Ballistics by the inch

Shooting big stuff.

Ever hear of a 4 Bore?

Here’s the first line from the Wikipedia entry:

Four bore or 4 bore is an almost obsolete black powder caliber of the 19th century, used for the hunting of large and potentially dangerous game animals.

The term “4 Bore” indicated that it would fire a sphere of lead weighing 4 ounces, or one-quarter of a pound of lead. This was an old measurement system from which we also get our shotgun gauge measurements: a 12 gauge shoots a sphere of 1/12th a pound of lead, etc. So, a 4 Bore shoots a sphere of lead that is three times the weight of what a 12 gauge would shoot. As in a ball 1.052″ diameter that weighs 4 ounces, or 1,750gr. Compare that to a typical 12 gauge slug, which weighs from one to 1.125 ounces. The 4 Bore ball is more than three times the weight.

And shooting one feels like it.

Well, depending on the black powder load, of course.

Here’s the one we shot, the Blunderbuss on the right:

And here’s looking down the muzzle:

As the maker of the gun notes:

This 4 bore Blunderbuss can be pretty intimidating when you’re looking down the end of one.

Especially when the end is TWO inches in diameter and the bore is more than one inch too!

The thought of shooting it was pretty intimidating, too.

The maker recommends a load of just 100gr of Fg black powder. So that’s what we started with. Here’s what that looked like, being shot by Jim K of the BBTI team:

Not bad, right? Yeah, it felt like shooting a typical 12 gauge loaded with slugs. Of course, the Blunderbuss doesn’t have a modern firearm design, with no mechanism to reduce recoil.

And here’s my friend Roger shooting it with the recommended load, in slow motion:

Now, Roger’s a big guy. Over 6’6″. And like all of us who shot the 4 Bore, he has decades of experience shooting all manner of long guns, from mild black powder muskets to modern heavy magnums. Now just watch what happens when we increased the load in the 4 Bore to 200gr of Fg black powder:

And here’s Keith of the BBTI team shooting the 4 Bore with that full 200gr load:

Impressive, eh? I don’t have video of my shooting it, but I do have the bruises to prove I did.

Well, now, think about this: historically, these guns were loaded with up to 500gr of black powder. Bloody hell.

OK, let’s talk ballistics.

See the orange thing in the foreground in most of the video? That’s a LabRadar ‘chronograph’. It said we got about 500 fps from the ‘light’ loads, and about 700 fps out of the ‘heavy’ loads. That would give us a muzzle energy of about 970 and 1900 foot-pounds, respectively.

Your typical 12 gauge slug has a ME of about 2600 ft/lbs.

So, what gives? Why does the 4 Bore look (and feel) like it had so much more power?

I’ve been thinking about this for the last several days, and I think the answer is that a heavier bullet gives you more perceived recoil.

I’ve discussed this previously: Velocity is great, but mass penetrates. In that post, I used the example of a whiffle-ball versus a baseball, where they both had the same “ME”, but where you’d feel a significant difference if you were hit by both.

And I think that the same thing is happening here. For what it’s worth, you’d need to push the 4 Bore ball to about 800 fps to get it to the same nominal ME as a 12 gauge shotgun slug. To get to *triple* the ME of a 12 gauge shotgun slug, you’d need to push the 4 Bore ball to about 1400 fps. My guess is that the historical 500gr load of black powder might accomplish that.

But I sure as hell wouldn’t want to shoot it.

Oh, and how accurate was the 4 Bore? Here’s our target from the full-power loads:

Not bad for no sights, at about 15 yards. And look at the size of those holes!

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OK, let’s talk about the other gun in the pic at the top. It’s a Hand Mortar, designed to throw a small hand grenade further than the human arm could. We had this one just for a little fun, shooting tennis balls about 100 yards using 70gr of Fg black powder. Like this:

Here’s a slow motion version of my friend Tim shooting it:

And here’s another of my friend Charles:

Black powder is so much fun!

