Buy Winchester and Black Hills


Super Match rounds shot X ring–size groups in one gun, while Black Hills’ product led the field in two other guns.

We recently purchased and tested .38 Special target wadcutter rounds from seven companies: CCI, Federal, Remington, Winchester, Hornady, 3-D, and Black Hills. We liked the Winchester and Black Hills rounds best.

Many local and regional NRA Pistol Bullseye matches, competed at 25 and 50 yards, are won by .38 Special shooters who haven’t yet taken the plunge and begun reloading pet rounds that function best in their competition handguns. The standard in .38 Special factory ammo for the slow- and rapid-fire Pistol Bullseye matches is the wadcutter round. Its flat-nose design makes a nice, clean hole which helps in scoring, and it’s probably the most accurate bullet style on a brand-by-brand basis. Also, the wadcutter is offered by a number of companies, which gives the factory-ammo shooter a number of choices for lot testing. The only trick is finding the right factory load by matching available ammo to a gun.

To save you time and money when lot testing, we recently purchased and tested ammunition lots from seven companies that offer the .38 Special round in their inventories. We tested 148-grain target wadcutter rounds that included factory-fresh ammo from CCI-Blount, Federal, Remington, Winchester, and Hornady and remanufactured rounds from 3-D and Black Hills. The catalog numbers for the ammunitions were Remington R38S3, Winchester X38MRP, Federal GM38A, Hornady H09044, CCI 3517, Black Hills 38R2, and 3-D’s 38WMD. The wadcutter bullet types loaded into these products bevel based (BBWC), hollow based (HBWC), and double-ended wadcutter (DEWC) shapes. The last bullet style can be loaded into the case either end first, which works very well in mass-production reloading machines.

At 25 yards, plinkers can expect most .38 Special rounds to shoot 2- to 4-inch groups in a revolver with a 6-inch barrel. In our tests, we demanded much better performance. The NRA 50-yard B-6 bullseye target has a 1.6-inch X ring, a 3.3-inch 10 ring, and a 5.5-inch 9 ring. To be in the running for our recommendation, an ammo had to shoot at least 10-ring-size groups, and on the whole, we weren’t disappointed. Shooting the seven rounds through three guns, we found that 16 out of 21 test-ammunition sets produced 10-ring accuracy. Winchester’s Super Match produced the tightest groups in the test, but Black Hill’s remanufactured product shot the best in two of the three test guns. 3-D’s remanufactured ammo also did well, shooting near the top of each gun’s accuracy rankings while coming in at the lowest cost per round.

How We Tested
Our test equipment included a Smith & Wesson Model 52-2 .38 Special Wad Cutter model with a 5-inch barrel, a Smith & Wesson Model 686 .357 Magnum with a 6-inch barrel, and a Colt Python Target .38 Special with an 8-inch barrel.

We used a Ransom Pistol Rest with windage base mounted on a 24-inch-square plywood base that was 1.4 inches thick. This platform was C-clamped to a 1-inch-thick steel sheet attached to a steel pipe concreted in the ground. We shot all our test groups outdoors at 50 yards. We fired 10 five-shot groups to collect our accuracy data, spotting the rounds with a Nikon 20- to 60-power Field Spotting Scope. Using a Parker-Hale cleaning rod and jag, we cleaned the guns with Pro-Shot Lead and Powder solvent between lots and then fouled each gun before shooting the next test lot. We measured all the groups to the nearest tenth of an inch using a Neal Jones benchrest-scoring device. To collect the 10-shot chronograph data, we used an Oehler Research 35P chronograph.

How They Fared: We Pick Winchester And Black Hills
Winchester Super Match 148-grain Lead Mid-Range Wadcutter X38SMRP Lot No. 57KG7165043 shot the smallest groups in our test: 1.59-inch-average clusters out of the Colt Python. It was the only ammunition to give us an X-ring group average. The Colt also shot a best group of 1.09 inches with this ammo. It also shot the second-best groups in the S&W; 52—2.85 inches, with a best group of 1.57 inches. In the 686 revolver it shot better, 2.59 inches on average, with a best group of 1.55 inches, but placed in the middle of the pack in terms of that gun’s accuracy. Our test lot measured 1.16 inches in overall length with a flush-mounted hollow-based bullet. Performance Shooter Recommends: At $11.50 for a box of 50 rounds, the Winchester .38 Special Super Match 148-grain Mid-Range Wadcutter was one of the most expensive brands we tested, but it brought a lot to the party. We would buy it.

Black Hills Ammunition .38 Special 148-grain Match Wadcutter 38R2 Lot No. 0320131366. Like 3-D, Black Hills Ammunition of Rapid City, South Dakota, makes remanufactured ammunition. Unlike 3-D, it sells ammo with brass sorted by headstamp. Our Black Hills ammo, which cost $12 per 50 rounds, was all Federal brass; it produced a like-new ammunition that gave us the best average groups in our Smith & Wesson 52 (2.56 inches) and 2.04 inches in the S&W; 686. Black Hills uses a hollow-based bullet with an overall length of 1.16 inches with a slight roll crimp. We had no feeding problems or misfires with this ammo. The best group we shot with the Black Hills rounds was 1.19 inches in the S&W; 52. Black Hills’ product came in third and fourth out of 21 when we sorted and ranked all lots by average.

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High-End .22LR Ammo


This currently shipping lot of rimfire ammunition outshot seventeen other pricey brands in two different guns. Close runner-up: Lapua’s Dominator M.

Because .22 LR rimfire ammunition can’t be handloaded, we continue to test shipping lots of many commercially available .22 ammo brands, trying to find brands and lots that shoot well in more than one gun. Though there’s no guarantee that top-ranked rounds fired in our guns will shoot well in yours, we have concluded that good ammo tends to shoot well in most guns, and bad ammo doesn’t shoot well in any. We believe some lots of ammo are absolutely better than others, and they will tend to perform well in many different firearms. By testing ammo in a range of guns, we can find lots/brands that outperform other lot/brands in most cases. When we identify those products in multigun tests, we believe it is likely that ammo which shoots well in several guns will tend to shoot well in yours.

We recently tested eighteen brand/lots of expensive .22 ammo in two rifles, an autoloader and a bolt action. Of these currently shipping lots, we recommend Federal GM Ultra Match Lot 1674, which shot pack-leading groups in both guns. Also, Lapua Dominator M Lot 6849C took second in both guns. Among the bottom feeders in this test were PMC’s Zapper Lot 22CC2207 and the Winchester High Velocity Lot 2GA51L, which constituted two of the bottom three rounds in both guns.

How We Tested
Our test guns were a Volquartsen Custom Model Mossad, which comes with a matte-black fiberglass thumbhole stock floating an 18.75-inch-long stainless fluted barrel. The barrel also has an integral muzzle brake. The 10/22-style autoloader retails for $1,136. The second gun was a KFS NS 522 bolt action. The Chinese-made rimfire has an overall length of 39.5 inches and an unloaded weight of 7.75 pounds. The gun’s 21-inch barrel is hammer forged and free floated. It sells for $300. We topped both guns with a 40mm-objective 36X Bausch & Lomb riflescope with a 1/8-minute dot.

We shot the test at 100 yards, using the 100-yard .22 rifle tube at the Bayou Rifles range in Houston, Texas. This ensured that wind and changing light conditions would n0t affect the data. We bench-fired the guns off a Ransom Rest benchrest and a rear bunny bag. We fired 10 five-shot groups to collect our accuracy data, spotting the rounds with a Nikon 20- to 60-power Field Spotting Scope. Using a Parker-Hale cleaning rod and jag, we cleaned the guns with Pro-Shot Lead and Powder solvent between lots and then fouled each gun before shooting the next test lot. We measured all the groups to the nearest tenth of an inch using a Neal Jones benchrest-scoring device. To collect the 10-shot chronograph data, we used an Oehler Research 35P chronograph.

Here’s what we found:

The Winners
Unquestionably, Federal GM Ultra Match Lot 1674 dominated this test. It shot 0.77-inch groups in the NS 522, with a best group of 0.57 inch and a worst group of 0.93 inch. In the Volquartsen Mossad 10/22, the Ultra Match shot 0.83-inch average groups, with a best group of 0.67 inch and a worst group of 1.05 inch.

Coming in a respectable second was Lapua Dominator M Lot 6849C, which shot 0.84-inch groups in the Mossad, with a super best group of 0.48 inch and a worst group of 1.27 inch. In the 522, the Lapua shot 0.97-inch average groups, with a best group of 0.78 inch and a worst group of 1.10 inch.

