Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why another caliber?

One of these things is not like the others. (And it's not the obvious one.)
The first thing I started looking for when I went to carrying the M&P9 was... another M&P9. But when one turned up at a good price in .357 SIG, well, that was the choice for an alternate backup.

I like 9 and carry 9 because it's effective, easy to shoot, cheap, and popular to the point of ubiquity. Unfortunately, that last point means that, when periodic ammo panics hit (and they seem to be an ongoing feature of the shooting landscape since '05 or so), 9x19mm is the first pistol caliber to disappear from the shelves.

.357SIG? Its lack of widespread acceptance helps it out in those situations. I remember going into The Mountain of Geese during the Panic of '09 and noting that you could buy all the FMJ pistol ammo you wanted... if all you wanted was .357 SIG or .45 GAP.

So, it has the same sights and uses the same holsters and accessories as my main carry gun; I'll just acquire a spare .40 barrel and In Case Of Panic Buying, Break Glass.

EDIT: There seems to be some confusion in comments. This isn't "Oh, boy! I can shoot another caliber!" Calibers I got, more than a lot.

This is so I can shoot a reasonable amount of centerfire ammo for practice through my carry gun (or a clone thereof) even during a drought. There are some things I can't work on with dry fire or rimfire practice, such as managing recoil or sight tracking. I am trying to improve my shooting and that can be hard to do when you can't shoot.

32 comments:

John Richardson said...

Not that I like it that much but I could find .40 S&W quite frequently back then. As you say, 9x19 is the first to go.

alanstorm said...

"Why another caliber?"

Why NOT?

Speaking of other calibers, I have the M&P9, and recently picked up the .22 version as well. It operates exactly the same (e.g. the safety and mag release are in the same place, same size and shape, etc.) but allows the majority of practice to be lower-cost.

Collect 'em all!

staghounds said...

I was going to say that for the price of the gun you could stockpile a pretty good load of ammunition.

But you can't, can you- what, 750 rounds or so?

Working guns are actually pretty cheap, and getting cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean there is a 6.8 SPC in your future?

Scott J said...

For me another caliber equals additional dies and boolit molds plus more components to wrangle.

That being said I keep dancing around the idea of getting a .40 because I keep mistaking the brass for .45 when collecting. Might as well keep it and have an excuse to use it rather than toss it back on the ground.

Fred said...

I'm half tempted to find a .40S&W for similar reasons. At least it's backwards compatable for 9mm (for some reason, you can't put a .40 barrel in a 9mm gun though...)

BGMiller said...

Fred steps near the question that crossed my mind. Instead of getting a .40 barrel couldn't you get a 9mm barrel?


BGM

Tam said...

"Fred steps near the question that crossed my mind. Instead of getting a .40 barrel couldn't you get a 9mm barrel?"

I already have two 9mm barrels; don't have a .40; it's additional versatility in a pinch that I'm looking for. ;)

(Also, while I'll trust a 9x19 barrel in a .40 on the range, I wouldn't tote it, because the difference in breechface dimensions can't do anything positive for reliability.)

Scott J said...

BTW your floor looks as badly in need of paint as mine :)

As for versatility I have multiple launch platforms for .380, .38, 9mm, .357 mag and .45 auto.

Only have one .44 mag but hope to get that changed before October.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Interesting. Up near our neck of the woods by Cleveland, .40 S+W is just starting to dry up, but .357 Sig has always been rare and expensive.

But the Firearms themselves are getting back to Pre- Panic Levels. It's the Ammo that's still in arrears.

Just ask OldNFO what he paid for a Brick of .22LR a couple of weeks ago.

Tam said...

Scott J,

Yes, I have launch platforms for an ungodly amount of chamberings, also.


That is not what I'm talking about here. He that hath ears, let him hear.

Tam said...

Bubblehead Les,

".357 Sig has always been rare and expensive."

It's rare and expensive everywhere, but "rare and expensive" beats "unavailable at any price". ;)

Tam said...

alanstorm,

"Speaking of other calibers, I have the M&P9, and recently picked up the .22 version as well."

I've been meaning to replace my 22/45 with the M&P 22 for a while now and just haven't gotten around to it.

Anonymous said...

re: "unavailable at any price"

I got into an argument with some shooters on FB the other day about Cheaper Than Dirt's so-called "gouging" and "raping" their customers with their prices. They couldn't seem to get it into their head that having a retailer at the high end of the price curve is actually a good thing for the market.

I wish free market principles still applied in this country. We'd have expensive ammo right now, but people wouldn't be hoarding.

Not that it's really affecting me all that much. I hoarded back when it made more sense.

jf

Scott J said...

Yikes! I bow to your superior diversity, Tam :)

Jim said...

Scott ... "I keep mistaking the brass for .45 when collecting."

I found that maddening, too, until I discovered I'd accumulated a goodly number of .40s and could swap them even up for .45 ACP.

Range-scavenging is frustrating these days because of all the steel cases on the ground. I keep threatening to drag the firing line with a big magnet and pan out what ever is left on the ground. :)

Geodkyt said...

I've been doing most of my practice in .40S&W and 9x18mm, because I have .40S&W & 9x18mm in quantity by quirk of fate. . .

My 9x19mm and .45 range time is rather limited. As in, "almost nonexistant".

Ed Foster said...

I've rarely seen a box of .357 SIG for sale anywhere in CT or Mass, even when times were good. Regional differences are amazing.

