Archive for the 'Ammunition' Category

Two Successful Defensive uses of .22 Mag Against Bears

1 month, 1 week ago

Dean Weingarten at AmmoLand:

On Tuesday, August 30, at about 6:50 p.m., James Little settled into campsite 674 in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). His youngest child was a few feet away.  His youngest cried out, and James grabbed the child and took a couple of steps, uncertain of what had happened.

Then his oldest yelled, “Bear!” and James turned around. The bear was about six feet from him. It had been within 3-4 feet of his back when the child was startled. This was the start of the remarkable incident. In James’ words:

Just finished a trip to Horseshoe that should have been three nights, but turn to one. (Campsite 674) Had a bear walk right into camp and within four feet of my youngest! Nothing would discourage him till I fired a couple of rounds.  We packed up and bolted to an open site (campsite 677) a half mile away on the other side of the lake. Weren’t there five minutes and was pulling up the food bag and my wife screamed. There was another bear fifteen feet away heading to our canoe with our kids in it. I had to fire another round before he would be deterred.  Left that site and unexpected member Ausable and his crew took my family and me in for the night. (Campsite 672) Early the next morning, we broke came and headed out. My family had had too much. Across from the portage from Caribou to Lizz, (campsite 645) the campers there had their breakfast intruded upon by a bear who would not be deterred till he had taken their food bag.

This correspondent talked to James, who reported the incident to the BWCA authorities.

James used a North American Arms mini revolver, the Wasp model in .22 magnum, with a 1 5/8 inch barrel. The revolver was loaded with Speer Gold Dot defensive ammunition.

Read the rest at the link.

Expensive Gun Failure

BY Herschel Smith
1 month, 2 weeks ago

Watch until the end where you learn the reason for this failure.  It’s quite common, actually, because of the similarity of ammunition case.

Check your ammunition.  Load it by hand, and watch while you do.

Boers, Beans, Bullets, and Bear Soup – Part 1 and 2

1 month, 2 weeks ago

At SurvivalBlog, this is an excellent two-part post. A very brief history of the Boer Wars is offered then it’s almost exclusively weapons, ammo, purposes in use, and personal firearms considerations. Great stuff, tons of data, with much to consider and debate.

Part One

Part Two

Excerpt from Part Two:

Around here, .30-06 is more common than .308 Win.  The second most popular in my neighborhood is 6.5 Creedmoor (6.5CM), then 6.5×55, and lastly a wildcat for the AR platform, the 6.5 Timberwolf. Ideally, we would be best off to standardized on .308 Winchester. Yet .30-06 is still king in these woods. It is time tested and found to be the best all around cartridge CONUS, good for mouse to moose, and the occasional Griz, because it can shoot the heaviest .308 caliber bullets with a 1:10 twist rate barrel.

The .30-06 can also punch out a flat shooting 175 grain bullet at 2,800fps with H4831sc, H4350 powder, or other similar powders. It is appreciable flatter shooting than .308 Winchester, and far flatter than .308 Winchester’s military version, 7.62×51 NATO.  Yet we do pay the price in terms of a punishing level of recoil. Therefore, my ideal long range rifle would be the 6.5×55 cartridge in a modern action capable of 60,000psi with 29 inch bull barrel attached, however that rifle is only a dream rifle.

Paul Harrell On Barrel Length And Velocity For .45 ACP

BY Herschel Smith
1 month, 2 weeks ago

First of all, I don’t shoot Remington ammunition.  I consider it to be rather weak tea most of the time.  It isn’t awful, but there’s nothing special about it.

Second, that muzzle velocity for .45 ACP is quite low.  There is much stouter stuff around (Underwood, Double Tap, Buffalo Bore, etc.).

Third, I still think in many cases ball ammunition is a fine choice for personal defense.

458 SOCOM vs 5.56: Big Bore Ballistics in a Standard AR-15

1 month, 3 weeks ago


The standard AR-15 chambered in 5.56 NATO is truly America’s rifle and is a symbol of American ingenuity and freedom. Although the 5.56 NATO has proven itself in the jungles of Vietnam and deserts of Iraq, some gun owners wanted something more…

They wanted more stopping power, better terminal ballistics, and a rifle cartridge that could be used for both home defense and big game hunting.

The 458 SOCOM cartridge is the answer that these gun owners were looking for, as its heavier bullets can deliver bone-crushing kinetic energy that can stop feral hogs or whitetail in their tracks.

However, is investing in a big bore 458 SOCOM upper receiver really worth it? Or is it better to stick with the AR-15 platform mainstay, the 5.56 NATO?

In this article we will help you answer these questions and more as we compare the 458 vs 556.

what is the difference between 5.56 and 458 SOCOM?

The primary differences between 458 SOCOM vs 556 is bullet diameter each cartridge fires and the intended engagement ranges. The 458 SOCOM fires a 0.458” diameter bullet that is intended for close-range engagements while the 5.56 fires a 0.224” diameter bullet that excels at long-range shots.



Muzzle Velocity and Kinetic Energy

When it comes to muzzle velocity, there are only a handful of rounds that are faster than the 5.56 NATO. However, the 5.56 cannot keep up with the 458 SOCOM in terms of muzzle energy.

For this example, we will compare the Hornady Frontier 55 gr FMJ (M193 clone) for 5.56 and the SBR Ammunition 300 gr Barnes TTSX load for 458 SOCOM.

At the muzzle, the 5.56 round is blazing down range at 3,240 fps compared to 1,835 fps for the 458 bullet. Although this is only one example, essentially every 5.56 factory load will have a higher muzzle velocity than the 458 SOCOM since the 5.56 is firing lighter bullets.

However fast the 5.56 bullet might be, the 458 SOCOM is using a considerably heavier bullet that carries a lot more muzzle energy. At the muzzle, the 458 SOCOM bullet delivers a whopping 2,243 ft-lbs of kinetic energy compared to 1,282 ft-lbs for the 5.56.

Although the 458 SOCOM round has almost double the kinetic energy at the muzzle, the round quickly loses fps and ft-lbs of energy as it travels downrange due to its bullet design. By 300 yards the 300 grain bullet has gone subsonic and by 600 yards it carries around 500 ft-lbs of energy. To put that into perspective, that is still more than a 45 ACP +P round has at the muzzle, but it illustrates the primary difference between 5.56 and 458 SOCOM. In contrast, the 5.56 55 grain bullet goes subsonic around the 700-yard marker.

The 458 SOCOM was clearly designed for close-range shots at self-defense distances where it can use its massive kinetic energy advantage to devastating effect. While the 5.56 had long-range shooting and marksmanship in mind for longer engagement distances.

There’s a lot of data at the source.

5.7mm versus 9mm

2 months ago

The article quoted below offers a brief history of both rounds and good detail on both rounds. The 5.7x28mm has my attention. I want a Ruger 5.7x28mm LC Carbine. Not only that, but the low recoil round has an appeal all its own for smaller women or perhaps men with arthritis. Also ran across this Paul Harrell FN 57 vs. the Meat Target video, in which he provides some background before shooting. And, some handloading of 5.7x28mm info is here and here.

The introduction of the Ruger 57 sparked renewed interest in the 5.7x28mm round. FN created 5.7mm to be a defensive round for the military, primarily for pistols and smaller personal defensive weapons. This, coincidentally, is almost the exact same niche filled by the 9x19mm cartridge, one of most-popular rounds on the market today. So what (if any) are the advantages of 5.7 vs 9mm?


Advantages of 9mm

Almost universal acceptance and a 70 year head start on 5.7 has made 9mm one of the most commonly available calibers today. Ammunition manufacturers around the world make a dizzying variety of 9mm ammunition. There are also 9mm pistols in every corner of the world, in every shape and size.

Because of this popularity, 9mm is cheap compared to other centerfire pistol rounds. There are usually many different kinds of ammo available at any given moment.

9mm is also an effective defensive round. Bullet technology has improved to where 9mm hollow point ammunition enjoys a proven track record. Millions of gun owners trust it around the world.

Advantages of 5.7mm

The big advantage is speed, and lots of it. The 5.7mm round uses lighter weight bullets than a round of 9mm. Rather than shoot a 115 grain 9mm round at around 1100 FPS, the 5.7mm fires 40 grain rounds that scoot out of the barrel at around 2300 feet per second.

FN designed 5.7mm rounds with a ballistic profile that is more similar to a rifle bullet than a pistol bullet. A 5.7mm has a pointed tip and boat-shaped tail which help it cleave through the air, increasing its effective range.

The diameter of 5.7 vs 9mm makes a difference inside the pistol. A round of 5.7mm is less than 2/3rds the diameter of a round of 9mm. This means you can stack more of them inside a magazine. This in turn means more rounds inside the magazine of your pistol.

Disadvantages of 9mm

9mm is not a round designed for longer distances. The shape of the nose is round, and the bullet looks a bit squat when viewed in profile. This is not a shape that is optimized for long-range shooting. For that reason, we use most long guns chambered in 9mm in close quarters combat, not at longer ranges.

