Monday, December 30, 2013

Ruger 10/22 Magazine Accessories from TANDEMKROSS


One nice thing about owning a Ruger 10/22 Rifle is the sheer volume of aftermarket parts and accessories available.  Some folks will leave their 10/22 in "box stock" condition and enjoy it for decades.  Others will turn their 10/22 into the proverbial money pit and swap out parts until all that remains is the serial numbered receiver.  I've lived in both worlds over the years so I've had the chance to work on a few 10/22 project rifles.  The one common component that all the rifles shared was the Ruger 10/22 factory 10 round magazine.

TANDEMKROSS has developed two add-on products for Ruger 10/22 magazines that offer a reasonably priced upgrade for Ruger factory magazines.  These products do not alter the factory magazines in any way.  The TANDEMKROSS Magazine Bumper and Magazine Doubler can both be purchased directly from TANDEMKROSS through their webstore.  I recently had the chance to install and use both products.


Magazine Doubler installation was very simple and required only my magazines and a screwdriver.








The Magazine Doubler locks into the bases of the 10/22 magazines and is secured with a butterfly clamp that nests in the thumb depression on the magazine.









Installation of the Magazine Bumper is similar to the Magazine Doubler except a single-sided clamp is used to secure the bumper base to the single magazine.



With the installation finished, the Magazine Bumper adds just over 1/2" to the magazine height.  The bumper base also includes grooves that allow you to yank down on the magazine in case of a partial feed that prevents the magazine from dropping free.







With retail prices of $8.99 for the Bumper and $9.99 for the Doubler, these kits offer a significant enhancement at a modest price.  I will be adding these kits to all my competition magazines prior to my next competition shoot.


I shot a range video demonstrating the Bumper and Doubler in action, but the wind was up and I had to delete most of the original audio and do a voice over.  I hated to do it, but I couldn't scrub the wind from the original audio.  The point of the video was to show that the kits offer enhancement to factory magazines without impacting reliability.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Corbon 45 Auto +P 230 Grain JHP Denim and Clear Gel Tests

I've tested several Corbon loads over the last two years with generally mixed results.  Corbon is known for their and premium priced defense loads that tend to run on the fast side in comparison to other manufacturers.  This was my first opportunity to test their classic JHP load in 45 Auto.  Having recently tested their similar 9mm +P 125 grain JHP load with great results, I was anxious to see how their 45 Auto load would perform.

Test Pistols:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run first bare gel test shot into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 5)  Repeat steps 3 to 4 with alternate barrel length.
Step 6)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

My Thoughts on This Load:
The one positive performance characteristic was that the load met the manufacturers published velocity specification when fired from a similar length test barrel.  I was really surprised to see the bullets repeatedly fail to expand in my test.  I was hoping for performance similar to the 125 grain 9mm +P load from this same ammunition line.  The additional problem with core-jacket separation was another unexpected result.

Pick or Pan:
Based on this test series of 4 shots taken from a single box, I would pan this one for failing to expand and for core-jacket separation when it did expand.  These undesirable traits are unacceptable from a premium priced defensive load.




Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on 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 or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Winchester Ranger T-Series 357 Sig 125 Grain Denim and Clear Gel Test

Over the last two years, I've really come to appreciate the 357 Sig cartridge.  From my limited testing, it has consistently performed through the heavy clothing barriers that cause other calibers to experience expansion failure.  If I had to guess why it performs so well, I would guess that the added speed this cartridge generates helps expansion.

The Winchester Ranger series of ammunition is Winchester's Law Enforcement ammunition line.  The T-Series bullets are a modern version of the old Black Talon ammunition line that was vilified in the press and subsequently removed from the market many years ago.  I was really looking forward to testing this the Winchester Ranger T-Series because so many people on various forums speak so highly of it, and this load has "street cred".   I expected it to be a great terminal performer based on how stringently Winchester tests this line of ammunition.


Test Pistols:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run first test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 5)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.
Step 6)  Repeat steps 1 to 4 with each barrel length.  

Test Results:


Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

My Thoughts on This Load:
Over the last few test reports, I've been hinting that the number of expansion failures was increasing since switching over to 4 layers of 14 oz denim material.  I really didn't expect that this load would fall into the expansion failure category.

You may be looking to me for a reason why the bullets failed to expand.  I can only offer the following picture showing all three recovered bullets with their hollow point cavities completely plugged with denim.  They are arranged in the order they were shot with the 4.5" barrel test shot on the left and the 3.4" barrel test shot on the right.  The 4" barrel test shot is in the middle.  You may notice that the petals were trying to separate on the left-most bullet, but performance was virtually identical with all three recovered bullets.

The one bullet that did expand, when shot into bare gel, experienced significant fragmentation.  I believe this test shot may be the lowest recovered weight percent of any of my previous tests.  The Ranger T-Series bullets are not bonded so some fragmentation is expected as the jacket peels back from the lead core.  I was really surprised by how much of the lead core was dropped in the wound channel.

