Can you ever truly know how a bullet is going to work? Probably not, but if you’re very careful you can get close.

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Someone sent me an article on a gelatin test of some ammunition; I replied that I don’t put much stock in such things when done by amateurs. Why might that be?
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It happened again the other day: an online argument triggered by a gelatin test of a particular ammunition, one in which someone predicted the performance of the ammunition based on his own gelatin testing.

I don’t really pay much attention to these kinds of “tests”, because ...

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Ed Harris makes the .32ACP into a real tackdriver!

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Ed Harris returns, and this time he’s tackling a new mystery: why does the .32ACP have such a bad reputation for accuracy? As usual, Ed gets to the bottom of the problem!

(Which gives me an excuse to show a picture of one of my favorite autoloading pistols of all time, the Colt Model 1903 Hammerless in — of course — .32ACP!)

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Looking through the smoke and mirrors…
by Ed Harris

Much misunderstanding exists regarding ...

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What’s the best way to pick ammunition for self defense? Here’s how I do it.

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dsc08007

I received an interesting email the other day asking how I select defensive ammunition. Here’s how I go about picking the load that rides in my self-defense handguns!

Dustin asks:

“I was wondering if you could give an overview of how you select defensive ammo for your revolvers. Do you accuracy test different loads? If so, at what distance do you expect the rounds to perform? How do you handle POA/POI issues with ...

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Ed Harris: How to Make and Load All-Brass .410 Shotshells.

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harris-shotshells.
Ed Harris is back with another of his terrific articles! This time, it’s about making your own all-brass shotshells in .410.
(If you’re not familiar with Ed Harris, you should be. Ed is one of the best sources of technical information in the shooting world, and he’s always doing something interesting. His articles are always popular, and today he shares with you how to ...
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How much spare ammunition is “enough”?

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a850_10391

If you carry a gun for personal protection, you should always carry spare ammunition — but how many rounds should you carry?

Contrary to what Hollywood might lead us to believe, our guns do not carry an unlimited supply of ammunition. If you’re forced to use your gun against an attack it’s plausible (though in private sector self defense not likely) that you might run out of ammunition before that attack has finished, ...

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From my email inbox: what’s the best .22 ammunition for a rifle?

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A recent email asked about the accuracy of .22 ammunition, and which I found was the best in my rifles. I couldn’t answer that question, and here’s why!
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I’m sometimes amazed at the coincidences of life. I’m currently testing ammunition in a rather unusual (but awfully neat) .22 rifle for an upcoming article in Gun Digest, and at the same time I get an email from Anthony asking about .22 ammunition for a ...
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Ed Harris: Loading Cast Bullets In the 9mm Luger/Parabellum.

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rugerp85
It’s been too long since Ed Harris has graced our presence. He’s back, though, with an article about shooting cast bullets in 9mm — and, of course, with related stories about his days doing just that at Ruger. Enjoy!

Tales from the Back Creek Diary:
Loading Cast Bullets In the 9mm Luger/Parabellum

by Ed Harris, Gerrardstown, WV

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Lately, with ammo supplies in retail stores either drying up entirely, or becoming frightfully more ...
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Nosler announces a new 6.5mm rifle cartridge – but will it sell?

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Nosler_26_ABLR_techDrawing
The 6.5mm caliber offers tremendous possibilities but just can’t seem to make many inroads in the U.S. market. Can Nosler’s new hyper-performance iteration gain a following for my favorite mid-range bullet?
I must admit to being a big fan of 6.5mm rifle cartridges. I’ve only owned a few, but the 6.5mm caliber is interesting from a ballistic standpoint: its bullets are very heavy relative to their diameter, which gives it excellent penetration ...
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Head shots and ricochets.

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Can you count on your bullets always penetrating? You’d be surprised how little it takes to send them someplace other than where you intended!
It happens often in the blogging world: I think about writing on a topic, start collecting data, only to find that someone else has beaten me to the punch. That’s because, in a confined category like shooting or self defense, with enough people active sooner or later two of them will have the same idea. ...
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Would you use a .22 for self defense? Should you? Why not?

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One of the interesting things to come out of Greg Ellifritz’s study of ammunition effectiveness was how well the .22 Long Rifle worked – or, at least, appeared to work. By some measures, it performed better than the vaunted .45 ACP! There is a small but dedicated group of people out there who seized upon this data as proof that the .22 is in fact the most deadly cartridge ever made by man. After all, they insist, the figures don’t ...

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Are all gunwriters idiots?

