Saturday, June 28, 2014

Getting To Know the .22 TCM Through Clear Gel Testing


.223 Remington is the parent cartridge case for the .22 TCM.

A big thanks to Lucas for providing the test pistol, ammunition, and most importantly, motivation for this test.

Finding myself lacking knowledge about the .22 TCM, my first stop was Wikipedia for some background information on this cartridge.  From Wikipedia I learned the .22 TCM was designed by Fred Craig and started life as the .22 Micro-Mag.  The cartridge was fully developed and commercialized by Craig and Rock Island Armory.  When the cartridge came to market, the name had been changed to .22 TCM.

The .22 TCM is still a relatively new cartridge with Armscor producing the 2 semi-auto pistols and 1 bolt-action rifle chambered for the cartridge.  The firearms are sold under the Rock Island Armory brand in the USA.  The only commercial loading for the .22 TCM is produced by Armscor USA and Armscor Philippines.

The .22 TCM is an interesting cartridge.  The brass case used to create the cartridge is derived from the .223 Remington.  The case is shortened, and given a bottle neck to accept the 40 grain .22 caliber bullet.  The .22 TCM finished length is about the same as a 45 Auto, but it has the diameter of a 9mm Luger.  These finished dimensions provide some insight into why the pistols chambered for this cartridge are double-stack variations of 1911 pattern pistols.

The test pistol comes with a second 9mm barrel and recoil spring that allow a simple conversion from .22 TCM to 9mm.  
        
 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 various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify density.

Test Results:

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

My Thoughts on This Load:
I found the .22 TCM was remarkably light in felt recoil when fired from the full-size test pistol.  What the .22 TCM lacks in recoil, it makes up for with muzzle blast as shown in the accompanying picture.  We shot this test in full sun, but you could still see the down-range rings of fire produced by the cartridge.  The cartridge definitely lived up to the magnum part of  its Micro-Mag birth name.

This round will definitely be appreciated by the fans of fast and light ammunition.  The 40 grain bullets were crossing the chronograph at over 2000 feet per second and generating about 375 ft/lbs of energy.  For perspective, that's slightly less energy than a 124 grain 9mm +P round fired from a 4.5" barrel.

.22 TCM ammunition is only produced by Armscor USA and Philippines at this time.  The 40 grain JHP is the only commercial loading available.  Searching the web, the going price for a box of factory ammunition is hovering around $20.  For those willing to be early adopters and roll the dice on the longevity and commercial viability of the cartridge over the long haul there are some positive signs.  I found Lee and Hornady die sets, brass, and bullets for those that reload.  The dies and components are still on the expensive side, but prices may decline as production increases. 

Personally, I'd buy a .22 TCM conversion kit for a 9mm 1911, or other 9mm handgun I currently own, but I'm reluctant to add another pistol just to shoot .22 TCM.  Another thought was a KelTec Sub-2000 carbine chambered in .22 TCM might be pretty darn handy if it existed.  The cartridge may not have enough "oomph" to cycle the bolt with the Sub-2000 platform, but that's the first adaptation that crossed my mind as I was putting together the test report.  Armscor reports 2800 feet per second from the .22 TCM with a 22 inch barrel.  A longer 16" carbine length barrel will definitely improve ballistic performance of this round. 

Pick or Pan:
From a performance standpoint, this load is a pick.  It hit all the marks for penetration depth, retained weight, and expansion diameter that we look for in handgun cartridges.  It's rare to find a cartridge that consistently exceeds published velocity specification and our test box of ammunition easily exceeded the 1875 fps factory specification.

In the photo below, you can see that the clothing barriers did have an impact on the terminal performance of the bullets, but expansion performance was remarkably consistent across all three test scenarios.   


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, June 26, 2014

Elzetta 1 Cell Alpha Series Lights Are Now Available


In my opinion, Elzetta produces some of the best tactical lights on the market.  They may not be the least expensive light on the market, but the best rarely is.  I've had a ZFL-M60 on my FN SLP shotgun for quite some time and have nothing but positive comments about the light and mount combination.  Elzetta lights use Malkoff LED modules which can breathe new life into older tactical lights as I did in this blog article.  I've always wanted a single cell CR-123 Elzetta for daily carry and my wish has come true.

