Archive for March, 2010

Mar
19

Articles Inbound!

Some new gear is in, and a bunch of ammo is on its way. We’re going to have some exciting articles in the next coming weeks.

First, we have a brand new Sig 556 to break in. We’ll walk through the process of breaking in a new factory production barrel (much different from a hand lapped barrel like White Oak or Kreiger makes).

The Sig 556 barrel has a 1:7 twist, which is well-suited for heavier .223/5.56 bullets. We have a few varieties of match ammunition from 62gr-75gr that we’re going to run through the Sig to see what she likes.

We’ll also be looking at the HK USP 9mm compact as a carry weapon, and seeing how accurate this factory pistol can be with 8 varieties of 124gr 9mm ammo.

Match .22 LR ammo is inbound for a rimfire shootout! The Savage Mark II BTVS is one accurate bolt-action rifle, and we’ll have several varieties of match ammunition from Eley, Lapua, SK, RWS and Wolf to send down-range.

And last but not least, a new Shooting Chrony F-1 is on its way. This will not only help us understand more about the ballistics of what we’re shooting, but it will help us isolate ammunition issues and give us a feel for the consistency and quality of the ammo we’re testing.

Happy shooting.

Mar
17

Range Report: Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special “Home Defense”

I’d like to introduce you to an excellent 1911 – the Les Baer TRS-HD.

Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special Home Defense .45ACP 1911 Pistol

Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special Home Defense .45ACP 1911 Pistol

While this .45ACP pistol was primarily designed for home defense, it still carries many fine features of a top-shelf 1911.

Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special Home Defense .45ACP 1911 Pistol

Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special Home Defense .45ACP 1911 Pistol

It starts off with a Les Baer Monolith heavyweight frame. The Monolith frame features a full-length dust cover that gives it extra heft on the front end which helps reduce muzzle flip.

Les Baer Thunder Ranch Home Defense .45ACP 1911

Les Baer Thunder Ranch Home Defense .45ACP 1911

I could go into all the details about the great features of this 1911, but you can just as easily read them here.

The important thing is, this is one accurate pistol! I’ve ran several different kinds of 230gr .45ACP through it – Winchester White Box, Federal, Magtech, Gold Dot, Golden Sabre, Hornady TAP and more. Not only does it feed and function flawlessly, it’ll put the 6 rounds of cheap WWB in a 1.75″ spread at 25 yards.

6 shots in 1.75 inches at 25 yards

6 shots of 230 grain WWB in 1.75 inches at 25 yards

This Baer is fond of 230gr Hornady TAP ammunition, and if you’re up to snuff, it’ll put three rounds of TAP in less than 3″ at 50 yards.

Yes, Les Baer 1911 pistols are expensive. But after reading this, I hope you can see why.

Happy shooting.

Mar
13

Range Report: .223 Ammo Shootout

We had a nice, calm sunny day with a very light breeze here in the midwest – perfect weather for a .223 shootout.

The idea behind this comparison is to find highly-accurate new ammunition that the average person can buy. Personal handload recipes are going to weed out a good 80% of the folks out there that don’t have the capability to roll their own, so we’re going to look at some ammo that anyone can go online or pick up a phone and order.

I tested seven high-quality brands of 50-55 grain ammunition, all rated in the 3200fps range – well-suited to the 1:9 twist of the Savage Model 10 Tactical.

The high-quality .223 ammunition tested

The high-quality .223 ammunition tested

The rounds were shot at 100 yards from The Bench. Because neither The Bench nor myself are perfect, I shot 5-round groups of each ammo, and measured the best three of the five rounds, center to center, to calculate the group. Until I get some better bench equipment, this is the method I’ll be using to calculate when talking about group sizes.

The Candidates:

The Federal Premium 55gr Nosler rounds can be found pretty easily at most sporting goods stores. In fact, these came from Cabela’s and were about $24 per box of 20. These are great varmint rounds, and I’ve taken more than one critter out with them.

Federal Premium V-Shok - Nosler 55 grain ballistic tip

Federal Premium V-Shok - Nosler 55 grain ballistic tip

The Hornady TAP can also be found on the shelves, but it is a bit rarer than the Federal. Several online ammunition stores have it in stock frequently. The TAP in question was about $22 for a box of 20.

Hornady TAP - 55 grain Vmax

Hornady TAP - 55 grain Vmax

Georgia Arms is an online retailer, and they also have a brick-and-mortar retail store. Their 52gr HPBT Match is currently $24.50 for 50 rounds.

Georgia Arms 52gr Boat Tail Hollow Point Match Ammo

Georgia Arms 52gr Boat Tail Hollow Point Match Ammo

Their 55 grain Vmax is $28.00 per 50.

Georgia Arms 'Precision Plus' 55 grain Vmax

Georgia Arms 'Precision Plus' 55 grain Vmax

C&C Cartridge is a small loading company in Benton, IL. I had never heard of them until I came across someone at a gun show selling their wares. This high-quality ammo was almost $40 for a bag of 50 rounds (I transferred them to the boxes in the pic). As far as I know, they don’t have an online presence.

C and C Cartridge Company 55gr Vmax

C&C Cartridge Company 55gr Vmax

Thunder Ammo was a new one to me as well. I stumbled upon their products while searching for a good 50BMG load. 50 rounds of Thunder Ammo’s Vmax runs $32 in both 50gr and 55gr., and TA’s ammo is shipped in nice plastic boxes

Thunder Ammo 55 grain Vmax

Thunder Ammo 55 grain Vmax

Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

I thought the results were interesting – I was expecting Georgia Arms’ 52gr HPBT to perform much better than it did, and I’m surprised at how well the Hornady TAP performed. The Federal grouped much poorer than I expected.

As far as groups go, the gold medal goes to C&C from Benton, IL. However, from a consumer standpoint, it’s only fair to factor price into the grade, so I’m rating them as follows:

Ammo Type Group Size Price per round Grade
Thunder Ammo 55gr Vmax 1/4″ $0.64 A+
C&C 55gr Vmax 3/16″ $0.80 A
Georgia Arms 55gr Vmax 3/8″ $0.56 B+
Hornady TAP 55gr Vmax 1/4″ $1.10 B
Georgia Arms 52gr HPBT 1/2″ $0.49 B-
Thunder Ammo 50gr Vmax 1/2″ $0.64 B-
Federal 55gr Nosler 11/16″ $1.20 C-

Pics of the groups:

A+: Thunder Ammo 55gr Vmax

A+: 1/4" group from Thunder Ammo 55gr Vmax

3/16" group form C & C 55gr Vmax

A: 3/16" group form C & C 55gr Vmax

B+: 3/8" group from Georgia Arms 55gr Vmax

B+: 3/8" group from Georgia Arms 55gr Vmax

B: 1/4" group from Hornady TAP 55gr Vmax

B: 1/4" group from Hornady TAP 55gr Vmax

B-: 1/2" group from Georgia Arms 52gr HPBT

B-: 1/2" group from Georgia Arms 52gr HPBT

B-: 1/2" group from Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

B-: 1/2" group from Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

C-: 11/16" group from Federal Premium Nosler ballistic tip

C-: 11/16" group from Federal Premium Nosler ballistic tip

I have to say, I won’t be buying any more Federal Premium – not only do I consider an 11/16″ group unacceptable for premium ammo, it’s also carries the highest price tag.

As happy as I am with the groups from the C&C ammo, I don’t think I’ll be buying much more. The owner of C&C is very friendly and accommodating, but he didn’t offer a quantity discount until the order reached 1,000 rounds – which he offered to sell for $750.00. At $0.75/round, I may buy a couple hundred to keep on hand for hunting with the Savage Model 10, but it won’t be regular shooting ammo for me.

The Thunder Ammo 55gr Hornady Vmax gets my vote. Consistent 1/4″ groups, great  price for custom loads, plus excellent service and fast shipping. I highly recommend.

Happy Shooting.