CategoriesGun Reviews

Ammo Test — 380 ACP Speer Gold Dot

Since 1995, Speer’s Gold Dot hollow-point ammunition has been a standard of measure in duty calibers such as 9×19, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP. In recent years, Speer has updated some of its duty loads to optimize performance in shorter-barreled concealed carry handguns. These Short Barrel loads are available in the same duty calibers. I had good luck with this line’s 135-grain 38 Special +P hollow point. But it seems Speer’s 380 ACP offering did not get the same facelift.

The Load

Speer’s 380 ACP 90 grain Gold Dot load has been around the block a time or two without any perceived improvement. Typical for premium defensive loads, this offering uses a corrosion-proof nickel-plated brass case and premium jacketed hollow point projectiles. Speer claims the Gold Dot has superior bonded properties between its lead core and copper jacketed through their Uni-Cor electrochemical process.

In a round as low velocity as 380 ACP, jacket and core retention is key to ensure enough mass stays together to carry through with enough penetration. But jacket separation tends to occur more often with higher velocity rounds like 9×19. On the other hand, Speer does advertise this 90-grain load at a healthy 1040 feet per second—albeit from a 3.5-inch barreled handgun.

Two complete 380 ACP Speer Gold Dot rounds positioned in front of a black factory box.

The Test

I ran forty rounds of the 90-grain Speer Gold Dot to do a general test for function, velocity, and ballistic performance. I began by running a box and a half through my Ruger LCP. Recoil was smarter than other loads but overall, the function was perfect. It is worth noting the Gold Dot projectile’s rounded profile may give an advantage in feeding from certain pistols compared to flat-nosed rounds.

From a distance of ten feet, I shot a string of fire through my Caldwell chronograph to get some velocity readings. My Ruger 380 LCP, a typical pocket pistol with a 2.75-inch barrel, turned in a five-shot average velocity of 968 feet per second. In my own testing, that is a bit faster than some 85-90 grain loads out there and it gave me some cause for optimism as I set up my 10% Clear Ballistics gelatin blocks fronted with four layers of denim.

Wound tracts from three Gold Dot projectiles intersected in two gelatin blocks on a wooden table.

I fired three rounds from ten feet away into my blocks. One projectile’s hollow point cavity was clogged with denim but managed to partially expand before settling at the 13.5-inch mark. The other two projectiles failed to expand, one coming to rest at the 15-inch and 17 3/4-inch mark respectively.

As I had done previously with my Federal Premium’s 380 ACP 99 grain HST test, I decided to remove the denim barrier and took an additional shot into bare gelatin. Without heavy clothing, the Gold Dot tumbled between the 4-8 inch mark like the other rounds but expanded to .458 inch, stopping at the eleven-inch mark.

Three 380 projectiles suspended in gelatin.
Three 380 projectiles suspended in gelatin.

Three unexpanded projectiles next to an expanded one on a table.

The Bottom Line

In this worst-case scenario, all tumbled readily, dumping much of their energy in the first eight inches of material. The denim barrier did stop expansion of the projectiles, but the Gold Dot load still had enough pasta to achieve good penetration without the excessive penetration and lack of damage one would expect from non-expanding full metal jacket loads. Like other 380 ACP loads out there, the current Speer Gold Dot load would achieve a good balance of penetration and expansion through light clothing when used in pocket pistols while less compact handguns might give just enough velocity to keep that balance through more obstacles.

CategoriesGun Reviews

.22 Long Rifle: What is It Good For?

The .22 Long Rifle is a wildly popular cartridge, but is it actually good for anything? Ron Spomer’s response to that question is “Really?” Yes, the .22 Long Rifle fills multiple roles for many shooters and Ron gives us the lowdown in the video below.

Ron Spomer should be one of your go-to guys on rifle cartridges

If you aren’t familiar with Ron Spomer, let me just say that he knows his stuff. He’s my go-to guy for hunting cartridges. I leaned heavily on him in my recent search for a versatile North American big game cartridge that wouldn’t beat me to death at the range, physically or financially. I eventually chose the .270 Winchester. That may seem ho-hum to some folks, but I concluded that the .270 is popular for a reason.

Anyway, Ron is very knowledgeable, and he makes some excellent points here. The .22 Long Rifle is versatile, inexpensive, available, and more useful than you might think. It will help your training for larger calibers since most platforms have a .22 Long Rifle chambering and you can afford to shoot more.

Rifle and ammunition
Everyone should have at least one firearm chambered in .22 Long Rifle. But why stop at one?

Rimfire .22 Long Rifle

.22 Long Rifle is the most popular rimfire cartridge out there. But what is a rimfire? Glad you asked. Ron explains that French inventor Louis-Nicolas Flobert created the rimfire in 1845, giving us the world’s first fully encased metallic cartridge. He essentially attached a BB to a musket percussion cap. He called it a “Parlor Gun” and intended it for indoor shooting galleries. A later version was .22 CB, which, combined with Flobert’s first effort, became the 6mm Flobert chambering.

