I Dig the .357 Sig

A classic example of a great .357 Sig cartridge - Speer's 125 grain Gold Dot.

A classic example of a great .357 Sig cartridge – Speer’s 125 grain Gold Dot.

I dig the .357 Sig.

In fact, I dig it so much, I feel like I’m on a one-man campaign to help boost it into the shooting mainstream. One of the biggest gripes people have about the .357 Sig cartridge is the cost, but that becomes a non-issue as more people start to use it. Volume begets cheapness – the more they make, the lower the cost. Whatever your position on the caliber wars, you have to admit that 9mm is making a resurgence as a great defensive caliber, and hey, .357 is a 9mm on steroids, right?

What is the .357 Sig?

One of my favorite .357 Sig launching platforms - the Sig Sauer P229.

One of my favorite .357 Sig launching platforms – the Sig Sauer P229.

Some folks refer to this cartridge as a necked-down .40 Smith & Wesson. Conceptually, that’s kinda true, but there are technical differences. The cartridge base is the same dimension and the main part of the case body is the same diameter, but the .357 Sig case is not made from a .40 S&W case. The projectile is the same as a 9mm at .355 inches diameter.

Because of these similarities to the .40 S&W, you can often just swap barrels to change your pistol from .40 S&W to .357 Sig or vice versa. Magazines are generally compatible between the two calibers as well. Always check with your particular handgun manufacturer first before embarking on caliber changes.

If you want to understand the benefit of .357 Sig, just think this. It’s got the magazine capacity of a .40 S&W in any given gun, and it has a 200 to 400 foot per second velocity advantage over 9mm, depending on the load. While .357 Sig can’t match the specs of those uber-macho 158 grain .357 Magnum loads, it does compare favorably with 125 grain .357 Magnum.

One other thing to note. The .357 Sig is a bottleneck-shaped cartridge. This provides another hidden advantage – feeding is exceptionally reliable. With any of the four .357 Sig pistols I currently have (Sig P226, Sig P229, Glock 32 and Glock 31), I can limp wrist like Pee Wee Herman and the guns will still cycle properly.

Ballistic Science

Earlier I mentioned that .357 Sig approaches .357 Magnum territory, but from a semi-automatic pistol. It’s close. Real close. To see how close, I went out to the range and clocked a slew of them using a Shooting Crony Beta Master chronograph placed 15 feet down range. Here’s what I found.

.357 Sig velocity measured 15 feet from the muzzle.

.357 Sig velocity measured 15 feet from the muzzle.

Of all the loads I tested, average velocity was 1,363 feet per second, and that includes those fat and (relatively) slow 180 grain hard cast cruisers from Doubletap Ammunition.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

 

Looking for Christmas gift ideas?

Be sure to check out our latest books! They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

I Feel the Need for .45 Speed!

The Doubletap Ammunition .450 SMC rounds work from a standard +P rated .45 ACP pistol.

The Doubletap Ammunition .450 SMC rounds work from a standard +P rated .45 ACP pistol.

Sometimes we shooters do things because, well, why not? It’s as good reason as any, right?

At first glance, the .450 SMC cartridge may appear to fall into the “why not” category. When you start to look at specifics and potential use cases, it can make a whole lot of sense.

What’s a .450 SMC you ask?

What if I told you…

  • That you could launch a .451 160 grain projectile at .357 Sig velocities?
  • That you could blast a standard .45 ACP 230 grain bullet 32 percent faster?
  • That you could break 1,300 feet per second with an 185 grain .45 projectile?
  • That you could shoot a 255 grain hard cast bullet from an autoloading handgun?
  • And most importantly, that you could do these things from your existing .45 ACP pistol?

Sound farfetched? Nope. Assuming you have a .45 ACP pistol that’s rated for +P .45 ACP ammunition, you can shoot the .450 SMC to obtain this type of performance, and more. As we speak, Doubletap Ammunition offers five different loadings of .450 SMC.