Pick or Pan:
Plugging with denim and failing to expand across barrel lengths ranging from 3.4 to 4.5 inches pushes this load into the pan category.  With the plugged bullets having the potential to penetrate to 30 inches or more, that's just not something I'm comfortable with.







Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on 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 or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hornady Custom 45 Auto 200 Grain XTP Denim and Clear Gel Test


Before the innovation of Critical Defense and Critical Duty, the Hornady Custom line of ammunition was the premier defensive ammunition line from Hornady.  Loaded with their famous XTP bullet, the Hornady Custom line was know for accuracy, moderate velocity, modest expansion, and deep penetration.  I was really interested in finding out if this lighter 45 Auto bullet, loaded to standard pressures, would expand reliably from a shorter concealed carry length barrel. 

Test Pistols:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run first bare gel test shot into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 5)  Run a second bare gel test shot with longer test barrel.
Step 6)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

My Thoughts on This Load:
It's difficult to get excited about writing up a test when the ammunition fails to expand during the denim test.  The unfortunate thing is that this is the first of many expansion failures that I'll be working through over the next few weeks.  As I've stated before, the 4 layers of heavy denim test a tough test to pass.  You can see the recovered bullet was on the verge of expansion, but just didn't have enough of the test media inside the hollow point cavity to initiate full expansion.      

I was really surprised to see the evidence of yawing or tumbling left by the denim shot in the gel block.  The more I think about yawing, the more sense it makes.  If the nose of the bullet wasn't facing forward, the gel media couldn't be forced down into the hollow point cavity to trigger expansion.  When I recovered the denim test shot, the hollow point cavity was empty so the denim must have been dragged out of the cavity during the unstable yawing path down the gel block.  That may also explain why the bullet stabilized and assumed a nose forward profile at the end of travel.

The two bare gel shots performed exactly as you would expect an XTP to perform.  We saw some light fragmentation, modest expansion, and deep penetration. 

Pick or Pan:
For a short barrel 45, this load wouldn't be my first choice.  The Hornady Custom line also includes a +P version of this load with a published velocity of 1055 feet per second.  The extra 155 feet per second velocity may end up being the better choice for a reliably expanding load in a short barrel 45.  The Critical Defense 185 grain load has been optimized for short barrel pistols, so that may also be a better choice.








Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on 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 or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Make a Duck Tape Holster - How To

If you live in the US, then you must have at least heard of Duck Tape.  Duck tape is a specific brand of duct tape manufactured by the Shurtech company.  Shurtech took a tool box staple and made it cool by adding new colors, patterns, and different tape formats.  I've used the Duck Tape sheets and rolls over the years and always wanted to try my hand a making a Duck Tape wallet.  Wallet turned into pocket holster one day last week so with the snow keeping me off the range this weekend, I thought I would try my hand at holster making. 

Just so you know, this was a one shot deal.  I have a tiny bit of holster making experience with kydex, but you can count the number of holsters I've made on one hand.  What I'm trying to say is this was ridiculously easy to do so if you have some spare time, have at it.  I'm fairly certain you'll end up with a holster when you are done.

My first decision was what kind of holster I wanted to make.  That was pretty easy.  The Taurus M380 revolver is smaller than a J frame or Model 85.  Holsters made for either of those will end up being large.  They work, but why not get the holster as small as possible.

First stop was the flat bed scanner to create the pattern for the holster.  


I love this digital camo Duck Tape pattern.  The minute I saw it, I bought a roll and a couple of sheets.  I wasn't really sure at the time how I would end up using the tape, but it seemed perfect for this holster project.  The pistol picture is what I got after scanning the pistol.

Using the scanned image (make sure it prints life size) of the pistol, I used a clear ruler and black Sharpie to create my holster template.  I started with the line where I wanted the holster mouth to end up on the pistol, then traced the primary outline of the pistol using a quarter inch of extra space to account for the width of the pistol.  In hindsight, a half inch would have been better but this worked.

After cutting out your pattern, it's back to the scanner to make a copy of your pattern.

Using a glue stick, I positioned both pattern halves on a sheet of thin poster board.  I'm sure you could use a plain sheet of paper as the inner most layer of your holster, but I had this poster board handy and it worked out well.  It ended up giving the holster just the right amount of "body" and keeps it from collapsing in your pocket when you draw your pistol.  

With the holster core complete, it was time to start laying on the Duck Tape.  I had some sheets of aqua blue on hand so I started the holster with a layer of blue, then digital camo.  The holster body displayed below was now 1 layer of poster board, 2 layers of aqua blue, and two layers of digital camo.   

With the shell complete, it was time to do a test fit and bend the holster to the shape of the pistol.  I used half width strips from the Duck Tape roll to join the holster edges.  This was the really tedious part when I was learning as I went.  Just take your time and don't try to be too perfect fitting flat tape to curved surfaces.  I added one more sheet of tape to the outside of the holster after joining the edges.  It added a bit more body and covered up most of the ugly edges.