Ron Spomer Marlin Model 60
.22 rifles are fun and useful at the same time.

Centerfire cartridges were still years away, so the rimfire was cutting-edge technology. Flobert spun the primer into the cartridge’s external rim. The firing pin could then strike the rim anywhere to ignite the powder.

Smith & Wesson improved Flobert’s design in the 1850s by introducing the .22 Short, the first American-made encased cartridge. Four grains of black powder drove a 29 or 30 grain projectile. The new .22 Short debuted in Smith & Wesson’s first revolver, the Model 1, as a self-defense cartridge.

Smith & Wesson .22 Short cartridge and Smith & Wesson Model 1 revolver
Smith & Wesson improved Flobert’s rimfire to create the .22 Short for their Model 1 Revolver. (The Firearm Blog)

The .22 Short’s success led to dozens of chamberings, ranging from .22 to above .50 caliber. None could be very powerful because the copper or brass rim had to be soft enough for the firing pin to crush, thus igniting the powder. Higher pressures would blow through that thin metal, sending energy back at the shooter. That’s why rimfires are relatively weak and are now mostly relegated to the .22s and .17s.

Hunting With the .22 Long Rifle

My Dad used to tell me that .22s had taken more game than any other single caliber. He was probably right. The .22 Long Rifle is great for small game, varmints, and even pest control. Ron says “don’t discount the little .22. It can handle the job if you do your job.”

Ron Spomer Ruger 10/22 in .22 Long Rifle
The .22 Long Rifle is a great hunting cartridge.

Unfortunately, the .22 Long Rifle and its cousins are effective enough that poachers use them for bigger game like deer. Ron notes that the .22 Long Rifle has also brought down big bears in self-defense situations. He’s even heard of an elephant succumbing to the diminutive round. An African homeowner supposedly shot an elephant in his garden to scare it away. But he hit a major artery and the animal died. Sad story but maybe not as far-fetched as it sounds. But certainly, a lucky shot. Or unlucky, depending on your point of view.

Long Range Practice

Ron says the .22 Long Rifle is perfect for simulating long-range shooting. Many shooters use the cartridge out to 200 or even 300 yards to practice bullet drop and windage corrections. It’s a great way to learn and practice those skills and you won’t break the bank doing it.

.22 Long Rifle long range simulation
.22 Long Rifle is great for simulating long-range fire.

Ron demonstrates by consistently hitting a 10-inch steel plate at 200 yards with just a plain crosshair scope. He just holds over to dial in. Once you master a larger target, go smaller until you’ve got it down. Make it fun by popping balloons or busting water bottles, which looks like a great way to practice that skill.

Learn Shooting and Handling Techniques

The .22 also works for perfecting fundamentals. Practice field shooting positions without worrying about recoil or your wallet. While working on that, you can also practice fundamentals like holding your cheek weld and keeping your eyes downrange while cycling the action.

Ron Spomer practicing shooting from a Sitting position
Ron practices his sitting position with a bolt action gun in .22 Long Rifle. Note he is keeping his cheek weld and eyes downrange while cycling the action and maintaining his base.

Here’s another way the .22 Long Rifle shines. Whether you like bolt actions, lever actions, pump actions, semi-auto, or all of the above, there’s a .22 Long Rifle gun for you.

Practicing pump action fundamentals with a .22
Ron practices pump action fundamentals with a gun chambered in .22 Long Rifle.

My primary deer rifle is a lever action Marlin 336 in .35 Remington. Great cartridge, but I just can’t afford to shoot it as much as I’d like. After watching Ron’s video, I’ll soon be purchasing a lever action in .22 Long Rifle. I won’t have the recoil, but I can practice everything else that will make me a better field shooter.

Practicing lever action fundamentals with a .22
I’ll be doing this soon to get better with my primary deer rifle.

Many popular semi-auto pistols have .22 versions for practicing fundamentals, whether they be trigger pull, handling, or whatever. And again, you won’t be sleeping on the couch because you spent too much on ammo.

Practicing single action fundamentals with a .22
Ron practices his single action revolver skills with a .22 Long Rifle Ruger Single Six.

Lots to Like and No Real Downside

Who doesn’t enjoy shooting a .22? It’s just fun, especially since you can shoot it a lot. The .22 Long Rifle is as versatile as cartridges come. It’s fun, it can put food on the table, and it can make you better with your centerfire guns, whether rifle or handgun. Seriously, what’s not to like? And it’s a fantastic way to bring new shooters into the fold. Take someone shooting and hand them a .22. I can almost guarantee they will come back for more. And we need a lot more of that.