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That’s a loaded question. (Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist the pun.)

That’s a question I ask every time I read yet another ridiculous article. Convoluted (or completely absent) logic, factual errors, reliance on outdated or inappropriately applied data are all issues with far too many writers. The “old days” weren’t much better, either; I can find articles from some of the past luminaries in the gunwriting game which aren’t exactly paragons of research or fact. They were, however, far more ...

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“A hit with a .22 is better than a miss from a .45” – how true is that?

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An interesting confluence occurred last week: I got an email from a fellow asking about the .380ACP as a defensive cartridge, and this rather myopic article on the .22 Magnum rimfire came out in American Rifleman.

As a teacher of defensive shooting it’s my job to make my students as proficient as I possibly can. Part of that job is helping them to pick a gun/cartridge which allows them to make the bad guy go away using the least ...

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Special Tuesday Edition: Rumor busting – the Feds aren’t holding up powder shipments.

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The latest internet rumor, apparently from the proprietor of a gun store back east, is that U.S. Customs is holding up containers of imported smokeless powder on the orders of the White House. This, it’s claimed, is the reason that powder – for both reloaders and ammunition manufacturers – is in such short supply.

Ed Harris, who many of you will recognize as one of the longstanding voices of sanity in the gun industry, has access to people the rest of ...

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Back from SHOT Show 2013, Part Two: Gear.

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I don’t really go to SHOT to look at gear, but on Friday I had the whole day to get out and look at stuff. Prior to that I only saw gear on a “hit and miss” basis as I ran between appointments and meetings. Here’s what I managed to see:

– The first thing I have to report (and the most exciting for revolver enthusiasts) is that Korth, the top-tier German revolver maker, is looking for a ...

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Testing gunpowder, circa 1850.

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One of the modern conveniences which we take for granted is smokeless powder. It’s stable, predictable, and stores for a very long time. It’s also not hygroscopic, meaning that it doesn’t readily absorb water – a really good attribute for a propellant!

This wasn’t the case with early gunpowder, which we now refer to as black powder. (Even that’s not quite accurate, as the black powder of today is considerably more reliably formulated than that which was available in the 19th ...

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Panic in the streets: ammo edition.

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For the last couple of months I’ve been hearing rumblings about stocking up on ammunition for, well, whatever: zombie apocalypse, riots after the election, natural disasters, what have you. (I actually heard a non-gun-person refer to the “zombie apocalypse” just the other day. This is now getting out of hand.)

At the same time, I think we need to consider the possible actions of the prohibitionists who may try back-door gun control via ammunition restrictions. While I don’t think ammunition can ...

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Revolver malfunctions, Part One: ammunition issues.

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I received an email last week, a sort of complaint that I don’t write much about revolvers any longer. Well, I wrote an entire book – isn’t that enough?? OK, OK, you win – let’s talk about revolver malfunctions.

I’ve mentioned before, in more than one venue, that the revolver typically will have a longer mean time between failure than an autoloader (we’re talking unique failures, which automatically discounts those due to ammunition problems – which can affect either platform equally.)

The ...

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The bullet jump controversy: Specials in Magnum chambers.

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I got an email recently from a reader who asked about .38 Special accuracy when fired in a .357-length chamber. There is, as he noted, a lot of speculation on the topic: some saying they’re less accurate, some saying it doesn’t matter, and others saying that there is no way we’ll ever know for sure.

I’m not at all convinced about that last one, but the first two opinions are both correct – under some circumstances. Some years ago I experimented ...

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Evidence in the Trayvon Martin case – and how it affects you.

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The Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network (of which you should be a member) has published an interesting look at the Martin/Zimmerman case in their June newsletter. The Florida courts, as their law requires, released all of the evidence related to the case a couple of weeks ago. In his article, Marty Hayes looks at a portion of that released evidence and makes some observations which might be useful to those who carry a firearm ...

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Ed Harris Friday: Testing .22 Ammunition.

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Editor’s Note: Here’s Ed again, with some data and procedures on testing .22 LR ammunition for best results. I’ve found that .22 LR is the most finicky of all calibers, both in terms of accuracy and function. I’ve seen numerous cases where a .22 rifle or pistol will shoot horrendous groups with one brand/type of ammo, and turn into a tack driver with a different brand or type – and cost isn’t always a good predictor of success! The same ...

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Ed Harris Friday: Blackpowder Revolvers

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(Editor’s Note: I’ll admit to knowing nothing about blackpowder arms, so this article from Ed was quite enlightening! If you’ve thought about getting a cap-and-ball revolver but weren’t sure about how to use it, Ed’s article will tell you everything you need to know!)

Handling Cap & Ball Revolvers
By C.E. “Ed” Harris

Learning to shoot a cap & ball revolver requires common sense and attention to detail, but these guns are effective and satisfying. Safety, reliability and accuracy of a black ...

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Ed Harris: America’s Greatest, The All-Around .30-’06!

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(Editor’s note: Today I’m pleased to bring you another Ed Harris article – this time all about the .30-06 cartridge. As you’ll soon learn, Ed is a HUGE fan of the ’06 and has probably done more experimenting with it than any ten people you’re likely to find. In it are Ed’s recommendations for bullets and loads for an incredibly wide variety of uses. As always, any reloading data is used at your own risk; always start 10% below the ...

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I still think a .410 revolver is silly.

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I think I’ve made my feelings clear regarding the concept (if not the execution) of the Taurus Judge/S&W Governor revolvers. As self defense guns, which is how they’re marketed, they make no sense for a wide variety of valid reasons. What’s amazing to me is that people will say “that’s all true, but I think they still have a place for snakes and carjackers.”

I’ve talked about the former already. A large portion of my family lives and ...

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Ed Harris: Using the .45ACP in a rifle!

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Tales from the Back Creek Diary – A .45 ACP Rifle?
By Ed Harris

I like having at least one long gun capable of firing each caliber of handgun ammunition I keep around. Rifles chambered for center-fire handgun calibers provide greater kinetic energy than any rim-fire, but also have low noise, usually not needing a suppressor.

The .45 ACP and .38 Special are my favorite cartridges for this, because standard pressure (non +P) loads are quiet when fired in a rifle, their ...

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Ed Harris: Casting and reloading the .38/.357

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(Editor’s Note: for those who don’t know him, C.E. ‘Ed’ Harris is an engineer who’s worked for Ruger and the NRA. Ed is one of the great repositories of technical shooting knowledge in the field; his expertise extends to all areas of shooting, and trust me when I tell you that he can’t be stumped. I’ve tried. Ed has forwarded several articles to publish, and I’m going to start with one of particular interest to me.)

Today’s article is about casting ...

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Ed Harris: Revisiting The Full Charge Wadcutter.

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Happy Black Friday! Today I am pleased to present another great article from Ed Harris, this time about an old load that he’s finding useful in the modern era. It’s helpful to note that Ed lives in a very rural area, and regularly hunts small game with his handguns. This gives him an enormous amount of experience, the kind that is getting hard to find in these days. Sit back, relax, and enjoy his article on the “full charge wadcutter”!

Revisiting ...

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A different take on handgun stopping power: the Greg Ellifritz study.

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An article by Greg Ellifritz, titled “An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power“, caused some waves a few weeks back.

First, the disclaimers: like all such attempts at quantifying shooting incidents, it suffers from a lack of strictly filtered data and results in less adherence to statistical principles and methods than we might like. That doesn’t mean it’s not useful, only that it’s not strictly precise (and can never be.) I acknowledge that this is a problem with all shooting ...

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A revolver chambered in .40 S&W? Why?

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Someone emailed and asked about the new Charter Arms Pit Bull revolver chambering .40S&W without the need for moonclips. My reply: “Ummm, OK. Why?”

As I see it, the only compelling reason to use autoloading cartridges in revolvers is because they require moonclips, making for blazing fast reloads. I suppose there might be some argument for the fellow who owns a .40 autoloader and wants a revolver to play with without the bother of stocking two kinds of ...

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You can’t have everything; where would you put it all?

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If you think your logistics problems are daunting, go and read the list of ammunition that Tam keeps in her bedroom. (Disclaimer: I don’t know for a fact that it’s all in her bedroom, having never been to her house. She might keep some there, some in the basement, some on the bottom shelf of the Lazy Susan in the kitchen, and who knows where else. My point is that…well, I forgot what my point is. Humor ...

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Containing my desire: revolvers in .32-20 are calling me. Again.

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I’ve worked on many Colt Police Positives in .32-20, and it’s a cartridge which has always intrigued me. I’m not one to believe that it would make a good defensive tool, but there is more to shooting than just that!

I’ve often thought that I’d like to have one of the long-discontinued Marlin 1894 CB in .32-20; it would make a great farm & varmint cartridge in the hotter loadings, and loaded to moderate velocities would make a dandy squirrel gun.

Tempering ...

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