Monthly Archives: October 2021

45 ACP Primers: Large Vs. Small

Two .45 ACP cartridges that look pretty much alike… but are they?

CCI’s Blazer line of economy ammunition has been around for a while. Originally they were Berdan-primed aluminum cases, but then they introduced Blazer Brass. Still inexpensive, but with boxer-primed brass cases. This brings me to my shameful confession…

“Hi, my name is Mike, and I pick up brass at the range.”

I reload, and some of them are pretty odd calibers so grabbing the brass just makes sense. I usually only grab my brass but random stuff gets mixed in. Years ago as I was sorting my brass I noticed something odd; some of the .45 ACP brass had small-pistol primers. All of it was Blazer, so apparently at some point they switched to small-pistol primers. OK, whatever. I tossed them in a different bin from the regular ones and went about my life.

Yep- CCI Blazer Brass .45 ACP uses small-pistol primers.

Over the last several years I’ve wound up with quite a few of these cases, and today I decided to load some. As I was doing so it occurred to me to wonder- does it make a difference? I mean, if it does I would assume CCI loaded their ammo to compensate. But what about us re-loaders?

I had some target loads on-hand, using a 200gr. LRNFP bullet over 6.2gr. of Universal with Winchester WLP primers. This is a pretty light load, so I figured I wasn’t likely to get in trouble with it. I duplicated these, but used the CCI Blazer brass with Federal Small-pistol primers. I set up my backstop and the Caldwell Chronograph and fired some shots.

My test-gun was the 1911 ‘Street Racer’ fukll-sized gun with a bar Sto bull-barrel.

Testing yielded a couple of surprises, the first being that this a far weaker load than I thought. Lee Precision load data says that this bullet with 6.0gr. of Universal makes 891 fps. but I got a very different result from 6.2gr-

Small Pistol Primer: 742fps. average with an extreme Spread of 44 fps.

Large Pistol Primer: 737 fps. average with an extreme spread of 23 fps.

This is way, way slower than the listed velocity led me to expect! OK, I know chronographs and conditions vary, but a minimum difference of 150 fps.?! This is one of many reasons reloading data should be approached with caution.

The second surprise was that the CCI cases all failed to extract. I a can’t account for this. I measured the two types of cases and for all practical purposes they’re identical, differing by only .002″ here and there. That’s about as much variation as I find between any two random cases of the same brand. Removing the cases was no problem; I inserted a rod down the barrel and they popped right out. The standard cases did eject, but with less enthusiasm than usual.

One thing I did change on the gun; I installed a new hammer-spring that is significantly stouter than the one that was in it before. It’s noticeably more difficult to rack the slide. It still isn’t hard, but overcoming the tension on the hammer does take more effort. I suspect this load was only just powerful enough to cycle the gun, and the new spring was enough to interfere. This does not explain why the CCI cases failed to extract. Perhaps they use a cheaper, ‘stickier’ alloy of brass that was just enough with a load of marginal power to make a difference.

Summing it Up

Looking at the results I cannot say that using small-pistol primers made any real difference. Yes, the extreme spread was almost twice as large, but it wasn’t a huge difference even so, and could just be a difference between the brands of primers. If you want to use CCI Blazer Brass .45 ACP cases with small-pistol primers go for it; it really doesn’t seem to make a notable difference in velocity.

Stay safe and take care.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 24 October 2021

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Range Time!

Haven’t been shooting since I injured my left hand, but I did spend some time reloading so I had a decent amount of 9mm and .45 ACP waiting for an opportunity. With the hand feeling much better today i loaded up a few guns and trundled off to the range.

Top-left- Beretta Model 1951, lower left- Maadi Helwan, Top right- S&W Model 1917, Bottom right- 1911a1 ‘Street Racer.’

S&W Model 1917

Model 17, 6-round clips and loading/unloading tool for the clips.

The previously described M1917 has a new set of Goncalo Alves grips made to suit my hand. Being a .45 ACP revolver it uses spring-steel clips to hold the rounds. I have removed the Wonder Sight; it did not fit properly and tended to shift when the gun was fired. I was eager to try the gun out with the stock sights and new handle.

One shot per second at 7 yards,

It all works well enough; it shoots to point-of-aim at seven yards at least, and the new grips are comfortable and manage recoil well. I had a bit of trouble getting used to the gun; my first shots went all over but the group tightened up nicely as I got into the gun’s rhythm. I think I will smooth the trigger; the grooves really aren’t ideal for double-action shooting.

1911a1 Street Racer

This gun was completed recently, and I’ve really been looking forward to giving it a good wringing out. It’s pretty much what I was hoping for; a gun specialized for rapid, accurate fire.

My first target of the day, 7 yards at 1 shot per second. I got dialed in pretty quickly.
Double-taps at 7 yards. This gun loves ’em.

I’m really pleased with how this gun is working out. Super-reliable and fast on target. I love it when a plan comes together!

The Beretta Model 1951 and Maadi Helwan

These two are together because they are effectively the same gun, one made by Beretta and one made under license in Egypt by Maadi. It’s a descendant of the Walther P-38, using the same sort of under-barrel locking-block. Unlike the Walther it locates the recoil-spring under the barrel instead of in the sides of the slide, allowing the Italian gun to be much more svelte. The Beretta is also a single-action semi-auto. They’re quite a trim, flat, good-handling gun, and while the sights aren’t particularly good they are quite accurate.