Ron Spomer kneeling position shooting fundamentals
Ron demonstrates proper kneeling position fundamentals. Top left and right: Don’t put your weight on your toe because it’s easy to pivot, making your position unstable. Bottom left: Sit on your heel instead. Bottom right: Some shooters like to switch legs to support the strong side arm.

What do think? Is the .22 Long Rifle cartridge all that? Hit us up in the comments. And as always, happy shooting, y’all.


CategoriesGun Reviews

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Nicolas Cage might be my favorite actor. If I started listing all the movies I love that star the man, the myth, the legend, Nicolas Cage, you’d see some that are genuinely great, like Pig, and Mandy, some silly like Face/Off and Con Air, and some that are legendary like Raising Arizona. The scope of his career has ranged from earning Oscars to being subversive and strange, and of course, everything in between. His latest flick both reveres and makes fun of him as he plays himself in the Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The actor has become a bit of a meme in the last few years. He has several over-the-top performances that make you think, is this guy crazy? I’m not just talking about recent oddballs like Mandy, but watch Vampire’s Kiss to see some Cage at peak crazy. At the same time, he makes movies like National Treasure, which were fun flicks, and movies like Pig, which is subversive and odd but beautiful.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent poster
This is one of those times the movie reps the poster well.

Nicolas is quite the character, and he gets to play that character in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. He not only plays himself, but he plays an imagined version of his younger self called Nicky. Boy, let me tell you, those scenes get crazy. It might not be his most dramatic, Oscar-worthy film, but it’s most certainly the peak of Cage’s memedom.

Diving Into the Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

How do I even describe this film? Well, let’s start with the basics. Playing an exaggerated version of himself, Cage is crazy and a little zany. He’s in a career slump and can’t seem to snag a role but keeps his head up and keeps trying. He’s seemingly a very passionate actor but suffers in his personal life.

Nicolas Cage in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
He’s crazy as a fox and it’s great.

Am I describing the movie or Cage’s real life? We can’t deny the fact Cage had a bit of a slump, with declining movie roles, and tax problems, and he did have to return a dinosaur head to the Mongolian people. Regardless of how you feel about the movie, his role in the film was a courageous one to take.

His relationship with his daughter is bad. He owes a hotel 600K, and he can’t get a role. This leads him to accept a million dollars to go to the birthday party of an olive magnate. Along the way, he gets mixed up with criminals, the CIA, and more. It’s a movie that quickly goes off the walls and does so with a great cast and beautiful scenery.

A Bromance

I won’t kill the plot, but essentially Pedro Pascal plays a superfan of Nicolas Cage named Javi who also might be a notorious arms dealer and psychopath. Nic is tasked by the CIA to help locate a girl Pascal may or may not have kidnapped. We are exposed to a charming, kind, and meek person in Pascal who doesn’t seem like any kind of arms dealer or killer.

The two men develop a bromance, and Cage learns about himself. It’s a charming relationship between two men who share a love of film. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz, who play the CIA Agents and get their own time to shine.

Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal running in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
The bromance involves a little running…

It’s a small cast but a reasonably strong one with great chemistry. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is undoubtedly a tribute to Cage, but it also stands tall as its own movie. Arguably it’s better due to Cage’s personality, but it stands on its own as a fine, fun film.

Nic takes things over the top, but Pascal’s comparatively meek demeanor keeps things grounded. Pascal kind of shines, which is tough to do when your character is calm and quiet around the boisterous Cage. He does a good job playing crazy fan-boy and seems genuinely in awe of hanging out with Cage. They get up to some hilarious adventures, and the film does a good job of making you question what’s presented.

The Guns and Gunplay

Nicolas Cage holding pistols in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
This isn’t strictly an action movie, but it has some thrills.

Nic Cage and Pedro Pascal trip balls while writing a screenplay and Nic Cage plays two versions of himself. Don’t expect Heat levels of gunplay. It’s silly, over the top, and fun. It’s not a movie that takes itself too seriously.

Nic Cage playing Nic Cage is funny, and he’s fairly effective in a gunfight. As an actor, he has been in a number of movies where he’s fired guns, so maybe that translates to his skills?

The custom gold Springfield M1911-A1 pistols pop up from my favorite film of all time, Face/Off. As a Cage superfan, Pedra Pascal has tons of props including a disturbing wax figure and Castor Troy’s famous gold pistols.

Face/Off guns
Oh yeah, the Face/Off guns are back.

These are Springfield Armory M1911-A1 V-12s featuring a gold titanium nitride plated finish. The guns are mentioned as ‘custom Springfields, and they certainly are. V-12 guns feature porting in the slides and barrels. These guns also have skeletonized hammers and triggers, custom dragon grips, ambi safeties, huge beavertails, and Heinie sights.

They are gaudy, over the top, and very Nic Cage. He dual wields the two guns as one should. The rest of the guns in the movie are rather boring compared to these Springfields.

Is the film worth the watch?

Oh, heck yeah. Even if you don’t care for Nicolas Cage, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a fun film. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither does Cage. Pedra Pascal is charming in his fanboy demeanor.

The film won’t blow your mind, but it’s a nice, nonserious, fun flick that lets Nicolas Cage be himself. It makes fun of the main character, and also shows some respect for the man and his illustrious film career. Nic is a force in this world, and some of the references are spot on. He’s treated in a way that makes sure you realize this isn’t just a character. This is the real f****** Nic Cage.

Any Cage fans in our audience? Let us know what you think below!

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Gray Man Movie…Not Quite Inconspicuous

The Gray Man recently hit Netflix. Finally! Netflix has something I actually wanna watch! The Gray Man movie stars Ryan Gosling as Court Gentry/Sierra Six, Ana de Armas as Dani Miranda, Chris Evans as bad guy Lloyd Hansen, and even Billy Bob Thorton as Donald Fitzroy. This balls-to-the-wall action flick got a theatrical release and then, a week later, popped up on Netflix. I grabbed a Guinness, kicked up my feet, and dived in with my lovely wife, and we made a Saturday night of it. It’s a summer action flick that really emphasizes the action and is a fair bit of fun to watch.

The Gray Man Movie

Supposedly Based on the Books

In the gun culture, we recognize the term Gray Man as someone who doesn’t stand out. A gay man doesn’t wear cargo pants, open carry, or have a closet full of Grunt Style shirts.

This movie does not use the term the same way.

The Gray Man is based on a series of books written by Mark Greaney, and the term is accurately used in the books. Court Gentry, our protagonist, is a man who can disappear and blend in anywhere at any time, and he uses that to his advantage.

Gosling’s Gentry is not so Gray. 

In the movie, the term seems to be misunderstood, and it’s more or less used to describe someone who isn’t good or bad, someone who operates in the gray. This sucks because it could be a fun device that makes the movie a little different than your average 2020s action flick.

That’s not the only thing that is different from the books. It’s almost entirely different from the books. In fact, it barely has anything in common with the book series outside of character names. Gentry still works for the CIA, Lloyd is a contractor, and Fitzroy recently retired from the CIA. There is a Mcguffin in the form of a data chip that all the bad guys want, and chaos develops along the way.

Why change the story? I have no idea. The original Gray Man book would be a seemingly easy movie to make but would be more Bourne Identity than John Wick.

How About the Gray Man Movie?

Well, it’s not a bad film by any means. You could have just changed the names and tweaked the story just a bit, and boom, it could be an independent franchise. It starts with a bang and has tons of bangs between the intro and the credits sequence. It’s a rapid-fire movie that constantly accelerates forward. It doesn’t waste time, but it also never lets anything set in. It’s like boom, new character….and boom, another new character. Oh wait, there’s something else!

For a summer action flick, I don’t mind much. The movie has several insane set pieces and action sequences. It’s not grounded in any way whatsoever. In fact, it’s almost Fast and Furious levels of over the top.

Not exactly an espionage and thriller-type film.

These two fellas face off in The Gray Man movie.
These two fellas face off in The Gray Man movie.

The Gray Man has plenty of levity, and a humorous tone pops up whenever anything gets too down. My favorite is that even though these people are killers, assassins, and spies, there is almost an Office-like atmosphere between them. They bicker, argue, and tease each other as coworkers would, and I found it charming.

There is also some stuff shoved in that the movie never earns. Gentry has an older brother/uncle-like relationship with Fitzroy’s niece. We get about two minutes’ worth of relationship building that does nothing to convince me that those two people care about each other.

Cast and Crew

Gosling is great as what is essentially a constantly bored and seemingly inconvenienced guy constantly put into rough situations. Those inconveniences are people who want to kill him.

Chris Evans plays a sociopathic CIA washout turned government contractor who is hired by the CIA. He dresses like a dad from the 1950s. He is hilarious and also a little unhinged.

Evans chews the scenery in The Gray Man movie as Lloyd.
Evans chews the scenery in The Gray Man movie as Lloyd.

Ana de Armas plays a CIA spy who teams up with Gentry and also is forced to constantly save his life. She doesn’t get a lot to do but is charming and enjoyable. The same could be said for Billy Bob Thorton, and he’s underused but typically fun when on screen.

Everyone else flows along. A Bollywood star named Dhanush pops in and makes an impression, but it feels like a franchise setup and tease more than anything valuable. The gentleman known as the cringeworthy ‘Lone Wolf’ call sign features some great fight choreography and has a mysterious edge to him.

