Team Cheaper than Dirt Match Report

Match season is almost here, and this past weekend I shot my first USPSA Production match since August of 2009 – the good news is that all the practice I’ve done in the past year and a half has really improved my shooting. The bad news is that my hat-cam went down and ate all my footage, meaning that I’ve only got one stage to show you a clip from for Down Zero TV. This was my final stage of the day, Stage 3. Here are the results from that stage.  I finished 4th on that stage, and since position 1 and 2 were both GMs, I don’t feel too bad about that. Video from the match is to the right.

Results: 6th place, and I shot 75% of the GM that won the match.  For my first Production match of the season and first match using the new P250, I’m pretty happy with that result.

The match itself was very good, the crew at Paul Bunyan puts together good, well designed stages.  Lots of options, some challenging shots, and lots and lots of steel were the theme at this match, and many shooters (myself included) paid the price for trying to machine gun the steel.

Guns and Gear

The Sig P250 continues to run well; as I mentioned on Gun Nuts I’m getting a short trigger for the gun which should decrease the trigger reach and allow me to get slightly faster follow up shots.  My splits were a little slow at this match; I noticed trigger fatigue setting in on a couple of the longer field stages where I had to pull the trigger 30+ times.  Obviously, I need to build up my trigger pull strength with more dry fire.

I used two different types of ammo for this match, a mix of S&B 115 grain FMJ and PMC 115 gr FMJ.  No issues with the rounds, everything performed reliably and accurately in the gun.  As an aside, this is the first gun I’ve had that really runs S&B ammo well; I’ve avoided it for years in other guns, but the Sig P250 eats it up no problems.

This weekend, I’ll shooting my first IDPA match as part of Down Zero TV; this footage will part of the premiere episode of Down Zero TV as well.  Hatcams, 3rd person, and even more importantly the commentary to tie it all together.  The goal for this weekend’s match will be to shoot the entire match clean; barring that I’ll shoot the match with as few points down as possible.

Ammo review: BVAC 9mm 124 grain JHP

BVAC 9mm 124 grain JHP

BVAC 124gr JHP

A common belief among serious bullseye shooters and NRA Action Pistol shooters is that hollow point ammo (JHP) is generally more accurate than standard full metal jacket ammo.  What I was told is that this is because JHP ammo, such as the excellent Speer Gold Dot bullet is manufactured to better tolerances and with better QC than FMJ ammo.  Lately, through my sponsorship with Cheaper than Dirt, I’ve been shooting the excellent BVAC 9mm 124 grain JHP load.  Let’s talk about the accuracy of this load for a minute.

Using a stock Sig P250 full-size 9mm, I shot a 2.3 inch group at 25 yards using the BVAC 124 grain 9mm.  I also used the BVAC ammo for one of my favorite drills, a “walk-back” drill.  Start with a 3×5 card at 5 yards, fire 5 rounds.  All five should go in one hole at 5 yards.  Move the card to 7 yards and fire 5 more rounds, all 5 rounds should hit the card.  Repeat at 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards.  I didn’t drop any hits until 20 yards where I dropped one shot, and then at 25 yards I dropped 2 rounds.  Using the BVAC 9mm ammo, I dropped a total of 3 shots out of 30; and the reason I dropped those hits had absolutely nothing to do with the ammo.

The muzzle velocity on the BVAC ammo averaged at 1066 from my Sig P250 with a 4.7 inch barrel under ideal conditions (well lit indoor range at 68 degrees F).  That makes a power factor of 132, good for IDPA or USPSA competition.  Recoil is mild, which is to be expected with a full size 9mm handgun, but the BVAC also avoids excessive muzzle blast and some of the other issues that plague other 124 grain rounds.

Of course, what really makes the BVAC 124 grain 9mm ammo attractive is the price.  Less than 14 bucks for quality, accurate, reliable ammo?  I’ll take it!  And if you shoot in bulk like I do, you can also get BVAC’s excellent 115 grain JHP 9mm load in boxes of 1000 rounds for $234 plus shipping.  I’ll take that too.

ATK Special Operations “SOST” 5.56mm and 7.62mm Ammunition

The new SOST round from Federal Cartridge was engineered for the United States Marine Corps as a supplemental/replacement round to M855 green tip with more desirable terminal characteristics. NSN # 1305-01-573-2229, designated as the MK318 MOD-0, this round was designed as a “barrier blind” round and has superior penetration and better ballistic stability when shooting through glass, car doors, and other barriers where lesser rounds might be deflected. It was engineered after the Marine Corp identified barrier penetration issues with the M855 round. This new round utilizes a 62 grain open tip boat tail hollow point bullet with a lead core and reverse drawn copper jacket that creates an open tip.

From the press release from ATK:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Alliant Techsystems (ATK) announced today that it has received a $49 million contract from the U.S. Navy to produce a new special operations ammunition round with improved accuracy, stronger barrier penetration, and a lower muzzle-flash. ATK Security and Sporting developed the round in partnership with the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Crane Division under the Special Operations Science and Technology (SOST) ammunition program.

The SOST ammunition will be manufactured in 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm calibers, and is short-barrel optimized. It is designed for use with the MK16 and MK17 Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle Weapon System. Production will be performed at ATK’s Federal Premium Ammunition plant in Anoka, MN. Deliveries are expected to be completed in 2015.

“ATK is the clear leader in developing new ammunition technologies for commercial use,” said Ron Johnson, President of ATK’s Security and Sporting group. “We are now applying our research and development capability to satisfy the needs of our special operation forces.”

The new SOST 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition adds to ATK’s portfolio of specialized ammunition, including long-range products for both law enforcement and military applications.

ATK is an aerospace, defense, and commercial products company with operations in 24 states, Puerto Rico, and internationally, and revenues of approximately $4.8 billion. News and information can be found on the Internet at

Click here to purchase 5.56mm SOST ammunition.

.223 Winchester Ranger Ammunition Recall

Winchester ammunition has issued a recall for certain lot numbers of its .223 caliber Ranger ammunition. This recall only affects .223 caliber Ranger ammunition loaded with 64 grain Power-Point bullets.

Olin Corporation, through its Winchester Division, is recalling six (6) lots of its RANGER® 223 Remington 64 Grain Power-Point® (PP) centerfire rifle ammunition (Symbol Number RA223R2).

Lot Numbers (last four characters): DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41, and DK51

Through extensive evaluation Winchester has determined the above lots of RANGER® Law Enforcement ammunition may contain incorrect propellant. Incorrect propellant in this ammunition may cause firearm damage, rendering the firearm inoperable, and subject the shooter or bystanders to a risk of serious personal injury when fired.

DO NOT USE WINCHESTER® RANGER® 223 REMINGTON 64 GRAIN POWER-POINT® AMMUNITION THAT HAS A LOT NUMBER ENDING IN DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41 or DK51. The ammunition Lot Number is ink stamped inside the right tuck flap of the 20-round carton, as indicated here:

To determine if your ammunition is subject to this notice, review the Lot Number. If the last four characters of the Lot Number are DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41 or DK51 immediately discontinue use and contact Winchester toll-free at 866-423-5224 to arrange for replacement ammunition and free UPS pick-up of the recalled ammunition.

This notice applies only to RANGER® 223 Remington 64 Grain Power-Point® centerfire rifle ammunition with lot numbers ending in DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41, and DK51. Other Symbol Numbers or Lot Numbers are not subject to this recall.

If you have any questions concerning this RANGER® Law Enforcement ammunition recall please call toll-free 866-423-5224, write to Winchester (600 Powder Mill Road, East Alton, IL 62024 Attn: RA223R2 Recall), or visit our website at

We apologize for this inconvenience.

6.5×55 Swedish

Though not very common in the United States, the 6.5×55 Swedish cartridge has long been popular amongst European hunters. Since its inception in the late 19th century, the 6.5 Swedish has been known as a flat shooting caliber with relatively light recoil and superior sectional density. Though not particularly impressive when compared to modern high-velocity short magnum cartridges, the benefits of the round quickly become apparent once you’ve had the opportunity to shoot it.

The light recoil of the 6.5 makes it very popular amongst younger shooters and some female shooters who favor light rounds. It’s also supremely accurate and flat shooting. 6.5×55 120 grain deer cartridges loaded to higher modern pressures have a rise of only around 5 inches when fired at a range of 300 yards. This makes it very easy for a hunter to get “minute of deer” accuracy out of the round at a wide range of distances.

Designed in 1891, the 6.5×55 Swedish first saw action when it was produced in 1894 for the M94 Swedish Mauser. Its use continued through modern firearm development where it was utilized by the Swedish AG/42B semiautomatic rifle along with numerous machine guns such as the Kg/1940 Light machine gun, the Schwarzlose, and more common models like the Browning BAR and FN MAG.

The reason for the bullet’s sectional density is patently obvious when looking at the cartridge. The long bullet sticks conspicuously far out of the case neck. This long “freight train” style .264 caliber bullet boasts impressive penetration and a superior ballistic coefficient in spire point and polymer tipped versions. By way of example, 140 grain 6.5mm bullets are longer than larger and heavier .30 caliber 180 grain bullets. While the caliber of the bullet is relatively small compared to a .30-06, the elongated bullet design demonstrates impressive energy and penetration in 125-160 grain weights when taking game at ranges in excess of 300 yards. Though many in the United States dismiss the capability of the round for taking large game, it’s reputation amongst Finnish and Norwegian moose hunters speaks well to the effectiveness of the cartridge.

One of the only drawbacks to the 6.5×55 cartridge is no fault of the round: early model Mausers were not strong enough to take full advantage of the pressure capability of the cartridge. For this reason, the factory specifications for the load are significantly lower than the design is capable of. Later models such as the widely available M96 Swedish Mauser and almost all modern rifles are perfectly capable of handling the higher pressures. For hand-loaders, this means that it is possible to safely load the cartridge to higher pressures. In fact, a few modern loading manuals have different load specs depending on whether the round will be fired in an older Mauser or newer modern rifle, though most take care to only list the older lower pressure loads. With 48 grains of IMR 7828, a 130 grain bullet can be safely propelled to a velocity exceeding 2,900 FPS.

Despite the light weight of many 6.5mm bullets, this cartridge seems to perform better with slower burning powders. As always, when developing a load start out at half the powder weight and work your way up while checking for signs of overpressure.

The 6.5x55mm Swedish cartridge has been around for well over 100 years and continues to enjoy enormous popularity both in Europe and more recently in the United States. Given the performance of the round, it’s not hard to see why. Light recoil, flat shooting, great accuracy, and a wide range of loads make it attractive to target shooters and hunters alike.

Winchester Announces M-22 Rimfire Round for Modern Sporting Rifles

Many shooters who love the idea of firing cheap, plentiful, .22 Long Rifle ammunition have long flocked to .22 conversions for their pistols and rifles. Many have just as quickly been turned off by the various issues encountered trying to reliably feed rimfire ammunition through a semiautomatic firearm.

Enter the M-22: Winchester has developed a new .22 caliber rimfire round that promises to feed and function reliably in most high-capacity semiautomatic firearms. From their press release:

Winchester® Ammunition continues to invest in its rimfire product line with the development of a new 22 LR round for use in Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR).

New for 2011, this bullet is designed and packaged specifically for use in the growing number of high-capacity MSR 22 LRs. The new M-22 features a 40-grain Plated Lead Round Nose bullet optimized for reliable feeding in high capacity magazines. In addition, the M-22 utilizes non-corrosive priming and clean burning powder that delivers an ultrafast 1255 fps velocity and exceptional accuracy.

