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Food Thread: Two Degrees Of Separation | Main | Sunday Overnight Open Thread (2/12/23)
February 12, 2023

Gun Thread: Super Bowl Edition!

super bowl 2023 sm scaled.jpg

Howdy, Y'all! Welcome to the wondrously fabulous Gun Thread! As always, I want to thank all of our regulars for being here week in and week out, and also offer a bigly Gun Thread welcome to any newcomers who may be joining us tonight. Howdy and thank you for stopping by! I hope you find our wacky conversation on the subject of guns 'n shooting both enjoyable and informative. You are always welcome to lurk in the shadows of shame, but I'd like to invite you to jump into the conversation, say howdy, and tell us what kind of shooting you like to do!

Holy Shitballs! Super Bowl Sunday! Are you a Kansas City or a Philadelphia fan? Neither, you say? Are you not interested in the teams playing today, or are you just not interested in the NFL altogether? Either way, please consider this an open thread to discuss the game, or the shooting down of UFOs in North American airspace, if you like.

With that, step into the dojo and let's get to the gun stuff below, shall we?


Did you choose neither regarding the teams above? Weasel is in the neither camp and has been for many years. I'm sure there are some standup guys in the NFL, but there sure do seem to be a lot of what could charitably be described as overpaid prima-donnas who aren't exactly good role models. That, and the league's firm embrace of woke bullshit and you have a product I'm surprised anyone is interested in. I believe the game went to shit about the time the goal posts were moved to the back of the end zone.


We continue our look at reloading with Part 4, a discussion of components, below. After the conclusion of the reloading series next week with part 5 I will have all of the material in a single document for reference.


Cartridges of the Horde

021223 40 sw drawing scaled.png

Someone brought up the .40 S&W cartridge in the comments recently, and I recalled having covered the cartridge and a little bit about terminal ballistics before. Here 'tis:

A relative newcomer to the Wonderful World of Cartridges, the .40 S&W was developed by Smith and Wesson (duh) in 1990 at the request of the FBI. At the time, the Bureau was searching for a replacement for their 9mm Parabellum duty weapons, apparently then using ammunition little changed from its inception in the early 1900s. During the selection process, a 10mm Auto with a light load was tested, and the rest, as they say, is history. What the Bureau found was a reduced 10mm load achieved the desired ballistic performance without the heavy recoil of standard 10mm Auto ammunition. The reduced powder charge also required less case volume and the subsequent shortening of the cartridge allowed it's use in a smaller frame pistol. With that, the .40 S&W was born.

The Bureau's fascination with the new cartridge lasted about 20 years. Around 2007, or about the time law enforcement agencies around the country finished following the FBI's lead and transitioned to the .40 S&W, the Bureau was contemplating a return to the 9mm Parabellum. Citing advances in bullet design, among other things, the Bureau completed the change back to the 9mm with ballistically improved ammunition around 2015.

021223 P229 scaled.jpg
Sig P229 in .40 S&W from the WeaselCollection

All sorts of factors are taken onto consideration when comparing weapons and ammunition. Design ergonomics, magazine capacity, recoil and economics are all important before ever beginning to consider ballistics. Terminal ballistics is the science of what happens when a bullet hits a target and includes all sorts of ways to measure the resulting transfer of energy and destructive power. Factors influencing the amount and effectiveness of this kinetic energy transfer primarily involve bullet design, mass, and velocity. Suffice it to say, terminal ballistics is a field of study unto itself.

To greatly oversimplify the issue, you can have a light fast bullet, or a heavy slow bullet. What matters most is the shot placement, the energy delivered and the behavior of the bullet once it arrives on target. The reality, I believe, is there is no magic bullet. Everyone has their favorite, but at the end of the day, you cannot shoot someone in the toe and reasonably expect to do much more than make them mad. Not even with the latest sooper-dooper maximum coolness defense load. While advances in bullet expansion technology have helped tremendously, time spent reading (any other) gun blogs might be more profitably spent at the range making sure you can consistently hit a target, with whatever you're shooting.

