Saturday, January 28, 2012

Crimson Trace Rail Master - More CT Awesomeness

This morning I was working on my Ted Nugent Ammo post and when that was done I checked my mail and found an email from Crimson Trace waiting for me.  It was a new product announcement email on their new universal rail mount laser.  I've always liked Crimson Trace primarily for their outstanding customer service, long warranty period, and the "no thought required" or instinctive activation of their laser guard and laser grip products.  In my opinion, their pressure pad in the grip activation rules the market place and they can command their premium price point vs. all other competitors in the space that require laser activation that you have to "remember" by switching it on during the draw. 

I love this new product and can't wait to get my hands on one.  Honestly, I would have one on order now, but the Crimson Trace website is down for some reason.  Maybe a bunch of other people are also super excited about this new product or perhaps they just have a technical issue and really bad timing that it's going on right as this product announcement email went out.  I can't get any details other than what came in the email because their website isn't working.  Here's what they sent in the way of details.

So now I can buy one laser that I can swap between Springfield, Glock, Ruger, or anything else with a rail for less than $150 that still comes with the Crimson Trace Warranty and Customer Service.  I'm in!

The Crimson Trace website came back up yesterday so I was able to read a little more about the laser and it does indeed come with the batteries for life and 3 year warranty so I have one on the way.  I'll be sure to let you know what I think about it.  This will be a very helpful tool when I start serious ammo evaluation when my bullet box is done.  If this laser keeps me from making one bad shot that could ruin my catch box, it's more than paid for itself.  

Ted Nugent Signature Ammo

Earlier this morning I just stumbled on a new product announcement that made me stop in my web surfing tracks and do a bit more investigation.  Typically, I’m not a person that runs out to buy celebrity endorsed products like the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife by Gerber.  I’m sure it’s a fine piece of kit, but I’ve never been super excited by products like this.  Today I read that Ted Nugent has been working with Pierce Munitions on his own line of hunting ammo that will carry his signature and endorsement.  Now this is a celebrity endorsed product I'm interested in.

From the Pierce website:

We Proudly present - Ted Nugent Hi-Performance Ammo

Gun rights crusader, musical legend and lifelong deerslayer, Ted Nugent - provides gungho serious hunters with killer hunting ammunition.

"I have always celebrated my hunting lifestyle. As the provider for my family, it is my responsibility and God-given duty to supply sustenance both physically and spiritually for my family and I take that very seriuosly." – Ted

I don’t want to be overly critical here, but the Pierce copy writer should fix the spelling error on the word seriously in Ted’s quote.

Pierce will be rolling an impressive list of 25 hunting cartridges under ‘The Nuge’ brand.  The low end starts with some heavy .357 Magnum loads and the upper end tops out with a hunting load in 50 BMG.  I can’t wait to find out what Ted will be hunting with that 50 BMG load.  Possibly the Great White Buffalo?  Their current list of offerings includes:
  1. .357 MAG 158g Speer® UPH
  2. .357 MAG 170g Speer® UHP
  3. 10mm 180g Speer® UHP
  4. .44 MAG 240g Speer® UHP
  5. .44 MAG 270g Speer® UHP
  6. .45 LC 250g Speer® UHP
  7. .223 36g Barnes® VGFB®
  8. .223 55g Barnes® TSX®
  9. .223 70g Barnes® TSX®
  10. .308 WIN 168g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  11. .308 WIN 180g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  12. .308 WIN 200g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  13. .30-06 168g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  14. .30-06 180g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  15. .30-06 200g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  16. .30-30 150g Barnes® TTSX®FN
  17. .243 WIN 62g Barnes® VGFB
  18. .243 WIN 80g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  19. .270 110g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  20. .270 130g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  21. .270 140g Barnes® TTSX®HPBT
  22. .300 WIN MAG 168g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  23. .300 WIN MAG 180g Barnes® TTSX®BT
  24. .300 WIN MAG 200g Barnes® TTSX®HPBT
  25. 50 BMG 647g Barnes® STSX®BT
The ammo is still in development and if you try to link to the Ted Nugent Ammo product page, it displays a banner that the website is coming soon so we have to assume the ammo will also be coming soon.

As I said earlier, I’m not a big fan of celebrity endorsed products, BUT in this case I’d buy this ammo. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

LaserLyte Side Mount Laser Review - Ruger LCP CK-AMF

I first heard about the new LaserLyte side mount laser a few months ago.  At the time, I didn't really play much attention to the buzz about the product because most chatter was focused on using the laser on Ruger LCPs and Kel-Tec PF9s.  I finally read a bit more about the laser and folks reporting good things about it, so I decided to check it out a little closer.  I found out that the side mount laser for the Ruger LCP would also fit the Kel-Tec P-32 so I decided to add one to a Midway USA order last week when I found out they were on sale for $74.99.  I had a $10 promo code so that also helped cover the shipping for my order.

The next three pictures show the laser in it's packaging as it was delivered along with my much loved Kel-Tec P-32 hard chrome over navy blue. 

I opened the package and read through the instructions and also spread out all the included pieces.  The laser unit comes with the two attachment pins, 4 hex allen wrenches, laser warning sticker, extra set of batteries, and a special shim to use if mounting the laser to a Kel-Tec frame.  I also had to round up some extra stuff to help with the installation.  I needed a 1/8" brass drift punch, bench block, and tap hammer.  My tools are in the second photo.
I glanced at my phone and started my install clock at 9:16pm.  I followed the included instructions and finished the installation at 9:30pm with some of that time taken up to take a few pictures as I worked.  This was a very easy installation that would probably take me 5 minutes now that I've done it once previously.  The finished product is shown below.


Two things that I really liked about the P-32 were the overall weight and size of the pistol.  It's just over 7 oz. empty and incredibly slim.  I had some concerns how those two things I liked about the pistol might change after installing the laser.  I've included some before and after shots of the weight and width of the pistol with and without the laser installed.

One other concern I had was if I would be able to use my existing holster for the P-32 after the laser was installed.  I was happy to see that I could use the same Desantis Nemesis holster after installing the laser.  The laser does add a bump to the side of the holster, but I seriously doubt anyone would notice it printing in your pocket.

I've told you what I like about the P-32, but I have not told you what I don't like about it.  I really don't like the zero contrast small sights that are machined into the slide.  The sights are fine for the pistols primary purpose of close range self defense scenarios.  I use this pistol as my primary test gun for checking velocity and terminal performance of various .32 ACP ammo.  I need to know exactly where the bullet will impact in my testing.  Adding this laser is a good solution to my sight problem.  The added benefit is that now I also have another sighting reference when I use this pistol for carry purposes.

While we are on the subject of carry with the laser attached, I made a short video demonstrating the draw and laser activation from both the right and left pocket.  Right hand draw and laser activation is pretty easy to learn.  I didn't have any issues at all with some test draws.  Since the laser sits on the right side of the gun, I also wanted to see if I could activate the laser with my thumb if I carried this pistol in my left pocket.  For me, left hand activation with the thumb was indeed possible, but somewhat awkward.  I really don't practice left hand drawing with any frequency as it's a rare occurrence for me to carry in the left pocket.


I planned on getting out to the range today, but while the temperatures are great the wind is really blowing and there is no chance I can keep my target stand from blowing away.  I may get over to the indoor range this week and see how well the laser holds it's zero through a box or two of shells.  I'm not overly concerned because the laser is currently regulated with the sights at 10 yards.  I think that's pretty amazing and a big confidence booster for this laser.
I like the laser so far.  Made in the USA, comes with a spare set of batteries, and super easy to install.  It also has a one year warranty so I should have plenty of time to complete my testing and evaluation before the year is up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Heizer's Half Dozen DoubleTaps

Laura Burgess Marketing has been doing the PR work ahead of the Heizer Doubletap launch.  Last night these photos of Heizer's SHOT Show booth went up on the LBM Facebook page.  Pretty cool to see 6 Doubletaps all lined up and ready to be fondled by booth visitors.  Can't wait to try one for myself. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

COP 380 Auto - Copper Only Projectiles .380 Auto Ammo Review

I have to admit that I'm a sucker when it comes to new stuff.  I hope that's a part of what brings you to this blog as I'm willing to be the guy that "takes one for the team" and keeps you from wasting money on stuff that falls short of expectations or brings you useful information on something new that is really good or even outstanding.  This is my first ammo review, so I hope this works out well.

Two weeks ago, I needed a couple of things from Midway USA so I was browsing around the site and as usual, I found a few things to add to the cart even though they weren't on my "shopping list".  I don't know about you, but Midway and me is worse than me at Walmart or Harbor Freight.  I always end up putting a few extra things in my shopping cart.  One of the things I added to the cart was a couple boxes of an ammo I had not seen offered before.  It's listed as C.O.P. Ammunition .380ACP 80 grain Solid Copper Hollow Point.  The C.O.P. name is an acronym for Copper Only Projectiles.  Since I've never seen it before, I have to assume it's a new line of ammo.  It's loaded with hollow point bullets made from solid copper.  I also assume this product has been brought to market to compete with Magtech's First Defense, Corbon's DPX, and the Barnes TAC-XP loaded offerings from Buffalo Bore and Doubletap as all of these product lines are loaded with hollow point bullets formed from solid copper.

With 4 other players making pure copper hollow point rounds in .380 Auto, you are probably wondering what caught my eye on the COP product.  The 4 other makers all get about $1 per round for their products.  Magtech is the lowest price at $0.97 per round.  The other three are loaded with Barnes bullets and range from $1.21 to $1.38 per round before adding applicable tax and delivery.  COP has come to market at a price of $0.49 per round.  All price comparisons are based on the current prices at Midway.  With the chance to get 50 rounds for less than $25, I added a couple of boxes to my Midway order.

The next two photos show the front and back of the COP packaging.  I'm not sure if RareAmmo is the manufacturer or just the distributor of the ammo.  The COP brand may even be a house label created by Rareammo and manufactured to their specifications by a 3rd party.  According to the packaging, the ammo is made in the USA.  I spent a few minutes on their website and learned a bit more about the parent company of Rareammo. 

Opening the box, you find the internal packaging to be a bit different than the usual plastic or Styrofoam tray.  I like the packaging as it's 100% cardboard and recyclable.  I really hate having to throw away the plastic trays most ammo ships in because they don't have the recycle symbol on them so I assume they can't be recycled.  I didn't notice any issues with the packaging having a negative impact on the quality of the rounds.  It appears to protect them well in shipping.

A quick inspection of the ammo shows uniformity in loading and components.  Loaded in mildly spotted Starline brass, the round is loaded quite long compared to it's peer group with sampled rounds averaging .970 for overall length.  A sampling of 10 rounds showed 6 weighing in at exactly 133.6 grains with the balance of the sample being within + or - .4 grains of the 133.6 grain sample mode.  From the website, the published velocity for this load is 1045 fps that's generating 185 ft/lbs of energy.  To the best of my knowledge, the standard ft/lbs energy calculation for this bullet weight and velocity should be 194.  There must have been an error in their calculations.

A true test of any ammo is to get it out on the range and run some rounds over the chronograph.  For those that have been with me, you know the drill.  For the new folks that might be reading my blog for the first time, please see this blog entry for a description of my chronograph testing regimen.

It was a great day to get out to the range today.  Clear skies and temps in the upper 50's with the occasional wind gusts coming up the range to keep tipping over my target holder.  Not our typical January weather, but I was able to finish up my evaluation for velocity and expansion.  The velocity data showed that this ammo is a pretty anemic performer.  I tested velocities in both a Kahr P380 and Bersa Thunder 380CC.  The data table is displayed below.  As documented above, published velocities were supposed to be over 1000 fps.  This ammo fell way short of those numbers and the ft/lbs of energy really show how slow this load is.  I believe this is the worst performing round that I've ever tested in the P380 and second worst performer in the Bersa Thunder 380CC.  You can see for yourself by comparing the COP results with the results of other 380 ammo here.  The one good thing is that the ammo fed and fired perfectly in both guns, but would not cycle the slide with enough vigor to allow the Kahr to slide lock on empty.  The Bersa slide did lock back on empty.

Measured velocity is one thing, but terminal performance is what really matters.  I'm still working on my bullet box so I substituted water jugs for my expansion testing today.  I used my standard 2 layers of medium weight denim, but backed that up with water jugs today.  I'm not particularly interested in capturing an accurate penetration depth.  I just wanted to check velocity and test for expansion.  I documented my test on video.  I work alone so please excuse the tripod and stationary camera and not being able to hear some of what I was saying over the wind noise.

If you don't want to sit though the 3 minute video I also shot some pictures of the captured bullet.  The end result was expansion that did not exceed the diameter of the bullet base.  The round performed as you would expect any very slow FMJ would perform.

To wrap up the review, I'll close by saying that sometimes you really do get what you pay for.  I really liked the prospect of a solid copper hollow point in .380 that was just about affordable enough that I could practice with the same ammo that I intended to carry.  COP is also available in 9mm and my next test was going to be on their standard pressure 9mm load in a Diamondback DB9.  Unfortunately, COP ammo turned out to be an under achiever that was hampered by poor velocity numbers that pretty much assured poor terminal performance.  I've seen one other test of this ammo in .45 ACP on Youtube and that reviewer also identified an issue with low bullet velocity.

COP ammo is currently out of stock at Midway.  I guess a few other adventurous folks took a chance on the ammo.  If you should happen to see it in your store, on-line, or at one of the many gun shows that Rareammo/JEK Incorporated attends, I hope you will remember this review before spending your money on this ammo.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Add on Grips for Pocket Pistols

I'm not a big fan of adding grip enhancements to polymer pistols.  I know there's a huge market for slip on grip enhancers, but I've never found one that made enough of a difference to be worth the trouble.  Overall, I think the designers of polymer pocket pistols do a good job texturing the grips for a sure hold.  There may be an advantage of having a more "hand filling" grip, but that would be adding bulk to the grip and in my opinion that defeats the main value of the small pocket guns.  I want less bulk, not more bulk.  I also find that the rubbery grip sleeves attract pocket link and can make it a little more difficult to slide the holstered gun into your pocket when getting dressed. 

Since pocket pistols ride in the pocket, they are usually quite warm to the touch even if your hands happen to be cold.  There may be some value in a tactile rubber grip if you are forced to use your pistol with cold hands.  Cold hands aren't part of my routine so again this isn't a benefit for me.

I did come across something that I found quite useful recently.  Traction Grips makes pre-cut sets of rubberized grip tape for many popular brands of pocket pistols.  It's also available in a few colors.  Here's an example of a pre-cut grip installed on a Diamondback DB380.  The pebble finish is grippy without being overly aggressive.

They also offer the "grit" type of grip tape and here's what that looks like installed on a Glock 26.  I'm not a fan of the grit tape as any grit that makes it into your holster is going to end up scratching the finish of your slide when you drag the pistol in and out of the holster.  Some folks dig this type of tape, so Traction Grips has you covered if you are interested in this type of grip.

I personally find that the Traction Grips Universal Grip Set has been perfect for my needs.  It's a set of two bulk sheets of the traction grip material that can be trimmed to any shape or size and applied to specific locations needing some additional gripping surface.  I cut pieces for the front straps of my 1911's and it made a big difference in their use. If you aren't comfortable around scissors, you can get the 1911 front strap grips pre-cut.  The really nice part about the bulk sheets is you can put them on anything that needs a bit more grip.  I ended up putting a bulk sheet of clear grip on the back of my cell phone case so I could put it up on the dashboard of my car without having to worry about it sliding around.  You will find many uses for this stuff once you see how well it works.


For this blog I pulled out my veneer calipers and measured the thickness of the Traction Grips material.  With the backing in place it's .026" as compared to 3M Rubberized Safety Walk which is .054" thick with the backing in place. This stuff really does add grip without adding bulk.

Here's another application of the Traction Grip material on a Rohrbaugh R9.  If you wanted to go through the expense of having the front and backstraps checkered professionally, you would be looking at a project that would cost several hundred dollars.  I'm sure it would look great and feel amazing, but what if you decided you didn't like it?  For control, these small pieces of Traction Grip material have made all the difference in the world for me and I was even able to apply it to the magazine extension for even more grip and control.

Traction Grips are made made in the USA.  You can find them on Facebook as well as their website.   I've included a few more pictures from their website that shows what a pre-cut kit looks like and also their sample material swatches in Gray, Black, and Black Grit.  I've received Clear from them in the past, so that may also be available.


Prices are really quite reasonable.  On the website, I see complete kits for Kahr pistols are $7.99.  My favorite, the Universal kits are currently $4.99.  I also know that some websites like the KTOG will have the occasional Traction Grips special offer posted up on the board.  Great stuff at a super price.  I encourage you to check it out if you find yourself in need of extra grip for your pocket pistol, full size pistol, or just about anything else around the house.