Elzetta recently announced their Alpha series single cell lights.  If the Bravo (2 cell) light is just a bit too much for daily pocket carry, the Alpha should be perfect.  Available in 24 different models, Elzetta will build your Alpha to your specific requirements.

Elzetta lights can be purchased directly from Elzetta through their website


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Beware The Man With One Gun


I think I've mentioned this on the blog before.  My Dad was an avid competitive trapshooter back in the 1960's.  While I was too young to remember much about that time, he must have been pretty good at it judging by all the trophies he's got stashed down in his basement.  He stopped trap shooting for a few decades when my brother and I needed more of his attention, and his play money started going into our college savings funds.  After I was through college and out on my own, my Dad started trapshooting again. 

I also started competitive trapshooting in the mid to late 1990's because I enjoyed it, and it was something my Dad and I could do together.  For a few years we would meet up in Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Jersey to participate in the larger State level shoots together.  Every year I would have a new shotgun when we met up.  Every year he would have the same Browning Broadway he'd been shooting since the 60's.  Dad never gave me much advice about shooting other than telling me to "beware the man with one gun".  I remembered him saying it, but the meaning didn't sink in until much later.

Last night I made a special trip out to the range to shoot my early 1990's vintage Ruger Mark II and 10/22 I will be using in the 2014 Walther Arms Arkansas State Rimfire Challenge match this weekend.  Aside from being some of the oldest firearms I own, they are also the two I've spent the most time getting to know.  Even though it's been nearly a year since I last shot them, they were immediately familiar in my hands.  I set up a 6" paper plate target for each gun and burned through a few magazines at "match distances" of 10 to 20 yards.  The picture at the top of the article shows the results on the backer board that was holding the plates.  These groups are plenty accurate enough for the match this weekend.  If I miss a target, it won't be because of my equipment.

I don't consider myself a particularly good shooter.  I think I'm an OK shooter who is unwilling to invest the practice time to be a better shooter.  As I was driving home from the range last night, I remembered my Dad's advice about "beware the man with one gun".  In my case it's two guns, but I can definitely see that familiarity leads to confidence and maybe even a better score on Saturday.  Wish me luck.

     

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Doubletap Ammunition DT Defense 38 Special +P 125 Grain Bonded JHP Terminal Performance Tests


A big thanks to blog reader Dan M. for supplying the ammunition for this test and being so patient waiting on the results.  Back in December 2013, Dan sent me the white box of ammunition for testing.  In April 2014, I ordered the entire line of Doubletap DT Defense .38 Special +P for testing and realized the LV load that Dan supplied had been replaced with the load tested here.  I asked Dan if he would mind if I tested the current production load in place of the discontinued LV load and he graciously agreed.  Doubletap Ammunition no longer lists the LV load on their website so I'm assuming it was renamed when Doubletap launched their DT Defense line of ammunition.

Doubletap Ammunition established their brand back in 2002 when they started manufacturing full power 10mm ammunition when most of the industry was watering down the performance potential of the 10mm.  As the business grew, Doubletap continued to add to their ammunition portfolio and now manufactures a full range of rifle and pistol cartridges as well as brass and hardcast lead bullets.  All Doubletap ammunition is made in the USA at their Utah facility.  I've personally found Doubletap ammunition to be impeccably crafted and free of defects occasionally found in mass production ammunition.

Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 2 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify density.

Test Results:

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

My Thoughts on This Load:
I was really curious to see if this load would live up to the 1100 fps velocity expectation from our 1.875" test barrel.  While we did have one shot that approached 1000 fps, the majority fell in the 900 to 950 fps range.  That simply wasn't enough velocity to allow the 125 grain Gold Dot bullet to expand after clearing the 4 layers of heavy denim.  While the denim test shot wasn't recovered, the Schwartz modeled penetration exceeded 25 inches.

On the positive side, the bare gel and light clothing test shots performed well.  Both shots expanded and stopped within the desired 12 to 18 inch penetration range.  This might be a good load for your snubbie for Summer carry when heavy clothing barriers are less likely to be encountered.

Doubletap uses low flash powder in this loading.  Since I test during the day during high sun, I have no way of validating this.  I did want to mention it in case it is an important feature in your ammunition selection criteria.    

Pick or Pan:
The terminal performance of this load was on par with the majority of .38 Special +P 125 grain loads previously tested for the blog.  Unfortunately failure to expand during the heavy denim test is a fairly common result with this caliber when fired from very short barrels.  I'm looking for one load that I can carry all year, so I'm going to pass on this one.    



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.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

223 Australian Outback 55 Grain Sierra BlitzKing Clear Gel Tests


Australian Outback ammunition is made in Australia by ADI.  From the information available on the manufacturers website, ADI produces ammunition for the military and civilian markets.  The load tested here is intended for varmint hunting and is loaded with the Sierra BlitzKing bullet.  Another unique feature of the ammunition is what ADI calls "Ballistic Temperature Independence".  From my layman's understanding, it reads like ADI has developed powders that deliver consistent velocities from 5 to 125 degrees F.

Overall, I was really impressed with the packaging and appearance of the ammunition.  It was clean, and securely packaged.

Test Rifle:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 3 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 25 years.
Step 3)  Run various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 25 yards.
Step 4)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify density.

Test Results:

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

My Thoughts on This Load:
One of the most surprising things of this test was that 3 of the 5 test shots shared the same velocity.  I'm not really sure if I should give credit to the ammunition, or if my chronograph isn't up the challenge of 25 yard velocity tests.  Regardless, it was impressive.

I really liked the terminal performance of the BlitzKing bullet.  Even at short barrel semi-auto velocities, the impacts were dramatic.  Shoot this round from a 22 to 24 inch bolt action rifle and I bet you would get another 200 to 400 fps from this load.  Should I ever fulfill my bucket list wish to spend a day on a prairie dog shoot, I would definitely include this load in my kit.   




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.

Monday, June 2, 2014

223 Rattlesnake Tactical 55 Grain Jacketed Soft Point Clear Gel Tests


A big Pocket Guns and Gear thanks to the folks at Ammunition Depot for supplying the ammunition for this test.

The Rattlesnake Ammunition line covers the most popular calibers from 380 Auto to 45 Auto.  The ammunition is made in the USA with new brass cases and premium components.  The line is intended for target shooting and range training with FMJ/TMJ bullets used in all calibers.  I've been using the 9mm and 380 Auto loads in my recent gun reviews and have nothing but good things to say about the quality, accuracy, and appearance of the ammunition.  I think it's on par with, or better than, the range ammunition currently offered by the large US ammunition companies.  I've found Rattlesnake to be value priced.  A buck or two more than Wolf steel case/Blazer aluminum case, and a buck or two less than the basic brass cased range ammo from the large US ammo makers.

The Rattlesnake Tactical ammunition, tested here, has different packaging than the other Rattlesnake Ammunition.  I'm going to make a guess that the Tactical ammunition line will feature loads for self defense and home protection.  I do know the Tactical ammunition shares the same quality, appearance, and value pricing of the target/range ammunition. 


Test Rifle:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 3 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 25 yards.
Step 3)  Run various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 25 yards.
Step 4)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify density.

Test Results:

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

My Thoughts on This Test and Load:
Going into the test, I really didn't know what to expect.  In the video you can see that I had two gel blocks on the testing table because I really didn't know how deeply the bullets would penetrate.  I think the test worked out well and gave me confidence that a soft point bullet at rifle velocity will expand and penetrate sufficiently at 25 yards.  My fear of over penetration has relaxed quite a bit after this test.

I thought about modifying my standard testing protocol for this test.  In the end, I decided to extend the distance, drop the tee shirt shot, and record all velocities at 25 yards.  I don't think there is  anything wrong with the changes, and I think it makes the test results more realistic.  If you have any thoughts on this, please leave a comment.   

If I end up doing many more of these tests, I should probably design a new testing fixture that doesn't fly apart after every shot and leave the gel block teetering on the edge of the table.  The energy of the bullets, as compared to hand gun rounds, was really incredible to see on the high speed camera footage.  Unfortunately that same energy dump causes the ballistics testing gel to "flash" on every shot.  The sooty residue left in the block detracts a bit from the bench recovery.   

Pick or Pan:
Since this is the first .223/5.56 test done with a rifle, I have no benchmark to compare against.  I think the load tested well with almost 2x expansion, good penetration, and a reasonable retained weight percentage.

If you are interested in learning more about Rattlesnake Ammunition, just click on the Ammunition Depot ad link at the top of the page.  Searching the Ammunition Depot website for "rattlesnake" will bring up a listing of all currently available loads. 



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.