Worth A Look
Other bullets shot very well in at least one gun, which suggests they might do well in yours, too, if you own a similar product. Among this group is Eley Match Xtra Lot WQ3058, which shot 0.90-inch groups in the Volquartsen and 1.14-inch groups in the KFS gun. An inexpensive but good-shooting pick is Federal GM Target Lot CY110, which shot 1.07-inch groups in the Volquartsen and 1.19-inch in the KFS bolt action. Ammo that shot better than the field in the Volquartsen includes Eley Benchrest Gold Lot WS1211 (1.04-inch group average), RWS R50 Lot 463WF358 and Eley Club Xtra Lot FR43 (1.09-inch group averages). In the 522, Fiocchi Pistol Lot 0135002 shot 1.08-inch groups, and it didn’t do badly in the Volquartsen Mossad 10/22 autoloader, shooting 1.11-inch-size groups on average.

Not Recommended
The rest of the field didn’t match up to the handful of products mentioned above. We see no compelling reason to buy those lots of ammunition.

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Federal Target Is A Best Buy


In a match-up of 20 rimfire brands, this $5-a-hundred budget small-game bullet beat up on several pricey products.


Testing ammo in a handgun suitable for hunting, a S&W; Model 17, we found some inexpensive rimfire brands outperformed other, more costly, brands.

The .22 Long Rifle handgun hunter who shoots rabbits, squirrels, small predators, and varmints needs a combination of ammunition performance that most field shooters overlook. Too often, small-game handgun hunters worship at the altar of energy rather than accuracy, forgetting that they must first hit their targets before they can cook them. The key is to get a round that shoots well in your handgun, and then learn how to shoot that round with pinpoint precision. When you’re able to pop a fox squirrel in the shoulder from 30 yards away, then how hard you hit it doesn’t makes a lot of difference.

The fact is that if you’re trying for that level of accuracy in a hunting smallbore handgun, then you must spend some money on ammunition that, at least initially, is going to give you sticker shock. Also, in general terms, you may wind up shooting a foreign brand of ammunition, since Winchester and Remington, which supply the lion’s share of .22 ammo in the United States, don’t make a high-end, target-accurate .22 LR round.

We recently tested 20 samples from seven manufacturers in a revolver suitable for small-game hunting, the venerable Smith and Wesson Model 17, trying to find a brand that shot best in the gun. Also, we wanted to find out if expensive ammo always outshot lesser-priced brands, and if the expensive fodder turned out to shoot better, we wanted to assess if the performance edge was worth the money.

Though there’s no guarantee that top-ranked rounds fired in our gun will shoot well in yours, our rankings are a good place to start your own ammo search. You can see from the following tables and text that it might be worth your while to try a box of RWS or Federal ammo in your rimfire revolver. They are pricey, but we think you’re likely to hit more of what you aim at if you’ll experiment with some of these products.

If we were going to buy a few boxes of .22 pistol ammo today, we would first try Federal Gold Medal Target 3BY052, which shot 0.80-inch group averages and cost only $5/100. Though Gold Medal Target’s accuracy wasn’t quite as good as the top-ranked ammo—RWS Rifle Match 61Q07, which shot 0.70-inch groups at 25 yards in the Model 17—we don’t think that 0.1 inch is going to make much of a difference to a jackrabbit. We do think the RWS’s $10.40/100 price tag will make a difference to the thrifty hunter, however. Next up would be Eley Tenex WR960, which fired 0.73-inch groups for us. It costs a hefty $16/100. We would also try a box of Eley Bench Rest Gold WS1351, which recorded 0.76-inch groups and runs $18/100. Lapua Master 4739R finishes out our top-five rounds, shooting 0.80-inch groups at a price of $11.50/100.

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Women and Glock Pistols


No more Damsels in distress. Now the ladies are arming themselves with the weapons and knowledge to use them.

Glock, the leading manufacturer of dependable, proven hand guns, is the weapon of choice.

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Glock 38 gen 3 Review


Glock has developed a .45-caliber cartridge that matches in a 9mm-size gun. Called the .45 GAP (Glock Auto Pistol), this cartridge is a .45-caliber bullet in a 9mm case. Glock revealed the cartridge from the ground, but some other firearms makers now make guns chambered for this current round. Most ammunition manufacturers produce .45 GAP ammunition in a variety of full-metal-jacket training loads & hollow-point support loads.

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Rock Island 1911A1 Review


2,074 rounds. That’s how long the Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 9mm 1911 has gone without a failure of any type. I’ll get the dull bits out of the way right here & now. The gun passed the 10-8 Function Test, passed the 100 round speed test, gave every single item I could think to throw at it, & became only the second gun to achieve a perfect 100/100 on the Gun Nuts 1911 Evaluation. The only other weapon to make a complete score? Tim’s Wilson Combat.

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