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Penetration Tests – Beyond Ballistic Gel The X17.1 boson and the sixth force of nature

I was thinking about ballistic gel testing… then I thought about the degree of crunch in the Special K Pumpkin Spice cereal I was eating…. then I thought about technological singularity… which of course caused me to think about the coming sentient AI Apocalypse… which eventually took me back to ballistic gel testing. It was…

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The Ruger 77/357 357 Magnum Light gear for close in woodland deer hunting


Pete sat with his elbow on the breakfast table, his chin resting in his left hand, sipping from a cup of black coffee, and waiting for the last remnants of sleep to leave him. His wife across the table, smiled, extended a hand to his, squeezed gently and asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?”. In truth, he did not know the answer to that question. Looking over his wife’s shoulder and through the window beyond, he could see the snow had stopped falling and the sun was rising to clear skies, but there were three inches of new snow on the ground. The National Weather Service forecast temperatures in the low teens with winds gusting to fifteen knots. He reached out and patted her hand, “Yes, I do want to do this. Don’t worry, everything will be fine”.

This was the first time, in a very long time, he would hunt deer alone. Each year his group had grown smaller; aging, poor health and retirement to Florida had all taken their toll. A lot to think about. Nothing to think about. He and his wife spent a good deal of time outdoors clearing brush, tending a vegetable garden, repairing and maintaining home, equipment and vehicles. Hunting was just one more part of their lives.

Dressed for the cold in a mismatched combination of parka, snow pants, long johns, gloves, waterproof boots and a bright orange vest, he kissed his wife goodbye and gave her a hug before heading over to the workshop across the driveway to pick up the rest of his gear. She smiled, “Be careful. Love you”. He smiled back and patted her cheek, “Don’t worry. I’ll be back by late afternoon”. The trek across the driveway to the shop offered a preview of what the day would bring. The snow at his feet was fine and dry, blowing in swirls and small drifts ahead of the gusting, chilling wind, but he knew his clothing and boots would keep him warm and dry with the assistance of some of nature’s cover while posting. Physical exertion would keep him warm while moving.

The rifle

Ruger 77/357

Manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc
Model 7405
Type Bolt Action
Caliber 357 Magnum
Mag Capacity 5
Barrel Length 18.5″
Rifling 1:16″ 8 Groove RH
Weight 5 lbs 8 oz.
Overall Length 38.5“
Stock Black Synthetic
Hardware Brushed Stainless
Length of Pull 13.5″
Drop at comb 0.5″
Drop at heel 1.0″
Sights Adjustable Metallic
Scope Ruger Integral Base
Trigger Pull 4 lbs. 9 oz. Non-Adj
Safety 3 Position Thumb Safety
MSRP $999

Inside the shop, Pete worked his way through possible rifle selections. Some of his old favorites had only seen range time in recent years, some of the bigger calibers had been sold or given away; better in the hands of a generation that would put them to work then collecting dust in a safe.

The decision came down to one of three rifles, a lever action Marlin Guide Gun in 45-70, a bolt action Remington Model 700 Mountain SS in 7mm-08 Rem and the one he finally selected, a Ruger Model 77/357 in 357 Mag. The Ruger was the lightest of the three possibilities; 1 1/2 lbs less than the Marlin, 1 lb less than the lightweight mountain rifle.

The Remington was a bit more than 4″ longer than the Ruger, while the Marlin was 1 1/2″ shorter. His stock of ammunition for the Marlin was all heavy 45-70, power not needed for this hunt. The Remington was in a perfect chamber, but it was scoped for longer than anticipated shooting distances and Pete wanted to go with metallic sights in this hunting environment.

Pete picked up a little carbine, popped out the rotary magazine, removed the bolt and checked the rifle’s bore. The Ruger 77/357 with 18.5″ barrel weighted just 5.5 lbs and balanced just forward of the trigger guard. A clean cloth with tooth wiped the natural stainless steel barrel and receiver and black synthetic stock clean.

The rings that were supplied with the rifle mount directly to the receiver top and could have been used to mount a moderate magnification scope, but at the 50 to 75 yard shooting distances Pete anticipated, the scope would just be something else to worry about on snow covered paths through thick brush.