Whose crazy idea was this?

In late 2000, a company called Triton launched the .450 SMC. Similar to the .45 Super, one primary difference was the use of a small rifle primer, theoretically allowing more brass in the cartridge base for strength. Alas, Triton didn’t last, and the .450 SMC faded away.

Fortunately for us speed freaks, the Godfather of Boom!, Mike McNett, founder of Doubletap ammunition picked up the rights and tooling for the .450 SMC cartridge, and it’s now commercially available again.

What is the .450 SMC?

Note the small rifle primer on the .450 SMC case on the left.

Note the small rifle primer on the .450 SMC case on the left.

Hopefully, it’s obvious that you can’t simply jam more powder into a standard .45 ACP cartridge case to obtain this type of performance. It’s a little more complicated than that, especially considering that the .45 ACP was designed as a low-pressure cartridge running at about 20,000 psi. There’s margin in the design, but you don’t want to go and drive pressure through the roof.

The solution is to use a different case while keeping the same dimensions. The .450 SMC uses a small magnum rifle primer rather than the standard large pistol primer of the .45 ACP. The small rifle magnum provides plenty of ignition power, but the smaller primer pocket means more brass at the cartridge base, hence a stronger case. As a result, Doubletap Ammunition can load the case with five to six thousand more pounds per square inch of pressure than a standard .45 ACP. Also, the stronger case prevents bulging even in a less-than-ideally supported chamber like a Glock 21.

As of now, Doubletap Ammunition is the only provider of .450 SMC. Founder Mike McNett bought the tooling and is now having a good old time loading lots of .450 SMC in various combinations. And I’m having a good old time shooting it.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

The 6.8 Remington SPC: An Up Close and Personal Look

 

It looks like a standard AR rifle, but with bigger bullets.

It looks like a standard AR rifle, but with bigger bullets.

I love the AR platform. And yes, it is a platform as it’s a design model that allows of near infinite customization. You can add accessories until your rifle looks like a Pakistani Jingle Truck. More importantly, since the rifle is a platform, you can obtain or build one in a dozen or more different calibers.

One of my favorites is 6.8 Remington SPC. Originally developed as a possible replacement for the 5.56mm by some folks from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, United States Special Operations Command and Remington, the 6.8 cartridge is partially compatible with the standard AR platform.

Like 300 AAC Blackout, the 6.8 Remington SPC was developed in response to complaints about stopping power of the 5.56 mm cartridge, especially when used with shorter barrel rifles. It splits the difference (more or less) between 5.56 mm and .308 while still allowing larger capacity due to case size and lighter weight. As a rough example, think of a standard size AR magazine holding 25 rounds of 6.8 SPC instead of 30 rounds of 5.56 mm. Not a bad tradeoff for the extra oomph you get from each cartridge.

The energy of the “standard” 115 grain projectile traveling at 2,640 feet per second is 1,785 foot-pounds – significantly more than the 1,281 foot-pounds of a 55 grain .223 Remington bullet moving at 3,240 feet per second. While we’re comparing energy levels, let’s look at some other “similar use” cartridges.

5.56x45mm SS109 62-grain: 3,100 fps, 1,303 foot-pounds
.300 AAC Blackout 125-grain: 2,215 fps, 1,361 foot-pounds
.308 Winchester, 150-grain: 2,850 fps, 2,704 foot-pounds
.30-30 Winchester, 150 grain: 2,300 fps, 1,761 foot-pounds
7.62x39mm (Soviet), 123 grain: 2,435 fps, 1,619 foot-pounds
.270 Winchester, 130 grain: 3,160 fps, 2,881 foot-pounds

Cartridge length was limited to be compatible with existing magazines, but specific 6.8 mags have been developed for better reliability and allowance for slightly longer cartridges if desired. According to The folks at Sierra Bullets, “With the magazine length of the AR at 2.260″, cartridge length was critical. There are now magazines on the market designed specifically for the 6.8 mm SPC to allow them to be loaded out to 2.315.”

The 6.8 Remington SPC is based on a .30 Remington cartridge case, but fires, you guessed it, a 7.035 mm projectile. If you don’t recognize 7.035 caliber, that’s just the metric measurement of the popular .270 which is actually .277 inches diameter. See, there’s that goofy tendency to name cartridges something different from their actual diameter again. Just like a .38 Special being .357 caliber. In simple terms, think of it as a .270 Winchester with a smaller cartridge case and less powder capacity that can be fired in an AR type rifle with correct barrel and bolt.

The interesting thing about 6.8 Remington SPC is the terminal performance down range. With about 200 feet per second more velocity than that famous AK-47 round, it has reach out and touch someone performance out to about 500 yards.

The cartridge case is based on the .30 Remington, which explains the need for a bolt swap when converting a standard AR rifle. Similar to development of 300 Blackout from .223 Remington cases, the 6.8 takes a shortened .30 Remington case and necks it down for the .277 inch bullet.

The beauty of this caliber is increased diameter and bullet weight over .223 Remington, while maintaining big time velocity from an AR platform with its overall cartridge length limitations.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

 

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition 2nd Edition 2014. It’s ON SALE now for a limited time!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

300 AAC Blackout Fundamentals – Ammunition and Reloading

Celebrate diversity! 125, 245 and 220 grain projectiles, left to right. A 55 grain .223 Remington load is shown on the far left for scale.

Celebrate diversity! 300 AAC Blackout 125, 245 and 220 grain projectiles, left to right. A 55 grain .223 Remington load is shown on the far left for scale.

Recently when I wrote a review of the Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout rifle, I mentioned that I’d be doing a drill down series on different aspects of the 300 AAC Blackout. Well, it starts here. Including this article, we’ll be looking at the following topics over the next few weeks:

  • 300 AAC Blackout Ammunition and Reloading (this one below!)
  • 300 AAC Blackout Optics Options
  • 300 AAC Blackouts Suppressed
  • 300 AAC Blackout Gotchas

Love it or hate it, the 300 AAC Blackout is an interesting and incredibly diverse cartridge. For example, imagine trying to design a ballistic compensation scope for a cartridge that can use 110 grain projectiles traveling at 2,400 feet per second AND 245 grain projectiles traveling at 950 feet per second. That last one is somewhat like throwing a brick with much vigor.

This is going to be fun. Let’s dig in with some talk about the cartridge, basic ballistics and reloading for the 300 AAC Blackout.

The physics ’n math stuff

I’m a professional goofball, so I never really got physics. I made it through, but I never really understood concepts like acceleration, momentum and why mass is different than weight. So when it comes to looking at cartridge energy and recoil figures, I always rely on my friend Andrew Chamberlain. He apparently did get physics and he really likes guns. He likes both topics so much that he wrote the Cartridge Comparison Guide. In that book, you can compare pretty much anything about any cartridge to anything else about any other cartridge. If you’re a gun geek, get a copy!

If you do a rough comparison of muzzle energy of the 300 AAC Blackout to the 7.62×39 (AK-47) round, you’ll see a slight edge to the AK with a 100 grain bullet. The 110 grain Blackout at 2,375 feet per second yields 1,377.4 foot-pounds of muzzle energy to the AK’s 1,650.8 at 2,600 feet per second. When it comes to recoil energy, assuming you’re using an 8 pound rifle, the Blackout hits you less with 4.3 foot-pounds compared to the AK’s 6.34 foot-pounds.

But the 300 AAC Blackout isn’t supposed to compete directly with the AK. It’s supposed to offer a .30 caliber alternative with more short barrel terminal performance than the .223 Remington round. If you look at the “standard”55 grain .223 Remington at 3,240 feet per second, that yields 1,281.8 foot-pounds of muzzle energy and 3.16 foot-pounds of recoil energy. And the Blackout makes a bigger hole.

