Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fiocchi 9mm EMB ammunition, from


Someone is always trying to come up with something better in the ammunition world, and Fiocchi is no stranger to that idea. This time, it's their 9x19mm 'EMB' offering. Sold in the USA by, the EMB round is something different than we are used to. A few boxes were acquired and shot up for testing, and here are the results.....

The EMB fires a 92 grain mono-block bullet at a (rated) 1300fps. This is several hundred FPS faster than typical 9mm ammunition. The bullet is built entirely from one material, and has no 'core' like a typical bullet. It's engineered to expand when it hits something wet enough to let hydraulic action take over... just about like every other self defense bullet on the market. Such expansion is always an iffy proposition at handgun velocities, and perhaps that is what Fiocchi was shooting to take care of by creating a lighter mono-block bullet punched out at screaming velocities.

Fired into a half gallon plastic jug of gel, with a follow-on five gallon bucket of water behind it to capture the bullet, we can see the circumstances allowed the EMB bullet to perform to it's fullest. The results are... spectacular. The bullet opened like a flower, without shedding a grain of weight. The hit on the jug was.... impressive.... and hydraulic shock blew the side out of the catch bucket as well.

Tested again with several layers of heavy clothing wrapped around the jug of gel, we can see the Fiocchi EMB falls to the same fate as most pistol bullets do when fired through heavy clothing.... the bullet nose jams full of cloth, and thus blocked is not able to hydraulically expand. In effect, it acts as a solid from then on. Most hollow point bullets fired at pistol velocities will behave like this, depending on individual circumstances. It really is luck of the draw on what they hit, and if the bullet nose becomes plugged.

Of interesting note, we can see in closeup the clothing fibers are actually twirled somewhat as the bullet struck it while spinning from the barrels rifling.

Tested next on a hard target, the EMB round was fired through a heavy steel sheet metal panel to simulate a car door. In this case the bullet nose mashed down and the slug really did go full solid, with impressive results. After punching a clean hole through the steel, it penetrated twelve alternate layers of drywall and ceiling tile before coming to rest against a solid pine board. That is excellent penetration, all things considered.

All testing for recovered slugs was done with a S&W M+P 9c, whose short barrel launched the bullets at a measured 1240fps with no large variations. The same round fired through a Ruger P-89 with a longer barrel clocked a scorching 1285 fps average speed. This is magnum velocity territory, although it's achieved by using a very light bullet.

Accuracy wise, the Fiocchi EMB is comparable to most any name brand offering on the market. Both the S&W and the Ruger would hold 3" groups at 25 yards, with no unusual fliers or keyholing observed.

The ultimate question here.... would I carry it in my weapon as a self defense round?

I see nothing that would make me say no, and several things that I approve of. Feed and function was flawless, acting more like a FMJ than an expanding slug. When given the right target, the bullet expansion really is spectacular, and when it doesn't.... the penetration picks up the burden. Given the reasonable pricing of the EMB round, at a time when defensive ammunition typically sells for over a buck a round, I can afford to shoot up a lot of this ammo in practice. That's something I can't afford to do with Hydroshocks or Golden Sabers.

Will I carry it? Yes, I think I will.

Friday, January 21, 2011

If I could only have five.............

That is an old question with today's gunny folk. I imagine it goes back even farther, and there was a time when some cavemen were sitting around a fire, extolling the virtues of the three jawbones they would own, if they could only have three.

Today's version: "If I could own only five firearms, which would they be and why?"

Here I present the Carteach five, after much thought, along with my reasoning behind them. I'd like to note the Carteach safe already has an example of each of these in residence, or in one case something very close. The notion of choosing a bunch of 'wish I had' weapons for this exercise just seems a little silly. If wishes were to be relied upon, Carteach would be good looking, wealthy, far younger, and much more intelligent. That's not working out so well, and I suspect my 'I wish I Had' list of guns won't work out much better.

The core of making up the magic five list is trying to imagine a lifetime ahead, and what it might bring. What do we use our firearms for? What future is more likely than another? What insurance would it be wise to have? Each of us has to answer these questions on our own.... yet it might be most of us arrive at the answers that ring in harmony.

