A Cluster of Spydercos

IMG_6970.JPGRecently, I have the opportunity to get a couple of knives to replace my Benchmade Triage and Walmart special Kershaw Swerve. The Triage is an awesom knife, but the G10 is too agressive and hurts me everytmg I reach into my pocket, and the Swerve is just a cheap chinese clunker.  I chose Spyderco as my replacements, based not only on great reviews, but they are a company that is providing some really great steels at attainable prices.  Spyderco is known for trying new steels often being the first in the production knife world to provide a new option via it’s “sprint runs” they do yearly.

I decided that there are 3 distinct sizes of knives that I use and carry.  The first being the biggest, which is a woods and weekend knife that is tough and capable, a mid-size knife that gets carried at work and needs to be less “murdery” looking and carry deeply in the pocket.  The last is the smallest and a bit of a speciality item, which is a deep in the pocket, no clip even showing type of affair. Spyderco’s Paramilitary 2(PM2), Endura and Dragonfly are the 3 differing sized knifes that I settled on.  The PM2 is in S110v steel from America and the other 2 sport a Japanese steel called ZDP-189.

The Paamilitary 2 is generously handled which is great for gloved use with a finger choil if you want to choke up on it a little.  People might complain that there is not as much blade as could otherwise fit in the handle, but it makes for a very comfortable tool to use. S110v is the current super steel and has great wear resistance and edge retention.  The compression lock allows for very satisfying one-handed flick opening.  The G10 is grippy for wet hands there is also a provision for a lanyard that will accept paracute cord. The G10 is not as rough as that on the Benchmade Triage 915.

Both the Delica and Dragonfly have FRN (Fiberglass reinforced nylon) that have great texture and allows it to be light and cheaper than if it was G10.  I also find that reaching past it in my pocket G10 can be kind of abrasive.  The Delica is 2.5 ounces and the Dragonfly is an unbelievable 1.2 ounces.  The Dragonfly when using the finger choil does support all 4 fingers in your grip which is incrediable.

My Delica has an aftermarket deep-carry clip showing almost no handle, so the sheeple at work don’t get too freaked out.  The Delica’s blade is pretty thin with a full flat grind (FFG) which makes it a fantastic slicer.  The Delica is a bit delicate for hard use, but it does have full steel liners (unlike the dragonfly) and the tip is a bit reinforced by the way they cut the drop point.

There are so many great knife designs, but not many with “super steels” that are not brick heavy and priced for us morals.  I knew that I wanted my every day carry (EDC) knife to be less than 3 ounces and the Delica fits the bill.  The biggest downside of the Delica is the backlock prevents satisfying flicking of the knife open.

 

 

 

Picking an EDC Pocket Knife

41csku9a2flPicking an every day carry pocket knife can be a pretty involved endeavor, if you put a lot of thought into it.  This blog post is for those people who like to over-think the simple decisions in life. 

Things to consider:

Blade Steel:  Think of AUS-8/ 8CR14MoV as the .380ACP of knife steels, some think it’s barely adequate, other inadequate.  VG10 (Spyderco) or CPM154 (Benchmade) would be steps above AUS-8 in terms of keeping a good edge.  ZDP-189, CPM S90v/S110V or M390 would be in the top tier of knife steels, currently being used.  Generally as the edge retention goes up, so does the difficulty in sharpening, but the frequency that is required goes down.  In a lot of cases these super steels can rust, compared to a more stainless, but often softer steel.  There are some old steels like D2, which is a “machine steel” that have awesome edge retention at the expense of rusting if not cared for.  (side note, if the Rat 2 comes out in D2, I’ll be first on line to purchase it)

Weight/Size:  If it’s too heavy or big it’s likely to not be carried, but it should be big enough to handle your day to day tasks of cutting boxes and apples.  Your pocket knife should be able to be pressed into harder service without a fear of failure.  I put my requirement at nothing heavier then ¼ of a pound (4 oz), with 3 ounces even better.

Blade Length:  I wanted about ~3 inches of blade, which I deemed as useful, but not scary to the sheeple.  So some of the keychain knifes are just too small for general purpose.

Blade Shape:  I wanted a blade with a bit of belly as they tend to be better slicers, something with a bit of a point that can pierce without being too delicate.  I ruled out wharncliffe and tanto designs.

Locking mechanism:  There are many types of blade locking mechanisms like liner, compression, back or other style of blade locking.  Some types allow for easier one handed deployment, but all of them should be suitable for a medium duty EDC blade.  I would stay away from a non-locking blade if it’s your only knife unless you have some legal restrictions.  I happen to love my Swiss Army Tourist it has great utility, but it’s a light duty knife, and risk fingers on some types of tasks that have the potential to put pressure on the spine of the blade.

Scales:  Scales can be made from metal, plastic or G10, but I think the shape (or ergonomics) of the handles are even more important.  If possible you should put your hands on your future purchase, if you can.

Carry Options:  Do you want to use a pocket clip?  If so is it tip up or tip down.  Is it important how deep it rides in your pocket, do you need to be more discrete or if an inch sticks out is it OK?  Do you have the need for a lanyard hole, do you need to dummy cord it to yourself when you are out in the woods or over water?

Cost:  Do you lose your EDC items often or are you one to keep track of your stuff?  Losing a $20 knife is less painful than losing a $100 knife and only you know how much you can afford.  Do you like to carry the same item every day or do you like to rotate what you carry, if so a couple of cheaper items might be better than a single expense item?  There are a lot of nice knives in all the price ranges and we will look at a couple.

Here is a list of some of the knives that I looked at as possible options to become my next carry knife, after carrying the Benchmade Triage 915 which is a great knife, tough as nails, but it weight 5.1 ounces and the scales are so grippy that when you reach into your pocket for other items it just about rips up your hand.

Make/Model Blade Length (in) Blade Steal Weight (oz) Price Notes
CKRT Squid 2.14

 

8Cr13MoV

 

3.4 $12.46

 

Slippery?

Not a fan of steel scales

Kabar Dozier

 

3 AUS-8A 2.3 $16.72 About the most minimum a knife can be
Ontario RAT II

 

3 AUS-8 2.75 $26.21 Just a great budget knife
Benchmade – Mini Griptilian

 

2.91 154Cm 2.68 $89.25 Lots of reports about bad heat treatment
Kershaw Leek 3 Sandvik 14C28N

 

3 $42.76 Needle point is a bit too fine
Spyderco Delica 4

 

2.875 VG-10 2.5 $63.99

 

One of the most popular EDC blades
Spyderco Delica 4 (ZDP)

 

2.875 ZDP-189 2.5 $95.95 Great steel, bit spendy for an EDC knife that can be lost
SANRENMU

 SRM 7010

 

2.8 8cr13MoV 3.25 $15.80 Slippery?

Not a fan of steel scales

I had some personal requirements and your milage might vary.  I wanted super deep pocket carry, which no one really had, so there needed to aftermarket options, but that would only be available for the Benchmade or Syderco.   Secondly, I really want to try a “super steel” and the Spydero has so many great reviews and such a long track record that I decided to go with the ZDP-189 edition.

I haven’t had it long enough to know, but so far it seems great, it doesn’t have the quickest or slicked one-hand opening, but the blade is the sharpest blade I have ever owned and the handle is very comfortable.

 

Ruger’s new mouse gun

img_6363This was shot at 9 yards from the plate, this is rotated 90 degrees so really windage was great and represents a little vertical stringing.  The ammo used is Fiocchi’s excellent XTP .380 with cases that are nickel plated.

The new Ruger LCP II is the latest iteration of what started as the Kel-Tec P3AT, that I also own.

Just a little about the pistol, it is a locked breach .380ACP, with a Glock style trigger, American magazine release button, pretty decent fixed sights and a polymer frame that contains 6 rounds in a well made magazine plus one up the pipe.

The pistol benefits from a little paint on the front sight, but they are vastly superior to those on the 3PAT.  I know some will say this a point and shoot firearm, but it’s better to have and not need, then to need for that 10 yard hostage taking head shot and not have.  My understanding is that the custom model had better sights, but are a bit bigger and could snag on the way out of a pocket.

This is not a gun that you wear on the hip, if you are going to carry a proper holster then you can carry a proper pistol (definite as 9mm or better), this is built for pocket carry.  Were a G26 or Shield ride well in an IWB, this is a deep concealment pistol.  I have a buddy who calls this type of gun, “the gun you carry when you aren’t armed.”

This gun is a joy at the range, with its slide hold open after the last round is expended, but this would only help a licensed conceal carrier, if they carry an extra magazine.  Ruger only ships this with one magazine, so you have to purchase additional magazines.  It’s recoil is very manageable and has a very nice trigger that leads to accurate shooting.

