Monday, April 30, 2012

Ballistics Testing Federal Premium HST 9mm 124 Grain +P


One of the big advantages of purchasing the Boberg XR9-S is the ability of the pistol to handle +P ammunition and get good performance out of it with it's 3.35" barrel length.  I decided to test a few of the better known and used self defense ammunition loadings through the Boberg to see how the gun would handle them and also the terminal performance of the ammo  My first test was with Federal's HST 124 grain +P loading.  I've tested this in the standard pressure loading with a 3" barrel previously and liked the terminal performance I observed from that single sample.  Let's see what the +P and additional barrel length did to the performance of this ammo.  The stats below came from the two recovered test rounds.

This test may seem a bit self serving due to my test pistol choice, but I think the results should be very similar to those you would get from the Glock 26 or other small 9mm with barrels in the 3.25" to 3.5" range.

Pistol Specs:
Boberg XR9-S 9mm with 3.35" barrel

 Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at alternate ends of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 5 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density.  I shoot the blocks at the range and then bring them home and recover the bullets.


I'm not really sure what I can say that would add to the data captured above.  The load performed well in both test shots.  The only concern is the unexplained variance in overall expansion that caused the 6 feet per second slower second shot to expand less and penetrate more.  It could be that 1140 fps is the magic velocity that is needed for the terminal performance of shot one and any velocity less than 1140 will lessen expansion and increase penetration.  Regardless of the cause of the difference, the performance of both test shots is acceptable.  The video below documents the test from range to bullet recovery, please feel free to view it if you are interested.


My Thoughts
I really like the performance I've seen from my own 9mm 124 grain HST testing.  Performance in both standard pressure and +P loadings have all been consistently good.  The load delivers both expansion and penetration.  I may do a head to head test with the standard and +P loads at a later date just to see how much incremental performance is gained when stepping up to the added pressure loading.



Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision about which specific ammunition to use for their needs. It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.  Ammunition labeled as +P should not be used in any firearm unless the firearm manufacturer specifically states you are permitted to do so.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

32 ACP JHP Shoot-Out


Last week I posted an image that showed two blocks of SIM-TEST media that had been recast and were ready for ballistics testing use.  In that post I asked for some reader input on future testing candidates.  One long time blog reader and I share a common interest in the Kel-Tec P-32.  The diminutive P-32 is a true pocket pistol that is so small, light, and flat that it simply disappears in the pocket even when carried in a decent pocket holster.  Eric asked me to do some tests with the .32 ACP and I was happy to oblige because this same testing had been on my radar for months.

I could write for hours about the Kel-Tec P-32, but I'll summarize by saying that our test gun has been a real pleasure to own.  Even in it's stock configuration without the add on LaserLyte, it has small sights machined into the slide that facilitate all the shooting accuracy you need for close range self defense.  It's relatively modest retail price, light weight, slim profile, and 7+1 capacity have made the P-32 a popular choice in the pocket pistol category.

I was surprised that even in the full daylight, I was able to use the LaserLyte to help with my aiming of the test shots.  The primary reason for purchasing and installing the laser was to help me accurately shoot test shots like these and this was my first chance to use the laser in full light.  At the distanced I needed it, it worked great.

Many months ago I did a study on the .32 ACP and .32 NAA cartridges.  At that time I was simply running rounds over a chronograph to capture their speed and calculating their muzzle energy.  I had started investigating some terminal ballistics testing so from the previous testing I knew that the CORBON .32 was a decent expander and I also knew that the Fiocchi Extrema was the next fastest JHP available so it should also expand.  The previous ammo study can be found HERE.

With my previously gained knowledge on the CORBON and Fiocchi loads, I decided to test these two head to head in the same block of SIM-TEST.  The video below documents the full test from the range through bullet recovery.  Both loads where shot through two layers of loose medium weight denim and into a SIM-TEST block that approximates the density of 10% ballistics gelatin.

The final results were a bit surprising in some aspects and expected in others.  Let's review the detailed data captured from testing.  On the top line, I was pleased to see that both loads did expand in the test.  The two loads did demonstrate large variances in the amounts of expansion and penetration.  Weight retention was excellent on both tested rounds.  I'll recap each load individually below.


Fiocchi Extrema 60 grain XTP


The Fiocchi Extrema line uses the Hornady XTP bullet in place of the JHP bullet used in the Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics line of ammunition.  From previous testing, I knew the Extrema line is loaded "hotter" than the Shooting Dynamics line.  My gut feeling told me that this loading had a high probability of demonstrating at least some expansion.  I was pleased to see that my gut was right and the recovered round did expand even after penetrating two layers of denim.  The surprise came when measuring the penetration depth.  11 inches of penetration is really quite remarkable from this little 60 grain slug.  The load demonstrated a great balance of penetration depth with some modest expansion.

CORBON 60 Grain JHP


From previous tests, I knew that the CORBON was a real screamer in the velocity department.  No other round previously tested comes close to the velocity and subsequent calculated ft/lbs of energy of this CORBON loading.  I also had the expectation of massive expansion from this load and the CORBON again delivered on that expectation.  The recovered bullet exceeded 1/2 an inch in size.  That's really incredible and on par with many loads in .380 AUTO and even some 9mm loads I've previously tested.  The tradeoff for this massive expansion comes at the cost of penetration.  Regardless of initial velocity, the wasn't enough speed and mass to push this round for deeper penetration.

Final Wrap-Up & My Thoughts
With this test we have a classic example of expansion vs. penetration.  The Fiocchi load has a fine balance of both expansion and penetration that allows it's moderately expanded XTP bullet to reach a full 11 inches of penetration depth.  The CORBON load is built for speed and expansion.  It trades off penetration depth for it's caliber leading expansion.  The fact that both loads exhibited expansion in terminal testing may end up being the key learning from this test.  Many folks just don't believe that any JHP load will expand due to their slow velocities.  These two loads demonstrate that isn't always the case.

Supporter Update
I'd like to thanks Steve T. for his very generous contribution to help fund testing like this and also keep the blog up and running.  I really appreciate the support Steve.

If anyone else would like to contribute, you can always use the Fund More Research tab at the top of the blog or just click HERE.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jack Is Back

To continue on with the 24 analogy, I've decided to come back in.  I received some really positive feedback that I should reconsider my decision to go dark on the blog.  After thinking about it for a day, I went ahead and paid up for a month of Photobucket Pro.  So things are going back to normal for the next 29 days or so.  I'm just going to have to suck it up and get a heavily discounted 2 year Photobucket Pro membership and put this little speed bump behind me.

In truth, I enjoy working on the blog and videos.  Probably not as much as doing the testing and shooting I'm documenting through the blog, but enough to keep it going.  The fact that others see value in the blog is a big win for me.  I guess I'm just lucky to have access to some great testing facilities and equipment that others may not have.  If they can get some value from my reports, then that's just great and all the more reason to keep things rolling along.  Thanks for the encouragement.  I really appreciate it.  Brian, thanks very much for your most generous contribution.  I'll funnel that to the Photobucket renewal next month.



So earlier today I got a peek at something new from Boberg that I would like to share with you.  Feast your peepers on this little jewel.

     
It's a prototype, but I think it's pretty darn sexy.  With a bit more encouragement, I bet Arne could make it even more black if everyone wheedles him enough.  The Boberg forum is abuzz with folks thinking up names for the Boberg Noir.  No word on availability as this prototype was just completed today and must undergo some rigorous testing to see if the finish holds up with use.  In my eyes, I like this look better than the original balanced two tone.  Even if we only get a black slide and the current components stay "in the white" it's still a step in the right direction.


I guess I should mention that I recast 3 blocks of SIM-TEST this week so I'll be back at ballistics testing this weekend.  I've got my eye on some .32 JHPs from Fiocchi and Corbon as well as some new .380 to test.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Going Dark

Earlier tonight I noticed that all my blog images hosted on Photobucket starting showing a message that I had exceeded my monthly band-width allotment and I would need to "Go Pro" and pony up a monthly fee for the pleasure of having Photobucket host my blog images.

After thinking about it for a few hours, I've decided that this is the straw that broke the camel's back.  For the last 10 months, I've spent a considerable amount of my personal time and money creating over 80 new blog articles.  Each one was created by me and was not simply re-posting content created by someone else.  While I have enjoyed doing it, I think I'm done spending my time and money going out of my way to share my thoughts and learnings with others through the blog.

If that wasn't enough...earlier tonight Blogger has forced us all to use their new interface.  It's about as intuitive as a cat learning to ice skate.    

So just like Jack Bauer in the last episode of 24, we're going dark.

And Photobucket, this last image is for you.  Unfortunately, you won't be able to see it because I've exceeded my band-width allotment.  While I hate to do it, I feel compelled to share my thoughts about Photobucket specifically and social media in general.  Since they can't figure out how to monetize the viewers of the content they host, they've decided to charge a fee and penalize the people that actually create the content they host on their website.  [sarcasm] What a great way to foster new and creative thoughts and content!!!![/sarcasm]  Social media and web enabled information sharing is so broken.  

 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

You Call The Shots.....Literally

Earlier today I recast two blocks of SIM-TEST.  Rather than me deciding what to shoot into them, I've decided to let you blog readers decide.  Just post a comment with your choice and I'll let this run a few days before making the final decision on what to shoot into these blocks.  Our theme is testing ammo from short barrels so please list your desired caliber and load.  I'll test anything from .32 ACP through 9mm +P right now.  .38, .357, .40, and .45 will be following soon.  Also please state you barrel length preference so I can match that up with something I have on hand here with a similar barrel length.

By the way, if you have not noticed, I've created a new blog child page that will take you to a Paypal link if you would like to help support my on-going testing.  The child page is called "Fund More Research" and you can get to it from the tabs shown above or by clicking this link.  http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/p/fund-more-research.html  I've added some info on the page to give you an idea of the things I need to keep moving forward with additional testing.

I've also added another child page that I will be updating with my testing schedule.  As requests, new items to be tested, and funds come in I will be keeping this page up to date with my future scheduled tests.  Not much to see yet, but the new page can be accessed though the tab above.


Let's hear what you want to see tested.

Another Range Trip With the Boberg XR9-S

After my first range trip with my XR9-S last weekend, I was really anxious to get out to the range and try it again.  The stars aligned and I was able to spend two hours out at the range this afternoon enjoying my Boberg.  Most of the time, I had the range to myself so I shot a little video to fill in some gaps that I was asked about after the first range video went up.

Today I blasted through 2 boxes of American Eagle 124 grain FMJ, a box of Sellier and Belloit Non Tox Police 115 grain JHP, 42 rounds of Remington Golden Saber Bonded 124 Grain +P, and half a box of Sellier and Belloit 115 Police FMJ.  The pistol felt like it ran much smoother than it did on the first trip.  I had no issues at all across the 200 or so rounds.

At my age, I should be wearing corrective lenses all the time.  I've got an astigmatism in both eyes and the lenses correct for distance vision.  Last year I got my first bi-focal prescription lenses due to my aging eyes.  My regular shooting glasses correct for distance.  Normally, when I'm away from the house, I'm not sporting my prescription glasses so today I introduced that into my shooting.  Instead of wearing my prescription shooting glasses, I grabbed a pair of Gargoyles with plano lenses.  I was pretty pleased that I could still get on target without my prescription glasses. 

I made another video that started out as a recoil comparison, but it grew the longer I stayed at the range.


This pistol is really growing on me and it's quickly becoming a favorite.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another Realistic 380 ACP Vs. 9mm Test With Hornady Critical Defense

This is the third installment of a new series of ballistics tests that compares 380 ACP with 9mm ammo from the same manufacturer with similar pistols and testing conditions.  I really believe that 9mm is quickly becoming the new 380 ACP and we have really started to see a big increase in the Pocket 9mm pistol category.  Rather than do stand alone 9mm tests, as I did with my 380 tests, I've decided to run them both head to head and see what can be learned.  This series should help people decide if the performance trade off between 380 ACP and 9mm is justified by the slightly smaller size of the 380 pistol vs. the 9mm pistol.  Alternately, it may help you decide if the increase in terminal performance is worth the extra recoil and size of the 9mm.

Then you have to consider that 9mm ammo is usually cheaper than .380 ACP, so you can practice more shooting for less money with the 9mm.  So many things to consider.  =)


Pistol Specs:
Diamondback DB9 9mm with 3" barrel
Diamondback DB380 380 ACP with 2.8" barrel



Ammo Specs:
Hornady Critical Defense 115 grain FTX 9mm
Hornady Critical Defense 90 grain FTX 380 ACP

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot with each pistol at alternate ends of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 5 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density.  I shoot the blocks at the range and then bring them home and recover the bullets.  The video below documents the entire process from range to recovery.




Recap of Test:
This was my third time testing Hornady Critical Defense in 380 or 9mm.  I have to say their performance has been very consistent across all the tests.  They have always delivered a nice balance of expansion and penetration.  You won't see these loads leading the pack on expansion or penetration depth, but if I figured out a way to average those two characteristics together I think the Hornady would come out near the top of the list.  One other thing I noticed is that all the Critical Defense loads I've tried are really mild on recoil.  This may be important for you if recoil is a concern.

Another Realistic 380 ACP vs. 9mm Test with Federal Hydra-Shok

This is the second installment of a new series of ballistics tests that compares 380 ACP with 9mm ammo from the same manufacturer with similar pistols and testing conditions.  I really believe that 9mm is quickly becoming the new 380 ACP and we have really started to see a big increase in the Pocket 9mm pistol category.  Rather than do stand alone 9mm tests, as I did with my 380 tests, I've decided to run them both head to head and see what can be learned.  This series should help people decide if the performance trade off between 380 ACP and 9mm is justified by the slightly smaller size of the 380 pistol vs. the 9mm pistol.  Alternately, it may help you decide if the increase in terminal performance is worth the extra recoil and size of the 9mm.

Then you have to consider that 9mm ammo is usually cheaper than .380 ACP, so you can practice more shooting for less money with the 9mm.  So many things to consider.  =)

Test Pistol Specs:
Diamondback DB9 9mm with 3" barrel
Diamondback DB380 380 ACP with 2.8" barrel

Ammo Specs:
Federal Hydra-Shok 124 grain JHP 9mm
Federal Hydra-Shok 90 grain JHP 380 ACP


Testing Protocol:
My testing process is simple.  I take one shot with each pistol at alternate ends of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 5 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density.

A full video accounting of the testing from range to final bullet recovery is available below.



Recap of Test Results and My Thoughts:



The Federal Hydra-Shok has been around for a long time.  During it's lifetime, we can only guess how Federal has changed the design from it's original configuration.  I was really pleased with the performance of the 380 and it closely matched my previous testing results.  I was disappointed with the 9mm performance.  It really didn't sink in when doing my initial recovery, but later as I was measuring the recovered bullet I realized the huge stretch cavity I had observed was probably caused by the bullet spinning 180 degrees after entry into the block.  After the spin, the bullet settled into a rearward travel path with the bullet base leading the way.   This would explain the deep penetration and lack of expansion.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Realistic 380 ACP vs. 9mm Test With Speer Gold Dot

I'm not a huge fan of making YouTube videos, but I fully understand why they have become such a big part of the world today.  I don't think of myself as particularly charismatic or fun to watch so editing my videos can be painful.  I really prefer to capture my work and thoughts in an organized manner via my blog.  Having said that, I will admit that I have been sucked into the YouTube vortex several times and spent way too much time watching video after video.  Some were better than others, but they were all interesting even if only for a few minutes before I moved on to the next one.

After watching a zillon different ballistics testing videos it suddenly occurred to me that there was still a virgin area of testing that remained untouched.  I realized that no one had ever really done a head to head comparison of 380 ACP and 9mm in the same video.  There were a couple of attempts, but they introduced too many different variables into their testing.  So I had this idea......

I've come to the conclusion that 9mm is becoming the new 380, so what if I could compare the most popular bullet weights in 9mm and 380 ACP, using the same brand of ammo?  I would have to find a comparable pair of pocket pistols that should represent the current state of what's available in the marketplace. I ended up deciding to run my first test with Speer Gold Dot ammo and this pair of Diamondback pistols.

Pistol Specs:
Diamondback DB9 9mm with 3" barrel
Diamondback DB380 380 ACP with 2.8" barrel

Ammo Specs:
Speer Gold Dot 115 grain GDHP 9mm
Speer Gold Dot 90 grain GDHP 380 ACP

Testing Protocol:
My testing process will be simple.  I take one shot with each pistol at alternate ends of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 5 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density.

I've included that YouTube video I mentioned above with the actual shots and digging the recovered bullets from the SIM TEST block.  It wasn't too painful to edit.  =)




Recap of Test Results and My Thoughts:

Speer Gold Dot ammunition is popular for a good reason, and that reason is that it performs.  It has been a very consistent performer in the lab as well as the field. This is the first of a series of 380 vs 9mm tests and it was nice to see such consistent performance from these two popular choices.  This test will serve as a great benchmark for the future tests that will follow soon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Boberg XR9-S Review - 2012 Wish List Update

Earlier this week I received my second 2012 Wish List item.  It was the Boberg Arms XR9-S 9mm pocket pistol that first started shipping out in September 2011.  Based on my serial number, there have been less than 450 of these pistols made and shipped up to the time of my review.

I've never met Arne Boberg, the inventor/designer of the Boberg XR9-S, but if I ever do I'll shake his hand and say "thanks for daring to do things differently".  I've had my XR9-S for a few hours, but I'm still finding new and unique stuff about it every few minutes.  It truly is a unique piece of work that will bring a smile to your face if you've ever gone though the process of building something from scratch without being afraid to re-make, re-do, and re-engineer your prototypes along the way.  I'll point a few of the neat things out as we go through the review.

If you want to  know the whole back story on the development of the Boberg XR9 series of pistols, you are better off getting that directly from Arne on his website.  My CliffsNotes version of the history is that Arne designed his unique feeding system around the .32 acp cartridge.  Along the way he smelled the winds of change in the gun market and modified his design to work with 9mm ammunition.  Another key decision point came when deciding on the size of pistol to produce with his unique feeding system.  He opted for a pocket compact over a larger service sized pistol.  Several prototypes and thousands of hours and rounds of test ammo later and the XR9-S (S is for Shorty) was born.

The specifications on the XR9-S are shown below along with the first of what I am sure will be many pictures.  I find the pistol to be small and "chunky" and think it feels really good in my hand.  Depending on your needs you may also want to know that the XR9-S allows for repeated striking of the hammer, does not have a last round hold open, and does not have a magazine safety.
Caliber: 9mm / 9mm+P
Capacity: 7+1
Length:
5.1”
Height:
4.2”
Width:
0.96”
Weight:
17.5 oz with magazine, unloaded
Barrel Length:
3.35”
Action:
Rotating-Barrel Locked-Breech
Sights:
Low Profile, Dovetail Windage
Sight Radius:
4.4”
Trigger Pull:
5.5 lb, 7.5 lb & 9 lb DAO
Safeties:
2 (DAO & Passive Firing Pin)


Frame: 7075-T6 Aluminum Alloy
Slide: High-Strength, High-Toughness Stainless Steel
Springs: Zinc-plated Music Wire
Grips:  High-Toughness Zytel (tm) Polymer
Pins: High-Strength, High Toughness Stainless Steel
Internal Parts: High-Strength Stainless Steel
Magazine: High-Strength Stainless Steel, Laser-Welded Construction
Price: Available on the Boberg Arms website


So this is the Boberg.  8 rounds of 9mm +P in a package that doesn't even come close to covering your hand.  Two design elements really pop out at first glance.  They are the radical forward grip and forward trigger placement.  I struggled a bit when deciding on a good commonly known pistol to use for size comparison.  I ultimately decided that the Kahr PM9 would be the most apples to apples comparison.  Some may think that the Rohrbaugh R9 would be a better choice, but how many people have seen a R9 in person vs. the PM9.  The Kahr and Boberg also have similar dovetailed sighting systems while the R9 has sights machined into the slide.  The pictures below show a good comparison of the size and width differences.  Slide by slide comparison of width has the PM9 at .90" vs. the Boberg at .96".  If you add the slide stop to the PM9 overall width, it increases to 1.108".


Some other things you may have noticed is the barrel wall thickness of the Boberg and you may be wondering why the recoil spring assembly isn't located under the barrel as it is on the Kahr.  The recoil spring assembly is actually positioned to the left of the barrel in the photo above.  It's size and off-center location are really quite unique.  This positions the barrel lower in the grip and should help to reduce muzzle flip during firing.  The forward positioning of the grip should also aid in controlling recoil during firing.

The last big design thing I'll mention are the magazines.  When I first picked up a magazine, I thought to myself that the followers were missing.  With closer inspection I saw that the spring itself acts as the follower. 
  
The magazines look really strange when you first see them and here's the reason why.  Unlike traditional magazines, like the Kahr PM9 magazine of the left, the Boberg magazines are loaded with the bullet tips facing forward.  The Boberg magazines are of similar size to the Kahr magazines, but since they don't require a follower, you can fit 7 rounds in the magazine vs. 6 rounds in the Kahr magazine.

By now you are probably wondering how it's possible to feed ammo from a magazine with the bullets positioned in reverse.  Therein lies the main design element that makes the Boberg such a unique pistol.  Rather than shove rounds out of the magazine and into the chamber, the Boberg system pulls the cartridges out of the magazine and lifts them to chamber height so the slide can then push them into the chamber.  This loading system is the key to why a Boberg XR9-S, that's smaller in length than the PM9, can have a barrel that is actually .35" longer than the PM9's 3" barrel.  If you really want to see how this works, you can take a peek at the patent filing HERE.  The link will open up a Adobe PDF document that has a copy of the patent filing.  Alternately, the Boberg website has link ot a CAD animation of the feeding system which is located HERE.  The CAD animation lets you move frame by frame through the firing, extraction, and feeding process.  It's pretty cool.

I made an unboxing and field stripping video to give you a little more background on the pistol and how it is taken down for cleaning and lubrication.  I also call out two different carry options for the XR9-S.



I didn't have the forethought to get in line with the high dollar custom leather holster makers when I found out I was only weeks away from receiving my XR9-S, so I ended up modifying a Remora Size 3 DB9 holster to work with the Boberg.  It worked perfectly after removing the small section of stitches and is really quite comfortable at any IWB location between 12 and 3.  I've been wearing it at 2 with a forward cant and it's almost invisible with an un-tucked tee-shirt.  With the right pants, I can also run this rig in my front pocket.  At a total loaded weight of under 23 oz. it's a pocket full, but less of a burden than pocket carrying a Glock 27, which I will do from time to time.


Everything up to this point has been all just desk work.  It's time to get this pistol out to the range and really wring it out with a few hundred rounds.  I plan on running a  good mix of FMJ and personal protection JHP through the pistol and doing some comparative velocity testing against the Kahr PM9 and a Glock 27 with a factory length 9mm conversion barrel installed.


Two Days Later
 I did manage to get out to the range for my initial shoot with the XR9-S this afternoon between baseball games.  Given a choice, I will always try to do my range reviews at an outdoor range vs. an indoor range.  The light is always better and the video quality improves dramatically.  The down side is I sometimes get a bad weather day, like today, and it is either raining or windy.  Today the rain stayed away, but the wind was out of control.  If it would have been blowing from one direction, I could have coped by weighing down my target stand, but it was swirling and blowing from multiple directions.  I did the best I could, but if you notice the edits in my range video it's mostly because I was constantly heading downrange to reset my target stand that had blown over.

Rather than write a bunch about the range visit, I encourage you to view the video instead.  After the video, I'll wrap up with my final thoughts on the XR9-S.
 

In case you don't watch the video, I'll provide a short recap here.  I really enjoyed my afternoon with my XR9-S.  For a micro 9mm pocket pistol, the XR9 is incredibly easy to shoot.  I've experienced discomfort with other micro 9mm pistols, but today I had none.  If it wasn't for the windy weather and my need to get off the range and back to the house for the next ball game, I would have run at least another 100 rounds through the pistol.  I did shoot at least 150 rounds today and enjoyed the heck out of the experience.  Overall the XR9-S is very easy to shoot and functioned well with all the different ammos I ran though it.  So far I have not found an ammo the pistol doesn't like.

It's hard for me to curb my enthusiasm about the XR9-S.  It really is easy to shoot and shoot well without a huge learning curve.  I previously measured the trigger pull with a Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge in the high 7 to low 8 pounds.  Even though it's heavier than some of the other striker fired pistols in this class, I found the trigger to be very smooth and without the spring stacking you experience with some other hammer fired pistols.  I'm looking forward to my next range trip with my Boberg and know it will quickly become one of my favorite concealed carry choices.

Unfortunately, you can't just go down to your local firearm dealer and pick up a new Boberg.  As they continue to ramp up their production, all sales are done directly with the manufacturer.  If you want a XR9-S you will need to add yourself to their Order Queue.  No deposit is required to get added to the queue.  As new XR9-S are built, they are offered to the order queue based on date they signed up on the queue.  If you want your XR9-S, you must pay in full with shipment promised in no more than 8 weeks.  I got my invitation to purchase in March and received confirmation of shipment less than 2 weeks later.  I thought this was a great way to do business since the prospective owner does not need to send in a deposit when signing up on the queue.

I'm really glad I added myself to the XR9-S order queue back in September of 2011.  I really like this new Boberg and look forward to mastering it as I continue to practice with it in the coming months.  For me the really nice part is I can focus on learning the pistol instead of spending time and energy working through issues with ammo, feeding, extraction, and the plethora of other problems that seem to pop up with little 9mm pocket rockets.  The price and or availability of the XR9-S may turn some folks away, but if you aren't in a hurry I think it might be worth your time and money to check one out.   
  

Monday, April 9, 2012

380 Ballistics Testing - A Mid Test Recap

Earlier tonight I was cataloging the recovered bullets from my last testing session and came to the stark realization that I'm probably not going to be wrapping up my 380 testing anytime soon.  I'm very comfortable with the results from my previous 11 tests, but also realize how much time it required to get this far.  With the potential of two new gun reviews looming and my son starting his traveling baseball team this weekend, I'm pretty much destined to prioritizing stuff.  I've also sensed that 9mm is becoming the new 380 so that's also making me think about moving up the 9mm testing ahead of the 380.  I just won't have the time available to do everything.

I do have 5 SIM-TEST blocks ready to go so if I do have some unexpected free time, I may be able to squeeze in a test or two.

Let's recap the testing so far.  Of my 11 tests, only two were pretty dismal.  The Golden Saber 102 grain and 88 grain JHP loads from Remington/UMC pictured below were nice data points, but I've stricken them from future consideration and put any extra ammo from both into my practice pile.  So you guys asking me about the Golden Saber, here's your results.   

The other 9 tested loads are recapped below.  My initial goal was to hold off on publishing a recap until I had at least 15 to 20 different loads tested and could put them all on one sheet.  It could be Fall before that happens so for now here are 9 tests laid out side by side for your consideration.  With the potential for another run on ammo and components in the run up to the elections, you may want to pick your poison and grab a few boxes while it's available. 




Switching Topics:


In my last post, I told you about the Ruger Rimfire Challenge event I attended on Saturday.  I was out on Youtube earlier today and found a video of the guy who finished in the spot ahead of me by about 7 seconds.  I didn't run into him at the shoot, but it looks like one of his family members was documenting his participation.  He's literally 1/4 my age, and quite a shooter by the looks of it.  He's also sponsored by STI so it made me feel a little better about finishing behind him.  The only thing better than getting beat by this up and coming Jr. shooter would be losing out to my own son.  Great shooting Greyson! 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ruger Rimfire Challenge - 2012 Arkansas State Championship


Last month I mentioned that the Ruger Rimfire Challenge match for Arkansas was going to be held on 4/7/2012.   My goal was to end up in the top quarter of the shooters attending.  This was an opportunity for some redemption after equipment problems at the 2011 shoot made competition difficult.  I'm pleased to report that my gear was 100% reliable this year.  In fact everything was working so well that I practiced for, and shot the match with the cheapie Federal Value Pack box ammo that you can pick up at Walmart.   Not a single bad round in the box and I shot up all but 100 or so from the box of 550.

There was one piece of gear that did cause some problems for me and that component is located between my ears.  Equipment can only take you so far.  From that point forward it's all about the preparation and mental focus needed to really excel.  I prepared ahead of the shoot, but I wouldn't call it practice.  I made sure the rifle and pistol would hit where the red dot was pointing, but I didn't practice speedy transitions between multiple targets.  Shame on me for not investing more time in preparation.

Mental focus was another failure.  The mental part of the game just did me in.  As I reviewed my score sheets from each of the stations, I saw that my first string was often the fastest of the three.  Looking back on it I can remember being a little cautious on the first pass and making sure each shot ended up as a hit and not a miss.  Getting all hits lead me to think that maybe this was easier than it looked so I better speed things up, which of course lead to a miss or two.  Miss a target, you basically add a second to your total time.  If you've ever heard the old phrase 'go slow to go fast', it really applies in this case.  I'm smarter now, so I'll work on avoiding that pressure to rush in the future.  A slow hit is worth way more than a fast miss. 

I didn't shoot many pictures or video yesterday.  The shoot was so well organized it seemed like we were either reloading our magazines, on deck to shoot, shooting, or transitioning to the next station.  The shoot ran so much better this year than it did last year.  I did ask someone to shoot some video on what I think was the most challenging station.  I did ok with the pistol portion, but the rifle run on this station kicked my butt.  My times were really bad.

 

My goal was to finish in the top 25% of the field.  I ended up 29th of the total 75 shooters and 18th of 40 shooters in my specific classification.  I didn't quite make it to my goal, but I think the lessons I learned will provide a nice platform to build on for the future.  I'm also pleased that my pistol standings(18th) were better than my rifle standings(23rd).  I like to think I'm better with hand guns than long guns.  My overall combined total time in my classification had me 5 seconds ahead of the guy behind me and trailing the guy in front of me by 7 seconds, so it wasn't a hotly contested spot.

Once again, it was fun and I hope to do it again in 2013.   

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Friday Off

Having a Friday off is like a gift.  Our son had school, but the wife and I were both off from work.  I let her sleep in and I got the little man up and off to school.  I had a great day planned.  The first couple of hours were spent drinking coffee and casting two more SIM-TEST blocks.  Then inside for the three Esses. 

I wanted to run by Harbor Freight and pick up the $9.99 digital caliper with the coupon from the NRA magazine, swing by Sturm's for one last sight in with my guns for the Ruger Rimfire Challenge tomorrow, and then drop by my local dealer and pick up my Boberg XR-9s that the USPS said would arrive on 4/6.

I got my Harbor Freight stuff.  I did my final sight in, and I'm glad I did because I left my red dot turned on when I last used my pistol so it was deader than dead.  Luckily, I had a spare battery.  Dropped by my dealer friend to oogle and transfer the Boberg, but it didn't arrive today.  I'm sure it will be in tomorrow, but I've got the day totally booked with the Rimfire Challenge.  So I'm SOL until Monday.

I really wanted to do the unboxing video this afternoon, but that ain't gonna happen.  When I finally do pick up the Boberg on Monday, I'll have to wait until the weekend to finally shoot it.  Confound you USPS for messing up my Friday!!!!!

One good thing that did happen was that the Brown Santa dropped off these new test ammo boxes yesterday.  So you can look forward to the Mouse Gun Ballistics test on them soon.  You guys that have been bugging me about DPX should be happy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Testing Fiocchi Extrema 380 AUTO 90 Grain XTP


This ammo was an odd-ball I had in the ammo cabinet.  It was purchased during the ammo drought of 08-09.  I had just procured a Ruger LCP and found myself in a situation of having limited ammo available to shoot.  Ammo to Go came to my rescue and posted boxes of these rounds for well less than the $1 per round everyone was asking for 380 JHP ammo at the time.  You can see why these went so cheap if you have a sharp eye.  The printer left the "R" out of Extrema on the box front and the even more confusing side panel lists these rounds as being loaded with 95 grain XTP bullets.  To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a 95 grain XTP bullet for the .380.  It's always been 90 grains.  In reality, these rounds are loaded with 90 grain XTP bullets.

I find it interesting that Hornady lets other companies buy and load their XTP bullets.  This load from Fiocchi competes directly with Hornady's own Custom line of ammo.  One day soon I'll have the chance to test the Hornady Custom and TAP FPD loads and see how they compare with the Fiocchi.  Given they all use the same bullet, I really wonder if the performance will be nearly identical across the the lines.

I've always liked the XTP bullets in 380 and 9mm especially.  Back when I had more time and less money, I rolled my own 380 and 9mm reloads and the only bullets I ever used were XTPs.  I always found them to be slick feeding and I perceived they delivered better accuracy than factory Federal and UMC FMJ I would buy from Walmart.  I never did any testing on the projectiles so I was looking forward to this test.

If you follow my blog and my tests, then you know my testing process.  If you are not familiar, please view the video as it includes footage from the range and also footage from the bench where I extract the captured bullets from the SIM-TEST ballistics media.  My testing process is pretty simple.  I take two shots at a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 8 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  This testing was done with a Kahr P380 with a 2.53" barrel.

The recovered bullets and their corresponding measurements are shown below.  The results were really quite interesting to me.  While I can't claim that the bullets didn't expand, I will say the expansion was different than what I have been seeing with loadings from other manufacturers.  Instead of a deep peel back of the petals, the petals were really quite short and it's like the bullet expanded to a larger diameter FMJ and penetrated quite deeply.  


My Comments: While they may not look as exciting as the fully expanded and flattened button profile slugs, you can't deny that these rounds did expand and did so while maintaining their deep penetration characteristics.  These Fiocchi Extrema rounds might be a good choice for situations where deep penetration with moderate expansion is needed. 

Testing Magtech Guardian Gold 380 AUTO +P 85 Grain JHP


I'd like to apologize for the strange photo.  I've been buying Magtech Guardian Gold ammo in .380 and .40 S&W for a long time.  I was running short on storage space for .380 ammo last year and decided to pull down all the 20 round boxes of Guardian Gold and store them in plastic ammo boxes that hold 50 rounds.  This was a much better use of space in my ammo storage locker.  Because of that, I don't have a factory package of .380 on hand.  I decided to substitute a .32 auto box, but at least the loose rounds are correct.

With that out of the way, I really didn't know what to expect from the 85 Grain Guardian Gold.  First off, it's labelled as a +P 380.  According to SAAMI, the governing standards board of US Ammunition, there is no such thing as a +P 380.  Knowing the risks, I've shot a bunch of it over the years and find it to be a fairly fast load, but by no means is it a velocity curve breaker.  There are other manufactures out there making 380 +P ammo that drives a heavier bullet to much higher velocities.  I felt pretty safe using this ammo in my test gun and have done so a few times for my testing.
  
If you follow my blog and my tests, you know my testing process.  If you are not familiar, please view the video as it includes footage from the range and also footage from the bench where I extract the captured bullets from the SIM-TEST ballistics media.  My testing process is pretty simple.  I take two shots at a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 8 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  This testing was done with a Kahr P380 with a 2.53" barrel.

Here are the two recovered rounds and the data points for each.  While not the biggest .380 expander I've tested, it did expand quite well.  Penetration was not as optimal as we would like to see, but considering the very short barrel length and lighter than most 85 grain bullet weight it did pretty well.


My Comments: If you frequent the Elsie Pea forum, you will inevitably read about how this ammo is a big no-no in the Ruger LCP because it's caused at least one to blow up.  Ruger frowns on 380 +P ammo in their guns and I don't blame them because there are no standards for 380 +P.  This ammo has worked well for me in my Kahr P380, Bersa Thunder CC, and I even ran a bunch through a Diamondback DB380 before Diamondback added the no reloaded ammo and no +P ammo to their warranty disclosures.  I've never had any signs of excess pressure or problems with feeding or firing with this ammo.

