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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
To be sure, I am not a marksman. While at the range today with a few different pistols, I found myself not really hitting the mark as well as I had done a couple of days ago. I switched to my XDs 3.3" 9mm and it didn't get better. Now I've been transitioning to Winchester Train & Defend but was out of that. I found a box of UMC so I was using that. Anyhow, I had a box of Hornady Critical Defense so I brought that in too. I decided to use that up. Well at 5 yards (stop snickering...) I hit the tightest group I have ever hit! Now the previous shots right before that with the UMC were, well, terrible. I have noticed that is not uncommon toward the end of a shooting session but this was bad.

I have heard comments on videos about ammo hitting differently but this was an amazing difference. So the question is, did I just get lucky? I then tried that ammo in my EDC (Kimber Micro 9) and it was OK but not spectacular. I talked to the guy behind the counter at the range and he said that lower quality ammo can burn inconsistently compared to higher end ammo. He said you really need to see what ammo works best in your gun. I always thought this was just about what will feed properly (JHP instead of ball ammo). Comments please!
 

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Every gun is different. What works in mine may or may not work in yours. Try different manufacturers and different grain bullets and see what works best for you and your needs.
 

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For the average shooter, we need to get ourselves bagged-in really, really well, in order to truly shoot to the potential of the ammo.

If you're shooting off-hand, it could be any of a number of things that's affecting the outcome. Unless you're somehow truly randomizing and noticing an honest, quantifiable pattern, the truth of the matter is that you're probably most likely just seeing your biases and preconceived notions.

I'm no bullseye shooter, either. And sadly, even for an "action sports" shooter who's shot for as long as I have and who's slung as much lead downrange as I have, I'm really not that great of a shot. :oops:

Case-in-point: One of the favorite metrics used in my neck of the woods here in NE-Ohio are the Tac-Strike Quarter-Scale systems. With a lot of training classes using them, its easy for most of us recreational shooters to base our performance off this rather easily obtainable and ubiquitous piece of hardware. I start having trouble with this target once I push out beyond the 75 yard line. Inside of that, I'm pretty much OK.

Well, that's if I've kept up reasonable practice. :p

I went to the range early this past week. I found that even at the 65, I was having significant problems getting onto this piece of generously sized steel at the start of the day. :(:mad::confused: Freestyle, I was seeing a shockingly low ~60% hit ratio. It wasn't until I completely revisited the fundamentals that I realized that I was totally borking the trigger path - which, once corrected, I was hitting consistently above 90% (honestly, I should be 100% at that distance, given the generous size of that target combined with the fact that I was shooting alone and under no external pressure).

At one point, I will confess that I actually even thought that it might have been an ammo issue :lol:, as I'd started using a make/model of range fodder that I don't usually use and the transition to a make/model which I knew offered consistently good performance in my gun then seemed to have magically fixed the issue....until I went back to that initial ammo and failed to see the problem that I'd expected. This was then confirmed because as the day wore on and I became more fatigued, switching back to that "good" ammo also didn't make things any better. ;)

Cementing this was the fact that I then took a ten-count mental break to re-center myself, and I called up all that I could muster for 10 shots with each of those two range-fodders, single-handed, at that pate at the 65. Shooting at the pace of one round per 1.5 seconds or so (I wasn't wearing the timer at the time, but mentally, it seemed the right pace), I placed all 20 shots on the steel. Why? Because taking that breather allowed me to regain my mental focus, and shooting one-handed forced me to put every bit of what I can muster into proper execution.

The truth of the matter is that inside the 25, unless there's something drastically off-kilter about the way your gun interacts with any one specific and particular make or model of ammo - and yes, this -CAN- happen (see my real-world example, below), but it is much less common than most shooters would make it out to be - anything that's noticeably different with how the shots are printing is more than likely on you rather than on the hardware involved.

