Range Report

I went to the range yesterday for the first time in a good long while. I meant to shoot my new AK’s, but the range didn’t like the ammo I brought, so they will have to wait. So I shot my Sig Mosquito for the first time and also my P226.

I brought 4 or 5 different brands of .22 ammo to try in the Mosquito. The Mosquito comes with 2 different recoil springs, one for normal velocity ammo and the other for high velocity ammo. Well, I tried both springs with all the normal velocity ammo, and neither one would make my usual .22 ammo (Remington Golden Bullet) cycle worth a damn. I tried two boxes of Winchester Super-X. The first box went fine, the second one had random trouble, starting off with the first round in the mag but then it got progressively worse. Maybe I should try it again, being careful to rack the slide all the way back rather than simply actuating the slide catch to chamber the first round. Anyway, this is probably no surprise to anybody, but the only ammo that would cycle with 100% reliability was CCI Mini-Mag. I shot 200 rounds of it with no problems. I would have shot more, but I felt that it was insultingly expensive at the range I was using ($8/box).

Then I switched to my P226. I have 10 15-round mags (stocked up when I found them for $20) and one 20-round mag. First surprise: I really liked shooting with the 20-rounder. It’s nice to have that little extra bit on the bottom to grab hold of with the left hand. I have been getting more and more comfortable with “cupping” the bottom two fingers of my left hand around the bottom of the right, but it’s nice to be able to wrap them around the extended mag. Anyway, I went through all 11 mags twice, meaning a total of 340 rounds of 9mm. Ammo was purchased reloads through a local reloading business. This was my first time shooting this ammo, but it all worked great, and I will definitely buy from them again. (Once again an extended range trip with no failure of any kind from my P226. Next to me was a lady with a brand-new custom-job compact Kimber that her husband got her for her birthday. Really pretty gun. She had at least two jams. *sigh*) All appear to be Winchester brass, with 115gr ball ammo. I think the guy said that it’s UMC. Whether because of the shape of the bullet itself or the seating depth, the overall length is noticeably shorter than my usual Winchester White Box 115gr ball.

During that long session, I would say that I definitely improved. This was all off-hand, two-handed grip in a Chapman stance (didn’t know that until I just looked it up…. thought it was a Weaver, but I lock my right arm straight). I kept everything at the same distance…. it wasn’t marked, but I think it was either 5 yards or 7 yards. The dumb kid at the range desk didn’t know exactly. And there were some variations — I tried to stop the motorized target-holder thingy at the same mark each time, but it’s an inexact science. Anyway, here are my best targets of the day:

Top-left target is the final target with the Mosquito. (Only pay attention to the 10 holes on the Shoot-N-C…. others were from earlier.) Not entirely happy with it, but it was my first time shooting it, and it’s a little small for my hand. Bottom-left target is from just unloading with the P226. I can’t remember how many mags this was – at least 5. You can put a lot of ammo downrange pretty quickly if you have enough loaded magazines! The silhouette target is 3 consecutive mags (15-rounders) with the P226, taking my time but not dragging my feet. First mag shot into the middle, gave me a 4 1/2″ grouping or 3 1/2″ if I drop the flyer. Second mag was shot into the head, group is 8 1/2″ (one flyer in the neck covered up by the other target) or 3 1/4″ dropping the flyer. Third mag was aimed at the “7” at the bottom of the target, 4″ group or 2 1/2″ without the flyer. The first four shots of that group were within about an inch. I was so excited. The target on the right was my final one of the day. I was really happy with the results of the silhouette target, so for this last one I shot two 15-round mags fairly rapidly. You can see that I hit the Shoot-N-C with all but 3 shots.

You may also notice that my shots tend left. I guess I need to adjust my sights.

So, there it is. I am posting this here for two reasons: 1) to make a record for myself to check my progress over time; 2) to get a “sanity check” on what’s considered “good enough” or what kind of groups a well-trained shooter will get with similar pistol and ammo at similar distances. Say 5 or 7 yards. I am not talking competition-level here, I just mean somebody who’s good with a pistol. I want to get better; I am still practically a novice. But at the same time I wonder how much better I can get, practically speaking. I guess the goal will be to have those 2 1/2″ to 3″ groups *every* target, and then work up my speed. I think that I’ve only gone to the range with my pistol 10 times or so. I haven’t really been keeping track, but that sounds about right over the past year. I have had one instruction session from an older friend who was a state champion pistol shooter in his younger years.

This is way longer than I wanted it to be. I’ll just cut it off here and ask, broadly, for advice.

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7 Comments on “Range Report”

  1. Sailorcurt Says:

    I’ll just cut it off here and ask, broadly, for advice.

    Practice, practice, practice.

    You’ll never be as good as you want to be…which is always a great excuse for hitting the range.

    Not seeing you actually putting the lead downrange, there’s no way to evaluate your shooting mechanics. I’ll tell you what I have the most trouble with and you can take it for what it’s worth:

    1. It seems counter-intuitive to me to focus on the front sight, so my vision instinctively tends to focus on the target. When I consciously think about it and force myself to focus on the front sight, my groups get dramatically smaller and closer to where I’m actually pointing it. I’ve known about this problem for a LOOOONG time and I still catch myself slipping back into my old habits from time to time.

    2. Anticipating the recoil. This causes jerking or pushing and can turn your groups into patterns pretty easily. The only way I know of to diagnose/fix this problem is to have a range buddy randomly place a mag with either one, or zero rounds in it into the gun (or use a snap cap if the gun isn’t safe to dry-fire), close the slide, and then hand it to you. If you flinch, it will become very obvious when you push or jerk the gun and it goes “click” It may take many repetitions of that drill before you get over the flinch, but anticipating recoil can have you sending rounds all over the place.

    I’d also recommend getting into some sort of practical shooting. I’d guess IDPA or USPSA would be best, but even falling plate, silhouette or pin shooting would help. The only caveat to that is to not get so caught up in the competition aspect that it turns into an equipment race. I may never be able to beat a guy with a compensated, dot sighted race gun…but what are the chances that I’ll have a compensated, dot sighted race gun in my holster when I REALLY need to be able to put rounds on target quickly and effectively…like when the target’s shooting back?

    If you get into practical shooting to become a better real-life shooter, use your real-life equipment.

    Anyway, that’s my $.02

  2. Brett Says:

    I found the following advice somewhat helpful, especially in regards to how tightly to grip the pistol;

    http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/ayoob85.html

    Competing puts additional stress on the shooter (well it certainly does to me anyway) and that is a good thing.

    I echo your feelings on the CCI MiniMag, but even then I get a a brick where I’ll have one or two failures per box. I think there will always be a reliability question with .22 semi-autos, period.

    I wouldn’t necessarily worry about the lady’s Kimber, they need 500 rounds before they’re broken in! They can be pretty tight out of the box.

  3. Brett Says:

    Just one more thing:

    I was looking at the old SportShooter.com Correction Target and it says shooting to the left means “Too Little Trigger Finger”. I can email it if you want, lots of people (like me) have found it useful.

    Or; this is basically the same target minus logos and grey center:

    http://www.bghi.us/targets/rh_correction.pdf

  4. Cowboy Blob Says:

    +1 on the Practical Shooting and “Too Little Trigger Finger” (assuming you’re right-handed).

    I have trouble with my SIG 229 because of the difference between the length of the first, long double-action shot, and the much shorter single-action shots to follow. If one doesn’t have the pad between the fingertip and first knuckle squarely on the trigger at the breaking point, one will group to the left or right. You seem to have most of the basics down (evidenced by your nice grouping) so I’d recommend stretching yourself on the field of competition… That clock will do strange things to your concentration; so will drawing a gun in fear for your life, which is why some folks compete. I do it more for the sheer joy and satisfaction I get for shooting fast and clean — and even if I’m not fast and clean, I still get some enjoyment out of it.

    My solution for the SIG thing? I switched to a 1911 or a Glock for competition, but I still like my SIG as a concealed carry weapon.

  5. Mikee Says:

    Austin, Texas, Walmarts and Academy Sports are selling CCI Mini-Mag for $6.97 a box, so $8.00 at the range does not sound too outrageous to me.

    Just my $0.02, sounds like a great pistol.

  6. TNProgrammer Says:

    I had cycling issues with my skeeter too with the Winchester Super-X.
    Of course the CCI mini-mags have run great through every firearm i’ve tried em in, but you’re right about the cost. It adds up fast and it’s rather hard to justify $8/100 for .22LR plinking ammunition.

    I’ve discovered that the skeeter seems to like the Federal Auto Match ammo (325/box for $17ish at Wal-Mart, if memory serves) ran flawlessly last time i went through a box.

    On the other hand, I now run the standard Federal 550 rd. bulk ammo in my Mosquito with no issues thus far after about 2k rounds using the standard spring. As with all things, your mileage may vary; just throwing it out there.

    Not that much use for a plinker that requires (comparatively) expensive ammo to run reliably as far as I’m concerned.

  7. Tom Stone Says:

    I have a Kimber cdp11 which took 600 rounds to break in.No failures to feed or fire from round 600 to 5000.I would rather have the steel frame though,I have to concentrate more to get off an accurate second shot quickly.


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