On the Range

Back from the range! Another 440 rounds (300 9mm, 140 .45 ACP) have met their appointment with destiny.

Took four guns with me, my carry Gen-3 Glock 17 (of course), a recently purchased second Gen-3 Glock 17 I’m putting in form as a “replacement gun” duplicate of my carry gun, my Nighthawk Talon .45, and the Officer’s Parabellum. Some nights this whole “gun” thing is just a pain in the ass, nothing works, and I mean equipment and shooting skills. The guns you’re testing are malfunctioning right and left, you can’t seem to get in the groove shooting-wise, you feel like you’re beating your head against a brick wall. But then, some nights, things go well. Tonight was one of the latter occasions.

Started out benching the “replacement” Glock 17, the first time I’d ever shot it, actually. I already knew that factory Glock sights hit high for me, but I figured I had to check anyway. Yep, 2-1/2” high at 50 feet from the bench. On a positive note, folks, I have got this whole “loading plated bullets” thing whacked. My standard deviation with the Rainier 124-gr. RN over 4.4-gr. Universal out of this gun was 10. I like single digit SDs, frankly, but I can live with 10. Since I had the chrono set up anyway, I decided to bench my carry gun. Yep, it was still sighted-in, and the SD out of that one was 11.

In my experience, Universal does not appreciate being run at low pressures if you want a tight SD. At a 130-ish power factor I was getting horrible SDs in the 30s. At a 140-ish power factor (out of the new G17 my ammo went 142.8, out of my carry gun which has a Stormlake stainless steel match barrel it was 141.9) which is factory standard pressure 9mm hardball equivalent, that’s when I start getting the 10/11 SDs.

The Nighthawk Talon .45 shot some nice, tight groups, which gives the lie to the idea you need consistent velocities to get decent accuracy. In the low pressure .45 ACP, even at a Major 170.3 power factor, the SD was a horrendous 41.

I really wish they’d named this powder something besides “Universal” because it ain’t. For 9mm 124-gr. bullet weight, arguably there’s nothing better. But with 147-gr. 9mm, even a book max powder charge won’t make Minor. And in low pressure .45 ACP, velocities are so variable I’d really be scared of the chrono station, even with a load that averaged Major.

Then I plopped down behind the bench with the Officer’s Parabellum, since I was curious how much velocity loss I’d see with its short 3.5” Bar-Sto barrel. Not a lot, actually. The new G17 averaged 1152 fps, my carry gun went 1144, the Officer’s Parabellum went 1103 for a 136.7 power factor. Posted a couple of 1-1/2” groups, too. (I chrono and bench for accuracy at the same time.) RIDICULOUSLY easy gun to shoot. It is a kick (pun intended) to pull the trigger on this little all-steel 9mm 1911 and watch the front sight barely move.

After the bench, I socked the new G17 away and moved on to more shooting with the Officer’s Parabellum, the Nighthawk Talon, and my carry G17. My typical “start the practice session” routine of six-shot groups freestyle at 50 feet on a USPSA target, the goal being all A-hits, turned out to be easy with all three guns. I think I may actually be getting a handle on this whole “trigger control” thing.

Burned through almost all the rest of the ammo doing Bill Drills with all three guns – though there were a few 5×5 Drills in there. It’s been awhile since I’ve put any real amount of ammo through a 1911 .45, though for years this was my carry/match gun of choice. I’ll tellya what, gang, there is something to be said for a nice 1911 .45, and shooting my Nighthawk Talon, which I hadn’t done in awhile, reminded me of that.

All four guns worked flawlessly. Gotta like that.

I think it’s important to finish every practice session doing something you find fun. For me it’s to move in to about two yards and see if I can do ten sub-second draws in a row; it only counts if they’re all A-hits. With the carry gun, of course. As I’ve said in the past, some nights you’re slow, some nights you’re fast. Imagine my surprise when my very first draw was .83 second. Literally my fastest-ever draw prior to tonight was .84 second, and that was years ago. Then my next draw was .83, and the next, and the next, and the next. My first five reps were all .83. I was laughing and thinking, “All all ten draws going to be .83s?” Then I pulled a .88 and thought, “Okay, the good stuff is gone.” Then a .85. I thought, “Let’s just let it rip and see what happens.” My next rep was .82. Alright! .83 as the fastest draw I’d ever done didn’t last too long. Then a .81. So .82 as the fastest draw I’d ever done lasted even less than .83. That took me up to nine reps. One more to go to get my ten.

And I felt the hand of Fate on my shoulder. I KNEW. “This is it, this is when I finally pull a draw in the .7s.” And my very last rep was…wait for it…


As I said, sometimes nothing works. Sometimes it seems like everything is working the way it should, both the equipment and the shooter. I could stand to have more nights like this. :D

Of course, on a negative note, I recently met a guy I hadn’t seen in years, nice guy, and he stuck his hand out to shake. I hesitated, because I remembered he really likes to crush your hand when he shakes. Not being an asshole, he just thinks it’s fun to show off how powerful his hands are. And they are; it’s like sticking your hand in a vice and cranking down on the handle. Anyway, I did shake his hand, and of course he vice cranked me, and this time I’m pretty sure he broke my right little finger. Ah, well. Bones heal, eventually.

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