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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Adventures in Magnum Land

I was reminded yesterday by a friend that the blog has been quite lately, so I decided it was time to post something new.

I have long had an affinity for revolvers. I started off with a S&W 638, have shot a .38 Special GP100 a bit, and Ruger SP101, the RIA M200, and now a Taurus 605. I briefly toyed with .357 magnum loads in the SP101, but it was a fairly tame 158gr LSWC. Picking up the Taurus I decided to try a few more .357 magnum loads. First on the list, Barnes 140gr Vortx. Watching the below video, you can see the the chronograph numbers of the 140gr Vortx out of the same model revolver as I am shooting.


To give some perspective, hotter 124gr +p 9mm loads run around 1,200 fps out of service size pistol, so 4"-5" barrels. The Taurus 605 has a 2" barrel, and is launching a bullet approximately 12% heavier at a velocity just over 1,200 fps. There is some thump to it.

I wouldn't say shooting the Barnes 140gr Vortx was painful, but it was overpowering my ability to grip the pistol and preventing any semblance of a fast follow up shot. It is probably not something I would try to carry as a defensive load unless my ability to control the gun improved significantly.




Friday, September 12, 2014

Dot Target for the AR-15

If you have followed this blog much you have seen a Dot Torture target. The version of Dot Torture that I use was created by Todd Green, and is an excellent pistol fundamentals drill. Someone over at pistol-forum.com came with a great idea, why not create a similar target to be shot with an AR-15? While you could technically use the original Dot Torture target and just change some of the strings of fire, it isn't an ideal solution. So I decided to make my own version of a dot target for the AR-15.



I am still in the testing phase to see if I like it, or what changes need to be made.It is designed to be printed on a standard sheet of paper, which is one of the things that I think is so great about the pistol-training.com version. The downside is that in order to do that, the dot size has to be fairly small (3"), which limits just how far away I can actually shoot it from. Still a work in progress. If anyone has any input, feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

RIA M200 Initial Testing

I finally have 200 rounds through the RIA M200. Hardly a significant amount, but I have learned a few things, mostly that my revolver shooting skills need a lot of work. The gun has run okay. It hasn't been perfect, but the issues haven't been huge. As I mentioned previously, the timing was on the ragged edge. It still is, but doesn't seem to be getting any worse. The cylinder does not lock until the very last moment on two of the cylinders. The trigger also occasionally has a hitch in it, for lack of a better term. I will be shooting a string of fire and out of the blue the trigger will be abnormally difficult to press. This has only occurred in live fire, and not consistently, so I am not sure what the cause is. Outside of those two issues, the gun has worked as intended. As the round count continues to climb (albeit slower than I would like), maybe some of the kinks will work themselves out, or maybe not and then gun will crash and burn.

The gun shoots decently well in terms of accuracy. I have only used one load so far, so different loads could give different results. Nor have I benched it (and likely won't). This is a 5 round group from 25yd shot in double action, shooting Monarch/PPU 158gr SJHP. It shoots, or I shoot a little high and left with this particular gun. I repeated with another 5 rounds in single action and while the group was smaller, it was still slightly high and left. I am not the greatest shooter from 25 yards, but I can generally do slightly better than this with a gun that I am more familiar with.

The biggest issue I have had is getting my speed back. Drawing from concealment, I can typically get good hits on a USPSA A-zone or similar sized target in 1.5 seconds. With this revolver (and probably any revolver), I am barely staying 2.25 seconds for the first round. I think it has to with the shape of the revolver grip and the lack of a beavertail to index my master grip on as I draw the gun. My hand is just hitting the gun and grabbing, and not always in the same place. If anyone has tips on how to correct this, I am all ears.


My splits are obviously also slower than with a striker fired or single action semi auto pistol. They run about 0.30 seconds. I am okay with that for now though, and anticipate they will get faster as my skill level develops. I am tracking the sights plenty fast, I just can't manipulate the trigger any faster than that. In fact, the recoil is very tame and the gun is easy to control for fast strings of fire.

That brings me to reloads. I have not found any speed loaders locally that will fit (I have been told speed loaders for the Colt Detective Special will fit), so I have been using speed strips. I would exactly describe a reload with speed strip as "fast", but it is functional. The problem I am having though is not with the reload itself, but the unloading of the fired casings. It never fails that 2 or 3 casings will hang in the cylinders when I go to reload. This is due in part to the ejector rod not being long enough to completely remove the casing from the cylinder, and also because the cylinders are a little rough on the inside so casings will stick. It is a relatively easy problem to solve though, will just require a little elbow grease whenever I get around to it.

So far, for a $200 gun I am mostly pleased with it. There are quirks here and there that I don't like, but the gun has essentially been reliable and hasn't broken yet. Fingers crossed that it doesn't break or become unreliable later either.






Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Moat Group & The Criterion

I noted in my last update that I was participating in The Moat Group's monthly Criterion Challenge. For the month of August they decided to have two divisions, one for handgun and one for rifle. There will be a winner in each division. This months challenge is actually pretty fun, check out the video.


Target transitions are something I really suck at, especially with a rifle. So I decided I needed to try this one on the rifle. Plus I didn't want to go head to head with Alex this month, I wanted a month off :) The way the targets are arranged it presents an interesting challenge. The two cards oriented horizontally require greater sight reference than the cards oriented vertically because even though technically they are the same size, they are shorter, and with the bore offset on an AR-15 shorter targets tend to be harder to hit.

I decided to attack this drill in a way that allows me to ride the recoil of the firearm and not have to fight the gun as much. So I started with the bottom left index index card and shot the left column first. I then took the long transition back to the bottom right and worked my way up the right column.


Best time, a 3.12. I had a couple runs under 3 seconds but they all had at least one miss. I think with some more work, sub 3 second runs are possible.

Speaking of 3 second runs, Alex ran a 3.03 with a handgun. Interestingly enough, he attacked the challenge in a very similar fashion as I did, working each column instead of transitioning across.

Just for giggles, I also ran this months challenge with a shotgun. Because buckshot :)



Monday, July 28, 2014

An Update - 7/28/14

It has been a while since I have posted on the blog. You know how it goes, life gets in the way sometimes. I have still be shooting, just haven't had enough time or really the opportunity to write about it. So this post will serve as a general update on a lot of different things.

I recently picked up a revolver so that I can finally start working my way towards shooting SSR in IDPA. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, just haven't been able to get around to it because it wasn't real high on my list of priorities. I am going to ultra-low-budget route, because I don't have a lot of money to pour into it. My options were to go with a used S&W or Ruger, or find something new for really cheap. I decided to go the new route. There is plenty of information floating around on the internet on S&W's and Rugers and even Colts, but there isn't much floating around the internet on RIA/Armscor revolvers. They make two, the M200 (4" version) and the M206 (2" version). They are essentially the same revolver with different barrel lengths. I picked up a M200 for $220 shipped to my FFL. I could not find anyone who was running one of these revolvers seriously and noting their results, so I plan to change that, if only to see how long it will last. That is what an honest assessment requires.

I have also been participating in something called the Moat Group Criterion. It is essentially an online based monthly competition. July was the first month, and right now I am in second place. This is the drill for this month.


I put in a 4.21 second run at 5 yards and then got smoked by a guy who did a 3.38. I went back after it and got down to 3.43, but that was as close as I could get. The guy with the 3.38 then updated with a 3.09. Truly impressive shooting. I have written before about competitive shooting being a strong motivator for skill development, so if you are looking for something to do and don't want to shoot IDPA/USPSA/Steel Challenge, or maybe can't for some reason, you should look up the Moat Group Criterion. Below are the videos of my two runs. The runs for the guy in the lead are linked above. You should really watch them because they are impressive.





Monday, June 2, 2014

Dry-fire drudgery...and why it is necessary

Dry-fire is one of those things that sometimes I like to do, but most of the time I get bored with. It requires such an intense mental focus to do correctly that I fatigue quickly, and once I start to mess it up, it becomes negative training. So why is dry-fire even important to improved performance? I know there are instructors who fall on both sides of the issue. Some say it is bad, some say it is good…I tend to fall in with the guys who say it is good, and this is why.

If you ever attend a Mike Seeklander class you will do a lot of dry-fire, but before you start Mike does a demo with a volunteer from the class. Whoever is brave enough to volunteer (or more typically elected by the class to volunteer) will be asked to stand as still and strong as possible. Mike relates it to being a telephone pole standing against the wind. Mike will play the wind. When the wind blows, telephone poles typically don’t move, and that is the goal for the volunteer, not to move. Mike will push against the shoulder of the volunteer gradually increasing pressure until the volunteer eventually starts to move. Mike is not exactly a weak guy; it would take a pretty stout person to stay put completely. He will repeat the process again, and then maybe a third time. The volunteer is not allowed to push back, they just have to try and stand as straight as they can. On the third or fourth time being the “wind” Mike will actually stop his hand just short of the volunteer’s shoulder and invariably the volunteer will lurch forward anticipating the pressure. When you ask the volunteer if they consciously began to apply pressure forward they will typically say “no”. I have seen this demo done three separate occasions, one in which I was the volunteer, and the result has always been the same.


The point that is being illustrated is that in order to do something correctly, we sometimes have to remove all the stimuli from the process. A small explosion at the end of our hands and the resultant recoil through the handgun certainly qualifies as a significant amount of stimulus. I have seen countless new shooters and in some cases “experienced” shooters try to pound through a skill plateau by putting more and more rounds downrange when really what they need to is to save the ammo and do some dry-fire, as boring as it may be. I call it “bending the nail”. We have this tendency to hit the nail harder or with a bigger hammer when we start having some difficulty and it just bends the nail, which then requires straightening before moving forward again. Like the old saying goes, “work smarter, not harder”. It certainly applies here. Sometimes the best way to move forward is to stop actually shooting bullets, plus it is free.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Return to IDPA

I shot my first match in almost 2 years over the weekend. Life has just been in the way of shooting local matches, and even though it is something I really enjoy I set it aside to prioritize other things. I was fortunate enough to get back into it, at least for a day, at Last Resort Firearms Training.

It was a good match. The guys at Last Resort are top notch and put on a good match with good stages. I on the other hand had some pretty stupid mistakes, to be expected after a year off I suppose. I ended up finishing 10th overall out of 42, 6th in my division (SSP).




Some of the my take aways from the match are 1) don't take make up shots you don't need (see above video), 2) work on managing stress for the first stage (see stage 3 on the score sheet), 3) work on foot placement for working around cover in a competitive environment.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ALETA Speed & Accuracy COF and Alternative Scoring for Performance Tracking

In the state of Arkansas the ALETA Speed & Accuracy Course of Fire (COF) is kind of the standard Law Enforcement handgun qualification course. Other qualification courses can be used, but they have to be submitted for approval and some other red tape. To my knowledge, most departments just use the Speed & Accuracy COF. It is shot on the standard B-27 with a maximum score of 500. Hits inside the 8, 9, 10 and X ring are 10 points each. Everywhere else is 6 points each. It is broken down below.

Distance   Commands
  Rounds
  Time
  25yd
  From Holster
  2rds
  6 sec
  25yd
  From Ready
  2rds
  5 sec
  25yd
  From Ready
  2rds
  5 sec

  Distance
  Commands
  Rounds
  Time
  15yd
  From Holster
  3rds
  5 sec
  15yd
  From Ready
  3rds
  4 sec
  15yd
  From Holster
  2rds
  4 sec
  15yd
  From Ready
  1rd
  2 sec
  15yd
  From Holster
  2rds
  4 sec
  15yd
  From Ready
  1rd
  2 sec

  Distance
  Commands
  Rounds
  Time
  7yd
  From Holster
  5rds
  15 sec (R)
  7yd
  From Holster
  3rds
  4 sec
  7yd
  From Ready
  3rds
  3 sec
  7yd
  From Ready
  3rds
  3 sec

  Distance
  Commands
  Rounds
  Time
  3yd
  From Holster
  6rds
  12 sec (R)
  3yd
  WHO From Holster
  2rds
  3 sec
  3yd
  WHO From Ready
  2rds
  2 sec
  3yd
  WHO From Ready
  2rds
  2 sec
  3yd
  SHO From Holster
  2rds
  3 sec
  3yd
  SHO From Ready
  2rds
  2 sec
  3yd
  SHO From Ready
  2rds
  2 sec



As with most Law Enforcement qualification courses, it is not difficult to pass. I wouldn't even say it is difficult to score 100%. I do think it is a useful COF if used correctly though. If you cannot score 100% on it every time all the time, that is a good goal to start with. If you can, then track the amount of time it takes you to complete each string of fire as you go through the course. Once complete, add up the total time of all the strings and divide your points scored by the total amount of time it took you to shoot the COF. For example if it takes me 50 seconds to shoot a 500 point score I would divide 500/50 and my metric would be 10. I could then shoot the COF again in a few weeks or months and see if I have improved my metric by shooting faster (since I can't score anymore points).