Reliability and FunctionSemi auto handguns and their relationship with their ammunition is more than just accuracy. Reliable feeding and ejection is even more important than gilt edge accuracy. During testing, it is important to note any failures to feed or eject and determine the base cause. Sometimes it can be how the bullet nose shape and length interacts with the feed ramp and magazine lips of the pistol. If the ammunition shape is incompatible, it is not a good solution even if accuracy is great. Either different ammunition will have to be used or modifications made to the feed ramp or magazines will be necessary. It is usually better to find different ammunition that will feed reliably and still give the desired performance.
Accuracy TestingThere are a number of important points to keep in mind when testing ammunition for accuracy. Once a type of ammunition is approved for function, accuracy testing can begin. Determine the distance you want to test at. Many small handguns are tested at 15 yards or 50 feet. Larger guns can be tested at 20 or 25 yards. A solid bench-rest and sandbags are very helpful. Be sure that the gun is put into exactly the same position for every shot. The idea is to remove as much of the human element from the testing as possible so actual accuracy is being tested, not ability or other factors. Make sure that you are using a target that provides an easy to see bullseye that is easy to line up with the pistol sights. Adding a handgun scope or high quality red dot sight can make bench testing far more accurate, due to the ability to focus on one plane where the target and sight are in focus. Typical iron sights require the eye to try and focus on three points at the same time, which fatigues the eyes and can reduce shooting performance from the bench. Make sure that the trigger pull is performed very smoothly and consistently. Rough trigger handling is extremely detrimental to handgun accuracy. Most modern semi auto pistols have trigger pulls from 4 to 15 lbs. When the trigger pull weight is several times more than the firearm weighs, it becomes obvious why a gentle, controlled trigger pull that doesn't disturb the handgun during firing, is so critical. Fire 5 shots, taking care to perform exactly the same each shot. Use a ruler or caliper to measure the outsides between the two bullet holes the farthest apart. Subtract the bullet diameter from this measurement to get the center to center accuracy of that particular load. Sometimes some semi auto pistols will throw the first round out of the group because it is chambered manually instead of by the semi auto action of the pistol. This is a good fact to know about your handgun. Some handguns will display a wide range of performance with different ammunition, showing an extreme preference for one type. Other handguns may shoot very well with a wide variety of ammunition.
Terminal Performance TestingKnowing what your bullet does once it reaches the target can be very important. Target shooters want to know how clean of a hole the bullet makes in the target to obtain best scores. Hunters and tactical shooters need to know how deep the bullet will penetrate and how it will expand depending on what a hits. Penetration testing is easy using a series of MDF boards spaced in a uniform repeatable pattern. Shoot and record the number of boards penetrated. Other test media can be useful for testing bullet expansion and stretch cavity performance. Bentonite clay, ballistic gelatin and a number of other commercial products can be useful. A good imagination can also supply suitable ways to test this performance.
One of the most important factors in testing is to be as consistent as possible and to remove as much of the human element from the procedure. Good trigger control and the best optical sights possible make for the best, most consistent results so you can make the best decisions on ammunition for your specific situation.
UM Tactical manufactures a US made universal mount for a handgun scope that assembles with no tools in 30 seconds or less. Videos, photos, and ordering information are available at www.umtactical.com or call us for more information at 866-979-4GUN (4486).