Friday, September 30, 2011

JayG in a Kilt ...... Shudder

Sometimes, ya gotta help out a fellow shooter. In fact, the shooting community is without a doubt the most caring and giving bunch of people on the planet. The sidebar here showing how much folks have given to help the Wounded Warrior Project is proof of that.

Well.... here's another shooter who could use a hand raising money for a good cause. JayG of MArooned is taking part in Kelly's 'Kilted to Kick Cancer fund raiser. Somehow, in a way I don't understand, this involves the participants wearing skirts. My suspicion is that wearing a skirt has opened up a whole new side of JayG... Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Ya... that's it.... nothing at all wrong with a man in a skirt holding a purple unicorn while surrounded by stuffed animals. (GG).

In any case, whichever of the group raises the most money for the cause will win some nice prizes, including a pretty sweet pistol, and it's even one that's legal to own in the Peoples Republik of Massachusetts. Perhaps that would encourage JayG to find his way home from that new side of himself he's found.

Come on... help out a fellow Gunny.... and maybe he'll stop wearing skirts in public.

(Note... all tongue in cheek above... JayG is a hell of a guy, and gutsy enough to wear a kilt in public. Not something I would willingly do).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I like this.....

This afternoon I will be meeting up with a dad, to sell him a Winchester Mdl 250 .22 lever action, which will be going to a boy as his first rifle. I was originally contacted by the grandfather regarding the rifle, after I posted it for sale on Armslist.

This morning I'll scrounge up a cable gun lock, a few hundred rounds of good .22 ammunition, some spare targets, and maybe I'll run out and buy a set of ear plugs as well.... all to go with the rifle for the young man.

I have to say..... I LIKE this.... the idea of three generations going out hunting and shooting together, and the young man being guided into life by his father and grandfather together. I like the idea that I might contribute to such, even if only in a tiny way.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rio Reduced recoil 12 gauge buckshot.... Nice!

(Looking for the Carteach0 fund raiser for the Wounded Warrior Project? Try clicking here, and check out the great prizes! We are almost to $2000! Will YOU be the one to kick it over that line?)

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.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Choosing defensive shotgun ammunition....


Last night I helped my son move a few things, and he handed over some items he can't take with him. See, he leaves for Marine boot camp in a few weeks, and his stuff has to go in storage (read that as Dad's place). Amongst his things... all his firearms and enough ammo to put a serious kink in my back as I moved it.

The boy has been a shooter since... well.... forever, and his thoughts regarding self defense weapons mirror my own. That came to mind as I was putting away his (Greased and vapor wrapped) shorty shotgun and all the ammunition that came with it.

In honer of the boy, I re-run this article. He had a hand in some of the thoughts that went into it, so it's fitting.

Now that a home defense shotgun has been put together, the question remains: What should we feed it?

First, let’s ask ourselves why a shotgun is being used for home defense. Understanding that will help us make the ammunition choice. A shotgun has some advantages that make it desirable as a home defense weapon.

While any firearm powerful enough to use for defense will penetrate most walls, shotguns are slightly less likely to over penetrate.

A shotgun has the ability to fire a shell with multiple projectiles, increasing the likelihood of a solid hit and thus of stopping the threat. Some say the ominously large bore and unique sound of the action tend to make bad guys choose another activity… one far away from you and your family.

Sticking with the technical, and leaving the psychology aside for now, it’s the ability to fling a small cloud of shot which won’t pass through five houses and a school bus that helps make the shotgun a solid defensive choice. That being the case, lets look at ammunition options for this 'lil beastie.

There are ‘slug’ shells available in every gauge. From cute little 95 grain .410 slugs that almost rival a .380 pocket pistol, on up to 1oz 12 gauge bruisers meant to take down heavy game. Yes, they are available, but are they a good choice for home defense?

Using a slug gives up the advantages a shotgun brings to the table. There is only a single projectile, lowering hit probability. It also penetrates impressively. Used on big game, a slug normally goes clean through. Anything short of a brick wall is unlikely to stop one completely.

On the other hand, slugs give the shotgun a longer reach, allowing buckshot for close in shooting and then being able to reach out to longer ranges with nothing more than a different shell being loaded. There are many schools of thought on this, but I’d like to make two points here. In the heat of the moment, when an attacker has escalated the situation so boldly that deadly force is required, how many people will be able to keep track of which shell they are loading, and for what reason? Also… if the range has gotten long enough to demand a slug (over 50 yards) then maybe the range is long enough that shooting is no longer required defensively. Yes, there might be an occasion when long range capability is required, but at that point the shotgun is simply not the best weapon. A pocket full of slug shells might serve in a pinch, but those ranges speak to the need for a rifle, not a shotgun.

When we speak of defensive shooting with a shotgun, we are really talking about ammunition which shoots shot… and we are left with looking at what size shot and how much. Buck shot or bird shot… and here there really is no choice. Bird shot is just that; small shot made for taking small game birds on the wing. Bird shot will not penetrate well enough to reliably stop an attacking opponent. Sure, it can leave a nasty surface wound and may eventually drop the bad guy from blood loss, but that’s not the goal. Shots fired are meant to stop the bad guy from attacking, and that means stop, not hurt.

For that, penetration is required, and damage to structure and major blood vessels.

Now the choice is narrowed to buck shot. 2 ¾” shells or 3” shells? #4 buck shot or O/O buckshot? Magnum or standard? The choice is actually not all that hard once the performance of the ammunition is looked at.

Normally, a ‘Magnum’ shotgun shell gets that name by carrying more payload, and not by achieving a higher velocity. The extra weight of more pellets means higher recoil; not something to be lightly passed over in a weapon that already has quite a kick. The same can be said for 3” shells over 2 ¾”. Again, they carry more pellets and tend to have significantly higher recoil. There is always a trade off for the higher shot count. 2 ¾ standard shells have a history of doing the job, and there’s no reason to assume bad guys have gotten tougher in the last few generations.

As to shot size, here we have a choice. Typically under consideration for defensive use, ammunition makers load #4, #1, ‘O’, double O, and triple O buck shot. The difference is in the size of the pellets and thus, how many will fit in the shell. #4 is the smallest, and typically has about 27 pellets. O/O is the most common large size with nine pellets being about standard in the shorter shells.

Shown here are four different buck shot shells dissected. Remington 'O' and #1 buck, Federal #4 buck, and Sellier and Bellot O/O buck. The white powder amongst the shot in the Federal and Remington payloads is buffer. It's packed with the pellets to help control deformation on firing. Round pellets fly faster, farther, and maintain better groups.

The smaller the shot, the less mass it has, and the less it’s going to penetrate. #4 buck shot is fairly small… about the diameter of a .22 rimfire bullet but with less than half the weight since it’s round instead of conical. A Double-O pellet is about .33 caliber and considerably heavier. As a result, it penetrates much better.

#4 is considered just a little too light for serious defensive shooting, although it has a place in varmint hunting and pest control. It’s quite effective on fox sized game.

#1 buck seems to be just at the bottom edge of desired penetration, and jumps the typical number of pellets to sixteen. It has a history of reasonable penetration as well, and the increased projectile count raises the odds of hitting a major blood vessel or nerve center.

O/O buck (double O) is traditional in defensive use and has a long track record. It balances penetration vs. projectile count decently, and functions well in the 12 gauge platform.

There is also the question of choke... constrictions in the barrel designed to control how tight the shot pattern is. A shotgun meant for longer ranges will have a tighter choke, for a more dense pattern. Shotguns for defensive use typically have no choke at all, letting the pellets spread as quickly as possible. Does that mean a hunting shotgun with a full choke is useless for defensive use? By no means, as the following photo shows.

Both targets were shot at 35 feet. The target on the left from a 12 gauge with a short barrel and no choke, the target on the right from the same shotgun with a full choked hunting barrel mounted. Clearly both would be effective shooting and likely to stop an attacker.

My conclusion?... My home defense shotgun will be loaded with Remington 'O' or 'O/O' buckshot. Patterning well, with decent penetration and pellets large enough to reliably have an effect, it's my choice for the house scatterblaster.

(note: A little research can be a good use of time. I'd like to point out that Xavier has had some excellent posts in the past on home defense shotguns. Guns and Ammo
magazine has also covered the topic.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In case you missed it... like I did... Armslist!

