Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Some Thoughts on Carry Ammunition

I firmly believe that you should always use factory ammunition for personal protection carry. When you purchase your chosen personal protection ammo from a reputable company always try to purchase 3 boxes of the same lot. I know ammo is expensive; however, isn’t your personal protection ammunition more important than a few high-priced cups of coffee? 

You should examine every round for proper primer seating, case integrity, and bullet defects. Fire a few rounds from one box to confirm your pistol’s zero and point of impact with that lot of ammunition. After you load your magazines for carry save at least five rounds in the box. If you ever find yourself in a short range defensive situation, the forensics examiner can use the ammunition sample from the lot that you have saved to verify distances with powder testing. Large ammunition makers keep samples for each lot for exemplar testing for 10 years as well.

What about rotating your ammunition? I rotate my carry ammunition every six months and always confirm that the point of impact for a new lot is where I expect it to be. What do I do with the ammunition I retire from my carry pistol? I place them in a box and when I have enough to fire a standard qualification for practice, I use that ammunition. This lets me reaffirm that my pistol functions with my carry rounds and reminds me what firing that ammunition feels like.

A good practice when loading and unloading your pistol is to rotate the rounds in the magazine so that you are not always chambering the same round. Repeated chambering may eventually cause the bullet to set back in the case and could damage the hollow point’s opening, the cartridge rim, etc. I know it is a pain; however, periodically removing all the rounds in the magazine and placing the #1 round in the #15 (etc.) position will minimize the potential damage.

For Winchester’s view on rotating your ammunition (courtesy of Massad Ayoob) please see the following: Common Sense Duty Ammunition Rotation

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Friday, September 25, 2020

John Dean "Jeff" Cooper--The Father of Modern Pistol Craft

I do not believe that it is an overstatement to say that Jeff Copper was the father of the modern pistol craft that Massad Ayoob, Tom Givens, John Farnam, and a variety of others teach.
Cooper also founded Gunsite Academy which continues to provide outstanding firearms instruction. 

Jeff Cooper published a number of books and I highly recommend them. Many today do not know of Jeff Cooper and his prolific writings. I intend to do a small part in correcting that through periodic quotes that may be relevant to the self defense topics I discuss in this blog. Constructive comments as always are welcome.

Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, Vol. 12, No. 9, 07/2004

Considering the principles of personal defense, we have long since come up with the Color Code. This has met with surprising success in debriefings throughout the world. The Color Code, as we preach it, runs white, yellow, orange, and red, and is a means of setting one's mind into the proper condition when exercising lethal violence, and is not as easy as I had thought at first. There is a problem in that some students insist upon confusing the appropriate color with the amount of danger evident in the situation. As I have long taught, you are not in any color state because of the specific amount of danger you may be in, but rather in a mental state which enables you to take a difficult psychological step.

Now, however, the government has gone into this and is handing out color codes nationwide based upon the apparent nature of a peril. It has always been difficult to teach the Gunsite Color Code, and now it is more so. We cannot say that the government's ideas about colors are wrong, but that they are different from what we have long taught here.

The problem is this: your combat mind−set is not dictated by the amount of danger to which you are exposed at the time. Your combat mind−set is properly dictated by the state of mind you think appropriate to the situation. You may be in deadly danger at all times, regardless of what the Defense Department tells you. The color code which influences you does depend upon the willingness you have to jump a psychological barrier against taking irrevocable action.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

A Cheap Shotgun for Home Defense?

Do you really need an expensive shotgun for home defense? My friend Steve and I did an experiment with a number of older shotguns and discovered that with the proper ammunition, even older shotguns performed very well and would be suitable for home defense.

The proper ammunition in my opinion is the Federal LE-133 8-pellet #00 Buckshot loads using the  FLITECONTROL® wad, the Speer Lawman using the same wad, or the Hornady #00 Buckshot load with the Versatite™ wad. All three seem to perform well in most shotguns and throw an acceptably tight pattern within 20 yards—the absolute outer limit for most urban home defense scenarios.

Recoil wise, the Federal and the Speer 8-pellet #00 Buckshot load's velocity is 1145 foot per second (fps) while the Hornady #00 Buckshot load leaves the barrel at 1600 fps so the felt recoil for the Hornady load will be greater.

Multiple projectile loads require particular attention to what is behind your target. YOU are responsible for every pellet you fire and even a single pellet can maim or kill. This is where target distance and the pattern of a particular load in your shotgun come into play. 

For example, the Fiocchi 9-pellet #00 buckshot load from my Beretta 1301 shotgun at 15 yards generally puts all nine pellets within a 10 inch circle. I say generally because occasionally this load throws one wild pellet off the target at that distance. This is also true with the Federal 9 pellet loads as well as the Winchester and Remington 9 pellet loads. Interestingly the Speer Lawman 8 pellet load does that as well. However, the Federal 8-pellet LE-133 #00 Buckshot load consistently puts all 8 pellets through a hole 2 inches in diameter at 15 yards in my gun.

9th Pellet Flyer

The patterns below fired at 15 yards show our results with several older, and in some cases much cheaper shotguns. The center "A" circle is 9-inches in diameter.

Both barrels of the old double shown below were acceptable with the Federal 8 pellet load.

Even the cheap single shot fired a great pattern with the Federal FLITECONTROL®

You get the idea. Should you modify your shotgun?  That depends entirely on your goal.  If it is a family heirloom or has some value in its existing configuration then I would not modify it.  

Longer barrels certainly are not as handy for moving around a furnished room or other obstacles. If it makes sense to modify your shotgun, then consider cutting the barrel to a legal 18-1/2 - 20 inches. Previous owners cut down the barrels of the Remington Model 11 and the Marlin 1989 Pump shown above. 

A competent gunsmith can do this with little effort if you would like a shorter barrel. The picture below is of a Mossberg 500 Youth Model that originally came with a 24" barrel.  A local gunsmith cut the barrel to 18-1/2 inches, reset the bead, and refinished it.  

If you have a common shotgun such as the Mossberg 500 or Remington 870 and wish to spend a little more money, you can add some useful aftermarket accessories.  I purchased the police surplus 870 shown below for less than $200.00--of course this was before the 2020 gun buying frenzy.  

I added a Magpul stock to make the shotgun a little more comfortable to shoot and an Aridus Industries quick detach shell carrier for on-gun reloads.  Although acceptable before, this surplus 870 is now a very good home defense shotgun.

With the proper ammunition, granddad's old shotgun is completely suitable for home defense. However, you should go to the range and pattern your particular gun with the ammunition you would like to use.  Patterning your load lets you know exactly where the gun shoots and at what range the pattern is too large for home defense purposes.

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