USPSA competitors, your advice and opinion is needed

Discussion in 'Competition Shooting' started by asknight, May 23, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. asknight

    asknight Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    1,298
    First, let me get right this right out of the way. The red (burgundy/maroon) box Federal 9mm 115gr will not make minor power factor out of a standard full size S&W M&P9. My wife discovered this today after 10 out of 12 grueling rounds in the Area 4 Championship when she failed chronographing. She ended up making 124.5PF after I talked the RO into trying another 7 rounds from a different box and lot number. She was in the 122-123PF range before then as the velocities varied widely. What really irritated me off were the folks using the $10 box steel case Monarch 9mm from Academy and had absolutely no problems making 128-132PF from various pistols. :fire:

    She has used WWB 115gr and Fiocchi 124gr successfully in previous matches and had used all of her stash up before this match. The Federal is what we could find in quantity locally that was reasonably priced. This match cost us a $150 entry fee, and we bought $200 of the Federal 9mm to shoot at the match. We ended up using a good chunk of it during those 10 stages including a bit of pre-match practice to ensure POA = POI with that ammo. So, we're talking a $350 embarrassment here.

    My question is would Federal be interested in hearing from me regarding this case or would they tell me to get stuffed? I haven't had any problems with their American Eagle 9mm making minor (barely) in previous matches. I wonder if Federal will admit that this is indeed a low grade, downloaded product manufactured specifically to meet Wal-Marts price requirement?

    My wife and I have neither a chronograph nor a Dillon 650 yet, but they're both on the short list and would alleviate this embarrassment in the future. I don't plan to ever waste another dollar on Federal plinking ammo if this is what is considered the norm with it. After all, the ammo failed to meet SAAMI specs of 1150fps for 115gr. To make sure this M&P didn't have an abnormal barrel, we also shot other match competitor's ammo through it and it made minor power factor just fine within 1 or 2 points of all of the other's guns that used the ammo.

    What are your thoughts and ideas?
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2010
  2. David E

    David E Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,459
    Sorry for both of you. It sucks!

    I bought a chrono for $100 several years ago. They are still around that, if not a little less. I always chrono my ammo before any big match. Area 4 is a big match. Sorry I couldn't make it this year.

    If I had reason to suspect that a certain load was close to minor (as you say the American Eagle was), then I'd be very hesitant going to a big match with a similar load untested.

    It sounds like you were the victim of last minute shopping. I've been there, done that......and sometimes I remember the lesson I thought I learned: plan ahead!

    I just loaded up some 9mm with 147 grain bullets. I checked them yesterday and they feel great, are accurate and are going fast enough. Probably won't shoot them at a major match until Sept at the IDPA nationals.

    I'd write to Federal and ask them what the velocity specs for that ammo is. I'd be curious what they say it is.
     
  3. Jeeper

    Jeeper Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    1,062
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    There is no harm in writing them.
     
  4. racine

    racine Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Messages:
    111
    Location:
    Colorado
    Best to Chrono before the match, maybe twice

    I feel for you here but that $100+ chrono investment is a crucial one. I previously borrowed or used my club chrono but never really felt comfortable until I got my own. I was able to chrono 4 times before my last big match and felt okay. The only thing that throws you off is the light. I got the most consistent readings in overcast weather but sunny weather can mess with you. I had chronoed 169 PF before the match but the day off the match with my ammo sitting in a warm trunk it read 175PF. Better to be high than low and I've been lucky that way. This is another reason to reload, never having to worry about logistics, the postman or UPS. Best thing is to just chalk this one to experience and enjoy the rest of the match or the experience of shooting. Hope it goes better next time.
     
  5. asknight

    asknight Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    1,298
    Thanks for all of your kind words and informative posts. She's made the executive decision and put me in charge of acquiring a chrono for us both and she's chosen to standardize on 124gr factory loads (after chronographing a sample of various brands) for that slight extra margin of PF until we get the Dillon.

    OTOH, I did by chance win the drawing for top prize at the Area 4 match. It's a Grundhauser custom 6" limited class gun in .40 built on mostly STI hardware. It's now time to leave my brief stint in Production and move up where the really fast guys hang out.

    What do you guys think of this? http://grundhausergunworks.com/USPSA6inchLimitedRacePistol.aspx Honestly, I don't know much about race guns. I've only been shooting USPSA for under a year now and that was with a G23, though I did fairly well with it. ;)

    I was discussing my need for mags, carrier, holster, etc with Mr. Grundhauser and he said that he had a line on a used CRSpeed rig that I could get for a song... I don't think my wife has ever had mixed feelings this strongly after her chrono issues and resulting lack of scores and me ending up winning something like this! :eek:

    I did email one of ATK/Federal's contact addresses with the request for the official ballistics info and test barrel length on this specific ammo. If I hear back, I'll be sure to post it here.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2010
  6. olyeller

    olyeller Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    Messages:
    206
    Congrats!
    I saw you win it!
     
  7. JoeSlomo

    JoeSlomo Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    803
    Grats on the win!!!

    IMO, unless your ammo was represented as having a specific velocity, Federal will be like....

    "...and? We never claimed it to be as fast as you wanted."

    Lesson learned. Hard lesson, but learned none the less.

    Once you get your chrono and reloader up and running (mandatory items for any serious competitor imo) you'll be able to tailor your loads where you want them, which will come in handy with your new limited gun.

    Check out the Benoverse at the Brian Enos forum. His forum is one of the best, if not THE best, action pistol competition sites on the web, and you might be able to find great prices on limited equipment for your new rig.
     
  8. asknight

    asknight Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    1,298
    olyeller: I was, and continue to be, completely shocked! I was merely hoping for a few new stickers to dress up my toolbox here at home and was blown away when my name was called!

    JoeSlomo: I was thinking along those same lines regarding Federal's response. In the email, I didn't mention any of the story as it occurred on the range, but simply asked for the ballistics on that ammo. Now, if they reply back with specs like ~1180fps out of a 5" test barrel and I was only getting 1060-1080 out of the 4.25" M&P9, then we might have something further to discuss. :)

    I'm surely going to spend some time over at Enos' place and see what information I can glean from those guys over there. Thanks for that pointer. I've got a couple of single stage presses to do a bit of load development for the new limited gun in anticipation of the Dillon. Mr. Grundhauser was kind enough to share a few recipes with me that he thought worked pretty well in the gun.
     
  9. racine

    racine Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Messages:
    111
    Location:
    Colorado
    Serendipity!
     
  10. raz-0

    raz-0 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    789
    Location:
    NJ
    Let federal know you were unhappy about the velocity of their ammo, but don't do so in a manner that says I think your product is defective and you are owed something. Keep it along the lines of I bought some of your product, and didn't like the fact that it was underpowered compared to your competitors, and won't be back as long as they keep on making their product that way. (BTW federal claims the american eagle 115 grain ammo makes 1180fps, probably out of a 6 inch test barrel. Knock off 50 fps per inch. M&P has a 4" barrel, that gives you 1080fps, and a PF os 124.2 as advertised).

    As for the 6" gun, I'm not a fan of 6" guns as of yet, so it doesn't get me all excited, but it looks like a nice piece of work.

    The only things I'd do much differently are the mag well, the thumb safety, and not put the big cut the length of the slide.

    The mag well is because that particular style, while having a nice big opening, doesn't do much to push your hand up into a nice high grip as much as other do. However if you have really meaty hands, I understand they are the bees knees. If you don't like it, replaceing it is a DIY affair.

    The safety I'd change because I have big hands and long fingers, and a wilson combat high-wide ambi safety digs into my hands less. although it looks like they might have contoured the ed brown enough it wouldn't matter. Ed browns are decent quality, and if they fit you, they are fine. If you don't like it, you can grind down the profile yourself, pay someone to do it, or have a new safety installed later.

    The big cut the length of the slide reduces material from where the barrel and slide lock up, Conservative smiths who tri-top a gun will be hesitant about even shallow cuts on the side in that area. It looks cool, but it might decrease longevity somewhat. But for free I wouldn't worry about it or try to convince the smith to do any differently. (IMO I'd have left that metal there, and gone with a bushing barrel maybe).

    It's not my thing, but I'd still be stoked to win it.

    Knowing what I know now, If I were in your position, I'd say sell it off to fund the reloading gear, chrono, and some components as the smartest investment in getting better faster, but I'd have a heck of a time following my own advice. :D
     
  11. asknight

    asknight Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    1,298
    raz-0: Your thoughts are appreciated and duly noted. Honestly, I'm going to be miffed if Federal is quoting velocity from 6" test barrels. That's no different than quoting rifle caliber velocities from 26-28" test barrels (which they've all done).

    My thoughts about this situation boils down thusly...
    New shooters are encouraged to "run what they brung" and get active in the production USPSA class while not many folks are taught that a vast majority of the more popular 115gr factory 9mm loads will not meet minor power factor. I've seen and learned of WWB, Remington UMC, and both Federal and American Eagle fail to make minor. That is a shame, as the European and Russian 115gr have absolutely no problems making minor. I assume that the Production class is aimed at getting the casual shooter who runs an "over the counter" factory pistol configuration and by and large, factory loaded ammo to join in the competitive matches.

    What I've learned, and will pass on to other shooters looking to join any USPSA activities is that the chronograph is the most important tool to own. To pay $100+ entry fees to a match without chronographing your ammo is stupid. I know that now. For the cost of joining just one of those matches, your chrono is paid for. If you don't own a chrono, avoid all American manufactured 115gr loads like the plague when stocking up for a match.
     
  12. ny32182

    ny32182 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2003
    Messages:
    5,838
    Location:
    Clemson, SC
    I've had factory loads branded the same vary wildly from one timeframe to the next just in terms of felt recoil. The only way to really know what is going on with any given load in your pistol is to load it yourself, and chrono it during the work up.

    Owning a chrono is great since they are cheap, but then again if you hang out with match shooters, everybody will likely have one that you can use anyway. I don't own one just yet. Also you can load on a single stage... it takes longer of course, but so far all my match 9mm comes off my Redding T7. :) I just loaded up to a point where it felt like WWB, then chronoed, and found I was at a good velocity for IDPA out of my G19. Of course I could have taken it up or down a little as needed, but now I have a recipie that I know works for my purpose out of that gun.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice