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Ruger’s LC380CA Part I For folks stuck behind enemy lines

10/18/2020 Ruger LC380CA political backdrop In June of 2008, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia, joined by justices Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito held that the Second Amendment is an individual right to possess a firearm, unrelated to military service or a government organized militia, for such purposes as, but not limited to, self defense. The…

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Ruger’s Scout Rifle 450 Bushmaster Part II A bigger boom for bolt actions only

Someone called me a Fudder the other day. Interesting, as I have been shooting firearms for sixty seven years. Sixty two years of handloading, hunting and shooting rifles, shotguns and handguns. Then there was military service and many years of designing numerous wildcat cartridges and making rifles that require a machine shop rather than a…

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Ruger AR-556 in 5.56 NATO Part II Light to heavy handloads and the return of 3X

09/27/2020 At McDonald’s, suggestive selling is, “Would you like fries with that quarter pounder?”. Another form of suggestive selling is pulling up at a customer’s house with a flatbed trailer to drop off a new snow blower, that is sharing space with a bright red, brand new,  Massey Ferguson sub compact tractor… bucket loader and…

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The Remington V3 Tactical 12 Gauge As though a life depended on it

09/13/2020

My wife and I were working on our home this weekend and came to a decision point most home owners have at one time or another. Should we mow the lawn or sell the house, buy an RV and move to a vegetarian commune in Patagonia? We compromised, deciding the lawn could wait until next weekend.

Instead, we tackled the portable twenty gallon parts cleaner that had been taking up space in the garage. Filled with primordial ooze, and rusting from the inside out, parts came out dirtier than when they went in and the recirculating pump had literally dissolved. The issue turned to salvage. Removing the tank and fabricating a work surface could result in a very nice rolling workbench. Alternatively, a similar approach could be used to make a portable potting table. You know, hoarder projects where nothing is really thrown out.

Mow the lawn? Disassemble the parts cleaner? Salvage? Metaphorically, the walls began to close in and the pressure became overwhelming. So we decided to look at RVs online and spend the weekend catching up on our reading.

Shotguns for defense and security

Firearms serve many roles, some critical, some recreational. Within each application, experience guides firearm selection, manufacturer’s guide firearm selection and firearm publications do their share of the same. Hopefully, when a decision is reached, the firearm will suit the person, or persons, it will serve. What is the consequence of a bad decision?

A poor choice for competitive shooting, and even for non-dangerous big game hunting, typically means no more than a lost match or an unrewarding hunting trip. However, with something as critical as a defensive firearm, where safety and perhaps survival are at stake, selection of a proper firearm is crucial.

Shotguns have played a role in my notion of home security; 12 gauge and 20 gauge, autoloader and pump, utilizing slug and shot loads. The purpose they continue to serve is protection when drawn out of the house to investigate a disturbance at night, where distance to the woodland tree line varies and house form, even under area lights, cast shadows and provide cover.

A shotgun is not used defensively inside my home for a number of reasons; layout of the house, movement and placement of occupants and locations of defensible positions. In my judgement, a shotgun would not provide sufficiently narrow coverage, it would endanger occupants and the shooting distances from defensible positions are too close to warrant a shotgun.

Outdoors at night, chances are that the need to defend would happen more quickly than in the day time and shooting distances would be greater than indoors, but still moderate. In this setting, a shotgun fits. Not a lecture directed at you, just some insight into one person’s perspective.

Remington V3 Tactical Solution

Remington V2 Tactical

Manufacturer Remington Ilion, NY
Order # 83442
Type Gas Operated Autoloader
Gauge 12 (2 ¾” or 3″)
Capacity 6+1
Barrel Length 18.5″
Choke Fixed Cylinder Bore
Weight 7.6 Lbs
Overall Length 39.5″
Stocks Synthetic
Hardware Aluminum – Steel – Matte Black
Length of Pull 14.2
Drop at comb 1 1/2″
Drop at heel 2 7/16″
Sights Vent Rib – Bead
Sight Mounting
D&T For Rail
Trigger Pull 4 Lbs. 3 Oz.
Safety Cross Bolt
MSRP $1,024

My current gun is a short barrel 12 gauge pump, fitted with a pressure switch actuated tactical light that is never used. The pump was my choice because, a few years ago, a preferred Versa Max Tactical proved too unwieldy for my purposes. The V3 Tactical addresses that issue without giving away anything central to my application.

The Remington V3 utilizes the same Versaport gas system design as the Versa Max, but the action is more compact; the Versa Max is a 3.5″ capacity action where the V3 is capped at 3″. Additionally, the V3 Tactical has a shorter barrel; 18.5″ compared to 22″. The result is the V3’s overall length reduction of four and one-half inches and a weight reduction of one-half pound.

Absent on the V3 Tactical are the Versa Max’s interchangeable choke tubes, adjustable stock, one round of magazine capacity and about 30% of the MSRP. Retained are the oversize charging handle, bolt release, and safety. This is not a suggestion that the Versa Max is overpriced. Rather, it is an assessment that the extra cost features useful to a bird hunter, or for clay target shooting, are not particularly useful within a defensive application.

I want to be careful when referencing feature similarities and differences between the V3 and Versa Max products, as these models share no common parts and vary substantially in design. As one example, the Versa Max recoil spring is embedded in the shotguns buttstock. The V3 recoil springs reside on dual guide rods and are contained within the receiver.

As noted previously, the V3 is a maximum 3″ shell design which contributes to the V3’s substantially more compact form. The V3 bolt assembly has a beefed up extractor and ejector. The V3 trigger assembly is simplified, more robust and incorporates elements of Remington target shotguns. The wide trigger feels light and crisp.

Another smart move on Remington’s part, the overall geometry and balance of the V3 was made to match that of the very popular Remington Model 1100. So the V3 would feel familiar to Model 1100 shooters and that trait makes it an easy shotgun to gain shooting proficiency.

The Versaport gas system

The Versaport gas system design is easy to maintain. The gas pistons drop in from the front of the gas block and the plugs go into the block to retain the pistons. Picture left, a substandard image from my borescope that illustrates port appearance.

Within the V3’s barrel, eight ports pass through to the gas block, directing pressurized gas to the pistons when the shotgun is discharged. When a 2 3/4″ shell is chambered, all eight ports are exposed. When a longer 3″ shell is chambered, only four ports are exposed. A simple way to regulate gas volume and pressure to the gas block appropriate for the type of ammo selected.

In addition to the metering of gas from barrel to gas block, the Versaport system dumps excess gas. In the case of the V3, the excess escapes through vents at the rear of the forearm. No, no puffs of smoke or jet streams. The gas volume is small and it expands, slows and dissipates mostly within the forearm. The proof of the quality of the design is that the Remington Versaport guns are highly reliable and digest what they are fed.

“Joe, why are you droning on and on and… over the gas system?”. If you were paying attention at the onset, you’ll note that I said I have a pump shotgun as part of a home defense system. Why a pump? Because of the old adage that gas system guns are not rock solid reliable, which certainly does not apply to the Versaport system.

A sound defense?

What about the sound of a racking pump gun scaring off perpetrators. Are there some criminals who are not cut out for a life of crime and would faint at the presence of a gun? Not likely. Today’s criminals are hardened, violent and want to hurt their victims, as much as they want to take their victims’ possessions.The sound of a racking shotgun may do more to disclose a position by shouting “Look at me! Look at me! I’m over here!”.

At 6 shells, the V3 Tactical holds one less round in its extended magazine than the Versa Max Tactical; a function of magazine length tracking to an 18.5″ barrel rather than a 22″ barrel. For sling users, the V3 Tactical has a swivel mount location on the butt stock and an M-LOK slot on the clamp that holds the barrel and extended magazine together. The subject shotgun is supplied with a ventilated rib and bead sighting system.  The #83441 version, $1,076 MSRP, is supplied with XS Low Profile open sights.

To Remington’s credit in putting together a tactical shotgun, the oversize controls are appreciated. Yes, they may seem like the push buttons on a geriatric telephone, but they are where they should be and as obvious as they should be on a defensive weapon.

The top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for sight mounts, which would most appropriately be a Picatinny rail. No, that isn’t British. I believe you are thinking of Piccadilly rails, which are the U.K. trains serving the greater Manchester Piccadilly area.

The “soft shooting 12 gauge” oxymoron… After owning and shooting a good number of heavy African big game caliber firearms, and a good number of pop shooter heavy weight target rimfire rifles, then shooting essentially everything else in between, I’ve become a pretty good judge of degrees of recoil across that spectrum. I do not believe “soft shooting” is an adjective that can precede the term “12 gauge”.

I would say that the gas powered action, stock geometry and excellent Remington SuperCell recoil pad make the V3 Tactical 12 gauge recoil very manageable. The V3 pad fit me much better than the adjustable length of pull pad setup found on the Versa Max.The pad also did not hang on my clothing and it offered excellent lateral stability.

Yes, I did shoot the Remington V3 Tactical

Three types of 12 gauge ammo were fired from the Remington V3 Tactical, from left to right: Federal Premium 3″ #4 Buck 41 pellets of copper plated shot @ 1210 fps (now rated at 1100 fps), Remington Hypersonic Steel 3″ #2 steel shot 156 pellets (1 1/4 oz) @ 1700 fps and Federal Power-Shok 2 3/4″ 1 oz rifled slug in deference to the V3 smooth bore. Why?

Empirical data

The ammunition presented has been used on wildlife of size and weight that would be similar to defense against a human threat and at the distances indicated. After years of shooting holes in blocks of synthetic ballistic gel to create photographic imagery, I fail to see the result correlation between gel and ballistic gel in the broad context often reported.

The Internet is loaded with lots of ballistic gel test results; sometimes just bare gel blocks, sometimes gel dressed in denim, sometimes the gel is fronted with some type of construction material. However, the execution of the test is almost always the same. One guy sits in a chair ten feet from the block, another guy stands to the side with his fingers in his ears, a shot is taken and then they both say in unison, “Hoo boy! Will you look at that?” and then the video is played back in slow motion to show the gel block wiggle and waggle on impact… shot from ten feet away.

I do not know where the ten foot shooting distance comes from, other than a minimum safe distance when shooting into a block of gel and sometimes as a component of the methodology used to qualify the density of gel medium. In any event, I have no picturesque gel block penetration results to offer and, as published results vary to extremes, I have no gel block reference data from others to offer.

The failings of long term relationships

There are shotgunners and shotguns that can cover serious distances. There are slug guns and slug ammunition that can rival typical sporting rifle accuracy at multiple hundreds of yards. For the deer, moose and hog hunter, that is exceptionally good news and an illustration of how far firearms and ammunition has come over even the past twenty five years. However, that is not my application or, I suspect, the intent of the Remington V3 Tactical.

Distances referenced below reflect distances anticipated in service. Important considerations due to shot disbursement varying with distance, the low ballistic coefficient of a full bore slug… the flying barn door syndrome and because of the rapid deceleration of low sectional density shot. My defensive shotgun intent is ten to fifteen yards for shot and twenty five to fifty yards for slugs.

Why not just replace the shotgun with a handgun on the short end and a rifle when going long? Changing circumstances where a shotgun can handle both. What begins very close up and appropriate for shot, can quickly evolve into something longer range. With only shotgun in hand, a transition can be made from shot with broad coverage to slug ammunition for more tightly controlled target acquisition.

.Bang, bang… bang

Fifteen yards on a 12″x18″ target, 33 of 41 #4 Buck pellets on target. Penetration at this distance would shred internal organs and the wound would be massive with 33 0.240″ pellet wound channels.