Disadvantages of 5.7mm

5.7mm is the new kid on the block. Because of this, there is not the wide variety of ammunition available for it compared to 9mm. In addition, the best ammunition for it, the SS190 armor-piercing round, is not available for sale to armed citizens. The SS190 is considered to be “armor-piercing,” and that’s a no-go for armed citizens, says the ATF. On top of this, the cost per round of 5.7 vs 9mm is higher by about 10%, which translates into less bang for your buck (literally).

The Bill of Rights is a bill of goes and no-goes, according to the ATF.

9mm Fiocchi 115 Grain Full Metal Jacket
Average muzzle velocity: 1132 fps
Average muzzle energy: 327 fps

9mm Sig Sauer 124 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point
Average muzzle velocity: 1151 fps
Average muzzle energy: 365 ft/lbs

5.7mm FN 30 Grain SS195LF Jacketed Hollow Point
Average muzzle velocity: 2162 fps
Average muzzle energy: 311 ft/lbs

5.7mm American Eagle 40 Grain Full Metal Jacket
Average muzzle velocity: 1653 fps
Average muzzle energy: 243 ft/lbs

The velocity of a 5.7mm round might be much higher than a 9mm round. However, the lighter weight of the bullet means that it doesn’t deliver the same amount of energy on-target that a round of 9mm does.

There are gel tests and more at the link.

A Medical Perspective On Ammunition And Lethality

2 months ago


[Lindsay] Gietzen is a person of incredible experience and equal amounts of sharp wit; the combination of those qualities makes her one of the world’s leading experts and educators on traumatic injury care. She’s seen thousands of gunshot injuries in the worst part of Michigan and is now doing her best to get tourniquets and bleeding control kits right next to AED machines on the wall of every building.

The revelations here may surprise you, and perhaps you’ll buy your own bleeding control kit after reading this.

There are EDC folks that carry extra mags and a med kit too. I would never tell somebody not to do this if they felt it necessary.

A gun needs to be two simple things: reliable and reliable again—everything else coming in order of personal preference. Accuracy comes with practice and cosmetic choices are largely irrelevant, so as a baseline, the gun must function. Now what about bullets?

I’ve been telling people this for years. The gun needs to go bang every time you pull the trigger; that’s primary. Next is the ability to hit with it, and thirdly, time to muzzle on target. After you can do all that well, caliber selection should be considered because a gun that doesn’t go bang and you can’t hit with is just a paperweight.

“What causes death isn’t really kinetic force or expansion,” said Gietzen. “What causes death is rapid exsanguination (blood loss). A hit to the central nervous system or head does not guarantee an instantaneous kill. Despite what you see in the movies, the survival rate for wounds to extremities is very high, and death becomes more likely the closer you get to the heart of major arteries. The most deadly places to hit are the groin, armpits or a major artery in the torso.”

Read the section on Caliber and Effectiveness at the link. Bottom line: big bullets on target win.

H/T George 1, in comments.

9 mm vs. .45 ACP – A Different Kind of Comparison

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 1 week ago

Shooting Illustrated.

It’s true that the best 9 mm loads are equal in performance to many .45 ACP loads. However, if recovered-bullet diameter and penetration mean what we think they do, the best 9 mm loads are not the equal of the best .45 ACP loads. Regarding capacity, a first-grader can see a 9 mm pistol holds more ammo, but most civilian self-defense shootings are resolved with between one and eight shots. So, capacity might not be all that important after all. But what about shootability? Are 9 mm pistols that much easier to shoot more accurately and faster? To find that out, I conducted a test to get to the bottom of the 9mm vs .45 ACP debate.

[ … ]

The 6.32-cubic-inch crush cavity delivered by the Federal 230-grain +P HST load is impressive, but it comes with a cost, and that cost is an uncomfortable shooting experience and an increase in the time it takes to fire multiple shots. Measuring recoil can be subjective, but more never helps you shoot better. Everyone will have different limits, but at some point, you must decide if the terminal performance you gain is worth the reduction in shootability that comes with it.

What the information from this test—and the massive spreadsheet created to digest it—might do best is to explain why most law enforcement agencies have gone back to the 9 mm. With the best 9 mm loads, you get terminal performance similar to standard .45 ACP loads out of a gun that holds more ammunition and is easier to shoot fast and accurately. But, what this also shows is that with a .45 ACP, you can select a lesser-recoiling load and shoot nearly as fast and accurately as you can with a 9 mm pistol, while delivering similar terminal performance. If you do that, the only thing you’re giving up with the .45 is capacity.

This is an odd article by Richard Mann.  He spends most of his effort testing and discussing ordinary .45 ACP rounds, but frankly I’ve never seen PD .45 ACP rounds.  They are all +P ammunition.  Furthermore, jacketed ball rounds for dangerous game defense are certainly all +P, and some are +P+ (such as with Double Tap 450 SMC, Underwood and Buffalo Bore).

He admits as much in both the front and end of the article, and yet states that the only thing you give up by selecting the .45 ACP is capacity.  So he admits that the .45 ACP +P has more effect than the 9mm, and then discusses giving something up to carry it (like capacity).

I think this article needed an editor.

But there’s one more thing missing in this analysis beyond “recoil,” however that is felt.  The 9mm is a higher pressure round (35,000 psi chamber pressure) compared to the 45 ACP (customarily 25,000 psi, but admittedly higher with +P+ ammunition).  There is simply a difference in feel, some call it a push versus snappiness.  I would liken it to the difference between shooting the 30-30 and 5.56mm (the former being at42,000 psi, whereas the later is 62,000 psi).

For me the bottom line is purchase and practice with both.  Use whatever you feel the best shooting in the circumstance.  But I’d never liken the performance of the 9mm with 45 ACP +P+ for dangerous game.

For dangerous game, carry a big bore cartridge.

Are Straight Walled Cartridges Replacing The Slug Gun?

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 1 week ago

Outdoor Life.

A look at how straight-walls stack up against slugs.

There are some interesting takeaways from the above chart. First, the .350 Legend is by far the lightest projectile on the list at 150 grains, and it has a higher muzzle velocity than any of the others. The two 12-gauge slugs both produce 700 ft.-lb. more energy at the muzzle than the .350 Legend and 240 to nearly 400 ft./lb. more than the .45/70.

However, the ballistic advantage changes at the 200-yard mark. The .350 now has more energy than the 1-ounce rifled slug from Federal and the .45/70 impacts with more energy than any other load on the list. The .350 also shoots flatter than the slugs. At 200 yards, the .350 drops only 7.6 inches when zeroed at 100 yards. The Hornady 12-gauge sabot slug drops just under a foot at 200 yards when zeroed at 100, about the same as the .45/70. Hornady’s 20-gauge Custom Lite slug drops over 18 inches, and the 1-ounce lead 12-gauge rifled slug drops more than 2 feet at 200 yards.

As you can see from the chart, the 12-gauge slugs and .45/70 produce substantially more recoil than the .350 Legend, though Hornady’s Custom Lite 20-gauge projectile produces only slightly more recoil than the .350 Legend.

I’m not sure I’d try to take game at 200 yards with either a straight walled cartridge or a shotgun, so I’m not sure the 350 Legend ever really gives an advantage.

I see plenty of both straight walled cartridges and slug ammunition around, although slugs still seem to dominate where I am (not in a straight wall state).

Most of the guys who shoot 350 Legend seem to have problems with accuracy because of the choice of 9mm bullets they have to load.

Finding The Correct Barrel Twist Rate

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 2 weeks ago


The rate of the rifling twist inside a rifle barrel would seem to be mostly a gun thing as opposed to an ammunition thing. However, for ammunition to shoot accurately, the bullet must be stabilized, and for a bullet to be stabilized, the rifling rate-of-twist must be compatible with the bullet’s length and velocity. This means that twist rate is very important to ammunition, and it is why the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) establishes standards for twist rates as they relate to arms and ammunition.

This is a good thing. It’s why when you purchase ammunition for your firearm, you can expect that ammunition to shoot at least reasonably well. Most ammunition manufacturers make ammunition to SAAMI specifications, which means the bullets—at their launch velocity—will mesh well with the rifling-twist rate of the gun for which you bought them. It can, however, be a bad thing, as history has shown.

In 1955, Remington introduced the .244 Rem. cartridge. It fired a .244-caliber bullet and had a stipulated rifling-twist rate of one turn in 12 inches (1:12). The cartridge worked great with bullets in the 55- to 90-grain weight range. However, that same year Winchester introduced the .243 Win. (I’m betting Winchester had a spy inside Remington.) The .243 Win. also fired a .244-caliber bullet, but Winchester very wisely specified a 1:10-inch twist rate for the rifling. This meant Winchester’s 6 mm cartridge could handle heavier—longer—bullets of 100 grains. Both cartridges became popular, but the .243 Win. won the battle even though it was not quite as fast as the .244. Why? Twist rate. Eight years later Remington tried to save its .244 by reintroducing it as the 6 mm Rem. and tightening the twist rate from 1:12- to 1:9-inch. This allowed the cartridge to better compete with the .243 Win. But, it was too late.

Remington has always seemed a bit late to the game.

Almost the exact same thing happened to Remington again in 2008. That’s the year Hornady introduced the 6.5 Creedmoor, which fired a .264-caliber bullet out of a cartridge case similar in size to the .260 Rem. Remington had introduced the .260 in 1997 and it had become a very popular cartridge for long-range target shooting and hunting. However, Remington stipulated a 1:9-inch twist rate for the .260, while Hornady stipulated a 1:8-inch twist for the Creedmoor. Because of the Creedmoor’s ability to handle longer, more aerodynamic bullets, Remington got twisted out of the conversation again.

I’m not really sure that’s completely why – I think free bore had something to do with it too, maybe a lot more things.  The folks at Hornady don’t appear to like free bore at all and want the bullet as close to the leade as possible, just at the rifling, in order to avoid bullet deformation.  That’s one reason they don’t like the 300 Win Mag (stock ammo, not reloaders) and do like their own 300 PRC.

While all this was going on, developments with what is now the most popular rifle cartridge in America were struggling through another twisted situation. In 1964, the .223 Rem.—yep, here we go with Remington yet again—was introduced. It was initially famous as the cartridge of the AR-15 and, in 5.56×45 mm form (which isn’t identical) as the cartridge of the military’s M16. The .223 Rem. had a specified twist rate of 1:12 inches, which was about perfect for a 55-grain bullet at 3,200 fps.

But, in the early 1980s, the 5.56 NATO cartridge was standardized. Externally, the cartridge-case dimensions of the .223 Rem. and the 5.56 NATO are identical, but the chambers are different, and the 5.56 NATO is loaded to higher pressures. Also, it is a military cartridge for which there are no SAAMI specifications. Initially standardized with a 62-grain bullet, 5.56 NATO rifles have a much faster 1:7-inch twist rate. This allowed the 5.56 NATO to stabilize longer bullets that were heavier and shot flatter. Aficionados of the .223 Rem. caught on and started re-barreling .223 Rem. rifles with faster-twist barrels and loading their own ammo to take advantage of newer and longer bullets.

However, most ammunition for the .223 Rem. is still built to work with the original 1:12-inch twist rate. Why? Well, there are many, many thousands of .223 Rem. rifles out there with a 1:12-inch twist. If you have one of those and purchased ammo loaded with a bullet that needs a 1:8-inch twist, you’ll struggle to hit a snuff can at 100 yards. But, some ammo makers are now offering .223 Rem. ammo that needs the faster twist.

Rifle manufacturers are doing the same. For example, Savage initially used the slower twist rate for the .223 Rem., but by 1995 all Savage 110 rifles in .223 Rem. had a 1:9-inch twist. In 2007, Savage added a 1:7-inch-twist-rate barrel to several models, but when it entered the AR-15 market in 2017, the company settled on the 1:8-inch twist for its MSRs in .223 Rem. or 5.56 NATO.

Of course, factory .223 ammo designed for a 1:12-inch twist will shoot just fine in the faster 1:8- or 1:7-inch twist barrels and in 5.56 NATO rifles. (Do not shoot 5.56 NATO ammo in rifles chambered for the .223 Rem.) This is one of the reasons many modern AR-15-style rifles are chambered for the 5.56 NATO instead of the .223 Rem., and it’s also why many manufacturers now load 5.56 NATO ammo and sell it commercially. Some manufacturers also cut .223-caliber chambers to the .223 Wylde chamber to allow for the firing of both .223 Rem. and 5.56 NATO ammunition—more accurately in the case of .223 Rem. and safely in the case of 5.56 NATO.

Cartridge designers have now finally learned and are specifying fast twist rates when new cartridges are introduced. Just look at the 22 Nosler, 224 Valkyrie, 6 mm ARC, .277 SIG Fury; the list goes on. Today, longer, more aerodynamic bullets pushed through fast-twist barrels shoot flatter and hit harder at distance.

Tim Harmsen at Military Arms Channel did a video of an M-16 shooting in a 1:12 twist gun into ballistics gel, and other media, and it seemed to outperform the shorter barrels with tighter twist.

Anyway, it’s ironic that this discussion occurred the next day after we touched on these issues.  Also, in my AR-15 category there is a lot of discussion on ballistics and twist rate.  I won’t recapitulate it here.

Take all of this for what it’s worth.  He speaks it as gospel, and I suspect not much of it is.

I will remark that I very much like the performance of the 6mm ARC.  It’s a pure pleasure to shoot, without recoil noticeably stronger than the 5.56 and yet with vastly superior results.

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