Arctic shooting


December 22, 2008, 09:16 AM
I just had to share my recent experience with "arctic" shooting temps in North Dakota, where I am spending Christmas.

Temperature was -15.6 with a wind chill down to about -35 or -40 at my B-I-L's farm outside of Sykeston.

The pistols fired were a Beretta PX-4 9mm and a Springer Champion 1911A1 refinished in NP3. Lube was Tetra gun grease. Ammo fired was 100 rounds apiece of Blazer aluminum so we didn't feel guilty about not policing the cases.

Just for kicks, both pistols were left out on an exposed folding tray for an hour to get temp equalized to the environment.


Shooting in that kind of cold is not fun.
Shooting handguns in gloves that will keep you warm allows the pistols to squirm under recoil and degrades accuracy.
I didn't dare to touch the exposed metal grip of the 1911A1 without a glove, I did fire the Beretta after taking a glove off to improve my grip without incident other than semi frozen digits.
No observed malfunctions of any type from either pistol.
The Tetra did not do anything strange.
The CT lasergrip on my 1911A1 still worked.
A Streamlight M3 attached to the Beretta still worked.

It was the first time ever at a shooting session that I didn't think it was over too soon.:D

Sorry, no pics, but I didn't want to risk an SLR lens unnecessarily. Besides, there wasn't really anything to see that cannot be easily imagined.

So, other than extreme cold being a PITA, it didn't have any appreciable performance effect on these two pistols.

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December 22, 2008, 09:58 AM
I was in ND up until Friday so I feel your pain, if not my fingers.

December 22, 2008, 12:18 PM
I was shooting Saturday in western Wisconsin. The temps were a little better, but not by a lot.

I could barely hit a paper plate at 25 yards with my pistols. I made the mistake of trying to load a steel magazine with bare fingers, bad move!
My hands were doing OK up untill then.

My Glock 17L was the only thing I could shoot straight that day, I think the polymer frame and mags helped significantly with the cold.

One other lesson from brutaly cold weather, light triggers and numb fingers don't belong together.

December 22, 2008, 05:50 PM
Oddly enough, I had better accuracy from my polymer Beretta in such conditions too. In ideal weather, it's usually a wash. In my case, the extra large PX-4 backstrap fills my hand more than the flat strapped 1911A1, and the clearance in the trigger guard for a gloved finger was more generous in the PX-4. I also found it curious that the longer trigger pull of the Beretta was more "manageable" with less sensitive gloved fingers than the short stroke 1911 trigger.

I hit the tin plates we were aiming at though.:D Just the groupings were way looser than I can normally manage.

I'm not dumping my 1911A1 as my CCW piece over this because the criminals encountered here will all be indoors, as only nuts like me and my BIL were out in it recreationally, but the Beretta is now my SHTF handgun for the next Ice Age.;)

December 22, 2008, 10:58 PM
That's why my Daddy moved us to Texas. I have had experience in the Army shooting in cold conditions- no fun at all. If that's where you are, though, I know you have to do it and I admire you guys- I just don't care to join you up there.

December 23, 2008, 03:54 AM
...Temperature was -15.6 with a wind chill down to about -35 or -40...
It was only 15 below and you're complaining about the weather? What a lightweight...

(Jokingly says the half-Athabascan Native living on the coast of the Bering Sea)

By the way, if you want to see where I'm at, go to Google Earth and put in the following coordinates:

N 63 01' 56.1" W 163 33' 19.26"

December 23, 2008, 04:04 AM
When its that cold I see no need to carry a pistol outside my parka.

But I like shooting in all sorts of weather. The guns never have the problems my hands do.

Doing a simple tap/rack/bang drill with gloves can be a pain--practice it with snap caps it's harder than it looks.

I usually wear fingerless gloves until it creeps well below zero. Then its thin glove liners under fingerless wool gloves.

Handling a Glock with ski gloves sounds like an AD waiting to happen. (yes yes I know finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot...)

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