The Beretta is better-finished and may have used better metallurgy, but they start out otherwise identical. Importantly they use the same magazine, and I had just procured two new Beretta-manufactured magazines that needed to be tested. I tested all four of my magazines in both guns, and they worked flawlessly.

7-yard targets, 1 shot/second. rather than any difference in quality between these two guns, I attribute the sloppier target with the Maadi to the fact that the Beretta’s front sight is painted orange and the Egyptian gun’s isn’t. Harder to see the sights when firing quickly.
7-yard double-taps with the Beretta. Not at all shabby!

These guns double-tap very nicely; while neither has what you would call a great trigger, the break is reasonably crisp and the reset is nicely tactile. Not bothering to show the Maadi’s double-tap picture; it pretty much looks like the Beretta’s.

These are really, genuinely pleasant guns to shoot, and while the cross-bolt safety takes some getting used to it’s surprisingly easy to use and works well. Shooting these guns side-by-side there’s a not a nickel’s worth of difference between them, but there is a difference. Neither of these guns should be used with +P ammunition, but for the Maadi it’s likely to cause problems with as little as one round; the metallurgy of the Egyptian’s gun’s locking-block is inferior and it will peen immediately. Best policy for these guns is to restrict them to a diet of 115gr commercial target ammo or it’s equivalent.

Fun day at the range; I put a couple hundred rounds or 9mm downrange. been quite a while since I’ve been able to do that!

Stay safe and take care.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 22 October 2021.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This…

It almost appears the manufacturer felt you might need to release the slide…

Sapper Gentleman just posted a video on Youtube that got me thinking. Mostly what it got me thinking was, ‘I don’t know what to post, so I’ll post on the same topic!’ I steal, but at least I’m honest about it. That’s something, right?

Modern trainers insist that during a gunfight adrenaline will cause your fine motor control to be degraded. This is absolutely correct; it’s been demonstrated and proven. That being the case I recommend against trying to thread a needle or count grains of sand with tweezers while engaged in the defensive use of a firearm. These acts require fine motor skills, and will be extremely difficult under duress. Also the baddie will kill you while you try.

Operating a firearm does not require this level of fine motor skill. You will be able to operate the controls of your handgun just fine. People have somehow managed this since the invention of handguns and likely you will too. Your odds of doing so will increase dramatically if you practice. There’s that word again… *sigh.*

Sling-shotting the slide is not a bad way to go. It’s not a great deal slower than using the slide release. Not enough to matter, anyway. Find what works for you and practice to do it. Because if anything is going to save your ass it’s training. that means you need to practice. While the little monkey part of your hind-brain is running around screaming hysterically and throwing balls of dung and rotten fruit the rest of you will be automatically doing whatever you have trained yourself to do. Unless you have not trained yourself to do anything. In that case the baddie is going to break your toys and steal your lunch-money. Or, you know, kill you.

I have heard various justifications for why you should always release the slide by reaching over, pushing it to the rear and releasing it. We’ve already disposed of the ‘fine motor skills’ argument. Another I’ve heard (that Sapper Gentleman mentions) is that if you need to continue the fight with an attacker’s weapon you won’t have to try and locate the controls. Hey, it’s possible.

You might need to pick up a downed assailant’s weapon. It might be empty with the slide locked back. You might just happen to have a spare magazine that fits their weapon. Or find one. Or search them for one of their spares. Or you might fart a rainbow and pink space monkeys will fly out of your butt and carry you to safety.

Let’s get real here. Basic familiarity with common weapons will stand you in good stead regardless of what occurs. Training will dramatically increase your odds if you practice. But training for bizarre, unlikely scenarios is just going to take away from your time to practice for things that are reasonably likely to occur. Over-thinking and what-iffing is not training. Knowing how to manipulate your weapon, knowing what to do when operating and practicing those things will improve your chances.

In the Neolithic Period I was shooting an NRA action-shooting match. You started with the gun holstered and on the signal you drew and engaged a target at 25 yards with five shots in a set time period. After each stage the amount of time decreased until on the last stage you only had five seconds to draw and fire five shots.

I was on the firing line, my gun was loaded with the gun holstered when someone else on the firing line realized his revolver had jammed. Yes, his revolver jammed. It happens. When it became obvious it was going to be a protracted process they had the rest of us on the firing lime unload and show clear. We were the last group on the stage so we had to wait twenty minutes while they cleared the jam. By which time I had forgotten that I did not have a round chambered. When they asked if we were (finally) ready I said yes and assumed my firing position. The signal sounded, I drew, aimed and squeezed the trigger.


Oops. I racked the slide and put five rounds on-target before the timer expired. Because I am amazing? No. Because I am a freak of nature? No. Because I had practiced.

Recently there was a video where a police officer was charged by a guy with a club and she put twelve shots in him in about 3-4 seconds. If you had sharp enough eyes you would have realized that she cleared a jam during those 3-4 seconds. Under extreme duress. While putting twelve rounds into her attacker, who dropped at her feet. In the heat of the moment, in the ultimate extreme of stress, she did what she had trained to do.

Slingshot the slide or use the slide release. Shoot with both eyes open or close one. Use a thumbs-forward Isosceles Stance or a Modified Weaver stance. But whatever you do practice. Because if the excrement hits the rotary impellor and your mind goes chittering off through the forest you will do what you have trained to do. If you have practiced. If you haven’t? Who knows?

In case I didn’t mention it, if you carry a firearm for self defense it would be a good idea to practice.

Stay safe and take care.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 20 October 2021