Jim Downey

May 19, 2021 Posted by | Anecdotes, black powder, Data, Discussion., General Procedures, Shotgun ballistics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My new (bull)puppy.

Last August, I got to shoot a new IWI Tavor TS12 shotgun. You can find the full review here, but here was my conclusion:

Final thoughts: it’s a hell of a package. I’m not sure I’d use it for “sport shooting”, but for fun at the range or as a home defense gun, yeah, it’d be fantastic, though a little pricey.

Well, after thinking about it for a few months, I decided to go ahead and get one. Here it is:

I put a Crimson Trace CT-1000 optic on it:

And took it out to the range this morning to break it in.

IWI recommends minimum shot weight and velocity for the gun, for it to operate properly. I started out with some standard target loads of 2.75″ #8 shot, 1.125oz, 1200fps. I set the gas regulator to the “L” (light) setting for these light loads. The first couple of test loads operated correctly. So I loaded all three tubes to capacity, just to run through them as quickly as I could. Everything was flawless.

Time to try some heavier loads. I went to full-power 00Buckshot. These were 2.75″ 9 pellet 1325fps loads. I kept the gas regulator on the “L” setting, since some reviewers suggested this was a good idea for the initial break-in. But the gun cycled too quickly, and caught the spent cases in the mechanism. I reset the gas regulator to “H” (heavy) and tried again. All the subsequent 00Buck and slug rounds fired & cycled perfectly.

To this point I was just getting a feel for how the gun felt, operated, etc. Because while I had tried my friend’s gun previously, it was just with half a dozen rounds in a “what’s this weird thing like to shoot” go. Now I wanted to see what it would take to become proficient with my own gun.

My initial thoughts were, in no particular order:

  • The trigger was mushy. To be expected with a bullpup.
  • Recoil was mild, if the gas regulator was set correctly.
  • Getting down behind the optic took some practice, and I was happy for the riser on the CT-1000.
  • Getting used to the paddle-catch to change tubes took a bit of practice.
  • But damn, that’s a quick way to burn through ammo.

I set up some cardboard (about 18×18″) and a sheet of 11×17″ paper at 25 yards to see how well the optic would indicate where the pellets hit from 00Buck. I had the “Improved Cylinder” choke in the gun, and was getting patterns of about 14″.

Next I put up a larger piece of cardboard (24×48″) at 50 yards to see how well the optic would do with basic Brenneke slugs. These are some old Remington 2.75″ 1oz 1560fps rounds I had. I hadn’t done anything yet with the optic other than just mount it and turn it on, so this was just a test.

Here were the first three shots, shot freehand while standing:

That’s a 4″ group. Out of a brand new gun, with a brand new optic, the first time I’d shot slugs out of it. Since 50 yards is about twice the distance I would ever imagine using this gun for, I’ll take it.

Next up: 00Buckshot at the same 50 yards. Here’s that result:

I didn’t run back and forth, just fired 5 rounds with the optic at the same position I had used for the slugs. At 9 pellets each, about half were on the cardboard, and notably most were on the lower half of the board. But once again, this is about twice the range I would ever really envisage this gun would be used at, even for hunting, and about 4x the range I might use it for home defense. Again, acceptable.

Lastly, I reset the gas regulator to “L”, and loaded it full with the target loads. I figured it was time to see what fun I could have at speed on the falling plates on my range. Here’s a run at 15 yards:

That little foot shuffle I do at the start? I was standing on the wire rope that sets the plates, so they weren’t falling. I had to get off it in order to knock them down.

I’m sure I’ll get much faster with it, with practice. But as you can see, even being completely new to the gun, it’s easy to achieve a surprising amount of speed with it. You can definitely go through a lot of ammo with one of these guns, there’s no doubt about it.

Overall, I’m very happy with the Tavor TS12. Altogether I ran about 75 shells through it in an hour, half the light target loads, the other half full-power, high-brass slugs and 00Buck. It’s been decades since I shot a 12 gauge that much in that short a period of time, and my shoulder isn’t the slightest bit sore.

Yeah, the TS12 is a keeper. And I really like the Crimson Trace optic.

Jim Downey

March 3, 2021 Posted by | Discussion., Shotgun ballistics | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

IWI Tavor TS12 review

This past weekend I got to try the new(ish) Tavor TS12 semi-auto shotgun, made by IWI.

This gun got a LOT of attention when it was announced at SHOT 2018, and generated a fair amount of interest later when the commercial version was finally released not quite a year ago. And for very good reason: it’s a hell of a package.

OK, the basics: this is a gas regulated semi-auto 12ga shotgun, which will handle either standard 2.75″ or 3.00″ Magnum shotgun loads. It has an innovative three-tube magazine design which will hold up to 16 rounds (15+1) of 2.75″ shells or 13 rounds of magnum shells. It is a bullpup design, with an 18.5″ barrel and 28″ overall length. It weighs 8 pounds unloaded. It uses standard Benelli/Beretta choke tubes. It has M-LOK compatible rails, a continuous Picatinny rail on top, and multiple sling mount points.

So, one of my friends got a new TS12, and wanted to try it. He figured we’d test it with his standard home defense ammo, Dupo 28 explanding steel slugs. The Tavor had not been fired previously, and we decided to try it without an optic, just using the Picatinny rail on top as a guide.

We looked the gun over and figured out the operating controls. It’s very intuitive, and we quickly got the hang of loading and using the gun. Since it was brand new, we expected a little bit of break-in time, and indeed the first few rounds didn’t cycle completely. But after about a half dozen or so, it ran flawlessly.  The automatic-reload feature when you move from one tube to the next is really slick, once it was working correctly.

What were my impressions of it?

Well, when you first look at it, the gun *looks* big. I think that is due to the boxy shape of it. The proportions are a little weird, and you figure that it’s a shotgun, so it has to be big. But because it’s a bullpup design, it actually isn’t that big. And when you pick it up to use it, then it feels much smaller, more compact, and very well balanced. In fact, it feels like a tight little package of lethality. This video from TFB really shows how it operates in heavy use.

And it feels really solid. For me, the ergonomics were excellent, and even shooting these substantial 1oz slugs there was minimal perceived recoil. That’s thanks to the gas operating system. Comparing the TS12 to the KelTec KSG, well, there’s really no comparison in terms of recoil. The KSG, while a cool little package (it’s slightly shorter and weighs less than the Tavor) is fairly brutal to shoot. Of course, the KSG is about half the price.

The fit & finish of the TS12 are very good. Like I said, the gun feels solid and well made when you hold it. And when you are just looking it over, the quality is likewise evident. Of course, IWI is a well known firearms manufacturer with a solid reputation.

One note: when the TS12 was announced, it was said to be completely ambidextrous. The final version released isn’t, though you do have your choice of getting a left- or right-hand version, according to the IWI website.

As mentioned, we decided to try the TS12 without an optic. Which was a little difficult, wearing muff-style hearing protection, but quite doable. And at about 20 yards from the target, it was easy to put multiple rounds right where you wanted them:

20200822_163455

Final thoughts: it’s a hell of a package. I’m not sure I’d use it for “sport shooting”, but for fun at the range or as a home defense gun, yeah, it’d be fantastic, though a little pricey.

Jim Downey

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Discussion., Shotgun ballistics | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Reprise: Model Creep — When Guns Aren’t So NEW and IMPROVED

Prompted by my friends over at the Liberal Gun Club, this is another in an occasional series of revisiting some of my old articles which had been published elsewhere over the years, perhaps lightly edited or updated with my current thoughts on the topic discussed. This is an article I wrote for Guns.com, and it originally ran 3/29/2012.  Some additional observations at the end.

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Whenever I read or hear the ad terms “new”, “improved”, or “now with even more features” I find that another cliché bubbles up inside of me:  you damned kids get off my lawn!

It makes my ass twitch.

That’s because I’m feeling a bit like a crotchety ol’ coot these days and I think I know the reason. I have been reviewing a lot of classic guns recently and during my research for these articles I have been noticing entirely too much model creep in these vintage offerings. What is model creep? When you take a basic, functional item, and keep adding ‘extras’ and ‘improvements’ every year or two in order to make it the “new hotness”, only to find you’re slowly sacrificing all those simple qualities that made it a classic to start with.

Manufacturers do this in order to keep their product line fresh and exciting. It gives the ad wizards something to hype. It gives the dealers something to push. Hell, it even gives gun writers something to review (I’m as guilty as anyone).

But it still makes my ass twitch. Why? Because often, the “NEW!” “IMPROVED!” features are just bloat. Sometimes they take a perfectly fine gun and needlessly complicate it or change the design just enough that parts are no longer interchangeable between models. Or maybe accessories you had for one model will no longer work with a new model. The frame is just a little bit bigger, thanks to that rail they added. So the holster you love and have finally gotten broken in just the way you like it no longer fits. Or those special exotic wood grips that have been something of your trademark at the range won’t mount on the new gun. Or the stockpile of magazines you’ve built up is now useless.

To my thinking, these changes effectively render the previous model obsolete for a frugal person like myself And it makes finding parts for it difficult or impossible. I just want to grab the manufacturer and holler in their ear that the damned gun was fine, and to leave it well enough alone.

What makes my ass twitch even more though than the degradation of classic firearms is the torrent of tacticool “novelty” guns currently being released by many gun manufacturers. Sometimes I feel like a maker will produce a gun, just to have their name in that niche market and without really intending to make a quality product.  Half a dozen pistol-grip pump shotguns, one of them for shooting Zombies?

Really?

At what point is it just overload? At what point does the average consumer have their eyes glaze over because of a thousand different choices, most of which seem to be nuanced beyond all reason? No, thank you, I do not need the bayonet option for my J-frame. I’ll pass on the modular Picatinny rail system on my muzzle-loader. And I don’t want to have to select from 33 different finishes for my carry gun.

And then there are the inevitable changes from year to year:

“Oh, sorry, that style laser grip is no longer available, but there’s a new *green* laser that you can get which should fit your gun.”

“Apologies, but that basic trigger has been replaced by this new titanium trigger which weighs three grams less and is Very Cool Looking!”

“Your old rubber grips have been discontinued, but the replacement silicon-rubber grips with Grippier Grip Dots will work at just slightly more $.”

My ass is twitching. Gah. When did I turn 107?

Usually though, when I see the words, “new!” “improved!” in glossy script in gun magazines, it just means that the gun makers figured out a new way of making a part for a penny less. Though they may hype it as such, the technology isn’t as much of an improvement to the gun’s ability to shoot as you may believe and though the Mad Men aren’t lying when they say it’s “better” (yeah, sure, whatever) what they really mean is just that it is “cheaper”.  And usually not cheaper for you because rarely, if ever, do we see this lower cost of production passed along to the consumer.

But hey, it is the new hotness, so tradition dictates the gun makers are gonna charge you a bit more for their newest products. You’ll like it. Really! Trust us!

The truth is that this has been going on forever — but it is also one of the basic ways that long-term improvements are made to the firearms we own and shoot. A little change here, a little tweak there. A slight modification to the grips. A new sight which is better for low-light situations. A finish that protects better and reduces glare. An honest-to-goodness improvement to the recoil spring which means more reliable operation as well as reduced recoil.

These improvements wouldn’t have been made if not for manufacturers trying new things. It’s a kind of evolution, driven by competition. Each manufacturer wants to make their product just a little more appealing to the customer, so that they will sell more and make more money and all these tiny little steps add up over time (even if some of them are in the wrong direction), creating substantial improvement when you look at the long arc of history. Lord knows that just about any of the current ‘micro .380s’ are a hell of a lot better than the .25 or .32 pocket guns of my youth – they’re smaller, lighter, more reliable, and pack a bigger wallop.

OK, my ass is twitching a little less.

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Gods, I’m glad the whole Zombie thing seems to have finally run it’s course. I’d much rather ignore the spate of “NFA-compliant non-shotgun firearms” which are suddenly so popular. I think *those* things were sponsored by the Guild of Orthopedic Surgeons, to make sure that their members would have more wrist repair operations to do. But at least they’re marginally less obnoxious than the Zombie crap.

Yeah, OK, I’m as much of an old coot as I was when I wrote the article six years ago.

 

Jim Downey

 

February 4, 2018 Posted by | .25 ACP, .32 ACP | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reprise: Bond Arms Derringer review.

Prompted by my friends over at the Liberal Gun Club, this is another in an occasional series of revisiting some of my old articles which had been published elsewhere over the years, perhaps lightly edited or updated with my current thoughts on the topic discussed. This is an article I wrote for Guns.com about six years ago, and it originally ran without a byline as an “Editor’s Review” for all the different Bond Arms Derringers. Images used are from that original article. Some additional observations at the end.

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Is there anything more classically American than a derringer?

Yeah, sure there is. Sam Colt’s revolver, JMB’s M1911, the lever-action repeating rifle — the list goes on. We’ve got a long and admirable history in firearms design, but derringers remain one of the most easily identifiable and storied handguns even among those who know very little about firearms. Anyone who has seen any Western has probably seen a derringer of one sort or another and recognized it as such.

So it’s unsurprising that there remains a pretty solid interest in derringers, even in this day and age of smaller and lighter handguns that are arguably “better” for the role that derringers originally filled as a pocket/backup gun.

Since the mid 1990s Bond Arms has been producing fine-quality derringers based on the original nineteenth century iconic Remington design. I own a Bond C2K model chambered in .410/.45 Colt. The 3.5″ barrel will handle up to 3″ long .410 shotgun shells, or the .45 Colt ammunition of your choice. In addition, I’ve had the good fortune to shoot just about every other barrel configuration that Bond makes for this firearm (because the barrels are easily interchangeable). My C2K has the standard sized Rosewood grips – though they can be swapped out for extended grips with very little difficulty.

It is a very well made and attractive little gun. The fit and finish are excellent. The brushed stainless steel finish wears well and is resistant to marring. Modern design tweaks include a trigger guard and a crossbolt safety, but both of these are well integrated with the overall appearance. There is sufficient weight to moderate the recoil of even the most powerful loads. I like the gun — a lot — for what it is: something of a novelty item suitable for certain tasks.

Those tasks?

Well, having a bit of fun, mostly, and with the appropriate .410 load it’d make a decent gun for snakes. That’s about it — I’m one of those who think that it isn’t very well suited for concealed-carry purposes given the weight and the two-shot capacity.

There are some things I really like. It is smaller than a J-frame sized revolver, is very comparable to any of the common “micro .380″ guns in overall size, and can pack a much more powerful cartridge depending on your barrel choice.

Features

However, there are also a few things I don’t much care for with this gun. Trigger pull can be very erratic from one gun to the next — some I have shot are very easy and smooth, but the one I have is so hard that my wife could not fire it reliably. I haven’t taken the time to investigate what would be involved in easing and smoothing out the trigger pull, but this is something that shouldn’t be necessary for the owner to have to fuss with.

Accuracy isn’t great, even considering what it was meant to be. This is more of a problem with my particular model since there is only 0.5″ of rifling at the end of the barrel, in order to accommodate a 3″ shot shell. If I wanted to use this gun for, say, SASS competition, I’d probably get a .38 special/.357 magnum barrel for it and be much happier with the accuracy.

The Verdict

So, there you go. If you shoot Cowboy Action, this’d be a fun little gun to include in your set-up. If you’re worried about snakes while out fishing or hiking, a Bond derringer would be a good solution. Or, if you just want to have a dependable version of a classic American novelty item, this is a great option.

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First things first: I discovered a year or so after that was posted that the common wisdom about the triggers was to remove the trigger guard. It’s easily done with just an Allen wrench, and makes all the difference in the world, because the trick to the trigger is to get your finger very low on the trigger to have proper leverage. Since the gun is single-action only, removing the trigger guard doesn’t present any safety problems.

Also, I have indeed expanded my selection of barrels for the Bond and now have both the .38/.357 barrel and a .45 acp barrel. Shooting full magnums (or .45 Super) out of the derringer isn’t fun, but does give you much more power options. And as I expected, accuracy with these barrels is much better than with the .410/.45 Colt barrel.

I still think that there are better options for a small concealed-carry/backup gun. But particularly with the right ammo, the Bond Arms derringer isn’t a bad choice. YMMV, of course.

 

Jim Downey

November 6, 2017 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .38 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .45 Super | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reprise — Storing Ammo Long-term: Because without Rounds, Your Gun Is Just a Poorly Designed Club

Prompted by my friends over at the Liberal Gun Club, this is another in an occasional series of revisiting some of my old articles which had been published elsewhere over the years, perhaps lightly edited or updated with my current thoughts on the topic discussed. This is an article I wrote for Guns.com, and it originally ran 8/17/2011. Some additional observations at the end.

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It’s a classic scene: Mad Max rolling a shotgun shell between his fingers, trying to see whether it is still any good.

Will it crumble? If it doesn’t, will it still fire?

Only his script-writer knows for sure.

But how much does it have to do with reality? How long will ammunition stay good, and under what storage conditions? Talk about classics – that basic question has been a standard of firearm discussions online going back to before there even was an “online”.

Whether you’ve just found an old box of shotgun shells in the back of your closet or you’re planning ahead for the Zombie Apocalypse, it’d be good to know whether you could trust those rounds to go bang when needed.

So, what’s the answer?

Well, it depends.

Chances are, if the ammunition has been made in the last century, and has been stored reasonably well, then it’ll still be good.

OK, let’s qualify, qualify, qualify that statement. Chances are, if it was a quality factory ammunition, made in the last century, and has been stored reasonably well, then it’ll still be good.

Chances are, if it was a quality factory ammunition, made in the last century using modern smokeless powder, and has been stored reasonably well, then it’ll still be good.

Chances are, if it was a quality factory ammunition, made in the last century using modern smokeless powder and with a non-corrosive primer, and has been stored reasonably well, then it’ll still be good.

Chances are, if it was a quality factory ammunition, made in the last century using modern smokeless powder and with a non-corrosive primer, and hasn’t been immersed in water or subject to prolonged sub-freezing temperature, then it’ll still be good.

Hmm. That makes it sound like there’s not a good chance, doesn’t it?

But I don’t mean to say that. The truth is, if you come across a box (or can or pallet) of ammo made after WWII, and the exterior doesn’t show signs of obvious damage or corrosion, it should be fine. I’ve shot plenty of such ammo over the years – stuff that is older than I am. And it’s likely that if the ammunition was made after the shift to non-corrosive primers in the 1920s – which covers most non-military ammunition – it’ll also be fine. In the West, even military ammunition made since WWII has predominantly been made using non-corrosive primers, and is likely very stable. Eastern bloc countries used corrosive primers until much, much later, which meant not only could they present a problem with barrel damage if the firearm wasn’t cleaned properly, but that there was a chance that the primer would become weak with age and wouldn’t completely ignite the gunpowder in the cartridge.

How about storage? I mean of ammo made recently – how should you store it to increase the chances of it staying good?

The biggest thing is to keep it from resting in water. Sounds like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised.

Some ammunition is sealed (tracer rounds, for example) after manufacture. But most of it just relies on the mechanical qualities of manufacturing to keep moisture out. This is actually pretty good, and serves fairly well in the case of metallic cartridges. You don’t have to worry about a brief exposure to water, from rain or dropping a round into a puddle or something. You should avoid allowing non-sealed rounds from sitting in water for a prolonged period, since such exposure could allow water to seep into the cartridge and compromise the gunpowder. It could also lead to case or primer corrosion, which could weaken the structural integrity or loading problems. So, if you want to store ammo for a long time, keep it in some kind of waterproof container. Double-bagging, using a vacuum sealer, and related strategies should all work fine.

