Win A Year’s Worth of Free Ammo!

While the mystery of how the folks at LaserMax managed to find any ammo, much less a one year supply, continues to elude us, the story is true. They’re giving away 5,200 rounds of pistol ammunition. If you win, you get choice of caliber from the following:.22 LR, .380 ACP, 9mm, 38 SPL, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP.

LaserMax ammo giveaway

 

It’s easy to enter to win your one year supply of free ammo via one of three methods…

Method #1

Click here or scroll down to the bottom of this page, complete, and submit the online entry form. Online entries must be received between 12:00:01 AM Eastern Time (“ET”) on Monday, March 10, 2014 and 11:59:59 PM ET on Friday, June 20, 2014 (the “Sweepstakes Entry Period”). Limit: One (1) online entry per email address per day.

Method #2

LaserMax “Spring Savings” Promotion participants will be automatically entered to win. For complete details about this promotion, visit the rebate promotion page.

Method #3

Mail a handwritten postcard, including your name, complete address, phone number and email address to: LaserMax Spring Sweepstakes, c/o LaserMax, Inc., 3495 Winton Place, Rochester, NY 14623. Each postcard must be mailed separately, must be postmarked during the Sweepstakes Entry Period and received no later than Friday, June 27, 2014. Photocopied, illegible, or mechanically reproduced entries are not eligible. LaserMax is not responsible for lost, late, damaged, misdirected or postage-due mailed entries.

That’t it! Good luck!

Talking Brass: How To Lose Your Frustrations At The Range

Someone figured out how to exercise their demons - with a .30-06.

Someone figured out how to exercise their demons – with a .30-06.

I’m a reloading freak. Because what’s better than tactical cooking? (Tweet This)

Anyway, I shoot at an outdoor range where lot’s of folks bring boxes of shiny, new, factory ammunition to shoot – and then they leave the brass lying all over the place.

Is there a “clean up after yourself” rant forthcoming? Not on your life. I love these folks. New, once-fired, name brand brass?

I’ll pick up new range brass faster than Alec Baldwin complains about his fame and fortune.(Tweet This)

After testing a new scope the other day, a Weaver Tactical 1-5×24, I cleaned up. Big time. First rate rifle brass sells for about 50 cents apiece. Heck, I’ll spend hours picking up someone else’s brass. And thank them for it.

Anyway, I was tired, and jazzed about the new scope, so I wasn’t paying much attention. When I got home to clean and sort my new treasure trove, I noticed handwriting on some of the .30-06 cases. Hmmm.

On closer examination, someone found a safe and fun way to vent their frustrations. At 2,700 feet per second.

And just what was this anonymous individual concerned about? From the ones I could still read, here’s the list of aggravations:

  • F— You _____.” Sorry, the last word was illegible. But this person sent some serious anger down range.
  • New slang” But no mention of Justin Bieber, which I found strange.
  • Something about “evil money.” Perhaps this person found the recent government stimulus programs lacking?
  • People who treat vets like shit
  • Kids that drive $60,000 cars
  • Dad’s B.S. – Not my problem!
  • Who I was
  • England

I kid you not. England.

If you’re a board-certified psychiatrist, we’d love a preliminary analysis. Sorry, but we can only pay for your services in used range brass.

Reloading Ammunition in 10 Easy Steps

Birth of a reloaded cartridge, from left to right: dirty, nasty, stinky range brass; shiny cleaned brass; spent primer ready for decapping; decapped brass; resized brass; re-primed brass; ready for powder charge; bullet seating (it's not fully seated here); the finished product!

Birth of a reloaded cartridge, from left to right: dirty, nasty, stinky range brass; shiny cleaned brass; spent primer ready for decapping; decapped brass; resized brass; re-primed brass; ready for powder charge; bullet seating (it’s not fully seated here); the finished product!

Now that the infinite gun-gasm known as SHOT Show is over, it’s time to get back to reloading! If you read the first article in this reloading series, “To Reload or Not to Reload: 12 Important Considerations,” and decided reloading might be for you, read on! Today we’ll talk about the basic steps of reloading brass ammunition, like common rifle and handgun cartridges. Shotgun reloading is fun and rewarding, too, but we’ll handle that as a separate topic as the steps and equipment are different.

