A-MERC Considered Harmful

Avoid “American Ammunition”-brand ammo. It carries the headstamp “A-MERC”.
Don’t confuse it with “American Eagle” by Federal Cartridge, which is excellent.
I’ve shot a diverse selection of ammo brands over the years, including Federal, Winchester, Remington, Ultramax, Miwall, PMC, Wolf, CCI, Barnaul, Black Hills, American Ammunition, IMI, domestic and imported military surplus, my own reloads, and so on. Brass and steel cased, it makes no difference to me. Both new and commercial reloads (also my own personal reloads). Basically, I’ve made an effort to shoot just about everything I’ve been able to get my hands on.
The vast majority of what I’ve shot has been excellent, high-quality ammunition…with the exception of American Ammunition.
A-MERC ammo is inconsistently loaded from round to round (velocities are all over the place), has intermittent bright flashes (some rounds flash more than others), and major problems with primer retention (primers push out of the pocket during normal firing and get stuck in the gun’s operating mechanism, jamming it), and some of the absolute worst brass I’ve ever dealt with (huge splits starting at the neck and going down the entire length of the case are common, as are smaller splits confined only to the body of the case).
Splits in cases, particularly on cases that have been reloaded several times, occur occasionally and haven’t really caused many problems for me — I note the split when I inspect my spent brass and toss it into my “scrap brass” bucket. I’ve never once had a case split on a factory-new cartridge from any manufacturer…except A-MERC, which routinely splits in dramatic ways on a regular basis.
It is my opinion that A-MERC ammunition is not only low-quality ammo, but that it is unsafe and dangerous to shoot. I have no qualms with shooting steel-cased, military surplus ammo through any of my guns…but I absolutely forbid American Ammo. No exceptions.
Consider yourself warned.

Stay classy, Brady Campaign

The Brady Campaign wants to dance in the blood of slain students one year after the shooting at Virginia Tech by staging a protest and “lie-in” on-campus.
However, not everything has gone as planned for them:

To demonstrate on campus, protesters need to apply for an assembly permit. Tech doesn?t allow anyone not affiliated with the university to assemble on campus.

Whoops!
Brady’s reaction? Essentially, “we’ll do it anyway”.
Funny how the Brady Bunch want to require restrictions and permits for another basic right, but seem to have a problem with simply calling ahead, making a reservation, and getting permission from the university to use its property for their own purposes.
Also, I’m not really sure I follow the logic of the Brady Campaign and ProtestEasyGuns.com. It seems to go like this: Guy buys guns from a dealer in a totally routine manner (background check, Form 4473, etc.), guy goes crazy and kills people, thus we must “close the gun show loophole” (which doesn’t exist) to stop such violence from occurring again! Er, what? What do private-party sales have anything to do with the shooting at VT? Heck, what do private sales have anything to do with violent crime, and how would restricting such sales have any effect whatsoever on crime?

Simple Pleasures

I’ve always thought that tumbling cases is a bit like alchemy: dirty, range-weary cases go into a machine, a few hours pass, and gleaming, golden metal emerges, still warm from friction with the crushed walnut shells.
The reloading process, including tumbling cases, is an intensely satisfying thing: I’m actually making something with my own hands – something that would not exist without my efforts.
The fact that most of the process involves handling a shiny yellow metal is not lost on that primal part of me that stirs at the sight of gold.

A Day At The Range

Yesterday, the range was without shooters, and quiet. It also happened to be a gorgeous, sunny day.
Being empty is not a naturally tenable position for a range on a day like that, so this shortcoming was corrected by myself and about 14 other people from the University of Arizona.
Quite a few of the attendees were previous shooters, but there were several people who had never fired any gun whatsoever: our Brazilian-born physics lab TA Regina, my astrophysicist friend Louis and his roommate Brody, fellow physics students Alex and Colin, and several friends of a few of the other attendees (I’m terrible with names). A photographer from the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the university newspaper (which has a greater circulation than many small-town papers), also attended.
One of the attendees, John, is a faculty member at the university and a stamp collector. That is, he possesses several NFA-regulated firearms (each of which requires a tax stamp, hence the name) including a full-auto M4, a full-auto MP5 and several other such items. I have but one stamp, and it’s for the suppressor for my Ruger 10/22.
While some pictures were taken, most of us were focused on shooting and having fun rather than taking pictures. I’ve included some of the pictures below. All the pictures from the event can be seen here.

New shooters were started out on the suppressed 10/22, which helped them get comfortable with the mechanics of shooting without having to worry about recoil or noise.


As they became more comfortable with each type of gun, they “graduated” to something new. Many enjoyed the AR (with collapsible stock M4-type rifles being very popular with people of smaller stature).
To those who question the necessity of collapsible/adjustable stocks on rifles, I urge you to look at this photograph. Doesn’t look very comfortable, does it? Regina’s not a very tall person at all (right around 5′ tall) and the fixed-stock, 20″ barrel AR is just too big for her to hold comfortably. An M4gery with a collapsible stock and a 16″ barrel fit her much more comfortably, and she enjoyed it much more.


The shotgun and the AK were also quite popular.

As was the M1 Garand. Alex is a big guy (he’s a former wrestler) and makes the M1 look small.

While many shooters enjoyed the larger-caliber pistols (in this photo, Regina shoots the XD-45), the Ruger MkIII .22 pistol was the clear winner in the popularity contest — a satisfying amount of “bang” and minimal recoil make it one of the most fun guns on the line. I had several people inquire about how they would go about purchasing such a pistol, as they had so much fun with it. I really should get it threaded for a suppressor, as I’d imagine it’d be extremely quiet indeed.

The best is saved for last — a full-auto MP5 (and later, M4) on a private “action shooting” range made for a exciting conclusion to the day. New shooters these days are lucky, getting to shoot machine guns on their first time out to the range. Maybe if more new shooters experience this, we’ll be able to get the 1986 ban repealed?
The only downside to the day was that the Daily Wildcat photographer got too close to the scope on a .308 rifle, got beaned right between the eyebrows, and needed six stitches. Even so, he says he had a great day.
In short: A beautiful day, an excellent range, and people having fun made for a most excellent outing. Top it off with two .50 cal ammo cans filled with brass (most of it .223) and an excursion to the local, non-chain pizza shop, and it ranks pretty highly on the list of “ideal days”.
Firearms Used
– Several Ruger 10/22s (.22LR)
– Ruger MkIII (.22LR)
– M1 Garand (.30-06)
– Several AR-15s (.22LR and .223)
– M4 (.223)
– HK MP5 (9mm)
– Marlin 336 (.30-30)
– Springfield XD-45 (.45 ACP)
– Several Glocks (9mm and .40 S&W)
– Several bolt-action rifles (.30-06, .308)
– Mossberg 500 (12ga)
– Taurus revolver (.38/.357)
– Jimenez J-22 (.22LR)
– AK variant (7.62x39mm)

Hitting the Ground Running

Well, I’m off to a fast start; I start a new blog, and already I have a shooting event tomorrow that I’ll have to write about. In keeping with the principles of Kim du Toit’s Nation of Riflemen, I arrange these events at various times to introduce new shooters to the shooting sports.
I organized a similar event last year — pictures are available here — and it was a resounding success. A variety of students from the University of Arizona, mostly from the Physics and Astronomy departments, attended and had a great time. Most of the attendees were new shooters, and so enjoyed their time at the range that they’ve been telling their friends at the university all about the event.
After a few informal, low-key sessions of “shooty goodness” out in the Coronado National Forest introduced a few more new shooters to the joys of recreational shooting, I figured that it was time for another event at the Tucson Rifle Club. I announced the event on Facebook last week, and invited several students (including the folks who attended the last trip), and now there’s 13 confirmed attendees.
We’ve reserved a private range at the TRC from 1pm-5pm, which should provide sufficient trigger-time for new shooters. There’ll be several .22 rifles and handguns (including my suppressed Ruger 10/22) present to instruct new shooters, as well as a variety of other firearms including an M1 Garand, an AR-15, a Marlin 336 lever gun, a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle, and a full-auto MP5.
This event promises to be a fun one, and I’ll do a full After Action Review over the weekend.