So all of this is just fine and dandy, but there needs to be some basis for comparison between calibers and loads. One practical way to at least get some idea of cartridge performance comes in the form of muzzle energy, or MV, which is a calculation of the energy a bullet has when leaving the barrel. Many times, this value is listed on the cartridge package, but the math isn't too difficult.

Muzzle Energy Calculation

Energy = (bullet weight*velocity^2)/450,437

So a 180 gr bullet exiting the barrel at 990 fps has a calculated MV of about 392 ft lb, while a 230 gr bullet with a velocity of 835 fps has a calculated MV of about 356 ft lb. Again, this formula is a simplified method of computing energy and generally comparing one load to another. It does not take into consideration the performance of the projectile once it enters the target, for example, when comparing the effectiveness of a hollow point bullet with a regular ball bullet. Many will disagree with the use of muzzle velocity altogether, and I will not argue with the observation it only paints part of the picture, but I do think it offers a valid starting point for general comparison.

021223 45acp 10mm 9mm scaled.jpg
left to right: .45ACP, .40 S&W and 9mm

Evaluating the three ball cartridges above we get:
- 45ACP: 230gr, 835fps = 356 ft lb
- .40 S&W: 180gr, 990fps = 392 ft lb
- 9x19mm: 115gr, 1150fps = 338 ft lb

Again, this does not necessarily indicate the effectiveness of these rounds because key variables are missing, chiefly penetration and expansion, but it might help you in thinking about which caliber and powder charge to begin with when selecting a defensive bullet.

So what do you all think? Any opinions from those with a law enforcement background of the .40 S&W? Did the FBI rush to make the change without giving adequate consideration to advances in ballistic performance? Was their reversion to the 9mm a good idea based on ballistics alone? Which other factors might have been involved? How about the rest of you? Do you own a pistol chambered in .40 S&W, and what are your opinions of the cartridge?


This Old Gun Restoration
I ran across these this week and thought they were worth sharing.

The first video is the restoration of an Italian Carcano 91/41 on the Backyard Ballistics channel.

Next is the restoration of a Webley Mark VI revolver by the same guy.

Were parts of that difficult to watch, such as scrubbing the metal with steel wool? Yikes! Hard to argue with the results, though! I suppose I have been influenced by too many episodes of Antiques Roadshow where a well-meaning person destroys the value of an object by cleaning it. I suppose it pays to know what you have before you get to work.

How about all y'all? Ever tackled something like this? Were any of the methods for removing rust and bluing metal new to you? I have to say I'll be looking for more from Backyard Ballistics channel!


Reloading 101 - Part 4 - Components - 04/28/2019

So now let's have a look at the components you will need to produce your own reloads. There are many online retailers to choose from, and reloading suppliers are generally well represented at gun shows. I generally shop online because the selection is better and because I hate crowds, so I'll link a few of my favorite suppliers here.

Midsouth Shooters Supply
Powder Valley
Brownells/Sinclair International
Graf & Sons
Berry's Mfg.

There are many, many more and I'm probably leaving off some of the good ones. Do you have a favorite not listed here? Please list the name only rather than a long link!

Also keep in mind when sourcing components that a hazmat fee of $29 will apply to shipments of powder and primers, in addition to the normal shipping charges, but the two items can be combined in a single order to save some money. Another idea to consider is going in together with a couple reloading buddies when possible, to spread the charges out a little.

Review Material: The basic unit of measure in reloading is the grain (gr), and one grain is equal to 1/7,000th of a pound. Most decent reloading scales will measure accurately to the 1/10th of a grain.

There are four parts to a cartridge; the case, the bullet, the powder and the primer. Let's review each of these.