First, the safety warning! I don’t have a lawyer, but if I did, he would tell me to tell you to exercise extreme caution when reloading ammunition. Always, and I mean always, follow printed loading recipes from major bullet, propellant, or reloading equipment manufacturers. They have lots of expensive testing equipment that ensures their published loading data is within safe pressure limits.

Okay, I feel less legally exposed now, so let’s get back to the fun stuff.

When you boil all the complexity down, reloading is simply recycling of fired cartridges—like plastic milk containers, but a lot less smelly. For most modern ammunition, a cartridge is made up of several components, some of which are expendable and others reusable. The only “directly” reusable component in a cartridge is the brass casing. Fortunately, that’s generally the most expensive component. Let’s take an insanely practical look at the steps involved in reloading rifle and handgun ammunition. We’ll walk through the process today and discuss the equipment needs next week.

Save the brass!

If there is the slightest chance you might take up reloading in the future, the very first step is to hoard brass. Yes, like that show on A&E. Hoard brass until your living room is knee-deep with the stuff and the dog can’t make its way to the kitchen. Why? You’ll need it. And it’s expensive. Every time you bend over to pick up a casing, think $0.10 to $0.75! You’d pick up a quarter or two every time you saw one on the ground, right?

Clean the brass.

Technically, you don’t have to clean brass cartridge casings to reload them, but I always do. Cleaning the brass helps you make nice, pretty ammunition that is sure to impress your friends. More importantly, it reduces the risk of your reloading dies getting all gunked up. Clean ammunition also feeds into your gun more reliably.

Deprime the brass.

The primer is one of the expendable items. Once it’s blown up, it’s no good anymore. Either a dedicated decapping die is used to punch the old primer out of the bottom of the casing, or more commonly, the die that resizes your brass will also knock the old primer out.

Resize the brass exterior.

When you fire a rifle or handgun cartridge, the whole brass casing actually expands in the chamber of the gun. As the pressure goes down when the bullet leaves the barrel, the brass shrinks back a bit, thereby allowing extraction from the chamber and ejection towards the person next to you. While it shrinks, it doesn’t shrink all the way back to original size. A resizing die is used to “encourage by brute force” the brass back into the correct exterior dimensions. This step ensures that your reloaded ammunition will fit back into the chamber of your gun and fire properly. If you reload bottleneck rifle ammo, you will also need to trim the case back to the proper length. All this mashing tends to make it stretch.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

 

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

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

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

Buy Bullets! It’s National Ammo Day

I’m not quite sure who decides that November 19th is National Ammo Day, but hey, I don’t need much of an excuse to buy 100 rounds of ammo.

Buy 100 rounds of ammo - it's National Ammo Day!

Buy 100 rounds of ammo – it’s National Ammo Day!

Yeah, I know, you can’t find it. Well, it’s out there.

Try your local gun store. If they don’t have what you need, check out Brownells. Or Cabelas.

If you want to get really adventurous, check out Gun Bot. It’s a free ammo search service that scans all sorts of online retailers to see who’s got what. You can even filter the search results for in stock only.

So go buy 100 rounds of ammo. You’ll save the economy, so it’s your patriotic duty!

Ammo Test: Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 Grain Self-Defense Ammunition

One thing I’ve found testing thousands of rounds of ammunition through a wide variety of traditional, and sometimes non-traditional, targets is that you can’t generalize. Broad generalizations just don’t hold up. I mean, there’s the obvious exception of Justin Bieber – ALL of his songs are roughly comparable to pre-gelatinized narwhal poop, but in most other things, you need to evaluate each and every unique circumstance independently.

It’s the same with ammunition. You can just say Brand X is a good performer in each caliber and each specific loading within a caliber. So the 9mm ++P+++ 124 grain load of Fire-Breathing Death Harpoon Ammo expands every single time, but does the .380 90 grain load of that same brand perform as it should? Not necessarily. You need to test your desired carry load, in your specific gun to know how it performs.

So, even though I’ve had great success with all of the Speer Gold Dot loads tested to date, I’m gradually working my way through the product line to try them all.

Speer Gold Dot 40 SW 155 grain self-defense ammo

Expansion performance of the Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 grain load was excellent and velocity was just as expected.

Recently I spent some quality time with the Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 grain load. At the lighter end of the .40 caliber spectrum, I expected to get some serious velocity out of this one. And with expanding hollow point ammo, velocity is king when it comes to consistent expansion performance.

Standout features of the Speer Gold Dots include a bonded-core construction and a two-stage hollow point cavity construction. Bonded-core construction “melds” the copper jacket and lead core so they are not two separate layers. This allows the projectiles to stay together regardless of barriers encountered. Penetration is boringly consistent as almost all projectile weight is retained. The two-stage hollow point core construction process allows the gurus at Speer to control both diameter and rate of expansion. Basically, they can match projectile performance to caliber and expected real-world velocity.

Speer Gold Dot 40 SW 155 grain

That black stuff in the hollow point core is leather. So the projectile got completely clogged, yet still expanded perfectly.

I shot a bunch of this out of a Beretta PX4 Storm. The PX4 Storm full-size model features a 4.0″ barrel, so I expected measured velocity to approach, but not quite meet the factory specs.

First I checked actual velocity out of the Beretta PX4 Storm. Using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet downrange, I clocked the Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 grain load at an average of 1,169 feet per second, or just over 30 feet per second below the factory spec of 1,200 feet per second. This works out just about right assuming the factory tests velocity using a standard 5″ test barrel. That extra inch should easily account for 30 feet per second velocity improvement. So, doing a little serious math, the actual energy of this load, out of my Beretta PX4, works out to 470 foot-pounds actual measured energy. This compared to 496 on the Speer Gold Dot website.

I also wanted to get an indication of expansion performance when projectiles were shot through common and expected barriers for self-defense situations. I set up two layers of leather and 4 layers of light canvas in front of a pile-o-wetpack – a fancy word for soaking wet newspaper. I snapped photos of a few representative samples, but every single projectile demonstrated excellent expansion performance. This has been a consistent observation with the Speer Gold Dot line. The bonded projectiles don’t seem to suffer from heavy material barriers. The three projectiles in the photo measured .583, .685 and .652 inches in diameter after expansion. Not too shabby.

Like the other Speer Gold Dot loads we’ve tested so far, this is excellent self-defense ammunition.

You can get it at Brownells

Cci/Speer Cci/Speer Gold Dot Handgun Ammunition
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Ammo Test: Winchester PDX1 Defender .38 Special +P 130 Grain

When I lug my ammunition testing setup to the range, I get more strange looks than Michael Bloomberg lactating at a Mayors Against Legal Governing (MALG) press conference.

That’s because I bring a couple of now-perforated trash cans full of soaking wet newspaper, some old boots and a bunch of discarded clothing. Shooting into water or plain ballistic gelatin doesn’t tell too much about bullet performance after it has passed through real-world barriers. So I assemble a suitable range wardrobe.

Recently, I brought 1/2 of a fully stocked thrift store to the range to test the Winchester PDX1 Defender .38 Special +P 130 grain self-defense load.

Winchester's PDX1 Defender .38 Special +P self-defense load.

Winchester’s PDX1 Defender .38 Special +P self-defense load.

This load is solid for .38 Special handguns, but also makes a good option for .357 revolvers. Some folks like to shoot .38 Special loads out of sturdier .357 revolvers for less recoil and wear and tear on the gun. Of course, the option is always there to load 357 Magnum cartridges whenever you like.

Velocity

Considering that this load uses 130 grain projectiles, velocity was appropriate. I tested it from a Ruger LCR .357 Magnum revolver, which features a 1.875 inch barrel. That’s shorter than NY Governor Cuomo’s debate on the SAFE Act! Using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph, I measured a bunch of shots with the chrony placed 15 feet down range. The average of the Winchester PDX1 Defender 130 grain load worked out to 903 feet per second. Not too shabby, and enough for pretty reliable expansion.

Winchester PDX1 Defender .38 Special +P Expansion Performance

I shot another pile of these bullets into a pretty tough target to get an indication of expansion performance. While anything will expand if you shoot it into ballistic gelatin, things start to get crazy when you shoot through real-life barriers like leather and fabric clothing. To put it to the test, I shot through two layers of leather and 4 layers of light canvas. Not counting anything hard that might get in the way, this starts to approach a worst case heavy clothing scenario.

Winchester PDX1 38 Special +P

Expansion was good overall. Throughout testing over 75% of projectiles expanded properly.

I shot everything through the leather and canvas barrier into a deep container of wet pack. That’s a fancy word for soaking-wet newspaper. As you can see by the photo, most projectiles displayed good expansion. About 1/4 of the time, one would slip through with minimal or no expansion. That’s not a big surprise given .38 Special velocities out of a short-barrel revolver.

Closing Arguments

This was a good load. After testing thousands of self-defense rounds, in virtually all pistol calibers, I’ve become a big fan of bonded bullet designs. I’ve yet to encounter a quality bonded bullet that came apart while passing through a tough target. Like jacketed designs, expansion is always measured in probability, not certainty, but overall, bonded bullets have proven to be solid performers.

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

You can find Winchester PDX1 Defender Self Defense Ammunition at Brownells

What Has More Energy? A 3 ½” 12 Gauge Buckshot Load or a Throat Punch By Mike Tyson?

Find out with the Cartridge Comparison Guide, Second Edition

I now have all the answers.

Not because I’m some sort of genius, but because I met the guy who HAS found all the answers at this year’s Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) Conference.

Cartridge Comparison Guide Second Edition

Cartridge Comparison Guide Second Edition

His name is Andrew and he created the Cartridge Comparison Guide, now in its second edition.

Thanks to Andrew, I am now able to quickly research definitive answers to important questions like…

 

Question: Is the muzzle energy of the Winchester 12 gauge, 15 pellet, #00 buckshot, 3 ½” load more or less than getting punched in the throat by Mike Tyson?

Answer: It’s a trick question. While the muzzle energy of this load is 3,780 foot-pounds, you can’t really measure the impact of a Mike Tyson throat punch as he prefers 7 punch combo’s led by a jab.

 

Question: Which has a greater sectional density? The .577 Nitro Express Barnes Bullet or Rosie O’Donnell?

Answer: Aha! Tricked you again! You can’t accurately compare the .577’s sectional density of .313 with infinity!

 

Question: Which requires more energy? Stopping a .35 Whelen 200 grain projectile once it has traveled 300 yards or prying Lindsey Lohan from a one of Hollywood’s Hookah Lounge bar stools?

Answer: Well, according to the Cartridge Comparison Guide, a .35 Whelen 200 grain projectile will be moving at about 1,916 feet per second at 300 yards, which translates to, let’s see, carry the one, 1,630 foot-pounds of energy. As of last reports, officials still have not managed to pry the wayward actress from her bar stool, so we’ll have to get back to you on this one.

 

Question: What exerts more force? Martha Stewart hot-glueing doilies onto a festive holiday wreath or the recoil of a .221 Remington Fireball?

Answer: The .221 Remington Fireball with a 40 grain Hornady projectile exerts about 1.62 foot-pounds of recoil, while sticking doilies only requires .731 foot-pounds using general purpose hot glue.

 

Question: OK, last chance to improve your score. Which of the following is more likely to create a tear-drop or bell-shaped wound channel? The .17 Remington Fireball 20 grain bullet or Louie Anderson hitting the water from the 5 meter board in ABC’s new celebrity diving show, Splash?

Answer: Due to its 4,000 feet per second velocity and light bullet construction, the .17 Fireball is likely to fragment, thereby creating a tear-drop shaped wound channel. Louie Anderson, currently weighing in at 400 pounds, is likely to empty the pool, rendering wound-channel measurements impossible.

 

Of course, if you want to do more mundane things like find the best hunting cartridge that will minimize felt-recoil, while delivering a certain amount of energy at 300 yards, the Cartridge Comparison Guide will help you do that too. It’s chock full of tables that rank and sort data like bullet weight, muzzle velocity, down range energy, bullet momentum, sectional density and recoil energy.

So if you wanted to know which has more recoil energy, the .270 Winchester with a 150 grain bullet traveling at 2,950 feet per second or a 7×57 Mauser with a 170 grain bullet traveling at  2,545 feet per second, you would just flip to pages 46 and 47. You’ll find that, with an 8 pound rifle, you’ll experience 17.82 foot-pounds of recoil with the .270 load and 15.07 foot-pounds of recoil energy with the 7×57 Mauser. Or perhaps you want to settle the argument of which has more down range energy, the standard AR-15 or AK-47 load. Just look it up!

What the Cartridge Comparison Guide 2 is, and is not.

It is a comprehensive tool that “will help you gain the maximum benefit from a personalized cartridge selection.”

It is not a reloading guide. You will not find powder measure charges in this book.

It is comprehensive, covering cartridges from the .17 caliber to the .577 Nitro Express and everything in between.

It is not intended to interest Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It is a directory of performance characteristics of factory available cartridges – even really rare and obscure ones.

It is not a guide for wildcat and proprietary cartridge performance.

It is a means of sucking up hours of your time. Productively!

It is not appropriate to bring for dinner table reading on romantic dates.

Winner of the Professional Outdoor Media Association Pinnacle Award for excellence, this book is a gold mine of information.

You can find the Cartridge Comparison Guide 2nd Edition here.

Also check out some of the posters produced by Chamberlain Development, like this American Standard Cartridge poster. It’s painstakingly produced to illustrate each cartridge in actual dimensions to within 4/1000 of an inch.

American Standard Cartridges - The Cartridge Comparison Guide

American Standard Cartridges Poster

 

 

300 AAC Blackout – You Have to Admit, They Take After Mom and Dad…

300 AAC Blackout with .308 and .223

Ammo Review: Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 180 Grain Hollow Point

Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 180 Grain Hollow Point Ammunition

It’s a good thing these Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 180 grain self-defense rounds don’t have dystychiphobia. That’s fear of accidents.

Speer Gold Dot 40 S&W 180 grain ammunition

Speer Gold Dot 40 S&W 180 grain ammunition

I say this because in our testing we had a high-speed wreck. One of our projectiles crashed right into the back of another during the expansion testing phase. We’re going to attribute this to our truly amazing shooting skills, and not just random chance.

No worries though. No animals were harmed in this crash testing and the crash test dummy can probably be salvaged.

Just the facts

All Speer Gold Dot ammunition features a bonded core projectile design – more on that later.

What’s interesting about Speer Gold Dot design is that projectiles are optimized for caliber and anticipated velocity. The idea is to make the projectile “soft” enough to expand properly, but no so “soft” that it over expands and comes apart or suffers in terms of penetration performance. This is evident in the Speer Short Barrel product line, where projectiles are designed to expand at lower velocity, but it also becomes apparent with more subtle projectile differences – as in the 180 grain versus 155 grain .40 S&W loads. We’ll be publishing some results on the 155 grain loading in the near future.

Cases are nickel-plated for high visibility and corrosion resistance. You’ll notice the shiny silver case is easier to see when checking chamber status – especially in lower indoor lighting conditions.

Speer Gold Dots use CCI primers that are non-corrosive and non-mercuric. No worries about barrel corrosion or cleaning with Windex.

No dieting zone

One of the biggest benefits of the Speer Gold Dot design is the Uni-Cor bonding technology used to literally fuse the lead core with the outer jacket. This is done to prevent the jacket from separating upon impact. If the jacket separates, weight is shed from the projectile and penetration can suffer.

The rounds we tested for expansion had a fairly rough time of things – passing through 4 layers of light canvas and two layers of fabric. After that, they entered a big pile of wet BS. To be more specific, we took a bunch of old New York Times newspapers and thoroughly soaked them for an expansion testing medium. As indicated by the photos, all of the tested rounds expanded as expected. We’ve come to expect this from Speer Gold Dots. But even we were surprised at the expansion performance demonstrated by the heavier weight, and lower velocity, 180 grain loads. All of the loads tested exceeded 150% expansion with final diameters measuring over .65″ in each example.

Just to check the real performance of the bonded projectile design, we weighed several of the expanded projectiles to see how much they lost from the original 18 grains:

178.3 grains

177.3 grains

179.7 grains

179.9 grains

And the one that slammed into the back of another bullet at 1,000 feet per second? Its post-collision weight was 179.4 grains.

Velocity

Speer Gold Dot 40 SW 180gr crashed

This one crashed right into the back of another bullet – and still didn’t come apart.

The Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 180 grain load is factory rated to achieve 1,025 feet per second, measured at the muzzle. We tested this load with a Beretta PX4 Storm .40 S&W. This particular gun features a 4″ barrel, so one would expect actual velocity to be a tad less than stated on the box. Assuming the manufacturer obtains rated velocity from a full length test barrel.

We went to the range and measured velocity 15 feet from the muzzle using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master chronograph. Taking the average of a bunch of shots, all from the Beretta PX4, we observed an average actual  velocity downrange of 1,018 feet per second. Not bad at all considering the slightly shorter barrel and the fact that our chronograph was 15 feet from the muzzle.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Even for Speer Gold Dots, we were a little surprised at the consistent expansion performance with this load. When velocities start to get near 1,000 feet per second or lower, we’ve seen a lot of hollow point rounds get a little inconsistent with expansion performance. But not this one.
Available Here Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 180 Grain Ammunition

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Latest Shooting Buyers Guide Additions

My Gun Culture Shooters Buyers Guide

We’re introducing a new weekly article feature, and a whole new section of MyGunCulture.com this week. Our Shooters Buyers Guide provides a quick and easy reference to stuff that is a solid value – and works. Think of it as shooting tips for buyers.

We check out a lot of shooting gear – tactical lights, gun lasers, optics, red dot sights, ammunition, reloading supplies and equipment, shooting bags, holsters of all kinds, and much, much more. While we can’t do an in depth review of everything that crosses the shooting bench, we can help filter out what works well – and what doesn’t. If you see an item listed in our buyers guide, we’ve used it, we like it, and we believe in it.

Here are this weeks picks:

Sights, Optics, Lasers, Lights

TruGlo TFO Fiber Optic / Tritium Handgun Sights

Crimson Trace LG850 Lasergrips – Glock Compact and Full Size Models

Aimpoint Micro H-1 Red Dot Sight

Crimson Trace Lightguard for Glock Pistols

Crimson Trace Lasergrips For Glock Full Size and Compact Models

Holsters

Blade-Tech IDPA Competition Pack with SRB (Sting Ray Belt) Holster

5.11 Tactical COVRT Z.A.P. 6 (Zone Assault Pack)

Galco Ankle Glove Holster

Blackhawk Leather Magazine Pouch

Galco Ankle Glove Holster

Blackhawk Sportster Standard Concealment Holster

Ammo

Hornady Critical Duty 9mm +P 135 grain Flexlock

Remington Golden Saber .45 ACP +P 185 grain JHP

CorBon DPX .357 Sig 125 Grain Ammo

American Eagle .223 Ammo – Reloaders Bargain

Federal’s Guard Dog .45 ACP – Expands Like All Get Out

Hornady Critical Defense .38 Special +P 100 grain

Speer Gold Dot 9mm +P Bonded Hollow Points

CorBon 9mm +P 115 grain JHP

Shooting Accessories

Gunzilla Gun Cleaner, Lubricant, and Protectant – Look Ma! No Stink!

ESS Crossbow Eyeshields – Eye Protection with Style

Slipstream and Slipstream STYX Weapons Lubricants

Books

Shoot! Your Guide to Shooting and Competition by Julie Golob

The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery by Massad Ayoob

American Heroes in Special Operations by Oliver North

GunDigest Shooter’s Guide to the 1911 by Robert Campbell

Reloading Equipment

Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph

Forster Case Trimmer

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture