Freedom Munitions American Steel

freedom munitions american steel

New product today from the awesome bros at Freedom Munitions: American Steel. Made in the USA, steel-cased brass coated 9mm ammo. I’ll let their product description say the rest:

Unlike foreign made and imported steel cased ammunition, American Steel is made from the highest quality brass plated steel cases combined with dependable primers and powder. The American Steel line is not only accurate and reliable ammunition but also offered at a more economical price point than traditional brass cased ammunition; setting a new standard for range ammunition.

Featuring a copper plated, lead projectile from X-Treme Bullets, American Steel is loaded to the same performance standards and with the same powder and primers as Freedom Munitions traditional line of new and remanufactured ammunition.

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Ammo review: Hornady Custom Lite Reduced Recoil .308 Winchester

Jeez, that title was a mouthful, wasn’t it? I swear, ammo manufacturers are getting carried away with their product names these days. But that’s not the point, the point is to talk about this product from Hornady. Today we’re reviewing their reduced recoil .308 Winchester load, which is loaded with Hornady’s 125 grain SST bullet.

Hornady Custom Lite .308 Win

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SIG SAUER® Introduces .38 Super +P Elite Performance Ammunition

Newington, NH (October 7, 2015) – SIG SAUER, Inc., designer and manufacturer of the world’s most reliable firearms, silencers, optics, ammunition, airguns, and accessories is pleased to introduce 125gr .38 Super +P Elite Performance Ammunition in V-Crown™ jacketed hollow point (JHP) and SIG FMJ full metal jacket loads.

With a muzzle velocity of 1230 feet per second, the 125gr .38 Super +P ammunition delivers exceptional accuracy and reliability. The SIG V-Crown load features a proprietary stacked hollow point bullet for reliable, uniform expansion and optimal terminal performance. DUCTA–BRIGHT 7A™ coated brass cases also provide enhanced lubricity, offering superior corrosion resistance, and more reliable feeding and extraction in semi-automatic pistols.

The SIG FMJ premium target loads feature solid brass cases and durable, copper-jacketed bullets that remain intact on impact. The precise, uniform profile of the SIG FMJ bullets results in maximum accuracy and consistency. Dependable primers and clean-burning powders are used for reduced barrel fouling with more reliable functioning.

“With the introduction of the .38 Super +P ammunition, we now offer Elite Performance Ammunition for all SIG SAUER pistols,” said Dan Powers, president of the SIG SAUER Ammunition Division. “SIG FMJ ammunition is the perfect combination of affordability and performance in a premium target round. It is designed to approximate the performance of the corresponding SIG V-Crown jacketed hollow point rounds, giving our customers the advantage of a seamless transition from target ammo to carry ammo.”

All Elite Performance Ammunition is manufactured in the United States by SIG SAUER to the same exacting standards as the company’s premium pistols and rifles. For more information, visit

Ruger Blackhawk .45 Colt accuracy testing

225 grain pdx

Last week, I took the Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt to the range for accuracy testing. I worked with three different loads, Hornady 185 grain Critical Defense, Winchester 225 grain PDX, and Fiocchi 250 grain LRN cowboy ammo. The above group is from the Winchester PDX, and it shot into a hair over 2 inches at 50 feet from a standing freestyle position.

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Let’s talk about handgun stopping power

We’re going to open with a quote:

“…there is no appreciable difference in the effectiveness of the 9 mm and the .45 ACP cartridges.”
Vincent J. M. Di Maio, GUNSHOT WOUNDS: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques SECOND EDITION, Page 150.


The reason why I open with that quote is because it goes to a point I’ve wanted to make for a long time. When you tell someone that they have to carry a .45 or a .40, you’re creating a mindset that sets that person up for failure. “You have to carry a .45 because it has more stopping power” – well that’s great, but I’m issued a 9mm for work; does that mean I’m going to get killed because of my duty gun caliber? That mindset of failure isn’t a problem for experienced, talented shooters, but imagine someone is a new officer, with minimal firearms experience. It can absolutely create problems.

I mentioned on Friday that if I could kill one gun myth, it would be that the AR15 isn’t reliable because “it shits where it eats” as a DI gun. I thought about that a bit longer, and realized that what I really wanted to kill was the myth of handgun stopping power. If you’re talking about service cartridges like the 9mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP, they all do the same thing. Even the legendary .357 Magnum in modern loadings isn’t going to blow a man up into a shower of sparks. Yes, when you start getting into heavy magnum loads for rounds like .44 Magnum or some of the crazy magnums things change, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about practice service pistol cartridges.

So the question is why do people get so invested in handgun caliber wars? Because for most people guns aren’t a dispassionate purchase. In a perfect world, every gun selected for self-defense would be selected as free from bias as possible, but evaluating only the objective good and bad features. Unfortunately, that’s not usually how these things work, and people will let their feelings drive choices for the self-defense guns. Honestly, that’s not a bad thing when you’re picking between say, a Glock 19 or an M&P9, and decide on the M&P because you like the way it “feels” in your hand. Or if you’re choosing between a Beretta or a Sig and go with the Beretta because it looks cooler. Where the feels become problematic is when it drives self-defense purchases to do things that, for lack of a better term, aren’t smart. Like buying a gun from a sub-par company.

There’s a place for feels in gun purchases. I own a lot of guns because I like them, even if they’re not practice. For example: basically every revolver is not as good as a carry gun as a semi-auto. It’s just true. And I will often let my feels drive me to carry a wheelgun, because I like them more and as such am more likely to train with a wheelgun. I’m not immune to this by any stretch. That’s what causes caliber wars as well – people make emotional investments in their self-defense purchases, which is why some people react poorly when you tell them the fact that .45 doesn’t have any more “stopping power” than a 9mm. It’s not a rational thing, it’s an emotion thing.

They’re not hearing “All service handgun calibers are equal so it doesn’t matter what you carry,” what they’re hearing is “you made a bad choice and are wrong and dumb” regardless of whether or not that’s what is being said. When I carry a semi-auto, I carry a 9mm. I have in the past carried .40s and .45s as well, but anymore I just carry a 9mm because it’s easier to shoot well and holds more bullets. That’s if I’m not just being lazy and carrying a j-frame in a pocket or something, which honestly happens quite a lot. But even then I’m starting to carry my j-frame less and carry my Shield more…because for the same footprint I get 3 more rounds.

The bottom line of this post is simple: caliber wars are stupid. If you believe that your .45 is going to magically put a guy down harder than a 9mm, you’re wrong. It’s not. It’s just another tiny handgun bullet, and they’re all really not that great anyway. So instead of worrying about how hard your bullet hits, go to the range and get some trigger time in. It’ll be a better use of your time.

Well there’s your problem


You see that frame? You see how it’s cracked like that? That crack is why I’m very, very suspect of using re-manufactured ammo from companies I’ve never heard of. Generally speaking, I’ll only use reman from the following companies: Atlanta Arms, Freedom Munitions and…yeah that’s pretty much it.

Celebrate diversity


Top row, left to right: two Magtech .38 Special 158 grain LSWC; two DoubleTap .38 Special +P 158 grain hardcast LSWC; two Federal .357 Magnum 158 grain JSP.

Bottom row, left to right: two Federal .38 Special 158 grain LRN, two Federal Gold Medal 148 grain full WC.

All of these rounds could be fired from one gun; while revolvers may be old, their ability to perform many roles from self defense, hunting, and target shooting, is hard to match in a semi-auto pistol.

Hornady Critical Defense .357 Magnum ballistic gel test

Penetrated over 16 inches, expanded to 0.60. Basically, it did everything you’d expect a modern defensive JHP to do. This is what I carry in my .357 revolvers.

Legendary stopping power

Everyone who’s ever been on the gun section of the internet knows two things. The first is that you carry a .45 because they don’t make a .46, and the second is that you carry a .357 Magnum because shooting twice is silly.

Sorry, I know you probably caught the derp from that opening statement, but bear with me here. A forum thread got me thinking about something, specifically the “legendary stopping power” associated with the classic 125 grain .357 Magnum loads. If you’ve read the internet, these are very well regarded for producing rapid incapacitation in badguys, and truth be told do produce some pretty impressive wound trauma in obstructed shots. But the question that ran though my mind this morning was whether or not the .357 Magnum did anything in those situations that a modern JHP wouldn’t have done?

cougar magnum (300x225)

This is the problem when we talk about “stopping power” because what causes a human being to stop can be complicated. Physically, there are only two ways to actually stop the human body: make it stop pumping blood, or disrupt the central nervous system. However, there are lots of document cases of people being “stopped” whose wounds were not incapacitating in any way. Similarly, there are lots of documented cases of people with serious wounds fighting well past when conventional logic says they should have stopped.

One of the more interesting areas of self-defense shootings is the concept of the “psychological stop” – where the person who has been shot realizes they’ve been shot, and decides that regardless of the severity of the wound, it’s time to rethink their life choices up to that point. I’ve seen gun articles that suggest that this could be part of the reputation of the .357 Magnum for putting dudes down – the tremendous muzzle blast and concussion associated with cooking off a 125 grain magnum out of a 4 inch gun makes it somewhat difficult to ignore the fact that you’re being shot at.

Ultimately, I think a lot of the legend of the .357 Magnum’s “stopping power” is just that: a legend. Yes, there are tales of it producing incredible one-shot stops, but you can find those with any round. There are also plenty of stories about it failing to stop badguys, which are also common with plenty of other rounds. It seems that the common thread in all of these stories is simple: marksmanship matters.

Ammo review: Federal American Eagle .38 Special 130 grain FMJ

This is the perfect round for IDPA SSR. I know that’s a bold statement, but if you’re not going to handload for IDPA SSR, you need a bullet that does three things: works with a lightened action, is easy to reload, and makes power factor. The 130 grain FMJ load from Federal does all three of those things.

Photo by Ammo Supply Warehouse
Photo by Ammo Supply Warehouse

Let’s start with the most important thing your IDPA Stock Service Revolver ammo should do: make power factor. In IDPA, the PF for SSR is set at 105,000, which we’ll shorten to just 105. For those not familiar with the shooting sports, the formula for power factor is bullet weight times velocity, then divided by 1000 to make a three digit number. So for example, a bullet that weighs 130 grains would need to be going at least 807.7 FPS to make power factor. Weather affects bullet velocity, on a cold day the air is more dense making your rounds slower. Hot days are good for chrono checks; unfortunately when my rounds were chrono’d at the IDPA Nationals, it was about 40 degrees. Three rounds are shot over the chrono, and the American Eagle produced an 820, 820, and 817. That’s…pretty consistent, actually. And what I’ve come to expect from Federal’s products. That put my power factor at a comfortable 106.5, giving me plenty of confidence in using these rounds again.

The next thing that your rounds need to do, and honestly it could be argued that this should have been the first thing, is work. Revolver shooters love to lighten the trigger pulls on their guns. Most wheelguns come with barely shootable 334 pound trigger pulls from the factory, but some judicious tuning can get a good wheelgun like a S&W or Ruger down to the 8 pound range easily. A really good gunsmith can get S&W wheelguns lower than that, even. But all this lightening comes at a cost, and that cost is reliability. A lighter trigger pull transfers less energy to the primer, which means your chances of a click instead of a bang go up. There are some gear solutions, like using extending firing pins on S&W revolvers, but the most common solution is “use federal primers.” Federal primers are the softest on the market, meaning they require the least amount of energy to detonate. Hey, guess what primers this ammo has in it?

Finally, there’s ease of reloading. No joke, reloading one of these ancient spinny-middle guns isn’t easy. It’s not like reloading a semi-auto pistol, where you only have to stick one thing in one hole (hur hur). No, reloading a wheelgun means you have to simultaneously stick it in six holes. If you’re off by a little bit, you crash into the metal inbetween the charge holes, and can really hang up your load. That’s where two things are important: chamfered cylinders and round bullet profile. Chamfered charge holes mean there’s a slight bevel on the edge of the cylinder’s holes to help catch the tip of the round and guide it in. Bullet profile is important because the perfectly round nose of the Federal 130s is going to be less likely to catch on anything. Unlike flat nose or JHP rounds, it just slides right in. It’s also better than lead because I’ve seen soft lead bullets catch and leave wee little bits of themselves on the shoulder of the charge hole if it’s sharp enough.

So there you have it. If you’re looking to shoot IDPA SSR and you need off the shelf ammo, get Federal American Eagle 130 grain FMJ. The product code is AE38K.