I was really pleased with the way the holster turned out.  The pistol draws easily and the holster stays in my pocket.  I went with an open muzzle design, but made sure to allow for plenty of extra holster length.  I don't want the muzzle in direct contact with the bottom of my pocket.

The finished holster tips the scales at 1.015 ounces and I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  It sits fine in the pocket, but I'll wear if for a few days and make sure it doesn't tip in my pocket with extended wear.  I have no idea how long it will last, but for now I think it looks great and ended up being exactly the holster I was looking for.

As with all holster projects, it's your responsibility to assure the trigger is covered with material sufficiently stiff enough to protect against trigger activation while in your pocket.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lehigh Defense 45 ACP 174 Grain Maximum Expansion Denim and Gel Tests


Over the last 18 months, the folks at Lehigh Defense have sent me several boxes of their ammunition for testing.  The most recent samples included a box of their 174 grain Maximum Expansion 45 ACP loading.  I tested this load previously in two short barrel pistols so this time around I tried both short barrel and long barrel tests.  I really appreciate the folks at Lehigh Defense for proving the testing samples.

Lehigh Defense manufactures several lines of projectiles and ammunition for competition, hunting, and personal defense.  They machine their bullets from solid copper or brass with special purpose designs.  Some bullets are designed to fragment, others excel at penetration, and the tested load is designed for maximum expansion.  Lehigh Defense ammunition is premium priced and I've always found their quality to be exceptionally good.

Test Pistols:


Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run first test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim and into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run second optional bare gel test shot into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 5)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

Short Barrel Test

Longer Barrel Test

My Thoughts on This Load:
This load performed perfectly in all three test shots.  It opened completely and expanded fully.  I included the picture below so you can see how Lehigh machines the bullets so they expand to the largest possible diameter without the petals over-expanding and wrapping back to the bullet shank.

In the picture below, I've arranged all three recovered bullets.  The bullet at the top center was fired from the shorter barrel and 981 feet per second wasn't quite enough velocity to allow the bullet petals to expand to their maximum.  Both shots from the 1911 achieved their maximum expansion with their petals resting nearly perpendicular to the bullet shank.  In the Clear Ballistics terminal test media, 1000+ feet per second appears to be the velocity threshold for this bullet to achieve optimal expansion.  I decided to include the quarter from the Great State of Arkansas so you can see how huge the recovered bullets really are.  If Arkansas had a half dollar coin (1.205" diameter), it would still be smaller than these recovered bullets.

Pick or Pan:
If you are looking for a load that delivers maximum expansion, this is your high water mark.  I've never tested anything else that expands, and maintains expanded diameter, like a Lehigh Defense Maximum Expansion bullet.  Penetration pundits will dismiss this load since it fails to achieve 12 inches of penetration.  That's OK.  Love this load for achieving what it was purpose built to do.  Don't punish it for falling short in other performance areas it was not designed to meet.



Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on 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 or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Federal Premium 9mm Luger 124 Grain Tactical Bonded Denim and Clear Gel Test



Many thanks to blog reader Fred for supplying the ammunition for this test.  He's sent in several different loads for testing this year and I really appreciate it.

The Federal Premium Law Enforcement Ammunition Tactical Bonded 9mm Luger 124 Grain Tactical HP may hold the record for the longest name assigned to anything I've previously tested.  While the HST may be the current darling of the Federal line, the Tactical Bonded covers the requirement for a bonded bullet that will hold together when fired through intermediate barriers.  I was very interested in seeing how this standard pressure bonded load would compare with other Hydra-Shok and HST standard pressure 124 grain loads.  As it turns out, it did really well. 

Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run first bare gel test shot into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 5)  Run third test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 6)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

My Thoughts on This Load:
This was my first experience testing any of the Federal Tactical Bonded ammunition line.  For a mid-weight standard pressure loading, it did exceptionally well with expansion, weight retention, and penetration.  Published velocity for this load is 1160 fps from a 4" barrel.  Our 3.4" barrel generated 1100 fps, which is right on target for the reduced barrel length.

In hind-sight, I really wish I had tested this in an 18" gel block instead of the 16" block I had on hand for testing.  Fortunately, we were able to recover the bullets and use them to model the penetration depth of the denim shots.

If this load has a downside, it's limited availability.  The Tactical Bonded ammunition line is marketed primarily to Law Enforcement.  You won't find it at the typical retailers that carry ammunition.  I've seen small quantities pop up on the websites of internet ammunition retailers from time to time so that's probably going to be your best chance of locating the ammunition.

Now I'm dying to test the Tactical Bonded 357 Sig load, if I can ever track down a box.  



Pick or Pan:
All test shots performed exactly as expected with no surprises.  This load is definitely a pick, and performed exceptionally well for a standard pressure loading fired from a short barrel test pistol.



Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on 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 or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.