Gray Man GunPlay

We see lots of gunplay, and it’s all fun. The Gray Man movie went straight to the School of John Wick gunfights, and they are carefully choreographed to look as cool as possible. Sadly, it’s not to the level of John Wick or Extraction. We see lots of cool stuff, like when two guys are fighting for a gun, and in the middle of the fight, Gosling unloads the gun to end the fight over it. Another has Gentry using someone’s reflection to locate and target them before firing through the floor below him to kill the guy.

Look at that CZ action!
Look at that CZ action!

A lot of the action gets downright silly with that Fast and Furious level of chaos and destruction happening. We see tons of mercs trying to kill Gentry, but he always evades death even when mercs use mounted M32-like grenade launchers, Akimbo.

We see lots of fun guns, from USPs and Glocks to Scorpions and CZ P09s. One scene takes place in Prague, and the police are depicted (accurately) use Scorpions and P09s. We even see a Cornershot in the intro, buts it’s never used.

The Gray Man movie has lots of AR action.
Of course there is plenty of AR action!

There is plenty of plot armor for the main characters, like Ana de Armas sprinting but being able to kill a sniper by hip firing a grenade launcher. The sniper has a bolt action, scoped rifle mounted but apparently could only miss. 

The action is a bit over the top, but enjoyable
The action is a bit over the top, but enjoyable.

One of my favorite action scenes doesn’t even involve guns. It has Gentry killing several bad guys with trauma shears, and I love it.

Worth the Watch?

If you have Netflix, then sure. It’s a fun watch, but I wouldn’t go to a theatre to see it. Nor would I subscribe to Netflix just to see it. It’s not as good as the early Bourne movies and not as action impressive as Extraction. Still, it’s fun and does have great characters with (mostly) good chemistry.

Check it out, and if you’ve already seen it feel free to let us know what you think below.



CategoriesGun Reviews

Is the Prey Movie a Worthy Predator Reboot?

I love the Predator. Well, the first film at least, and I admit I enjoy the second film too. After that, well, it’s not great, at least film-wise. Predators was okay; The Predator (the latest one with Boyd Holbrook) was not so great. The Predators vs. Aliens movies kind of suck, but the comics are great. So, when they announced the Prey movie, I was cautious. I liked the idea and thought the prequel would be a refreshing take on the idea of the Predator. It’s also a bit of a follow-up from the second film (1990, Danny Glover as Lt. Mike Harrigan) in a few ways.

Anyway, as I type this, I’m about four beers deep and just finished the film, so let’s dive in.

Prey is a Predator movie prequel. It takes place in 1719 (early 18th century) and is filmed in remote parts of Alberta, Canada.

Predator: Prey Movie

The film goes back about 300 years to the early 1700s. We are dropped into a village of Comanches and introduced to a young lady named Naru. We instantly see she is quite skilled with a tomahawk and throws it like a pro. She lives in the shadow of her brother, Taabe, a skilled hunter. Naru wishes to be a hunter and wants to complete what seems to be some sort of rite of passage, something called kühtaamia.

Prey movie: protagonist Naru really likes her tomahawk.
Naru likes her tomahawk.

Kühtaamia is explained to be a hunt in which she has to hunt an animal capable of hunting her in turn. This leads through the series of events where Naru tries to prove herself to her tribe, to herself, and even to the Predator.

As the movie takes place in early in the eighteenth century (1719), we get some gorgeous shots of North America. The woods, the rivers, and landscapes, all of it is breathtaking. The Prey movie was filmed in Alberta, Canada, particularly the Exshaw and Stoney Najoda First Nation regions. “Moose Mountain” and the Elbow River both feature prominently. With just a few cinematic exceptions, the movie is bright and shot clearly, so you can see almost everything without any issue.

If you haven’t seen Prey, then let’s end your part of this article now. I will tell you it’s worth the watch. It’s a solid, entertaining movie that can be a little slow in the first half. However, it’s only my second favorite Predator film. The first still owns a part of my heart.

Anything beyond this will be spoilers.

Spoiler alert gif
It’s obvious that pretty much any of our Saturday Night at the Movies articles might contain spoilers but we’re posting another warning just in case!

Into the Prey Movie

The film Prey starts a little slow. We are introduced to Naru, her brother Taabe, and her mom. We also begin to see her motivations. Her father has passed and she wants to be a hunter and warrior like her brother. She rejects her role as a gatherer and expert in medicine. As this unfolds, the film meanders a bit at the beginning with bits of the Predator shown and how he interacts with the dangers of North America.

The main problem here is that it’s not interesting. The idea invokes the first film. If you recall the first Predator, the movie in the first act is about an elite Black Ops team killing the enemies of democracy. The film follows a similar route with Naru trying to become a hunter. There is a subplot with a mountain lion instead of communists.

The Predator has to take on the Comanche

Even after Naru begins tracking the Predator, the film moves slowly. We do get to see the Predator deal with a rattlesnake, a wolf, and even a badass fight with a bear. About the time the Predator fights with a grizzly bear, the film starts moving.

