Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gun advice for the newbe -5

Follow up advise and re-considerations

Over the past couple of months I have had to do some reconsidering of the 9mm automatic vs the 357 revolver.  Also, it seems the prices have gone up in the past couple years, and you will need to budget an extra $100, unless you were just real fortunate, as I was, in finding good quality low cost firearms. 

One of the biggest re-considerations I had to make is in the area of economics and reliability.  Or economics of reliability.  While at the low end, where I live, a revolver is likely to cost about $100 more than an automatic, shooting a dozen rounds of a particular ammo through it is sufficient to say it is reliable.   Shooting 4 dozen rounds of a particular ammo through an automatic is also sufficient, if it never jams once.  I recently came across a troublesome gun and had to shoot off about 3 dozen rounds in the process of troubleshooting it and repairing it, and will now need to shoot 5 to 7 dozen rounds through it to prove its reliability. That is personal defense ammo, not practice ammo, so it will cost upwards of $70 to insure this firearm is reliable. 

Secondly, the revolver is much easier to clean.  No disassemble, just brush it out and oil it up.  Most automatics require disassemble for cleaning.  To a former military man as myself, this is second nature.  Not to most people.  Hence, the revolver is simpler to use and maintain. 

Between those two considerations, I now must favor the 357 for anyone who wouldn't normally have a gun but needs one now in these increasingly dangerous times.  Sure, it won't have the firepower and it isn't really a good carry gun, but if those are what you want, they come with a much higher budget.  These article are all about the minimalist gun in the home. 

The remainder of this article, while it may be of interest to others, is mainly aimed at new owners of 357 revolvers.

Over the past couple of years, there have been some improvements in ammo.   But to understand these improvements, you must first understand the relationships in energy, recoil, and shock.  As those things are somewhat beyond the scope of this article, I will try to give a very, very sketchy and brief overview of them.

If you want to skip this part, my former advise, of making a decision on a personal defense ammo that is within your budget and sticking with it, is still good.  But if you are thinking about a more effective line of ammo, here is a quick overview of the considerations. 

More velocity and more bullet weight (measured in grains) makes more effective ammo.  But increasing both will increase recoil dramatically.  Increasing velocity while maintaining same bullet weight increases effectiveness while increasing recoil proportionately.  But too much velocity (or too little, for that matter) means the bullet is more likely to pass right through the bad guy and take a lot of its energy with it.  Thus modern defense ammunitions use an "engineered" bullet that is almost guaranteed to expand to 40% or more over its original size, to insure it delivers maximum shock almost immediately on impact. 

Now there is no combination that performs best in every situation, and no ammo that is guaranteed to perform the best, so you may have to do some reasoning for yourself. How much recoil can you handle?  If you can handle 357 ammo, great.  But that puts you in about 20% of the population.  For the other 80% of us, after practicing with standard 38+P practice ammo (see note1)  for a while, make a decision, can you handle twice the recoil? If so, there are some light 357 loads that you might want to try.  (See Note2)  If not, go with a good 38+P personal defense ammo.  Hitting the target is much more important than what you shoot at it.

There are two tests to see if you are proficient at using your weapon and not going overboard on hot ammunition. 

Test number one I call Load, Roll and Shoot. In this simple test, load 4 or 5 rounds and leave one or two empty chambers.  Without looking at the weapon, roll the cylinder and close it, so you aren't sure where the empty chambers are.  While shooting, if the barrel jerks (usually down) when you click on an empty chamber, you are flinching as you shoot.

A second and more complex test, for proficiency, is to see if you can fire  5 bullets into a 5 inch circle at 5 yards in 5 seconds.  This is a scaled down version of a test created by a guy named  Richard Mann.  I read his article in a gun magazine.  The test is a good one.  He developed it for really well trained shooters drawing a subcompact pistol from a concealed holster.  Here, I recommend it, without the drawing from concealed holster and stuff, as a yardstick just to see if you can consider yourself basically proficient on your weapon. 

NOTE1:  For practice ammo, I use "Winchester White Box," sold under the name "USA" and I use JHP's, just because they are easy to find around here. They cost about $20 for a box of 50.  Because of the cost and the light recoil, this is what you should be firing most of the time.  This is also a reasonably effective defense round, should you decide to just go with one and only one type of ammo.  (Remember, this article is for those on a budget.)

NOTE2:  The following types of ammo should produce a recoil somewhere about halfway between a 38+P and  fully loaded 357 round.  They should each be about 50% more effective than what I used as my standard practice ammo.  I did a calculation (no particular units, just comparison) on what I expect the recoil to be for each of them, using the manufactures specifications.  For reference, I added practice ammo and full load 357 ammo afterwards. 

Remington Golden Saber     recoil=153    This is a fairly easy to find ammo

Winchester PDX1 Defender     recoil=166 

Buffalo Bore  38+P HeavyLoad   recoil=157  This ammo can be used in a 38, but I don't recommend it due to the excessive stress it would put on the weapon.  It is also hard to find, unless you order it. 

 Practice ammo  (Winchester White Box)    recoil=119

Full Load 357 ammo ranges from about 180 to around 200.

No comments: