A Light Case of Shell Shock

[su_heading size=”30″]By developing a lighter, two-piece case with steel and aluminum, Shell Shock Technologies has begun to capture a share of the factory ammunition and reloading market.[/su_heading]

STORY AND PHOTOS BY BOB SHELL

 

Shell Shock also provides specialized dies for sizing and decapping and belling.

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]W[/su_dropcap]e live in an age where all types of novel ammo and reloading components are coming to the market. That is good news for shooters, as many of these products are legitimate improvements over previous offerings. One company, Shell Shock Technologies, has recently released 9mm cases using manufacturing methods not previously used, at least to my knowledge.

What sets Shell Shock apart is that the company produces a two-piece case made from nickel steel. The exact process is proprietary, therefore the methods used are not revealed. However, I recently received some cases for evaluation, along with a sizing and decapping die and a belling die so I could load and shoot them. The bullet seating is done with a normal die, which isn’t included. The sizing and belling dies can also be used for standard brass cases, which is a plus because these new cases are superior to brass but will never replace them.

According to company literature, the cases are 50 percent lighter and two times stronger than brass, with a uniform wall thickness and proprietary assembly technique that leads to reliable and consistent velocity. The bottom of the case is an aluminum alloy, while a steel part is the top, which makes the case magnetic and makes it easier to pick up at a range. I placed a number of them on the scale one at a time, and they all weighed 35 grains, with no variation. Some brass cases I weighed came in at 63 to 64 grains, so the advantage of lightweight cases would be evident if you had to carry a large amount of ammo. I also measured several of the Shell Shock cases for length and they all came in at .7505 inch with no variation. Obviously, no variation in weight and length among these cases would contribute to accuracy and consistency.

Measurements confirmed that Shell Shock cases are consistently uniform in both size and weight.

I also received 200 rounds of 9mm loads with copper 124-grain HP bullets. These are produced by L-Tech Enterprises using the Shell Shock cases, and they sent some info showing penetration and weight retention results. They are consistent in size and weight as well, so if you are not a reloader, this ammo might be for you.

A top view looking into the cases.

FOR THE FIRST LOAD, I used five grains of Winchester 231 and a 115-grain FMJ bullet. This load is very mild and the cases were covered with soot, which is normal with light loads. Low-pressure loads don’t completely seal the chamber, which allows some powder to come back into the action. While messy, it is seldom an issue in regards to performance. The soot cleans off easily for those who like good-looking cases. Most nickel cases have that advantage, though brass needs extra cleaning if that is important to you.

So why would you purchase these cases as opposed to more conventional pieces, when most 9mm cases last several firings and are easy to obtain? Performance-wise, there isn’t any big difference. But if you wanted to carry a large amount of ammo, the lightweight case really adds value, and if you combine this case with a lightweight bullet, then it would be a really desirable product. Liberty Ammunition makes a 50-grain nonlead HP bullet, and that paired up with the Shell Shock case should make some top-rate ammo. Carrying a small amount of this ammo wouldn’t make a difference, but carrying or transporting a large amount would show a sizable advantage. I have a 60-grain bullet to work with, and at high velocity it should make a nice self-defense load.

I sized some fired cases with normal dies and don’t see any problems, and the effort is the same as with the special dies; belling is normal and priming feels a little odd. I tried some once-fired cases using both sets of dies and the effort appears identical, though lubing makes them easier to size. I noticed that a couple had increased the size of the groove, but I’m not sure if that is a function of the dies or a case. If you closely look at the groove, it shows that the case is a two-piece case. The inside is slightly shallower than a conventional case, but not by much (an average of .05 inch). A look at the inside of the custom die shows that it appears to be the same as a conventional one with a tungsten core.

It appears that the construction of the case is very different than a conventional piece of brass, and it will be interesting to see how they go through a Dillon or other progressive press. I am going to load cases with the same load but using both sets of dies. I have some 60-grain HP and had to size the new cases to make them fit tight enough. The 115-grain cast did not need to have the new cases sized.

For testing, I used a Beretta with a 5-inch barrel, a SIG with a 4-inch barrel and a Norinco, giving us different guns to provide more info on what to expect with the cases and loads. Some of the cases have now been fired seven times; there is no indication of any problems, and I am using RCBS dies only, as I don’t see a need for the special ones. That would make these cases even more desirable if it isn’t necessary to use special dies. Obviously, you should test their dies to see which method works best for you.

Testing was conducted using a Beretta (bottom) and a 9mm long-slide Glock, as well as (not pictured) a Norinco.

I RECENTLY RECEIVED SOME new powders from Chris Hodgdon that resemble some older powders such as Red Dot. Since I received the powders from Hodgdon while trying out the new cases, I decided to try a couple loads with the Shell Shock cases, starting with the Red. In these tests, the cases held up after five or six firings using standard RCBS dies. I tried many loads using the three handguns I mentioned to get a good overview of the case, along with the new powder and a variety of bullets. I made some of the lighter bullets myself (such as the 60-grainer), as they are not generally available. The Acme bullet is a cast item with a red coating that tends to make them slick and aids in feeding.

These numbers were rounded off, and you can see that if you needed to carry a large quantity of ammo, the Shell Shock cases would cut down on the weight enough to make a difference. The 60-grain CMA fared best, but still jammed on occasion in the Norinco. Of course, that would render it unsuitable for defense work, but I will try and work with the ogive, though due to the short length that may be difficult.

A shiny new Shell Shock case and bullet. (SHELL SHOCK)

The 147-grain Berry did well with the heavier load of Hodgdon’s HS-6 with no stovepipes. Like any situation and gun, it is recommended that you thoroughly check out the ammo that is intended to be carried. I took the 135-grain CMA and changed the ogive to a more rounded shape to ensure that it will feed in everything. In addition, they were .354 in diameter and the reshaping increased it to .358. Since there is a possibility that they may cause some problems, I reduced it to .356. Some .357-diameter bullets (a FMJ and a cast coated, both roundnose) were swaged down to .356. The purpose is for subsonic loads. A company called Liberty Ammunition makes some high-performance ammo using lighter than standard bullets. The 9mm bullet weighs 50 grains, so I measured a loaded round. The Shell Shock case weighs 35 grains, so a loaded round with a Liberty bullet would weigh 85 grains. Several companies are currently using Shell Shock cases, and I would like to see Liberty pick them up with their 50-grain bullets.

I was also curious as to the case capacity of Shell Shock casings compared to other commercial cases. I used Winchester 572 filled to the top on each case and the results surprised me. I thought that the Shell Shock case would have more capacity based on their weight. My “nonscientific” results showed Shell Shock and PMC held 13.1 grains, Federal and Winchester 13.2 grains and GFI 13.3 grains. As you can see, they are very similar. The next step is to use the same load in both types of cases.
ONE THING I HAVEN’T NOTICED is any mention of the cases being reloaded on a progressive machine. That would be a plus, if that is the case. Therefore, I had a friend run some through his Dillion 550. Other than the requirement that they be lubed, the process went off without a hitch. With a normal bullet everything went fine. We fired some of the rounds made on the Dillon and they fed flawlessly, so there should be no issues but they have to be lubed regardless of which dies or machine is used to load them. That would be the only downside. That new powder W-572 seems to work well in the 9mm rounds; you just need to adjust the loads.

Here is some L-Tech factory ammo with Shell Shock brass, in this case, a 124-grain bullet.

Based on my observations and tests, these cases are here to stay. They are durable and can compete with conventional brass cases in regards to price and reloading life. I can see other companies coming out with versions of them, and hopefully other calibers will be offered. In a few years they will have a good share of the market, though they won’t entirely replace the brass cases for several reasons. They have a few upsides such as durability and price, and since they are partly steel a magnet will pick them up. I have fired hundreds of rounds and had one case that split. I can live with that. The only downside is the requirement that they have to be lubed. A quick spray-on may speed up the process with a progressive machine. I would recommend that you give this product a try, and if you do, I think you will become a customer. ASJ

These two-piece steel and aluminum ammo cases from Shell Shock Technologies were a hot topic at the most recent SHOT Show.

A Striking Softpoint

[su_heading size=”30″]On any continent, the Barnes LRX offers hunters eye-opening accuracy potential and deep penetration at long distance.[/su_heading]

STORY AND PHOTOS BY PHIL MASSARO

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]“H[/su_dropcap]ow far?”

The two simple words said much more than they implied. First, both Poen van Zyl and I clearly understood we each knew which of the reedbuck rams were to be killed, and second, it was down to a matter of the mathematics involved in taking him cleanly. Based on my professional hunter’s momentary silence, I responded with a brief question of my own.

“One-fifty?”

“Just hold on the point of the shoulder, and squeeze the trigger.” Poen van Zyl may have thought in Afrikaans, but knew how to guide a visiting sportsman in English. The Schmidt & Bender’s crosshairs quickly settled on the ram’s shoulder, and I broke the trigger of the Heym SR30 like you’d snap an icicle in two. Even through the recoil, I could see the lean reedbuck fold and collapse to its death; the .300 Winchester Magnum had once again done its job, as it had on so many other African species. Though the rifle and optic were new to me, the cartridge and bullet were not; I have come to love the .300 Winchester Magnum, and the Barnes LRX is among the best projectiles the company has ever produced.

The Barnes LRX bullet is available in 6.5mm, .270, 7mm, .30 and .338 calibers. (BARNES)

Barnes Bullets – the success story of Randy and Coni Brooks – has its roots in the brainchild of Fred Barnes, who saw the need for quality softpoints in a number of different calibers. Fred had a limited success, but his name surely carried on, defining a trend in modern bullet construction that is equal parts revolutionary and genius.

I am on the young end of the gunwriter age spectrum, but at 45 years old I am also wise enough to know whom to contact for the story. Randy Brooks and I have had more than one conversation, albeit via telephone, regarding the roots of his company and the development of the Barnes X bullet. As the famous story goes – and as it was related to me directly – the good Mr. Brooks was glassing for Alaskan bears when the impetus for a genre of projectiles popped into his head. “If the lead core is an issue with bullet separation, why not take the lead out?” And thus the Barnes X monometal softpoint was born. And while that bullet gave me equal parts exhilaration and fits of mania, I loved the design. Being an all-copper bullet, the Barnes X was designed to expand into four petals, giving a devastating balance of expansion and penetration. The original design had some issues with accuracy and copper fouling, but that was all rectified with the release of the Barnes TSX – or Triple Shock X – bullet, which has three large grooves on the bearing surface to reduce fouling and improve accuracy.

The Barnes LRX, original and after expansion.

The TSX, and its tipped counterpart, the TTSX, both serve most hunting scenarios perfectly, the LRX – or Long Range X bullet – has a sleeker profile and higher ballistic coefficient, to retain as much energy as possible downrange, and keep the trajectories flat. The LRX retains the royal blue polymer tip of the TTSX, but the ogive is engineered for the best downrange performance, and will indeed show the benefits over the flat base spitzers out past 250 or 275 yards.

The LRX, like all Barnes bullets, are praised and noted for their weight retention, as the monometal construction prevents any jacket separation – because there is no jacket – but it’s the accuracy potential of the LRX that truly opened my eyes. I’ve loaded this bullet in several different cartridges – with the best results coming from the .30-caliber magnums – and all of the accuracy has been more than acceptable. But it seems that the 175-grain .30-caliber LRX has garnered a special place in my heart.

The 175-grain Barnes LRX worked very well in the .300 Winchester Magnum and .30 Nosler.

While testing the new .30 Nosler, I utilized a number of bullets – bullets that have, in the past, produced fantastic results – but the best performer by far was the 175-grain LRX. Delivering ½ minute-of-angle accuracy and velocities on par with the .300 Weatherby, I know this combination could easily handle everything in North America, and 90 percent of the African species. In the Heym SR30 HPPR – the straight pull, High Performance Precision Rifle – it easily prints ½ to ¾ MOA five-shot groups using handloaded Barnes 175-grain LRX bullets.

The Heym SR30 HPPR and a reedbuck taken with the Barnes LRX. (Inset, below) With a steep boat tail, polymer tip and sleek ogive, the Barnes LRX makes a great long-range hunting bullet.

For the record, that reedbuck didn’t stand a chance; the shot went exactly where I intended it to, and the buck fell as if the very hand of God struck him. Two more of his kin did the same, at ranges from 125 to 250 yards, and I couldn’t recover any of the bullets; the LRX gave excellent penetration. The Barnes LRX and that Heym SR30 kept the Mozambican village of Peau well fed. If you appreciate the performance of the Barnes bullets – more than 90 percent weight retention and deep, deep penetration – combined with the best accuracy of the lot, try some LRXs and I’ll bet you’ll be happy. They’re available in 6.5mm, .270, 7mm, .30 and .338 calibers. ASJ

The first Mozambican reedbuck taken by the author with the .30-caliber Barnes LRX.

 

Swift Solution

[su_heading size=”30″]Like the hot desert wind of the same name, Scirocco II bullets are powerful and unrelenting.[/su_heading]

 STORY AND PHOTOS BY PHIL MASSARO 

The .338 210-grain Scirocco II.

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap] had been frustrated with the terminal performance of my .300 Winchester Magnum, as the cup-and-core bullets – which flew very well when punching paper – were giving too much expansion when used in the New York deer woods. I needed a stiffer bullet, yet wanted to take full advantage of the flat trajectories and wind deflection characteristics of the spitzer boat-tail bullets. I did a bit of research, and found an advertisement for the Swift Scirocco II. The ad copy touted a newly engineered jacket, which would improve the accuracy of the bullet. I ordered a box of 100 .308-caliber 180-grain Scirocco IIs, and headed to the bench. I had developed a load for this particular rifle that gave just under minute-of-angle accuracy, so decided to start there (it was well below maximum), and see what the new bullets would do.

I firmly believed the first three-shot group was a fluke – my wiggles must’ve accounted for my waggles – as it printed just under a half inch, but when the second and third did the same thing, I was a convert. They gave good velocities out of my 24-inch barrel – 2,965 feet per second, to be precise – but would they perform as advertised in the field?

The .338 Winchester Magnum is well served by the 210-grain Scirocco, giving the cartridge a flat trajectory and good terminal ballistics.

You see, the Scirocco is a bonded-core boat-tail bullet, with a very thick jacket and a black polymer tip. It is designed to not only fly accurately – which it proved to be true – but to give the consummate blend of expansion and penetration. Many cup-and-core boat tails have a tendency to have the copper jacket separate from the lead core upon impact at higher velocities, and that didn’t make me happy. The Scirocco’s thick jacket is chemically bonded to the lead core to hold things together should you strike bone, yet the jacket tapers down toward the nose, allowing for good expansion. That expansion creates a larger wound channel, which destroys more vital tissue and causes death sooner.
MY FIRST FIELD TEST was in Wyoming, where I would be hunting pronghorn antelope. Anyone who has hunted the Great Plains of the American West knows that the wind is always blowing, and sometimes it blows good and hard. I found the antelope I wanted after a couple of hours glassing the prairie, and it required a stalk of just over a mile. I lay prone over a small mound, with cactus everywhere it shouldn’t have been, and settled the crosshairs of my Winchester 70 on the buck’s shoulder 215 yards away. Even through the recoil, I could see that the antelope’s feet drew up to his body as he fell earthward, stone dead, and in that moment, this bullet captured my undivided attention.

