The Return of the 9mm (Part Two: The 9mm Awakens)

The Hornady XTP bullet seen here performs fairly well in ballistic testing, though the newest designs such as the Ranger SXT from Winchester is among the best performing defensive handgun ammunition around.

The Hornady XTP bullet seen here performs fairly well in ballistic testing, though the newest designs such as the Ranger SXT from Winchester is among the best performing defensive handgun ammunition around.

Last week, I wrote about the nine-millimeter’s return to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, who had shunned the performance of that round nearly two decades ago. While perusing some of the comments and emails I received in response, I found a link to an excellent article in POLICE Magazine titled 9mm vs. 40 Caliber. While I don’t enjoy the typical pistol caliber debate, as you can find these ad nauseum on any Internet gun forum, the article goes in depth into wounding mechanisms and the mechanism of “stopping power”. Also of note is that the article was authored by a trauma surgeon. Here are my takeaways from the piece.

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The Return of the 9mm (or Why I Hate 40 caliber)


One of the results of the fabled and oft studied Miami Shootout of 1986, where two FBI Agents lost their lives when attempting to take down two violent felons, was the conclusion that the 9mm round used by agents at the time failed to adequately perform its job to incapacitate its target. As a result, the .40 caliber round rose from the aftermath and eventually worked its way into law enforcement agencies across the nation, with the notion that it had the “capacity of a 9mm, and the stopping power of a 45.” But this alleged increase in terminal performance did not come for free. Over the years, the louder report and snappier recoil made it hard for many trainees and officers alike to qualify, the ammunition costs more (than 9mm), and there is increased wear on the pistol (as well as the hands and elbows of the shooter.)

Fast forward to 2014, and the same agency that shunned the 9mm two decades ago issued a solicitation for a family of 9mm pistols for its agents. This is not surprising, as I have always found the 40 caliber to have a very snappy recoil that was more fatiguing to shoot for extended periods of time than even a 45 caliber pistol. I found that 40 caliber pistols were more accurately characterized as “the stopping power of a 9mm with the recoil of a 45.” I say that in jest, but what I have learned is that with decades of advancement in ballistic technology, high performance handgun rounds in any major service pistol caliber have performed adequately in testing and the field, given the limitations of handgun calibers as a whole. Continue reading

REVIEW: Prime .260 rem Precision Rifle Ammunition

Prime Ammo may be new to the game but the ammunition inside the box is from a well known company.

Prime Ammo may be new to the game but the ammunition inside the box is from a well known company.

The biggest hassle with precision shooting is reloading to try to keep cost down with quality and accuracy of ammunition up. Now that is my opinion, while I find reloading calming and almost therapeutic at times, finding the time to do it between a strenuous job schedule and a family doesn’t allow for much time to be behind the reloading press. If you look to factory ammunition your choices tend to be limited with many popular precision rifle calibers just not being offered regularly without having to spend quite a sum having someone else load it for you. During a range day with some friends I was introduced to one of the people behind PRIME Ammunition. Their representative had some questions about calibers I would like to see more of in the factory ammunition market, bullet weights I preferred, my thoughts on the industry and ammunition market and its problems in general. Haven’t had many conversations with people behind the scenes of a large ammunition retailer who has cared as much about what the shooters wanted as the people at Prime. Continue reading

Loaf of Bread, Gallon of Milk

In the south (I’m sure that it exists nation wide) there is a reckoning that comes with each pending snowfall.  Every local store will be ravaged of its supply of milk and bread.  The weather guessers can predict a light dusting, or 1-3 inches per hour all night, and near fist fights will break out over milk and bread.  Now, mind you, the loaf of bread/gallon of milk crowd all know that it is winter.  Kentucky winters are unpredictable at best.  But, the potential for loaf of bread/gallon of milk always exists.  And basic winter weather preparation doesn’t change.  But, like some strange, unexplainable phenomenon, each time there is snow, a fist fight is in the works over who gets the last loaf of Wonder bread.  It matters not that the day after this predicted one inch snowfall that it predicted to have a high of 52 degrees that day.  Loaf of bread, Gallon of milk. Continue reading


When searching for the “best” ammunition for EDC, premises defense, or the downright silly (but dreaded nevertheless) “zombie apocalypse,” you will likely consider using a law enforcement product, even if you are not an LEO.  Whether for pistol, AR-15, or shotgun, you will likely choose products from these brands/loads:






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Dollar Ammo Club? Check out guarantees regular delivery of top rate ammunition at a reasonable price.

With all the goings on in today’s politics, I am constantly reminded of the tenuous nature of shooting as a hobby. Looming regulations combined with increasing demand for copper and brass drive many folks to hoard ammunition simply when it is available, let alone when it is cheap. Only recently has 9mm production caught up to demand. Not long ago, .223 Remington went for as much as $2000/case on Gunbroker during the height of the scare in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. Building up a stash of spare ammo was really the only effective way to insulate yourself from the ever fluctuating supply and demand of practice or hunting ammunition. Until now. Enter:

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The 357SIG Cartridge

I purchased my first pistol chambered in 357SIG in late 1995 or early 1996.  It was a SIG Sauer P229.  I had purchased it after reading about the cartridge/gun combination in Velocity magazine.  I bought the gun and loved shooting it.  After a while, it became really expensive to feed, and it was traded for something else to which I don’t remember what.  Over the years, I have purchased guns chambered in 357SIG, kept them a while, and traded them off or sold them.  I have always been enamored with the cartridge, but the not the cost. Continue reading

Distance, Sight Choices, and Some Random Thoughts.

Here of late, I have been involved with some interesting conversations on active shooter problem solving.  I will acknowledge up front that this thought process is somewhat flawed, and borderlines on the academic.  I will also acknowledge that I don’t have all the active shooter answers.  The answer I think we all can agree upon is the fact that good guys with guns is the answer to the active shooter/mass homicide problem. Continue reading

Situational Awareness at the Range


People are often prone to advocate that we should do everything in training exactly as we would do it “for real.” And in the vast majority of instances, I believe their argument has merit. However, we need to adjust our behavior sometimes based on safety concerns, range limitations, and other less than real factors, such as training ammunition. Frangible ammunition has been discussed here in the past but I am here to give you another example of how we need to be attentive at the range. The photo above shows a comparison photo of the front portion of a frangible round that was recovered from a shooter’s AR style rifle. Yes, the rifle type is important here. Continue reading

First Look- SIG MCX Carbine in 300 Blackout.

Last week, I was out at the SIG Academy teaching a class when one of my friends who is one of their engineers showed up with all kinds of cool stuff.

One of these items was a suppressed SIG MCX in 300 Blackout.  I didn’t have a lot of time due to teaching, but I ran enough ammo through it to say without a doubt…….wow. Continue reading

Review: Hornady Practice 223 Ammunition

Hornady Practice 55gr Ammunition in .223, shot alongside Black Hills Mk262 for comparison. Test platform is a LaRue Tactical Stealth upper receiver atop an LMT lower receiver with Geissele SSA trigger group.

Demand for ammunition is as high as it has ever been, and in response, the big three have been cranking out cartridges as fast as they can. Many folks have reported a noticeable decline in quality control, noting function issues, or degradation in accuracy. Winchester “white box” and Federal XM bulk packs have been a staple of mine for training for a long time, and while quality has been generally pretty good overall, this seems to have been variable over the years. A while back, my good friend, Gunsite Instructor Giles Stock turned me onto a loading  that Hornady had put together specifically for law enforcement agencies looking for high quality training ammunition at a reasonable cost.  Continue reading

Reloaded Ammunition Concerns

It should not be a surprise to anyone that it is difficult to get consistent supplies of ammunition these days. Unfortunately, that means that the quality of what is being fed into our guns might be a bit (lot) lower than it has been for a while.

It has been several years since I’ve worked on a pistol that suffered a ka-boom. Last month, a personally owned Gen 3 Glock 22 came across my bench at work after one of those events. The owner had been firing frangible rounds from a commercial reloader. I ended up having to replace the internals in the slide. Continue reading


Let’s see what we have (embedded hot links for the curious): 

·        Smith & Wesson stainless “no-lock” L frame revolver, Model 686-4 (Distinguished Combat Magnum Plus, 7-shot round butt) in the 2.5 inch variation, circa 1996, one of the last with a hammer mounted firing pin

·         Ammunition by Buffalo Bore, “Tactical Short Barrel Lower Recoil Low Flash” 158 gr. .357 Magnum JHP (other loadings available), brass by Starline, velocity > 1,000 fps

·         Craig Spegel checkered extended boot grips

·      ·  Lobo Gun Leather “Enhanced Pancake” holster, nice design, appearance, and fit, maker delivers reasonable price and turnaround time

      Quality made in the U.S.A. products, making a highly concealable, versatile, capable, and reliable carry package.  A carry package not commonly seen, but quite a serious contender and still formidable in 2013.

      [Also pictured, not made in the U.S.A.:   Quickstrip™ reload strip (8-shot, loaded to 6) by Tuff Products  (maker/vendor of nifty, well thought-out specialty items)]