Archive for the ‘Range Reports’ Category

May
23

Sig P220 Carry Elite Dark

The Sig I ordered a few months back finally came in last week.

New Sig Sauer P220 Carry Elite Dark

New Sig Sauer P220 Carry Elite Dark

It’s a P220 Carry Elite Dark. The P220 is chambered in .45ACP, and the Carry model has a 3.9″ barrel. The Elite model Sigs come with the short reset trigger, extended beavertail and accessory rail. This “Dark” model is additionally equipped with anodized aluminum grips and adjustable combat night sights. The full specs can be found on Sig’s website.

The Sig P220 Carry Elite Dark comes with adjustable combat night sights

The Sig P220 Carry Elite Dark comes with adjustable combat night sights

After the initial cleaning and lubing, I took it out to the range to start the break-in. My method is very simple for pistol break-in: shoot 25 rounds, clean; another 25, clean; then clean every hundred after that.

The P220 shot quite well from the first round, and just kept getting better. I was a little surprised at the amount of recoil – at 30 ounces unloaded, it’s not a light gun. I expected the muzzle flip to be quite a bit tamer than my Kimber Ultra, which is 5 oz lighter and whose barrel is not quite an inch shorter, but it’s about the same. Here’s a video of my first few shots:

After about 75 rounds, the accuracy started waning – quickly. I shot a group with some good ammo at 10 yards that slowly spread out to about 8 inches. Then I switched to Hydrashoks, and it got even worse.

I unloaded and inspected the pistol, and I could move the rear sight in the dovetail freely.
This Sig has “adjustable combat night sights” – they look like MMC sights. There are two tiny set screws for windage adjustment. I centered the sight and tightened them down the best I could with the supplied allen wrench. I couldn’t feel the screws turn much, but I did manage to twist the tiny allen wrench. The camera was rolling while all this happened:

As you can see towards the end of the video, the adjustment turned out to be darned close, as I shot another 125 rounds after tightening and the pistol stayed on target.

Towards the end of the range session, I had put about 200 rounds through the Sig, and I was able to put 8 rounds in 1.8″ 25 yards off a bag, and 8 rounds in .8″ standing at 10 yards.

All in all, this is an impressive weapon. The fit and finish is quite nice, it’s surprisingly accurate, and feels great in my hands. The SRT trigger is a delight, although the DA pull is a little heavy. I’m looking forward to some more range time with the P220 – I think this will make a fine carry piece.

Apr
21

How to Clean your Sig 556 Barrel

Following is the standard barrel cleaning process I use.

For starters, always use a quality one-piece cleaning rod from the likes of Bore-Tech, Dewey or Tipton. Also, use a vise or cleaning stand. I use Bore-Tech’s Eliminator on my centerfire rifles, and following the instructions that Bore-Tech provides yields excellent results.

It’s very simple:
Run 3-5 patches saturated with Eliminator through the barrel.
Run a nylon brush soaked with Eliminator through the barrel about 15 times.
Repeat step one – 3-5 wet patches.
Let soak 5-10 minutes.
Run dry patches through the barrel until they come out clean.

I recently broke in the barrel of my new Sig 556. There’s a LOT of cleaning that goes on in that process, so I put together a quick video of how to clean the Sig 556 barrel during break-in:

Apr
10

9mm Ammo Shootout!

The day after I picked up my HK USPc 9mm, I put it through its paces with some Winchester Ranger 9mm NATO and some Speer Gold Dot. After getting surprisingly good results with both kinds of ammo, I bought a few more boxes of both until the day came when I could do a fair ammo shootout with the USP.

That day has come: Clear, sunny afternoon, 0-5mph breeze, 74 degrees. One couldn’t ask for a better day.

I gathered a good assortment of 9mm ammunition for the shootout, all 124 grain, both jacketed and hollow point.

The candidates:

I set up at 15 yards with 3″ orange spot targets. I chose that distance mainly because that’s about as far away as I could get while still being able to clearly see the center of the 3″ targets.

This was purely a test for the best groups – as I’ve stated before, I’m far from a superb shooter, so I shot groups of eight and took the best 5-shot group out of the eight as a standard for this test.

