Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Federal HST 9mm and 380 Auto Comparison Tests


Federal launched their 380 Auto HST load at the 2015 SHOT Show.  This was big news for those of us that have tested, or watched other people test, ammunition loaded with HST projectiles.  Without researching it, I can't tell you exactly how many test shots of HST I've personally sent into gel blocks over the years.  I can say for certain that my gel blocks have caught more HST bullets than any other projectile brand.  I was always curious why Federal skipped 380 Auto in the HST line when they offer HST in 9mm, .357 Sig, 40 S&W, and 45 Auto/GAP.

Every caliber of HST has a slightly different bullet profile
Federal Hydra-Shok, the predecessor of HST bullets, have always tested well for me in 380 Auto so I was curious if Federal skipped the 380 HST because they couldn't make a bullet that performed better than the Hydra-Shok.  Another thought was with the nearly constant ammunition and component shortages over the last several years, Federal didn't want to expand a the line until ammunition supply caught up with demand.  Regardless of the rationale, I was very interested in testing the HST as soon as I could.

If you follow the blog or YouTube channel, then you may remember that the 9mm +P HST 124 grain load is a personal favorite of mine.  I've tested it frequently in many different barrel lengths.  I have not tested the standard pressure 9mm HST 124 grain very often.  Viewers and Readers seem to like the 9mm vs. 380 Auto comparison test format so this is another one of those tests.           


In the video, I added a short discussion about how the recovered rounds are measured.  This measurement practice of averaging the largest and smallest expanded diameters is equal parts art and science.  Recovered bullets are rarely uniform in circumference so extra care is needed to accurately measure the key dimensions.

With bullets that produce very large expanded petals, such has HST, the average expansion diameter may look too small or misleading.  It isn't my intention to mislead anyone.  I understand this method of measuring recovered bullets is the standard practice used by professional ballistics researchers so I have adopted their best practice.  If you are reading this, then you have the benefit of seeing the data sheets below with the minimum, maximum, and average expanded diameter.

Well, enough of that.  Let's get on with the test.









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 various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that has a similar density to 10% ordnance gelatin.  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.

Test Results:

9mm Data Sheet

380 Auto Data Sheet

Video Documentation of the Test:


Direct link to video on YouTube

Pick or Pan:

The Federal HST 9mm 124 grain continues to impress with very good performance from long and short barrel handguns.  The only fault in this test was the limited expansion and penetration exceeding 18 inches with the heavy denim test shot.  The additional velocity of the +P version of this load may allow the bullet to expand to a greater diameter and penetrate less.  It might be a better choice if you may encounter heavy clothing barriers and fear excessive penetration. 

The HST 380 Auto is a bit of a mystery for me.  The packaging end flap has an image of a small handgun with the word MICRO directly under it.  I interpret that as Federal telling the consumer that this load was specifically developed for short barrel handguns.  Our test pistol is a little longer than most micro 380 Autos on the market so we should have met, or exceeded, the published velocity specification of 1030 fps for this load.  Instead we came in a full 100 feet per second slower than specification.

Even at the lower than specified velocity, the expanded 380 bullets were larger than their 9mm counterparts in two of the four test scenarios.  That's the good news.  The bad news is the 380 bullets expanded too much and limited the penetration depth of the bare gel and light clothing test shots.  The denim test shot was unfortunately the slowest of the 4 test shots and it completely failed to expand.

Both the 9mm and 380 Auto performed well in the heavy denim and simulated bone test.

For me, the HST 9mm 124 grain is a pick.  It performed well in all test scenarios from our 3" barrel test pistol.  Sadly, I will have to pass on the HST 380 Auto 99 grain due to insufficient penetration and failure to expand in all test scenarios.  Ammunition makers constantly refine their ammunition to improve performance.  I'll try the 380 Auto again in 12 to 18 months and see if performance improves.          



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, April 13, 2015

MGW Glock Sight Tool and Glock 42 Adapter Review

The MGW Sight Tool and Glock 42 Adapter are available from several sources.  Prices vary widely, so shop around for the best deal if you can find it in-stock.
Maybe I inherited it from my Dad, but I've never had an issue spending money on tools.  If you have the basic skills, having the right tool for the job usually yields better results than trying to make do with less specialized tools.  Can you change out, or adjust, the rear sight on Glock handguns with a non-marring punch and hammer?  You certainly can, and I have done just that on a few occasions with mixed results.

I don't change the sights on every Glock handgun, but I am a fan of fiber optic and night sights.  I've changed out a few Glock sight sets over the years.  Some installs go perfectly while others leave me with a pistol that shoots a bit too much left or right of center and requires additional adjustment.  I don't make sight adjustments at the range so it's a trial and error process until I get the sights set correctly.  It can be a tedious process, and I've long considered buying a sight pusher that I could take along with me to the range.

After reviewing the Glock 42, I decided to add night sights.  While shopping for the replacement sights, I also found the MGW Sight Tool and Glock 42 adapter available so I finally took the plunge and bought my sight installation tool.     

Using the hammer and punch sight installation method left me with a Glock 36 that shot quite a bit left. 
  
The thinner width of the G42 slide requires an adapter.  Without the adapter, the sight tool works for all other Glock models.
Something else I picked up from my Dad was to buy quality tools.  If you take care of them, they will last you a lifetime.  My first impression of the MGW Sight Tool was that Dad would approve.  If used as directed, I feel confident that my son will be able to use this tool long after I'm gone.   It's substantial without being overly large or heavy.

Operation of the sight tool is pretty straight forward.  MGW includes a single page instruction sheet with the tool that does a good job explaining the sight removal and installation process.  My only suggestion for improvement is to include some photos similar to those included in this review. Words are good.  Words and example pictures are always better.

Following the instructions, the factory sight is pushed to the right off the slide.
The sight removal process is quick and painless.  Just follow the directions to lock the slide in place and slowly turn the T-handle to move the sight to the right.  The handle turns very easily.  When removing the Glock factory sight, I could easily turn the handle with just my index finger and thumb.  The image above shows the sight pushed about one third of the way out of the dovetail.

The replacement sight is pulled into the sight dovetail from right to left.
One key point included in the instructions was that the new sight is pulled into the sight dovetail from right to left on Glock firearms.  Pulling the new sight into position took a bit more effort on the T-handle, but was still very easy to accomplish with the leverage provided by the handle.  When I thought the site was reaching the centered position, I backed off on the T-handle a few turns so I could visually check the sight position without the pusher block in the way.  I did this process a few times until I was confident the sight was in the correct spot in the dovetail.

I still need to get the Glock 42 out on the range and verify the rear sight is properly positioned.  If it's off a tad, I'll just use the tool to make the necessary adjustment.  I really like the virtually infinite range of adjustment the tool provides.  It allows for much finer adjustments than you can ever get using a hammer and punch.

Sight installation perfection.  The MGW Sight Tool easily fits in my range bag if fine adjustment is required on the range.
As I mentioned at the top of the review, you don't necessarily NEED this tool to change the rear sights on Glock firearms.  If you are someone who likes to change their sights, or wishes to become instantly more popular with your range buddies, this tool may be a good investment.  For someone that will only use the tool once or twice in their lifetime, it might be more economical to find a professional gunsmith to do your sight installation.

Personally, I like the convenience of being able to make rear sight changes/adjustments whenever, and wherever, I need to make them.  I also appreciate the peace of mind I get using this tool instead of the potentially risky hammer and punch method.  Fiber optic light pipes and tritium vials are fragile.  Sight manufacturers do their best to protect these components within the body of the sight, but who knows if they can withstand repeated blows from a hammer and punch.  For these reasons, I think the tool was a good investment.  I'm certainly more than satisfied with the quality and performance of the MGW Sight Tool.

With all the buzz around the new Glock 43, I checked the Ameriglo 2015 catalog and found out the same adapter that works for the G42 will also work for the G43.  For now, the sight tool with one adapter will work for all current production Glock handguns.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Winchester Defend 9mm and 380 Auto Comparison Tests

Winchester started promoting their new Train and Defend ammunition at the end of 2013, as described in the press release..."With the growing number of ammunition choices at the retail counter confronting the influx of first-time gun owners, Winchester Ammunition has created the new W Train & Defend™ brand which provides a straightforward process when choosing training and personal defense rounds.

The W Train & Defend ammunition system is designed to provide threat-stopping power with less recoil to the shooter. The system pairs its range-ready Train rounds with technology-driven Defend rounds, both designed to limit the recoil felt by the shooter. This system provides a perfect solution for new shooters, especially women, who are interested in training to become proficient with their personal defense ammunition."

While general release of Train and Defend may be new, I purchased similar concept ammunition from Bass Pro Shops back in 2011.  Bass Pro Shops had an exclusive arrangement with Winchester for this SXZ line of ammunition.  At the time, I was just starting to build a stash of ammunition for testing so I picked up the 9mm and 45 Auto.  I still have yet to test either the 9mm or 45 SXZ ammunition, but may get to it one day.

Winchester SXZ was a predecessor to the current W Train and Defend line of ammunition.

I recently found Winchester Train and Defend ammunition in stock at a local national sporting goods retailer.  On shelf availability was very good so it seems that supply is keeping up with demand.  Rather than run two individual tests on the 9mm and 380 Auto, I decided to run a side by side comparison test to highlight the terminal performance differences between the two calibers while also demonstrating the terminal performance of each load.  I did a similar test on Hornady Critical Defense back in 2013.  That test was well received, but several viewers chastised me for handicapping the 380 when I used a shorter barrel for the 380 than I did for the 9mm.  Thanks to my wonderful wife and a well thought out Christmas gift, I now have similar length test barrels for 9mm and 380 Auto.

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 various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that has a similar density to 10% ordnance gelatin.  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.

Test Results:

9mm Data Sheet

380 Auto Data Sheet

Video Documentation of the Test:

Direct link to video on YouTube


Pick or Pan:

This is a case where it is important to evaluate each load individually.  The 9mm Defend loading performed very well.  It expanded fully in all test scenarios except for partial expansion in the simulated bone test.  This is very good performance from a standard pressure load with a tested velocity of less than 900 feet per second.  Penetration depth was a bit on the long side of the desired 12 to 18 inches, but I would much rather have penetration test results be a little over than fall short of the minimum.  This load is a pick for a light recoiling standard pressure loading for a short barrel semi-auto.

The 380 Auto Defend loading didn't perform as well as the 9mm.  In this case, the two bullets that did expand fell very short of the minimum desired penetration of 12".  Even the partially expanded test shot through the bone block fell short of 12" of penetration.  Using 12" of penetration as the primary selection criteria, the 380 Auto Defend is a pan.  It just expands too much and penetrates too little.         


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.