Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Weak & Weaker...

I've stated that I think that the Sig Sauer P250 Compact in .380 would make an excellent "Grandma Gun" for shooters with hand strength or arthritis issues due to how crazy easy the slide is to operate and how mild the .380 recoil is in a mid-size locked-breech auto.

The fly in the ointment, of course, is that it's a .380. While the suboptimal chambering is mitigated somewhat by the fact that it has fifteen BBs in the tank, you still want to make those BBs as effective as possible. Today I took two different .380 ACP self-defense loads to the range to see how they performed over the chronograph. Hopefully jello testing will follow.

First up was the 90gr Hornady Critical Defense load, with its slightly gimmicky squishy red plastic plug. (I have yet to see convincing evidence that these bullets perform any differently at pistol velocities and ranges with or without the plug.) They functioned the gun well, didn't exhibit any flash that was noticeable on the dim, overcast day on the covered range, and ejected consistently.

As far as measured performance went, the consistency was what I've come to expect from Hornady:
LO: 896.0
HI: 935.6
AV: 922.3
ES: 39.68
SD: 11.61
That gives an average muzzle energy of 170 foot-pounds. Hornady claims 1000fps from a 4" test barrel and we got 922 from the 3.9" barrel of the P250.

Next up was Barnes's TAC-XPD solid copper hollowpoint, stored bullets-up in its packaging, so that the customer can see the ominous black-coated projectiles through the window in the box. (While this looks sexy, it's damned near impossible to lift the slippery bullets out by the pointy end.)

The first few rounds let me know what to expect at the chrono, as case after case dribbled out of the ejection port to land on my range bag just outboard of where I was resting my right elbow. Sure enough, velocities were disappointing:
LO: 814.5
HI: 868.4
AV: 842.5
ES: 53.94
SD: 15.36
That 842.5 fps average works out to 126 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, roughly 75% of the heavier-yet-faster Hornady load. And this is out of a 3.9" tube! Imagine what the velocities would be out of a little LCP or Bodyguard! It seems that my box wasn't much of a fluke, at least if you go read the reviews at Bass Pro Shops online site:

The Barnes solid copper projectiles themselves have a good rep, but that doesn't help if they're not even loaded with enough steam to reliably cycle the gun.

Hornady was today's winner.

That's 820 rounds fired since the gun was last cleaned or lubricated, with one failure to go completely into battery (#447). 1,180 rounds to go.