Saturday, June 21, 2014

Backyard Small Pistol Penetration Tests

Over on The High Road, “marb4” posted a thread in which he tested the penetration and expansion of several different loads from small handguns.

The loads tested were:

  • 9mm Speer Gold Dot 115 grain JHP
  • Federal .380 ACP Hydrashock 90 grain JHP low-recoil
  • Winchester .380 95 grain FMJ flat nose
  • Remington .38 Special 148 grain wadcutter
  • CCI .22 LR 40 grain Mini Mag lead round nose.

The penetration of the two .380 loads and the CCI .22 LR Mini Mags is especially impressive. I load Federal 95 grain FMJ-RN in my Ruger LCP .380 because I’ve been concerned that .380 lacks penetration. It looks like some of the modern .380 JHPs may actually penetrate deeply enough.

I've always suggested Mini Mag solids for someone who must use a .22 for defense, because (1) solids penetrate better than hollowpoints, especially from a .22 rifle, (2) CCI rimfire ammunition has the most reliable priming in my experience, and (3) Mini Mags work reliably in every .22 autoloader that I’ve tried them in, something I cannot say for any other type of ammunition.

My Springfield XD9 is loaded with 9mm 124 grain Gold Dots.

With the popularity of the Kel-Tec P32, I’d like to see similar testing done with a few different .32 ACP loads. Many people, including myself, recommend a European-spec .32 FMJ load to get adequate penetration. It would be nice to see if any of the modern JHPs can penetrate at least 12”.

Kudos to marb4 for providing us with some additional data on with which to choose carry loads.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Hill People Gear Kit Bag Review

Yesterday I took a vacation day and went for a hike in French Creek State Park in SE PA. It was my first chance to try out my new Hill People Gear Kit Bag. It’s a great option for carrying a handgun plus some basic survival gear out in the woods. I posted a full review over on Survival & Emergency Preparedness.

Aside from the Kit Bag review, I’ve also posted some pics from the hike in my gallery at Flintlock.org. Linky.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Beretta M9 Pistol

One pistol that it’s taken me a long time to warm up to is the Beretta 92, AKA M9. Compared with more modern pistols like the Glock, Springfield XD, or S&W Military & Police, the traditional DA/SA trigger is obsolete. Further, the M9’s size is very large for the cartridge it fires. Many people with small hands have a difficult time comfortably gripping the piece due to the bulk of the grip. This last point had always soured me on the gun.

However, opinions chance over time. Back at the beginning of April I picked up a Beretta CX-4 Storm 9mm carbine which uses Beretta 92 magazines. I regard the CX-4 as a good choice for a defensive carbine and the idea of a pistol that would take the same magazines is something I find very attractive. So, I went over to my parents’ and took another look at my father’s M9. I wound up buying my own about a week later.

The pistol came in a blue plastic hard case with a manual, warranty card, lock, two 15 round magazines, and a Jello mold or shot glass.

(Actually, it’s there to help keep the case from getting crushed in transit.)

I’m a bit surprised that it doesn’t come with a basic magazine loader. Double column/single feed pistol mags are a bitch to fill to capacity without a loading tool. In any event, I highly recommend the Butler Creek LULA magazine loader. It makes loading double column pistol magazines a breeze.

Note that in the pics of the gun above, it has a Mec-Gar 20 round magazine in place. Mec-Gar has made mags for Beretta in the past and currently make a flush-fit 18 rounder. Their 20 rounder is the bod of an 18 round mag with a +2 extension on it. Were I carrying the gun in the military or as a police officer, the Mec-Gar 20 would be my preferred magazine, with the 18 rounder as my second choice.

I bought the M9 at Surplus City in Feasterville, PA for $599 + tax. I immediately took it to the range, field stripped, cleaned and lubed it, and fired it alongside my Springfield XD9.

On the initial outing I put 111 rounds through the M9, including some Brown Bear with lacquered steel cases, PMC, and Federal American Eagle. The Brown Bear and PMC were 115 grain FMJ, while the FAE was 147 grain FMJ-FP.

One of the things that impressed me was how easy it is to shoot the Beretta accurately in SA. In the picture below, the left hand target is 50 rounds through the M9 while the right target is 30 rounds through the XD9. Distance was 10 yards.

On the target I shot with the Beretta all the fliers were my fault.

The other thing that made a favorable impression upon me is how pleasant to shoot the M9 is. It’s not an especially heavy gun because the frame is made from aluminum, but it’s bulky and the grip spreads out the already mild 9mm recoil across your hand, rather than concentrating it in one spot.

The following weekend I brought it with me on a camping trip to Tioga County, PA, where my friends and I ran a couple hundred more rounds of CCI Blazer Brass 115 grain FMJ through it, shooting at steel plates.

As an aside, on this trip I also got the chance to do night firing for the first time. I used a Fenix LD20 flashlight held in my right hand while shooting the M9 with my left. The only ambient light was from a campfire. The hardest part about getting hits was acquiring the front sight, but when I was able to do so hitting a 10” gong at ~15 – 20 yards wasn’t too hard.

One of the valid criticisms (IMNSHO) of the M9 is the trigger pull. It’s flat-out heavy and long in DA. Combined with the weapon’s girth, this makes it hard for those of us with small hands to get off accurate DA shots. I’m not normally one to tinker with a gun until it’s got through a 500 round break-in period, but in this case there is an easy, cheap fix.

The factory hammer spring is rated for 20 lbs. This was specified so that the gun doesn’t have any problems firing ammo with even the hardest of primers, e.g., some SMG ammo. I don’t have to worry about that, so I replaced the OEM spring with a a Wolff hammer spring rated for 16 lbs. This drops the DA pull down several pounds and the SA pull a pound or two. The gun is now much easier to shoot, especially for the first shot in DA.

Last night I put another 110 rounds of CCI Blazer Brass through the gun. I’m now up to ~400 rounds down the pipe and it hasn’t had a single malfunction. My father shot his M9 last night, bringing the total in his gun up to 1100 rounds, and he has yet to experience any malfunctions.

Unfortunately, the M9 doesn’t have a rail under the dust cover, so for me to mount a light it will require an add-on. (If this is critical to you, the 92A1 or M9A1 come from the factory with a rail.) Brownell’s sells a rail section that can be affixed to the dust cover which I’m considering getting. Surefire also makes a no-gunsmithing rail that secures to the trigger guard.

The Beretta’s safety/decocker is mounted up on the slide and unless you have gorilla hands, it’s difficult to reach with your thumb, without radically changing your grip. There’s a simple solution to this: don’t use the safety. IMHO it’s superfluous on a DA autoloader anyway. If the gun is being carried in a proper holster the chances of an AD are pretty much zero. I use it strictly as a decocker.

I’ve done a total 180 on the Beretta M9. It’s a big, old fashioned DA/SA autoloader, but it’s accurate, pleasant to shoot, and reliable. If you’re in the market for a 9mm pistol it’s worth a serious look.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Diary of a Reformed Democrat

No, not me. Posted by "Breathe_Squeeze" on AR15.com:

I'm not sure how to best put this in words so bear with me please. 

I've been doing some thinking over the last few days on how I have changed in the last year and a half and I figured I would share, as these thoughts/observations may help bring more people to our side. 

First off, some back story. Or "how D's are made" 

I was raised by Democrats. Working dad, stay at home mom, hippy-ish types. At least for the first 12 years. Not hippies but live and let live, to each their own, myob types. I was raised to think this way and taught that this was the fundamental standing of the D philosophy. We weren't into talking politics much other than Republicans were all greedy, dollar worshiping idiots who only cared about themselves and couldn't give a shit about me. And that we were the opposite. Except my lessons that the Government will do what it wants and there's nothing you can do about it, so why bother worrying. Just go about your day. 

Public school education pretty well enforced this and most of my friends and classmates were taught the same. No emphasis on researching or learning anything further on the matter. Instead, subtle pushes to do the opposite, as they were taught by their parents, and they by theirs. This, I believe, is where the D's get their strength. The blind leading the blind and children trusting that their parents are teaching them the right things. As we all trust of our parents growing up. 

I was raised, however, with a love of hunting and shooting. Plinking and target with my father and later on hunting and larger bore firearms with my step-father. My first firearm was a Ruger 10/22 for my 9th Christmas. 

The first 28 years of my life were lead that way. Voting D because I didn't pay attention to the world outside of my little bubble or think that I could change anything if I saw something I didn't like or agree with. I went to work, paid my bills, and enjoyed myself. I've always held strong beliefs about and love for this country and the principles on which it was founded. I just never saw how those were being eroded by the very people I thought were the same as me. 

I caught a bug for black rifles around 2010 and bought one in 2011. 

Then came Newtown and Furer Cuomo's Unsafe Act. WTF?  I'm about to be a criminal overnight? By the swipe of a fucking pen and the changing of a definition? I started paying attention. I woke up. 

Fortunately I was blessed with a very analytical thought process. I just never applied it to this before, I never needed or wanted to. I began reading, here and elsewhere. Learning what I could. I realized that I had been wrong my entire life. My basic beliefs were flawed, some/most outright backwards. I was fucking pissed, enraged.  I had been lied to. I had been suppressed. No more. Unsafe Act, Obummer's try (and fail) at the same on a federal level (I do thank Andy for that though), Obama care, the NSA, the fucking welfare state, National debt, and so much more. 

I've spent the last year and a half doing what I can to open others eyes and point out the false logic they have come to accept as fact. I've realized it takes a soft tough. No one wants to learn what I did. They don't want to know that they've walked through life with blinders on. They resist. It requires small points to be made, subtle suggestions on topics to learn about or small facts to be given. Like the trickle of water that created the grand canyon, just a little at a time until there comes a tipping point and you see the light dawn in someones eyes. 