The Scirocco II offers good expansion at a wide variety of velocities, and works well in mild cartridges like the .308 Winchester right up to the magnums.

I used it the next spring on a black bear hunt in Quebec. While I knew the shots were going to be inside of 75 yards, as it was a baited hunt, I wanted to see how the bullet would handle the tough shoulder bones of a bear. Canada’s ever-changing weather kept the action slow for the first few days, but a warm-up later in the week drew the bears out like moths to a flame. A 200-plus-pound boar decided to pay a visit to my bait, and I decided to ruin his day. I had loaded the 180-grain Scirocco in my .308 Winchester, to a muzzle velocity of 2,450 fps, and the bullet took him without issue, despite punching through both shoulders. I couldn’t recover either bullet, which was no problem with me, but I was highly impressed with the performance.

Since then, I’ve loaded this bullet in many different cartridges, from the 6.5×55 Swede and 6.5-284 Norma, to the 7mm Remington Ultra Magnum, to many of the .30s including the .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield, the .300 Holland and Holland Magnum, and the huge cases like the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum and .30-378 Weatherby Magnum. I’ve even loaded the 210-grain Scirocco in the .338 Winchester Magnum with great results.

The 180-grain .30-caliber polymer-tipped Swift Scirocco IIs make a fantastic all-around big game load.

THE OUTCOME IS USUALLY THE SAME: almost all of the rifles (with the exception of one particularly evil .264 Winchester Magnum) gave subMOA accuracy and excellent field performance. The few bullets we’ve been able to recover from game animals have retained between 80 and 95 percent of their weight, with expansion running right around 2 times to 2.5 times caliber dimension. My wife loves the 150-grain Scirocco II in her .308 Winchester, as it offers less recoil yet great terminal ballistics; her Savage Lady Hunter prints ½-inch groups with this load.

This Wyoming pronghorn fell to the author (right) and his .300 Winchester Magnum and a 180-grain Swift Scirocco II.

The Scirocco is available in calibers from .224 up to and including .338, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go hunting with this bullet in any situation shy of the truly large and dangerous game that requires a larger bore and heavier bullet. With the Scirocco, between my own hunts and those of friends and colleagues, we have taken animals ranging in size from deer and antelope to caribou to African plains game to elk and moose. Swift only makes two softpoints – the Scirocco and the A-Frame – and that’s one of the best combinations on the market. ASJ

The .308 Winchester 180-grain Scirocco load that cleanly took this Quebec black bear.

One Shot Solution

[su_heading size=”30″]The Norma Oryx is designed to provide a perfect blend of expansion and penetration, and is available in calibers both popular and rare.[/su_heading]

STORY AND PHOTOS BY PHIL MASSARO

The 180-grain, .30-caliber Oryx, in original form and expanded

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]T[/su_dropcap]hree does jogged across the little valley below me, pausing only to look over their shoulders. It wasn’t long – a matter of seconds – before I heard the telltale grunting.

He wasn’t the biggest buck I’d ever seen, but he had eight points and a big body, and at that stage of the season he was a shooter. Head down, searching side to side, neck swollen, he cruised along giving the does’ scent the utmost attention.

At 90 yards, he stopped and gave me a quartering-toward shot, and I placed the crosshairs of the 6.5-284 Norma just inside his foreleg, gently breaking the trigger. At the shot, the buck flipped backward onto his back, legs in the air, and stayed in that position. The 156-grain Oryx had taken him through the heart and lungs, and proceeded to exit just behind the offside ribs, killing him instantly.

Norma also provides premium-grade, quality brass cartridges, including these for the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum, available as factory ammunition (shown) or as component parts.

THE ORYX IS A PREMIUM BULLET, designed for a perfect blend of expansion – to create a large wound channel – and penetration – to ensure that the wound channel reaches the vital organs. Usually designed in a semispitzer profile, the bullet’s copper jacket is engineered to be thinner at the nose, to initiate expansion, yet gets thicker toward the flat base of the bullet.

In addition to getting thicker, the rear portion of the jacket is chemically bonded to the lead core to make sure that things stay together. Chemical bonding, resulting in what we call a “bonded core” bullet, prevents bullet breakup, and slows the expansion process down to allow the bullet to penetrate deeply. It is one of several methods used to resist overexpansion, a problem common to standard cup-and-core bullets at high-impact velocities, and the Norma Oryx does this well.

Norma loads the Oryx in some rare calibers, such as the .308 Norma magnum.

Being a semispitzer, the Oryx may not possess the high ballistic coefficient (BC) figures that some of the sleek, polymer-tipped hunting bullets may have, but at normal hunting distances that doesn’t pose a huge problem. Inside of 400 yards, shots can be made with a bullet in this conformation, and the additional terminal performance can make a big difference when it really counts; should tough shoulder bones, thick hide, or gristle plates need to be penetrated, the Oryx will definitely hold together for you.

Norma loads the Oryx in their factory ammunition, in calibers from .224 inches all the way up to .375 inches. The smallest are a good choice for those who wish to use a .22 centerfire on deer and other similar game. The standard big game calibers, say from 6.5mm up to 8mm, can be used with an additional level of confidence, should the shot angle be less than desirable.

The .375 300-grain Oryx.

The heavier calibers, from .338 inches up to the .375 inches, will take full advantage of the Oryx’s stature, as these calibers are often used to pursue the largest animals that can be effectively hunted with a soft-point bullet. Norma offers the Oryx in mid- to heavyweight projectiles for caliber, at standard muzzle velocities. Retained weight is often high – above 90 percent in most instances – with expansion usually doubling the original diameter.
THE ORYX IS AVAILABLE IN MOST of the popular calibers, such as the .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester, .375 Holland & Holland and .300 Winchester Magnum, but also has embraced some of the rarities, like the .308 and .358 Norma Magnums, as well as the Weatherby and Blaser Magnums. Hailing from Sweden, Norma loads many of the metric calibers, like the classic 7×57 Mauser, 9.3x63mm, 8×57 and 9.3x74R, as well as some of those lesser-known calibers here in the States like the 7×64 Brenneke and the 7x65R.

The American PH line includes the 6.5-284 Norma, with the 156-grain Oryx bullet.

Norma also offers the Oryx as a component bullet for the handloader, so for those of you who like to hunt with your own ammunition, the Oryx remains a viable option.

In the field, I like the Oryx for any situation where a difficult shot angle may be the only shot you get, or in an instance where stopping an animal may be necessary. The Oryx would make a very good choice for a hunter who wanted to use his or her .270 Winchester for elk; at 150 grains, the heavy-for-caliber bonded core slug will definitely hold together well enough to reach the vitals. I also like the Oryx for many of the African species, as well as for our North American bears. Thinking lion and leopard, as well as eland and wildebeest, the Oryx – in a suitable caliber – will provide enough expansion to shred the vital organs, yet will break those tough shoulder bones that guard the vitals.

I also think that a .338 Winchester Magnum or .375 H&H Magnum, loaded with a heavy-for-caliber Oryx, would make an excellent brown bear combination, and would certainly handle any black bear that ever walked. For a hunter who wants to pursue bears with his standard deer rifle, the Oryx will handle the shoulder bones and put that bear down quickly. For those who hunt deer with the popular .243 Winchester, the Oryx will surely get the job done, at just about any angle.

The classic .30-06 Springfield is even better when mated with the Oryx.

Is it accurate? My 6.5-284 Norma will print three of those 156-grain Oryx bullets into ½ MOA groups, as will my .300 Winchester Magnum with 180-grainers. My .375 H&H puts three 300-grain Oryx bullets into exactly 1 inch at 100 yards. For a trio of hunting rifles that will handle most all of the big game scenarios across the globe, that’s more than enough accuracy. ASJ

In the .375 H&H, the Oryx bullet makes a good choice for truly large game.

Slug It Out

[su_heading size=”30″]Modern 12-gauge Shotgun Slugs Can Be An Excellent Choice For Self-Defense Distances And Beyond[/su_heading]

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY OLEG VOLK

[su_dropcap size=”5″]S[/su_dropcap]hotguns are a perennial home defense favorite. They are generally inexpensive, very common and perceived as being simple to operate. Nearly every gun-owning household has at least one smoothbore. But, since research and anecdotal evidence point towards the relative ineffectiveness of birdshot against large intruders, buckshot is typically used to deliver multiple simultaneous impacts while adding some margin for aiming error.

Buckshot, from .35 caliber 000 to .24 caliber No. 4, works fairly well on opponents up close and in the open, but doesn’t penetrate cover well. For people who want the ability to get through furniture, walls or auto glass, slugs provide another option. The same applies to rural residents who worry less about overpenetration but may have to fire in self-defense at longer ranges where buckshot spreads too much, and individual pellets lack adequate penetration.

Large-bore smoothbores and rifles have long been the first choice of dangerous game hunters. A typical musket was around .70 caliber, and black powder rifles varied from .70 to .45, with long conical bullets providing necessary penetration on ornery creatures like Cape buffalo or grizzly. Jacketed bullets developed by the 1890s and monolithic solids introduced in the second half of the 20th century continued this trend.

While traditional big game hunting rifles and ammunition have always been extremely expensive, North Americans and Russians, two populations with relatively widespread shotgun ownership in areas with dangerous ursine neighbors, developed a number of shotgun slug loads also optimized for penetration and massive stopping power. Century-old Brenneke hardcast lead slugs and the more recent Latvian steel Monolith load both offer accuracy and straight-line punch to put down a wild boar or a bear. For the same reason – great penetration – slugs aren’t favored for home defense use. Nobody wants to overpenetrate while hitting an intruder and endanger family members or neighbors behind the actual foe.
SLUGS COME IN SEVERAL GENERAL TYPES: penetrative, expanding, fragmenting and frangible. Penetrative designs are generally excessively energetic for human foes: they are likely to make a .70-caliber hole and keep on whistling past, with all that power wasted on perforating the landscape or, worse, some innocent positioned behind the attacker.

Frangibles are designed to break up against solid backstops during training. D Dupleks Caviar 26L frangible, a plastic slug with embedded steel BBs, breaks up on flesh with about 8 inches of penetration and nearly 5-inch spread. That’s considered a bit shallow for reliable stopping, but not shabby. By contrast, the Remington Disintegrator round acts as a nonexpanding penetrator on flesh and only breaks up against hard surfaces, like steel range backstops.

The Rio Royal Expanding Fragmentary slug weighs 1 ounce, but produces 7-inch penetration.
The Rio Royal Expanding Fragmentary slug weighs 1 ounce, but produces 7-inch penetration.

Expanding slugs are large-bore variations on hollow point pistol bullets. With much more energy and mass, and fewer constraints on the initial shape, they can be quite effective. For example, the new Team Never Quit 375-grain copper slug sits in front of a 90-grain plastic base. The slug is slightly subcaliber, so it can be fired through any choke. The plastic base acts as a gas check, but also as a drive band when used in rifled barrels or as a drag stabilizer when fired from smoothbores.

With a full weight of just over an ounce and muzzle velocity of 1,200 feet per second, it has mild recoil. Spread was about 3 inches at 25 yards when fired through an Armagon G12 cylinder bore barrel, and 1 inch when used with a rifled choke. The same slug grouped 2 inches at 25 yards from a Benelli M3.

SMOOTHBORE ACCURACY DEPENDS ON MANY FACTORS, including the concentricity and evenness of the bore, the amount of flex on firing and many others, so it is difficult to predict accuracy without testing individual firearms. Molot Vepr 12 and Fostech Origin 12, for example, are extremely accurate even in smoothbore versions, as are most Remington 870s. Similarly, nominal velocities listed here can vary by 10 to 15 percent based on the barrel length, choke and chamber used.

In testing, the Team Never Quit slug delivered textbook perfect results, with about 12 inches of penetration through four layers of denim, and reliable 1½-inch expansion. Fired into bare gelatin, it penetrated 16 inches and had just enough energy left to penetrate halfway into standard residential drywall. While high-energy numbers make for easy marketing, this load minimizes overpenetration and reduces follow-up time, both of much value in home defense. This slug was designed for use in smoothbore defensive shotguns at ranges under 50 yards. With rifled barrels or with rifled chokes, it can be used for deer-sized game out to about 100 yards.

OATH Ammunition recently introduced the Tango expanding slug, a 600-grain, 1,200 fps copper projectile available in traditional plastic or in a machined aluminum case. I was only able to obtain one unfired shell, and unfired and expanded slugs for photos, so I can’t comment on accuracy or recoil. I would, however, expect the sheer weight of the slug to produce a noticeable push on the shooter.

The wasp-waisted projectile uses two rubber rings for obturation. The slug expands to an impressive 2.6 inches, with a ring instead of a solid base to reduce resistance. In gel, it penetrated 12 inches and then bounced back to 7-inch position from the resistance of the media. That’s consistent with how OATH pistol ammunition works, being designed for a penetration depth of 7 inches. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the company is in Chapter 11, so the future of this load is uncertain.

D Dupleks makes two loads that combine fragmenting and expanding features, a 1.25-ounce Hexolit and a 1-ounce Dupo. Both are made of mild steel and have six preformed petals attached to a cylindrical base, then encased into plastic. The plastic provides obturation and improves aerodynamics. Both loads are very accurate from smooth or rifled barrels. Hexolit always expands to 1.5 inches and then produces six sharp 24-grain fragments penetrating about 12 inches with equally wide spread, and a base penetrating about 20 inches.

Destructive effect on gel was greater than from a .308 Win soft point, and approaching that of .338 Lapua Magnum soft point. At longer ranges, Hexolit acts as a large hollow point, penetrating up to 20 inches! The lighter Dupo acts similarly at close range or in case of bone impact, but stays together as a 1.2-inch expanded hollow point in soft tissue at longer ranges. As a hollow point, it penetrates about 18 inches.

With the initial velocities in the 1,400 to 1,460 fps range, these rounds have more felt recoil than Team Never Quit but also a longer useful range. They were originally developed as medium and large game hunting loads, so they are accurate out to about 65 yards from smoothbores and past 100 with spin stabilization. Because of the highly penetrative base, however, both have the potential to hit bystanders beyond the target.

All of these expanding loads are lead-free, which is helpful for indoor use. D Dupleks and OATH slugs, in particular, gain an efficiency from having relatively hard materials shaped with sharp edges facing forward to cut tissue.

Winchester’s PDX1 slug.
Winchester’s PDX1 slug.

FRAGMENTING BULLETS have a poor reputation among handgun users, primarily because of insufficient penetration. With shotguns, each fragment has the weight similar to a complete pistol bullet and higher velocity, so they are rather more effective. Both Winchester and Rio loads proved very accurate, with groups around 1 inch at 25 yards from smoothbores. Both stayed together well through such obstacles as car doors and laminated glass.

Winchester PDX1 is a 1-ounce load starting at 1,600 fps, and the high velocity makes firing one a bit exciting. When I fired it from a Vepr 12, a semiauto shotgun with some drop to the stock, the muzzle rise knocked my safety glasses off. It was much more comfortable fired from MKA1919 and Origin 12, since both are semiautos with straight-line stocks. The same high velocity makes it very effective on target. The slug breaks into three 145-grain fragments, each sufficient to go through 18 inches of gel with considerable cavitation around. The fragments dispersed about 6 inches by the end of their travel, pretty much destroying the 10-inch by 10inch by 20-inch block. If you can handle the recoil, this is a very effective round.

The Rio Royal Expanding Fragmentary slug – there’s a nice mouthful of branding – also weighs at 1 ounce but comes out slower, at 1440 fps. Breaking up into four 45-grain petals and a base, it produces 7-inch penetration with 7-inch dispersion – meaning an approximately 22-degree cone of fragments. The base, about 60 percent of the whole and smaller than the bore diameter, keeps on going 18 inches or so. This load combines reasonable recoil and terminal performance with excellent accuracy and budget price. At $1.40 per shot, it’s the least expensive of the specialty loads.

The Dupo 20 is one of two loads manufactured by D Dupleks with fragmenting and expanding features.

While most of these slugs can be used from a rifle bore, they are accurate enough at typical self-defense ranges to make it unnecessary. Rifling would make the shotgun less versatile by dispersing shot patterns into donuts, and so should probably be reserved for hunting use. With fragmenting projectiles, the spin would also cause slightly wider dispersion of petals.
The last round to consider is the American hunting stand-by, the Foster “rifled” slug. With the ribs on the outside designed to pass safely through chokes, these projectiles are unsuitable for actual rifled bores. They stabilize by having most of the balance forward, and are hollow based. Remington Slugger, the most widely available (and cheapest at around $1 each) Foster slug, is thimble-shaped. On impact, at least up close where the 1,550 fps muzzle velocity is retained, it acts as a frangible despite its intended use as a solid.

Further out, at ranges more typical of deer hunting, the slug holds together better. At room distance, Slugger turns into a cloud of small lead chunks extending about 9 inches deep and nearly 6 inches wide. The smaller 20-gauge Slugger does the same, but to 7.5 inches and 5 inches of width. This is less depth than is recommended by the FBI testing protocol, but probably noticeable to the hostile recipient.

This 12-gauge slug from Team Never Quit delivered near-textbook expansion and penetration.
This 12-gauge slug from Team Never Quit delivered near-textbook expansion and penetration.

ALL MODERN EXPANDING LOADS are generally adequate for selfdefense. Except for D Dupleks Caviar, none of them would safely break up on typical residential walls in case of a miss. Caviar won’t stop for drywall, but tends to break up enough on wooden studs to pose reduced danger downrange. Given the massive variability of shotguns, be sure to test your selected load for functioning: I’ve seen Mossberg 930 autoloader run with plastic riot-control birdshot, and have also seen pump shotguns choke on standard slug or buck loads. Given the precision with which slugs should be applied for best effect, I would also recommend adjustable rifle sights or a red dot zeroed to your favorite load. ASJ

Survival Prepping – How Much Ammo is Enough?

Is 1,000 Rounds Enough or 10,000 Rounds?

It’s a very common question posed by survivalists, preppers, and others preparing for the potential likelihood of a SHTF event. Among all the lists of plans for your survival, things to gather, store, gear to buy, and skills to acquire are the huge concerns of security, self and family protection, guarding your property, and just maybe staying alive.

Survivalists and preppers are gun people. They believe in acquiring a variety of firearms for defensive purposes as well as offensive tactics if things take a turn for the absolute worst. For these purposes a host of weaponry may be stocked and used regularly in preparation for whatever might come down the pike.

The big question often posed by survivalists and preppers is exactly how much ammunition to keep on hand. There are many factors to take under serious consideration as you build up your prepping strategies.

First, how many firearms do you have that you will have to feed? Most will have multiples of handguns, rifles of various kinds, and likely several shotguns, too. These are a lot of guns to stock ammo for, so choose wisely, and above all try to consolidate where possible.

Besides having the firearms you need on hand for a bug-in, transit in a vehicle, or at a bug out location, think about the support gear needed. You will need magazines, carry pouches, gun cleaning supplies, optics, and other support accessories.

For semi-auto magazine fed pistols and rifles, you will need several back up magazines, maybe a dozen or more in each caliber. A minimum number of magazines to have on hand would be at least ten. What is your planning position on this issue?

Then, with having all these extra magazines, they need to be kept loaded and cycled in use. There is some debate about not keeping the mag springs loaded too long, but reality suggests for high quality factory magazines this is not a serious concern.

So, you have the guns and everything else needed. How much ammo? Input I have collected from numerous preppers seem to settle on the figure of at least 5,000 rounds per caliber on hand and ready to use. This quantity does not have to be bought all at once, but is a goal to achieve. Prepping takes planning, and having plenty of ammo is part of it.

by Dr. John – AllOutdoor.com

Ready, Set,Load – Handloading 101 part I

Story and photographs by Bob Shell

PHOTO 1 a nice loading bench setup-min
Your loading station should have a sturdy table to mount your press and other equipment, which can be quite heavy, and lots of shelving for easy access to all of your loading dies, bullets and powder. I suggest a table that is at least 6 feet long.

If you’ve decided to start handloading or reloading your own ammunition, there are some basic things you’ll need to start your new hobby. Space is one. Find a place you can dedicate to just loading. It can be a spare room or the corner of a garage, so long as you have space with good lighting. Your loading station should have a sturdy table to mount your press and other equipment, which can be quite heavy, and lots of shelving for easy access to all of your loading dies, bullets and powder. I suggest a table that is at least 6 feet long.

A rifle casing, gun powder or grain and projectile or bullet.

Once you have your work area set up, it’s time to buy your equipment. There are many different types and price ranges for each respective need, so it will behoove you to take some time and shop around. Most people get into loading to save money on their ammunition, and you will, but you will still have to make an initial investment on the equipment and supplies.

The Press

PHOTO 8 reloadingpress&dies-min
The purpose of the press is to hold the dies, which are needed to process the ammunition. Star progressive reloader press uses leverage to push the shell cases into the dies that perform the loading operations.
 Star progressive reloader
Progressive loaders have several different tasks going on at the same time and you may miss an important step, potentially causing a batch of bad and dangerous ammunition.

The purpose of the press is to hold the dies, which are needed to process the ammunition. It uses leverage to push the shell cases into the dies that perform the loading operations. The press needs to be securely mounted to the table so the cases can be resized.  This takes some effort, especially with rifle ammunition. There are a variety of options made by various companies such as Lyman, Hornady and RCBS, Lee and Redding, and they all make great presses.
If you are a new loader, I would recommend a simple, single-stage press. There are progressive presses that are for multi-stage cases, but if you are not familiar with loading, they can get you into trouble. Progressives have several different tasks going on at the same time and you may miss an important step, potentially causing a batch of bad and dangerous ammunition. If you are serious about loading, I would recommend a heavy-duty model because you can load both rifle and handgun ammunition.

Dies

PHOTO 2 Measure, dies, & press-min
Loading is a precise operation and trying to use the wrong dies will not work.

A die is a specialized tool used to cut or shape material using a press. Any caliber that you load is die-specific. For instance, if you want to load .40 S&W ammunition, you need that specific set of dies. Loading is a precise operation and trying to use the wrong dies will not work. If you are loading a modern straight-case, then I recommend carbide dies. Not only do they make sizing easier, you won’t have to lubricate your cases, and they last forever.

Other necessary tools

A powder measure and a set of scales are necessary to put the proper amount of powder into your cases and are vital in creating ammunition that is safe and reliable. This is where the manuals come in handy. You can look up the caliber you are loading and get the proper type and amount of powder necessary. This data was developed by professionals and should be followed closely. Other tools you may need are screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, possibly a lube pad, vernier caliper and a bullet puller. Overall, you are looking at a $400 investment, plus the cost of supplies. This will get you started.

Having a variety of manuals come in handy. You can look up the caliber you are loading and get the proper type and amount of powder necessary. This data was developed by professionals and should be followed closely.
Vernier Caliper
Vernier calipers are used to measure case length.

If you load rifle cases, there are other tools you will need such as a case trimmer to trim the stretched cases and a vernier caliper to measure the length. It is very important that your case be the proper length, so don’t overlook these items.
You will be able to consult a loading manual for the proper length. Also, when loading rifle cases, a lube pad is necessary because if you do not lube the cases, one will get stuck in the die and this is a real headache to remove. You will also need a brush to lube the inside of the case neck. In the next installment, I will discuss the importance of all of these steps.

Final Thoughts

When contemplating whether you want to load, here are a couple of things to think about. First, loading is a very safe hobby if you follow the precautions and use common sense. Do not allow distractions to creep in. That means no texting, watching television or anything else that will draw your attention away from the task at hand. If you are not the type of person who pays attention to detail, then loading isn’t for you. I have been doing it for over 40 years and never had a serious mishap. It is a great hobby and well worth exploring. AmSJ

GUN BULLIES: 1911 frozen in ice, shot with buckshot, and then fired

In our latest “Gun Bullies” installment, we took our Rock Island Armory 1911 and froze it in a block of ice for 3 days.  We then took it out and blasted it out of the ice with buckshot shot from a Remington 870 (our next victim).  This was all after being tossed into a pond and later blown up with 2 pounds of tannerite.  By the way, our Glock 21 frame is still AWOL from the tannerite.

For more, go to LegallyArmedAmerica.com or LAA.bz .

 

Hevi Shot’s innovative non-toxic shotgun ammo expands from game birds to HOG WILD loads

hevishotHevi Shot has a well earned reputation of innovative non-toxic shotgun ammo that just plain flattens game birds.  Western Shooting Journal tested a number of their Hevi-Metal bird loads during our ’20ga challenge’ last hunting season.  We killed grouse, pheasants, ducks and quail…all with Hevi Shot 20 gauge loads that year.

Now Hevi Shot is stepping into the four legged and dangerous game shooting realm with their new HOG WILD loads.  Available in 12 gauge 3″ and 3.5″, these magnum loads feature three and 2 .626 round balls respectively that pack over 800 ft pounds of energy per ball!  That’s a load that’s designed for serious close range stopping power. 

Visit hevishot.com