Until two weeks ago, the only things you could find on the shelf around here were .270 Winchester and .410 shotshell, the two least used cartridges in southern New England. I actually considered buying .270 to cannibalize the bullets for the 6.8SPC and open up the necks for 30-06.

Which brings us to the next step in your evolution as a shooter. Ma'am, perhaps it's time to visit the Lyman or RCBS catalogs.

Lay in a supply of primers and you're safe from the vicissitudes of supply and demand. Pistols only use a bitty little pinch of powder, and a single eight pound caddy of Unique is almost 10,000 rounds of pistol ammo. Pick up a Lyman Tong-Tool and you can resize your brass while you watch TV, feet up and a brew next to you.

And you get to tweak the load to get the best accuracy. Add a bullet mold or three, and you're as independent as a Mountain Man.

Speaking of which, I'm looking for an older Marlin 336 in .35 Remington, from back in the '50's or earlier. I want the big Ballard type rifling for use as a cast bullet gun. Hottish loaded 225 gr. flatpoints for deer, and bitty little subsonic 150 grainers for little critters and dirt cheap plinking ammo. The low velocity plinkers I can cast out of any old scrap alloy at all, and shoot without gas checks for less than the cost of .22WMR.

If anybody sees one, could you give me a holler?

Scott J said...

Ed, it's funny what remained on the shelves at the height of the panic in different places.

Here in Central Alabama it was .22-250.

Had my m4gery been past the project stage I might have been tempted to buy some and pull the projectiles.

Things have since relaxed a bit in the components market and I have a good supply for whenever I finish breaking in the barrel.

Tony said...

I'm curious why you went from carrying 1911 to the M&P. I'm sure you've already written about it but I can't find it; would you mind linking to or discussing your rationale again?

Captain Wheelgun said...

At the Cabela's in Buda, TX the one pistol caliber that remaind in steady supply through the current panic is .327 Federal Magnum. Which worked out well for me, because I had lucked into a good deal on a S&W 632 last year.

Anonymous said...

Called it in comments on your teaser piece:

"(ammo)actually available without a bidding war."

Okay, call me Capt. Obvious.

Tam said...

Ed,

"I've rarely seen a box of .357 SIG for sale anywhere in CT or Mass..."

Do you look? One shelf facing of ball and (maybe) one of JHP don't take up a lot of space, and it's often filed in odd places, especially at big box stores. (One Wally World I was at put it between the .357 Mag and .40; guaranteed to cause problems for the inattentive.)

"Which brings us to the next step in your evolution as a shooter. Ma'am, perhaps it's time to visit the Lyman or RCBS catalogs."

I've got all the gear, Ed, I just never set it back up when I moved to Indy. It's on my Round Tuit list. I even have a Lyman Tong tool. And a sick collection of Lee Loaders... :D

Tam said...

Tony,

"I'm curious why you went from carrying 1911 to the M&P. I'm sure you've already written about it but I can't find it; would you mind linking to or discussing your rationale again?"

Lighter, cheaper ammo, more BBs in the gun.

Was kicking around the idea of going to an M&P 9 FS or a Glock 19 since '07 at least. Finally in 2011 went into a gun show intending to buy one if I found a good example of either under four bills.

Found a LNIB 2-tone M&P w/2 mags and a beat up Gen 2 19 with one mag and those goofy XS sights. Bought the M&P rather than fix the sights and buy more mags for the Glock. Been carrying it since... Well, I took it to a Todd Green class in September of '11, and so I guess since shortly before then.

Kristophr said...

Hmm.

We have been able to stock 9mm and 40 here in Cheyenne.

The cheap .45 ACP flew out the door. And we can't keep .22lr on the shelf for more than a day or two.

I think it is more a matter of what the panicking locals grab first.

Kristophr said...

And we do get a bunch of Denverites up here who get angry when they discover we only sell one box per caliber per family per week, after driving 100 miles to get here.

We would rather have 10 annoyed customers than 1 happy customer and 9 that want to lynch us.

alanstorm said...

"I've been meaning to replace my 22/45 with the M&P 22..."

Replace? Can't they just...coexist?

Tam said...

alanstorm,

"Replace? Can't they just...coexist?"

"Replace" as in "lives in my range bag and actually gets taken to the range and shot".

I really only ever shoot a couple of guns.

Ed Foster said...

I'm building a 9x23mm for a buddy for many of the same reasons. I think duty pistol cartridges start at .40 and get better as they grow, but in a full sized, all steel weapon, I will admit the 9x23 gets about all you can wring out of the 9mm bore, with great brass life (no bottleneck) and easy extraction.

Plus, every time Butch Steen down at SARCO stumbles on a catch of 9mm Largo, you get lots of cheap Mil-Surp ammo to blast away with. A bit milder than the Winchester stuff, but it gets the slide back and forth and it's the same case dimensionally.

God, Gals, Guns, Grub said...

Our local Ace Hardware (gun dealer) has had six boxes of .45 GAP on the shelves throughout the entire ammo shortage of 2013... they've been sittin' there gettin' lonely from neglect...

Dann in Ohio

alanstorm said...

"Replace" as in "lives in my range bag and actually gets taken to the range and shot"."

I'm relieved - I had visions of a poor homeless 22/45 begging on the streets. Very sad.

Scott J said...

"I really only ever shoot a couple of guns."

So you don't spy something in the safe, think "hey, I haven't shot that in awhile" and plan a special range trip for it?