Sunday, June 7, 2009

Testing JHPs for .357 Sig and 9mm carry pistols

Fun at the range for me is taking my pistols, setting up targets and blasting away, shooting fast or slow, drawing and firing, shooting with either hand, a pistol in each hand, or two-hand strong-hand and weak-hand alternately, et c.

I do almost all of the above every time I go, but yesterday was work. I had a fairly wide selection of jacketed hollow points to test in .357 Sig and 9mm, which means bench-rest shooting.

The carry pistols I used for testing are, from left, S&W M&P .357 Sig, CZ 75 PO7 Duty 9mm, S&W M&P Compact .357 Sig and Sig P229 .357 Sig.

Hollow points tested included four loads in .357 Sig, all 125 grain, Speer Gold Dots, Winchester Ranger, Winchester white box JHPs and Hornady JHPs. And eight loads in 9mm, Gold Dot +P 124 gr., Gold Dot 115 gr., Hornady FTX and XTP, both 115 gr., Cor Bon +P 115 gr., Remington Golden Saber 147 gr. and two Winchester loads, Silver Tip 115 gr. and WWB 147 gr. JHP.

I was shooting groups of three because I'm cheap. At a buck a shot, I do the bare minimum of testing JHPs. And I was shooting at 7 yards from bench rest, to take as much human error out as possible, of which I have an abundance. So take a wild guess what were the best groups of three I shot in both .357 Sig and 9mm?

Would you believe Winchester white box in both cases, which you probably know is the cheap stuff? A box of 50 WWB JHPs is about the same cost as a box of 20 or 25 of the premium loads.

Anyway, the P229 delivered the tightest three in .357 Sig, those two holes in the orange corner of the 8" bull, where three shots went. I know you think I'm lying, but there was no other hole anywhere nearby, so those two holes show a group of 3 .357 Sigs.

And in 9mm, again the WWB 147 gr. delivered the best group of three, with the next closeup group shown, three holes touching each other. Go figure.

Of course the dominant factor in this shooting is not the ammo or the pistols. It's me and my fuzzy eyes.

When I'm shooting standing, with both arms extended, I can see the sights clearly enough with my prescription glasses to shoot fairly well. And if I want to cheat, I put my 2.5X reading glasses on and I can see the sights sharply in focus. But I usually shoot with the prescription glasses as that's what I wear all the time. Gotta practice for reality because I can't walk around wearing my reading glasses all the time. I only put those on when I've really gotta see what I'm doing.

And sitting down at a bench with the front of the pistol on a rest and both elbows on the bench is pretty steady, but it doesn't allow me to extend my arms. So even with my reading glasses on, the sights were still fuzzy. So I just did the best I could.

Last photo shows my improvised target when I got tired of using orange 8" bulls. As you can see, they're all pretty similar groups. With the Speer 9mm +P 124 gr. I pulled one shot down to the next cross, where I circled it. Otherwise, they're as good as I can shoot with fuzzy sights.

Results of the testing: load up any of the premium loads or the cheap WWB, it don't matter. They all fed with no errors and when push comes to shove, they will all deliver as good or better accuracy than I can shoot. And I have confidence they all will expand and do their job if I put them on target.

The new Hornady Critical Defense will likely be my carry load for the P07, just as they have been for my Kel-Tec PF-9 backup pistol and for my Steyr M9-A1, just because I believe their advertising about being "guaranteed to expand" even in the most adverse conditions.

But there's also no reason not to trust any of the other premium loads or the WWB cheap JHPs. With yesterday's testing, the P07 is ready to join my carry rotation, along with the three .357 Sig pistols, M9-A1, PF-9, Glock 29 10mm and Charter Patriot .327 Fed. Magnum.

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