Shoots flat enough OR like a brick!

We’ve already hinted at the incredibly broad range of bullet weight and velocity that can be successfully fired from the same gun. Want supersonic? No problem. Buy some 100 or 125 grain ammo that will move along at up to 2,400 feet per second. Feel like something more moderate? No problem. .30 caliber bullets are available in all weights. You can get something in the 150 to 168 grain range that will move in the 1,700 to 2,000 feet per second range. Or you can get crazy and go full subsonic from the same AR platform rifle. How about a 208, 220 or even 245 grain projectile moving at 1,000 feet per second or less?

Of course, all of these options will have incredibly diverse trajectories, and that’s what gives scope makers fits over the 300 AAC Blackout. We’ll talk about that in detail next week. For now, let’s just look bullet drop. We’ll consider scope adjustment for a 50 yard zero range using an optic that is 2.5 inches above the bore.

On the supersonic side, let’s compare bullet drop of a “300 Blackout specific”projectile like the Barnes TAC-TX 110 grain bullet to a 55 grain .223 Remington projectile traveling at 3,240 feet per second.

Read the rest at Guns America!

Top 10 Self Defense Ammo Picks

Top 10 Self Defense Ammo Picks

With a controversial and opinionated topic like this, I have to include a couple of explanations and disclaimers.

Mike McNett, Founder of DoubleTap Ammunition and Godfather of Boom! prepares even more ballistic gelatin for testing.

Mike McNett, Founder of DoubleTap Ammunition and Godfather of Boom! prepares even more ballistic gelatin for testing.

You do have to be careful about blanket statements when it comes to ammo performance. There are just too many variables. For example, you can’t necessarily say things like “Mega Blaster Yellow Tips” are the best. You might be able to say “Mega Blaster Yellow Tips 9mm 124 grain +P loads are the best!” It may very well be the case that the .40 Smith & Wesson loading of Mega Blaster is not so hot, but maybe the .45 ACP, 9mm and .380 ACP are. You always have to look at the specifics like caliber, bullet weight and gun type. In other words, you need to make sure the specific brand of self defense ammo you choose works in your caliber and in your gun. Some offerings, like a few mentioned here, recognize caliber variables and design accordingly. For example, DoubleTap Ammunition varies projectile types to account for such factors.

Velocity is a really big deal and performance statements always have to be qualified with variables that impact velocity. While a specific .45 ACP self-defense cartridge may work as expected every time from a gun with a 4 or 5 inch barrel, it may not work at all with that micro-compact 1911 with a 1 inch barrel. OK, I’m exaggerating, but in my testing, I’ve found that even a 50 to 100 feet per second velocity reduction can make a great bullet stinky and inconsistent.

With that said, expansion (or perhaps fragmentation) performance weighed heavily in the development of this list. After all self and home defense ammo is intended to stop things quickly.

I’m blending self-defense (concealed carry) and home defense on this list. Just because I feel like it. With that said, let’s get busy.

DoubleTap Defense

I’ve spent a lot of time with founder Mike McNett, the Godfather of Boom!, and know what he puts into ammo development and testing. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Mike buys up 84% of the annual worldwide production of gelatin blocks.

DoubleTap makes a variety of ammo types for various purposes, but for this list, stick to the DoubleTap Defense and DoubleTap Tactical lines. These loads, available in nearly any caliber you want, use either the excellent Barnes TAC all copper bullets or bonded projectiles, depending on the specific load requirements. Like 1911’s? Check out the Mann Load. It uses a 160 grain Barnes TAC bullet moving at over 1,000 feet per second, has great expansion and penetration, but low blast and recoil. If you carry a .380 ACP, consider the 90 grain Bonded Defense offering.

They’re not cheap, but they work. And it is a life and death decision after all.