The pistol’s dimensions are similar to the earlier models, but it feel more substantial and has a little bigger volume in the pocket, particularly in the grip.  This slightly wider and more angular grip spread out recoil and makes the little mouse gun much more shootable, but concealment is a tiny bit harder, but still not difficult.

holster

Since this is a pocket gun, a pocket holster is a requirement, as the trigger breaks at about 6 pounds and has no manual safety.  The Boraii is a little trigger guard holster, that allows you to manipulate the slide and magazine release, but provides you a hook to catch your pocket.  If you don’t trust catching the pocket corner on the draw, then you can also add a piece of paracord and loop it on your belt.  Only time will tell how the exposed slide wears, if rust or lost of finish become and issue.

I did shoot this size-by-side with my decade old Kel-Tec P3AT and there was no practical accuracy out to about 7 yard, beyond that distance the new Ruger really started to shine.  50 rounds a session is my limit for the Kel-Tec, where as I could shot the Ruger all day long.

Street price is less than $300 and if you don’t have a flat little pocket pistol this would be an excellent option.  If you are leaving the house unarmed because you don’t feel like strapping on a pistol and your trusty J-Frame is just too big, this is the one for you.  Speaking of J-Frames, yes the .38 Special has a slight edge, but this has 2 more rounds and a quicker reload.  The XTP bullets will do 12 inches in bare or  denim covered jello with moderate expansion, but is only slinging a 95gr projectile compared to 125gr.  This is still way better than a sharp stick or pocket knife.

I’ve only had 2 range sessions with it, so time will tell if any issues crop up, but it seems like a well build little pistol, and Ruger’s customer service has been very good to me and those I know who have had to use it.

From the American Rifle magazine, they found accuracy to be incredible, 1 inch at 7 yards from a pocket pistol. Now none of the ammo tested is that I would use in this pistol, as none are launching the controlled penetration XTP which allows these short barreled pistols to go 12-18 inches as suggested by the FBI protocols for reaching vital organs.

LCP_II_Accuracy.png

 

9mm carbine….why?

Sub2000andAR-15-9mm.png

I own two of these neither fish nor fowl carbines.  They have nowhere near the range of a “real” carbine, nor are they concealable like a pistol, so what is their appeal?  I actually think they have a couple of things going for them, and in civilian life very little downside.

Extended Range

Fed BP9LE+p+.pngThese carbines share the advantage of all rifles, multiple points of contact (shoulder, 2 hands & cheek) provide greater stability.  It’s longer barrels give a bit of a velocity boost, and in 9mm makes for a 200 yard rifle or so.

On my AR carbine I have and Eotech XPS 2-2, that has 2 dots  (1 MOA when turned down) in a non-magnified holographic reticule.  The center dot lines up with 25/100 yards and the second perfectly with 200 yards, when I shoot the very cheap and fairly effect 9BPLE 115gr +P+ defensive round.

The 9mm is more than accurate enough for the ranges we are talking about.  The paper plate below was shot off hand at 25 yards, maybe a 5 MOA group from standing ain’t too bad.  I believe that a 3 MOA group from prone with a sling with decent ammo would not be too challenging.

9mm_AR15_25yward.png

Weight & Size

The Kel-Tec SUB 2000 is exceedingly light at 4 lb and 16 inch long when folded, it fits nicely in an old laptop bag and makes an easy “truck gun” to store.  The AR-15 in 9mm runs roughly the same as it’s .223/5.56 counterpart at ~6 lbs.  My rifle has a pencil barrel, short hand guard and a minimist stock to keep the weight down.

Gun Range Usage

IMG_6302.JPG

My range only allows center fire rifle rounds in a few places, but pistol calibers are allows everywhere, even if it’s launched from a 16 inch barrel.  So a AR in 9mm can become a trainer for your full powered AR-15 and most of the controls work the same.  My carbine does not have a bolt hold open, but that is an option if so desired.

A 9mm carbine provides a surprising amount of recoil, offering a more realistic training experience than the .22LR understudy. Both carbines are sufficiently accurate to easily hit a paper plate off-hand at 100 yards all day long with either a red dot on the AR, or a 5 MOA post on the Kel-Tec (my front sight has been replaced by a metal sight, replacing the plastic factory part) and a pretty generous rear aperture.  The trigger on the Lone Wolf lower that came in it is surprisingly good, but of course it can be replaced with any AR-15 trigger you wish.  Some 9mm lowers need a “rounded hammer” to work properly, but the Lone Wolf is not one of them.  The Kel-Tec trigger on the other hand is very heavy, 10 lbs or more, and the original plastic part would flex under the strain, so I replaced it with a metal part, but it’s still pretty terrible, but it does not seem to effect making good hits out to 100 yards (but 8 MOA is not exactly sniper grade).  The lack of the bolt hold open on either rifle is their biggest downside, for the AR-15 it makes it a less good training understudy for the AR-15 in a rifle caliber.  The Kel-Tec has it’s magazine well in the grip, just like a semi-auto pistol and it makes for a very sure and nature reload, even in the dark.  The idea that “hand finds hand” which was a design principle in the Uzi is also at work with the Kel-Tec.

Ammo/Magazine compatibility

image

Most, but not all Glock compatible magazines work in both the AR and Kel-Tec carbines. The ETS, Glock and Magpul all work flawlessly in both rifles, but the Khan (Korean) will not fit in the tighter magazine well of the the AR-15. All types do work in the more generous magazine well of the Kel-Tec.  I’ve had almost no problem with either rifle feeding and ejecting just fine.  These rifles shine with a 33 round “happy stick”, and both ETS and MAGPUL have or are releasing 22 and 27 round magazines that are IDPA legal at 140mm and 170mm, respectively.

Cost

Looking at ammoseek.com (10/7) .223 is 21.8 cents around verse 14 cents for 9mm.  Both are steel cased Tulammo, but on a well build gun they should run fine, with maybe the occasional short stroke, since Tulammo is at the low end of power. So basically you can put 3 rounds of 9mm in the berm for every 2 you could in .223 for the same price.  If you already own a Glock, the cost of magazines and magazine pouches can be shared between your pistol and carbine.  If the “cowboy” advantage of having just a single caliber to stock and keep track of is an avantage to you that is great, but for most of us 223 and 9mm are both calibers that we stock.

Home Defense

There is a concern about 9mm penetrating normal house building matters.  This may be true, but there is also some testing that says just about any round will over penetrate most American homes.  A 115gr hollow point seems like it would be the most likely to penetrate the least, but that is only conjecture and if this is a major concern you could use a frangible or speciality round like the Glaser Safety Slug by Corbon

I use the ITOA bag by Hawkepaks, that has 4 Glock 22 round magazines from ETS and a VOK Trauma Kit which pairs well with either of these rifles or my CCW Glock and keeps medical supplies and ammo right where you need it.

Fun

Some guns are fun.  Not every gun needs to be used to hunt or be setup for the blue helmets, some are just to fun, and both these guns are that in spades, from easier magazine handling (compared to 5.56 or 7.62), lighter and cheaper, for a little “run and gun” at the local outdoor range that allows that kind of thing.

 

Build or Buy an AR-15

sw-sport2I friend just asked about getting a new economical AR. “What I’m looking for at first is pretty much everything the S&W M&P15 Sport II has – short barrel, adjustable stock, magpul flip sight and sling mount points. BUT, I would want to replace the hand guard with a rail system so I can mount a flashlight. I’d also want to eventually accessorize with a red dot sight.”

So first let’s looks at the S&W M&P15 Sport II , it has a very inexpensive, with street price of $619.  There are a couple of items that I’m not a big fan of like the carbine gas length which is not as soft shooting as the mid-length and  provides less room for hands and accessories.  The barrel is 1 in 9 twist, makes 77gr a no go, and really ideal for 55gr.  On the positive side, 1 in 9 should be good got .22lr plinking with a 22 conversion kit, if that is a future choice he might make, and makes the gun a do everything, but nothing well rifle.

I really like Palmetto State Armory as my go to vendor for AR-15 crap.  They do a lot of daily specials, and it really pays to get there email blasts daily and just keep an eye out.  What I did today was look at what they have today, if I was going to put a budget AR-15 together today (October 2, 2016).

I found a complete lower with, Moe Magpul furniture, PSA enhanced trigger which is a GI trigger that has been polished on the contact surfaces and coat in a slick nickel finish. This is a significant upgrade.  It’s not my favorite MOE stock, as it does not have the friction lock, but the trigger is a great no nonsense, better then GI trigger upgrade.

$ 169.99

Screen Shot 2016-10-02 at 5.49.18 PM.png

 

Now, if my buddy just wants to hang a flashlight on his rifle, then there is no needs to go with an aluminum rail, a MOE hand guard that takes m-lok rail pieces could easily hold his flashlight.  With a white light there is no need for the perfect alignment that a laser needs, so being off a degree or two is OK.  This has a 416R stainless steel mid-length 1 in 7 twist barrel.  Read this article on steels used in AR-15 barrels, the short version is go with the 416.  416 is rust resistant and more accurate, the only time I would go chrome lined 4150 would be if it’s a go to war rifle, never going to get cleaned and going bang and ejecting is more important than accuracy.

$219.99

Screen Shot 2016-10-02 at 5.55.11 PM.png

 

Now we are still missing a couple of parts, a charging handle, bolt carrier group and a rear sight.  The S&W M&P15 Sport II says nothing about it’s charging handle (can’t tell if it is 7075 or 6016, which would not be as good) or BCG, but both seem of good quality from what I can tell from other reviews online.  This is what we care about in the BCG: Properly Staked Gas Key, Extractor Spring and proper insert, Shot Peened Bolt, (HPT) High Pressure Tested & (MPI) Magnetic Particle Inspection.  In the charging handle we want it to be forged, not extruded.

A boron coated BCG with forged charging handle, this would be easier to clean and MAY require a little less lubrication, it contains the o-ring insert that helps with tension on the exactor, and seems to have what we want in a good BCG. Charging handle is good to go.

$129.99

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So, we are at $520 and still need to purchase a rear BUIS (Back up Iron Site).  You could pick up a Magpul MBUS Gen 2 for $55 from PSA.  You could also consider a carry handle if you want to be able to quickly zero it for different ammo or do any “appleseed style shooting” and you are not going to put a red-dot or other optic on it, or a least a fixed rear sight that still leaves room for a red-dot, like the Green Blob 🙂 for $17.

So for less than $600 you can get a better rifle than the S&W M&P15 Sport II and not have to assemble anything other then 2 push pins that hold the lower and upper together.

If you are already paying shipping you can pick up your M-LOC accessories from PSA also and just be done with it, or go the Chinese e-bay route, a rail for airsoft is a fine place here to cut corners.  If you go with the Green Blob you will have about $550 in a great rifle, that will need optic/sight upgrades in the future, but the rifle itself is a serious upgrade from the S&W and you will have something that you can shoot right away as you research optics……

 

 

 

 

Speedloading a Snubby, is that even possible?

 

Speedloadersv3.png

“An optimist is a guy with a snubby and a pair of speed strips” — James Yeager

The semi-auto pistol is always faster to reload than a revolver (Mauser Broomhandle and Steyr M1912 might be the only notable exceptions).  That doesn’t mean that the revolver has to be slow and this is where a speedloader or speedstrip comes in to help speed the process up compared to fishing loose rounds from your pocket.

The HKS and 5 Star loaders are both the twist type, and twist in opposite directions just to give you choices.  Both rattle quite a bit, but the 5 Star due to its looseness is the only one that really works correctly with the Ruger LCR series of “J” framed size pistols.  Ruger in their infinite wisdom decided to have their charging holes not exactly the same as Smith and Wesson.  Neither of these speed loaders would be my first choice for CCW, the HKS is the most prevalent, but not what I would consider the best.

The Dade loader is the smallest of the “push button”, but the one with the least positive hold on the rounds.  It is possible to lose a round while bouncing around in your pocket, in a pouch this would not be an issue. The band is a spring which holds the cartridge, by having to push the rim past the spring tension.  There is no spring assist in pushing the rounds into the cylinder.

The Jet loader uses a single spring to push rounds into the chambers, and that spring acts with authority, It is the biggest, but it’s very positive handling and has the advantage of still being available on the market, which the next one is currently unavailable in the US and Germany, from what I can tell.

The SL Variant speedloader is absolutely awesome.  Each charging hole is individually spring-loaded, the center button that triggers the launch of the rounds can be turned to change the “angle” of the cartridges.  Both the Sl Variant and the Jet loader can be handled by their “knob” and makes them very easy to handle and then activate.

The Safariland Comp 1, is a small push to load speed loader, it is the smallest of all the speedloaders and because of that, carry the best for me in a pocket.  But no speedloader in the pocket feels great, it’s like carrying a little rock that has the same diameter as your revolvers cylinder.

Michael deBethencourt is the founder of Snub Train, and he does a great job of going over 5 our of the 6 speed loaders (The 5 Star was not around when he made the video).

I do think the profile of the bullet can help.  You really are trying to put 5 pegs in 5 holes, so I academically think the Hornady Critical Defense Ammo with its more pointy profile might make it a little easier than the bigger hollow point profile of the Gold Dot or Ranger.

Lastly, we have to talk about speedstrips.  They are not speedy, even compared to the slowest of the speedloaders, but they lay flat are easy to carry and can be used to “top off” a revolver, where a speed loader is an all or nothing proposition.  Most of us slip a J frame into the pocket because we are lazy, and the speed strip is a pretty lazy way to carry more ammunition, which is better than nothing.

 

 

 

 

.38 Speical Ammo for the J-Frame

38_Special.JPG The terminal ballistics of the .38 special is nothing to sneeze at, but when coupled with a 2 inch barrel it can become pretty marginal.  This lose of velocity is of course, is contributed to not having enough barrel to full burn the powder charge, you get muzzle flash and noise neither which is awesome for you in the middle of the night without hearing protection.

When an ammo manufacture tell you the velocity, but not the length of the test barrel, don’t assume you will get that from your J-frame.  The great thing is with the concealed carry revolution, there has been renewed interest in the lowly .38 Special that was all but dead in the mid-90s, as most police departments moved to semi-automatics like the Glock 19.  The market is now providing a great variety of .38 special loads of all types, ranging between 90 and 158 grains, some even made specifically for short barrels.

What do you want the bullet to do it the first questions we have to ask.  First it needs to reach the vital bits of the human anatomy that will stop the attacker, and then ideally expand to the largest diameter possible while reaching that depth help speed the cessation of hostilities.  This all has to be done while going through leather jackets, denim and other materials that can cause some hollow point projectiles to not function properly, add a windshield in the mix and you have a tall order for anything shot from a snubby.

The FBI created a ammunition protocol of what a defensive pistol rounds needs to be capable of after the Miami Shootout in 1986.

If our little snubby can complete the first 2 tests, with 12 inches of penetration we should consider it a viable rounds for typical citizen self-defense.  Also, note that too much penetration puts others down range at greater risk.  this is why the 4th safety rule is, “Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.”, in a gun fight this might be harder then expected.

Test 1 is simply shooting bare gelatin at 10 ft, the second is heavy clothing at 10 ft. (T-shirt, flannel shirt, 10 oz. down, cotton denim).

There are some rounds that have “real world experience”, but we have to make sure that it’s data for the 2 inch, not the 4 inch barrels.  The other way we compare ammunition is by shooting a simulation for flesh and bone.  This simulation is done by a shooting a gel material, many will argue that the “jello shooters” prove nothing of how it will act in the real world, but it does seem like the only viable method to at least compare rounds to each other in a controlled way.

Let’s look at some .38 special ammunition options, by weight.  All the links are videos to the tests.

90g Grain Hornady Critical Defense Lite

110 Grain +P Hornady Critical Defense  (note there is a non +p, which might offer better bare gel penetration with lower expansion)

  • Test 1 (2 t-shirts): 9.5 inches with good expansion (.493)
  • Test 2 (4 layers denim) 14.5  inches no expansion

125 Grain Federal 38 Special Nyclad  (not made anymore)

  • Test 1 (4 layers denim): 10.5 inches with good expansion (.541)
  • Test 2 (Tool Leather & 2 layers denim) 13.9 inches no expansion

130 Grain Winchester Ranger Bonded +P 

  • Test 1 (bare gel ): 12.75 inches with awesome expansion (.60)
  • Test 2 (4 layers denim) 16.25  inches good expansion (.556)

135 Grain Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel  (there was at least some released with low velocities)

  • Test 1 (bare gel ): 12.5 inches with great expansion (.573)
  • Test 2 (2 layers denim) 12.5  inches good expansion (.551)

158 Grain Remington 38 Special +P (run in 2 separate tests)

158 Grain Hornady XTP

  • Test 1 (2 layers of denim)  18.25 inches with good expansion (.526) (over penetration)

158 Grain Buffalo Bore LSWCHP +P (classic load)

  • Test 1 (bare gel): 12.1 inches with awesome expansion (.599-.695)
  • Test 2: not done, I suspect it does not expand and over penetrates as the hollow point clogs

I have chosen to carry the J-frame with a cylinder full of Nyclad’s and a reload of 110gr +p Hornady Critical Defense.  My logic for Hornady, is they are very easy to reload do to their pointed profile, and work well with a speed loader, this might be less of an issue if you are using speed strips and only trying to align 2 pegs with 2 holes verse 5 pegs and 5 holes.

I do think the cream of the crop is the 130 grain Ranger Bonded +P by Winchester which is really just a re-marketing of the famous (or infamous) black talon (this is also the PDX1 Defender in non-LEO packaging)

 

50 round boxes of the Ranger +P can be found at SGammo for $19.95 per box which is an great price (as of 7/23/2016)

Handgun Magazine did a review and based on their data, I would conclude that the PDX1 +p, Critical Defense 110gr +p and the 135gr gold Dot are all capable options.

 

 

Reloading on the Cheap

$_3    The cheapest and slowest way to reload is with the Lee Classic Loader, for $29 on Midway and a hammer you are good to go.  Yes, I said a hammer.  There is nothing quite like setting a primer with a hammer, it interesting, but I have yet to have one go off.  The whole kit is the size of 2 packs of cigarettes, and uses power volume measurements, not weights.  Since, you are not going to be hot rodding the 38 special, I don’t see this as an issue.      I really like these, even though I don’t use mine very much, the idea that I can reload anywhere is great, it might be the only reloading kit I keep in retirement, also 38 special is pretty forgiving in terms of getting the “power” right, since you don’t have to rely in to cycle a slide.  You just have to keep it between, bullet getting out of the barrel and blowing up.

61AfTIBYSQL._SX522_The next option up the food chain so to speak is a Lee Hand Press and set of Lee Dies in 38 special, that will set you back $85.  This will double the amount of ammo you can make in the same time, ~50 rounds a hour. This includes the priming piece which you will need.  You can get a bare press for $35, and do a hand primer, which is quicker and runs $21 plus a caliber specify holder for another $4.

If you use a little plastic scoop, you have very specify loads that you can make, since the scoops coming in different sizes but are not infinitely adjustable. The Lee Powder Measurer is fully adjustable letting you tailor you load better and runs $26

A reloading block is also helpful to hold cases for powder charging @ $6 regardless of which solution you decide on above.

Now all the prices quoted are from Midwayusa.com and I suspect there are other deals to be had.  Ebay is also a great option.

 

The Economics of reloading 38 special

1000 small pistol primers cost about $32-35 per 1000

Power lets assume Winchester Powder  231  @$23 per pound (7000gr) with an charge of about 4.5gr, that is +1500 rounds

1000 158gr Berry’s projectiles @ $98.50.

Assume brass is free, but you can buy once fired 38 brass for 1000 for $50

 

Here is the breakdown

($35+$23+$98)=~16 cent a round, or $8.00 a box.

Even if you bought Tula by the case, it’s still 20 cent, steel cased and only a 130gr bullet.

 

PM-G Makarov Grip

It’s an interesting bit of kit, made in Israel where they might still have a fair number in circulation, I have no idea.  Or maybe they just see a good business opportunity, either way interesting.

It’s for the single stack Makarov and adds a lever to remove a magazine, more normal for us westerners but not exactly a push button, more of a push to the muzzle.  There is a bar that pivots on a pin mid grip and works well and with less likelihood of unintended ejection from a bump to the magazine release. It makes the pistol a little chunker, but with a much nicer hand filling feel.  If you have ever gotten slide bite, this will cure it (I have not, but my hands are medium sized).

I won’t say that it bring the Makarov into the 21st century, it is an improvement.

The Makarov

 

imageThis simple, heavy reliable pistol is a great stash pistol or just a fun range toy, but as a CCW pistol it falls pretty short.  It’s heavier then a S&W shield, being made of all steel and it’s 9mm Makarov (9x18mm) round is no equal to the 9mm Luger (9x19mm) around.  It’s a fixed barrel blow back which might make it theoretically more accurate, but this is reduced by the crappy sights and the long SA/DA trigger for the first critical shot.  It is a fantastic piece of history that would not leave you feeling unarmed, with a safety that works the correct way and a fantastic selection of  holsters and accessories.  It’s heel mounted magazine release is not what I would consider as big a negative as most, it does prevent accidentally releasing the magazine of you lean against or bump the traditional ‘Mercian release.