Saturday, March 27, 2004

Finest All-round All-round

In the March/April American Handgunner, Clint Smith has an interesting range test. He put six guns (3 autos, 3 revolvers) through their paces at ranges out to 75 yards. The neat part was that they ranged in size from a Colt Agent snubby to a S&W 29 in 44 mag and included basic pistols like the Glock 17 and semi-custom jobs like a Thunder Ranch 1911 from Les Baer.

Two things stand out. First, the small guns did surprisingly well at 25 yards. The Agent and Springfield Micro Compact shot 3" groups while the 4 inch S&W 19 held to 1.75" to lead the pack.

The other thing was that the S&W 19 was the best at all distances. It held to 6" at 75 yards. It's big brother (Model 29) came in at 10" while the TR 1911 did 8". The 1911 was Smith's favorite and it was designed to his specifications. Yet the 19 outshot it at long range.

Over time, i've come to believe that the Model 19 is the best all-round handgun for the largest number of people. You get the advantage of 38 SPL/357 Mag ammo. It's a nicer carry gun than N-frames or Rugers, especially if you want to carry it concealed. The workmanship is superb and gives you the smoothest DA trigger i've ever experienced. Smooth trigger=better accuracy, especially at long range.

The .357 is also a better long-range choice than any auto-loading round. Mid-range trajectory (100 yds.) for 125 Speer Gold Dot is only 2.8" while the 45 ACP 230 grain Gold Dot comes in at 6.9". In fact, even standard pressure 38 Specials shoot flatter than the 45 ACP in 230 grain loads.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Just Wondering

Why hasn't anyone tried a sabot-round in a 45-70 or other big-bore? With shotguns and muzzle-loaders you get a better trajectory and increased down-range performance with this set-up. Not only do you get higher muzzle velocity, but the smaller caliber bullet has a much better ballistic coefficient so it retains energy better. Plus, you could have a better sectional density.
More on O'Conner

One thing that i think O'Conner can be criticized for his failure to distinguish between premium and conventional bullets. He was an early adopter of Nosler Partitions and they obviously served him well. However, in his writing, he tended to lump these premium handloads with conventional commercial rounds.

There is a big difference in performance between a 130 grain Partition and 130 grain Silvertip. Yet i am sure that thousands of people took to the field with the Winchester round and wondered why they couldn't duplicate J O'C's results on elk or moose.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Passivity and Fear

That's what radiates from the stories about the recent gang-rape at Rutgers University. (Examples here and here.)

Police are patrolling, lighting is being checked-- there was even a candle-light vigil. Exactly the kind of thing that deters thugs.

Generally speaking, i hate the word "sheeple". But this attitude (especially from journalists) comes mighty close.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Let's You and Him Fight

Shortly after i read Coyote at the Dog Show on Elmer Keith, i picked up a copy of Gun World. Lo and Behold, Jan Libourel touches on the same subject, but from a different perspective.

It may be worth noting that Jack O'Conner killed 10 grizzlies with a 30-06 and two more with a .270 and never came to harm. (This, by the way, is 10 more grizzlies than his arch rival Elmer Keith ever killed.)

Libourel also makes an interesting point about the two antagonists. Keith, the old cowboy, was actually stronger on the technical and theoretical aspects of shooting. He was a better experimenter and created new cartridges for both handguns and rifles. But O'Conner-- the journalism professor-- had more and wider hunting experience.

It's also something of a misnomer to portray Keith as a champion of big, heavy slow bullets and O'Conner as a small, light, fast proponent. Keith liked big bore cartridges, but he also liked them fast. Given a choice, he would opt for a a .340 Weatherby over a .35 Whelen. Similarly, O'Conner was not a speed freak. He speaks most highly of moderate cartridges-.270 Win, 7mm Mauser, 30-06-- rather than the magnums that were available. He didn't drop the 7mm Mauser for the 7mm Remington magnum or the Weatherby, even though both are faster.

I'm an odd duck on the Keith-OConner feud. I started out reading O'Conner and only discovered Keith years later. I never quite bought into the big bore magnum theory. But over the last couple of years Boddington and Seyfried have made me rethink.

They don't argue that a .338 Mag is always necessary for elk. They concede that a 30-06 will usually do the trick. But the critical fact they bring up is that most big game hunters now are time-constrained. With only a few days available to hunt elk or big horn sheep or brown bear, it makes sense to grab every advantage. That includes a flatter shooting, more powerful rifle. On a 21 day annual elk hunt, you can pass on shots too tough for a 30-06 and expect to get another opportunity later. On a five day, once-in-a-lifetime hunt, one chance might be the only one you get.