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel is optimized to expand at lower velocities from compact guns.

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel is optimized to expand at lower velocities from compact guns.

The plethora of compact revolvers and semi-automatics sent the Speer engineers back to the drawing board. Speer Gold Dot ammunition has always been one of my favorite performers in almost any caliber. But, like any ammo, it’s designed with a careful balance of expansion and penetration assuming a specific velocity range. When you fire ammo from a gun with a short barrel, say 3 inches or less, you’re likely to lose as much as 100 feet per second (or more) in velocity. Then that carefully planned balance goes out the window. If you suffer from a short barrel, make sure you use ammo designed for lower velocity.

.223 / 5.56mm Practice Ammo

Well, sort of. For a home defense scenario, standard, full metal jacket 5.56mm ammo is a pretty darn good option. Here’s why. For inside use, over penetration is a potentially serious issue. Pistol rounds, shotgun slugs and buckshot go through walls like tax evaders through Congress. So do many hunting and tactical .223 / 5.56mm projectiles – they’re designed to do that.

On the other hand, small, lightweight, standard full metal jacket 55 grain projectiles tend to fragment and start upsetting when they hit things like drywall. Counter to assumption and common sense, AR-15 type rifles may present less of an over penetration risk than a .38 Special. It’s something to consider for home defense, especially since most guns that use this ammo have 30 round magazines.
Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition 2nd Edition 2014. It’s ON SALE now for a limited time!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Winchester’s PDX1 Defender 12 Gauge Buckshot and Slug Ammunition

Winchester's PDX1 Defense load creates a large pattern with slug and buckshot.

Winchester’s PDX1 Defense load creates a large pattern with slug and buckshot.

I was working with a Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun I have in for review and brought along a box of Winchester PDX1 Defender Personal Defense shot shells. Winchester makes a couple of varieties of this product line in 12 gauge. One is a segmenting slug design, where the slug is designed to fragment into three large chunks as it impacts the target. This load is a buckshot and slug combination, but with a twist.

Three 00 buckshot pellets are placed on top of a 1 ounce slug. Image: Winchester Ammunition

Three 00 buckshot pellets are placed on top of a 1 ounce slug. Image: Winchester Ammunition

As you see by the illustration here, there are three 00 Buckshot pellets loaded on top of the one ounce slug. This has the effect of dispersing the three .30 caliber pellets in a broader pattern while the slug continues along a straight path.

I shot it at a target placed 15 yards downrange, and as you can see by the target photo, the slug hit center while the three 00 buckshot pellets created a triangle pattern. The pellet impacts are just about 10 inches from each other measured along the sides. That’s a pretty broad pattern even from the cylinder bore of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun used for this test.

Winchester advertises one feature of this as “compensates for aim error.” This certainly appears to be true. As with any ammo choice, you need to carefully consider your environment and desired performance. If you live in a crowded environment, you may not want ammo that expands into too large a pattern, as you’re responsible for where those projectiles go. On the other hand, if you’ve got space, you may want ammo that performs exactly this way. This load is designed to create a big pattern of large projectiles, so if that’s your desired result, then check it out. It’s an interesting load.

Cabelas has it in stock.

Ammo Review: Winchester Ammunition Train and Defend

Two varieties of the same ammo: one for practice, the other for self defense.

Two varieties of the same ammo: one for practice, the other for self defense.

When it comes to designing ammo, many of the objectives conflict with each other – you can’t have them all. For example, perfect ammunition would have all of the following:

  • Low recoil
  • Low blast and muzzle flash
  • Low noise
  • Reliable expansion, even after passing through tough barriers like 10 copies of the New York Times Sunday edition
  • Deep penetration
  • No over penetration
  • High velocity
  • Weight retention
  • Auto replenishment. Ok, no one has figured that out yet, but I did say “perfect” ammunition, right?

Given that you can’t have combinations like Mach 7 velocity, 4x expansion after passing through Iron Man and no measurable recoil, ammunition manufacturers decide in advance what performance they want and for what purpose the ammunition will be used.

Both 9mm and .40 S&W Defend loads were tested with bare gelatin and multi-layer fabric.

Both 9mm and .40 S&W Defend loads were tested with bare gelatin and multi-layer fabric.

Winchester Ammunition launched its new Train and Defend line with some pretty clear goals. According to the company, Train and Defend is aimed (see what I did there?) at “new shooters interested in training to become more proficient with their personal defense ammunition.”

What does that mean?

First, there are two varieties of the ammo: Train, and, you guessed it, Defend. Both are loaded to yield the same basic performance and feel. If you fire a round of Train ammo, followed by a round of Defend, you won’t be able to tell the difference. This is kind of a big deal.

Winchester Train ammo

Usually, practice ammo is lower powered and, therefore, much more mellow to shoot. When you load a round of full powered self-defense ammo, you’ll feel it. The blast and recoil will be substantial in most cases. Not so with Train and Defend – both rounds feel the same and perform similarly. The Train version is loaded with full metal jacket bullets which result in a much lower cost per round – appropriate for practice. On the street, expect to pay less than half the price of a Defend round for each Train round. It’s easy to identify as it has a big “T” logo on the box.

Winchester Defend ammo

When you’re finished practicing, load your magazines up with Defend. This is what you want for personal protection and home defense applications. The Defend ammo uses bonded projectiles that ensure the bullet stays intact and retain its original weight. The cases are nickel-plated for corrosion resistance and improved feeding. You’ll spot the Defend version by the big “D” logo on the box.

I tested the 9mm Defend load with a Beretta 92FS. Using the SilencerCo Octane suppressor was added fun as this load is subsonic.

I tested the 9mm Defend load with a Beretta 92FS. Using the SilencerCo Octane suppressor was added fun as this load is subsonic.

I got all geeky about how the Train and Defend ammunition is put together and posed some questions to the product manager. Are the Train and Defend Loads identical except for the projectile? Do they use the same powder?

Here are the answers from Winchester:

The Train and Defend loads do not use the same powder and there is a good reason for that. We utilize low-flash powders in our Defend options, because a defensive situation is likely to occur in low-light conditions; it is important that night vision not be impacted due to a bright muzzle flash. HOWEVER, these low flash powders have a tendency to be slightly dirtier burning, so they are not great options for our Train round. We developed Train to be a great high-volume training round so we utilize some of our cleaner burning propellants in these loads. Train would be great for competition, low recoil, 180 grain in 40 S&W will make for a great competition load.

Performance

Velocity

As part of the design goal of Winchester Train and Defend ammunition is to offer lower and more controllable recoil, they’re manufactured to travel at lower velocity. I measured both 9mm and .40 S&W versions using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet down range.

40 S&W Train, fired from a Glock 22: 885.3 fps
40 S&W Defend, fired from a Glock 22: 907.7 fps
9mm Defend:, fired from a Beretta 92FS: 936.3 fps

Expansion

I shot both 9mm and .40 S&W loads into Clear Ballistics 6x6x16 inch gelatin blocks. According to the manufacturer, the blocks are calibrated to 10% ballistic gelatin standards as used by the FBI for ammunition testing.

Assuming that penetration of these lower velocity rounds would be less than 16 inches, I only brought one block to the range. You know what they say about assuming right? Exactly. All of the 9mm and .40 S&W rounds tested exited the block and were stopped by my expired Kevlar vest backstop, so the only penetration measurement I can offer is “more than 16 inches.” That’s plenty.

For both 9mm and .40 S&W Defend loads, I fired two scenarios. For the first, I used bare gelatin. For the second, I covered the front of the gel block with the new standard light denim, multi-layer fabric designed to simulate average street clothing layers.

The 9mm projectile surprised me somewhat. Projectiles fired into bare gel and those shot through the test fabric all expanded properly. The bare gelatin bullet expanded to a smaller diameter than the one fired through fabric layers. That might have been caused by gel anomalies or perhaps the lower overall resistance allowed the bullet to travel at higher velocity, thereby pushing back the petals further. I measured expansion of this projectile at 0.535 inches. The projectile fired through the fabric layers expanded to 0.605 inches diameter.

The Defend .40 S&W rounds expanded beautifully in bare gel and after passing through fabric barriers.

The Defend .40 S&W rounds expanded beautifully in bare gel and after passing through fabric barriers.

The .40 S&W Winchester Defend projectiles also expanded properly in both test scenarios. The bare gelatin projectile expanded to 0.690 inches while the projectile fired through fabric layers expanded to 0.685 inches diameter.

In summary, I found this ammo comfortable to shoot and performance matched its design goals. Expansion worked properly after passing through “normal” clothing layers. Winchester Train and Defend ammunition is a great option for newer shooters where the reduced recoil will help keep shots on target and allow for faster and more accurate follow-up shots.

Celebrating Diversity with the 300 AAC Blackout

The most interesting thing about the 300 AAC Blackout cartridge is the diversity of projectiles and velocities. Left to right: .223 Remington Hornady A-Max, 300 Blackout 125 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, 300 Blackout Cooper Cartridge 245 grain subsonic, 300 Blackout 220 grain Sierra MatchKing subsonic

The most interesting thing about the 300 AAC Blackout cartridge is the diversity of projectiles and velocities. Left to right: .223 Remington Hornady A-Max, 300 Blackout 125 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, 300 Blackout Cooper Cartridge 245 grain subsonic, 300 Blackout 220 grain Sierra MatchKing subsonic

People get all worked up about whether the 300 AAC Blackout is better than the .223 Remington, 5.56mm or perhaps the AK-47’s 7.62x39mm.

I don’t care, mainly because I’m all about celebrating diversity.

To me, the 300 AAC Blackout is a fascinating caliber on it’s own merit. It doesn’t have to be better than any other round. Deciding whether it’s good or not by comparing it to the .223 Remington is like comparing the .357 Magnum to the .44 Special. What’s better?

Neither – they’re just different. And I would include a lot of “quotes” around the “better” part. What’s the purpose? How are you going to use it? What do you like? What gun are you going to shoot?

There’s no universal “better” or “worse” when it comes to caliber comparisons, there are only apples and oranges. As far as I’m concerned, it’s good enough that it’s radically different.

Ballistic Diversity
What puffs up my bloomers about the Blackout is the huge ballistic range from the same carbine, short barrel rifle, or AR platform pistol.

  • You can launch a 110 grain bullet at 2,400 feet per second.
  • You can also launch a 240 grain bullet at 1,000 feet per second.
  • You can do all sorts of things in between, like move a 125 grain projectile at 2,200 feet per second. Or a 150 grain bullet at 2,000 feet per second. Or a 168 grain at 1,700 feet per second. You get the idea.

Note how the ribs in the magazine index on the case mouth for the .223 rounds on in the bottom magazine. The projectiles on 300 Blackout cartridges will most likely touch the ribs, so you may need to experiment a bit.

It’s an interesting caliber that allows one to do a lot of customization for the job at hand.

Read the rest at: http://www.ammoland.com/2014/04/300-aac-blackout-caliber/#ixzz2yxxjSaLw

Winchester Ammunition’s Long Beard XR: Turkey Hunting or Home Defense?

Note how the shot column is standing on it's own as a result of the "shot lock" resin.

Winchester Ammunition Long Beard XR: Note how the shot column is standing on it’s own as a result of the “shot lock” resin.

While at the professional outdoor media conference range day I had the opportunity to check out some new shot shell loads from Winchester Ammunition. Winchester’s Long Beard XR is designed to create a tighter pattern at longer distances, resulting in twice the number of pellets in a 10 inch circle at distances up to 60 yards, according to the company.

