It’s been a couple weeks since I updated the ol’ blog, but I’m still doin stuff.
My oldest friend from way back in 7th grade (and that was a while back) came to visit. He caught the last stage or so of the Friday IDPA match at Lone Star. Saturday morning, we set up three IDPA targets out back and shot almost every firearm on the premises, paying special attention to my Glock and my 1911.
Early in the afternoon, another old friend/coworker and his wife came out bearing rifles, pistols and even a bow. The rifles were sighted in and pistols and bows were shot by all. The weather gave us a start, but it let us be in the end.
Sunday, we cleaned and lubed all the very dirty pistols and after my friend headed for home, I set up my press to load 40S&W.
During the course of the following week or two, I loaded up about 150 rounds featuring 165gr RNFP polymer coated bullets on 4.2gr of Hodgdon Titegroup. The goal is a fairly inexpensive soft recoil load for use with IDPA.
4.X grains of TiteGroup is apparently the bottom limit for reliability with the Lee Adjustable Charge Bar. The published range is down to 0.28cc, but I could not get it to throw consistent charges with it turned down that small. I would have expected the extra fine grain size to have actually been less troublesome in small volumes, but that was not what I was seeing. I ended up using the 0.37cc orifice in the standard discs to get a rock solid 4.2gr charge.
The other problem I had was much trouble getting the finished rounds to case gauge well. They kept not quite dropping into the gauge block. I found that increasing the flare in the case mouth helped quite a bit. With the smaller flare, it was much more likely to shave a bit of polymer and lead off the seating bullet. This shaved material ends up on the case mouth and generally prevented the cases from fitting the case gauge.
A few of the rounds were actually a bit oversize at the head end of the case. 40S&W brass takes quite a beating in some pistols, most famously, but not necessarily deservedly, early generation Glocks. To help feed reliability, the chambers are a little oversize, which lets the brass stretch a little more. Marry that to some high pressure loads, and some 40S&W cases can be a little swollen at the head.
I had an earlier chambering issue which was incorrectly blamed on this phenomenon, so I ordered an undersize resizing die. The earlier issue turned out to be inadequate crimping, but I still had the die and some of this last batch of brass is indeed a bit large at the head, so I used the undersize die and addressed that.
Even with all that, they still didn’t often gauge right. I wanted to try the Titegroup loads, so I had 100 rounds of “close enough” ammo to take to the match on Thursday. It was during the day Thursday that it dawned on me what was causing the issue. Many of the rounds had scrapes up on the curve of the bullet. Bingo! They wouldn’t go into the gauge because the gauge was accurately reflecting the depth of the chamber and the engagement with the rifling. I simply wasn’t seating them deeply enough.
Sure enough, I did have two occasions (both caught on video) where my over long ammo jammed the pistol into almost-battery. One was at the end of a stage, so it didn’t cost me any time. The other, not so serendipitous.
The match was fun. I had my GoPro on a chest rig. I suspected that the chest view would be of limited value with pistol shooting, and I was right. Stage 1 had an interesting bit wherein for the last three targets, the shooter needed to shoot from very low. Most shooters laid on their side to take these three. Somehow, I had the camera in the wrong mode and thus did not capture that stage. The HD version is here.
Scores were not bad, with the exception of stage 3’s jam. In fact, stage three is really the only one much worth talking about.
The stage description was easier to do than to describe. There were two shooting positions and three targets. At the start, you have two magazines sitting on a barrel at P1 and one at P2. At the buzzer, load the pistol and place three shots on any two targets. Remove magazine (you could stow the mag or leave it on the barrel, but it wasn’t empty, so you couldn’t drop it) and move to P2. Load the pistol, place three shots on two other targets. Remove mag, move back to P1, load pistol with the unused mag and finish with three shots on the remaining two targets. The final goal is six rounds in each of three targets, limited to 18 rounds, and oh yeah, can’t shoot the same target twice in a row.
In this dance, my ammo jammed up on the first shot of the second target. I (eventually) cleared the jam and kept count, placing two more shots on the proper target. Moved to P2, did that, moved back to P1 and somehow only placed three shots, skipping the last target. Consequently, that cost me 3 misses and a procedural error for not fully engaging a target with the required number of rounds. I also managed to hit the Non-Threat on the left target. Twice. It was just the edge of the Non-Threat, not that it matters 🙂
I got home after the match and while the horsies were munching their late dinner, I adjusted the bullet seating die and loaded a handful of rounds that all gauged perfectly. I may consider putting the regular resizing die back since the last 1000 or so rounds didn’t actually have that problem.