Fifteen yards on a 12″x18″ target, 91 of 156 #2 steel 0.150″ pellets on target. Less penetration, but certainly discouraging for a perpetrator and, again, the wound would be massive with 91 0.150″ pellet wound channels.

Above, a five shot, 25 yard group utilizing Federal rifles slugs. Could similar results be achieved at 50 yards? Sure, and the Federal slugs would penetrate enough to drop a deer at even at 50 yards and slug expansion would be huge… 1″+ in diameter. If deeper penetration and less expansion were desired, a 12 gauge copper projectile, sabot mounted 0.500″ projectile or solid cast slug rifled slug would work.

Overall, patterns and groups were quite good, especially for cylinder bore. The Remington V3 Tactical functionally did as well with target loads and quick shots yielded shattered clay targets. No, not my first choice for skeet, but that is not the Tactical configuration’s purpose.

Different tests, different testers, different results…

I did want to offer one last test for the Remington V3 Tactical that has been the gold standard for shotgun/shotshell testing for as long as I can remember. It is at least as valid as any other test I have seen conducted on the Internet. The elastomer material thickness standard is 10 mils deflated, charged volume must be 268 cubic inches, and charge pressure is 14.7 PSI. Clusters are arranged in groups of 7 units. The example below was shot at 15 yards with #2 steel shot.

Yes, that is a gratuitous “Hoo Boy! Look at that!” video and exploitation of balloons moment. Sometimes I have to have fun too.

Back to business… a summary

The Remington V3 Tactical is a fast handling shotgun that provides plenty of power and reliable operation.The V3’s light weight, neutral balance and short barrel make it an intuitive shooter.

I have tried a good number of point and sight systems between shot and slug guns; lights, lasers, enclosed red dot, compact open red dot, express sights, scopes, ribs, and bead combinations. Ultimately, my guns always end up with simple rib/bead setups because they are effective and there is little to break or fail. The V3 leaves the factory with the necessary system in place.

The V3 Tactical is a quick clean up. Field stripping is easy and requires no tools. Metal finishes and polymer stock wipe clean of powder residue and defend well against scratches, wear and corrosion. The surfaces are also non-reflective so you won’t find yourself trying to be stealthy while holding a signal mirror.

Time to retire my pump gun.

Smith & Wesson M&P® Bodyguard® 380 Self defense... Yes, that is a thing

08/23/2020
These days, more Americans are purchasing firearms and practicing legal concealed carry than ever before. Who would blame them? Politicians are running for leadership positions on a hate America and Americans first platform, state governors and big city mayors are working to crush a robust economy and put people out of work. Violent, rioting mobs occupy large portions of our major cities, terrorizing local residents. At the same time, city governments work to defund and disband their own law enforcement and tie the hands of the remaining by imposing no arrest or no bail release policy on the police. Jails and prisons are emptying violent prisoners into the streets.

Sounds dire? Worrying? It should, because it is. Especially since the national Democrat platform says:

“Democrats will enact universal background checks, end online sales of guns and ammunition, close dangerous loopholes that currently allow stalkers and some individuals convicted of assault or battery to buy and possess firearms, and adequately fund the federal background check system. We will close the “Charleston loophole” and prevent individuals who have been convicted of hate crimes from possessing firearms. Democrats will ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines. We will incentivize states to enact licensing requirements for owning firearms and “red flag” laws that allow courts to temporarily remove guns from the possession of those who are a danger to themselves or others. We will pass legislation requiring that guns be safely stored in homes. And Democrats believe that gun companies should be held responsible for their products, just like any other business, and will prioritize repealing the law that shields gun manufacturers from civil liability.”

According to the NRA, additional proposals include so-called “universal” background checks, the elimination of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System’s three-day safety -valve provision, and gun owner licensing, which would turn the right to keep and bear arms into a privilege dependent on the whim of government bureaucrats. The Democrats would empower government intrusions into the home to dictate how Americans keep and store firearms for self-defense and to confiscate firearms without due process based on the flimsiest of evidentiary standards. Moreover, the draft platform calls for a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms and their magazines, something explicitly prohibited under the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller.

So when your democrat buddy says, “Obama never took your guns”, remind him it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Instead, he delegated the honors to anti gun governors, mayors and town council surrogates who passed a record number of gun restriction, elimination, and seizure laws than had passed the thirty years prior. The New York AG is currently suing to dissolve the NRA, the largest pro gun lobby group in the world. New gun buyers aren’t panicking, nor are they paranoid. They just see very real threats coming, on many fronts, and they do not want to be defenseless. These days, I always carry a quality 380 Auto subcompact pistol, a combination that definitely has a role in self-defense.

S&W M&P Bodyguard highlights

I am told, giving people a sense of the size of an unfamiliar object is best accomplished by placing it in the proximity of something very familiar. Well. Everyone knows Albert and he knows more than a little about relative relationships, so, there you go. Initially, the S&W M&P Bodyguard was compared to a mechanical pencil, laying on my drafting board. However, a survey of people under the age of 90 suggests more people know the exact height of this Einstein bobble head, 8″ tall – 2.75″ at the base, than are familiar with the terms “mechanical pencil” and “drafting board”. And, yes, I could have placed a ruler next to the pistol, but what fun would that have been?

There are no surprise control surfaces, just the usual suspects, and where you would expect to find them. Always good in a defensive firearm. Side controls, back to front: thumb safety, slide stop, take down lever and, aft of lower trigger guard, magazine release. The M&P Bodyguard is supplied with two magazines and both flat and finger groove extender floorplates. Extender version shown.

Take-down is straight forward; remove magazine, check for empty, lock slide open, rotate down and remove takedown lever, move slide forward and off.

The M&P Bodyguard is a camming, tilting barrel design that fires from a closed, locked breech. It is double action, not a striker or blow back design, and hammer fired. Combined, the Bodyguard features make for a stronger and more reliable pistol and delayed opening after firing often results in higher velocity and certainly greater reliability. Double action also allows a second strike at a stubborn primer, where training regimen permits. The dual, staged recoil spring eases racking effort, but provides proper energy storage and resistance for a reciprocating slide.

There is a dropped gun safety in the form of a firing pin blocking plunger embedded in the slide, which requires a trigger pull before getting out of the way of firing pin travel.  So no blade safety poking through the trigger. The Bodyguard will fire with or without a magazine inserted.

An open top, low ejection port and oversize extractor contribute to the Bodyguard’s reliability. Dovetail mounted, blackened stainless steel front and rear sights are durable they stay put where adjusted. Alternative sight sets are available from S&W and third party suppliers. The M&P Bodyguard is a sub compact, so it is… brief in the area of the polymer frame.

With trigger finger at trigger level, I can get two fingers on the grip, with my pinky curled under the floor plate. No, not as much control as having all fingers around a grip as might be the case with a full size pistol, but more than enough control to back up a 10.5 lb double action trigger pull.

The M&P Bodyguard is tucked in all over. Some pistols sport diminutive dimensions when they are built around the 380 Auto cartridge, but then they go with thick grips or a thumb safety that expands the envelop. Not the case here and there are no sharp, snagable… it’s a word now, to hang up on clothing. Yes, I am stalling with pictures because I have not yet thought how to address the 380 Auto Loxodonta in the room. So read the spec table for a few minutes while I think.

The 380 Automatic… the cartridge

S&W M&P Bodyguard

Manufacturer

Smith & Wesson
SKU 109381
Origin USA
Type Semi Auto DA Only
Caliber .380 ACP
Capacity 6+1
Metallic Sights Drift Adjustable
Barrel/Slide Stainless/Armornite
Grip Frame Polymer
Finish Matte Black
Overall length 5.3″
Height 4.3“
Grip Width 0.75″
Sight Radius 4.5″
Barrel Length 2.75″
Weight – Empty 12.0 oz. Actual
MSRP $379

Designed by JMB, the 380 Auto  first made an appearance for use in the Colt Pocket Automatic in 1908. It was introduced in Europe by FN of Belgium in 1912 as the Browning Short. It has seen substantial use in both military and law enforcement applications, as well as a civilian defensive weapon.

The 380 Automatic has had been assigned a variety of nomenclatures including, but not limited to: .380 Colt Automatic Pistol, .380 ACP, 9mm Browning Short, 9mm Kurz, and 9x17mm. The official SAAMI name is “380 Automatic”, no decimal point.

I often carry a 380 Automatic. Sometimes as a backup to a primary, but also when working outdoors around the house where there is a good deal of physical activity and both hands are occupied with the task at hand. It is a comfortable and not conspicuous carry and it offers protection where none otherwise exists.

Maine has more than an infrequent number of rabid fox attacks on residents, without provocation. Not a probability, but a very real possibility, and preparedness is always good. Additionally, we now live in a strange world with lots of people drawing satisfaction from harming others and my wife and I choose not to be victims.

Ammunition selection

The S&W M&P Bodyguard is not sensitive to ammunition brands, bullet weights or bullet types. Very important as ammo selection varies greatly from one individual to another and, sometimes, from one application to another.

Two approaches I’ve taken with factory ammunition and component bullets. Far left – Interceptor ARX and ARX injection molded 56 grain ARX copper/nylon compound bullets. Above right, Remington Golden Saber ammunition or 102 grain brass jacketed hollow point component bullets. Over a chronograph, fired from the Bodyguard, ARX MV clocked 1,263 fps and the Golden Saber generated 753 fps.

As published ballistic gel results seem all over the place, when I have the time and inclination, I gather my own data in a setting under my own control. ARX penetrated 14.5″ and the Golden Saber 13.0″. By comparison, a non expanding PMC 90 grain FMJ penetrated 20.5″.

The ARX does not expand, but it does generate a significant lateral fluid pressure load. How do I know? Tie a string with a slip knot around the gel block at 2″ intervals. Mark the string where it passes through the knot, shoot the gel block and measure how far the string has pulled through the knot. It is a good relative indicator.

The Golden Saber or brass jacketed hollow point expands to approx double its original diameter even at 380 Auto velocity levels, but still penetrates 13″ which is good; bare gel, no denim, flannel, or sheet rock barriers in front of it. The PMC FMJ is a good illustration of why the 380 Auto earned a poor reputation in the distant past. Zero expansion, minimal lateral load and over penetration. The ball ammo design, in ancient times, was required to make a 380 auto loader cycle reliably. Not needed now.

Why not use a simple blow back 22 LR rimfire? I won’t put my foot in my “22 LR is not powerful enough” mouth, because #war_harbinger will tell me that he routinely lion hunts with a 22 LR, but I will say that subcompact 22 LR pistols are about as reliable in function as a jamming desk stapler. Is that better? Again, subcompact auto loaders, as quality rimfire pistols with a 3.5″ barrel and longer barrels tend to be reliable… a reliable pistol with an anemic cartridge, with unpredictable terminal ballistics.

Accuracy, shot to shot

Ten yard, five shot groups; Remington Golden Saber left, Interceptor ARX right. Both measure 1.8″ with the biggest challenge coming from the long double action trigger pull. From my perspective, excellent performance from this type of firearm and for its intended purpose.

In sintesi

The Smith and Wesson M&P Bodyguard is an excellent 380 Automatic pistol; materials, quality of design and quality of assembly. Subsequently, it is also highly concealable, reliable and accurate as a subcompact pistol. It may not have the power of a 45 Auto or even a high capacity 9mm Luger chambered pistol, but it is easy to use, easy to control and light and small enough to carry where other pistols might be left at home. Nice gun.