Tuesday, December 20, 2011

G&A Gets It Wrong Again

As I was checking my facetube account, I noticed an update from Guns&Ammo. They're still doing zombie-themed stuff, which I could live without, but they had a list of "great zombie calibers". There is no list of zombie calibers. There is only one zombie caliber: .22 Long Rifle. Only headshots count, so all the kinetic energy in the world is useless if it doesn't hit some grey matter. 

I'm pretty tired of zombie-themed things, but I have to set the record straight here. G&A lists the common handgun and rifle calibers, to include .308win, .223/5.56x45, 30-30, .270, 9x19mm, 45ACP, 44 Rem Mag, and .38Spl. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. Those of you who are also gun nuts, go get 100 rounds of any of G&A's calibers listed, then get 100 rounds of .22LR and tell me which one you'd be more mobile with. 

Additionally, you can get wildly accurate and anvil-reliable .22LR semi-auto rifles, chief of which is the venerable Ruger 10/22. You can also get equally reliable and accurate .22LR pistols like the Ruger MKII/III and Browning Buckmark. Conversions for 1911s and Glocks are also available. 

In every zombie movie, there is a horde that must be escaped or a building that must be defended. Well, in either case, each person in your surviving band could carry two or three thousand rounds of ammo. Additionally, the .22LR is so low pressure that guns chambered for it have a virtually unlimited service life with only the most basic maintenance. The old .22LR doesn't burn up barrels either, though leading can be a problem with softer projectiles. But that can be cured with a quick brush and rod or bore snake if time isn't available for a proper cleaning.

To my mind, the .22LR is a great solution for a number of real-world problems, as well as whatever imaginary ones we can come up with. But Hornady probably doesn't make Z-Max ammo in .22LR. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

I hit the range over the weekend. Managed to dust off my trusty Savage 10FCP HS Precision, crank about a million more rounds through my H&K MP5-22, and fall in love with a Glock 20. I'll start with the torrid love-affair first.

So my hetero-lifepartner is a 10mm cultist and has a Glock 20 and 29 (as well as a Delta Elite) that he took with us to a very nice range in the western reaches of the flatlands. I hung up a 100-yard rifle zero target at about 20 yards and my friend handed me his prized G20 and a 15-round magazine of PRVI Partisan 180gr JHPs. I took the first three shots slowly, analyzing my technique and carefully aiming. I lowered the muzzle and saw that a chunk of the bright red bullseye was gone. Happy with myself, I let five more go. More rapidly this time. Again, I lowered the muzzle and the red bullseye was almost gone, and the 9 ring had been pierced as well. I finished the mag as fast as I could get the front sight back on target and I was pleasantly surprised. That thing was stunningly accurate. Of course, my much-missed G17 was plenty accurate and took a number of rabbits and other unlucky vermin.

Now, while I respect and admire the 10mm round, if I get a full size Glock, it will be a 21 because I am lazy and don't want to load for yet another caliber. Yes, the 10mm is much more powerful, but I can slap a Storm Lake barrel in the G21 and shoot the same reloads I put through my faithful Para LTC. Although I like the idea of loading my own 40cal 180gr XTPs at 1250fps and launching them through a Storm Lake barreled G20.

My old reliable 10FCP put up two 3/4" groups at 200 yards with my excellent Sierra Matchking loads. I prefer the 168gr projectile, though I have used 175s with similar results. Basically I shoot 168s because thats the load I have the most proven data on for my rifle and I'm too lazy to re-zero and work up a new data book for my rifle.

That reminds me. If you're into accuracy, keep a log book on your rifle. I started doing it this weekend and it really did help me to think about each and every round that was launched. I also sketch out where on the paper each round hit and make any necessary comments. The most common comment in my book is "shooter error. No change to call." but it does keep me from dialing when not necessary, and I now know *exactly* where my 200 yard zero is, and *exactly* where my 100 yard zero is. When I finally get to a 300 or 400 yard range, I can extrapolate calls to get me on paper and dial it precisely from there. It's super tedious if you're not into details, but I'm a nerd, so I like it. Also, the reason I don't have pictures of my two half-MOA groups is that my target is also in my log book. If I get around to it, I'll put up pics later this week.

