Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A sad case of historical destruction....


Friends, experience shows it always pays to scout around a bit... See what’s out there, keep your eyes open, and investigate your surroundings.

That is what happened one morning when I had some
hours to pass with no pressing duties. I did an internet search for local gun shops, picked a few that looked interesting, and took a drive to see who was open. As it happens, that part of Indiana had enough small gun shops to keep me going all day long, if I had wished.

One waypoint on this morning’s journey turned up a neat little small town gun shop, with a knowledgeable and friendly proprietor. Amongst his fairly decent mil-surp inventory, tucked away in a glass case used for ‘display’ vs. sales, was this bit of history; A FP-45 Liberator Pistol.

Built by the GM Guidelamp Company during WWII, these pistols have a well known history. The plan was to saturate German occupied territory with many thousands of these cheap little gems, hoping to get at least some into the hands of partisans and resistance fighters. Inaccurate, difficult to load, usable only as a single shot short range pistol, their purpose was simple. The resistance fighter would hide the powerful little pistol in his pocket, walk up to a German soldier, and then shoot him and steal his weapons.

It was also part of the plan for the general morale of German troops to drop, knowing sudden death was at hand from any passerby. Disarmed occupied populations were to be given the means to resist, to the detriment (and fear) of the occupying forces.

The plan, like many of the odder war time ideas, never really came to fruition. Most of the liberators were never delivered to war zones, staying instead packed away in boxes, unused. After the war most were destroyed, leaving only a few examples as war time historical relics, an important part of our nation’s history.

Now, to the story behind this particular piece….

Gentle reader, you may wish to stop now, and spare yourself the agony to follow…..
Somewhere there is a special level in hell designated for whoever ordered this destruction of history.

At some point in the past, several things were discovered at the Guidelamp factory where the liberator pistols were made. Found were a case of M-3 grease guns (fully automatic machine pistols) and a case of unopened Liberator pistols.

The M-3 grease guns went to a local police department, where they mysteriously vanished. The Liberators met a far worse fate than mere theft. There were ordered destroyed by the ATF, as they had no serial numbers. Also discovered were the original stamping tools to make the pistols, and these were ordered destroyed as well since the company was not licensed to make firearms.

The pristine objects of US military history were ordered crushed, and then melted down. This particular liberator pistol was waylaid between crusher and furnace, and found its way to the display case where I discovered it that day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"I have something to tell you......"


Any conversation that starts with that phrase is likely to be a serious one. When the next words are "You should check your gun, I'm not sure I put it back right"... then it's going to be a very interesting, and serious conversation.

Those are pretty much exactly the words Princess had for me when I came home a few days back.

She related a story about two guys in a truck who had pulled in our driveway. They walked around the house, and one finally knocked. She didn't answer, but she did get my .45 in hand while he walked around the house some more.

He came back and knocked again, and this time she answered, with the Glock held behind her back. The guy asked personal questions... who owned the house, how many people lived there.... and Princess told him none of that was his business and shut the door in his face. She thinks he got a glimpse of the .45 as she closed the door.... since that was the hand she used to do it (G).

She says he went off the front porch backwards, and both men left in rather a hurry.

All this explained the 'Driveway paving' business card I found laying on the ground out front when I got home, where the frightened scam artist must have flung it as he skedaddled at the sight of a very poorly chosen victim.

Driveway paving? When daily temps are not even above freezing? Right..... Suuuuure.......

I told Princess she done good, and reinforced exactly what condition that pistol is in when she needs it. I asked her what she would have done if he had forced his way in the door.

She said "I would have cried and cried, right after I killed him dead".

That's my girl!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rio reduced recoil buckshot loads.... lets take a look

An e-mail arrived from the folks at, and it asked if they might have anything I'd like to write about here on Carteach0. Looking over their inventory, I noticed the reduced recoil 12 gauge buckshot ammunition. Having never tried it myself, the obvious answer came to mind.

Not long after, a box showed up on my doorstep. Printed on the side, the wonderful ORM-D signal of fun ahead!

The good folks at sent along not only the reduced recoil Rio loads, but also some Sellier & Bellot standard buck, and some S&B 3" magnum buckshot as well. The three loads nicely stack into a good comparison of reduced recoil loads vs. standard, and the 3" magnum shells add a 'spice' to the mix.

Despite being a reduced recoil load, the Rio was the only high based shell of the samples. Having ripped the bases off shotgun shells on extraction before, I heartily approve of high based shells for defensive loads. There is no such thing as 'works too well' when it comes to self defense.

Dissecting one of each sample to check payload, I was a little surprised to find both the Rio shells and the S&B standard buck loads carrying exactly the same number and size of pellets. For some reason I had it wedged into my brain that 'reduced recoil' meant lighter payload. In this, it does not. Both shells have nine OO pellets above the wad, although there is significant difference in the wad structure itself.

The 3" S&B magnum load carries fifteen OO pellets. Like most shotgun shells, 'Magnum' really means 'bigger payload' more than higher velocity. This is a change from what shooters know with pistol and rifle cartridges, where magnum means a bigger powder load and higher velocity.

None of the three loads carry any buffer amongst the buckshot. As cheaper shells, this does not come as a surprise. Does it matter? Really? I would suggest that at defensive distances (25 yards and less) the buffer contributes little. If I was choosing a buckshot load for hunting, and wanted to reach out to 50 yards, I might sing a different tune.

Now, why is buffer used at all? It's there to help reduce the deformation of shotgun pellets under firing shock, in order that they stay round and fly straighter. Get that... buffer is used to help keep shot round..... because round shot flies more true.

So... what happens if the pellets are not round to start with? That leads us to the OO pellets loaded in the S&B casings, especially the 3" magnum loads. In each S&B shell I cut apart, there were one or two buckshot that were deformed significantly. Fly true? Not likely.

Now, again, let us consider the intended use of the shotgun loads we are looking at here. 25 yard defensive... more likely across a room of a house. Would a wobbly OO pellet matter? I doubt it greatly. In my judgement, while I dislike seeing sloppy work at any time, I am not terribly concerned about a few malformed pellets.

The Rio payload, on the other hand, was uniform and round... each and every one. Also noticed, the wad in the Rio load seemed built to higher standards. This was evidenced by the powder flakes that had migrated into the shot on the S&B loads, but not on the RIO shells.

As for function, they were all flawless in several shotguns tried. One, a Remington 870 set up for home defense, the other a Mossburg 500 base model hunting gun. Both shotguns ate up the buckshot rounds without a care nor worry. Feed and extraction were smooth and easy.

How about the main point of the comparison.... the recoil reduction of the Rio buckshot loads? When it came time to shoot, the reduced recoil rounds were just that.... easier on the shoulder. The standard loads were noticeably sharper in recoil, with slightly slower recovery time. The magnum rounds? Impressive recoil, even with the advantage of the Knoxx recoil reduction stock mounted on the Remington 870. Of the three rounds, the magnum load is the only one that offered any discomfort at all.

How did Rio achieve their reduced recoil goal? Quite simply by taming down the load and cutting velocity back by 150fps or so. Once again... will that 150fps matter at 25 yards? Perhaps more important might be the quicker follow up shot, and better control. A cloud of nine OO pellets fired from any shotgun at any significant velocity is a fearsome thing to face from the downrange side, but with the reduced recoil shells it need be a little less scary from the shooters perspective as well.

To demonstrate the recoil properties in a totally non-scientific but real world way, here is a very short video which shows firing two rounds of each load, with the same stance, from the 870 house gun:

On another day, and in another post, I will compare patterning between the loads, and perhaps find a way to demonstrate their 'authority' on the downrange side.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Testing .22 rim fire ammunition for accuracy and velocity variations


I had two goals with this testing, besides the obvious one of spending a day trying to wear out the Marlins barrel. I wanted a look at the velocity numbers of various makes of .22 ammo, and I wanted to pin down what the Marlin shoots best.

As a side bar, I was very curious if velocity consistency is a key to rim fire accuracy, as it is in a center fire. With my heavy barrel varmint rifle I look for less than 20 fps variation shot to shot. This tells me I have a load with consistent internal ballistics. I ex
pect the same from any match ammunition I load, including pistol rounds.

My plan for the days testing was to fire a twenty round string of each cartridge. All from the same rifle, same targets, same bench, same shooter, etc. Fired into four groups of five rounds each, this should provide a rough but fair result in the search for the most accurate (as far as this Marlin is concerned, anyway).

Shooting every round over my chronograph and recording the data, I would then have a decent record of each brands average velocity and it's variations. I wasn't sure what the data would show, but it would be interesting to see the results and chart them.

The shooting day started at 9am for me, and abruptly came to a temporary stop at 9:05. A nest of yellow jackets had adopted the fifty yard back stop I chose, and my initial setup target was their new God.

I had planned to attach a dozen targets to a sheet of cardboard, cutting out some down time spent hanging paper. The Cardboard had a target on it I use to set up and align the chrono. For some reason the little wasps thought this target was the most fascinating thing ever seen, and swarmed it. Hovering by the hundreds in front of it, worshiping like Obamaites at the convention.

