of those truisms in life is that if you make a mistake, the best thing to do (as
painful or embarrassing as it may be) is to admit it, correct it, and move on.
Well, in my article "A
Haulín Hornet" I made a mistake. Thankfully, the mistake was not of such a
nature that it changed the conclusion of the article i.e. "fast 40 grains
bullets are a legitimate option for the Field Pistol shooter". Never the less,
the mistake needs to be exposed.
If you recall, I calculated that . 0208 pound seconds of momentum per pound
of target weight was required to achieve high knockdown probability. I then
weighed a Field Pistol ram and determined that it weighed 7.5 pounds. So by
multiplying .0208 times 7.5 lbs, we would get the amount of momentum needed to
safely take down the FP rams.
My mistake was that the Field Pistol ram that I weighed was a 22 Field Pistol
target and not a center fire Field Pistol ram. It also explains how one of my 40
grain bullets at 2500 fps nearly went through the 100 yard target during field
testing. There was no excuse for my mistake and so I offer a sincere apology to
you my readers.
After I discovered my lapse, I went back and got a proper target - a three
eights inch thick, T-1 Field Pistol ram and weighed it on the same scale as used
before. The regular FP ram, weighed 10.35 pounds - over a 27% increase in mass
over the 22 FP ram
The fundamental question now became whether a 40 grain bullet at 2500 fps
would still generate enough momentum to comfortably take down the heavier ram.
To find out how much momentum we need to do so, we now multiply .0208 times
10.35 lbs and get .215 pound seconds as our idealized knockdown standard. In the
previous article, we found that our fast 40 grain load was generating .375 pound
seconds of momentum. This still comfortably exceeds our .215 lb sec gold
standard for taking the FP ram.
Fine, but as I mentioned before, the rubber meets the road at the range. So I
cooked up the same 2500 fps load as used in the article (10.3 grains of AA 4100,
Winchester case and small rifle primer, Speer 40 grain spire point bullet). The
10+ pound ram was set at 100 yards. My test rig was slightly different this
time. I had removed the BSA 6 X 24 scope from the 10" TC Hornet to use on
another gun, and so substituted Burrisís excellent 3 X 12 pistol scope instead.
All shooting was off the bench using sand bags for a rest. To summarize, the
little Speer slapped down the ram down hard every time. Even when I slipped and
punched the ram low in the center of the belly line, it went over with only the
briefest bit of hesitation. Better yet, unlike the last time, there was
absolutely no damage. The little Speer made only a very bright, but tiny pencil
like mark on the steel. Interestingly, every time I went down to examine the
target, I would find these little round lead "buttons" laying on the ground
right in front of it. They were very similar to the lead buttons you sometimes
find in front of the full size swinger targets when using gas checked cast
bullets. Obviously, the base of the bullet was flattening itself against the
steel and then dropping to the ground.
So once more, we have to conclude that fast 40 grain bullets are a legitimate
option. The momentum is there. The accuracy is there, bullet drop is minimal,
and recoil isnít any more, and sometimes even less than other standard FP loads.
However, donít expect long case life with these hot 2500 fps loads. But what the
heck, you canít have everything.
Big Changes at ATK - As you know, ATK is the two billion dollar defense contractor that bought the
Blount sporting goods empire last year. ATK runs the Lake City ammunition plant
for the U.S. government and makes a wide variety of large and small ammunition
products, gun powders for commercial use, and solid rocket motors for all kinds
of purposes including the strap on boosters for the space shuttle and our ICBM
ATK is basically an ammunition company and so it seemed interesting that they
would buy a company that included several non ammunition components like RCBS,
Weaver, Redfield, Outers, etc. Last February, In an interview with the president
of the new ATK division responsible for their new acquisitions, I asked him if
he planned to sell off any of these non ammo components. He replied that no
there were no immediate plans to do so. If these components were making their
profit goals, there would be no changes.
Well, changes are taking place. The first was ATKís announcement that it had
sold Simmons Outdoor Corp. to Meade Instruments, a major manufacturer of amateur
astronomical telescopes and accessories. Simmons markets riflescopes,
binoculars, and spotting scopes under the Simmons, Weaver, and Redfield brand
names. What this really means is that Simmons imported scopes from several
overseas manufacturers and sold them under their various brand names. Iíve
gotten indications that ATK wasnít happy that it wasnít in full control of the
manufacturing of these overseas scopes but was fully responsible for the
warrantee service. Thatís not their way of doing things and so consequently they
decided to sell. On the other hand Meade has been wanting to get more into the
sports optics end of the business, primarily because of the explosion of
consumer interest in birding. Simmons et al has been selling a lot of binoculars
and spotting scopes in that market. It was a good fit. ATK did retain Weaver and
Redfield scope mounts which are made here in the good old U.S.A.
In another major change, ATK is dropping production of all of Federal 22
match ammunition products. This includes both the supersonic and subsonic
versions of Ultra Match, as well as the 900 and 900B Gold Metal Match products.
The lower end Federal Gold Metal Target 711B which uses the same dimpled case as
the more expensive stuff will be retained however.
It seems that the Ultra and Match ammo was difficult to make and was tying up
too many resources for the amount of money they were bringing in. So, they had
to go. Iím really sorry to see these products dropped as they represented a
major commitment by an American manufacturer to produce world class 22 ammo. I
hate to see that commitment fall by the wayside. So, if you shoot any of those
products, buy now while you can.
Clark TC Stock
Bill Clark of Fontana California is not your regular "in the box" type of
person. He likes the unusual and has been the consummate experimenter all his
life. Heís also an accomplished pilot and builder of experimental aircraft. Now
that heís gotten on in his years, heís taken to building unusual unlimited class
Contenders for his own own enjoyment.
To give you an example, one of the most unique things that Bill has put
together is a TC with a 14" tensioned barrel system similar to that found on Dan
Wesson revolvers. Like the Wesson, it uses a thin barrel with a shroud that
slips over with plenty of room for the barrel on the inside. The shroud/barrel
combination is then tensioned with a barrel nut at the muzzle. The shroud is
also perforated with a zillion holes which goes a long way to reduce weight and
dissipate heat. Tensioning the barrel significantly reduces barrel harmonics and
increases accuracy. Because of all of the holes, I call it "Billís piccolo
Bill has also turned his fertile mind to the subject of TC stocks. The TC of
course is a multi piece gun consisting of barrel, frame, hinge pin, grip, and
forend - 5 separate pieces. To be perfectly precise, we could also count the
metal screw holding the forend to the barrel and the bolt holding the grip to
the frame. Now weíre up to 7 pieces. What if you could eliminate a significant
number of those individual parts? Then, there would be less likelihood of
something coming loose and negatively affecting the basic accuracy of the gun.
This would definitely be a good thing as forends and grips do work their way
loose on occasion. A one piece stock that combined the separate forend and grip
into a single mono unit would be just the ticket, and this is exactly what Bill
designed and put together.
Additionally, I would also say though that probably the main advantage of
the Clark stock is the fact that for the first time we have a stock allows
a factory TC barrel to free float just like on a MOA or any high quality
Talk to any
benchrest shooter and ask him which is better i.e. a free floated barrel
or a barrel with a wood forend attached with a screw into the bottom.
After he gets up off the ground from laughing himself sick over the
thought of it, I think heíll vote for free floating. Why? Because when
that screw is tightened up, itís putting considerable stress on the
barrel. Barrel makers go through all kinds of expensive and complicated
processes to eliminate barrel stress from their products because it
reduces accuracy and here we go putting it right back in. Also, as the
barrel heats up and expands, the stress on the barrel will likely change
and increase. Yes, we can shoot good groups with the standard factory TC
configuration, but wouldnít you like to increase your chances of getting
even better groups.
Another condition that the Clark stock
addresses is the fact that TCís are also barrel heavy. The good news is
that this helps dampen recoil. The bad news is that holding a barrel heavy
gun perfectly steady requires a bit of strength making the gun somewhat
awkward or even difficult to accurately hold for kids or those that donít
have a lot of muscle in their wrists.
The Clark TC
stock actually moves the hand further forward in relationship with the
barreled action and thus reduces the downward pressure produced by the
relatively long TC barrel. The end result is that the Clark stock produces
better balance in the hand.
The angle of the grip is also very different from the standard TC. The
traditional TC grip is angled back towards the shooter which then has the
effect of moving the barrel forward or further away. The often delayed G2
Contender angles the grip even further to the rear and consequently moves
the muzzle and the weight of the gun out even more than before. This has
the effect of producing an even greater muzzle heavy situation.
On the other hand, the grip on the Clark stock is almost vertical and so is
very similar to that of a 1911 Colt. Consequently, itís a more natural and
comfortable pointer, especially when shooting standing.
Speaking of shooting standing, one thing I have never been really been
thrilled about when it comes to the TC is its wimpy forend. The little
triangular sliver of wood was primarily designed to be used for shooting game
off of a rest. By pushing forward against a rest, the gunís elevation could be
raised without having to take time to fool with the sights in a fast moving
field situation. However, that miniature forend really doesnít give the standing
competition shooter much to grab on to. Oh sure, you can make do with whatís
there, but itís far from optimum. The Clark TC stock, on the other hand,
provides much more surface area to grasp.
Looking something like an art decco piece of sculpture, the Clark stock gives
the impression of being heavy. Actually itís not. Bill reached back to his
aircraft building days and uses aircraft grade spruce plywood to build his
stocks. This material is both light and strong. This stock wonít put a factory
TC over the weight limit.
The Clark stock is not a custom product and is a standard catalog item and so
is readily available for both 10" and 14" TCís, although at this time the stock
has not be approved for production use by the evaluation committee. To be
perfectly honest, this is not a highly finished item that you would expect from
a well known manufacturer. There are definitely some rough edges to it. However,
it is strong, and it does work, and the price is right - $50. Clark stocks can
be ordered by calling 909-824-9003.
New Nosler Bullet - For those who like to shoot half scale with the 223 or the full size targets
with a 22 BR,
has a new addition to their custom competition line. Itís a
77 grain hollow point boat tail with a very slick ballistic coefficient of .340.
Like the others in the custom competition class, the new 22 uses Noslerís
special, highly uniform, bullet jackets and very highly concentric lead cores. A
1:8 twist barrel is necessary to provide the optimum in stability and
accuracy. Nosler will be selling these in their 250 bulk pack as well as in the
regular 100 count box.
For those of you who like to hunt, also check out Noslerís new bonded bullets
for 2003. The jackets are made from regular gilding metal rather than the 100%
copper jackets usually utilized for this type of bullet. The advantage is far
less copper fouling for better accuracy. Bonded construction also means that
there is little to no possibility of jacket/core separation no matter what the
conditions. The new bullets are available in a wide variety of diameters and
feature a white plastic tip.
By the way, Iíve been using Nosler 180 grain silhouette bullets with my
Freedom Arms 353 this last year and have noticed that I haven't had a single
ringer with them. After doing a little checking, I think I may have found the
secret. Nosler uses extra hard lead cores for their silhouette bullets. As a
result thereís less deformation upon ignition and during bullet jump from
cylinder to forcing cone and so results in better accuracy. Also seems to hit
harder. They work good.
Remington Handgun Ammo - Speaking of bonded bullets, Remington has gotten intensely serious about
hunting handgun ammo this year. This is of interest as our silhouette revolvers
obviously make superb hunting instruments. Match them with the right ammo, and
thereís very little on the continent that we canít take with them. Noting that
interest in hand gun hunting has grown substantially in recent years, Remington
has responded by coming out with 3 new loads for revolver hunters i.e. a 357, a
44 Mag, and a 454 Casull. All loads feature bonded bullets with patented spiral
nose cuts that will open up to 1.6X over the original diameter. Bonded bullets
are also known for being able to retain close to 100% of their original weight
for the max in penetration. The new bullet even features a patented driving band
up front to set up precise alignment in the revolverís forcing cone. This is
standard operating procedure for cast revolver bullets but this has got to be a
first for a jacketed bullet. The 357 load utilizes a 165 grain bullet at 1290
fps. The 44 Mag uses a 275 at 1235 fps and the 454 uses a 300 grainer at 1625
On a side note, if you recall, in a previous column I predicted that
additional ammo manufacturers besides Hornady would soon get into the business
of offering ammo for the the hot new 17 Rimfire Mag. Well itís coming to pass.
The little magnum will be found in Remington green boxes this coming year. Iím
sure even more manufacturers will follow. If prices drop sufficiently, the 17
Hornady should be able to put up a serious challenge to the ancient 22 Long
Rifle as thereís nothing that the LR can do that the 17 canít do better.
G3 Rimfire Headspace Gauge - When an unexpected opportunity to acquire a Savage Anschutz Model 64 Match
rifle came up recently, I decided to treat myself to another Christmas gift.
Manufactured in 1967, the rifle was a classic closet queen. In other words,
other than a few minor dings on the stock, the rifle was in pristine condition.
It had, obviously, been sitting in someoneís closet for probably 30 years.
The first, rather enjoyable task was to determine what ammo it liked the
best. It didnít take long to find out that Eley 10X and Lapua Midas L would
produce tiny, tiny little groups at 50 yards. Big surprise. I decided to also
Wolf Target Match
to see if something more modest in cost would work as
well. The Wolf had promise, as typically 3 or 4 shots would be right on top of
each other and then, unexpectedly, one or two would be a half inch or more away.
At first I thought it was just me messing up the groups, but it happened time
Well last year I reviewed the G3 rimfire headspace gauge and found it to be a
very useful tool for sorting 22 ammo. The theory behind headspace sorting is
this - as you know, rimfire ammo headspaces on the cartridgeís rim. Typically,
the rims on most ammo will run between 36 and 42 thousandths of an inch. Ammo
with rims that are 36 thousandths of an inch will shoot to a slightly different
place than ammo with rims that are 42 thousandths. If a box of 22ís has rims
that vary in thickness all over the place, groups will be larger than they would
be if the rims are all of the same thickness. 22 benchrest shooters routinely
measure the rims of even the most expensive ammunition to insure that their
groups will be as small as theoretically possible.
The G3 gauge is a simple fixture that clamps with a screw on to one of the
jaws of any standard stainless steel calipers. Once on, simply bring the jaws
together, zero the dial, open the jaws, insert a round in the slot in the
fixture, and bring the jaws together to take a reading. Then separate the
cartridges into groups. Iíve found that the most common rim thickness in a given
lot of ammo is usually the one that works best. The others are used for more
Just for fun, I head-spaced a box of Eley 10X, Lapua Midas L, and Wolf Target
Match. Here are the results. The column on the left is thousandths of an inch.
37 - 7
37 - 2
37 - 0
38 - 14
38 - 14
38 - 6
39 - 19
39 - 17
39 - 18
40 - 10
40 - 10
40 - 26
41 - 4
42 - 5
The results were interesting in that it showed that the Wolf ammo had the
lowest spread in rim thickness and that its headspace was more consistent than
the more expensive ammo. It was not however the best shooting ammo. Obviously
thereís more to producing tiny groups than just headspace. Itís an important
factor, but not the only factor.
To conclude, head-spacing the
definitely did improve its groups but
it still did not produce groups as good as the Eley and Lapua did without
head-spacing. Again 3 or 4 shots would be right on top of each other, and then 1
or 2 shots would be out of the group but instead of a half inch away, theyíd be
approximately an eighth of an inch away - a big improvement. You might have even
better luck with your gun. Never the less, the G3 gauge is a useful tool for
anyone who shoots rimfire ammo. It can be had at