Oh – did you notice that I specified “metallic cartridges” above? Yeah. That’s because plastic shotgun shells are not as water-tight. They’re still pretty good, given modern manufacturing tolerances, but you probably want to be a little more careful with them for long-term storage. Just sayin’.

One other thing to be aware of: freezing can cause some gunpowders to “crack” – to make smaller particles. While it may not seem to be a big deal, it can greatly increase the surface area of each small particle of the propellent. Which can cause it to burn faster. Which can cause over-pressure. Which can cause case rupture or even potentially the dreaded “ka-boom.”

So, there you have it, whether you’re wanting to have a rainy-day stash, just stockpile ammo when you find a good sale, or are wanting to be accurate for your next screenplay – take these things into consideration and you should be fine. Modern ammunition is generally of very high quality, and very reliable. A little planning ahead on your part should maintain that reliability for as long as you want.

Because it’s better to have a gun than a club.

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There’s isn’t a lot that I would add to this piece regarding old ammo. But since I wrote this we’ve tested something like an additional 20,000 rounds of new commercial ammo from the biggest manufacturers to boutique ammo from small shops. And I continue to be impressed with just how uniform the quality has been — it’s easily in the 99%+ range. It’s to the point where if commercial ammo fails to fire reliably, I would always first inspect the gun to see what the problems was, because it’s much more likely that the gun has some kind of problem than the ammo.

Which isn’t to say that all ammo will work reliably in all guns. I still advocate that for self-defense firearms in particular, you should always run at least a couple of boxes of a given type/brand of ammo through the gun before considering it sufficiently reliable enough to depend on to save your life. YMMV, of course.

Jim Downey

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Anecdotes, Data, Discussion., Shotgun ballistics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Effective shotgun ranges.

One of the questions we get regularly is asking whether we’re going to do some velocity/chop tests on shotguns. For a variety of reasons (both logistical & legal) we’ve decided that such tests are beyond the scope of what we want to tackle.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s not something of interest to us, collectively and individually. I’ve previously posted about tests which John Ervin at Brassfetcher has conducted showing the effectiveness of buckshot at 50 yards. And from personal experience, I knew that slugs from a 12 gauge are effective for hunting (or self defense) out to 100 yards, depending on the skill of the shooter.

But how about slugs at 200 yards? And how about DIY ‘cut shells’, which mimic slugs? And, say, if you did happen to hit a target at 100 yards with buckshot, would it be lethal?

Via The Firearm Blog, this video explores all these questions, and provides some VERY interesting answers:

It’s well worth the time to watch the whole thing. But the bottom line is that 00 Buckshot pellets would still be lethal at 100 yards, if you could connect with your target. And slugs? Easily to 200 yards, with a fair amount of control on hitting your target. At 300 yards, they’re still effective, but the trajectory is such that it’s much more difficult to reliably hit the target. And at 400 yards … well, watch to video to see for yourself.

Kudos to Iraqveteran8888 for conducting some really solid and informative tests, and sharing that information with the public.

 

Jim Downey

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Anecdotes, Data, Discussion., Links, Shotgun ballistics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buckshot effectiveness at 50 yard range.

John Ervin at Brass Fetcher Ballistic Testing is a friend, and I have a lot of respect for his research. We talked about this project a while back, figuring out how to get reliable data, and it’s cool to see the results.

The whole vid is worth watching, but if you’re looking for just the results, skip to about 7:00. For his conclusions based on the results (with some excellent advice), skip to about 9:30.

Bottom line: use at least 00 buckshot, if you want it to be effective out to 50 yards.  Know your gun, and test it to see what loads perform best at that distance.

 

Jim Downey

September 15, 2013 Posted by | Data, Discussion., Links, Shotgun ballistics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments