brands. I have used and continue to use a good deal of Lapua because I have a good deal of it, but it tends to be virtually perfect in dimension but soft in composition. And, gas gun or not, I do not like soft brass.

For this next to be as helpful as I’d hope it might be, the circumstance is this: We are going to try a few before we commit. We’re first going to buy a box before we get a case.

So after opening a container of new brass, how do you know “what you’ve got”? Have to find some way to measure it, then measure it, and start quantifying its quality or suitability. There are a few different checks myself and others make that provide numbers we can use to represent consistency. For the most part, and this will likely get the most support in agreement from others reading this now, case wall thickness consistency might well trump other checks that can be made. Of course (of course) there are tools that make this job — measuring wall thickness at 4 points around a case neck — easier and faster. Related but not exactly the same thing is running the new cases through a concentricity fixture (a “spinner”) that will show how much runout a case neck has. To make that truly reliably viable, though, all the cases much first be sized to round out the case neck cyclinder. That might not be such a chore, though, because in fact all those cases are going to need sized before they can be used. Otherwise, and this takes only a quick look to know, new case mouths are usually bent up and not nearly ready to accept a bullet.

There’s another way. Weigh them! Weigh them all. After a few tries and a few notes, you’ll get an idea of what represents the higher, lower weight range. Moving them into piles, a pattern, I guess we could call it, shows up. As with any segregation, the tolerance you’re setting determines on how many piles, but I suggest and try to keep it to three. Separation increments that are realistic and influential for case weight segregation varies on the physical size of the case and, of course, the tickiness of the operator. Again, though, if you weigh 100 cases and you have your numbers and your piles, you’ll start to see how both your criteria and your test pieces are relating. If your piles have cases that are under 1.0 grain difference each, meaning less than 3.0 grains total weight variance, that’s good! Really good. There are other surfaces (case rim for instance) where a little more or less material here and there contribute to the weight.

weigh cases
Weighing is going to be a little faster check especially when there’s a good number of cases in the mix. A good electronic scale makes it way on easier.

Weight is not (not nearly) an indicator of case wall thickness consistency. Well, or if it is, that’s sho not what the scale is directly showing you. It’s also not a direct indication of case volume, or of anything else for that matter! It is only showing a weight on each case. However! Over almost a half century messing with all this, I can tell you that — for some reason — it does without a doubt matter! It may only be some sort of clue to the “overall” quality of manufacture, I honestly don’t know.

I suggest it as an alternative to more “direct” means to gauge case quality just because everyone has a scale and initial weight readings are fairly fast and decidedly easy to take.

Now. Read just a little on this on the interweb and you’ll see weight segregation is most often discounted heavily as a viable criteria. As with much of what else you’ll read on the interweb it tends to be posted by folks who are long on opinion and short on resume. Right. They know it all but don’t actually go out and win anything.

weigh cases
Don’t confuse segregation means with segregration criteria. Case weight is not the same as wall thickness. Sorting by weight says you found the cases that weighted more nearly the same. They will, I assure you, shoot better than employing no segregation means.

One last, speaking of folks with impressive resumes, I know a good number of shooters on the U.S. Palma Team. These folks are all big into weight segregation. Since “real” Palma is fired with drawn ammo, the proven best way to find out which rounds in a box are going to shoot the closest together is simply to weigh all the loaded rounds and separate them by weight. That’s proven to do better than any other means for measure. It honestly does work for cases too.

The preceding is a adapted from information contained in Glen’s newest book America’s Gun: The Practical AR15. Available at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads.

RELOADERS CORNER: Crimp

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More “factory tricks” can be applied to handloads, if you feel a need. READ MORE

crimp
To get a sano crimp, the bullet has to have a crimping groove, or cannelure, for the case mouth to roll into, and the die itself has to be internally dimensioned to accommodate it.

Glen Zediker

A commonly used tactic in a factory round is a crimp to help hold the bullet in place before it’s launched, especially when there is a heavy bullet and heavy recoil. Inertia generated within the gun, in a big part, can make the bullet shift, usually outward (common in a magnum revolver). A crimp also helps guard against a bullet seating more deeply, as when there might some stubbing contact as the round is chambered.

For a true factory style roll crimp, the bullets must have a cannelure, or “crimping groove.” This is a ring cut into a portion of the bullet’s major diameter. The edge of the case mouth is turned or folded (“rolled”) into this groove to complete the crimp. The bullet seating die has to be tooled to provide this effect when it’s adjusted properly to engage the crimping groove. Not all seating dies can provide crimp.

If your die allows it, to get a crimp, adjust bullet seating depth to put the cannelure so it’s right on the end of the case mouth. Then adjust the die body downward to engage the crimping ledge so it will pinch the edge of the case mouth into the groove.

crimp
Here’s a good example of a good application of crimp. This 300 Blackout subsonic has a heavy bullet that otherwise can be prone to shift as a result of intertia induced forces at work during action cycling.

I don’t usually use a factory style roll crimp because I’ve never felt need for it, and also I convinced myself that it can’t be a good idea (ever) to squeeze in on a bullet, or not when best group size is the goal. Another reason is that I very rarely use a bullet that has a cannelure. However! I concede those times when it is a benefit. I crimp magnum handgun loads.

Also, if you crimp, it’s clear there are strict and unweilding limitations on bullet seating depth and also that all the cases have to be the same height for it to work properly, and that means at least a little additional tedium from efforts in case trimming.

crimp
Lee has a really good setup, in my experience and opinion, for those who want to closely duplicate factory treatment. It’s their “Factory Crimp” die.

An alternative to a roll crimp is a “taper crimp.” This is popular with practical-style pistol competitors and also with a couple of commercial .223 Rem. loaders I know. A taper crimp die does what it suggests or sounds like it does: it squeezes in some portion below the case mouth against the bullet using a gentle taper. Anyone who’s loaded straight-walled cases knows about “belling” the case mouth. Belling makes a little funnel-edge on the case mouth to allow easy entry for a bullet. That tiny trumpet-shaped area then needs to be ironed back flat so the round will chamber, and the seating die has a portion within it dimensioned and devoted to this chore. A taper crimp die works in the same, just more.

crimp
Here’s a taper crimp die. These give a progressive and relatively gentle squeeze down that adds a little more grip againt the case neck. It’s also an asset to feeding for a semi-auto.

And, as said, a taper crimp is a stand-alone die, which means it’s best used in a turret or progressive style press. Its use effectively increases the grip against the bullet. Some say it’s an asset to reliable feeding, and I can agree with that given straight-wall cases, but I don’t think it helps a bottleneck case in this regard. It will, however, keep the bullet better in place against outside forces seeking to change its location.

crimp
A healthy crimp is common also in hard kicking heavy bullet rounds like magnums. The idea here is to keep the other bullets in place in reaction to the firing forces trying to dislodge them.

Last, for now, is that there are also a good many who claim that crimping is an asset to improving round to round velocity consistency. Judge that, along of course with your chronograph, but I have yet to see it in rifle ammunition. Some pistol ammo, yes.

Check out Midsouth taper crimp dies HERE

Lee “Factory Crimp” HERE

The preceding is a adapted from information contained in from Glen’s newest book America’s Gun: The Practical AR15. Available at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads.