Monday, June 27, 2011

Whammo ammo

This weekend I made a point to go out and do some handgunnery considering I have neglected my mental health for a good while now. I had some ammo given to me by a coworker who somehow or another ended up with it, but doesn't own any firearms to shoot it with. Among the free stuff was 120 or so 200 grain semi wadcutters that were handloaded with W231, as well as a box of 185 grain Hornady HP and 200 grain Gold Dots, all in .45 ACP of course.

Shooting the handloads while doing draws was a lot of fun. With a government sized 1911, a Kimber TLE RLII, I could click off rounds very fast, getting quick follow up shots rapidly as there was not a whole lot of recoil. The slide chugga chugged along slowly making things easy on the gun. Later on that night, my brother put a bug in my head about upgrading my carry ammo - 230 grain standard pressure Remington Golden Sabers.

There's nothing wrong with Golden Sabers; they've been around for a long time now and have a proven pedigree, but the bullet design is a bit dated, and they are known for core/jacket separation. I have personally witnessed this from shooting them into 5 gallon buckets full of moist dirt. About two out of every ten will have the jacket come off, but the hollow point bullet does expand every time, which I rate second to reliable cycling in my gun. I've run a couple of hundred Golden Sabers without a hiccup through my blaster, and they hit to point-of-aim and are damned accurate.

Once I find a load that works, I'm generally reluctant to change as the cost of one to two hundred rounds for function testing is not in my budget, but I have thought about trying some new loads for the hell of it. I'm not the only one to think about updating my trusted Golden Sabers - Tam came to the same conclusion about the same time I did, and my brother convinced me to check out some modern CCW fodder in the way of Federal HST and/or Winchester Ranger Ts. To further that, the details from a shooting at a gas station in Dayton, Ohio have come to light, and it got me thinking that I needed to be using the best ammo that I can.

In the Ohio shooting incident, two drunk and high scumbags attacked a man at the gas pump and tried to drag him from his vehicle to do who knows what. The victim pulled a Glock 36 and fired two rounds into the guts of one scumbag, the first round being a 230 grain FMJ, and the second being 165 grain Cor-Bon Powerball. The shootee immediately ceased his attack and took up the fetal position on the deck, while the other scumbag poked at him probably saying something along the lines of "you ok bruh?" The shooter took off and dialed 911. Despite all the talk of the incident and the things that went wrong, the ammo did its job and stopped the attack cold. The shootee did survive the two rounds to the center of his abdomen, which has generated some talk about ammo effectiveness.

With all this in mind, I hit the local funshow this weekend looking for some of that Federal HST. I didn't find it, but I did see a whole lot of the Winchester Ranger Ts in 230 grain +P, which use the "Black Talon" design bullet of doom, without the black lubaloy coating. Taking it as divine encouragement, I picked up three boxes of it for function checking in the Kimber. As it turns out, my gun does not like the ammo at all, and I don't blame it.

The recoil was tremendous from my gun. I have shot a great deal of .44 magnum in my time, as well as 10mm, and none of those were as unpleasant as this stuff. The web of my hand was swollen afterwords where the beavertail grip was smashing into it. From a rest, I did manage a 2" 25 yard group minus the first round, which went low, but firing off pairs was a disaster in the making, as there was no way to manage the recoil effectively. I couldn't keep a pair of shots on a paper plate at 15 yards unless I slowed down considerably. In the 70 rounds I fired, I had six or seven malfunctions, four of them being when the slidestop became partially engaged. That could have been from my thumbs hitting it inadvertently, which doesn't happen when I use ammo that doesn't go off like a hand grenade in the chamber. The other malfunction was a nosedive type feeding issue where the round is still in the magazine and the bullet nose is jammed against the barrel hood. Years ago I swore that I would not shoot +P ammo in a 1911, as I don't think it's warranted for the cartridge, and yesterday I relearned that lesson. None of these malfunctions gave me confidence in the ammo, so I am back to the Golden Sabers for the time being.

All in all, I would be better served shooting the 200 grain wadcutters over the Ranger Ts. The Ranger Ts do come in a standard pressure loading, so I'll look for those. I don't know if the Federal HSTs come in standard pressure, but I'm going to look for those as well. I've looked at the Gold Dots and various loadings from Cor-Bon, but I don't see me taking out a loan to buy one box of ammo, so those are out. I'll be studying ammo pretty hard for the next week or so, and maybe next payday I'll find something that works.
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