When it starts moving, it gets ultra-violent. Lots of action, tons of blood, decapitations, and the disassembly of people limb from limb, and we see our hero grow and learn. Prey isn’t about super commandos with 24-inch arms fighting an alien. It’s about a young Comanche who has to outthink the Predator.

She has to be smart, and that’s how she survives. There are a lot of little setups that pay off in unexpected ways, and I appreciated it greatly.

Its a new Predator

A New Age for Prey

Setting the movie in the 1700s changes the dynamics and the weaponry all around. Obviously, Ole Painless wouldn’t make much sense in this film. This brings us to what appears to be fairly authentic weapons for the Comanche. This includes bows, spears, knives, and tomahawks made from stone. It might be one of the only movies to show a character sharpen their blade and constantly perform maintenance.

Additionally, I know very little about how the Comanches fought or used their weapons, so I dived into it. From my research, it seemed like the film did a good job of showing how the Comanche fought and used their weapons. This occurs down to how they retract the firing arm of their bow and how they retain their spears when blasting through arrows.

Look at her hand position, it’s authentic for the time.

The hero in Prey, Naru, is exceptionally skilled with her weapons, even if it doesn’t mean a whole lot. One of the parts of the movie I thought was a bit cheesy is her parkour abilities. It’s just a bit too much to make her like some kind of fantasy ninja.

There are some guns thanks to some French trappers who become easy fodder for our beast of a Predator. I’m not ultra knowledgeable about weapons of this period, but a Frenchman describes the method of firing one, and it’s accurate.

We even see a very familiar 18th-century pistol that Predator fans will most certainly enjoy seeing. With that said, Prey couldn’t have a traditional Predator.

A New Predator

Our new, or well, old Predator is a bit different than what we are used to. It hardly seems fair for a Predator to use a laser weapon against people with muskets, early rifles, bows, and tomahawks. Luckily this Predator prefers to get hands-on. He likes a spear and his claw, and we even see a few new weapons. This includes a shield and arrow launching weapon guided by his familiar laser aiming device.

The new Predator still has the famous heat vision but wears what appears to be an older mask, maybe one made from bone. The Predator is also a bit different in design. We get the mandibles, but he looks different and lacks dreadlocks. He’s vicious, violent, and acts like a monster.

The three dots make a comeback!

Predator is one of those creatures where less is more, and while we get some gratuitous shots, we also earn them. We get teases throughout the film, but for the majority of it, he wears the cloak and clicks away in the background.

Worth the Watch

The film is streaming on Hulu, and since I subscribe to Hulu, it’s tough for me to say it’s not worth the watch. I remained entertained throughout the film; even the slow parts are worth watching. Prey surprised me, and I was happy to be surprised.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Grey Birch Manufacturing — Fusion Receiver and Barrel

Anyone who has owned a 10/22 and changed parts on it has likely had to deal with the V-Block. This was an easy method to attach barrels to the Ruger 10/22 receiver but is finicky and doesn’t lead to the ultimate accuracy you can achieve. Grey Birch Manufacturing said hell no with that garbage and decided to do what the big bore rifles do and have a threaded barrel and barrel nut.

The darker receiver uses the V-Block while the Fusion has the new barrel nut design.

We had previously talked about the LaChassis as it is called now and it had the V-Block version of their barrel and receiver in it. They have since discontinued these items despite the great accuracy we had on our sample. Now they only offer what they call the Fusion LDR in both a 16.1″ carbon fiber wrapped barrel or fatty steel barrel. We picked up the carbon fiber version and got to check out their new bolt at the same time.

The Grey Birch Fusion in the LaChassis has a nice profile.
The Grey Birch Fusion in the LaChassis has a nice profile.

Precision Bolt

You can see the difference between a standard bolt profile and the Precision Bolt here.
You can see the difference between a standard bolt profile and the Precision Bolt here.

We will start off by talking about the new bolt since this removed my main frustration with assembling a 10/22—getting the bolt and cocking handle assembly into the receiver. I find this process overly complicated for what it needs to be. Some people have mastered the cheat code for installing these, but not this guy.

The Grey Birch Manufacturing Precision Bolt simplifies this by attaching the cocking handle to the bolt itself. On a normal Ruger bolt, you have to slot the cocking handle into the top of the bolt with a delicate balancing act. To install this bolt you just unscrew the cocking handle and put the spring guide rod and recoil spring into the corresponding hole in the bolt. Then all you have to do is push back and tilt in. I did this with two rifles as you can see in the picture and the Precision Bolt was infinitely easier to install. The extractor and firing pin are also much cleaner parts than what you get with Ruger.

I did have one issue with this bolt compared to a stock Ruger one and that was a Timney 10/22 trigger that caused a load of light strikes. After doing some research, a lot of people have talked about how the trigger has light strikes, so the Timney trigger seems to have a weak hammer spring. So instead, I did what I had planned to do for a long time—get a bunch of Tandemkross parts into a Ruger BX trigger pack. I tested with both a stock BX trigger and the upgraded one and both had proper strikes every time. I like this bolt so much that I will be buying one for my wife’s 10/22 due to how easy it is to remove and install.

Looking down the side of the rifle you can see the Fusion Receiver with Carbon Fiber Barrel the Precision Bolt.
Looking down the side of the rifle you can see the Fusion Receiver with Carbon Fiber Barrel and the Precision Bolt.

Fusion System

Now that we have talked about the new bolt it is time to get into the hotness that is the Fusion System. The Fusion Systems barrel nut means that your barrel can be consistently torqued on giving consistent results. The only thing is you would need to make sure is the extractor slot is timed right. The Fusion System does come with the barrel factory installed into the LDR receiver and with 22lr it will take a long time to shoot out the barrel.

There is a small but easily remedied issue with the barrel nut. Most stocks are not designed with the added girth in this area of the barrel so minimal work with a file or sandpaper is needed to relieve this area. If you buy a current model of the LaChassis it comes with this area set up for the barrel nut.

the barrel nut runs pretty tight with the chassis.
You can see the barrel nut runs pretty tight with the chassis.


The rail on the top of the rifle is a 20 moa rail giving you some extra elevation in your scope. This is much needed when shooting 22lr at range due to the heavy drop of the slow-moving chunk of lead. The receiver itself is made from 6061 T6 aluminum and anyone who has worked with 7000 series aluminum can understand why (ask me how I know). The receiver has a clear hard anodized finish which has held up well so far and gives the rifle a unique look showing off the tumbled aluminum below.

We will be ditching the thread protector for a ReddNobb Tuna Can in the near future to see how much more we can dial in the Standard Plus or Rifle Match.
We will be ditching the thread protector for a ReddNobb Tuna Can in the near future to see how much more we can dial in the Standard Plus or Rifle Match.


The barrel comes with an anodized blue thread protector and is made from well-machined carbon fiber and 416 stainless steel. The chamber of the barrel is a Bentz chamber made for match ammo and we can certainly say this rifle makes some nice small holes.

I recently took the rifle to the range and forgot to bring a bipod. So I said screw it, I will shoot off the Game Changer bag. I had several types of ammo with me and at 50 yards the Remington Target Rifle made by Eley shot a single-hole group. The next two best consistent five-shot groups came from the RWS Rifle Match along with the SK Standard Plus. Both of these were easily making .300″ groups when the wind picked up a bit so likely on a bipod in calmer conditions this could be dropped further.

Of the five different types of ammo I shot, each was used for a five-shot group five separate times to rule out trigger mistakes. The rifle performed pretty well with CCI Standard Velocity but it was obvious the Bentz chamber preferred match rounds. Currently, we have shot just under 600 rounds of 22lr through this rifle and will update this article later if anything changes or we find a better round for the rifle.

Grey Birch Manufacturing full rifle
The combination of wood, clear hard anodized aluminum, and carbon fiber sure makes for a fancy-looking package.

Now on to the fun part. I keep seeing American friends and other people ask where to get these rifles and parts in the states. Up until now, the rifles had to have loads of paperwork done on them, the sun and moon had to properly align, and then it finally got into the states.

Well, Grey Birch Manufacturing will be doing the big move south of the border to one of the freest (that word looks odd to write) states—Florida—so expect these things to be readily available over the next year. We are excited to see where Grey Birch Manufacturing goes as they continue to release new products in the rimfire world like a stock for the 10/22 Takedown, Tikka T1 or the CZ 457, or even their rumored 10/22 trigger group they are working on.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Ammo Test—Federal Micro HST .380 ACP

Federal Premium offers a number of 380 ACP self-defense loads ranging from light-for-caliber options from the new 85 grain Punch to the long-established 99 grain Hydrashock. The Federal Micro HST resides in the same territory as the Hydrashock on the heavier end of the spectrum. These heavier loads have the extra vital mass needed for deep penetration but often at the expense of expansion. To see how the HST stacks up, I decided to put it to the test.

The Load

The Micro HST is a line of ammo engineered around shorter-barreled handguns that ordinary folks like you and me use for concealed carry. The 380 Micro HST is a 99 grain jacketed hollow-point with an advertised muzzle velocity of 935 feet per second.

Aesthetically, some thought was put into this load. Given how finicky some 380 pistols are with some ammunition, the use of corrosion-resistant nickel cases and a rounded bullet profile seems to be a smart idea to ensure smooth feeding where a wider-mouthed conical design might not. On the other hand, a flat-nosed conical design might upset readily on target. To compensate, the HST’s jacket is shivved almost to the case mouth. I ran two boxes of this ammunition through my Ruger LCP without issues and saved a third to test velocity and terminal performance.

