Tuesday, July 31, 2012

29,286......Not Dead Yet........

Since May, I've been watching my YouTube channel pick up speed.  By speed, I mean total video views and subscribers.  It made me start thinking about possibly backing off the blog and just focusing on making the videos instead of doing double work and keeping both going.  I had pretty much convinced myself that people really don't like to read as much as they like watching videos and the YouTube channel may pass the blog in lifetime views by the end of year.

Well....today I'm rethinking that idea.  Due to some nice "pick ups" by some widely read blogs (gunnuts.net), I ended up with just shy of 30,000 blog views this month.  To wrap a little perspective around that, June 2012 was my previous best month with just over 17,000 views.

July was an eventful month with the Sig 938 Review and a couple of ammo tests thrown in.  The Sig Review will be dragging into August since it is still with Sig for the second service visit.  I sent it out on the 17th, and still have not received my notice that it's done and on the way back to me.  I don't think it would be fair to anyone if I didn't report on the pistol's performance after it gets back.  The review needs closure.

I'm running low on ballistics test results to document.  It's been way too hot to work with SIM-TEST, but I've still got three tests left to publish.

I did pick up a very nice piece of kit this afternoon that's way outside the "Pocket Guns" category.  I'll probably work that into the blog because I'm sure it will be consuming my attention for a few weeks.

I also built some new target stands last weekend and I'd like to do a detailed parts list and a bit of how-to in case you guys want to try your hand at making some.  If you follow the blog and videos, you know I really struggle with target stands that blow over on me.  These should work out much better and be less prone to toppling.

The potential for another run on ammo has me spooked so I've done some stocking up to make sure I've got stuff to test.  I've been keeping a running list of stuff as it's come in on the Upcoming Test Schedule Page.  There are still a few holes in the .38 and 9mm stuff I want to test so if anyone has any Speer .38 +P 135 Grain Short Barrel or Winchester 9mm 147 Grain Ranger T-Series they can live without, please let me know.  357 Sig is also looking pretty slim.  I need to beef up that list a bit.

I did hear some good news earlier today about the facility where I do my ballistics testing.  The range has been in the process of going through some local legal issues brought on by local controls on business development.  Initially denied their development license by a local planning commission with an anti-gun bias, a grass roots support program was initiated with local folks that like to shoot and also NRA Support.  The appeals hearing was last night and the planning commission's business development denial was overturned.  I'm not sure how the petition and emails to the decision makers played into the result, but it was great to see that Reason can still prevail over Prejudice. 

So thanks for all the viewership and I hope you enjoy what's to come in the next few months.  There's a rumor floating around that I may even get a chance to shake out a Shield 9 and XDS 45 without actually having to go out and buy them.  I really hope that rumor turns out to be true.  I'd really like to review both of them.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hornady Critical Duty 9mm 135 Grain Standard and +P Test

Critical Duty is Hornady's newest line of pistol ammunition.  Unlike Critical Defense, the Critical Duty line features a bullet that has been constructed with an "Interlock Band" to help the core and jacket stay together as they penetrate various barriers.  I like the Critical Defense line of ammo and it has tested well for me.  I really wanted to give the new Critical Duty a thorough testing with a focus on terminal performance with the shorter barrel lengths that have become quite popular with the concealed carry folks.

While I was on vacation last month, I did a little ammo shopping during some downtime.  I just happened to be on the right website at the right time to pick up some very reasonably priced boxes of 50 rounds.  Having 50 rounds on hand gives me some wiggle room with my testing as I have plenty of extra rounds to spare for velocity testing as well as terminal testing.  Keeping with the short barrel focus of my testing, I opted to run my tests through two of the shorter barrel lengths.

You may notice, in the picture above, that the +P rounds have a brass colored primer and the standard pressure have a nickel colored primer.  The case head stamp on the +P rounds are also designated as such.  Other than these two differences, the standard pressure and +P loads appear to be identical.  

Test Pistol Specs:

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 4 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.  Originally, I planned to post the Standard Pressure and +P tests as individual posts, but in the end I decided to combine them since I used the same SIM-TEST block for both test shots.

The two recovered test rounds and all their details are shown below. 

My Thoughts
Hornady publishes 1015 fps for the standard pressure load and 1115 fps for the +P version.  Obviously, we can't expect to see those published velocities from the 3" barrel we tested with.  I was somewhat pleased to see we only lost 50 fps for the standard pressure load and 100 fps for the +P load based on our 5 shot velocity test strings.  I was very disappointed that the actual test shots that went into the SIM-TEST block were both about 30 fps slower than the 5 shot averages.  Not sure why that happened on both tests, but there always seems to be some "unexplainable" factor that enters into testing regardless of how carefully we try to control the test variables.

Even though the velocity spread between the two shots was only 40 fps, you can see the dramatic impact it had on expansion and penetration.  The slower standard pressure round expanded less, but penetrated deeper.  The +P loading expanded more and penetrated less.  Having both test shots at 15" or more of penetration was something I have not seen in my previous 9mm tests.  I have to believe the limited expansion and heavier bullet are significant contributing factors to the observed penetration numbers.   

Based on the results from this initial test, I like the performance of this load from the short barreled Kahr.  My biggest concern about this new product is scarce availability of the 50 round boxes that I used for testing.  Retail boxes of 25 have started popping up on Retail shelves, but their prices are similar to what I paid for these boxes of 50.  Since I subscribe to training with the ammo you carry, the high price of the 25 round boxes would eliminate these as a viable option vs other similar loads in this caliber.  I almost forgot to mention that the 50 count boxes come with lacquer sealed primers.  I'm not sure if the 25 count boxes include this extra measure of moisture proofing.

I'm not set up to test through barriers so I can't comment about the primary differentiation point between Critical Duty and Critical Defense.  I saw no evidence of core jacket separation and the retained weight of both rounds was exceptionally good.  You can see for yourself in the following photos.

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. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wenger Blackout Evo 63 - Gear Review

I've been a fan of Wenger knives since buying my first one back in 2000.  Prior to that, my Swiss knife experience was limited to various Victorinox models since childhood.  Wenger was the first to include a cigar scissor tool on their knives and I've owned 3 of them since purchasing my first at a duty free shop at the Manchester, England airport.

Once you have a Wenger or two (I lost one several years ago) you don't pay much attention to them.  They simply go about their business and do what's asked of them.  If you take the time to give them a bare minimum of cleaning and lubrication, you've got a knife for life as long as you don't lose it.

I recently got an email from a company I've done business with over the years and noticed a new model of Wenger was available.  What drew me to the knife was it's amazingly light weight, redesigned scales, and black coating.  I decided to try the cheapest of the three available models to use as a lighter weight option to my smallest stainless steel scaled Wenger knife.  The video below covers my first impressions of the knife and the tools included with the knife. 

In order to maintain it's very light weight, the Blackout Evo 63 comes with a minimum number of tools.  The 2.5" main blade has 2 1/8" of sharpened edge.  That should be plenty big enough for the majority of day to day cutting tasks.  The bottle opener/can opener/screw driver/wire bender should also be handy.  For me, the toothpick, tweezers, and cork-screw are just added baggage that probably won't ever be used.  Unlike previous Wengers I've owned, this one isn't so heavily sprung.  The main blade is secure, but opens very easily.

The split ring/lanyard ring would be very handy if you were planning on adding this to your key chain.  In reality, I'll probably pull the split ring off in a few days.  The Evo scales are very light weight, which I am assuming is due to their scalloped design.  Rubberized inserts have been installed in each scallop and the scallops are mirrored on both scales.  The knife feels very good in the hand.

For $30, this knife isn't a steal but rather a new twist on a classic design.  I really like it's ultra light weight and unique black finish.  It's got enough good things going for it that it may end up spending more time in my pocket than tucked away in a drawer.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Speer Gold Dot 38 Special +P 125 Grain GDHP Terminal Test

This test was another one that was way overdue.  The Speer Gold Dot 38 Special +P 125 Grain GDHP is another 38 Special loading with a good reputation around the internet.  Speer specifications list this round at 945 fps velocity from a 4 inch test barrel.  I found the recoil of these loads to be quite a handful in a light-weight .38 revolver such as the S&W Bodyguard .38 and Ruger LCR .38 Special +P, which added some hands on credibility to their velocity claims.   

This test is actually a companion piece to the previous test on Remington Express 158 Grain LSWCHP +P that I published last month.  That test can be found HERE. The reason I say it is a companion test is because both test shots were placed into the same SIM-TEST ballistics test media block.  That's important if you want to compare the results of the tests because the gel density will be the same for both shots.

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 4 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 test from range to bullet recovery.

The recovered round was weighed and measured.  I've also included the calculated the ft/lbs. of energy of the test shot.  All the data is displayed in the sheet below.

Final Wrap-Up & My Thoughts
I had always wondered how this 125 Grain +P loading would perform from a short barreled snub nose revolver.  I was actually very surprised by the 900 fps velocity of the test shot.  Since we were using a barrel more than 2 inches shorter than Speer's 4" test barrel, I expected a greater drop in velocity.  Over the last 7 weeks since I did the test, I lost the 5 round velocity test string video.  I know I did the test, but I simply can't find the video documentation of the test.  My apologies for that.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the test results.  Even short barrel velocity was sufficient to fully expand the bullet AND also allow it to penetrate to a full 12 inches after passing through two layers of denim.  That's really good performance when you consider the short barrel length of the test pistol. 

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.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Federal Premium 45 Auto +P 200 Grain EFMJ - Terminal Test

During the ammo drought of 2008, I got a really good deal on several boxes of this ammo.  I didn't know much about it at the time so I did some research and found pretty much universal disdain for this ammo across the various internet forums.  It seems that the Federal EFMJ is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Federal LE ammo line and like Rodney, it gets no respect.  I shot a few boxes of it from a Kahr CW45 and found it mild for a +P and it fed and functioned perfectly so it was my ammo of choice in that pistol for the brief time it was with me.  I've always wondered how the expansion would look so I finally got around to testing it last month.

Even though I'm branching out a bit from the true pocket pistol calibers, I am going to stick to testing ammo from short barrels.  For this test, I used a Glock 36 with a 3.78" barrel.  There are shorter length 45's out there, but this is the pistol I had on hand at the range on test day.

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 4 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 test from range to bullet recovery.

The recovered round was weighed and measured.  I've also included the stats from the test velocity string and calculated the ft/lbs. of energy of the test shot.  All the data is displayed in the sheet below.

Several weeks ago I posted a high speed video of this round going through a clay target and into a 1 gallon water jug.  I recovered that round from the berm and it was nicely expanded.  It's the bullet on the lower left in the picture below the video I just mentioned, which is also below.  The berms are especially hard right now due to lack of rain so I was able to recover 3 addition rounds from my velocity testing.  You can see how the polymer expanding tip was shoved to the side and the soft lead core mushroomed out nicely as the bullets plowed into the hardpacked berm at 634 miles per hour.  The good news is that the bullets held together and jacket, core, and polymer tip were all recovered together.


Final Wrap-Up & My Thoughts
Personally, I can see the virtues of this load.  For a soft shooting 45 +P, I'm very pleased with the expansion of the SIM-TEST recovered round and also those that were recovered from the berm.  From the short barrel, the penetration was near the minimum acceptable but expansion was quite good.  While I am not limited to FMJ only, as citizens of some states are (NJ), I wouldn't have any issue at all using this in place of a FMJ load or even Hornady's Critical Defense load if I had concerns about hollow point cavities getting plugged by heavy clothing in the cold weather months.

Actually, I like the results I've seen from this load so much that I added a box of 9mm +P 124 Grain EFMJ to a recent ammo order.  I'd like to see if the 45 performance carries over to the 9mm +P.  If it does, it may be my cold weather carry ammo this Winter in place of the nearly impossible to find 135 Grain +P Hornady Critical Duty.

As always, some anomaly pops up during testing that is concerning and needs to be discussed.  I did notice the one round in the velocity test string that registered more than 140 fps less than every other shot that crossed the chronograph during testing.  I have no idea why that happened or if it will happen again with this specific lot of ammo.  It could have been a problem with the chronograph.  I'm not overly concerned because the velocity is close to the 230 grain GI hardball velocity even though the weight is less.  Regardless, I wouldn't want to stand in front of any .45 projectile going over 800 fps if it expanded or not.

I think I'm going to do some digging around and see if there are any other terminal tests on this ammo available.  I'd like to see how my results compare with others.  

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.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Confound You Photobucket

I was going to post a new ammo test tonight, but Photobucket has been down for the last 24 hours and I can't upload new pictures.  The blog photos they host on their servers continues to work, so for that I am thankful.

Spoke with Sig Customer Service again today and after viewing my video from last weekend, they have agreed to take the pistol back in for a second service visit.  It went out today so I should have an update within the next two weeks.

Ordered some new gear this week.  Way out of the Pocket Gun universe, but I'll probably figure out a way to work them into the blog since I'm sure they will get quite a bit of attention in the short term.

I've also been designing some new target holders so I can mix up my range visits a bit.  It took two trips to Lowe's to get all the right stuff together.  The first trip to buy the wrong stuff and the second trip to return everything I had previously purchased and buy the right stuff I really needed.  I'll let you know how they turn out and how you can make your own.  If they turn out as planned, they should be just a bit better than most of the other DIY PVC target holders you see on YouTube.  I just need to avoid the danger of over engineering them.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Taurus M380 Makeover

When I was out on the range yesterday, I took along the Taurus M380 mini revolver.  It has been too many weeks since I last shot this little guy.  As always, it was really fun to shoot, but the heavy weight 12+ lb. trigger started getting on my nerves after about 25 rounds down range.  When I initially reviewed the revolver, I mentioned the heavy trigger pull and secretly hoped it would smooth out over time.  Unfortunately, the trigger hasn't improved so I decided that I needed to find out why things were not improving.

Even before I put the first tool to the pistol, I ordered a Wolff Shooter's Pack spring kit for the Taurus 85 series of revolvers.  The kit consists of reduced weight hammer and trigger return springs.  From past experience, I know this is the first step to improving the trigger on any revolver.  I'm not sure if the springs are the right size for the M380, but I'm sure I will know as soon as I get them in hand to compare with the factory springs.  If they won't work I'm out a whopping $7.99.  I've wasted more on less in the past.

Removing the grips was easy.  The side plate also came off a bit too easily as I discovered one of the screws had actually loosened up during shooting.  All 3 side plate screws have boogered up slots, which indicates to me they are soft and the folks doing the assembly at Taurus don't have the correct screwdrivers for the job.  I may replace them before reassembly.  Lifting the side plate, I got a rather unpleasant surprise.  The area with the black circle around it has three pieces of "flash" that were floating around the frame.  I believe there were one or two more, but they ended up in the garbage. 

Looking into the guts of the pistol revealed even more reasons why the trigger feels so gritty.  I'm not sure who's responsible for cleaning up the pistol after bead blasting, but they skipped my pistol.  The entire inside is loaded with blasting media.  It appears that the media has gotten into all the tiny places and pivot points for the hammer and trigger.  I'll get this all flushed out when I swap out the red and green springs with the Wolff replacements.  You can also see where the right side of the trigger is rubbing on the frame when the trigger is pulled so I'll get that buffed up.  You probably can't see it, but the cylinder yoke plunger is also coated with blast media.  Another opportunity to clean stuff up.

I also noticed that the trigger is too long and it bumps up against the trigger guard when the trigger hits max travel.  I didn't take care of it before so now there is a small divot that has worn into the trigger guard.  While I have the trigger out, I'll work on reshaping it so it doesn't rub on the trigger guard.

I'm not in a huge rush to get this done so I'm thinking about sending the trigger, hammer, cylinder release, all screws, and the cylinder off to CCR for matte black Cera-Hide.  I'll have to do more research first because I couldn't logically figure out how to remove the cylinder from the crane assembly.  I was just looking to make sure I had the correct terminology and read that the ejector rod must be unscrewed AND that it is reverse threaded.  Well, now I know why the logical dis assembly I was trying wasn't working.  =)

I also need to find my Flitz.  I know I have some around here and it should be just the ticket for cleaning and buffing up the inside of the frame.  It's been a long time since I took on a project like this, but I'm looking forward to it.  I think it will end up being a lot of work and I hope to have something unique and very nice when I'm done.

I'm sure I could have avoided all this buy purchasing the blue version of the pistol instead of the bead blasted "stainless" model.  Live and learn.

UPDATE  Be sure to check out the latest on the M380.  You can find that HERE.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sig Sauer P938 Review Part 4 - Back from Service

On the last day of June, I put up my first real range report and review of the Sig P938.  During that range visit I had a few failures to extract and I also had a little problem with the trigger cutting into my finger.  It wasn't a great experience, but I did get through just over a hundred rounds of ammo.