Someone sent me a link to Armslist, and I have been checking it out. In fact, I have begun using it this past week. So far, I am pleased right good. It's like Craigslist, only without the categories that get the Vice Squad anxious. Come to think of it... it's mostly just stuff for us shooters, hunters, and such as that. Also, whoever runs the site seems to be actively looking for input into making it better... and doing so from actual users. That's nice for a change! Oh... and it's free... which I appreciate to no end.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"A Look Inside"..... Lake City AP ammunition from 1954

I was recently reminded of a series of articles I wrote for a a MilSurp forum, some years back. Digging into archives, I dragged this one (Kicking and screaming) back into the light, and revamped it to appear here. Have to say
.... I had forgotten how much I liked looking into the guts of ammunition like this.

Today's subject is Lake City 30-06, dated 1954 and armor piercing black tip. I happened to have about twenty rounds of this, and now ten have been given to the cause.

I'll admit to having enough nationalistic pride that I expected this Lake City ammo to become the standard by which other Mil-surp ammo is measured. The truth turned out to be pretty close to that mark, if not right on. That said, I tried my best to be clinical and unbiased as I weighed and measured. I even swore in French once just to make it fair.

Adding to the usual battery of measurements, this time I extended the investigation to unfired case dimensions. I applied my Mic to the base width, neck width, and case length on each sample case.

The powder is a medium extruded grain that appears like IMR 4895. I happen to have some old cans of IMR and Hogdons powder from that era (not sure why....) and I took the time to compare. It's not 4350 nor 4064, but looks pretty much exactly like IMR 4895. I did note the powder from the LC cartridges was actually in better condition visually than the old samples I have in the original cans. Compared to a new and fresh sample of IMR 4895 it appeared to be the same dimension, but did not have the shine nor odor of fresh IMR powder. If I found this in my can today, I might load it for plinking rounds but not for my best accuracy loads because of the visual indications.

The bullets are a FMJ Spitzer design with an indented base. They were well sealed to the case and required two hands on the press handle to pull. I doubt they could have been removed with anything
less than the RCBS collet puller. On the plus side, they all seemed to pull with equal force. none being easier than another. Short of mounting a torque wrench to the press handle I'm not sure how to measure that.

The bullets have a canalure and the case mouth was crimped pretty tightly into the groove. The bullet was not compressed or marked in any way by this so the crimp appears Juuuuuust Riiiiight.

To make the dimensional measurements on the bullets I needed to clean the sealer off the bullet. I found it wiped off easily with nothing more than carb clean on a rag. I have yet to find a sealer that would not come off with the same method.

Now, to the numbers:

Powder: high of 49.7 grains and a low of 49.1. It should be noted that every sample but the two extremes was exactly at 49.3 grains. That is excellent control, and well within the spread of a manual powder measure (why I individually weigh every charge I care about).

Cases: Here I found the widest weight variations, with a high of 206.4 and a low of 197.6 grains. The high number is so much out of the range that I suspect my own measurement. I'm just too lazy to go recheck. Take it for what it's worth. The case dimensions were pretty decent, with the case bases ranging from .465" to .467". The case mouths on the other hand all measured at exactly .335", which speaks well of the neck wall thickness non-variation. The case lengths ranged from 2.481" to 2.486". This is not an surprising spread in my experience, and I have seen much wider in brand new virgin commercial brass.

Bullets (almost forgot this!): Weight varied from 162.6 to 163.6 grains, with most centered around 163.4 grains. Their diameters ranged from .3076" to .3081". A variation of .0005" with military armor piercing bullets is pretty decent. I note they are slightly undersized by typical .308 standards. Would this effect accuracy? It certainly should if the rifles bore is over nominal dimensions by much at all.

Conclusions....... I have nothing to shoot this stuff with !!! AArrrgggg..... That colors everything I might say. Just judging by the components I would think the ammunition should be excellent in any decent firearm. It's consistent in weight and dimension with what appears to be excellent quality control. I suspect the powder could be in better condition, but I also suspect that is more a past storage issue than anything else. I now recall I found this ammunition in an upper room of an Amish barn. Dry, but hot.

I have a few rounds left which I would love to shoot over my chronograph. Does anyone have a nice 03 or a Garand they'd care to lend me for a while? (lol)