Friday, January 07, 2011

Torn between coolness and crotchetiness...

I used to really get enthusiastic about strange cartridges. For instance, I briefly carried a TZ-75 in .41 Action Express, and I still carry a J-frame revolver in .32 H&R Magnum. Heck, I own a revolver chambered in .22 Remington Jet. Esoteric chamberings can make one feel like a distinguished connoisseur of firearms, a little separate from the boring herd.

Still, though, I'm starting to feel sympathy for the other view, the one that says most new cartridges are just introduced to sell guns, and that they rarely do anything all that much better than more established chamberings. For all my ownership of oddballs, I could probably get my handgun work done with naught but:
  • .22LR, first loaded in 1887.
  • 9x19mm, which dates to 1902.
  • .45ACP, from 1905.
  • .38 Special and .357 Magnum; 1899 and 1935, respectively.
  • .44 Special and .44 Magnum, dating to 1907 and 1955.
The youngest cartridge on that list is approaching eligibility for Social Security and the oldest is nearly as old as the Edison light bulb (and who here thought light bulbs would be banned before bullets?) and yet there's aren't many handgunning tasks that can't be handled by one of those seven loadings as well as anything else on the market.

I'll tell you what, I may own a lot of different calibers, but for the last several years, I've only really shot a handful; the ones on the above list, plus .32 S&W Long/H&R Magnum and .32ACP comprise the vast bulk of the handgun ammo I've burned up lately. Maybe I'm just getting boring...


Stranger said...

True. Just about any handgunning job can be handled by one of the cartridges on that list - and most rifle jobs can be done by one of them as well.

Or by the 104 year old 30/06, or the 120 year old .30 Gov't, or the 7X57 or 8X57. But of course, we humans are akin to crows.

We are endlessly fascinated by the bright, the shiny, the unusual.


Buffboy said...

Nothing boring about coming into the real world. Welcome. There's plenty of action here, but we just loose the hype and enjoy reality.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

But what about... ?

Ah, scroo it. You're right. If .40 S&W wants to be on a list like that it should check back in 50 years and then maybe be reconsidered.

Jay G said...

I wonder how much the skyrocketing price of ammo factors in, as well as the dearth of non-standard ammo?

Having a blaster in .45 GAP may seem like the hip, edgy thing to do, but if you can't find any boolitts for it, you've got little more than a poor bludgeon...

Tam said...


"If .40 S&W wants to be on a list like that it should check back in 50 years and then maybe be reconsidered."

Don't get me wrong, I was an early adopter of .40; I usually carried a Glock 23 from '93 to '00. In retrospect, though, what does .40 do that 9mm and .45 don't?

In other words, point to me on the Binky doll the spot where a .40 will kill a bad guy but a 9 won't.

Blackwing1 said...

I've always hated ammo-proliferation...I've tried (in vain) to standardize on just a few, so I can buy in larger quantities at lower cost. But something different always tries to creep in. If reduced to just a few (pistol, rifle, shotgun) I'd fall back on what I started with:

.22LR (pistol + rifle)
.45 ACP (1911A1)
12 gauge (birdshot + slug)
.30-06 (reach out and touch someone/thing)

And if really pressed I'd go with what I started with...the do-all, 12-ga. Mossberg ("Coast-to-Coast" branded) 500 pump. House, deer and birds, all from the same straight tube, picked up used for under $100. And readily available shells from durned near anywhere.

It might be boring, but they work.

Uncle Kenny said...

Scratch those new fangled .44's and add the .45 Colt and you have my list. How many different sizes can you stock, after all? A single weapon and a couple boxes of reloads is a novelty, not a working system.

Matt said...

and who here thought light bulbs would be banned before bullets?

To whom do I send the bill for a new keyboard? I spewed coffee on that one.

wv: outpo - I suffered an outpo event of coffee from my mouth

Boat Guy said...

Dunno why the 9x19 would be on the list either, 'cept to be able to use guvmint-issue ammo (only reason I have them).
I've got some odd ones myself (10mm for starters) but I could happily do with the list - sans 9mm if need be...
As for the .40 ... you said it. I DO appreciate S&W making it easier to get bullets for my 10mm though...

Tam said...

Boat Guy,

9mm is on the list because, with the advent of the Kahr, the .32ACP/.380 no longer needs to be. ;)

Matt G said...

That danged pocket pistol niche sure is nice to scratch. But I guess you could feel like you'd done so with a J-frame and handful of .38 Specials.

Given the advances in cartridges in even just the last three decades, cartridges like the 9mm are almost transformed new rounds.

Consider how load choice can change your .38 Special. You can happily punch paper with 130g FMJ or 148g wadcutters, or thump things with heavy +P 158g SWCHPs, or even some 180/200g loads (especially if you reload.) You can get light-n-fast with 110g +Ps. And if your .38 is in fact a .357 mag, the opportunies are expanded further.

Anonymous said...

I've personally standardized on the 38special, 44special, 44mag, and 22lr in handguns and 6.5x55 in rifle, 20g for field and clay-games shotgunning, and 12g for HD.

I have handguns in 32S&W Long and 32-20, but those are more for the collection than frequent shooting.

I reload for all of that except the 32-20 and shotguns and cast for the .357 and .429 calibers. I will eventually add a .312 mould or two and maybe a 6.5 mould as well.

I'm interested in a bunch of different chamberings and guns, but I only have so much time to load, cast, shoot, etc.


Anonymous said...

I maintain there is still a place for the 16 gauge and the .41 Magnum.

I could have shot .41 reloads all through the recent ammo panic. Had a fair amount of 16 gauge shotshells on hand too.

Jim said...

I congratulate you for your progress toward the Camp of the Luddites.

And, like Uncle Kenney, I won't be too harsh on you for omitting the noble .45 Colt.

Daddy Hawk said...

I think Chris just hit the nail on the head. There's only so much time to shoot and reload for most of us. With the exception of some odd caliber family heirlooms (.32 SLR and .38 S&W Short), I find that my needs and wants are covered by .22LR, .45ACP, .223/5.56x45 and .308/7.62x51. A .38/.357 might find its way home at some point, but it's not a priority.

Anonymous said...

When I saw the RSS feed this morning, I read "Torn between coolness and crotchless" and thought the blog was moving in a whole new direction...

And FWIW, the armed folks at Social Security carry 357 SIGs. 8)

Matt G said...

Todd, I feel like the .357 Sig is one of the most useful, under-appreciated new cartridges of the last century. And I had to be issued one to believe that.

Frank W. James said...

Say what you will, but there are those of us who consider the .41 Mag in the same category as bread and beer.

After all it was introduced the year I graduated from high school -- 1964, so it's no newby and, Yeah, it's mostly a reload situation.

As for the .40 Small & Weak, I run hot and cold on it. Yet, I know it work4s and I DO think it works better than the 9x19mm. At least it has on the stuff I've shot, but still...?

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

I picked up a M&P 340 yesterday, making it my fifth gun in a row that would sling a .38 spl.

Discobobby said...

Matt G,
I'm interested in why you think .357 Sig is useful, or more useful than 40S&W or a well-loaded 9mm. I've just never understood the rationale behind the cartridge and what it does that the others don't. I'm hoping I can ask you and not get the fanboy flamefest as a result. :)

zeeke42 said...

My volume calibers are 22LR, 9x19, 38 Special, 12Ga, and 5.56x45. I have some other rifle calibers on hand for military collectibles but they don't get shot much. I may add any or all of 38 Supercomp, 40SW, and 45ACP to open up more competitive divisions, and 308 for long range, but that's probably all I'll ever really want.

Roberta X said...

I could get behind this wholeheartedly but my sentimental weakness for 38 Super gets in the way. Still, it is getting harder and hard to justify the premium price for what amounts to a 9mm +P+.

Were it not for that, my needs are met with 22LR, 9 Para. and 45ACP. If pressed, I'd drop the 9.

Hobie said...

"...who here thought light bulbs would be banned before bullets?"

