Ammunition Analysis: Always test your ammo to know actual POI against intended POA

Ammunition Analysis: Always test your ammo to know actual POI against intended POA

This is a discussion on Ammunition Analysis: Always test your ammo to know actual POI against intended POA within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have been advising to my own students for some time now that _before_ taking a given firearm with selected loading into the woods as ...

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Thread: Ammunition Analysis: Always test your ammo to know actual POI against intended POA

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Ammunition Analysis: Always test your ammo to know actual POI against intended POA

    I have been advising to my own students for some time now that _before_ taking a given firearm with selected loading into the woods as to hunt or in the case of defense on the street as to defend your own life; ALWAYS evaluate the ammunition prior as on a range to assess consistency and to know whether or not you with your specific gun can hit where you want with that ammo.

    I do this myself with all of my guns be they handgun, rifle or shotgun (shot _and_ slug) regardless of application.

    FFWD to today (Friday) I was at the range to train and decided to make use of an ammunition I'd stopped using years ago...

    Remington UMC 'Yellow box' (mega pack)
    9MM 115 grain FMJ

    http://www.remington.com/products/am...mmunition.aspx
    Image source - http://www.shootersdiscount.com/cart...productId=1415

    When I first began shooting I was buying this stuff from my local Dick's because well frankly it was the least expensive per volume, and it went bang when fired. That was over a decade ago and I wasn't then the shooter I am now as related to focus. Also quite frankly I just didn't know any better.

    For nearly two years then I'd ran this stuff not thinking anything about it twice. Untill a WalMart opened in my then neighborhood and they happened to sell ammo.
    The now famous Winchester 'White Box'...

    Winchester 'USA" [Actual brand name]
    9MM 115 grain FMJ

    http://www.winchester.com/products/h...s/default.aspx

    Back then immediately I noticed two things following the switch;
    1) My gun was much cleaner following a range session while running the WWB;
    2) My targets groupings were much cleaner following a range session running the WWb!

    I'd stopped buying Remington Yellow Box and stuck with WWB from that point on, except for minor exceptions when I'd either not be able to find WWB in stock OR if Dick's would have their buy one box of ammo get another half off sale.
    Which is exactly how and why I wound up shooting today yet again Yellow Box.

    I'd bought this ammo during the late summer of 2010 and it's been riding around in the bottom of my range kit ever since.
    Today I figured hey let me go ahead and open this, even as i did think to grab a 100 rd. brick of WWB from my cache before hitting the road. This decision was fortuitous.

    So I get to the range and I'm running my trusty and normally accurate in my hand SA 1911-A1 'Target' as chambered in 9MM.
    This gun is my primary EDC as well as one of the guns I use in IDPA competition....Mildly customized to my specs and prefereances.
    It is an interesting gun because it shoots accurately and flatly to POA @ 75' which is the backstop of the indoor range where I train. It has been reliable and in my hand very much consistent.

    I load up and begin with some magazine change drills.
    Load three rounds into two magazines, mount one magazine into my mag holder and position second to my hand preference on the table. Place the empty gun with action open on the table and await a cue to fire on to a target 21' away. My cue being to listen for a random sound such as another shooter firing or I might count shots fired around to a random number such a 3 or 5.
    Typically I will use a Warren Tactical IDPA training target as it has a 6" COM circle bounding a 2" square. Scott Warren had referred these to me several years ago and I have found them to be excellent for all manner of training use. I buy them by the box.


    Image source - http://www.letargets.com/estylez_item.aspx?item=WTS-2

    So I begin my process; Pick up the gun, while at same time reaching for my holstered magazine, maintain eyes on the target/threat, lift the gun high up to within my visual space eyes straight on the target/threat...My off hand comes up and feeds the gun, transition to a to handed grip (later in the session one handed), thumb the slide hold to charge the gun, acquire sight picture and fire with POA being the square. Repeat quickly counting trigger pulls (I purposely modified a magazine that will not activate the slide hold so as to force me to learn to think my way through a gun error condition), slide holds open, thumb the mag release, give the gun a sharp downward stroke with my gun hand while simultaneously reaching up to catch the dead magazine in the air to retain it (IDPA regs), and then reload and re-charge to continue the string of fire.

    Goal is to maintain all rounds within the 6" circle dropping zero rounds, while also pushing myself to fire as quickly as manageable for accuracy.
    Generally after a few cycles of this I am breathing deeply and have an elevated heart rate. Good stuff.