The Ruger’s folding leaf rear sight is adjustable for elevation with vertical graduation resolution of 1″ @ 25 yards and drift adjustable for windage. The front sight presents a flat brass bead face on a narrow blade. Pete preferred the factory metallic sights over a scope, red dot, peep sight or any other system that would clutter the rifle or slow its ability to acquire a moving target. The factory sights don’t lack  precision as the leaf aperture and brass bead are small, but the pairing lacks contrast.

The rifle definitely deserves a good set of adjustable fiber optic sights that would not get lost against a woodland backdrop. Seeing as how Ruger put so much innovative engineering into the New Hampshire made rifle, both design and process, it didn’t seem that big of a job for them to upgrade the sights. Maybe offer a small peep or ghost sight that mounted at the rear scope ring location? Maybe a fiber optic set that replaced the factory sights at the standard locations? Maybe just a fiber optic front sight?

With the magazine out, he cycled the bolt and worked the three position safety; safety on – bolt locked, safety on – bolt can be opened, safety off – fire, leaving the rifle empty and uncocked. He liked the way the rifle felt in his hands… heft, but not heavy, hand filling, but slender. Good stock geometry.

The rotary magazine fits flush with the underside of the rifle. The magazine release protrudes below rifle bottom, but it is located back far enough that it is out of the way of hands from any shooting position, but it is still handy enough to easily remove a magazine.

The rotary magazine loads five rimmed 357 magnum rounds easily and feeds them from the center for a smooth closing bolt stroke. In fact, this was one of the reasons the Ruger was chosen over the Marlin and Remington alternatives; feed, extraction and ejection were rock solid reliable and the rifles throw was fluid.

Pete always brought two extra magazines when he planned to be out for the day, either loaded with the same types of ammo or sometimes different types of ammo he might find useful under the hunting circumstances.


Pete pulled two boxes of factory 357 Magnum ammunition from the cabinet over his work bench. One for the Ruger 77/357 and the other for the revolver he would carry in the pocket of his parka. The Ruger SP101 2.25″ barrel would be loaded with Barnes 125 grain TAC-XPD. Of the six types of ammunition he had tested for expansion, penetration and accuracy with the short barrel revolver, TAC-XPD delivered the best overall performance.

The 77/357 would be loaded with Hornady LeverEvolution 140 grain because the ammunition had proven itself on deer and larger feral hogs. In a pinch, he could have used any of the others with the exceptions of the TAC-XPD and Speer Gold Dot, which he considered too fragile for medium size game.

357 Magnum
2.25″ BBL
18.5″ BBL
Barnes TAC-XPD
125 1200 1210 1971
Hornady LeverEvolution
Barnes Vor-TX
140 1265 1216 1828
Speer Gold Dot
158 1235 1002 1813
Remington Wheel Gun
1103 1741
HSM Bear Load
954 1539

The 357 Magnum, in Pete’s opinion, was a vastly underrated cartridge and yet another reason he avoided hunting with young guys. He grew tired of being told which new cartridge was the only one to choose and being offered scientific theory regarding tissue hydraulics, 800 yard trajectory, and the evils of large gun corporations. Pete’s firearm and cartridge decision making was based on meat in the freezer and the fewest steps taken by game after being properly shot. What the 357 Magnum could do was open a good wound channel and penetrate deeply. Yes, the hunter had to be competent and shots needed to be placed in vital areas, but the cartridge could do its job.

He found the Ruger 77/357 to be an accurate rifle; not pistol accurate, not target rifle accurate, but more than accurate enough for present hunting circumstances. Above, a 3/4″ group left and 1″ group right, 5 shots at fifty yards with two types of 158 grain factory ammo, which are typical of the rifle’s performance.


The little Ruger would not be a burden moving up and down the steep terrain and it wouldn’t beat itself to death against brush and other obstructions. When it was time to take a shot, its length of pull would allow shouldering without getting snagged on winter clothing. Pulling the trigger, report would be modest, recoil virtually nonexistent and whatever it hit would fall.

Pete loaded the revolver and put it in a parka pocket. He loaded two Ruger 77/357 magazines and put them in another pocket. He ran his folding Buck knife over a honing stone and tested its edge. He put the knife and extra ammunition in a small backpack, joining a compact first aid kit, inexpensive light rain gear, an LED flashlight, a couple of large trash bags, rubber gloves, and a roll of duct tape. The beef jerky would go in a top pocket of his coat where it would be immediately accessible along with a cell phone.

He shouldered the pack and rifle, turned off the lights, locked up, and headed toward the trail into the woods out behind the shop. A big day ahead.

Ruger’s Security-9 Why purchase a cheap gun when you can purchase a good gun?


Always wanted to be a photographer. Never had the time, as necessities tend to move life’s focus in unexpected ways. Photography is a way of expressing how we see form. The challenge comes in representing what we see with fidelity. Subsequently, I try to keep photos simple… stark, so that the subject stands on its own. No supporting cast of objects to reflect application, no rotating disco ball, saddle blankets, combat boots, or fog machine, unless they are packaged with the product.

Firearms are often present interesting form; excellent examples of form following function, presented in an aesthetically pleasing way. Ruger makes more than their fair share of this type of product.The Ruger Security-9 product line has been with us since December of 2017. Introduced with the tag line “Secure, Simple and Affordable”, it has proven to be just that while evolving into fifteen single stack, double stack, full size and compact configurations carrying the same theme. The subject pistol is as defined as:


Ruger Security-9 Compact

Model Number
Manufacturer Ruger
Point of Origin Prescott, AZ
Type Tilting Barrel/Locked Breech SA
Caliber 9mm Luger
Magazine Capacity 10
Barrel 3.42″
Rifling 1:10″
Overall Length 6.52″
Overall Height 4.35″
Overall Width 1.02″
Weight 22.5 Oz.
Sight Radius 5.0″
Trigger Pull – Actual 5 Lbs 9 Oz.
Rear Sight Low Profile – White Outline
Front Sight White Dot
Barrel Material Alloy Steel
Slide Material Through Hardened Alloy Steel
Slide Finish Blued
Frame Material Polymer Over Aluminum Chassis
Grip Hogue Sleeve
Thumb Safety Yes
Magazine Disconnect No
Loaded Chamber Indicator Yes
MSRP $399

There is a lot of verbiage in the Ruger manual describing the Ruger Security-9’s operation. Paraphrasing a bit, the Security-9 is a tilting barrel, single action pistol that fires from a locked breech. The pistol’s hammer is concealed within the slide, a blocking inner trigger safety inhibits unintentional discharge, a thumb safety blocks the pistol hammer’s forward movement.

Disassembly requires no tools, just a verified empty gun without magazine and the removal of the central takedown pin. The barrel is ramped for positive feed, the slide is bushingless. The single flat stock recoil spring is captive. The combination of Hogue® Grip Sleeve and extended magazine floorplate provide adequate purchase for control.

The grip frame is made of glass filled nylon which encloses a hard anodized aluminum chassis.  Below, the trigger guard is large enough for most fat fingers and the front is squared and grooved for a non-slip grabbing surface. I am not sure what the Internet currently thinks of using this surface these days as opinions come and go every fifteen minutes. For me, its use if consistent with the double dipping, modified Weaver, half reverse grip I employ. Yes, I just made that up and yes, I am making fun of the martial trend training that has made so many people moderately wealthy.

Controls are where you would expect to find them. Yes, of course on the pistol, but more so where auto pistol experience since the discovery of fire has taught us to reach for them. The slide stop is a nub, but then it is only used manually to lock open the slide… for some reason other than routine handling and use. I was at first concerned about the size and far rearward location of the manual safety that prevents thumbing it on, but then I realized I was reaching my thumb knuckle too far forward and under the pivot point. So a little proficiency training solved that problem. While the manual safety is positively located on or off, taking the safety off was just an easy thumb swipe downward and that is the important motion when pressed into service.

The top side is clean with low profile, snag free sights; white dot front, white outline rear, both laterally drift adjustable. Sight radius is 5 1/8″. A loaded chamber check port on the barrel tang allows just that. The blued allow steel slide is through hardened, not just surface hardened for dimensional stability and high wear resistance.