First, the handgun (s):

On the top of the Carteach list is a daily carry pistol. This weapon has to serve a defensive role, and have features that make it desirable as such. As reliable as possible, as reasonably powerful as possible, and as reasonably concealable as possible. In addition, the cartridge should be more than common, so as to aid replenishment when times are 'tough'.

I'm not a lawman... and I don't carry a large duty pistol on a heavy belt rig (although my 'girth' would allow such if I wished). I carry something comfortable enough that I'm happy to have it with me all day long, and don't look for excuses to leave it behind. Light enough that it doesn't drag my belt down when I'm not paying attention, and small enough that I can conceal with little more than a shirt or light jacket.

The choice..... a Glock G-30. Not pretty.... in fact, it's downright ugly. That said, it meets every requirement and more, as it shoots more accurately than I can hold. The .45acp round is as common as daylight, and a proven workhorse in the defensive role. The Glock platform is more common than any other pistol out there except perhaps the 1911, and considered fairly reliable as mechanical contraptions go.

Could it be a Glock of another variation... perhaps a 17 or a 19? Surely, or even it's .40 brother the G-22. Choosing the G-19 would give me a very wide (and much cheaper) ammo selection, and magazines can be had commonly and cheaply. The G-22 would put it in the ballpark with most of the local police departments, should that ever be helpful for some reason. Still.... I choose the G-30. Mainly because I already own one, but also because I have confidence in it.

Could I choose the 1911 platform? Sure, and the safe already holds one of the most beautiful examples of such ever made. A Colt Commander, nickel plated, mildly customized, and reverted back to series 70 internals. It's a sweet, sweet pistol.... and not my choice for daily carry. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it's heavier than the G-30, holds fewer rounds, is no more accurate, and I'd dearly hate to see it disappear into police custody should I ever be forced to use my defensive weapon. I have no such personal attachment to the Glock. It's a working tool, plain and simple.

How about pistol #2? Should there be one in the magic five? I think... yes. In my case, and judgment, it's the Smith & Wesson K-22 .22 revolver.

Now, some folks just sat back and launched a 'Harumph' in the direction of Carteach, so allow me to explain. Remember, this post is about the choices made if I could only ever have five guns. The only ones I would have... for life. So how does the K-22 fit into that mix? In several ways...

You see, I like to shoot, and I especially like to shoot pistol as it challenges me. The K-22 is perhaps the most accurate pistol I have ever fired, excepting a few highly customized target pistols I have been lucky enough to sample. The K-22 (Mdl 17) has a six inch barrel, target sights, a target trigger, and can bullseye wamp rats from a T-38.... oops, wrong story. The point is, the pistol is far more accurate than I am capable of using, so it will never fail to be a source of shooting challenge.

Additionally, the K-22 is a .22 Rimfire, and that means lots of readily available and cheap ammunition. It would be no strain to set aside 10,000 rounds of decent ammo for the gun, and ride out any shortages even in the long term.

One last thing in favor of the S&W K-22..... it also happens to be suited perfectly as a small, quiet, pot filling game pistol. The same features that make it a premier target pistol also make it an excellent small game gun. It doesn't make a lot of noise, and it's not hard to tuck away under a coat during a winter's walk along the wood line. Many, many a country lad's dinner has come from exactly this scenario.

That's it for the pistol category in the magic top five. Short, sweet, and simple. Could arguments be made for a dozen other makes, models, and calibers? Sure they could.... but mine are good choices, and they suit my judgment of what life will hold, and I already own them.

Now, moving on to the long gun category, we'll begin with rifles. In the Carteach top five, that means two. Both chosen with not just possible futures in mind, but likely futures. Dealing with the limiting factor of only five choices total, something had to give.... and a startling fact of the Carteach top five is there are no black rifles, nor battle rifles, to be found. Understand... that's not to say they are not owned and enjoyed in the Carteach collection, but they just don't make the top five, for a number of reasons.

Thinking about the uses of a Big Bore rifle where I live, they are (in descending order of likely use): (a) Hunting, (b) Target shooting (c) Varmint eradication, and (d) some form of defensive use. A tricked out EBR in 5.56mm or 7.62mm would do two of those jobs wonderfully, but in the state of Pennsylvania would be illegal for the other two. Yes, PA has no big problem with me shooting home invaders with an AR15, but if I shoot a tree rat with one they will arrest my butt and confiscate my property. Go figure..... it's just another proof that laws and common sense need have nothing in common at all.

Given that two of my four likely uses preclude using an Evil Black Rifle across the board.... we are faced with owning two rifles, or one that will do all four jobs. I elect to go with one, leaving the last two slots open for other firearms. In this case, a bolt action rifle in either .308 Winchester or .300 Winchester Magnum.

This is the one case where the Carteach safe does not hold exactly what I would like it to. There is a perfectly serviceable Mauser actioned .300 Winny sporter in the rack, and it will serve. Preferred, and hopefully to be fulfilled this year, would be a Remington LEO tactical in .308.

Why this choice? It's an excellent big game rifle in my home state, or on the whole continent if we get right down to it. Should the desire come up, it's also a decent varmint gun, and a fine target rifle for range sessions. Reloading is reasonably easy in those calibers, components are plentiful, and load
ing custom ammunition for such a rifle is highly rewarding.

About the defensive use scenario... there I part company from many on this list of the magic five. Some folks see a future where anarchy reigns, and envision themselves fighting off hordes of vampiric zombie gang bangers on drugs. Carteach..... well..... he just doesn't see that happening anytime soon. On the other hand, there are scenarios where one accurately delivered bullet could end a bad situation. Witness the use of snipers by both military and police, to incredibly good effect. As a force multiplier, and precision instrument of policy... the sniper threat is immense all out of proportion to it's cost. Thought of along those lines.... just about any decent and accurate big bore game rifle takes on a tactical, if not strategic, role.

My preference is a high quality, and highly accurate, bolt action rifle in a common caliber and with good optics. The Remington 700 tactical fills that bill nicely. It wouldn't be given a second glance during deer season, and would be well regarded while thinning the PA woodchuck herds that undermine local farms. Ammunition is ready available, and excellent mil-surp can often be purchased by the case. Given a solid rest, some decent rifleman skills, and fair cover... there is not a target within 1000 yards that can rest easy from such a weapon. Be it a tasty deer to feed the family, or a marauding band of 'Zombie Nazis from planet ten' terrorizing a town.... it's covered.

For those keeping count, that leaves two choices.

So... one more rifle then. In the case of Carteach, it's going to be a CZ452 trainer .2
2 rimfire bolt action. For reasons why, look above to the S&W K-22 (Mdl 17). I like to shoot, and I like to be challenged to get better. The CZ 452 trainer is frighteningly accurate, with excellent sights and a wonderful trigger. Even with open sights, squirrels at 75 yards might as well just jump in the pot and get it over with.

When it comes to shear putting-meat-in-the-pot, nothing in the world can equal the .22 rimfire in bang-for-the-buck (Pun fully intended). As a boy raised on a farm, dropping a deer with a single shot from a .22 rimfire rifle was routine. Squirrels and rabbits were easy prey to a farm boy with a .22 rifle. They still are.

The CZ trainer, besides it incredible accuracy, great sights, and fantastic trigger... has a longer than normal barrel for a .22. This makes the sight radius longer and adds to the accuracy, but it also means subsonic .22 ammunition is unbelievably quiet. CB caps literally make more noise hitting the target than they do leaving the rifle. It doesn't take much imagination to envision scenarios where this trait might be useful.

Luckily for Carteach, both his S&W K-22 and his CZ 452 prefer the same rimfire ammunition, Federal's bulk pack 40 grain solid and 36 grain hollow point. As this is written, 5,250 rounds can be bought for $205 plus shipping from That's a LOT of rabbits in the pot.