At 5 yards? A proficient handgun shooter should have all holes touching. And as I cited before of Tim Herron's writing, this is actually the level of performance -NECESSARY- at 7 yards in order to produce what a proficient shooter would consider to be a "reasonable" (not even "good") group at the 25 yard line:

Tim Herron's shooting tip. - UnitedGunGroup

To try to find ammo which performs well in your gun is a two-parter.

First and foremost, that ammo has to feed and function your magazines/gun. If it doesn't, no matter how laser-flat its travel or how devastating its terminal ballistics, it's not going to matter, as it's never going to even make its way out of the muzzle (or it may, but only inconsistently so).

Next comes external ballistics. Again, no matter how devastating the terminal ballistics, if that bullet fails to reach its intended POA, the latter discussion is academic at best, and a total non-starter at worst.

That first concern, for most, is something that you'll figure out sooner rather than later. A mag/gun that just doesn't feed/function an ammo well typically will manifest those problems soon enough. Yes, there can well be problems that won't manifest until a higher round-count is reached, as the gun gets more and more carbon-fouled or truly dirty from heavy use, but this is typically a tertiary issue.

The second concern - external ballistics - requires that the shooter be skilled enough to really and honestly not adversely impact the performance of the gun - and in-truth, that ain't easy, at least not for most recreational/sporting-average shooters. :)

I'm not trying to be condescending here, AverageAmerican. I'm simply speaking honestly and plainly to a fellow shooter who - in reading your current and past posts ( i.e. http://www.xdtalk.com/threads/winchester-train-defend.388409/#post-6603337 , http://www.xdtalk.com/threads/9mm-3-3-effective-range.382649/page-4#post-6568321 ) - gives me the impression that h really want to better himself in both knowledge and in practice.

With that in-mind, I'm going to outright ask you to put a real number behind your claim above:

Well at 5 yards (stop snickering...) I hit the tightest group I have ever hit!
What's that group size?

And no, I'm not snickering. Not one bit.

I'm asking because unless those shots make up one small single hole or at least are touching as a cloverleaf/cherry-blossom bloom, I'm going to very plainly suggest that you don't have the skills necessary to truly be able to free-hand shoot a handgun/ammo combo to test for external ballistics...and furthermore, that it is possible that you may not even be able to do so when you're sandbagged in-place.

This is not me laughing at you.

This is not me making fun of you.

I am simply giving you the facts, straight-up. Please know that I am speaking plainly and sincerely, from my heart.

Can you be seeing a true unique-ammo -to- unique-gun based difference (i.e. tolerance stacking)? Yes, that's certainly possible (and to-wit, remember, the second reason why we "vet" our chosen ammo). But honestly, at the 5 yard line? That's really not a metric that we can use.

To give you a real-world example:

Not long ago, I stepped out with my buddy - who is a markedly better shooter than I am - to test his then-new Roland Special for both feed/function as well as accuracy/performance with various ammo. I supplied him with sixteen different makes/models of 9x19, and out of those 16, only the 24 gr. aluminum-case CCI-Blazer range-fodder tossed groups over twice as large (he wasn't exactly shooting slowly that day, but he also wasn't shooting fast...about a shot every 1 and 1/2 to 2 seconds - we pushed the targets as far as it would go at that range, which was approx. 21 yards, and he was very consistently putting in 2-inch groups at that distance, at the leisurely pace he'd set) as that of any other ammo we fed it, including both 115 gr. and 147 gr. aluminum-case Blazers as alternatives.

Would we necessarily have seen differences had he cranked that target back to 5 yards? Would we even be able to make any assertions of what we'd seen at that distance?

Don't sweat range-fodder too much. It's just range-fodder.

It's all dirty stuff.

Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet
Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet

^ That's my range/training beater 3.8 Compact...and that's actually with it relatively clean. :lol:

And much of the range-fodder also tend to be smoky and/or blasty, too:


^ That's a picture that my instructor took of me at one of his low-light classes - I was using Remington UMC 9x19 during that class, and you can see just how blasty it is in low-light, in that picture.

And yes, it can be a bit less consistent (translation: accuracy/precision) than premium defensive/duty ammo.

But the truth is that the former really doesn't mater.

And the latter? Know that for most higher-level "national name" handgun training classes, students are often asked to shoot graded exercises at between the 10 to 25 yard range. Guess what? You won't see -ANYONE- running back to their vehicles or range-bags for their "match" ammo. :lol: Everyone just shoots whatever crappy and cheap range-fodder they bought for the class, and most good shooters will come in at a score of 90 or above for the Vickers-Hackathorn 10/10/10 ( aka "The Test" - Gunfighter Moment - Larry Vickers - Soldier Systems Daily ), and also come in at 90 or above with that same NRA B8, shot at the 25 in less than 30 seconds.


:)
 

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Here is a picture of the target. In the upper left you will see the group on the left, top. Now on the right side of that same target group is the very next 5 shot group using the same ammo but my Kimber Micro 9.
Wait, is that a battle ship target???
That looks like a full-size (23" x 29") "Battleship" target - Battleship Game - 23x29 .

If that's the target used ( and I'm guessing, here, because that looks virtually identical to a target that I have saved downstairs in my basement: it was my daughter's first fun-competition target with me, when she first started shooting :) ), then each square is 1 and 3/4 inches by 1 and 3/4 inches.

AverageAmerican, would you please clarify what you mean when you wrote, as I'd quoted above above:

" In the upper left you will see the group on the left, top. Now on the right side of that same target group is the very next 5 shot group using the same ammo but my Kimber Micro 9."

Does this mean that we're looking at the following?

Kimber micro 9 5 at 5 at UL 3rd.jpg


That what I'd circled in RED is the XD-S at 5 yards, and the black circle is the Micro 9?

Or is what you mean (and I think that this is what you mean, because you noted very specifically that it's a "group of 5") by the above that your XD-S's group is that cluster on the far left red dot on the horizontal 3-space ship, while for the Micro 9 the five shots clustered immediately to its right, approximately 2 inches over, as with what I've circled below:

Kimber micro 9 5 at 5 at UL 3rd b.jpg


If it's the former, nothing can really be said.

If it's the latter, well, then we've got something to dissect. :)

So, let's assume that it is indeed the latter, as I think it is - and let's go back to your first post:

So the question is, did I just get lucky? I then tried that ammo in my EDC (Kimber Micro 9) and it was OK but not spectacular. I talked to the guy behind the counter at the range and he said that lower quality ammo can burn inconsistently compared to higher end ammo. He said you really need to see what ammo works best in your gun. I always thought this was just about what will feed properly (JHP instead of ball ammo). Comments please!
So that's really the question, isn't it? Did you really just get lucky? Or is it a true tolerance-stacking issue (the gun "preferring" one ammo over the other)?

Or is there something else going on, another confounding factor?

My gut feeling is that you're letting the what you're *_thiking_* about the ammo unduly influence you.

You can obviously shoot well enough - at least at the 5 yard line ;) (yes, that's a friendly jab) - that XD-S group is proof. So my question to you would be why can't you do that with any other gun, with any other ammo? Because in-reality, the 5 yard line should not see such marked differences.

If you're seeing double the group size at 25 yards and you can consistently put in 2-inch groups at that distance, then yes, if I were you, I'd think that was an ammo issue, too.

But if you're sometimes shooting a 4-inch group and sometimes a 3 and sometimes a 6 or even 8, well, that's not really consistent enough to make that diagnosis, right?

Here, you're essentially doubling that group size at only five yards. That's going to be shotgun patterning at the 25.

Shooting is as much a mental game - if not more - than it is physical. A lot of the time, what you "believe" can self-manifest. In a not so distant thread, with your reply dating just a bit over a month ago- http://www.xdtalk.com/posts/6568321/ - you'd written:

...Also, for me only having experience with the 1911 platform (regardless of size), the long pull of the XDs lead to low/left shooting, though at least consistent. I have found the more of a 'curl your finger' pull, almost pulling the trigger to the right, has really helped. Again, going back to an 'easier' trigger on the 1911, it has only improved my hits with that.
Is it the ammo? Or is it more likely you? ;)

So let's play a different game, then. The next time you go, I want you to mix up your ammo. No, not put different ammo in the same mag, but load up different mags with one type of ammo each. A low round count works, 5 is a great number, as it should be enough to show discrepancies while still keeping you fresh enough both inside each string and throughout the session to prevent fatigue from being an issue.

Now, when you reach into your range-bag, I also don't want you to even look at or touch the ammo when you load it into your gun(s). Do it as a blind taste test, marking only on the magazine or the base-pad something that will let you distinguish what's what, at the end of the practice session.

At the 5 yard line, instead of going all over the place, take that Battleship target and for every magazine of five, I'd like you to keep all those shots within the same red "dot/circle." Given what we've seen you CAN do, above (again, this is valid only if my second assumption is correct), you shouldn't have any problems. Those rounds should easily stay within the red, if not simply stack right on top of each other.
 

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^ No, no, bro, I really can't.

If I could teach, I'd have been able to convey those thoughts in 20 words or less. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That looks like a full-size (23" x 29") "Battleship" target - Battleship Game - 23x29 .

If that's the target used ( and I'm guessing, here, because that looks virtually identical to a target that I have saved downstairs in my basement: it was my daughter's first fun-competition target with me, when she first started shooting :) ), then each square is 1 and 3/4 inches by 1 and 3/4 inches.

AverageAmerican, would you please clarify what you mean when you wrote, as I'd quoted above above:

" In the upper left you will see the group on the left, top. Now on the right side of that same target group is the very next 5 shot group using the same ammo but my Kimber Micro 9."

Does this mean that we're looking at the following?

View attachment 352977

That what I'd circled in RED is the XD-S at 5 yards, and the black circle is the Micro 9?

Or is what you mean (and I think that this is what you mean, because you noted very specifically that it's a "group of 5") by the above that your XD-S's group is that cluster on the far left red dot on the horizontal 3-space ship, while for the Micro 9 the five shots clustered immediately to its right, approximately 2 inches over, as with what I've circled below:

View attachment 352985

If it's the former, nothing can really be said.

If it's the latter, well, then we've got something to dissect. :)

So, let's assume that it is indeed the latter, as I think it is - and let's go back to your first post:



So that's really the question, isn't it? Did you really just get lucky? Or is it a true tolerance-stacking issue (the gun "preferring" one ammo over the other)?

Or is there something else going on, another confounding factor?

My gut feeling is that you're letting the what you're *_thiking_* about the ammo unduly influence you.

You can obviously shoot well enough - at least at the 5 yard line ;) (yes, that's a friendly jab) - that XD-S group is proof. So my question to you would be why can't you do that with any other gun, with any other ammo? Because in-reality, the 5 yard line should not see such marked differences.

If you're seeing double the group size at 25 yards and you can consistently put in 2-inch groups at that distance, then yes, if I were you, I'd think that was an ammo issue, too.

But if you're sometimes shooting a 4-inch group and sometimes a 3 and sometimes a 6 or even 8, well, that's not really consistent enough to make that diagnosis, right?

Here, you're essentially doubling that group size at only five yards. That's going to be shotgun patterning at the 25.

Shooting is as much a mental game - if not more - than it is physical. A lot of the time, what you "believe" can self-manifest. In a not so distant thread, with your reply dating just a bit over a month ago- http://www.xdtalk.com/posts/6568321/ - you'd written:



Is it the ammo? Or is it more likely you? ;)

So let's play a different game, then. The next time you go, I want you to mix up your ammo. No, not put different ammo in the same mag, but load up different mags with one type of ammo each. A low round count works, 5 is a great number, as it should be enough to show discrepancies while still keeping you fresh enough both inside each string and throughout the session to prevent fatigue from being an issue.

Now, when you reach into your range-bag, I also don't want you to even look at or touch the ammo when you load it into your gun(s). Do it as a blind taste test, marking only on the magazine or the base-pad something that will let you distinguish what's what, at the end of the practice session.

At the 5 yard line, instead of going all over the place, take that Battleship target and for every magazine of five, I'd like you to keep all those shots within the same red "dot/circle." Given what we've seen you CAN do, above (again, this is valid only if my second assumption is correct), you shouldn't have any problems. Those rounds should easily stay within the red, if not simply stack right on top of each other.



It was the latter, the red circle was the XDs and the black circle was the very next five rounds using the Micro 9 and the same ammo. I need to point out that from the first time I shot the XDs I was very much Low/Left. I attribute that to the much longer pull trigger compared to the 1911 style I am used to. For the record I have a Kimber Ultra Carry 45 which I had for years collecting dust. Once I decided to actively carry I sought out a more concealable pistol and settled on the Kimber Micro 9. However I really liked the XDs and some time later I spoiled myself and got one. I have been making a point to get to the range when I can to get more familiar with and better control of the guns. Some days I seem to do better than others. I also have used a variety of ammo and seeing this makes me wonder if some of my bad days might have been influenced by ammo. I generally just blame myself but this caught me off guard. Now typically, I shoot better with the Micro 9. I was also running late and was winding down when I usually start seeing sloppier shooting show up. I just felt like taking a couple more shots and had finished the UMC box so I grabbed the Hornady. Since I took advantage of the gear up program, I do have a number of mags so I can try what you suggested.
 

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It was the latter, the red circle was the XDs and the black circle was the very next five rounds using the Micro 9 and the same ammo.
Cool beans. :) I just had to be sure. I'm ESL as-is, and combine that with reading online, well, you get the idea. :lol:

I need to point out that from the first time I shot the XDs I was very much Low/Left.
[/quote]

Yup, that's why I cited your post in another thread ( http://www.xdtalk.com/threads/9mm-3-3-effective-range.382649/page-4#post-6568321 ) in my reply above. ;)

I have been making a point to get to the range when I can to get more familiar with and better control of the guns. Some days I seem to do better than others. I also have used a variety of ammo and seeing this makes me wonder if some of my bad days might have been influenced by ammo. I generally just blame myself but this caught me off guard. Now typically, I shoot better with the Micro 9. I was also running late and was winding down when I usually start seeing sloppier shooting show up. I just felt like taking a couple more shots and had finished the UMC box so I grabbed the Hornady. Since I took advantage of the gear up program, I do have a number of mags so I can try what you suggested.
I think part of the problem here is also that you're adding a lot of confounding factors - to really be able to quantify your improvements, you're going to need to hold constant as many factors as possible, everything from stall lighting to how tired/frustrated you may be from a day of work to when you "test" your capabilities to just what ammo you're using.

I try to cold-test myself with a couple of quantifiable benchmarks every time I go to the range for "work." I do the Vickers/Hackathorn 10-10-10 (aka "The Test") right off the bat (from the draw), and then I go to the 25 using a 10-shot, 30-seconds (standing freestyle) on the B8-RC to score.

The 25-yard I may shoot as a drill *_after_* the "cold" (not really, right? since I just did the 10/10/10 :)) test, but I try my best -NOT- to shoot the 10/10/10 as anything other than a true test, to prevent myself from gaming it.

After these initial tests, which I score and record, I then move on to the business at-hand. I try to save my speed work until later - focusing on accuracy/precision (including distance) first, as for me, that tends to degrade faster as I get mentally and physically fatigued.
 
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