“The M-22 is designed for the high capacity MSR and provides a smooth functioning, affordable option with great accuracy,” said Brett Flaugher, vice president of sales and marketing for Winchester Ammunition. “We made the M-22 available exclusively in a 1000-round bulk value pack to meet the demands of our customers at an attractive price point.”

The new M-22 LF Bullet features:
• Velocity: 1255 fps
• Grains: 40
• Bullet Type: Plated Lead Round Nose
• Cartridge: 22 LR
• Availability: 2011

Winchester is Proud to be a Leader in the Shooting Sports
Winchester® Ammunition pledged $500,000 to permanently endow the NRA’s Marksmanship Qualification Program, thus becoming the exclusive sponsor of the officially renamed Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program.

The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is a self-paced shooting development program. Open to adults and youngsters alike, the program measures an individual’s shooting proficiency against established par scores in 13 courses of fire across three disciplines: pistol, rifle and shotgun.


Mossberg Tactical .22

Mossberg recently released their entry into the rimfire AR-15 style rifle they’ve dubbed the Tactical .22. When creating their new rifle, Mossberg saw no reason to reinvent the wheel. They essentially put a 702 Plinkster inside an AR-15 style body. The Tactical .22 utilizes standard Plinkster magazines housed inside an AR style magazine body. Naturally it also has the Plinkster’s well-known accuracy and reliability.

California Court Rules Ammunition Ban AB962 Unconstitutional

The 2011 Ruling from the California Court, in a dramatic ruling, gave gun owners a win in a National Rifle Association / California Rifle and Pistol (CRPA) Foundation lawsuit. Fresno Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton ruled that AB 962— the hotly contested statute that would have banned mail order ammunition sales and required all purchases of so called “handgun ammunition” to be registered—was unconstitutionally vague on its face.

How Rifle Twist Works

Just reading the title, you might think this would be a very short post. Everybody knows that rifle twist works by spinning the bullet so that it is stable as it flies through the air. Naturally, there’s a bit more to it than that.

J-Frame gear Part 2: Ammo

On Tuesday, we looked at the first essential part of carry gear for your J-frame or other compact revolver – holsters.  Today we’re going to look at the 2nd most important part of the equation, and that’s ammo.  It doesn’t do you a whole lot of good to remember to carry your J-frame if you’ve got it packed with ineffective ammo.  While any ammo is certainly better than no ammo, there are some loads that are optimized for the short barreled revolvers.

One of my personal favorite defensive loads for short barreled revolvers is the Hornady Critical Defense round.  In .357 Magnum, this load has reduced recoil compared to other .357 loads and offers guaranteed expansion by using a polymer tipped bullet.  This is one of very few .357 Magnum cartridges that I’ll carry and shoot in my compact revolvers.  My usual recommendation for carry ammo, even in guns that can handle .357 is to use .38 Special +P loads.  For short barreled revolvers, there are some great options in the .38 Special chambering.

The gold standard for .38 Special carry ammo is probably the 125 grain +P Remington Golden Saber load.  This round has been around for years, and it’s still going to be one of the best choices for personal defense in your compact revolver.  However, in recent years there have been some challenges to the Golden Saber.  The Cor-Bon DPX Solid Copper +P load offers controlled and reliable expansion as well as a high muzzle velocity out of a .38 Special revolver.  There are quite a few options out there for your defensive ammo in a .38 Special, so make sure you try a few out to find one that you’re comfortable shooting and can get reliable hits with.

One of the things that I try to do is make sure that my carry ammo is same grain as my practice ammo.  If I practice with 130 grain ammo, I’ll try to be as close to that weight as possible, which means my carry rounds are usually 125 grains.  If I practice with 158 grain ammo, then I’ll try to select a carry round in that weight.  The reason is that this keeps my point of impact consistent between guns.  Whether I’m shooting practice ammo at the range, +P ammo at a match, or using my gun to defend myself, I’ll have the same point of impact for all of my rounds.

On Thursday, we’ll take a look at the final two pieces of the compact revolver puzzle – sights and reloads.  While ammo selection is important, it’s just as important after you’ve picked your defensive rounds to be able to get those rounds in the gun when you need them and make sure they go where you want them to go.  That’ll be this Thursday, so make sure to check back in.

Picking a pocket .380

Is your .380 enough gun? Lately, the market has been flooded by compact .380 ACP pistols, from the brand new Diamondback .380 to the Sig P238 there are a ton of options out there for shooters looking for a compact pocket gun. In fact, Cheaper Than Dirt! recently went over some of the more inexpensive pocket .380 pistols available. Having carried a .25 ACP in a pocket for quite some time, it’s safe to say that I’m a firm believer that the .380 you carry is a step above the 9mm or .45 ACP that you leave at home because it’s too heavy.

The current generation of pocket guns have some serious strengths and weakness as well.  Starting with the Ruger LCP and Kel-Tec guns, the sights are essentially non-existent.  Both the Ruger and the Kel-Tec sport what is commonly called a “gutter sight” which means that instead of the traditional 3-post set up we’re all used to, there is a trough down the middle of the slide.  All of these pocket pistols benefit greatly from the addition of Crimson Trace Lasers, but this goes more so for the LCP and the Kel-Tec.  By adding the Crimson Trace Laserguard for the LCP to your gun you then greatly improve your ability to hit close targets faster and to hit distant targets period.  Using a Crimson Trace equipped Sig P238 (pictured above) I was able to make consistent hits on an IPSC A/C zone target at 25 yards.  The Sig P238 doesn’t even need the Crimson Trace as much as the LCP as it has excellent factory night sights; and yet even on this gun it just makes sense to add it.

The next issue that you’ll encounter on these pocket guns is the trigger.  I like the Ruger LCP – I think it’s a great defensive firearm.  I don’t like the trigger very much.  The same can be said for the Kel-Tec, Diamondback, Bersa, and pretty much all the pocket .380s with the exception of the Sig P238 (again) which has an excellent single action trigger.  But that’s not without problems of its own, as the Sig P238 must be carried cocked-and-locked with the safety on…in a pocket.  That might be an area of concern to some gun owners, in which case a double action gun such as the LCP might be a better bet.

Of course, the most critical issue with the .380 is ammo selection.  The debate will continue to rage whether the .380 is “enough” gun, and whether or not you should use ball ammo to get more penetration or use JHP ammo to get more expansion.  The BVAC ammo at the right is a 90 grain JHP at approximately 1000 FPS using a Speer hollow point bullet.  I tend to prefer hollow points for .380 ammo not because I think they improve my stopping power but rather because a hollow point bullet is less likely to glance off the hard bones in the rib-cage if used in a dynamic critical incident.  FMJ rounds are great for practice and training, but for defensive carry I definitely want the heaviest, fastest hollow points I can get for my .380.

The final thing to consider for your defensive .380 is reliability and learning curve.  Your gun must run the ammo that you choose for it reliably.  If you carry the BVAC ammo above, it needs to work in your gun.  You also need to practice with you gun, and not just standing on the range.  A .380 that’s carried as a last ditch defensive weapon needs to be something that you can draw and get quick, accurate hits with.  Would you take a defensive shooting class with a Ruger LCP?  I honestly don’t know if I would, but it’s something to think about.

When selecting a defensive pocket gun, remember that the first rule of a gunfight is “have a gun”.  The .380 you have beats a .44 at home, but if you have the wrong ammo or can’t hit with your .380, it’s not much better than a magic talisman.  Carry your guns…but make sure your gear is the best you can get.  After all, your life may depend on it.