Range Report: Different Guns, Different Ammo

So back I went back to DFW Gun Range for Round 2 of “getting to know the High Power (again)” (with a small detour along the way).  Some parameters:

  • all shots in this session were fired “slow, deliberate”
  • in 8-round strings
  • into a standard NRA B-27E silhouette target
  • at 8 yards (25 feet) distance — because I had a little trouble with the mechanism and couldn’t get the target past that distance, not that it’s important.

Because I’m a Cheap Bastard, I prefer to use as few targets as possible, so what I do is shoot one round into an open area of the target, then use that bullet-hole as the aiming-point for the remaining 7 rounds.  The grouping is what it is.  Here’s what the target looked like afterwards (explanation to follow):

Item 1:  The 1911 detour
I wanted to do a quick comparison in feel between the .45ACP 185gr JHP practice ammo vs. my old 230gr FMJ standard.  The 185gr was the super-cheap “Monarch” brand (on sale for almost a pre-2008 price):

…while the 230gr stuff was regular Winchester White Box.

So here’s the “.45 area” of the target, with each group noted, starting with the 230gr:


I have to say, I’ve fired a lot of 230gr FMJ ammo in my life — at a rough guess, well over 50,000 rounds in various 1911 pistols, so shooting it holds no surprises for me.  Nevertheless, as I’ve noted recently on these here pages, the recoil from the heavy bullets may be starting to cause a little distress to my old wrists, hence my desire to try a lighter load.  I’ve shot quite a lot — close to a thousand — of the 185gr loads before, but never this brand, and its cheapness gave me low expectations.

Not anymore.  Hell, given the fact that the Monarch ammo is hollow-pointed, I may just use it as my carry load — but before I make that decision, I’ll do a few “real life” comparisons between the cheap Monarch JHP and the premium Hornady self-defense stuff.  (Don’t get excited;  I’m not going to use hippies as targets, tempting as the idea may be.)  I’ll use the old standby (watermelons, water jugs or something like that).  Watch these pages.

On to the High Power, and the cheap Sellier & Bellot 9mm 115gr practice ammo.

For this area of the target, I’ve simply noted the groupings in order of their arrival on target.

Accuracy started to improve around group #5 (with one flyer), then strings #6-#9 just flew where I wanted them to go.  I was so happy that I broke with my normal tradition (I generally don’t shoot at the head of the target), but my blood was up, and in fact, I think I fired that string at a slightly faster pace than the first nine, not “controlled rapid”, but certainly quicker than “slow deliberate” at any rate.

People sometimes say “the worst day at ____ is better than the best day at the office”, or something like that.  That’s not always true of range sessions;  I’ve had some absolutely shitty days at the range — broken guns, etc. — which quite frankly are worse than a couple of really good days I’ve had at the office.  But at the end of this range session I walked away with the Warm & Fuzzies, a much better day even than the time at the office when I told my boss to fuck off, and wasn’t fired*.

I must be getting old, to make a statement like that.

The only problem arising from this range day was:  I can’t actually decide whether I should use the Browning (with its 12-round mag) as my regular carry piece, or stick with the 1911, now loaded with 8 rounds of 185gr JHPs.  (I always have at least one  spare mag on me, btw, regardless of the gun I’m carrying.)

Your thoughts in Comments.

*Details of that  event some other time.


  1. Clearly the Browning. JMB’s final masterpiece. Midway offers 15 rd magazines of excellent quality that do not protrude from the butt. So, 15 +1 of 9mm goodness, a pistol that fits your hand like John made it for YOUR hand and great reliability. A trigger that with a little work (mainly remove the French governments mag disconnect) that can be a clean and crisp 4 1/2 lbs. (Cylinder & Slide offer high quality hammers, sears and trigger replacements that only add to the goodness.) My only complaint, the trigger guard is too small.

  2. Nice groups!

    Was the DA/SA on the high power easy to get used to? I have a Beretta 92 with DA/SA it’s a bit big and clunky without the gorgeous lines of the High Power.

    Nowadays with more thugs working in groups, the High Power might be the better choice. Some states restrict magazine capacity because the political overloads are insidious so it’s still 1911 for me


  3. Some years back I would have agreed with the “slow bullet hits hard and makes big hole” approach. At the time I carried a full size 1911 as a duty pistol and an officer’s model 1911 as my EDC when off duty. As I became eligible for social security the arthritis monster snuck up on me and I found that I just couldn’t shoot a 1911 style pistol very well. I was good for 20 or 30 rounds but I just couldn’t make it through my qualification shoots without a lot of pain. I wanted to stay on the job until I could retire with 30 years of service (I started late) so the only choice I had was to go with a 9mm. Now I’m carrying an XD9 as my duty pistol – not because I’m a big fan of striker fired pistols but because I like the grip safety on the Springer. My off duty is a first generation Smith Shield single stack just because it was cheap and seems to shoot pretty well. I also have a Ruger LCP .380 as my hide out and I think its the best deal going for a pocket pistol. Modern 9mm defense ammunition is pretty good. My personal preference is Hornady Critical Duty and Critical Defense but there are lots of excellent choices out there. I reload my practice ammunition and have about 10K rounds of mid velocity ball sitting on the shelf. Plenty for zombies and other vermin.

    For this broken down old man the big advantage of 9mm was the quicker recovery time after shots, the bigger magazine capacity in a duty size pistol, the lighter weight and comfort when carrying the full size or back up weapon, and the lower cost of defense and practice ammo. Even as a reloader I can build 9mm rounds for a significantly lower cost than .45.

    Now for my sermon about the other aspect of getting old. I’ve apologized to my friend Kim for doing this a couple of times and he hasn’t banned me from the site so I guess that we’re okay. The monster I fought some years back was prostate cancer. Guys, get yourself checked. A PSA test is quick and easy. The follow up tests if necessary are uncomfortable – although some people may describe them as the best sex that they ever had (not me!) – but they can save your life. I made it through the surgery five and a half years ago so they say that I’m officially “cured” (whatever that means). Every day is a gift from God and this old man is thankful that I’m still looking at the grass from the top and not the bottom.

  4. I think 9mm has enough power. I am easily a better shot with one. And you can carry more bullets.

    1911 might be iconic but it replaced the peacemaker shooting 45 long colt. Bigger bullet, more recoil and only 6 rounds. or Smith and Wesson and 38. anyway had the internet been around then I think you would hear a lot of similar arguments.

  5. The HP is SA not DA/SA… that’s the newer generation of Brownings, the BDA.
    And anyway, I carry the HP the same way as I carry the 1911… cocked and locked.

  6. I hope that KdT does not insult my honour to the extent that I feel obligated to challenge him to a duel !

  7. I don’t put too much concern on the capacity (both in the loaded magazine and in extra mags) beyond having the 8+8 a 1911 would provide; the numbers are arbitrary. Maybe the HP and two mags isn’t enough and you should get an XD or equivalent that has 17 round magazines. Maybe thats not enough. Meh. Your comfort shooting is probably a better deciding factor; since it will be easier to practice with the HP (not to mention cheaper) that’s a significant benefit. And the high end bullets available for the europellet loads have made up a lot of the shortcomings over the last few decades and the days of silvertips and hydra-shoks.

    For either caliber you can still order Federal HST ammo in 50 rounds boxes; technically they’re for LE only but some vendors will still sell them, and it drops the price per round from over a dollar to somewhere in the .50-60 cpr range. Maybe better if you get it on sale or if there are rebates. HST is pretty well considered as a self defense round.

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