Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Handguns, Again

I retired as a parole officer in October of 2000.  By August 2001 I had painted everything at home that needed paint, and decided it was time to go back to work,  I signed up with the local Sheriff's office and worked there for eight or nine months, then moved down the road to my hometown, the place I grew up.  Again with the Sheriff's office.  In 2003 the Sheriff instituted a new program to put deputies in the schools, and I volunteered.

We started training.  I was still carrying my 4" Model 66 as my duty revolver, but most of the law enforcement worldwide had gone to the plastic fantastic wonder pistols.  Glock, mainly, but a smattering of other brands.  I was extremely confident in my handgun and continued to use it, eschewing the new and fantastic for the old and reliable.

One day during training, we were burning the Sheriff's powder at the range, and the trainers set up a practical exercise.  We'd step through a door and engage a small steel plate, then move downrange to an old USPS mail box, reload under cover, then engage three more steel targets about 20 yards away.  It was a fun little drill, but it soon became apparent that the .38 special loads we were using were too anemic to knock down the steel. I had to shoot one of those targets three times in quick succession to make it go down, and I knew that I had enough handgun for the job, just not enough ammunition.

Those targets were thick plate steel, about 1/2 inch thick, hinged at the bottom, but those piddling little .38 target loads simply didn't have enough energy to knock them over reliably.  I knew I had some stout handloads in my pickup truck that should do the job.

We had to run the course three times, so after the first run, I went to my pickup truck and dug out a box of my handloads.  It featured that Lee 158 grain semiwadcutter of wheelweight alloy with a little added antimony. A stiff charge of Alliant's 2400 powder and WSP primers. It gave me about 1350 out of my 66, but you couldn't shoot too many of them.  After two cylinders, your hand would start tingling.  It was a fairly stout load.

I got back in line, and when it came my turn for the second run, the instructor asked me if I were ready.  I stepped through the door, unholstered and engaged that first target, immediately to my left.  The bullet hit the target so hard that the target flopped down, hit the plate underneath it, and rebounded to a standing position, so I shot it again.  The hinge pin turned loose and the plate fell to the ground.  That was a kill.

I turned to take the three targets downrange, and decided that they were in range of this good ammo, so I engaged them from right there.  Three shots for three targets and everything fell.  I had fired five shots on four targets, destroyed the close target and killed the far ones, all in under 10 seconds.

The instructor went off.  "What the hell are you shooing?  You're supposed to go downrange and engage those targets down there.  Not stand here with a hand cannon and long-range them."

I think the instructor was a little shocked and he may have taken some splash when those first two bullets disintegrated on that close target.  I had destroyed one of his targets, and I was the new guy, so I got ready to take a butt-chewing for sneaking my own ammo on to the line.

"Leave him alone", someone barked.  The instructor and I turned to see the Rangemaster standing there.  He was an old crusty retired Sergeant Major and he had a bemused look on his face.  "If you use enough gun, you don't have to walk downrange."

4 comments:

JoeMama said...

In 1950 there was an assassination attempt on Harry Truman. Hearing the gun shots, Pres Truman went to the window to see what was happening. One of the assassins was approximately thirty feet away.

There was much consternation regarding the ineffectiveness of the Secret Services marksmanship. Investigation revealed that they were all crack shots and practiced with their service weapons. It was also discovered that they practiced with 800fps target loads but carried higher powered ammo when on duty. Those higher powered loads hit to a higher point impact than the lower power range.

The agents, sure of their ability to hit, were going for head shots and were, basically, parting the hair of the bad guys.

Two changes were made in the training of SS agents. One was to perform all target shooting with full power service ammo. The other was to not be cocky and to aim for high-center-of-mass shots unless there was a hostage in imminent danger.

Pawpaw said...

JoeMama sez: but carried higher powered ammo when on duty. Those higher powered loads hit to a higher point impact than the lower power range.

I'd question that report, because it is my long experience that high powered loads strike lower on the target than practice loads. Simply because of the recoil impulse, the faster bullet gets out of the barrel before the barrel has a chance to rise. It rises more while the slower loads are still in the barrel, so those shoot higher.

But, yeah, practicing with service ammo is a good idea. With the plastic guns, most ammo is designed to a particular velocity, whether practice or service, so it really doesn't matter.

Goatwhiskers said...

Use enough gun. Been my sentiment for years, that's why I carry the .45. GW

Old NFO said...

Heh, use enough gun... Love it!