Down to the final choice, and to our one and only scatter gun. Yes, a shotgun has it's place in the magic five, or at least in the Carteach top five anyway.

Here, the only real choice for me is the Remington 870 12 gauge pump action shotgun. In fact, it's the one in the safe right now, complete with two extra barrels, recoil reducing stock, and magazine extension.

Morphed into it's long barrel hunting gun version, it's well at home shooting trap or bagging pheasant. Swap the barrel, and I'm ready to hunt deer in several surrounding counties where politics limit hunting to slug guns only. Back to the configuration it lives in 95% of the time, and it's a short barreled, folding stock, extended magazine home defense gun. The Remington 870 has generations of traditionally good service behind it, and is the standard by which reliability is judged. Whether in military and police configuration, or time honored field gun, the 870 wins it's place in the top five on merit alone.

That's it folks.... The Carteach top five choices for that old question: "If you could only have five guns in your whole life, what would they be?"

I'd be heartbroken to give up my Mausers, and anyone trying to take that Commander away better bring a lot of friends, but as a mental exercise... answering this question does focus the thoughts. In my case, I have 4.5 of the top five... and I now aim to make that a solid five of five by this years end.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Choose five... just five..... a challenge


Friend, blogger, and all round good guy Kenn Blanchard (Black man with a gun) asked a question on FaceBook. "If you HAD to choose only five guns to own..... which ones and why?"

First of all, the question itself raises my hackles, as even the thought of paring the Carteach collection down to only five weapons is....... (shiver)...... difficult to conceive. That said, what is the answer? If we had to choose just five... and only five... what would they be?

I'll write up an answer in an upcoming post, with explanations of Carteach's choices. Till then, feel free to discuss in comments if you wish. Play nice now!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: LaserLyte LT-PRO training aid


Lasers may be gimmicks in some ways, but they can be darned useful gimmicks.
While they will probably never replace old-tech sights on pistols, a good laser aiming aid can serve well. My own regular carry pistol has an internal laser system, and I enjoy the option of kicking it on when the situation demands it.

LaserLyte is one of the major players in supplying laser aiming systems to the buying public. Like many companies, they make some neat rail mount units with interesting (and useful) features. But.... this post is not about a laser sighting system, but instead.... the LaserLyte LT-PRO laser Training device. Not meant for use with live ammunition, but as a means to squeeze yet more gain from dry fire practice.

The LT-PRO is not rail mounted, but actually slides down inside the barrel of the pistol. By centering in the barrel, no adjustment is needed. The business end is tapered to self center in the bore, while the chamber end uses an expanding plastic bushing to align the unit with the bores center. Once it's adjusted for that caliber pistol, installing and removing it takes seconds.

The only adjustment is in the bushing, and that's with one tiny screw (tool supplied). I found it best to get the fit close, and then turn the muzzle end gently till the unit snugs into the bore. Once that's done, it fits well and seems in no danger of falling out even while cycling the slide on a semi-auto.

How does it work? Extremely simply, from the users viewpoint. It's sound activated, and the hammer/striker action is all it takes to make it pulse. Drop the hammer or trip the striker, and the sound will cause the laser to pulse for a fraction of a second. In fact, laying the pistol down on a hard table will cause it to pulse, as will racking the slide. In one case, just for fun... I yelled at my poor shocked LCP just to see w
hat would happen. A good sharp bark is indeed sufficient to trip the laser pulse. There was not one pistol in the Carteach0 armory (in that caliber range) which refused to work perfectly with the LT-PRO.

What's the point? Fine question, and why I asked LaserLyte to have a look at this unit.

Without argument, live fire training is the best way to gain skills with a pistol, but sometimes it's not enough. Thus, 'dry fire' comes to the battle. Using no ammu
nition, the shooter simply practices sight picture, trigger squeeze, follow through, proper draw, and all the other myriad actions that go into good shooting technique. Everything but the bang..... and everything but knowing where the bullet would have struck.

The LT-PRO changes that. Each time the pistol is drawn, presented, and dry 'fired', the shooter gets a very clear and relatively accurate idea of exactly where the muzzle was pointed when the hammer fell.

Low light? No problem.
Point shooting? Works perfectly.
Odd shooting positions? Exactly what's needed.
Confusing the house cat? Finest toy known to man.

Here in the Carteach0 household, the LaserLyte training aid was tried in a n
umber of weapons, both semi-auto and revolver. Where it really shown brightest (Bad pun) was in the pocket pistol category, and the Ruger LCP backup pistol led the pack. The LCP has minimal sights at best, and under low light conditions they vanish. Quite a number of shooters install lasers on the Elsie Pea because of that.

A few impressions......

Read the directions! The packaging shows a set of batteries within, and it should be noted these are spare batteries. The LT-PRO comes with another set installed. Unscrewing the battery cover without knowing this will cause one to chase tiny little batteries across the kitchen floor. Not that this happened to Carteach. No, he is not a complete idiot, and he read the instructions first. Sure he did.

As with any dryfire practice, the weapon must be unloaded and any ammunition locked away on the forest moon of Endor before beginning. I cannot imagine how bad a mistake it would be to fire live ammunition with the LT-PRO in the bore. On the LCP, the unit reaches into the chamber making this impossible. On the Glock G-30 and the S+W M+P, that is not the case.

Unscrewing the unit too far while installed in the bore will cause the battery cover/bushing unit to come off. Once again... tiny batteries rolling across the kitchen floor. The piece left in the bore easily pushes out without damage, but it's still embarrassing. I'm sure this is just a teething pain for a new owner, and someone with more active brain cells than Carteach will never see this problem.

The unit is sensitive to sound. Racking the slide sets it off. Cocking the hammer trips the laser. Yelling at football on the TV may cause it to flash. Just setting the pistol on a table activates a pulse. So..... LaserLyte supplies a tiny plastic disc to place between the batteries when the unit is not being used. One tiny plastic disc. Best to keep this in mind.

A couple evenings working the LCP slide and randomly dry firing at various living room targets had point shooting accuracy coming along nicely. Where initial 'shots' landed with a foot of the target, that distance was soon reduced to mere inches. The confidence boost alone makes the unit worth every penny, and at less than $100 new retail, the LaserLyte LT-PRO costs less than four or five boxes of ammunition.

Overall? I want one of these. It's worth every penny just for making dry fire practice doubly as effective. Confusing the house cat is a side bonus.

Note: LaserLyte supplied this unit (unopened) for testing and review. It's going back to the company, and I'll be placing an order for a new one of my own.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Firearms as a store of wealth...... Timely thoughts


Folks, as I post this... the US national debt has exceeded $14,000,000,000,000 and is racing upwards. Our debt has actually surpassed our gross domestic product, and there is no end in sight to congress's spending. I see no other conclusion than hard times ahead... possibly very hard times... and thought it might be timely to re-post what follows.....

Hard times and good times, people look for ways to save wealth. I'd like to say 'save money', but too often money (cash) is only an illusion of wealth. During times of inflation a savings account earning a few percent interest can result in a loss of capital. Saving 'money' can mean losing money.

But... you may say... how can earning interest on money in the bank mean we are actually losing money? It works like this.... We deposit money in the bank. In our case, dollars. On the day we deposit that money, we might be able to buy a gallo
n of milk for $3.00. We begin earning interest on that money on the day we deposit it, and lets be generous and say it's 5%. In a year, even with compound interest, we are only going to have about $3.15. If, in that same year, inflation has driven the price of milk to $3.50 a gallon, we have lost about 10% to the inflation factor, even while our 'money' earns interest in a savings account.

Money (or cash) is not wealth, it's just a representation of wealth, and sub
ject to manipulation and the effect of economic factors. The milk.... it's a gallon of milk. It's not a good long term repository of wealth, but at least you know where you stand with it. The same can't be said by so many folks who had their wealth 'invested' in 401k plans, and have seen their wealth diminish by 50% since the One took office.