Here’s what’s interesting about Winchester Long Beard XR: It uses a “shot lock” resin to bond all of the shot pellets together into a solid plug. As the load is fired, the resin disintegrates and turns to dust, leaving the shot pellets to fly on their own. The purpose isn’t that the pellets are bonded together in flight but rather that there’s no airspace between pellets at lift-off time.

This is a target set at 60 yards. While the point of aim is a bit off the neck and head, note the density of the shot pattern in the body.

This is a target set at 60 yards. While the point of aim is a bit off the neck and head, note the density of the shot pattern in the body.

In a normal shot shell the pellets are just piled on top of each other and only held in place by the wad and walls of the shot shell. When you fire it, the pellets get all smashed around as they are pushed to supersonic velocity from a standstill. This somewhat violent process creates mis-shaped pellets. Pellets flying out of round tend to spread out more rapidly, thereby creating a larger pattern. Because physics and aerodynamics.

The shot lock resin fills the air space, so the sudden acceleration doesn’t create a mashing effect. The pellets don’t get all squashed and therefore fly straighter in a tighter pattern.

So what happens when the pellets stay round?

The Winchester Ammunition folks set up targets at ranges of 25, 50 and even 60 yards. As you can see the patterns were perfectly usable for turkey hunting all the way up to 60 yards.

Winchester Ammunition Long Beard XR was designed for turkey hunters and is currently available in 12 gauge shot sizes of 4, 5 and 6.

I have to think this might also make an interesting home defense load for those concerned about over penetration inside. The 4, 5 and 6 shot sizes could help the penetration issue, while a tighter pattern might reduce risk of stray pellets. I’ll test this out against simulated walls soon and share the results.

You can find Winchester Ammunition Long Beard XR at Cabelas.

Ammo Review: Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP +P 200 Grain

Since it’s the giving season, I decided to bring a pile of different ammo types to the range for some quick and dirty testing. Ammo makes great gunny gifts by the way. In these times of scarcity, your giftee will know you worked for it!

First up is a .45 ACP load I had high hopes for – the Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP +P 200 Grain hollow point.

The Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP +P 200 Grain load still offers weight, but with more velocity.

The Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP +P 200 Grain load still offers weight, but with more velocity.

Speer Gold Dot ammunition features bonded construction, meaning the lead core is surrounded by a chemically “stapled-on” jacket. This means two things. First, the jacket and inner core stay together which helps penetration. Second, expansion is almost always even and predictable. You can shoot most any Speer Gold Dot ammo into water or ballistic gelatin and it will expand perfectly. Where things get a little weird is when bullets have to pass through barriers – especially heavy clothing. Any type of hollow point ammo can clog up and inhibit expansion.

I was keen to try this .45 ACP 200 grain +P load because I’ve had mixed success with standard pressure .45 ACP 230 grain hollow points when exposed to heavy clothing barriers. The lower velocity of the full 230 grain projectiles tends to make expansion an iffy proposition. This load is not only lighter, and therefore can be loaded to faster velocity, it’s a +P load which gives it a little more energy boost.

I measured the velocity of this ammunition at an average of 1,047.7 feet per second with a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet from the muzzle. Not shabby at all for a .45 load, right?

To provide some challenge to test expansion, I shot through two layers of thick leather and four layers of fabric. Two out of three projectiles expanded properly. The third got all cloggified with leather and barely started to expand. The largest expansion measured .748 inches in across – nearly 1.7 times original diameter.

The loads shot to point of aim and recoil was not perceptibly different than the 185 grain loads I normally shoot.

If you’re looking for a little extra zip for more predictable expansion performance, check out the Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP +P 200 Grain load. It’s still heavy, but a couple hundred feet per second faster than a standard pressure 230 grain alternative.

Nice ammo

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture