July 20th, 2014

Tech Tip: Blue-Printing Triggers

gunsmithing Speedy Thomas Gonzalez triggerTrigger Blue-Printing — Why It Can Be Important
by Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez

To Blueprint or Not? That is the Question.
I often get asked is it really necessary to blueprint a custom match trigger. “Abolutely” is my answer. Here is an example that demonstrates why. After I completed a recent rifle project, the gun’s owner and I took the rifle to the range to break-in the barrel. But we quickly noticed a problem. The owner Alex L’s first statement was: “This trigger sucks — better blueprint it when you get back.”

Not only did the trigger feel rough and scratchy, but it failed to hold the cocking piece 2 out of 10 times when cocking the rifle for the next shot. Not good.

No matter what we tried at the range, the problem persisted. As soon as we returned from the range, I had to take the trigger apart to solve the mystery.

As soon as I opened her up on the operating table it was evident to me where the problem was. I have only seen the inside of about 3000 of these rascals and the head of the Over-Travel Screw stuck out like a sore thumb. The head of the Over-Travel Screw was nearly twice as thick as its other brothers and sisters. This caused the relationship between travel adjustment and sear engagement to be nearly impossible to adjust. And that, in turn, created a serious safety issue.

To remedy the situation, I replaced the screw with [another screw with] standard head thickness and ALL PROBLEMS DISAPPEARED… Amazing! Had I blue-printed this trigger before going to shoot, this never would have happened.

gunsmithing Speedy Thomas Gonzalez triggergunsmithing Speedy Thomas Gonzalez trigger

So, should one blueprint a trigger? I say “Hell yeah” if you are serious about competiting and winning. Otherwise be prepared for the worst. — Speedy

Permalink Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
July 20th, 2014

Farley Mfg. Introduces New Gravity-Fed Cartridge Caddy

Farley Manufacturing has just introduced a new gravity-fed cartridge caddy that puts your rounds right next to your rifle’s loading port. Farley’s new G-Feed Cartridge Elevator has a unique switchback-type feed path that provides high capacity in a compact unit. This unit is handy and fast to use. Farley says that, with a little practice, a skilled benchrest shooter can run five shots in less than 18 seconds. We believe that — provided a shooter has quality rests, a stock that tracks well, and good technique.

Farley Mfg. benchrest ammo caddy gravity feed elevator

The G-Feed Elevator is held up by a 3/4″-diameter spring steel gooseneck (similar to 50s-style lamp support arm). You can easily adjust the gooseneck to the exact height and angle you want. (But Farley recommends at least 10 degrees of “tilt” to ensure proper feeding.)

Made from machined 6061 aluminum, the G-Feed Caddy ranges in price from $125.00 to $160.00 depending on cartridge size. Currently three sizes are offered: PPC, BR/PPC, and .284 Winchester. The BR/PPC model holds 22 rounds of BR cases or 23 rounds of PPC cases. The larger .284 Win model has a 25-cartridge capacity.

Farley Mfg. benchrest ammo caddy gravity feed elevator

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, New Product 1 Comment »
July 19th, 2014

Ty Cooper Offers Tips for Camp Perry Competitors

Creedmoor SportsTyrel Cooper of Creedmoor Sports will be competing at Camp Perry this summer. A past member of the USAMU, Cooper’s shooting resume includes five national championships (one each in 2008, 2011, 2012, and two in 2013). He is the current (2013) NRA National Long Range Champion, and reigning (2013) NRA National Service Rifle Champion. In this article, Cooper offers advice to other competitive shooters.

Below is a 2012 file photo of SSG Ty Cooper shooting a service rifle. Cooper won the 2013 NRA National High Power Rifle Long Range Championships with a final score of 1243-71X. In the Long Range Championships, Cooper used a Nesika-actioned bolt gun with long barrel chambered in 7mm SAUM.