I started out by fouling the clean pistol with 10 shots and got to work.

I began the test with the Gold Dot, ammunition that I already knew shot reasonably well. Speer’s Gold Dot ammo is an excellent defensive round. These are standard loaded (not +P) 124 grain hollow points in nickel casings. The five shot group at 15 yards measured .863 inches.

Speer Gold Dot - 5 shots in .863 inches

Speer Gold Dot - 5 shots in .863 inches

Next up was Winchester Ranger NATO full metal jacket. This ammo is loaded to NATO spec, which is a higher pressure than standard. It’s fun to shoot – has a nice snap. The Ranger’s 5-shot group measured 1.298 inches.

Winchester Ranger NATO - 5 shots in 1.298 inches

Winchester Ranger NATO - 5 shots in 1.298 inches

I’ve gotten quality .45acp Hornady XTP ammo from Reed’s Ammunition and Research in the past, and I was looking forward to trying out some of Ron Reed’s 9mm ammo. Ron’s 124g XTP grouped quite well at .832 inches.

Reed's Ammo Hornady XTP - 5 shots in .832 inches

Reed's Ammo Hornady XTP - 5 shots in .832 inches

The next eight shots were with Federal’s American Eagle FMJ. This has typically proven to be reliable practice ammo in other pistol calibers, and the 9mm lived up to my expectations with a 1.338″ group.

Federal American Eagle - 5 shots in 1.338 inches

Federal American Eagle - 5 shots in 1.338 inches

Magtech’s “Blue Box” FMC has always shot surprisingly well for me, and this lot of 9mm was no different with a group of .981 inches.

Magtech FMC (9B) - 5 shots in .981 inches

Magtech FMC (9B) - 5 shots in .981 inches

This was the first time I’d ever tried any Black Hills handgun ammunition. This 124 grain FMJ 9mm ammo is loaded in once-fired brass. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, especially after seeing the various headstamps – there must’ve been brass from 6 different manufacturers all in one 50-round box. This jacketed ammo was on the expensive side, especially for being remanufactured, at $17.95 for a box of 50.

The Black Hills ammo blew me away with a .665″ group.

Black Hills Remanufactured FMJ - 5 shots in .665 inches

Black Hills Remanufactured FMJ - 5 shots in .665 inches

Winchester’s Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1 was another new one for me. I was looking forward to seeing what this ammo would do. This +P loaded ammo has very good expansion characteristics, but shot an unimpressive 1.223″ group.

Winchester Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1 - 1.223 inches

Winchester Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1 - 1.223 inches

The last ammo tested was Magtech’s Guardian Gold, their high-end defensive hollow point round. I expected this to shoot better than their cheap FMC, but was let down with the worst group of the day: 1.445 inches.

Magtech Guardian Gold - 1.445 inch group

Magtech Guardian Gold - 1.445 inch group

After it was all said and done, I decided to try 13-round groups (entire high capacity magazine in the HK) of the Black Hills and Reed’s ammo. The 13-round groups confirmed my earlier findings with a 2.01″ group from the Black Hills ammo and a 2.989″ group from Reed’s.

13 rounds of Black Hills 9mm in 2.01 inches

13 rounds of Black Hills 9mm in 2.01 inches

13 rounds of Reed's ammo in 2.989 inches

13 rounds of Reed's ammo in 2.989 inches

The final results:

Ammo Type Group Size Price per round
Black Hills Remanufactured FMJ .665″ $0.36
Reed’s Ammo Hornady XTP .832″ $0.46
Speer Gold Dot .863″ $0.60
Magtech FMC (9B) .981″ $0.28
Winchester Ranger NATO FMJ 1.298″ $0.34
Winchester Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1 1.223″ $0.95
American Eagle FMJ 1.338″ $0.28
Magtech Guardian Gold 1.445″ $0.70

All-in-all, it was a great day at the range. When my worst 5-shot group at 15 yards is 1.445″, I can’t complain – the HK USPc 9mm is one heck of a shooter.

The Black Hills ammo really knocked my socks off – I’ll be getting more of that. And for now, I’ll stick to Reed’s for defensive carry ammunition – definitely the best bang for the buck as far as hollow point go.

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.