Two days later I was out on the range again with the P938 and continued to have issues with failure to extract.  I subsequently called Sig and they issued me a return authorization for service.  The lead photo shows the test target and Gunsmith Comments from the service center visit.  After reviewing the changes and testing out the new very sweet 5 lb. trigger, I couldn't wait to get the pistol back out on the range and see how it performed.

The video below was shot earlier today.  I must say I am very disappointed in the pistol that was returned to me.  The failure to extract problem has gotten worse instead of better.  I've run 400 rounds through the pistol.  300 before service and 100 after service.  Sig ran 100 through while they had it.  I'm now 500 rounds into break-in so the typical new gun problems should be over by now.  The recoil spring has a recommended life of 1500 rounds so I'm 1/3 of the way through the life of the spring and still encounter repeated failures.

As you can tell from the video, I'm getting pretty frustrated.  The failure to extract issue is worse now than it was before.  When the gunsmith regulated the front site, the tritium vial was broken so the sight is now dead.  I've also had two failures to fire with the pistol and both rounds fired when they were put through the pistol as second time.  FTE is concerning.  Occasional FTF is VERY concerning.

I'm going to give the folks at Sig a call on Monday and see if they will take the pistol back a second time for service.  Something isn't right and they need to do more trouble shooting on the pistol or replace it with one that works.  Third time could be the charm that resolves all issues or this could be three strikes and you're out.  I really want to like this pistol.  It's very easy to shoot and a dream to carry, but it's getting more and more difficult to like something that I don't have any confidence in.

At least they'll be able to replace the front sight while they have it for the second time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sig P938 Service Update - Holster Selection

Just wanted to post a quick update that Sig notified me to expect my P938 return on Thursday 7/12.  That's a pretty quick turn around considering I dropped it off with the shipper on Thursday 7/5.  If the weather stays nice, I'll be back out on the range this weekend to confirm if my issues have been resolved.

While the Sig was back for service, I decided to order a custom hybrid/tuckable holster that I will try at 4 or 5 O'clock along with the Remora that's on the way from Alan.  I really like the Remora holsters at 2 O'clock with an un-tucked shirt.   It never hurts to have some different carry options available.  The hybrid maker sent me a picture of the finished holster (below) along with my tracking number.  The hybrid is due to arrive Friday and the Remora should be here any day now.

I'm anxious to get back out on the range and do some draw and fire from concealment drills.  The real acid test to see if the P938 is really a worthy addition to the CC rotation.  I sure hope it turns out to be viable option.

VZ has not yet responded to my request for information about the possibility of coming out with single color G10 grips for the P938.  They make 4 different grip patterns for the P238, so it seems logical they would expand to cover the P938 too.  Back on June 26th they confirmed receipt of my inquiry and let me know they would be contacting me shortly.  I really hope they decide to get into the P938 business.  The stock grips are functionally fine, but the colorway is just a little too busy for my preference on a carry pistol.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New CORBON .32 Auto Denim and Gel Ballistics Test

A new Corbon 32 Auto loading started showing up in retailers like Cabelas in the last few months.  I had noticed that Corbon updated their packaging when I got my last box of .380 ammo, but the word spread around the KelTec and Seecamp boards that the new 32 load appeared to be loaded with the Speer Gold Dot hollow point bullet and not the rounded hollow point that was previously used.  I was offered a box of the ammo to test by fellow KTOG member Jason so I could run the new load through my testing protocol and see what we could learn about the new loading.

The photo above shows the new Corbon box and loaded rounds on the left.  The rounds in the center are the Speer Gold Dot loads.  The box and rounds on the right are the previous version of Corbon 60 grain JHP.  You can see that the bullets loaded in the new Corbon loads look very much like the Gold Dot bullets in the center.  The two close up photos below pretty much confirmed that the new Corbon is indeed loaded with the Speer Gold Dot bullet.

With this new insight on the latest Corbon 32 ammo, it was time to hit the range and see how the new load will perform.  For this test I used a KelTec P-32 pistol with a 2.5" 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 4 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 test from range to bullet recovery.

The recovered round was weighed and measured.  I've also included the stats from the test velocity string and calculated the ft/lbs. of energy of the test shot.  All the data is displayed in the sheet below.

One of the advantages of conducting tests like this over many months is that I've started to accumulate a deep archive of testing stats and recovered bullets.  The photo below compares three recovered rounds.  On the left is the round recovered from this test.  In the center is a previously tested Speer Gold Dot as loaded by Speer in their 32 Auto ammo.  When I tested Speer's load they were running a slow 818.5 fps average velocity that was too slow to cause the bullet to expand.  On the right is the old version of the Corbon 32 Auto that was recovered from a previous test documented HERE.  

Final Wrap-Up & My Thoughts
Corbon continues to push the speed envelop with their latest 32 Auto offering.  Every round tested from the sample box was moving 50 to 80 fps faster than the advertised 1050 fps velocity.  After looking back through my previous test data from the old Corbon 32 Auto loading, the new version exceeds the previous load by 30 fps for a 5 shot average (1113 vs 1083).  Unfortunately, the Gold Dot bullet can't handle that kind of speed and it exhibited significant fragmentation in the current test.  As the petals dropped, the core became lighter and lighter until it's mass was no longer heavy enough to drive it forward for deeper penetration and it came to rest just 6.25" into the SIM-TEST block.  Just an FYI, the old version that didn't fragment achieved 7.125" of penetration in my previous testing. 

I feel that Corbon is making a step in the right direction by switching from the old style bullet that expanded greatly, but suffered from core/jacket separation.  The bonded Gold Dot bullet solves the core/jacket separation problem, but introduces a new problem with fragmentation.  I think the Gold Dot hollow point bullet needs a velocity between the Speer loaded 818 fps and the Corbon loaded 1113 fps to consistently expand without over-expanding to the point of fragmentation.  My gut tells me that 950 to 1000 fps would be a great middle ground to experiment with.

Unfortunately, I don't think Corbon will ever see this test and the results.  If they do, I wonder if they will take the chance and down load the new 32 Auto to a more sedate velocity to enhance it's terminal performance.  If they do, I would try another test.  If they don't, then I'll pass on these in the future.

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.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

The P938 Goes Home

Over the last week, I gave the Sig Sauer P938 a pretty thorough shake out.  It's all been documented on previous blog posts and 4 YouTube videos.  After my last trip to the range I gave Sig Customer Service a call and let them know about my issues.  They promptly issued a RMA and sent me the FedEx shipping label.  With the 4th of July Holiday, I didn't have the chance to drop off the package with FedEx until yesterday.  It arrived at Sig about an hour ago.

Along with the pistol, I sent along this photo document for the gunsmith to work from.  I'm glad I took so many photos and kept specific notes along the way.  It made pulling the documentation together pretty easy.  They projected a two week turn around on the service so I'll let you all know when it returns and how each of these issues were addressed.  I miss my 938 already........

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sig Sauer P938 Review - Final Thoughts

I had an extra long weekend and spent the afternoon doing my final test shoots with the P938.  I really wasn't planning on comparing the 938 to anything because it's pretty unique, but I was getting all kinds of questions about how it compares to others so I caved and did my first ever something vs. something else video. I think it turned out well, but we'll see how the viewers react.  I see I have one dislike on the video already, but no views of the video.  This may get ugly.

When the dust settled yesterday afternoon, I had been on the range for over 4 hours and had many hours of raw video to weed through.  I took some of the highlights, and disappointments, from the afternoon and compiled it into a second range video.  I like visiting this range because I'm usually alone and the range allows for movement and creative targets.  Unfortunately, the wind is usually a factor and it was blowing like crazy all afternoon.  I tried to remove as much wind noise as I could with the video editing software, but it's still in the background making it difficult to hear what I am saying at some points.  Not my best work, and I appreciate your tolerance.

My Thoughts and Review Wrap-Up:

After running 300+ rounds through the P938, I think I'm ready to give an overall recap of the ownership experience so far.  As a beta tester I knew my chances of getting a 100% pistol were going to be 50/50 if my past beta testing results were any indication of future results.  Unfortunately, I have to say that this pistol falls into the 50% failure group.  Let me recap why I'm making that judgement.

1)  If you watch the videos you are probably sick to death of me saying that the gun shoots left or I need to work on my grip or trigger control to keep the pistol from shooting left.  Well, as it turns out the shooting left thing wasn't my issue.  Earlier, I had checked the rear sight placement and saw that it was centered in the dovetail.  It didn't occur to me to check the front sight.  In the picture below, you can see the front sight was not installed correctly and if it was centered, by moving it to the left, I'm sure the pistol would be shooting much closer to point of aim.  Chalk this one up to poor QA.   

2)  Failure to extract multiple brands/varieties of ammo.  I guess it could be worse if the pistol failed to extract every round, but as it is currently, it's very annoying.  I've had multiple failures to extract with:
Winchester White Box 115 Grain FMJ
Remington UMC 115 Grain JHP
Federal American Eagle 124 Grain FMJ
Winchester Personal Protection 147 Grain JHP

I did find some brands that had no extraction issues at all.  The Speer products; Gold Dot and Blazer aluminum were trouble free.  Federal 115 Grain FMJ also worked.  S&B is probably ok, but I'll be avoiding that going forward due to the one failure to fire I had on day one.  Some folks would just stick to ammo that works and be good with that.  I take a different view when 4 of the 8 varieties don't work.  I'm willing to avoid one or two choices, but not half of the 8 I have tried so far.

To the credit of Sig's Customer Support Team, I called them this morning about the failure to extract problem.  They emailed me a FedEx prepaid shipping label within minutes.  I'll clean up the pistol a bit tomorrow and drop it off at the FedEx depot on Thursday.  They estimate 7 to 10 day turn around on the pistol.  Obviously I'm glad they made the return easy, but I'm still disappointed I have to though the drill.  I'll get them to push the front sight over while they have it.  I'm sure they have the right sight pusher for the job.

3)  This one is 100% on me to fix, but I shouldn't have to adjust my shooting style to work around a physical design element of a pistol.  The sharp bottom edge of the trigger that tore me up on day one can be worked around with a band-aid or changing the way I squeeze the trigger.  I've also had comments that I can break the sharp edge with a dremel or by hand with files and abrasive papers.  I'll figure out how to deal with it.

Keep or Trade:
I really like several things about the P938.  If the extraction problem can be resolved and the front sight bumped over, I think I will have a heck of a shooter on my hands.

Even though the single action trigger is gritty and heavy at 300 rounds, I'm hopeful it will improve with time.  As it is now, it's manageable and not an inhibitor to accurate shooting.  I do feel that it's short travel and reset will ultimately become an asset for fast and accurate shooting.

The grip angle feels very good in my hand.  I also feel that it flips less than other pocket 9's, which again should contribute to faster recovery between shots.  The combination of front strap checkering and aggressive Hogue grips provide plenty of secure purchase for your hand even when shooting with a one-hand hold.  I definitely do not get the feeling that the pistol is trying to escape from my grasp when shooting one handed.

Sights are outstanding in bright or no/low light.  The best factory sight set I've ever received on a small pistol.

With some additional practice time, I'm quite confident that I will come to appreciate the P938 as much as I have appreciated my Colt Mustang Pocketlite over the last 20 years.  I guess I just have a soft spot for the classic single action and Sig's interpretation of that trigger system in the P938 is quite appealing to me.

I'll post an update when I get the pistol back from Sig's Service Department.  At least we know which ammo brands we're going to try first.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sig Sauer P938 Review and Range Time

Last Thursday I picked up my Sig P938 and did my initial unboxing video and blog report.  I didn't have the chance to get out to the range on Friday, but things worked out this morning and I did have the opportunity to spend an hour or so with the pistol.

I pocket carried the 938 cocked and locked on an empty chamber all day Friday and up to my range visit on Saturday morning.  This was a preliminary test to see if the 938 could be carried in this condition without fear of the safety being flipped off through normal daily activities.  From the limited test period, the safety remained fully engaged.  This method of carry isn't new to me since my first pocket pistol was a Colt Mustang Pocketlite back in the 90's.

I got lucky and received my order of spare magazines from Top Gun Supply in the mail on Friday.  Instead of the two magazines that come with the pistol, I now had two additional magazines to use in my review video.  This allowed me to pre-load 25 rounds of ammo ahead of every new test target.  The magazine springs are really stiff and I found it necessary to use the Uplula in order to save my thumbs from getting sore with the rapid reloading of the magazines.  You don't need the Uplula, but it just makes reloading easier.  Normally, the single stack mags for the pocket 9s load pretty easily.

Not knowing anything about the ammo preferences of the pistol, I picked 6 random boxes of 9mm I had on hand.  I ended up with a nice assortment of cheap, domestic and foreign, JHP and FMJ loads.  I also covered 115, 124, and 147 grain weights.  The plan was to run 25 rounds of all six varieties through the pistol as an initial range report.

Prior to leaving for the range, I decided not to clean or lubricate the pistol.  When I had it apart on Thursday during the unboxing part of the review, I could see that it was fully lubricated by the factory prior to shipment.  Rather than clean off their oil to apply my own, I decided to just shoot the pistol as it was shipped.

Heading out onto the range, I had the pistol side of the range to myself this morning so I quickly shot an introduction and then got down to the shooting.  I was really excited to finally be shooting the pistol I had been wanting since first learning about it in January.

The video below captures all the action as I ran the pistol through it's paces.  Having 4 magazines allowed me to get through 25 rounds of ammo in about 1 to 2 minutes.  If you watch the video you will see that the trip was not uneventful.  I only got through 137 of the 150 rounds before I was forced to stop due to a bad case of trigger pinch that had me bleeding all over the trigger and trigger guard.  It was also very painful to the point of impacting my ability to pull the trigger properly.

I also experienced 5 failures to extract and 1 failure to fire.  I also had 1 failure to return to battery, but I'm going to take the blame for that one.  The one round that failed to detonate was reloaded and fired fine the second time through.  I'll place the blame on the cartridge for the failure to detonate since it occurred with the foreign Sellier and Bellot 115 grain FMJ ammo.

The failures to extract are a puzzling problem since they do not follow any pattern except the Winchester load that failed to extract the last round fired from the magazine twice.  I had FTE problems with the following ammo:
1 FTE Remington UMC 115 Grain JHP
2 FTE Federal American Eagle 124 Grain FMJ
2 FTE Winchester Personal Protection 147 Grain JHP

No failures of any kind were experienced with Federal 115 Grain FMJ and Blazer Aluminum 115 Grain FMJ.  So the headline is the 938 is a cheap date.  From testing so far, she seems to like the cheapest ammos.

Another observation is that I'm not at all fond of the trigger.  As a frequent shooter of pocket pistols, I've developed a significant callous on the underside of my trigger finger.  This area is frequently pinched or slapped by the trigger or trigger guard as these tiny powerhouses flip during recoil.  I've become accustomed to the discomfort and normally it does not affect my shooting.  When shooting the 938 today, the sharp edge on the bottom left of the trigger completely removed the callous from my finger and left me bloody.  I initially though it was the deeply grooved surface of the trigger, but the longer I shot the worse the pain became and I realized the sharp point in the red circle below was causing the problem.  

Overall, I found the pistol very easy to shoot.  Recoil was not unpleasant and generally I had no problems holding the majority of my shots within the 8" center of the IDPA targets I was using at 7 yards.  I didn't rush through each 25 round sample, but I did shoot as quickly as I could get the pistol back on target.  In the video you will see that most 25 round samples were shot in 1 to 2 minutes.  I have no doubt that group size would shrink if I took more time for each shot.

At 7 yards I tended to shoot a bit high and left of the point of aim.  This didn't vary significantly as the bullet weights changed.  I did find the pistol was much easier to control with the 7 round extended magazine than the 6 round flush fit magazine.  I've been reading feedback on this pistol from other folks now that my initial review is done.  Most folks are complaining about the pistol shooting low.  Go figure that I'm the exact opposite.  I'm not going to complain because slightly high is much better than too low.

I saved my targets and reviewed them when I got home and found the groups drifted more to the left the longer I shot.  The typical cause of shooting left is "too little trigger finger" and that would make sense because the trigger finger pain continued to get worse the longer I shot.  You can really see it show up when trying the last sets of 2 an 1's before I ended the day.  I'll hold off on drifting the rear sight for now.  Once the trigger finger feels better I'll try it again and see if I'm still shooting left.

When I got back home, I cleaned up my trigger finger and the 938.  Both are now going to take a day off to rest tomorrow and head back out to the range on Monday for some additional testing.  I'm going to do a little dry fire practice before Monday and see if I can alleviate the trigger bite issue by changing from a finger tip trigger press to one that is closer to the first knuckle.  After a very thorough cleaning of the extractor and chamber, I hope the FTE problems go away.

So that's all for now.  On my next trip out, I'll be doing some chronographing and will probably break out the Recoil-Cam again.  I will also be running 50 round boxes of 115 and 124 grain Gold Dots through the pistol to see if it behaves differently with full power defense loads.  Just took the bandage off my finger and the old trigger finger looks pretty sad.  I hope it's feeling better by Monday.