Cartridge Cases
Metallic cartridge cases can be made from several different types of material. Most commonly brass, but sometimes you will see them made from steel, aluminum and other materials such as nickel. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, and is ideal for use in cases because it is soft and easily shaped under pressure, both during the loading process and during firing. As noted before, the cartridge brass is shaped by the sizing die, and when fired, expands to seal the breech of the chamber. Without getting too far into the metallurgical weeds, brass gets harder when worked repeatedly and will eventually split or crack unless stress is relieved at the molecular level through the process of annealing. We won't worry about annealing handgun cases since the brass is inexpensive enough to replace as it wears out. Just remember it is important to inspect your brass for cracks and splits as you go along.

Reloaders are notorious scavengers, and will frequently be seen scrounging brass at the range whenever possible. New brass can be purchased from any reloading supplier, and every reloader has their favorite whether based on price or other qualitative factors. For precision match loads, it is important to use the best and most consistent brass possible. When I'm reloading handgun cartridges for plinking, I'll use whatever I have handy. If I want a little more accurate handloads I will make sure the brass is all from the same manufacturer and has the same headstamp. The headstamp is simply a name or other manufacturer's mark stamped into the case head along with the caliber identification. I like Starline brass for handguns because it's of reasonably decent quality, it's inexpensive, and is usually readily available. For my rifle match loads I use Lapua brass exclusively.

021223 case and bullet scaled.jpg

There are a zillion different types and styles of bullets. Maybe more than a zillion. Important considerations for the new reloader, after choosing the right caliber, are the materials used and the design application.

Typical materials are plain lead, lead which is fully or partially jacketed by copper, and plated bullets. Lead bullets are very economical and can even be made at home as part of the reloading process, or simply sourced from a retailer. Lead bullets usually require the application of a special anti-fouling bullet lube during the seating process and can still sometimes cause a lead buildup inside the barrel. Jacketed bullets offer the convenience of not requiring lubrication, but are more expensive due to a more complex manufacturing process. Plated bullets offer the advantages of jacketed bullets at a significantly reduced cost, but cannot be used at higher muzzle velocities. Common shapes for general purpose shooting are the wadcutter, semi-wadcutter and round nose. Wadcutter bullets are flat and seated flush with the case mouth and are designed for making clean holes in paper targets. Round nose bullets should be familiar to everyone, and semi-wadcutters are a cross between the two. Berry's Manufacturing is a producer of jacketed bullets that I use a lot. A good choice for the beginning reloader would be a jacketed or plated semi-wadcutter.

There are hundreds of formulations of gunpowder, a fact which kind of surprised me when I started reloading. Until then it wasn't something I'd thought a great deal about, but come on - hundreds? There are countless combinations of size, shape and chemical composition, each designed to produce a specific result. The type we are interested in for metallic cartridge reloading is smokeless powder.

021223 powder scaled.jpg

The common types (shapes) of smokeless powder are flake, ball and extruded. You will note the example shown above is a flake powder. The different shapes result in variable surface area affecting the burn rate and brisance, or the speed at which the burning powder achieves peak pressure. Smokeless powder is not an explosive, but instead is technically classified as a flammable solid which burns very quickly. It's the resulting gas expansion which sends a bullet down the barrel. Magnum powders burn slowly while other calibers burn more quickly, relatively speaking. The amount of powder shown above is my standard .38 Special load. It doesn't take much!

One major caution about powder. The names can be deceptively similar and inadvertently confusing them at the reloading bench can have catastrophic results. Consult your reloading manual for the appropriate powders for your caliber and bullet weight combination, and be very careful to match the name exactly. Some powders will work well in a a variety of calibers; Bullseye and W231 come to mind as examples, but always confirm using data from one or more published sources.

Here is an article on gunpowder and how it works.

Primers contain a tiny amount of explosive between the cup and a small metal anvil inside. The hammer strike sets off the primer sending flame through the flash hole and igniting the powder. Primers will not explode from normal handling, but there are glorious stories of reloaders having a stack of primers explode in a chain reaction on a progressive press. You do not want this to happen to you. Store them safely in the original packaging, don't be a retard when working with them, and you'll be fine.

The size choices are easy - they come in large and small with variations in composition for rifle, regular handgun and magnum applications. Your reloading manual will tell you which size you need for the cartridge you're working with. The more expensive "match" primers are exactly the same as standard primers, they're simply made by the most experienced production line workers.

021223 primers scaled.jpg

Next Week: We start putting it all together!


Who Knew?
If I get one email a week for a video on Japanese screw production, I get a dozen. Who know we had so many Japanese screw production enthusiasts among us?


Musical Interlude
Here is a Weasel favorite, the Marshall Tucker Band.


Gun Basics 101
New video from the She Equips Herself gal! In this week's video you're invited on a cruise!


Cigar of the Week

021223 PDM Shade scaled.jpg

This week our pal Diogenes scores again with this excellent review of the Perla Del Mar Shade

When one passes 29 and enters into the pleasant, curmudgeon years, change can be hard. One finds what one likes and sticks with it. So taking a chance on something new is both a risk and an adventure.

With that in mind I tried the Perla del Mar Shade cigar. This is a brand I had never heard of and I will tell you up front that previous experiments with unknown brands have not been pleasant.

A product of J.C. Newman, the Perla del Mar is a box-pressed and handmade Nicaraguan cigar. They describe it as dressed in a silky Ecuador Connecticut wrapper. Inside, a blend of all Nicaraguan long-fillers from three distinct growing regions merge in perfect harmony.

Perla del Mar has a Cigar International 90-rating noting: "Sweet woody notes, toast and hints of graham cracker make for a tasty smoke. The draw on this short, thick cigar is open and full, delivering substantial amounts of smoke."

OK, it is all of that. I was so surprised by this cigar that I have added it to my "To Buy" list. It was excellent. A short smoke, only about 30 minutes, and very pleasant all the way into the bottom third. It burns evenly and provides a mellow finish. I had scotch with this smoke and it would work with a nice red wine as well. The downside, as mentioned above it is box pressed and in my mind, cigars should be round, not rectangular. But I can overlook that particular blasphemy.

About $6 a stick and worth it. I give it five matchsticks.

Excellent, Diogenes! Thank you!


Here are some different online cigar vendors. You will find they not only carry different brands and different lines from those brands, but also varying selections of vitolas (sizes/shapes) of given lines. It's good to have options, especially if you're looking for a specific cigar.

Bobalu Cigar Company

A note about sources. The brick & mortar/online divide exists with cigars, as with guns, and most consumer products, with respect to price. As with guns - since both are "persecuted industries", basically - I make a conscious effort to source at least some of my cigars from my local store(s). It's a small thing, but the brick & mortar segment for both guns and tobacco are precious, and worth supporting where you can. And if you're lucky enough to have a good cigar store/lounge available, they're often a good social event with many dangerous people of the sort who own scary gunz, or read smart military blogs like this one. -rhomboid

Anyone have others to include? Perhaps a small local roller who makes a cigar you like? Send me your recommendation and a link to the site!

Ammo Link-O-Rama
I'm really very seriously not kidding around anymore. Buy Ammo
AmmoSeek - online ammo search tool
GunBot - online ammo search tool
SG Ammo
Palmetto State Armory
Georgia Arms
Target Sports USA
Bud's Gun Shop

***Mail Bag***

This week's mailbag entry is from our pal JT. Great one!

JT 021223 funny scaled.jpg


Please note the new and improved protonmail account gunthread at protonmail dot com. An informal Gun Thread archive can be found HERE. Future expansion plans are in the works for the site Weasel Gun Thread. If you have a question you would like to ask Gun Thread Staff offline, just send us a note and we'll do our best to answer. If you care to share the story of your favorite firearm, send a picture with your nic and tell us what you sadly lost in the tragic canoe accident. If you would like to remain completely anonymous, just say so. Lurkers are always welcome!

That's it for this week - have you been to the range?

digg this
posted by Weasel at 07:00 PM

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