Who indeed?

Randy said...

Another one that had no real interest in the .40S&W.

Until I found a real sweetheart of a deal (some would say steal) on Browning HP with trigger work sight installation by Wayne Novak.

It happened to be in .40S&W, but a Hi-Power is a Hi-Power, and I couldn't pass up the price.

So, a .40S&W is now my carry piece.

At least I can now appease certain types of folks by stating that if I ever get into a gunfight, I will have a weapon in a caliber starting with "4". ;-)

WV: "tenlete" My .40S&W is also known as a Ten Lete. ("lete" does mean "light" somehow, doesn't it?)

Boat Guy said...

"9mm is on the list because, with the advent of the Kahr, the .32ACP/.380 no longer needs to be. ;)"
Makes sense. Of course.
Hmmm ... may have to look into one a them Kahrs, then. Not exactly wedded to my "Elsie Pea" as some seem to be. Certainly wouldn't mind dumpin .380 from my own inventory...

ajdshootist said...

Just looked through mine 2 45/70s a 44/40 a 38/40 a 38/55 2 6.5x54 a 6.5x55 a 7x57 a couple of .22s it dont seem like i like new fangled calibers at all.

perlhaqr said...

In retrospect, though, what does .40 do that 9mm and .45 don't?

In other words, point to me on the Binky doll the spot where a .40 will kill a bad guy but a 9 won't.

Ok, so, at the risk of drying in a pile of ash at the hands of all the True 1911 Folks... by that rationale, what do you need to include .45 ACP for?

Sport Pilot said...

Wow Tam, I thought I was the only person I knew of who owned a S&W M-53. Mine's a 6" 1960's model with the older S&W grip's that used to have the triangle in the center of them.My late father had traded a 1950's model Colt 1911 in 38 Super for the 22 Jet.Wish I could find that Colt now...

DaveFla said...

I started with .38/.357, and it was a gateway cartridge - now, the .40 is my bulk cartridge. I'll explain...

Given the similarities between DoubleTap's 200g WFNGC loads in 10mm and .357 (roughly an extra 100 ft lbs, in 10mm) I'm not certain any longer why I bought a Model 610 to share shelf space with the .357s in the safe. I'm not hunting with any of them anyway. But whatever ammo the XD-40 won't run without smacking the magazine tends to get shot up via the 610's moon clips.

I certainly could live cheaper with any sort of wondernine in their place, but it wouldn't be as much fun. I'd probably be shopping for a nice Blackhawk convertible with the 9mm cylinder by now, and wishing I carried something that started with point four.

Bob H said...

I feel so cheap, and used. I have 9mm, .40, 5.7X28 (carbine and handgun), .32NAA and .327 magnum ... Who knew I was just being taken for a ride? I am so ashamed to have these oddball, useless guns.

Daniel E. Watters said...

While Edison is credited to be the inventor of the first practical incadescent lightbulb, Hiram S. Maxim was also active in early incadescent lightbulb research. Claims have been made that Maxim's move to England was due to Edison's financial backers paying Maxim a handsome sum to leave the US and no longer contest Edison's patents. Maxim Lamps still exists today, owned by the same family that bought the company from Maxim in 1910. I suppose a collector of Maxim machineguns really needs to have them displayed in a room lit by Maxim Lamps.

Anonymous said...

"You can have my light bulb when you pry my cold glassy eyeballs off it."

Tam said...


"Ok, so, at the risk of drying in a pile of ash at the hands of all the True 1911 Folks... by that rationale, what do you need to include .45 ACP for?"

Because if you're going to carry a service-size automatic, why not put big bullets in it, since they sure aren't going to work any worse?

Bob H.,

"I am so ashamed to have these oddball, useless guns."

Oh, get down off the cross; these other kids need the wood for a treehouse. Did I not just say that I carry a .32 H&R Mag every day? I own guns in calibers so weird that you've never heard of them. Lighten up, Francis.

weambulance said...

22LR, 45 ACP, 9mm, 41 or 44 Magnum, 45-70 Gov't, 308 Winchester.

22 for practice or small game hunting, 45 or 9mm for carry, 41 or 44 Magnum and 45-70 for bear defense or hunting, and 308 in my battle rifles.

I've got a bunch of others, but that stuff covers my needs. I only keep significant components on hand for the above.

I could cut out 41 Magnum and 45 ACP and not really lose any flexibility in how I'm armed, but it will be a cold day in hell before I give up my 1911s or 657.

Anonymous said...

my oddest ball caliber is 5.45x39, so odd the S&W went and made production AR15's chambered for it.

No, wait, I still have the 9mm Largo barrel for that Star Super I never shoot, even though I have a 9x19 barrel for it.

But otherwise it's .22lr, 5.56, 9mm and .45 ACP for me.

Justthisguy said...

If ever have any extra money (still working on having necessary money) I want something chambered in .219 Improved Zipper, just for the silliness that's in it.

1911Man said...

My Kahr P9 has, without a doubt, the single worst trigger I've ever shot, much less owned. It only gets carried on looong backpacking trips.

If Gaston Glock got likkered up, played in boat axle grease, then fell in the sandbox, this is the trigger he might have built, but only after consulting a NYC city counsel member about how long the trigger pull should be.

I would call it the single worst gun I've ever owned, except for that self-disassembling Beretta Bobcat...

Tam said...


I've only shot a few dozen of them, none of which I'd want to enter in a bullseye match, but they generally work. I was more referring to the wholde genre of subcompact 9mm's, which have generally rendered the traditional .380 obsolescent.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

But man that .22 Remington Jet is a cool looking a freaky-good looking round.

Matt G said...

What a morass of various threads, declarations, and ideas. And now with my own barely tangental statement, I've created a branch from the tree of the original thread, with the question: "Matt G,
I'm interested in why you think .357 Sig is useful, or more useful than 40S&W or a well-loaded 9mm. I've just never understood the rationale behind the cartridge and what it does that the others don't. I'm hoping I can ask you and not get the fanboy flamefest as a result."

The answer is threefold: power, functionality, and comfort.
The .357 Sig is basically the same power level as Super .38, which was until the .357 Magnum the most powerful pistol cartridge in the world. They now offer it in both 125g and 147g. It's a hot load. The inherent accuracy of the cartridge is quite good (though it's hard to reload), and it's a very flat-shooting cartridge if such things matter to you (they don't, to me.).

The bottlenecked cartridge feeds all the time. As a matter of fact, it feeds empty cases like a dream. That's pretty important.

The comfort issue is subjective, but everyone else in my PD and I notice that it simply doesn't have the same recoil pulse as its parent .40 S&W cartridge. It's just flat-out easy to shoot quickly. Some are not bothered by the .40 pulse. I've always thought that it was funny that I prefer .45 acp to .40 for recoil.

The .357 also fits in any .40 framed gun, to the extent that changing calibers can often just be accomplished with a new barrel alone, meaning that you can keep your magazines, holsters, etc.

NotClauswitz said...

Does .30-40 Krag count? Our .22 is a WRF, halfway to a magnum. I still have a serious hankering for a .38 Super - I would rather buy that and have-to handload for it than a 9mm.

Stretch said...

.22LR-Buy in bricks to feed 5 weapons
9x19mm Traded in last two on an AR
.45ACP-JMB goodness in autos, a revolver and a long gun
.38 Spl-Down to one snubbie
.44-Have some .45LC revolvers and M94.

Have 3 in .38S&W (NOT spl.). One .32S&W I'm saving for the next time DC has a "Buy Back." Hum? Wonder if they can show the 4473s from when they originally bought it.

Ed Foster said...

I like Discobobby's comment on the .357SIG, a cartridge I still can't understand the use for. It destroys flimsy guns, and doesn't offer much more than the pissant Europellet in weapons that stay together, all for more cost, kick, and muzzle flash.

Has anybody considered that most police and personal shootouts happen in low light scenarios, and the .45acp produces far less muzzle flash than any other serious pistol cartridge? The powder burns faster in that big hole, and the operating pressures are only a bit over half those of the Strontium 90 stoked Whizz-Bangs.

That being said, I must confess that I talked Teddy into buying some .400 CorBon barrels from Fred Kart. As a necked .45acp on steroids, it has one or two serious advantages.

A 155 grain flatpoint at 1,300 fps has a certain interest. If I was a cop out in Montana who had to put down damaged cattle on a regular basis, I'd carry a revolver in .357 or .41, but as a close-in backup gun for a pig hunter or maybe a cop sometimes faced with badguys and body armor, maybe the .400 makes sense.

Or maybe not. Every department I know of that went from the .45acp to the .40 S&W has had it's scores drop off, and the CorBon is a .40 on a protein diet, essentially a hot loaded Bren 10 lookalike in a bottleneck case. So again the comment about having no need for anything but the .45 makes sense.

But with the CorBon barrel, it doesn't need a new slide or magazine, and we could give someone a custom fitted second barrel in a "magnum" caliber for less than $250. And it does have some hunting capability, plus they feed so nice with that bottleneck.

I remember losing a fat little 6-pointer once because I wasn't carrying a pistol. I was hanging from a slippery hillside with the 1911 Schmidt carbine slung across my back like Pancho Villa, because the sumbugger kept sliding off my shoulder as I scrabbled from handhold to handhold.

At maybe 25-30 feet, the deer and I stood face to face for several seconds before he took off like a rocket. If I'd brought a pistol I could have popped him easily. That was the second time I could have made a legal pistol shot in Vermont, and both times I lost a buck for not carrying a sidearm.

Would the flatter shooting, deeper penetrating .400 have given me an edge on a going away shot? Maybe.

So what the hell, I'll give the customer a choice. And speaking of "what the hell", what the hell was tha name of the gunshop we used for the SVD/K31 transfer?

E-mail me and we'll set up the transfer for your test pistol.

Ed Foster said...

Bounced the button when sending. Could you delete the extra entry? Sorry.

Bob H said...

Tam said "Oh, get down off the cross; these other kids need the wood for a treehouse."

{snork!} I haven't heard that expression in a coon's age! Not since Jesus was in short pants. I'm sayin not since they invented dirt!

DanH said...

.22 LR for plinking and general cheap fun
.357 revolver for my car (heh its legal to carry in your car without a CCW permit in MO :D)
12ga for the house
.45 ACP for carry
.308 Winchester for deer.

ASM826 said...

I think that's a great list, although I don't have anything in .44 Special/.44 Magnum. The overall direction you are taking is good, a small number of calibers eliminates the cost of maintaining an assortment of odd stuff. I have passed on guns, both pistols and long guns, because I didn't want to take on any additional calibers.

perlhaqr said...

Tam: Because if you're going to carry a service-size automatic, why not put big bullets in it, since they sure aren't going to work any worse?

Sure, but I was responding to the "show me where you can shoot a man with .40 that it'll do the job 9mm and .45 won't."

So, where can you shoot a man with .45 ACP where it'll do the job 9mm won't?

I mean, I'm hardly arguing that we should eliminate all these "oddball" rounds, being a 10mm guy myself, I just wanted to know what the difference there was. Is it just because .45 ACP has been around a long time?

Ed Foster: .400 Cor-Bon. Now that's a goofy round. I guess the main advantage of it is that you can put the bullets in .45 ACP magazines, and run them in .45 ACP guns with just a barrel swap, but other than that, I'd rather have a 10mm, and get an extra round or two in the mag.

.400 Cor-Bon is about as oddball as 9x25 Dillon. (.38 Super Duper Auto :) )

Anonymous said...

My favorite revolver is a 1917 Colt New Service in .38 WCF. Don't shoot it much 'cause factory ammo is HIGH. I do reload but the brass is awfully thin and easy to ruin. Second favorite is S&W .32 Hand Ejector from 1916. It belonged to my great grandmother. She ran the local theater and kept it close when selling the tickets. As far as I know she never had shoot anyone.