    Today though within 2 cycles I immediately notice something is not right.
    My grouping of twelve shots fired total is much bigger than normal for this distance. As well I'd dropped two rounds one left of the circle on the x axis (horizontal) and a second flyer high right also just outside the circle.
    I think okay simma down, I came at this cold (my norm)...maybe it's just happenstance. So I repeat...And repeat...And repeat a third time now for a total of 30 rds. fired.
    The target looks nothing like what I am used to. WT...!! : |


    And then I decide okay lets get the WWB and run a quick head to head accuracy assessment:

    I loaded one magazine with five rounds of WWB.
    I loaded the second magazine with five rounds of Yellow Box.
    I'd placed either magazine inside thr respective box so that I did not mix up one for the other.

    Next I recalled my target and placed a 3M 'Post-It Note' at the face position of the target. PINs are 2.75" square.
    I keep a bunch of these in various colors in my range kit, along with 3x5" cards, as targets for use as targets.

    I sent the target back out and by not looking choice reached my hand out and loaded a magazine into the gun and fired five rounds as quickly as I could while also maintaining specific intent to drop no shots from the affixed target.
    Real world in defensive shooting this is a necessary skill set to have.

    That first string happened to be WWB.
    My POA was dead center on the target as per how I choose to have my sights setup on this gun.
    Next was the UMC using it's own fresh target and I repeated exact same using exact same gun, hold, timing effort and POA.

    Below are the stunning results...



    Of the shots _dropped_ with the Remington those three can be seen as holes just below the targets as snapped (I goofed when taking the picture but did not realize it until I got home). Take note of their placement and the spread.
    Both targets were placed at the shown elevation but rather dead center rather than offset left and right as shown.

    Now consider some folk would think hey that is good shooting with that Remington as they are all within the 'face' of the larger target in the background, which is a 5" square.
    To that I say balderdash. What if that 'face' and 5' spacing were the difference between hitting my wifes face and that of a threat who is holding her from behind with a knife and his face adjacent to and behind her own.
    A well this was precision shooting...The results are inherent and by that will and I found do actually grow as in relation to the degree of intended accuracy.

    Note the WWB results!
    Five rounds fired, none dropped and the group is just over an inch as per my calipers, which I also keep in my range kit along with a backup kitchen sink. ; )

    This is a heads up comparison made with no break in between other than to recall the target backer and immediately send it back out with a fresh target placed in the exact same position.
    Same shooter, same gun, same everything as shooting standing offhand...but different ammo mfrs. as at the exact same advertised projectile weight (!).

    Immediately I stopped shooting the yellow box and finished up my practice session killing the 100 rd. brick of WWB.
    Interestingly my expected and normal degree of accuracy returned. Poof, like magic.

    The lesson to be learned here is not so much that Yellow Box sucks, which IMHO it does. But rather know that ammunition does vary in net result even as the advertised projectile weight and type might be exactly same.
    Further it can even vary production lot# to lot #. Seriously.
    So if you hunt and wonder why in a given opportunity or even season you can't seem to hit where you want, check your ammo against other brands as relative to ammo type.
    Same goes for competitors. Imagine trying to run through a match with the Yellow Box as relative to the results of WWB. Imagine if you are used to shooting WWB but went with Yellow Box because it was cheaper or momentarily was all that was available. Worst imagine if you had a sampling of both, mixed the ammunition wrongly thinking ehh they are same and by that then tried to shoot with any degree of consistency. Problems.

    Then there are those of us who carry on the street be we civilian or LEO, being equally 'professional' in manner & mindset as related to use of our arms, with our specifically selected duty ammunition with intent to use this ammo to 1) Save our own life, 2) Possibly save the life of those we are charged with to protect and/or serve, 3) Protect the third party unrelated public s among the _BACKGROUND_ of the threat we might focus on and hope to per our best applied skills to actually hit as rather than miss (!).

    Consider I was aiming momentarily toward a threats head.
    But that target could have been positioned anywhere on the target backer as in being the threat. I'd only placed it on the head because that was a clean area with no bullet strikes.
    Now if this simulated threat had been actual, what happens with those shots that are dropped?

    I literally MISSED with 60% of the shots fired using the Remington UMC 'Yellow Box'.
    Is that acceptable? It is not in my book to my view; Not just for me but for anyone.
    A 60% miss rate is a go home and re-think what you're doing failure grade to my view. Seriously.
    Had this been duty/carry ammo and this had been say a state mandated 'qualification' or proficiency test, I would expect myself to be failed out....And for good reason.

    Of these two which would you rather use?
    Which would you rather _Me_ use if I were to carry a gun on YOUR streets?
    Which would you deem to be MOST acceptable, and why?