I make these points to maybe help you, my brothers and sisters, in your efforts to do the same. Having been the person that I'm trying to convert lets me understand them and do so better. 

Or maybe I just needed to get this out, my disgust, my hatred, my realizations and rebirth. I welcome any comments or criticisms but I probably won't check this thread till later tonight or tomorrow as I'm off to work soon. 

A good day to you all and GOD bless.

Link to original. (Edit: I just realized that to see the original you will need to be an AR15.com Team member. However, the OP gave permission to foward his post.)

Welcome to the (less) Dark Side.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Beretta CX-4 Storm Carbine

Lately I've taken a shine to 9mm as a carbine cartridge. It's relatively cheap, easy to find, reloadable, and effective for defense out to at least 50 yards. Plus, it's relatively quiet from a carbine length barrel and has minimal recoil.

A couple months ago I got a TNW Suomi which is a blast to shoot, but weighs 12 lbs. and has a trigger nearly as heavy. Both factors would prevent my wife from ever shooting it, so I went in search of a lighter, more modern alternative. I settled on a Beretta CX-4 Storm in 9mm setup for Beretta 92 (M-9) magazines, and bought one from Bud's Gun Shop last week. I picked it up fro my FFL last Friday and took it to the range Sunday for the first time. I'm very happy with the purchase.


It is not obvious from the pic, but I set the rifle up for left side ejection, and left handed safety operation. I'm a southpaw, while my wife and one daughter who shoots are both RH but left eye dominant.

With me I had the two Beretta 15 round mags, plus four Mec-Gar 20 rounders. All worked just fine but I like the longer Mec-Gars a bit better, because they are easier to fully seat, since the base isn't recessed as much in the bottom of the pistol grip.

The gun digested 255 rounds without a hitch: 100 Federal 115 grain FMJ bulk pack, 145 Brown Bear (lacquered steel case) 115 FMJ, and 10 American Eagle 147 grain FMJ-FP loads. I shot at 50 yards and from the bench, I'm able to keep my group inside the black of an SR-1 target. The short sight radius and heavy trigger pull are limiting, IMO. Also, last night I opened up the apertures on the rear sight so that they now provide a ghost ring sight picture. The original factory apertures might tighten my groups a little but they are too small for anything other than target shooting, again IMO.


(I pulled the IDPA target out of the trash to use as a cleaning mat. I didn't shoot it.)

In the second pic above, the long bar under the top half of the gun is the bolt. It uses a telescoping design similar to that of the Uzi. This, combined with the magazine well location in the pistol grip, result in a carbine with an OAL under 30". The short OAL and light weight (under 6 lbs. empty) make it a very handy little gun.

Aside from the trigger it's a real pleasure to shoot. There is well-known hammer mod to reduce the trigger pull but didn't want to tinker with the gun's innards before I tested it.

After I got home I ordered a Bushnell TRS-25 red dot sight from Amazon to go on the Storm. I have a couple TRS-25s on other guns and IMHO, they are the best deal going in an inexpensive micro-RDS. I also have a light mount, rail mount sling loop, and tactical sling on order. Overall, I am very happy with the Storm and look forward to shooting it a lot more.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Suomi in the Rain

This month’s Practical Rifle match at my club was shot on the 50 yard range so I decided to shoot my TNW M-31SA Suomi. As a pistol caliber carbine, the Suomi is best suited to 100 yards and under.

The course of fire was three magazines of 5 rounds each from behind 5 different barricades. The first barricade was a picket fence. The toughest stage required a very low prone that had me canting the rifle to the left so I could shoot under the barricade. The one stage each strong side and weak side, and finally, one through a window.

032914_LRGC_2 (1024x576)

The coat is a German surplus Sympatex (similar to Gore-Tex) rain coat, which is about the best deal available in a breathable membrane rain coat. At $30 or less it’s a steal. I bought it several years ago specifically for shooting in matches where I’d be getting muddy. I’ve also used it when camping and hunting. My hat is an old REI Explorer, which is similar to a Tilly Hat. I treated it with Tectron waterproofing spray this week and it kept my head dry in today’s light rain.

To carry my 36 round sticks mags I used a French MAT-49 pouch that I bought from Keepshooting.com.

The targets were IDPA targets with yellow duct tape on them to simulate the spine and brain. Only hits on the tape counted, because they represented zombies. ;)

We had some drizzle early on and then it started a light steady rain towards the end of the match. My groups were good but the gun shoots several inches high at 50 yards so my score was only OK. It was a lot of fun though.

The ammo I used was Brown Bear 9mm 115 grain FMJ. The Suomi eats it like candy. Zero malfs except for when I charged the gun for the first time a live round ejected. I've had that happen with the same magazine previously so it needs some tweaking. I didn't use it for the rest of the match and had no more issues other than that it's awkward to cock left handed, which slowed down my reloads.

I had a friend shoot some video with my iPhone on my final stage.