It can be worse... inflation can turn rampant, and many a nation has been brought to its economic knees by triple digit inflation. In every case, heavy debts and overheated printing presses turned that countries cash to toilet paper, and sometimes did so overnight. Cash, especially the American dollar, has long been thought to be a nearly perfect play on security. After all, cash is cash! The problems begin when the government that backs that cash becomes unstable, or loses the trust of those they deal with and govern.

Some people store wealth in valuable metals, such as gold and silver. Since
history was first recorded, these have been regarded as stable investments and wise ways to sock away the egg money. While stocks and nations can and do fluctuate, gold retains value, as does silver. I suppose, if one had a large amount of wealth to tuck away, buying gold and silver might make sense.

The problem with precious metals is not buying them, nor in storing them... not really. It's in spending them. During good times, turning them to cash means dealing with a broker who takes a cut. Sometimes a ruinous cut. During bad times, when cash has lost much of it's value, finding people who will trade goods and services for precious metals can be tough. Not many people anymore know what an ounce of silver is worth, nor do they really care to trade their labor for a lump of metal. Likewise, buying a truckload of produce with an ounce of gold can b
e difficult.

There are, however, other forms of metal not so precious just now. Not silver, but aluminum. Not gold, but steel. Not platinum, but copper and brass. All these cheaper metals turn into their own kind of precious when worked into firearms and ammunition. In these value is stable in ways that gold lovers only wish their store house of wealth was.

As an example, allow me to present a decision I made today....

In this pay period I had a few hundred dollars not already aimed at bills. No deb
t pressing at the moment, I still understand the future must be looked after and spare money should not be simply blown away in a moments folly. I am not one for shopping sprees, buying crap useful for nothing but sucking up floor space and emptying checking accounts.

Ordinarily, that money would be click/dragged over to a savings account and tucked away as ones and zeros on the bank balance. Maybe at a measly few percent interest, but saved none the less. But... with quite literally trillions of new dollars being pumped into our flagging economy recently, inflation is beginning to rear its ugly head. Is a savings account based on 'dollars' the best way to store wealth just now?

I had an opportunity to buy a different kind of precious metal as an investment, and it made sense to do so. That same $200 which might have been dribbled into the savings account, instead bought me a Ruger p85 9mm with two magazines. Knowing they have recently sold for much more than that on, my investment earned a return the second I took possession. Not one or two percent, but nearly fifty percent.... immediately.

While the p85 is not a firearm I ever really desired owning, that doesn't effect it's value as a store place for wealth. Knowing it's not gold nor silver, it does have something better than both those metals... it's useful. I can use it, over and over again, and it's value won't go down while I do. Better than that, it's easily recognized wealth that's commonly desired, most especially when times go bad. The farmer that might not care to trade a side of beef for my ounce of gold, is far more likely to willingly make that swap with the Ruger as his price.

In good times.... even the best of times.... firearms retain value better than any bank account, and better than most other store places of wealth. As an investment, looking for return, firearms bought used at good prices almost invariably outperform the stock market, hands down.

Ammunition, bought inexpensively, can serve just the same. A case of Chinese 7.62x39 I once bought on sale was later traded (unopened) for a rifle worth five times what I paid for the ammunition. 8x57 Mauser I paid $2 a box for by the case lot, sold a year later for twice that.... and all parties were very happy with the deal.

As a way to squirrel away wealth.... firearms and ammunition are hard to beat. In good times or bad, quality used firearms bought at the right price will always be a solid store house of wealth, and a good investment. When I look at this Ruger, I don't see a new shooty toy, but instead I see $200 turning into $300 overnight, and next year maybe into $400, and the year after... maybe a side of beef.

Priorities my friends..... priorities.
  • Have a nest egg in case of job loss
  • Have on hand what you need to live, should it be hard to come by
  • Pay off debts
  • Protect what wealth you have, in the best ways possible

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Coming up.... a review of Laserlyte's new laser for subcompacts

Look what found it's way to the doorstep. This looks interesting.....

At one point this evening, I had three different laser's mounted on/in the same Glock .45. Some days I love being me.