Tag Archives: target shooting

REVIEW: Rock Island 1911 .38 Super

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Although it’s fallen out of the mainstream, .38 Super is a formidable choice for a critical-use handgun, and it’s one any serious operator should consider. READ WHY

1911 38 super

Wilburn Roberts

The .38 Super was introduced in the 1911 handgun in 1929 to arm peace officers with a hard-hitting round that offered good penetration against the new breed of mechanized thug. The .38 Super saw extensive use in the hands of the FBI and figured into the demise of dangerous fugitives such as Baby Face Nelson.

The .38 Super is dimensionally identical to the .38 ACP of 1900, and Colt’s offered this in the 1903 model pistol. The .38 ACP fired a 130-grain bullet at 1,100 fps. Colt’s upped the power of the cartridge but used the same length cartridge case and chambered the 1911 in .38 Super when it dropped production of the .38 ACP pistols. The .38 Super was a sensation, noted for its high velocity of 1300 fps and 9 fast shots. At the time, you had to know not to fire a .38 Super in the older Colt’s 1903 pistols.

The effectiveness of .38 Super cannot be argued. The penetration of the cartridge and reliability of the 1911 gave law officers an advantage. However, the .38 Super suffered in popularity after the introduction of the .357 Magnum. In those days, lawmen were revolver men. The question is this: Is the .38 Super a viable personal defense and tactical combination today?

The answer would be yes! Ammunition development continues. Federal Cartridge recently introduced a 115-grain JHP load in its American Eagle Line, and Double Tap ammunition offers excellent tactical-grade loads. SIG Sauer also recently introduced a new .38 Super load.

Rock Island GI Series
The 1911 is a good home for the .38 Super. The 1911 features straight-to-the-rear trigger compression, a low bore axis, a grip that fits most hands well, and excellent speed into action. Its lower recoil makes the .38 Super an an easier cartridge to master than the .45 ACP, and the .38 Super gives two additional rounds of magazine capacity.

38 super
The .38 Super is a great all-around handgun. The Rock Island GI Series are high-quality, well-made, and affordable.

Rock Island Armory offers a GI-type 1911 chambered in .38 Super. The pistol is well finished, offers a smooth trigger compression at 5.5 pounds, and, overall, the parts on my test gun were well fitted.

38 super magazine
.38 Super magazine, above, .45 ACP, lower. The smaller diameter Super case gives a full two more rounds capacity.

The Cartridge
Federal offers a 115-grain JHP in the American Eagle line that breaks almost 1200 fps. This is a good practice load and is just a bit hotter than most 9mm loads. The SIG Sauer Elite 125-grain V Crown JHP breaks just over 1200 fps. Either is a good defense load for most situations.

38 super ammo
Double Tap ammunition and MecGar magazines gave excellent results.

38 super ammo

For loads mimicking the .357 Magnum, consider this: The .38 Super uses relatively fast-burning powder that produces less recoil energy than the slow-burning powder used in the .357 Magnum. The recoil spring captures much of the recoil energy as well.

federal 38 super
Federal’s American Eagle .38 Super is a boon to those who love the .38 Super in an accurate and affordable loading.

There are loads available that maximize the caliber. If you wish a rapidly expanding load for use in an urban situation the Double Tap 115-grain Controlled Expansion JHP offers that option. For those preferring an all-copper bullet, the Barnes TAC XP load is an option with greater penetration.

Barnes JHP
The Barnes all-copper JHP is a credible performer.

At over 1400 fps, the 125-grain JHP Double Tap would be an excellent all around service load. I normally load my .38 Super with the 115-grain load for home defense. If using the pistol for tactical use, I would deploy the 125-grain bonded core loading. The following table outlines the load’s performance. The Rock Island Armory 1911 .38 Super produced good accuracy with each loading.
The .38 Super fits my needs well. Modern loads put the .38 Super just where it needs to be — a high-velocity loading with good performance, excellent penetration and governable recoil.

38 super stats

38 super energy

CHECK OUT THE GUN HERE

 

SKILLS: Hold Control

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Getting, and staying, steady on the target is the first step in learning to employ correct shooting technique. Here are some great tips on how to do it…

Hold control

by Larry Quandahl, NRA Family

What do we mean when we talk about “hold control”?

Simply put, “hold” is the relationship of the gun and shooter to the target. Hold control is the way in which you correctly maintain it long enough for the shot to break. Here’s how it works: The shooter uses sight picture to monitor the hold. In stationary target shooting (bullseye rifle and pistol), sight picture consists of sight alignment (relationship of your eye and the rear and front sights), and the relationship of the aligned sights to the stationary target. For beginning shooters, it is as simple as holding still while firing the shot, but the simplicity of hold control is deceptive. Controlling hold is actually the most difficult aspect of accurate shooting. Even world-class shooters experience movement in their sight picture while shooting. The goal — hold control — is to control the combined movement of the shooter and firearm on the target.

The NRA Muzzleloading Rifle Handbook describes hold control as learning to hold the rifle steady, but that’s just the beginning of the story. Hold control applies to shooting at stationary targets as well as at quick-reaction targets and moving targets. For simplicity’s sake, this article will deal with stationary targets.

When shooting at a stationary target, the shooter has to aim at the target and hold the firearm still as the trigger is pulled. Your hold is the movement of your aligned sights in relation to the target that you see while aiming. The amount and speed of movement shows how well you are controlling your hold. Your task is to hold the firearm as still as possible, which is best done by relaxing and letting your position and natural point of aim do the work for you. Concentrate on holding your body and the firearm as still as you can.

As a shooter, you need to learn to recognize the period of your steadiest hold. This is because the shot should be fired when hold is steadiest. Your goal is to reduce the amount and the speed of the movement and to release the shot when the hold is at its best.

So how do you do this? Start by establishing a benchmark to measure success at controlling hold. When you look through the sights at the target, you’re automatically aware of the amount and speed of the movement of the gun as you hold. Have a mentor or coach look over your shoulder and observe the front sight with relation to an object or area downrange. Now that you and your coach know what kind of “wobble” your current hold is giving you, you can move forward.

There are five elements of a shooting position: consistency, balance, natural point of aim, comfort and, for competitive shooters, the position must be legal. To improve your hold, start by focusing on balance and natural point of aim. If you fire from an off-balance position, or if the natural point of aim does not coincide with the target, hold will be larger. The resulting movement will be like a leaf blowing in a windstorm. And the longer you hold, the stronger the “wind” gets.

To develop good habits, you can use a simple “go/no-go” system to get into and check position. You should always stop and correct any problem, no matter how small. The position checklist can be divided into two categories: external checks and internal checks. For example, checking to see that the butt of the rifle is placed correctly on the shoulder is an external position check that you can observe. An internal check would be checking the muscles and bones of your body, to ensure that they are in the right position and work together to support the gun. (The internal check is largely a matter of feel reinforced by experience.)

A good coach or trainer will provide a position checklist for you. As you gain experience, you’ll create and continually modify a personal checklist to reflect refinements in individual position. Using this method of checking, you can determine whether a change has improved your hold.

Concentration improves hold control. Something as simple as thinking “hold” — or using hold as a key word — can slow and reduce movement. This will allow you to focus on sight alignment and sight picture. Through concentration, you literally reduce the amount of hold and its speed. If the hold is small and slow, your position is good with respect to natural point of aim.

Kel-Tec PMR 30: A Second Look

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

This space-age pistol has a lot of uses. It’s a great pistol for hunting, personal defense, and target practice — and it’s also the fun gun of the century! Also, yes, at the time of the article being published Midsouth does have .22 MAG in stock. You can find it by clicking HERE.


Bob Campbell


Kel-Tec
This is a space-age pistol, but then it is a Kel-Tec! With modern construction, light weight and reliability this is one interesting handgun.

I came to the Kel-Tec PMR 30 in a different manner than I would have thought. My experience with their CMR 30 carbine solidified my confidence in the company and promoted my eager appreciation of this .22 Magnum self-loader. When I had the chance to obtain a PMR 30 pistol, I did not hesitate.

These handguns have been scarce on the market. The situation seems better now and I am seeing more PMR 30s in well-stocked shops. The PMR 30 is a unique and highly interesting handgun. This is a polymer frame pistol with a steel slide and barrel that works on the simple blowback principle. The first thing you notice after the space age appearance is that the pistol weighs less than 14 ounces. Even with a fully-loaded 30-round magazine, the piece weighs but 20 ounces. Yes, 20 ounces for a 30-shot pistol!

The pistol is quite narrow overall, although the grip must be deep enough to accommodate the .22 Magnum cartridge. Just the same, the handgun is manageable by all but the smallest hand sizes. The geometry of the grip is subtle until understood, and when looked at with an experienced eye the engineering is impressive. The safety is ambidextrous and offers ergonomic operation and easy reach.

The pistol is supplied with fiber optic front and rear sights. The sights offer excellent visibility and are precise enough for accurate fire well past 25 yards. The pistol is drilled and tapped for optics from the factory. The PMR 30 also features a light rail — unusual for a rimfire pistol. This rail accommodates popular lasers and combat lights including the LaserMax Spartan red laser.

Kel-Tec PMR-30 sights
Optics ready! Note fiber-optic rear sight — very bright — and the front fiber-optic sight is a good choice for rapid target acquisition.

Among the best features of this single-action handgun is the trigger action. The trigger is clean and crisp, breaking smoother than any factory trigger I’ve tried in recent memory.

The PMR 30 differs from most modern handguns in using a heel-type magazine release. While speed is better with the Browning-type button release, the heel-type magazine release is more secure. Just the same, with sufficient practice reasonable speed may be had with the heel-based system, and, with 30 rounds on tap, I do not foresee the need for a speed load. As heel-based latches go, the Kel-Tec is a good design and faster than most.

Kel-Tec
Note the heel based-magazine catch. With such a relatively long and heavy magazine this is a good choice, but it takes a little practice to perform efficient reloads.

Firing Tests
When loading the magazines, be certain to properly center each cartridge and bump the magazine every 5 or 6 rounds to ensure that the cartridges are seated. This improves reliability. The last few cartridges are rather difficult to load. For informal practice loading 15 to 20 rounds is a sound program and a little easier on the self.

Kel-Tec PMR-30 magazine
The 30-round PMR magazine is well-made of good material.

I have been able to test the pistol with a variety of ammunition, including the Fiocchi 40-grain JSP, Winchester’s 40-grain FMJ, the CCI 40-grain JHP, and Hornady’s 45-grain Critical Defense. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. Engineering a pistol to fire the rimmed .22 Magnum cartridge isn’t an easy task but Kel-Tec took the challenge and ran with it.

CCI
The PMR 30 eats a lot of ammunition quickly. It functioned flawlessly with all four different ammo selections I tried.

The pistol is a joy to handle and fire. Although the .22 Magnum exhibits a healthy muzzle blast, recoil isn’t a factor. A combination of a comfortable grip, excellent sights, and a crisp trigger make the pistol easy to land hits with. At close range, the pistol gave excellent results on the combat course, scoring X-ring hits at 5, 7, and 10 yards.

At a long 25 yards, I tested 3 loads. These were the Winchester 40-grain FMJ, the CCI Maxi Mag JHP, and the Fiocchi 40-grain JSP. Firing offhand, there was little difference in accuracy among all four. Boxes of 50 rounds each went all too quickly!

Bob Campbell
The PMR 30 is accurate in offhand fire. Firing quickly the Kel-Tec PMR is a controllable handgun. Get sighted on a target out to 50 yards and chances are you can hit it with a handgun that shoots as flat as a wire.

Shooting from a solid bench-rest firing position, the Kel-Tec was more than accurate enough for small game or pest control. The fastest load tested was the CCI Maxi Mag at a strong 1440 fps. The best group for accuracy was the Fiocchi 40-grain JSP at 3.5 inches, with the Winchester and CCI each cutting just below 4.0 inches. I suspect that with practice, the pistol may be more accurate, however, it is a light pistol and it takes practice to stabilize the piece.

Personal Defense
While I prefer a larger caliber, there is something to be said for a bullet with plenty of velocity. Hornady’s 45-grain Critical Defense load is designed for defense use and exhibits good penetration and expansion. I would recommend this load, and it is completely reliable in the Kel-Tec pistol. For the recoil-shy this is a first-class alternative to a larger caliber handgun.

Barber Leather Works
The Barber Leather Works Chameleon works well for concealing the PMR 30.

I, frankly, would rather have this pistol loaded with Hornady’s ammunition than a .32 or .380 pistol. Accuracy is good, hit probability is excellent, and you have a good reserve of ammunition. For those who like to practice, the PMR 30 is an alternative to harder-kicking pistols.

The PMR 30 is a surprising piece, well worth its price and one of the top fun guns of the century.


Calibers: .22 Mag. (.22WMR)
Action Type: semi-auto, hybrid blowback/locked-breech system
Frame: 7075 aluminum covered by glass-reinforced Nylon
Barrel length: 4.3″
Rifling: 1:16″ RH twist
Magazine: 30+1 rounds
Sights: Fiber Optic
Trigger pull: 3 lbs. 6 oz.
Overall Length: 7.9″
Weight: 13.6 oz.
Width: 1.3″
Height: 5.8″
Accessories: owner’s manual, hard case, trigger lock, and two magazines
Suggested Retail Price: $415

Kel-Tec.com


Bob Campbell is an established and well-respected outdoors writer, contributing regularly to many publications ranging from SWAT Magazine to Knifeworld. Bob has also authored three books: Holsters For Combat and Concealed Carry (Paladin Press), The 1911 Semi Auto (Stoeger Publishing), and The Handgun In Personal Defense (The Second Amendment Foundation).

Shooting Your AR15 (better)

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

The skill of developing a good trigger pull is the difference between a hit and a miss. Here’s how to get started developing perfect mechanics.

Pulling the trigger is the “last thing that happens” in the shot process. Well, technically, there’s also hammer or striker fall, primer ignition, and so on, but breaking the hammer loose from the sear is the last part we influence. Yes, it’s important.

There’s an old saw that goes “let the shot be a surprise…” Wrong. That’s a great concept for teaching a brand-new shooter not to be afraid: keep putting pressure back against the trigger until the shot goes. That helps avoid anticipation-induced flinch. However. When we’re really shooting, sights on targets and time is important, you best know when the shot is going. Trick is to break the shot, pull the trigger, without moving the sights off the target. That requires a little technique, and that’s what this article is about.

First, the best point of contact with the trigger face is near the middle of the first pad of the index finger. Not farther in. Ideally, the last joint of the index finger (closest to the fist knuckle) will be parallel to the gun receiver. That helps produce a “straight back” pull.

point of contact with trigger
Here’s the point of contact with the trigger face for best mechanics. It’s not easy to attain on an issue AR15 trigger, but get as close as you can. Of great importance is that no other little bit of the finger touches the rifle. If it does, there will, not can, be rifle movement during the trigger pull.

Make double-sure that no other part of the index finger is contacting anything else! Done right, only the trigger finger moves to press the trigger. The rest of the hand stays calm and steady (no matter how tight the gripping pressure is). This is something to put on the checklist: learning and practicing isolating movement to only the trigger finger. And move it straight back. Any side-loads will also move the gun, which will move the sights.

This ideal architecture may be difficult to duplicate depending on the distance the finger has to reach to access the trigger face. Usually, especially with pistol-grip-equipped rifles, the distance to the trigger is closer than ideal. Be aware of what you’re trying to accomplish (pull straight back, no side pressure), and a little fudging in finger positioning will find a way. For me, and the eons of hours I spent fiddling with this, with an AR15 I decided that getting the last joint parallel to the receiver ultimately was a more influential factor than perfect placement of the trigger face on the first joint of my finger. I’m moved in closer to the first joint than to the fingertip.

When you’re practicing the “move only the trigger finger” tactic, you might notice that it’s difficult to do that without also having the thumb move. They’re a team. As best as I can, I effectively remove my thumb from the equation by holding it upwards (if possible) and keeping it either away from contact with the rifle or deliberately held against the rifle with constant force. The sympathetic “pinching” habit has to be overcome. Sympathetic, in this use, means unavoidably linked. Flexing the thumb in conjunction with moving the index finger will, not can, influence shot impacts.

A great trigger makes all this next a far sight easier, but the mechanics involved in a skillful trigger pull have a lot to do with what happens after the sear breaks. “Follow-through” has different definitions, and that’s because it’s as much of a concept as it is a technique. Follow-through, to me, is “staying with” the trigger break for a spell after the shot has gone. This spell might vary from a couple of seconds to no more than an eye blink, and the reason is the sort of “reverse” effect it has on all that goes before. A focus on this will, not can, improve your shooting! I focus on keeping the trigger held back and also watching the sight. Follow-through promotes smoothness, and reduces undesirable movement. Call it a trick, but it works.

Shooting a semi-auto rifle, like an AR15, keep your finger on the trigger shot to shot. “Ride the trigger.” Some folks treat a trigger like it’s hot: they poke it back with the trigger finger and then jump off it. Staying in contact avoids “slapping” the trigger, which creates all manner of shot impacts strayed from center. You should be able to feel the trigger reset on every shot. The reset is the little “pop” you feel when the disconnector hands off the hammer to the sear. Pull the trigger, hold it back, let it forward and feel the reset: the trigger is prepped and ready for its next release.

AR15 disconnector function
With any semi-automatic, you’ll do better if you keep the trigger finger in contact with the trigger face all the way through each shot, back and forward, for all the shots. Don’t jump on and off it. Ride it. Feel the disconnector work: pull back and hold (top photo), and then release forward and feel the “pop” as the trigger resets for another go.

Learning how this feels, and seeing how much it helps, might add a whole new dimension to your shooting.

In another article I’ll talk about trigger types and traits that can either help or hamper results. The answers might not be predictable.


Glen Zediker is a card-carrying NRA High Master competitive shooter and earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information, and more articles, please check out ZedikerPublishing.com