And I'm off to watch MNF. Until next time!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

White Collar White Lighting

So while I'm off topic, I'd like to mention a new whiskey I just tried. It's from an Iowa distillery, and it's called "Cedar Ridge Unaged Whiskey". And it is one of the best things ever created by humans. Here's a festive picture of the bottle:

I'm drinking it neat at room temperature, and it's pretty awesome. The first note is like really good vodka or sake', which is to say, it doesn't have much flavor at first. But it goes down with a whisper of whiskey flavor, and very little heat. Very little heat, even though it is 100 proof. Be CAREFUL with this stuff.

I don't always drink unaged whiskey, but when I do, I drink Cedar Ridge.

Oh, and it's about the same price as Jack Daniels, only this stuff is good.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

FLGN Goes Political For A Minute

Whenever I read about police brutality, or incompetent use of deadly force, it really makes me sick. It makes me doubly sick to read about young veterans of the current wars being cut down by trigger happy and incompetent police. See the link here. A US Marine in  Arizona was gunned down by a SWAT team some time ago, and the shooting has been cleared, as has the phony baloney warrant used to do a dynamic entry into the home of a person suspected of being suspicious. From the information that Yahoo! so graciously provides, it looks like the police had little more than circumstantial evidence to suspect Jose Ortiz.

I've been a cop. In a small town, where our intelligence service was whatever we could pick up through the grapevine and substantiate through first-hand witnesses. Then came due process, where I would write a search warrant and get a judge to review it and see if I had done my due diligence. Most of the time, I had. Then, with warrant in hand, I would rally my superiors and we would make a plan. Our plan was ALWAYS a knock warrant, but with sufficient back-up to save us if someone decided to get crazy. Maybe I'm a hopeless libertarian. Maybe I'm an idealist. But my bosses and I, and the county and state police who backed up my warrants would always go in with the Road House mantra in mind: Be nice until it's time to stop being nice. 

I served warrants on real drug dealers. Meth houses. Guys who pulled guns on a whim. Most of them would give up when they saw me and my boss on their doorstep. In my opinion, SWAT teams should not serve warrants. SWAT should only be used for emergencies. And I don't have too many nice things to say about SWAT cops. Many of the ones I have met have been dumb jocks who didn't have the balls to join the military. A few have served, and a few are great fellas, but by and large, they just want to play Army and would relish the idea to "kill a bad guy". 

I have no doubt that Jose Ortiz answered the door with an AR15 upon hearing a loud boom and seeing men in masks clad in black swarming toward his house. I would probably arrive at my door with my Para LTC in hand if I heard a flashbang or shotgun blast and saw people in black outfits heading toward my door. Why it was necessary at all to use SWAT to serve this warrant is beyond me. If you have such strong evidence, then why not arrest Jose on his way to work and then serve the search warrant? If he really was a drug dealer, why were no drugs found on his property? If he really was a bad guy, where is the evidence? The only thing the story proves is that Jose Ortiz was killed in his home in front of his family on suspicion of being suspicious. 

And to top it all off, the team dumped 71 rounds into the man's house with his wife and child inside. What a shame. For the 2nd Amendment crowd, for the police community, and veterans everywhere. I hope Pima County makes this right. Someone needs to lose a badge, and maybe a few years of freedom. 

Medium Iron

One of the first handguns I ever fired was a 1911, and I've had a soft spot for the old warhorse ever since. I have a Springfield GI 1911 that I customized and spends most of its time as a .22LR with a Ceiner slide. I also have a Para LTC that is getting back into my concealed carry rotation, but spends most of its time as my woods companion or at the range. 

So over the Thanksgiving holiday, I went to the family farm and proceeded to bust a few caps in the Para. I put  a hundred of my handloaded 200 grain hardcast LSWCs (powered by a near max load of HP38) and 50 rounds of Federal 230gr FMJs. I've always been pretty decent with a 1911, but I threw in the wrinkle of talking to a friend on my cell phone (by wedging it under my ear muffs) and shooting for group at 20 yards. Things turned out okay. 
Said 20 yard cell phone group.

I've had the LTC for about a year now, but with the deployment, I haven't spent much time with it. But I do have a few observations. First, the black finish on the slide is not very durable. While I haven't yet had a battle with rust, the finish wears off at an alarming rate. A hundred rounds will usually result in a new scratch near the ejection port. That's annoying on a $700 gun. Next year I will probably pay a guy I know to refinish the slide with CeraKote. But it shouldn't be necessary on such a high dollar piece. Also, both Para 8 round mags failed. They were prone to double-feed. I had a bunch of GI 7 round mags, and that's what I prefer to use. I may pick up a Mec-Gar 8 rounder later and see how that works out.

Scratches from ejection/holster wear.

Holster wear from my Fobus scabbard.

That said, my Para is very accurate and totally reliable with Winchester Supreme Elite 230gr JHPs, 200gr LSWC handloads,  and 230gr ball of several makes. I think I've put a few Winchester Silvertip 185gr rounds through it too, but not enough to form a conclusion about their reliability through my pistol.

The 1911 has always been controversial. In the early days it was too dangerous, having only a single action trigger. Now it is dangerous because it has a thumb safety and some internet heroes will tell you that it's impossible to remember to flick the safety off under stress (you mean like soldiers do every day on their M4s?). Capacity is relatively low now compared to the M&Ps and Glocks of the world. And it weighs a lot more, which is an issue for all day carry.

25 yards just plinkin'.
I shot a mag transitioning from left dot to right dot quickly.

I will always have a soft spot for big, heavy, metal guns with great triggers. I have fond memories of learning to shoot with a 1911, and doing a few shooting matches as a teen. I will probably always have a 1911, and I believe it will always be king of the target range, though detractors constantly declare it obsolete. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reality Bites

Two things make me want to pull my remaining hair out when it comes to firearms training. #1- Training to snatch a pistol from an assailant's hands. #2- Training to clear your house when you hear a noise at night or to confront an intruder. These things are absurd and will probably kill you, but they are a neat "hook" to get people into martial arts and firearms schools. Now sit back while I blow off some steam.

First, the Jackie Chan pistol-takeaway. There are dozens of different schools and techniques, but they pretty much all involve you taking a pistol from an attacker. The thought is that if an attacker gets too close, it would afford you the opportunity to disarm them. Well, I agree with the principle that you should go out fighting, but this is an absolute last-ditch effort and a motivated attacker isn't going to let loose of that gun. You should  accept the fact that you're getting shot in the effort, whether it works or not. Don't believe me? Buy an airsoft pistol and have a friend point it at you (wear appropriate protective gear) and try to take it from them. I would bet you get shot 80 or 90% of the time and the gun goes off every time--regardless of outcome. The pistol-takeaway is a neat trick, but I would spend most of my time training for something else and doing my best to avoid this situation. Those of you out there who are not spies or convenience store clerks will probably not have to worry about this scenario. Ever. 

Second, clearing your house. Let me start by saying that at this point I've been in the infantry for over nine years. I've done two deployments to Eastern Trashcanistan, and served as both team and squad leader for real-life operations where we had to clear houses. If you get online and download a Warrior Task Manual, you will find that the task "Enter and Clear a Room" is listed as a fire-team level task. That means that you never clear a room with less than three people. Clearing a house is generally a platoon level task at least. That means to clear your house properly, you need about 27 people. Granted, part of that platoon will be providing support from outside, but no less than 15 would be assigned as entry teams. 

My advice is to have a plan for things that go "bump" in the night, and that plan is to hold one room with everyone inside while one adult holds a gun on the(locked) door and another dials 9-1-1. Again, if you want to test my logic, buy a pair of airsoft pistols and try your luck against a buddy. My suggestion is to tell your friend (the "invader") to pick a spot and stay there. I think you will be surprised how hard it is to clear a room even against a static target. 

That said, I don't think it's silly to learn how to clear rooms. It's really fun and a buddy and I bought .22LR clones of classic "tactical" weapons just so we can relive our glory days without being shot. Learning to clear rooms is great and you should always seek more training if you want it, but don't let it go to your head. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. 

Well, thanks for tuning in for my little rant. I'm heading to the family farm for the weekend. Probably going to play with the MP-5 while I'm there. Maybe that will generate a new post. Maybe not. Keep your stick on the ice!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Badgers Badgers Badgers Badgers....

My Badger Custom grips came in over the weekend and they look amazing. Unfortunately, I still can't locate my camera. Anyway, the grips look even better than the (stolen) picture from my last post. My SP101 looks like it could destroy Aldoran. The grips are super comfortable and have a glassy shine. They carry really great in my jacket pocket and at 4 o'clock in my bellyband. The only drawback is that they aren't relieved enough near the cylinder to allow a reload from a 5-shot HKS speedloader. Of course, since Badger is a custom shop, you can order specially relieved grips for use with speedloaders. I use Bianchi strips for concealed carry anyway. I like HKS loaders on the range and at matches, but in the real world, the strips just work better.

Anyway, maybe this weekend I can get some range time with the new grips. And find my camera.

Monday, October 17, 2011

SP-101 Part II

I got to crank out about 150 rounds from the new SP 101 over the weekend, but I couldn't find my digital camera, which is annoying, so I'll have to steal other pictures to make up for it. I never really made any noteworthy groups anyway. I spent the bulk of the time from the 10 yard line and had good results. I used my K-frame-sized Fobus paddle holster to draw and fire two or three shots at a time as quickly as possible...with mixed results.

When loaded with Winchester White Box 110gr .357 mag loads (box claims 1300fps in a 4" barrel) or any flavor of .38spl I could make a roughly quarter sized group at 10 yards when firing at a comfortable pace. As I turned up the speed, it went to more a dollar bill sized group. Not bad by any means, but I felt the grip was too small at the top and the hammer is very over-sprung. To remedy this, I have ordered a Badger Custom boot grip and a spring tune kit from Wolff. Below is a similar 3" SP101 with the black boot cut grip I ordered. Note the thickness near the top.

The SP101 was completely reliable and never had casings stick to the cylinder, and the properly sized ejector rod knocked all rounds safely clear of the gun to make for a quick reload from an HKS speedloader.

I had four kinds of ammo on hand for my initial test-fire. In 357mag, I had some handloads consisting of 158gr XTPs over a stout charge of Hodgdon Lil'Gun, and Winchester 110gr "357 magnum" quoted at 1290fps. In 38 Special, I had a few rounds of Winchester 38+P 125gr JHPs, and a couple of boxes of my own 125gr LFN handloads over a stout-ish dose of HP-38. All of them shot to point of aim at 10 yards. The only load that produced any kind of recoil was my 158gr XTP load, which should have been producing over 680 ft/lbs of energy from the 3" Ruger. Buffalo Bore offers a very similar loading, though I think they use a 158gr Gold Dot instead of XTP. This load is what will be in the gun when I'm in the woods. I will be purchasing some Buffalo Bore ammo to carry on the street.

In general, I'm really happy with the SP101. It is very nice to carry both concealed and on my hip when I'm out in the wild. The 3" barrel and 5-shot cylinder make this gun small enough to be very handy to carry without sacrificing utility. This gun will do it all, and is stout enough to do it for a lifetime. I'm very happy with my SP101 as-is, but will do yet another update once I install the shiny new grips and reduced power spring.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I've been busy getting set up again here in the US of A, and kinda busy. But I did go get my carry permit renewed and I've picked up another carry piece that I'm pretty proud of. Yep, I'm carrying a five-shooter again. This time it's a Ruger SP-101 3" .357 Magnum, and I'm really liking what I see so far. Hopefully I will get in some good range time this weekend, so for now I'm doing a "first impressions" kind of look at it.

The DA trigger is VERY heavy but pretty smooth, though it isn't classic S&W smooth. The single action is really great, so I probably won't be doing any spring-swapping but will break it down and polish all the guts once I get my tools out of storage.

Size wise, it is almost the same as my M&P9c, but packs nicer because of the grip and barrel geometry. I've done some test-runs carrying it in a Bulldog bellyband around my new apartment, both in the 4-o'clock and 11 o'clock crossdraw position. It is much more comfortable to wear than the M&P9c, though going from 13 rounds on deck to just five may be too much of a trade for some folks.

The sights are a familiar and extremely rugged groove down the top strap and simple pinned blade front. Nothing special, but far from inadequate. I dig that arrangement, though I wouldn't fault someone for replacing the front blade with a tritium night sight. There are many inexpensive options from quality names out there. Grips, however, are harder to find. I am already thinking of going to some very handsome wood grips from Badger Custom Grips. They're expensive, but worth it to accommodate my larger mitts, though the factory grip is adequate.

Now, why did I pick this model of this gun to add to my stable? Well, this is a great all-arounder. It's small enough to pack, but large and sturdy enough to digest a steady diet of magnum loads, though I will probably stay away from the super hot 125gr variations that were linked (correctly or not) to flame cutting and damaging the forcing cones on earlier .357 mags. I plan on using a 158gr Hornady XTP powered by a stout dose of Hodgdon Lil'Gun as my hiking load, and a factory load from Winchester as my carry ammo. I chose the 3" model because I've read a number of blogs and reports with chrono data which leads me to believe I can get 90%-95% of the velocity offered by a 4" barrel. That means my little five shooter could drop a 700ft/lb bomb on an aggressor of either two or four-legged variety. To me, that is more compelling than 13 rounds of any 9mm +P on the market. I'm not a "bigger is always better" guy, but stoutly loaded factory ammo in the 500-700ft/lb range is pretty appealing to me.

I'm also a revolver lover of epic proportions. Yeah, I only have five shots, but those five shots should deliver twice the kinetic energy of any concealable auto-loader . There are a number of subjective reasons why I like wheelguns, but the biggest reason I can justify spending the cash on this gun is that it can do double duty as a kit gun and a carry piece. Now, most folks think of a smallish .22LR as a real "kit gun", but since the state ecologists have decided that we need mountain lions where previously there were none, I like the idea of reaching for a .357 better than a .22LR. Also, the cost of reloading for .357 magnum is fairly low, providing you can find components.

That's it for now. Hopefully I can put up some pics of the genuine article and some holes in targets by Monday.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I'm Back! Also A Treatise on the MP5

Ahoy! I've been back from my second tour of Trashcanistan, this time as a team leader, and later as a squad leader. This latest tour was no fun at all, and I while I may discuss it later, right now I'm stoked about my "I'm still alive" present that I bought myself once I got home: The H&K MP5A5-22LR.

One of my best friends ended up being in my squad and during the boring and not terrifying segments of our deployment, we devised a 22LR action shooting league that we will try to launch as soon as we shoot a few matches amongst ourselves and work the bugs out of the scoring system. I've always wanted an MP5, and a .22LR MP5 makes for one awesome range toy.

I started by online-stalking some GSG-5 rifles, and eventually calling around to some big box sporting goods stores and my favorite, Sportsman's Warehouse (who offers a military discount) had no GSGs but did have two H&Ks. The next day I drove up and bought the MP5A5 Navy version. The other one was an MP5SD6 Navy version. Though both had a collapsable stock, I chose the A5 because it was slightly less bulky than the SD6. $500 later, I had the Navy and two bricks of American Eagle .22LR High Velocity in the trunk of my Subaru WRX.

The best sights that 1970 has to offer.

I have since put about 2000 rounds through the (Walther) H&K MP5A5, and I came up with the following. First, the sights are authentic drum and hooded post H&K sights which are totally unacceptable if you are looking for a target rifle. I sighted in the irons while prone over a shooting bag and I never made any noteworthy groups at 25 or 50 yards, though they were all perfectly acceptable. Then I purchased a Leapers UTG picatinny rail for it, and after machining it because it is built totally wrong for an MP5, I mounted my Vortex Strikefire red dot. Suddenly the groups shrank DRASTICALLY. The attached photo is my initial 25 yard zero target. Once I made my adjustments, I put four rounds into a ragged hole in the bull's eye and of course sent one flyer less than half an inch from the group. This thing is a shooter! I shot a number of walnuts off a post at my friend's house when we were playing with it. Usually on the first shot, and never more than three shots were sent before a walnut exploded like the Death Star after a visit from Luke Skywalker. Shots were generally 40-55 yards kneeling or offhand. Again, this gun is a shooter! It is heavy though. It weighs a shade less than seven pounds, which is about what a real MP5A5 weighs.

The can is fake. The performance is not.

Now for the interesting stuff. This gun WILL NOT accept GSG-5 magazines. You MUST purchase factory Walther magazines through Umarex USA. Again, GSG-5 mags DO NOT WORK IN THE H&K 22. However, the Umarex/Walther/HK mags are excellent. In 2000 rounds, I have experienced one failure, which was the 15th round ever fired, and it was a failure to feed, so I would guess the brand new magazine was not fully seated. Since then I have gone through two 600 round sessions with a mix of Federal bulk 22 and Winchester bulk 22, both copper washed 30-something grain HPs, and a number of shorter sessions with no failures. This gun can be filthy and disgusting and will still happily spit out brass sharply to the 3 o'clock at about four feet. The trigger is a two-stage affair with an effortless first stage and a roughly 5lb second stage with a sharp break. It shoulders and points well. Also, the bolt locks to the rear on the last round, and it locks against a real BHO device instead of just hanging up on the magazine follower, which is a rarity in .22LR clones. The safety is a short throw with a positive "snap" into position.

My best at 25 yards over a backpack as a rest.

If I were looking for a hunting .22, I would go with a bolt action Savage MkII. If you want a cheap range toy or tacticool toy, look no further. It looks the part, has genuine H&K markings, realistic control surfaces, and a collapsing stock for easy storage and transport.


This is 2011. The MP5 is dead. As a tactical, operational platform, the AR-15 has the submachinegun handily beaten. Any 12.5" barrel AR in 5.56mm will outperform any MP5 variant with muzzle energy, effective range, ease of use, available accessories (real accessories like IR aiming lasers, etc. Not whatever Tapco junk you can bolt on), and in virtually every other measurable dimension. Also, most ARs are FAR, FAR cheaper than a real MP5A5, so police in poor areas (like where I was a cop) can very easily get equipped. An MP5 is better than a 9mm pistol, but not better than an AR-15 SBR. The AR is just too versatile. By bolting on a different upper, you can change from a 12" room broom to an 18" designated marksman variant that is indeed deadly to 500 yards. The MP5 simply falls flat after 150 yards. Optimistically 200 yards.

That said, I've always wanted an MP5 since I read Tom Clancy's "Rainbow Six". I found a 9mm civilian MP5 once, and it was $5400, so I jumped at the chance to have an MP5 for $489. If you prefer the AR platform and want to shoot .22LR, the M&P15-22 is the bee's knees.

That's All Folks!

I'm glad to be back, and will continue to update regularly as I ease back into civilian life. Keep 'em in the 10-ring!