Four partial cans of wasp spray only thinned them out a little, so I came to an agreement with the little buggers. I left them the target they loved so much, and I hung mine a few feet over to the right. The separation agreement worked well for all concerned. I proceeded to fire a dozen foulers, and set up the alignment of the chronograph. The rest of the day I co-existed with the yellow jackets in a strange form of shooty peace. Each time I looked through the spotting scope, I could see mounds of little wasps crawling over the large target. The smaller targets I was shooting for record they completely ignored.

Each target was numbered, for a total of sixteen targets. The numbers matched those at the top of data sheets I had preprinted and arranged in a binder. Each page was used to record the make and model of the cartridge, along with all the velocity data collected. The speed of each round fired was noted, along with average velocity, highs and lows, extreme spread, standard deviation, and average deviation for the string.

Accuracy was measured hours after the shoot, looking only at the numbered targets in the binder. Groups were checked and averaged without knowing what cartridge was mated to which target. T
he target data was then transferred to the cartridge data sheets for comparison. This round-about method helped me leave my own ammunition prejudices aside as I looked for results.

In this first chart (click to enlarge for easier reading), I have listed each type tested, it's average velocity, extreme velocity spread, and average group size.

At first blush, the results would seem pretty confusing. The ammunition with the best accuracy did not always have the least velocity variations. The question remains in my mind... how much of the data is flawed simply because I needed to concentrate shoot better?

Anecdotal evidence suggests this may be a significant factor. Many of the targets showed four shots touching, then a flier an inch away. The velocity numbers don't always explain the fliers.

Some targets were clear, with large groups dispersed evenly around the bullseye. Others showed excellent promise for tight groups, till a blasted flier opened it up. Fliers are always a question..... was it
the ammunition or the shooter?

The data showed that wide velocity variations were not solely the realm of cheap ammunition. While Federal bulk pack had a huge spread, so did some very expensive RWS subsonic. In addition, accuracy seemed to be dependent on velocity numbers to only a small degree. Far more important were bullet weight and style. The ammunition loaded with lighter bullets of a more conical shape shot the worst from this Marlin 780. CCI Quik-Shok stood out from the crowd in that manner, with very high velocity bullets fired into groups so large their was no reason to measure them. The Marlin clearly despised the Quik-Shok round.

Most impressive, velocity and accuracy wise, were the relatively expensive match rounds. Both the Eley and the Fiocchi shot a few astounding groups and both had the lowest velocity variations of the pack. Where the Federal bulk pack made consistently large groups, the Eley would land four rounds in one wide hole, then
another hole half an inch off the groups center.

On the other hand, at $70 a brick (500 rounds), I won't be rushing out to buy a case of Eley anytime soon.

In the range of reasonably priced ammunition, both the PMC Sidewinders and the Federal Champion 510 ammunition built promising groups without wild velocity variations, although 80+ fps is still a pretty wide spread. CCI Subsonic hollow points did the same.

What did I learn, after firing sixteen different rounds with serious intent? Clearly I can go buy a few bricks of Federal Champion and have a reasonable expectation it will perform decently in this Marlin. CCI Subsonics will make an excellent small game round for the rifle as well. Past that.....

The Match ammunition? For what it costs, I think I'll pass. I'm not doing any shooting with this rifle that demands that kind of potential, especially at the price. 0.75" - 0.80" groups at fifty yards make this a fine squirrel rifle, and at $2.80 a box for the Federal I can shoot as much as I like.

I had planned to test half a dozen types of .22 short as well, but their accuracy was so poor from the Marlin that it became pointless. CCI CB Long was also tested, but its such a different animal that it doesn't belong in this mix at all.

One fact I did come away with... every rifle is very different. Replacing the Marlin 780 on the bench with my new CZ452, it was a different ball game. The Eley that had 40 fps variations in the Marlin had only a 13 fps spread in the CZ. The Federal bulk that had so-so accuracy in the Marlin grouped exceptionally well in the CZ. The longer barrel on the CZ resulted in lower velocities as well.

I would have enjoyed being able to announce "This .22 Ammuniti
on is the best! Your rifle will love it and you will be pleased!". But.... I can't do that. Each rifle is different, especially in rim fire. The only conclusions I can draw are the obvious ones..... each shooter will have to run these tests (at least the accuracy portion) for them self, with each different rim fire rifle they are interested in.

On the other hand.... that just means a lot of shooting. How bad can that be?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Upcoming post... get a kick out of this says they are shipping me some 12 gauge buckshot loads to play with. Specifically, a low recoil, a standard recoil, and a magnum load.

Now I am trying to think of an interesting way to test the recoil properties of each load, and compare them for my readers (You, you lucky people).

Yes... I will make that sacrifice, and shoot up free ammo on your behalf. No need to thank me.... It's all in a days work for 'Ol Carteach.

(This is my face grinning).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Concealed carry shooting drills.... some thoughts on practice



Practice Prevents P*** Poor Performance. That's an old saying, but one to be respected. What it means is really pretty simple; Practicing for an event helps prevent one from performing poorly when the real action needs to be taken. Whether it be playing a guitar, driving a car, or just buttering toast, the more we practice the better we'll perform.

That said... why do so few people who carry a weapon for self defense practice using it like they would have to in a bad situation? I suspect most folks who take advantage of their right to CCW do go shooting occasionally, and some shoot a lot. But... i
s target shooting at the range the only kind of practice needed? Familiarity with the weapon is important, yes, and so are a dozen other factors of accurate shooting... but what is left out?

Think it through. If the goal is bulls eye target shooting, then practicing stance, trigger control, grip, and sighting counts for much. If the goal is being capable of shooting in a defensive situation, there are other considerations. Things like carry position, drawing the weapon, and firing from awkward positions. In the gravest extreme, being able to overcome these issues will likely be more important than anything except actually hitting the target.

So... Like the saying above goes... figure out what situations might be faced, and practice for them. In the case of defensive shooting, the scenarios are endless, but some factors are common. We can assume the shooter will not know in advance of the danger (otherwise the scene would have been vacated before trouble started). We can assume the shooter could be in any position at all, just like daily life entails. We can assume the weapon is holstered for concealed carry, and there will be a cover garment over it.

Add all these together, and our work is cut out for us!

For many folks, the opportunity does not exist for live fire from a draw, let alone from odd positions. Most monitored public ranges do not allow such shenanigans for fear of injury and lawsuit. On that note, we must be clear. Drawing a loaded weapon from concealment and firing it is dangerous in ways target shooting is not. The chances of shooting oneself by mistake go up by an order of magnitude, if for no other reason
than the possibility of covering oneself with the muzzle on the the draw.

Even if the local range does not allow realistic practice, that doesn't totally prevent a shooter from doing so. There are other options that don't require shooting live ammunition. Practice in the home is always available, and valuable too. Safety is paramount though, and the weapon must be assured empy, and no ammunition in the room.

Choose scenarios from everyday life... and 'what if' role play them turning bad. With the weapon empty (snap caps are a great option here) practice getting from the position you would normally be in, to a firing position with the weapon drawn and on target. Target orientation could not be choosen in a defensive situation, and the odds are the attacker will be coming from an unexpected direction. So.... practice drawing the weapon and turning to face an attack from each quadrant in turn. Forward, right, left, and to the rear.

Don't let the practice stop there. Imagine other positions one might be in when the situation turns nasty. Suppose our contestant is relaxing at the local book emporium, enjoying a cup of coffee and the latest novel... and an armed robbery begins to unfold at the register. What would one likely be doing then.... sitting down? Book in hand? Try getting up from a seated position, and smoothly drawing a weapon... but it's suggested there be no witnesses the first dozen times or so. The results can be quite embarrassing.

Work through each scenario, and each position, a dozen times per practice. One session moving from various standing positions, and the next try seated positions. If possible, choose an outside trigger to move from. The sound of someone else shooting at the range, or maybe a commercial coming on the TV at home. Take the time to turn your head and evaluate the 'imaginary' threat. Training yourself to draw before target evaluation could lead to a very bad situation, so check it out! Consider the movements involved, and begin in slow motion the first dozen times. As the actions become learned, speed will increase naturally. Beware of trading away smoothness and deliberation in favor of speed.

As above, having a video camera on a tripod, aimed at you are recording, can be a valuable tool. Not only is it a fine motivation to get back in shape (sigh) but it reveals problems in movement and presentation just as well. In the short video shown above, some issues with foot placement and threat scanning show up at once. Through the course of practice, these can be worked on as well.

Why go to this much trouble? Because it's important. If one is serious enough to carry a weapon for self defense, then one should be prepared to use it properly, accurately, and efficiently. It's a moral obligation that goes with the territory. Only practice and self improvement will meet the goal.

Remember... doing this with live ammunition can be dangerous... so take every precaution and follow the range rules. Be aware of your surroundings, and of those around you. If doing dry fire exercises at home, make certain the weapon is unloaded and no live ammunition is in the area.

There is a reason my club range has first aid kits posted, each with large wound dressings. Consider that.