    I think the answers are clear and obvious as to why it is necessary to train, practice and be familiar with your tools as in full...Including down to specific ammunition selection by mfr.

    A final note:
    Oddly I have found Remington 'UMC" 'Green Box' to be more consistent and by that accurate than Yellow Box.


    Why this is I do not know.
    I'd have tested for that too in this session but I only had same on hand in .45 ACP and .38 Special. Next time I get hold of Green Box I'll repeat this same test against WWB as the baseline. Heads up back to back under same conditions and scenario.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    I started handgunning about 27 years ago, mostly hunting, and quickly learned not all ammo is equal. Try your chosen rounds at various distances. Many times what performs and gives tight groups at our traditional SD ranges, starts becoming erradict in it's flight and therefore groups at a longer distance . It's a good idea to keep a log complete with measurements and notes of various ammo used at each range session. This is what we reloaders do, and it can work for OTC ammo as well.

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    Janq, you sure you're not an engineer? You're sure thinking like one (up to the back-up kitchen sink, anyway)!

    Your experience parallels mine with respect to the Remington UMC-branded stuff, except that my experience is with 5.56 and .45 ACP calibers. However, even within a common brand there can be variations which are all over the map. One example is Winchester "white box" 5.56. The Q3131 load is made in the US and is generally acceptable for training and practice, while the Q3131A which is made in Israel seems dirtier and has frequent QC problems such as blind primer pockets, deformed bullets and primers installed backwards.

    Beyond that, I think even a trusted ammo brand or load can be subject to process variables (like using a cheaper powder) over time which alter that load's downrange performance. I think the lesson here is to always be alert to changes such as Janq noticed, and keep an open mind as to the possible causes.
    Smitty
    NRA Endowment Member

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    Member Array Gunsmoke16's Avatar
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    That Remington UMC is junk...no disrespect, but I can't get it to hit correctly in "anything" I have tried it through. Last box was .45acp and it was a Christmas present from friend-I blew it through as fast as possible and collected the brass to reload it. Also note, Remington will jam in Ruger firearms, especially the .22's. It's too soft, leaves too much debri behind after firing and very inaccurate. The white box Winchester is ok. See if they have any Sellier & Bellot available (about the same price, but much better ammo that's sealed for wet weather environments and super accurate). Hornady is probably best carry option...I like the Hornady Critical Defense Ammo. PMC (Precision Made Cartridges) is ok, but leaves tons of debri in you gun deal with cleaning out. Federal ammo is reliable, accurate and clean burning. Happy Shooting.

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gasmitty View Post
    Janq, you sure you're not an engineer? You're sure thinking like one (up to the back-up kitchen sink, anyway)!
    Yes and no.
    My undergrad was mechanical engineering specializing in automotive sciences.
    I have not though worked in trade as specifically an ME and have not maintained certification for same.
    But yeah my brain it works that way, always has. : )

    Agreed that even 'trusted' ammo can at times be off and I've experienced that once with WWB .45 ACP via what is normally my most accurate handgun.
    Ironically it was a re-check by using Rem. UMC 'Green Box' that confirmed it was the ammo batch singular rather than the gun or the shooter (when in doubt I always will have a second opinion shooter who I know is accurate run my gun for counterpoint).
    But with this Rem UMC 'Yellow Box' it has to my observation and use consistently been both dirty and inaccurate.

    I've got a 200 rd. box of YellowBox 55gr. .223 in my cache that has been sitting for two years now originally intended for use in a carbine training course that was cancelled. Some day I'll have to see how it too runs heads up against other ammo.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

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    Ex Member Array azchevy's Avatar
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    Very interesting data. While I think poa is not as critical on a close quarters self defense weapon, it has been my experience as well. I practice with whatever is cheap deal of the day but I make sure I have at least 200+ trouble free rounds of my carry ammo through my weapon and all the mags I intend to use with it. Lately it has been 400 rounds but I want to make sure it goes boom every time. Of course my practice regime does not result in close groupings either.

  7. #7
    Member Array crabbys44's Avatar
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    Janq,

    I had a similar post on another thread. When I shot Remington Golden Sabers, they shot the tightest groups, but they had a different POI than my regular ammo. If that was the only ammo I would ever shoot, I would adjust the sights and be done.

    BUT how about when you can't get your preferred load anywhere? My carry ammo was Federal and I switched to Winchester for a few reasons. I carry the SXT in my .45. If that is not available, I will shoot Silvertips. When all else fails I can find Winchester White Box at Walmart fairly easily. They all shoot to the same POA / POI. I've tested a lot of different brands of ammo, even Wolf, and have had no reliability related problems. So far, as long as I avoid Golden Sabers, I'm confident in my POA / POI. If I can't find Winchester, I trust Federal, CORBON, PMC, surplus GI hardball, and Wolf. I'm undecided yet on Magtech and Black Hills.

    I'm glad you figured this out in a range setting instead of a SD scenario.
    Courage is endurance for one moment more…

    Hollowpoints might expand, but bullets won't shrink.

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Thanks Jang,a lot of people are more concerned about what feeds in their guns and sometimes overlook the accuracy part of the formula
    "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
    --Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    This is probably magnified by the idea held by many that the handgun is limited to short range work.

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    VIP Member Array xXxplosive's Avatar
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    Hmmmmm....... use the Rem. Yellow Box in .223 in my M4 and never had a problem.........also used it in my Colt's .45ACP with no problem.................Hmmmm. Used Win White Box also.....I dunno.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crabbys44 View Post
    Janq,

    If I can't find Winchester, I trust Federal, CORBON, PMC, surplus GI hardball, and Wolf. I'm undecided yet on Magtech and Black Hills.

    I'm glad you figured this out in a range setting instead of a SD scenario.
    I have shot a lot of Magtech 9mm 124gr. and had great luck with it. I like the S&B also -like the small packaging - Takes less room in the range bag when packing 4 different calibers.
    Great privilege comes with great responsibility.

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glockman10mm View Post
    This is probably magnified by the idea held by many that the handgun is limited to short range work.
    Agreed.

    Short range as in; 'I can't miss!...He's standing belly to belly with me'...Hence all the support for .380 as well as sub-compact pocket & mouse type guns.

    Myself I don't believe in betting singular toward best/worst case scenario.
    Instead I train for whats within the range of very common conditions, and needing to take a precision sighted shot at some distance even if it's just 21' is IMHO a necessary skill component that folk should consider to be essential.

    I'm not worried about taking precision shots out to 25 yds. with a handgun, as a civilian. But 21' (test basis) to 35'...That is reasonable and defensible per a number of real world it's already happened more than thrice scenarios.
    Thus the reason why though the UMC 'Yellow Box' results by my hand to many would likely be fine enough per it's grouping results; I knew in that moment of use that much better can be had, with WWB, and is to my view expected.

    Besides under real drama stress I figure my results would look more like the UMC, and so having a start point/baseline of the UMC would not be confidence inspiring toward how accuracy might otherwise be under real adrenalin dump stress.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

  13. #13
    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    One of the reasons I like to practice longer range skill sets is to be able to make hits in the absence of a rifle, although the chances of that may never come to pass. But you never know...

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    I do same, but not for same reason.

    Increased distance at same sight radius requires finer command of the basic fundamentals; Stance, Grip, Sight Picture, Sight Alignment and Trigger Control...Along with ability to impart mental stillness/focus.
    Shooting handgun at longer than handgun combat distances forces the shooter to hone these basic skills...Which then directly translates as being backward compatible to handling the same gun at same sight radius as at decreased distance, for increased ease of taking a given shot at a given timing (rate of fire) within a given group size.
    I've learned to always run some distance drills to the backstop as part of any pistol practice I might do regardless of what it is I might be practicing.

    Train hard so that if/when called on to perform as at easier than hard, then well hard becomes easy. ; )

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

  15. #15
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janq View Post
    Ammunition Analysis: Always test your ammo to know actual POI against intended POA

    I have been advising to my own students for some time now that _before_ taking a given firearm with selected loading into the woods as to hunt or in the case of defense on the street as to defend your own life; ALWAYS evaluate the ammunition prior as on a range to assess consistency and to know whether or not you with your specific gun can hit where you want with that ammo.

    I do this myself with all of my guns be they handgun, rifle or shotgun (shot _and_ slug) regardless of application.
    Good tip.

    I do the same thing, with every new firearm and with every new ammo. I do it to ensure reliability of cycling, POA/POI, ability to manage follow-up shots and firing at varying speeds and distances. Different ammunition can definitely behave noticeably differently. We think of patterning the shotgun, before heading out to shoot birds on the wing, but it's rare to hear someone thinking to do the same with a pistol. Like you, though, I have seen quite a bit of variation from gun to gun and ammo to ammo. With a defensive pistol, it's simply not worth it to me to not know. And the only way to know is to test and try it, sufficiently diligently to prove it. A box and then calling it "good" just doesn't cut it.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
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