Once I shoot up my stock, I can't see myself buying more of these since other standard pressure choices perform equally well.  Expansion was good, but the penetration was just average.  I think that can be traced back to the lighter bullet weight.  One thing about the Guardian Gold line is that it was always priced about $4 less per 20 rounds than the headliners from Speer, Federal, and Winchester.  For a budget defense round, the expansion performance was very satisfactory.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Testing Double Tap 380 AUTO 95 Grain JHP


I really don't know much background on Double Tap Ammunition.  I believe they they started out loading 10mm ammo that were full power loads, while many of the mainstream ammo companies had turned down the heat of the 10mm to make milder shooting loads.  At least that's what I remembered reading about them.  Over time, their product catalog increased in size and breadth with loads now available for the .32 H&R Magnum up through .50 BMG. There are two other things I know about Double Tap from my limited usage of their products.  The first is it's very expensive ammo.  The second thing is that there is no other standard pressure .380 loading that can come close to matching the velocity of the Double Tap 95 grain FMJ and JHP loadings.  Last July, I tested dozens of different 380 rounds for velocity in a few different pistols.  You can read about that testing HERE.  The only loads that achieved higher velocities were designated by their makers as "+P".  When my testing was complete, I was often asked which load I opted to carry.  I honestly admitted that I was going to carry Double Tap 95 grain FMJ and JHP until my supply ran out and then I would re-evaluate my choice of 380 carry ammo.

In the back of my mind, I always wondered how the 380 JHP load would perform in a terminal ballistics test.  Being faster and heavier than the rest of the field, I was hoping for good expansion AND deep penetration.  I finally had the chance to test it out last weekend.

If you follow my blog and my tests, you know my testing process.  If you are not familiar, please view the video as it includes footage from the range and also footage from the bench where I extract the captured bullets from the SIM-TEST ballistics media.  My testing process is pretty simple.  I take two shots at a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 8 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  This testing was done with a Kahr P380 with a 2.53" barrel.

The captured bullets were recovered, cleaned, weighed, and measured.  All statistics are shown next to the recovered bullets.

My Comments: I was pleased to see that my early testing carried forward in my terminal testing.  Both tested rounds expanded completely and uniformly.  Penetration was consistent with other 95 grain JHP loads I have tested.  I'm looking forward to retesting this load in the future with a calibrated block of ballistics media as I think it will end up being a top performer in the 380 JHP category as fired from sub 3" barrel pistols.  This load has a nice balance of expansion and penetration.



Double Tap is definitely a premium priced ammunition that appears to be worth the purchase price in terminal performance.  The manufacturer also states that Double Tap has "virtually no muzzle flash".  This could be an important factor if you find it necessary to shoot this load in low light conditions.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Testing Winchester Super-X 380 AUTO 85 Grain Silver Tip HP


First off, let me start by saying that there are two versions of the Super-X Silver Tip floating around out there.  The older version comes in the white box shown in the picture.  The newer version ships in a box that's primarily silver in color.  I would have used a new packaging silver box for my picture, but it came from Cabela's and had a huge sortation label on it that blocked out most of the front of the package.  In the photo below I've taken a picture to show the difference between the old style and the new style.  Since the old style Silver Tips are now pretty much gone, I tested the new style Silver Tip in this test.

I was really interested in conducting this test for several reasons.  One was to see how the new style Silver Tip bullet would perform.  The second was that the Super X Silver Tip is one of the recommended ammunition choices for the Seecamp LWS380.  The last reason was to see how this elder statesman of pocket pistols compared to the new breed of 380 ammo that has come out in the last decade.  Not to date myself, but Silver Tips and Federal Hydrashoks were THE 380 auto rounds of choice for personal protection duty in the 1990's.  The Silver Tips shot accurately and flawlessly in my Colt Mustang Pocketlite so it's the only 380 ammo I purchased aside from a few boxes of UMC or Federal 95 grain FMJ from Walmart for practice.

Since this was my 3rd Winchester load tested, I wanted to see if the Silver Tip would break the trend I've noticed with Winchester 380 self defense ammo.  Winchester rounds have been dramatic expanders, but not very good penetrators.  You can get caught up with my previous Winchester 380 testing HERE

Weighing in at 85 grains, the Silver Tip is 5 grains lighter than the current "standard" 90 grain JHP round.  With a lighter weight, I expected to see velocities in the mid 900's from this load.  You can see my test results in the chart below and also in the accompanying video which includes the range work and pulling the captured bullets from the SIM-TEST media.



My Comments:  I really wanted to see deeper penetration from the Silver Tip, but it appears that the engineers at Winchester have again created a bullet with massive expansion at the cost of deep penetration.  This is very similar to what we have seen with other tested Winchester loads.  I believe the lighter weight also has an impact on how deeply the round penetrates with less mass behind it.  Having now test 3 different Winchester Personal Protection loadings for the 380, they all share a similar terminal ballistics profile and may be a very good choice for someone that is mostly concerned about the possibility of over penetration. 

The lighter weight and shorter shank on the Silver Tips is really evident when you look at the fully expanded bullets from the side.  The bullet petals are pulled back completely and actually wrap under the bullet base.  This was another new condition I have not seen in previous tests with any other bullets.

I was really surprised by the expansion of this old standard.  It's still a viable choice if you are looking for a round that will penetrate two layers of denim and still expand at short barrel velocities.