Saturday, July 19, 2008

In praise of the .40 caliber pistol

(Well, this one, anyway!)

My friend Michael Bane and others have written of their gradual disillusionment with the .40 S&W round in pistols due to the greater work of shooting it versus the 9mm and the .45 ACP. While it's true that the recoil is "snappier" in the .40 and the recovery time shot-to-shot can be longer than with the 9 or 45, the ballistics of the round make it very attractive if we're considering what we might need if we have to shoot someone or something that's attacking us. A 155 or 165 grain .40 bullet typically is propelled at around 1150 feet per second. That's about the same speed as a 9mm that weighs 20%+ less, and it weighs two-thirds of typical .45 ball ammo while running 300 fps faster. Not too shabby, and the performance in tissue and bad guys has been generally pretty good according to published reports.
I like the way that those rounds shoot in the .40, much preferring them to the 180 grain loadings. They shoot fast and FLAT and are accurate. The 155 or 165 grain bullets are what the .40 was meant to be, fast and nasty. I carried and shot a Walther P99 in that caliber for a couple of years and loved the gun and the caliber combination, but it wasn't up to the task of shooting the .40 as much as I shot it and I broke it - twice!
I've carried an Springfield XD45 for over a year, after deciding to go back to a large bore pistol. I shot it in the Gunsite Alumni Shoot last fall and was happy with the gun's performance. It's solid and it fits my hand much better than the Glock G21. So when the new XD-M came out and I handled one at the NRA show I was very interested. When I sold a vintage revolver to a friend last week it set up the funds for a new pistol. I've been without any kind of .40 for a couple of years, waiting for the right gun and the XD-M is it!
Got it, went to the range and broke it in a bit with a box of Speer 180gr ball, then put some Winchester Ranger 155gr JHPs through it. At 25 yards it made a ten-round group with the hot hollowpoints that was easily covered with a small person's palm, less than 3-4 inches in diameter, and that wasn't shooting for best group, that was just shooting - and it was dead to point of aim, dead flat all the way out to 130 yards where we were tearing up some clay pigeons that were laid out on the ground with it. Loaded with 16+1 rounds of that Ranger ammo (another 3 rounds more than I have in the XD45), this gun suits me just fine. It's like having a buzz saw in your holster!
I'll be getting another Comp-Tac Infidel or one of the Crossbreed holsters for it, and then we'll be able to interchange it with the XD45 for daily carry, maybe use it as a second gun with the holster on the left side.
It may not be the hot stuff for IDPA competition or for folks who want less recoil or whatever, but it fulfills the role for a defensive pistol with a round that hits hard and is accurate. I'm happy to have another .40 in the stable and this particular pistol is very nice!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Interesting new top end for ARs

After a trip to the range yesterday to sight in and test fire the newlly decked-out AR carbine, AK and FN SLP (pictures and information to follow) I stopped into Gilbert's Guns to see what was happening there. I'm thinking hard about one of the new XDm .40s from Springfield since I don't have a .40 in the stable now, the XDm is very nice with all the new changes and I already carry an XD45 so there won't be any transition to speak of.
So once I was there, gandering, Jason Gilbert showed me one of the things that he says is really hot right now, and that's the .22 caliber conversion top ends for the ARs from Tactical Solutions. They're lightweight and allow you to practice with your AR by just swapping out the top ends, no fitting, no nothing. Swap and shoot, no hassles, and he says that they're reliable as well. At $569 they might be a bit pricey, but they're extremely well made and well finished. I've never seen anything from Tactical Solutions that wasn't top-notch.
Something to consider if you're looking for a low-cost practice solution in this time of rising prices, or just want to be able to plink or hunt small game with your AR.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Glorious Fourth!

We went out to a friend's house on Independence Day, and I took along some guns for some fun.
We put over 200 rounds through my dolled-up AK, my AR carbine and my FN SLP semi-auto shotgun. Nothing fancy, no marksmanship contests, just shooting up some stumps in the rainy weather and making wood chips fly, letting my friends shoot some guns that they hadn't tried and seeing what buckshot would do out of the SLP. They all just LOVED that shotgun, and what's not to love? It will run at a ridiculously rapid rate, and hasn't yet choked on any ammo we put through it.
And then, we grilled some steaks, drank some beer, toasted our Republic and our founders and shot off some fireworks. Yow! What could be better on the 4th of July?