Mental Preparation
by Tyrel Cooper
Getting focused mentally is an important part of preparation for Perry. I have shot two long range team matches and a no-sighter, 50-shot across-the-course match since last Perry — that’s it. So I expect to be a little rusty but at the same time I am preparing myself to win mentally. I am telling myself “I am the 2014 Nation Champion”. Now my goal hasn’t been to be the Service Rifle National Champion; no, my goal the last 4 years has been to be the overall National Champion and do it with a Service Rifle. Now I haven’t achieved that goal and with today’s rifles and calibers it might never happen. The purpose of this goal is to look past a service rifle and go after everyone.

Tyrel Cooper Creedmoor SportsIn 2011 I was chasing Sherri Gallagher, since then I have been chasing Brandon Green and last year almost got him. If I get beat by a Service Rifle I am going to make him or her work for it. So there is your peak into my mental process. I go for the top and if I am hanging with them then the Service Rifle National Championship will come, Kind of like how I shoot for X’s and Tens will come.

Now I understand everyone is at different levels. You have to figure out what your goals are and then lie to yourself that you’ve already achieved them. Here is a trick that I used back in 2008: When I was a kid just starting out, my Dad made me read several books on shooting. One of them being With Winning In Mind by Lanny Bassham. One of the things I remember from his book is that he would make notes and place them where he would see them often. They contained his goals or stated he was already a world champion. I took a page from his book and did the same thing.

I made 3×5 cards and wrote my personal best 500 and 800 aggregate scores and taped on the horn of my truck, above the radio in my truck, on my laptop and a few other places I would see them often. Every time I saw those I would tell myself that I average those scores and I would get used to seeing them. By doing this you are lying to yourself to overcome the mental blocks the subconscious mind lays out for you.

I went from my worst year in 2007 to winning my first National Championship in 2008. I kind of slacked off in 2009 because I had reached my goals and didn’t set new ones and it showed, so I had to find new goals and motivation which I did and that pushed me back to the top.

Long story short, this is a mental sport and you have to figure out what you need to do to perform at your highest levels and breaking through those mental road blocks. You have to figure out how to get yourself to relax and control your mind keeping calm when you are shooting a personal best, either standing or on the day.

Here is a tip from my mental process from shooting. First I shoot for Xs, I took the line from the movie The Patriot and applied it to my shooting, “Aim small, miss small” and it is true. If you accept wide shots then you will keep shooting wide shots.

Slow, Solid, Smooth, Center

Always focus on the positive and good shots, and what you did physically and mentally, when you shot them. When I am nervous and need to calm myself down I tell myself: slow, solid, smooth, center.

Slow
I want my movement to be slow… I can shoot tens and Xs all day with slow movement.

Solid
Solid like a rock, a rock doesn’t move and that’s how I want my positions. By saying solid it reminds me to go through my little checks to make sure I am doing what I need to do make that happen.

Smooth
Smooth — that is my trigger word for smooth movement. You don’t want fast choppy movement but slow and smooth. This also reminds me to be smooth on the trigger. You can be smooth-fast or you can be smooth-slow but you have to be smooth and most people aren’t when they think they are. Just before leaving the USAMU, I walked up and down the line of five shooters during a rapid fire string and only one of them was smooth with their trigger control. It’s the second most important thing when it comes to shooting.

Center
This reminds me that I want my shots in the middle. It is just a positive reinforcement of where I want my shots to go. I shoot a reverse flat tire so it also kind of reminds me as to what I am looking for.

Tyrel Cooper Creedmoor Sports

Organizing Your Gear
[This year] I have all new gear, a new place, and I am creating a new system. Coming from the Army Marksmanship Unit, I had years to develop and refine my system from my daily routines, to my gear, and to my set-up process. I wanted to share with you a little bit of what I am going through right now.

I went and shot a match at [Fort] Benning a few weekends ago and I had more issues with my gear and system than I did with the act of shooting, it was frustrating and I didn’t like it one bit. So in my preparation for Perry, I took all of my gear apart in my living room and started over. I went through as if I was going to shoot a match; placing gear where I wanted it in or on my Creedmoor Range Cart. There is a lot to be said for having a system and not having to worry about where your gear is or isn’t. Once I got all of my gear in place, I put my new Ron Brown Sling on my rifle and dry fired a little bit. Worked on sitting and prone to figure out what sling notches I would need to use and how my new glove/mitt combination would work. My gear is set and ready to go in my living room, and even though I am not leaving until Sunday, I am setting all the shooting gear and equipment aside to make sure I have everything I need.

