Weekend Report

It rained all this weekend, so I stayed inside and dryfired. No pun intended.

I got some load development done for the 9mm. I’ve been wanting to try a somewhat lighter bullet in the M&Ps, as they tend to shoot high (as much as 6″ high at 25 yards) with 147grn. bullets. I got in a shipment of excellent Montana Gold 124grn. CMJs last week, and loaded up four batches of 25 rounds each, with some once-fired Remington brass and various charges of Ramshot Competition powder.

A note here – Ramshot Competition is a shotgun powder, and there is little/no data for using it in the 9mm cartridge.  Hence, if you want to work up a load for this powder, use EXTREME caution.  I started out using data for VV N320, which shares a very similar burn rate with Ramshot Competition, and worked up from the minimum load in 0.3grn. increments.  Oddly enough, I found the best accuracy with the heavier loads, and almost no change in split times from the lightest to the heaviest.  This coming weekend, I plan to chrono the two heaviest loads to make sure that they make major – they shot very soft.

Since We’ve Discussed the Reload…

…How about some reloading drills?

Hang an IPSC, IPDA, or 8″ plate target out at 7 yards.  Start with your pistol loaded with two rounds and holstered.  You’ll need two magazines on your belt, loaded with two rounds each.

Start with your hands at sides.  On signal, draw and fire two rounds, reload and fire two more rounds, reload again and fire two more rounds.  7 seconds clean is a good starting goal.  Under 5 seconds is very good indeed.

In USPSA and Multigun, we don’t do a lot of static reloads.  Lay out 3-4 shooting boxes in the shape of a triangle or square, around 5-6 feet on a side.  Put three targets (steel plates if you have them) out at 7-10 yards.  Start in one box, fire one shot on each target.  Reload while moving to the next box, then fire another shot on each target.  Repeat until you run out of boxes.  When you get bored running this drill with your pistol, break out your shotgun or .22 rifle and give that a try.

Enjoy!

On Reloading…

It has come to my attention that there may be readers out there who do not know the most efficient way to reload their pistol. This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs, and your humble writer shall attempt to assist.

First, a few caveats. We’re talking automatic pistols here. I rarely shoot revolvers, know little about them, and would not presume to advise anyone on how to reload them. Also, I’m going to describe the technique from the perspective of a right-handed shooter. If you are some unfortunate genetic mishap who favors the Sinister over the Dexter, just reverse the instructions.

Okay, so your gun has locked back empty. Nuts. Don’t just stand there and do the stupid-face. If you’re in the middle of a IPSC stage when you run dry, just keep on doing what you’re doing. If you ran dry during a run, keep moving to the next position. If you ran dry during a stand-and-shoot string, just get on with the reload, quick as you can. Now if you’re in the middle of a bullet exchange, you might not want to stand out in the open while reloading. What is the saying, “Get Off The X?” Good advice. If there’s a chance you might take incoming fire, go ahead and get to some cover.

Okay, ready to commence with the reload? Good. First, bring the gun back into a high-ready position, about 10-12 inches from your face; the instructors at Blackwater call this “the Workstation.” Do not drop the gun down to waist level and fiddle with it. Keep your gun up and your head up. With your right thumb, depress the magazine release and allow the depleted magazine to drop free*. With your left hand, get a grip on your spare magazine; basepad in your palm, index finger extended along the front of the magazine. Ideally, you should touch the nose of the exposed bullet with the tip of your index finger, but if you can’t reach, don’t worry about it.  You want to grip the magazine in such a manner that you can present it directly to the gun, without shifting it around in your hand.

With that right hand, turn the pistol so that the magazine well is pointed towards your magazine pouch.  What you are doing here is ensuring that the magazine can move from your belt carrier all the way up into the gun in a straight line.  This is one of the secrets to a smooth and fast reload.

Look at the edge of the magwell**.  That’s where you want the magazine to go, so look at it.  You are essentially going to look the magazine into the gun.  The left hand comes up and indexes the magazine at the magwell opening.  Some people find it helpful to touch the back of the magazine to the rear of the magwell opening – I’ve never done so, but if it makes you faster or less fumble-prone, it may be worth a try.

Seat the magazine firmly with a single stroke.  Resist the temptation to give the magazine an extra tap or two, it’s a huge waste of time and it makes you look like an idiot.  Seat the magazine the first time.

Now, since the slide is locked back, you have to get it back into battery.  There are two main methods of doing so, and believe me, the debate between the proponents of each method is second only to 9×19 vs. .45 ACP.  In short, you can either depress the slide release with your thumb, or you can grasp the slide, pull it back slightly, and release it.

In my opinion, the only reason to use the slide rack technique is if you are physically incapable of depressing the slide release, or your gun of choice doesn’t have one.  The slide rack requires the fairly complicated coordination of both hands***, which can be difficult under stress, especially if your hands are sweaty/bloody.  Further, I have seen a large number of shooters induce feedway stoppages due to riding the slide forward; it’s surprisingly easy to do.  Pressing the slide stop is easier, more reliable, and much faster.

Okay, we’re almost done.  Last step is to re-establish the two-handed firing grip on your pistol, and continue shooting/fighting/whatever.  Don’t neglect this step.  I’ve lost count of the number of blown shots I’ve seen come right after a reload.  Take an extra tenth of a second, get your grip back, and get the hits.

This post took me about twenty minutes to write.  A good emergency reload can be done in under 1.5 seconds.  Time to practice!

* – If you’re the gunfighting type, you might want to make sure that you have a spare magazine before you ditch the one in your gun.  If you’re a gamer like me, you’ve probably preplanned your reload points, so you don’t need to worry about it.  Whatever floats your airship.

** – Some schools of thought opine that one should keep scanning for bad guys, even while reloading.  I disagree with this – your attention, visual and otherwise, needs to be at the task at hand.  On the other hand, if you’re some major stud who can reload in under a second while blindfolded, well, you are way past needing my advice…

*** – Someone here will probably mention Coarse vs. Fine motor skills.  Let me head this off right now – you’re an idiot.  Everything you do with a pistol, from racking the slide to hitting the slide stop to pressing the trigger is a fine motor skill.

Range Gear – Pt.1

As the old saying goes, “Three times the guns, three times the fun!” Nobody ever mentions the end part of that saying, which is, “…and three times the stuff to carry.”  Hauling your gear around the range and keeping it clean and organized can be daunting.  Most shooters, myself included, can benefit from some forethought and planning in this regard.

For most of my 3-gunning career, I’ve used an Eberlestock* Phantom pack to haul my guns and gear around.  It’s a wonderful piece of gear, but lately I’ve decided that it’s just not all that well-suited to multigun competition.  The big benefit of the Phantom, aside from the flawless build quality, is that it keeps all your guns and gear in one place.  The problems with it, well, there are a few, and I’ll likely detail them in a future post.  Suffice to say that it’s not my cup of tea, and I’m ready to change over to another system.

So when looking for a gear-hauling system, it’s probably a good idea to start by listing all the gear you’re going to be hauling.  In fact, why not write down a list of all your match gear, and stick a copy of it in your range bag?

Here’s mine:Pistol Gear

This is all the stuff that goes in the pistol bag.  Not shown are my AR magazines, magazine carriers, shotshell carriers, sling, and bipod.  Those will all go in the long gun case.

  • 5″ STI .40 Limited gun, 6 140mm magazines, and a few spare parts, all in an iShot gun rug.
  • 200 rounds of pistol ammo, in boxes.
  • 200 rounds of rifle ammo, in boxes.
  • 100 rounds of 12ga. birdshot and 25 12ga. slugs, in boxes.
  • Electronic earmuffs and foam plugs
  • Two sets of wraparound shooting glasses and five lens sets, in case.
  • A small cleaning kit.
  • A small first-aid kit, along the lines of moleskin, athletic tape, and eyedrops.
  • CED-7000 shot timer**.
  • Laser rangefinder.
  • Knee and elbow pads.
  • 2 liters of water, and some minimal snacks.

This is enough equipment and supplies for one day at the MGM Ironman, or an entire local 3-gun match.  All in all, it takes up about 3000 cubic inches of space, and weighs about 40 pounds.

Coming soon, Part 2!  In which I expound at length on rifle cases, airline transport, and why only complete and utter weenies haul their gear in carts…

Trigger Work Woes…

So this past weekend, I tore down the Limited gun and gave it a good scrubbing. Good thing, too, because I discovered a fairly major part failure.

Wolff Gunsprings 1911 Sear Spring

Wolff Gunsprings 1911 Sear Spring

Pardon the lousy picture.  See what’s wrong?

Yup, the rightmost leaf of the spring is broken off.  Said leaf applies tension to the grip safety on a 1911-pattern pistol.  No clue where the broken piece ended up – probably the same place as my bike keys…

Fortunately, I keep a handful of Wolff sear springs in the shop.  An hour of tweaking and fitting later, I’m back to about a 3# trigger on the Limited gun – not as nice as it was before, but probably about as low as I want to go with the current parts.  It’s reliable and safe, which is the important thing.

Moral of the story – either a.) know how to do basic maintenence on your guns, and keep an adequate stock of spares, or b.) have a spare gun.  Ideally, both.   Brownells can help you with both the parts, and the knowledge.  Check out their article by Jack Weigand, on the tuning of 1911 triggers*.

Now about that spare gun…

* – If you monkey around with the trigger group on your 1911 and turn it into a surprise machinegun, it’s not my fault.  In fact, I will probably point and laugh at you.

Thinking Ahead

So, here are some matches that TWotM is planning on attending in the 2010.  List subject to change.

Three-gun/Multigun:

  • Rocky Mountain 3-Gun – 8/5/2010 – 8/7/2010
  • MGM Ironman – Sometime in June, 2010
  • Blue Ridge Multigun – 4/23/2010 – 4/25/2010
  • FNH USA Midwest 3-Gun Championship – Also sometime in June, 2010
  • Area 8 Multigun – Date TBD
  • QSC/Quantico MCB Multigun – Date TBD
  • Kentucky Multigun Championship – Date TBD
  • Area 6 3-Gun – Date TBD

Pistol-Only:

  • PSA Shootout – 4/29/2010 – 5/2/2010
  • USPSA Area 8 Championship – Date TBD
  • Virginia-Maryland Sectional – Date TBD
  • Western Pennsylvania Sectional – Date TBD

Note – This so far only covers the Washington, DC arm of The Way of the Multigun.  Our Rocky Mountain department should be annotating this list shortly…

Tactical Rimfire Match Writeup

Hola amigos, I know it’s been a long time since I blogged at you, but I finally have some down time to do a writeup on the tactical rimfire match that we ran a couple of months ago.

Once a month, I help to run a tactical rifle match at our local range. Three stages, with targets from contact distance to 400 yards and a round count of 100-150.

Well, in the last few months, a lot of the guys around here had picked up rimfire rifles in various “tactical” configurations- GSG-5′s, Tactical Solutions AR-22 uppers, Nordic Components 10/22 conversion kits, and other similar rigs.

From Tactical Rimfire Match

I figured that with everyone buying these things, and ammo costs being what they were, why not set up a side match that would allow us to shoot from the same positions, at steel targets, but on a shorter range?

As luck would have it, Hoser, our Match Director had recently acquired a set of steel targets for our club so we could run matches for Sportsman’s Team Challenge. He thought these targets could pull double duty for this match and Team Challenge. So, the decision was made to use the Team Challenge steel, while cribbing the props, shooting positions, and rules from our regular Tactical Rifle match.

From Tactical Rimfire Match

It was decided that we’d run the side match during our August match. Fourth Sunday of the month rolls around, and it turns out that all of the rifle berms had been booked for a 4H black powder shoot. Had we not planned on doing the rimfire match, we’d have had to just pack up and go home. So, intent on mashing lemons into lemonade, we reserved one of the pistol berms, set up a course of fire and broke out the bulk packs.

From Tactical Rimfire Match

The results were an unqualified success. Everyone had a good time, and we were able to run through two courses of fire, a standards stage, and then broke out a dueling rack for some one-on-one competition.