Ruger lists the Security-9 slide width as 1.02″, which checks. However, the sleeved grip measures 1.535″ which isn’t meaningful for open carry, but does figure in for concealment. For me, the added gripping surface fills the hand and makes shooting the pistol accurately much easier and without the unpleasant experience that accompanies some of the subcompact nines. For shooter who prefer greater concealment of shooting comfort, the sleeve can be removed, which sheds 0.420″ in width, bringing grip width not much more than slide width.

The sights are very good; easy to pick up against most background and able to shoot pomegranate size groups as we will see a little later on. They are especially useful when the front sight is raised level with the top ears of the rear sight. Who the heck took that picture!!…!.

For malcontents, the Ruger Store and others offers the same type sight in black, yellow and orange outline. Also offered are Tritium night sights, fiber optic, FastFire II mounts and sights, and rail mounted Tactical Light.

Two, ten round, made in U.S.A. Ruger magazines are included with the Ruger Security-9. One has the extended floorplate, one is flat and a spare flat floorplate is included for folks who don’t want to use the extended piece.

The Ruger is a 9mm Luger and 9mm Luger +P firearm. Specifically excluded is +P+ ammunition, which actually doesn’t exist outside of a concept. Ammunition loaded to a non-existent, over pressure specification is never a good thing for a manufacturer to embrace. Don’t take this as a lecture. I’m actually just trying to find enough words so the paragraph will break even with the bottom of the image.


I think, based on the picture above, we can conclude that the Ruger Security-9 can hold ten rounds in its magazine and one in the chamber. The combination of trigger safety and manual safety make this a reasonable condition and the concealed hammer will not raise public ire associated with carrying a cocked and locked 1911 type. That said, Ruger’s manual indicates that, if the pistol is not to be used immediately, the pistol should be carried empty chamber.

9mm Luger Ammunition Bullet
FPS 4″
Actual FPS
American Eagle Syntech
115 1130 1062
IMI Systems
Remington HTP +P
115 1255 1016
Remington Ultimate Defense
124 1100 1081
Speer Gold Dot +P

Velocity was good for a short barrel gun with the greatest loss from standard velocity coming from +P loads. Could be powder selection in those factory loads. Slow powder that boosts velocity from persistence of burn and high average pressure often does not have the quickest pressure rise, but I am just spitballing that might be the issue. Based on bullet construction and application, I don’t think the +P velocity loss is meaningful, but I don’t believe I would waste my money on +P ammunition with this or any other short barrel 9mm Luger chambered pistol.

Accuracy, repeatability was very good for both the pistol and me. Seven yards, five shots in a playing card size target and that was after two cups of coffee. It is probably the most comfortable compact pistol I have shot for some time. The Hogue Sleeve is hand filling for medium and large hands and anyone else who can’t pick up a basketball from the top with one hand. Recoil, report, muzzle blast, and muzzle rise are modest and it is an easy gun to master.

There is probably a bigger point. The Ruger Security-9 compact, like most Ruger firearms, is built like a tank, made with exceptional manufacturing control, assembled with American pride and backed by Ruger’s “We’ll fix anything” warranty. Still, it is value priced at $399 Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price but, on the average, $50 less at discount retailers. In setting the quality this high and the price this low, budget shoppers are not stuck with buying an imported piece of junk, built like loose rocks in a box with rubber band springs, which will disassemble itself when most needed.


The Ruger Hawkeye Hunter in 308 Winchester

November 15, 2019 I’ve been thinking about loss of memory lately. It is a topic of discussion on many TV shows from dramatic productions to the evening news, so it is difficult to escape. Most every adult has a brain fart every now and then and each occurrence tends to expand with age. One day…

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204 Ruger Handload Data

Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity,  pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may be excessive in others. All…

Real Guns is a membership supported publication. Membership offers access to: all current and archived articles, handload data, ballistic calculators, and the Real Guns Image Gallery. Membership is available for $29.95 for twelve months.

Please either Sign inorJoin Real Guns.

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