If you don’t have a system with your gear where everything has its place or certain spot, then I would suggest you start working on one. When it comes to a match, you don’t want to be searching for something or worrying if it was forgotten at home.

If you have a good system, it allows you to focus on the important things such as how to get your mind in your little bubble, working on what you need to think about to shoot Xs, and thinking about whatever reminders you need to think about to get you to perform at your highest level.

My reminder that I ask myself when I am setting up my gear either in my living room or getting ready to head down range is this: Scope, mat, rifle, stool, jacket, sweatshirt, sling, glove, ammo, mags, data book, and ear plugs. This is the most important stuff that I can’t shoot a match without. I always have extra pens, flags and small stuff in my stool.

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills Post comment »
July 19th, 2014

Tips on Case-Trimming from PMA Tool

The folks at PMA Tool, makers of arbor presses, neck-turning tools, and other case-prep tools, offer some good advice about case trimming on the PMA Tool Blog. Here we reprint a PMA blog post that explains case trimming basics and helps you choose the right case-trimming tool for your needs.

Case Trimming Basics
Trimming the cartridge case to the proper length is a crucial step in case preparation that should not be overlooked or underestimated. The cartridge case or the rifle can be damaged, or even worse you get badly injured. In most instances cases should be trimmed after firing and sizing. Trimming new brass is necessary for a lot of wildcats and can be beneficial in some instances, but by and large, trimming new brass is not necessary for most situations (unless you are neck-turning). Cases should be trimmed after you have sized the case, because the expander ball on the decapping pin can (and will) stretch the neck. Those of us who neck size should get into the habit of trimming after sizing as well. This is a good rule of thumb to go by, and hopefully it will keep you safe during the reloading and shooting process.

There are so many case trimmers out there that work, deciding which one is right for you can be confusing. Even though I have trimmed thousands of cases, using about every method possible, I can’t answer the question of what case trimmer is right for you because of all the variables that may be involved. I can, however shed some light on the subject.

Wilson Micrometer Case Trimmer

The two most popular designs of trimmers either index (1) off the base or the head of the case, (2) off the shoulder or datum line of the case. There are pros and cons to each and it all depends on what you are willing to live with.

Indexing off the Base (Case Head)
Let’s talk about the first one I have listed, indexing off the base, or the head of the case. The pros to this method are that you can achieve a very accurate over all length and that is after all, what it is all about. The cons to this method are that you can get some variation doing it this way. Let me explain, the base is not always square to the body or can be damaged during firing especially if it is fired through a military style rifle with a very aggressive ejector. These cases should be discarded, but sometimes they can be overlooked. This condition can lead to an over all length that is incorrect. The case head being out of square will be corrected upon firing, however that case will wind up being shorter than the rest of your cases, possibly creating a difference in the neck tension on the bullet. The more you can do to eliminate variables in your reloads the better off you are going to be. This method can also be very slow, and if the user gets careless the result will be a inconsistent over all length.

Forster Case Trimmer

Indexing off the Shoulder (Datum Line)
The second method I mentioned, trimming off the shoulder or the datum line of the case, has its pros as well. I have found this to be the quickest of the methods and very accurate as well. After the case has been sized through the die the dimensions (particularly the headspace) of the cases are usually very uniform and exact, this allows the case to be trimmed by indexing off the shoulder. This method can be done very quickly, by hand, or by powering either the case, or the trimmer. You also don’t have to worry about the case heads being out of square with the body using this method. Generally the trimming time is cut in half, and this leads to greater focus on the job, without becoming careless. [Editor's Note: The World's Finest Trimmer (WFT) is one power device that indexes off the shoulder datum. It works fast and is very precise. The new WFT 2 Model with interchangeable trim chambers works with multiple cartridge types.]

Little Crow WFT

Summary
The choice is yours to make. I hope that this was some help to you, whether you are looking for your first trimmer or looking to replace the trimmer you have. Just remember to always put safety first and accuracy second, and you will start making little bug holes in no time.

Story Tip by EdLongrange. User Submissions are welcome.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
July 18th, 2014

Neck Bushing Geometry — How Good Are YOUR Bushings?

Do you use bushings to size your case-necks? Are you assuming that your bushings are actually round on the inside, with a hole that’s centered-up properly? Well you may be in for an unpleasant surprise, based on what our friend Jim de Kort recently discovered. Jim was concerned about the run-out on his brass. His cases went into his bushing-equipped FL die pretty straight, but came out of the die with up to .004″ run-out. “What gives?”, Jim wondered. “Could the problem be the bushings themselves?”

To answer that question, Jim decided to examine his bushings. Using an Accuracy One Wheel-drive concentricity gauge, Jim checked out some of his neck bushings. What he discovered may surprise you…


Neck Bushing Flaws Revealed

Trust no one… — Jim de Kort

Jim writes: “I measured the concentricity of my 6BR rounds today. I noticed they went into the neck-bushing equipped full-length sizing die with <.001" deviation but came out with .003-.004". The culprit, it appears, was the bushing itself. Without it the cases stayed within .0005" to .001" deviation, so something was happening with the bushing.

One bushing had .00025" deviation on the outside, yet almost .003" on the inside, so it is crooked. But even when using a bushing that is within .001" I still get .003" runout after sizing. I repeated the same procedure for my 6x47 and got the same results. When using the bushing, concentricity suffers a lot."

Before we bash the bushing-makers, we must acknowledge that many different things can contribute to excessive run-out and/or mis-alignment of case-necks. We don’t have all the answers here, and Jim would be the first to say that some mysteries remain. Still, these are interesting results that give all precision hand-loaders something to think about.

Jim Borden also offers this tip: “Check the trueness of the face of the die cap. That has more to do with trueness than the bushing. Also check perpendicularity of hole in bushing to top surface. When I was making dies, the cap was made by threading and facing the threaded tenon in same setup.”

bushing neck die run-out concentricity


Editor’s Comment: Many people have great results with neck-bushing dies, but Jim isn’t the only fellow who has seen some very odd results. I personally employ honed, non-bushing dies for many of my chamberings. These non-bushing dies (with the necks honed for .002-.003″ neck tension) produce extremely straight ammo, with run-out consistently under .0015″.

Permalink Reloading 8 Comments »
July 18th, 2014

USAMU Teaches 472 Shooters at Small Arms Firing School

A great time was had by boys and girls, men and women, young and old alike at the 2014 Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) held July 17, 2014 at Camp Perry. This year’s SAFS was a great learning experience for the hundreds of participants, ranging in age from 7 to 70.

small arms firing school camp perry cmp usamu

Military Rifle Coaches and CMP Rifle Master Instructors taught marksmanship basics and fundamentals to some 472 rifle marksmen (and “markswomen”). The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) Rifle Team Members conducted a classroom session in the morning, and then the Army Rifle Coaches provided “world-class” instruction on the firing line. The Rifle SAFS concluded with the Rifle Excellence in Competition (EIC) Match. SEE Match Results.

small arms firing school camp perry cmp usamu

Here are photos from the CMP SAFS Photo Gallery. CLICK HERE to see hundreds more images …

small arms firing school camp perry cmp usamu

small arms firing school camp perry cmp usamu

small arms firing school camp perry cmp usamu

small arms firing school camp perry cmp usamu

small arms firing school camp perry cmp usamu

small arms firing school camp perry cmp usamu

Permalink Shooting Skills Post comment »
July 18th, 2014

Alltop.com Collects Latest Gun News

Starved for shooting news and gun-related content on the web? There are dozens of gun blogs and firearms news sources, but it can be cumbersome and time-consuming to visit more than a few sites on a daily basis. Alltop.com changes all that. This automated site scans 30+ gun websites and links to current articles. Among the sites included are: NRA Blog, NRA-ILA News, Ammoland Gun News, The Firearm Blog, USA Carry, and yes, of course, our very own Daily Bulletin.

Alltop web site survey feed service

If you like stay up with the latest gun rights news, or just peruse a variety of gun-related content sites, Alltop.com can help you source interesting articles quickly and efficiently.

Permalink News Post comment »
July 17th, 2014

Gary Eliseo Moves Competition Machine Inc. to Arizona

Gary Eliseo Competition Machine tubegun Chassis Arizona California

Yet another important gun-related company has left California for a more business-friendly location. Gary Eliseo’s Competition Machine Inc., producer of rifle chassis systems, has moved operations to Northern Arizona. A large, new Arizona facility has been secured, and Gary’s team is busy putting the production machinery in place and organizing supplies and inventory.

Gary Eliseo Competition Machine tubegun Chassis Arizona California

Gary Eliseo Competition Machine tubegun Chassis Arizona CaliforniaRifle Chassis Builder Moves to Arizona
Gary Eliseo announced: “It’s official, after 24 years of dealing with the difficult business environment in California, we’re relocating to Northern Arizona. To our friends and customers we ask for your patience during this monumental task. Our new shop will be larger and more efficient which will allow us to better serve your needs. We have some exciting new products planned in the future that we were simply not able to pursue in California.”

Gary is happy about his new digs in Arizona. His new Arizona facility is much bigger: “The new shop is over twice the size of the old one (3600 square feet vs. 1500 square feet). The added space which will let me open a new rifle division. We’ll update the Competition Machine website soon with the new contact information.” — Gary Eliseo

Gary Eliseo Competition Machine tubegun Chassis Arizona California

Here’s a photo of the new facility on “move-in” day. Gary says: “This is just an empty shell, but it’s soon to be a very busy place. There is so much more opportunity for us here than in California. Also, this Northern Arizona area is crazy beautiful, I think I’m gonna like it!”

Gary Eliseo Competition Machine tubegun Chassis Arizona California

Highway Photo by Wing-Chi Poon, Wiki Creative Commons License.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News 9 Comments »
July 17th, 2014

President Obama Bans Some Russian Firearms by Executive Order

Economic Sanctions Gun Ban Kalashnikov Saiga ObamaWant a Saiga shotgun? Well grab one while you can. On July 16, 2014, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a division of the U.S. Treasury that administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions, announced a series of trade sanctions aimed at Russia.

These sanctions will be carried out pursuant to President Obama’s Executive Order 13662 relating to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The OFAC sanctions include provisions banning the importation of rifles and shotguns from various Russian manufacturers. The Kalashnikov Concern, and Izhmash, manufacturers of Saiga rifles and shotguns, were specifically named in the sanctions. This means it will be illegal for American companies to import firearms made by these Russian manufacturers.

Economic Sanctions Gun Ban Kalashnikov Saiga Obama

Writing in the Truth About Guns Blog, Nick Leghorn declares: “So the importation of new Izmash-produced firearms is now banned indefinitely in the United States. But that Executive Order definitely raises some questions for those currently in possession of a firearm manufactured by the now-sanctioned firearms companies. For example, can a gun dealer sell their existing stock?”

OFAC provides at least a partial answer to these questions in the OFAC Question and Answer section of the U.S. Treasury website:

Q: If I own a Kalashnikov product, is that product blocked by sanctions? Am I able to resell a Kalashnikov product at a gun show or other secondary market?

If a U.S. person is in possession of a Kalashnikov Concern product that was bought and fully paid for prior to the date of designation (i.e., no payment remains due to Kalashnikov Concern), then that product is not blocked and OFAC sanctions would not prohibit the U.S. person from keeping or selling the product in the secondary market, so long as Kalashnikov Concern has no interest in the transaction. New transactions by U.S. persons with Kalashnikov Concern are prohibited, however, and any property in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest is blocked pursuant to OFAC’s designation of Kalashnikov Concern on July 16, 2014. If a U.S. person has an inventory of Kalashnikov Concern products in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest (for example, the products are not fully paid for or are being sold on consignment), we advise that U.S. person to contact OFAC for further guidance on handling of the inventory.

Q: If I have Kalashnikov products in my inventory, can I sell them?

If a U.S. person has an inventory of Kalashnikov Concern products in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest (for example, the products are not fully paid for or are being sold on consignment), we advise that U.S. person to contact OFAC for further guidance on handling of the inventory.

Permalink News Post comment »
July 17th, 2014

Nice Suhl 150-1 Rimfire BR Rig with Home-Built Stock

Forum member Evan K. (aka “Katokoch”) has crafted a nice rimfire benchrest rig using a Suhl action fitted into a handsome home-built cedar and carbon fiber stock. This shows what a skilled hobbyist wood-worker can create in his garage. Evan tells us: “Here is my Suhl 150-1 with a factory 1:19″ twist barrel, Leupold 36X scope, Harrell tuner, and my handmade cedar/carbon fiber stock. I started working on the laminate blank a couple years ago and finally finished it earlier this year. I’ve been using it in my IR 50/50 matches this summer. I haven’t shot a 250 with it yet but I know the rifle is very capable — as usual, I am the weak link!”

Suhl 150 IR 50/50 cedar stock

Suhl 150 IR 50/50 cedar stock

We think Evan did a great job on his stock, though he has limited stock-building experience. Evan explained: “The stock is my first attempt at making a very lightweight laminate and also gluing both vertical and horizontal seams in a blank. The wood is Spanish and Red Cedar and I made the trigger guard and buttplate with carbon fiber too (great use for small scrap pieces). The finish is hand-rubbed spar urethane and the action is semi-glued-in with Devcon 10110 and stainless pillars.”

Suhl 150 IR 50/50 cedar stock

USRA-IR50/50 is a popular .22 rimfire benchrest discipline with three (3) classes: 13.5 lb., 10.5 lb., and 7.5 lb. (Sporter). The matches are shot at 50 yards and 50 meters.

Permalink Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
July 16th, 2014

The Dunbars — Father and Son F-Class State Champions

Like father, like sons. Here’s a “feel-good” story about a father and two young sons. John Dunbar and his sons Brad and Zach attend F-Class matches together. John and Zach shoot, while young Brad helps in the pits and hauls gear for his brother and father. Working together, the Dunbar family has been quite successful in the F-Class game. Father John recently won the Wisconsin State F-Class Championship, while John’s oldest son Zach won the State F-Class Junior Championship that very same weekend.

Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin

The double Dunbar victories took place during the 2014 Gillespie Memorial Long Range Individual State Championship held last month at the Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin. The battle for the F-Class (Open Division) Championship was largely a race between two Wisconsin shooters, Bob Sebold and John Dunbar. By the close of the Saturday matches, 2013 defending champion Sebold maintained a five X lead over his rival Dunbar. Both shooters had dropped a mere three points throughout the three match stages at 800, 900, and 1,000 yards.

The first Sunday match narrowed the gap between Sebold and Dunbar, with both shooters dropping two points apiece. Dunbar scored four additional Xs, allowing Sebold to retain the lead by a single X. The final 20-shot, 1,000-yard string determined the weekend’s Grand Aggregate champion. Dunbar scored an incredible 198-14X that clinched the title of Wisconsin State Long Range F-Class Champion.

Zach Dunbar Wins F-Class Junior State Championship
While John Dunbar secured one F-Class title, another, much younger Dunbar also made it to the winner’s circle. John’s oldest son Zach won the State F-Open Junior Championship that very same weekend. Zach had a comeback victory, overcoming a three-point deficit after the first day of shooting.

Youngest son Brad also helped secure the Dunbar family’s twin wins, cheering on family members while ensuring Team Dunbar remained hydrated on the firing line. From pulling targets in the pits to hauling gear across the range, young Brad’s efforts helped Team Dunbar finish first.

The range at Lodi is well-known for challenging wind conditions that are difficult to read. The 2014 Gillespie Memorial match proved to be no exception. Pick-ups and switches occurred with regularity, while mirage occasionally ran opposite to the wind flags lining the range.

Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin

Story by Josh Buege of Criterion Barrels. We welcome reader submissions.

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
July 16th, 2014

Military (Finally) Looking to Retire the M9 Pistol

Commentary by John Buol
The critics say that the M9 pistol (the U.S. military’s version of Beretta’s m92) must go. We’re told that the 9x19mm (aka 9mm NATO) is a poor pistol cartridge. Our Soldiers and Marines are being hampered by an inferior handgun and cartridge — or so the argument goes.

We are told that the military needs a new pistol, to be called the Modular Handgun System (MHS). According to Fox News: “The MHS would replace the Army’s inventory of more than 200,000 outdated M9 pistols and several thousand M11 9mm pistols with one that has greater accuracy, lethality, reliability, and durability.” The MHS will be a “total system replacement — new gun, new ammo, new holster, everything,” reports Daryl Easlick, Army project officer at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Easlick says that the Army, and other services, demand a pistol with a more powerful cartridge that does more damage to the bad guys: “We have to do better than our current 9mm.”

M9 Military Pistol Handgun Training

Does the military really need a new pistol, with a different chambering? Maybe not…

Here’s the real problem. Most Marines, Soldiers, police, and gun owners tend to be novice marksmen, especially with handguns. Very few people have trained to shoot a handgun well enough to offer a competent opinion on the matter. To underscore this point, let’s look at some ranges for evidence of typical skill levels.

Army Pistol Qualification Target
M9 Military Pistol Handgun Training

As you can see, there is no real trend in hits and the entire barn door (full sized silhouette) has shots sprayed all over it. And these are the shots that actually hit, all of them receiving full value. On this particular Army course, shooters are given 40 rounds to engage 30 targets and are considered qualified if 16 of the 30 targets are hit, somewhere. Soldiers can miss nearly half the time, even with ten extra rounds, and still pass. The “fast” stages of the course allow two seconds per shot and the bulk of the course is slower. Note the base of the target is blocked by the mound protecting the target lifter and that mound is a beaten zone of many very low, errant shots.

The Marines in the peanut gallery are likely chuckling, so let’s look at examples of their ranges.

Marine Pistol Target Bay
M9 Military Pistol Handgun Training

Yet Another Marine Pistol Target Bay, Showing Effects of Missed Shots.
M9 Military Pistol Handgun Training

The metal carrier behind the block wall holds a silhouette the same size as the Army target and that waist-high wall has taken a healthy beating from bad shots jerked and flinched several feet off target. Of course, the wall only shows shots pulled off target that went low. The rest ended up in the berm somewhere else. As seen closer up, the chewed-up top line of blocks is not made of concrete. That’s to avoid back-splatter towards the shooters from the excessive number of low shots.

REALITY CHECK: These are the results on actual qualification ranges with large targets, generous time limits, fixed courses of fire, and no real pressure. Imagine how much worse the shooting is when the stress and variables of combat are thrown in. Given the users wielding it, is the M9 truly ineffective? Even if it is, are shooters like this capable of a valid opinion on the matter?

Most Marines, Soldiers, police, CCW, and gun owners won’t invest the effort needed to train to a high level of skill and very few public sector organizations will expend the resources needed to make them do so. I’m not casting aspersions, just trying to address reality. If the Department of Defense (DoD) decides on a new pistol, or any other weapon, the results will be similar because the end user isn’t magically more skillful with a shiny new issue item.

About the Author
John M. Buol Jr. began his shooting career in practical competition, earning Master classifications from USPSA and IDPA. After slotting on the Army Reserve Marksmanship Program, he switched to NATO and NRA/CMP events, earning Distinguished Rifleman and Pistol Shot badges and a series of All Army Small Arms Championship wins along the way. He is a published author (Beyond “Expert”: Tripling Military Shooting Skills) and maintains the Firearm User Network Blog at http://FirearmUserNetwork.com

Permalink Handguns 22 Comments »