The Test

The full wound tracts of three Federal HST rounds in gelatin.
The full wound tracts of three Federal HST rounds in gelatin.

I started by running a quick five-shot string over my Caldwell chronograph from a distance of ten feet. Out of my 2.75-inch barreled LCP, the HST Micro clocked with an average velocity of 959 feet per second—marginally higher than what Federal advertises and faster than quite a few loads I have seen in the 100-grain bullet range. Needless to say, I was optimistic when I shot three rounds into my denim-backed 10% Clear Ballistics gelatin blocks.

That extra velocity and mass translated into good penetration but the four layers of denim (to simulate heavy clothing) clogged the hollow-point cavities, preventing them from expanding. 

However, all three rounds tumbled the 6-14 inch marks, shedding fabric as they went. Two rounds landed base-first at the 16-16 1/2 inch marks respectively. The third round settled at the 18 1/4 inch mark, between two blocks. On retrieving that round, it was packed with denim. Reviewing the wound tracts, it appeared that the first two rounds tumbled twice, while the last round only once.

Three HST projectiles suspended in gelatin.
Three HST projectiles, suspended in gelatin.

On a hunch, I removed my denim barrier, stepped back to ten feet, and took another shot into bare gelatin. With no resistance, the HST expanded just as advertised along the shives in the jacket, reaching a depth of eleven inches—just below the FBI’s arbitrary 12-18 inch guideline for duty-handgun performance in gelatin. The expanded projectile miked at .588 inches.

Fired HST projectiles next to an unexpended round of ammunition.

Parting Shots

The 380 Micro HST is characteristic of other heavier 380 loads that have plenty of penetrating and tumbling ability, although often at the expense of penetration through anything of substance. Yet even though heavy cloth, this load does quite well. On the other hand, the HST might be the load of choice in warm weather when cotton t-shirts are appropriate attire.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Manta Rail Covers: The TAC-Wrap, A Heat-Mitigating Fix

As rail handguards became standard after the turn of the century, many shooters began to notice an issue with them.  Being made of aluminum and often bristling with Picatinny rails, these handguards didn’t guard the hand exceptionally well.  Sure, it was better than grabbing a hot barrel, but they could be uncomfortable to use between the heat and the rails. That’s where Manta Rail covers from Manta Defense come into play.

Hot hands?  Beat the heat with Manta Defense!

The focus for today our choice of the Manta Rail Covers, The TAC-Wrap. With a top cap mounted to the free-float M-LOK handguard of a rifle.

Numerous solutions have been proposed over the years.  The first and most apparent were Picatinny rail covers, which are still available from multiple vendors today, in both the thicker snap- or slide-on styles or the thin ladder style.  Vertical foregrips were extensively tested, too, and back in the day, some shooters were quite dogmatic about their ergonomic superiority.

Handguards, Picatinny to M-LOK

If you’re interested in seeing what types of setups shooters used in years past, this archived thread at is full of pictures from a Pat Rogers Carbine Class in 2010.

However, as full-on quad rails gave way to free float tubes with attachable rail sections, the viability of rail covers diminished.  Then came KeyMod and Magpul’s M-LOK, and now fully-railed handguards are a rarity.

Most free float handguards mounted to AR-pattern rifles today are M-LOK.  Many, but not all, have a full top rail.  Some have a full bottom rail.  All have M-LOK slots for attaching accessories, such as grips, light mounts, or even modular rail sections.  While this does eliminate the cheese-grater effect of grasping a bare Picatinny rail, it does nothing to mitigate heat buildup.  In fact, given how slim some of these handguards are and how close they are to the barrel and gas block, they can get even hotter than their quad rail ancestors.

The heat from firing the weapon isn’t the only thing that can make a slim, aluminum handguard uncomfortable.  If you’ve lived in the South or spent time in the Middle East, you know how hot metal can get when left out in the sun.  A hot, sunny day at the range can make your rifle’s forearm too hot to hold with your bare hand.

A smooth metal handguard doesn’t make for a very tactile gripping surface, either, and might be slick in wet conditions.  In cold weather, at or below freezing, an aluminum forend might be unpleasantly cold to the touch.

Manta Rail Covers vs. Gloves

You can, of course, wear gloves.  However, there’s an argument to be made that you shouldn’t have an additional piece of personal protective equipment, along with your eye and ear protection, to shoot your guns.  Several types of plastic M-LOK covers available can give you some heat protection and a better gripping surface, but what if you want something more substantial?

What if you forget your gloves?

Shooting a rifle with a hot metal handguard
Author in August 2012, shooting a friend’s AR-type rifle on a hot, sunny day without gloves. The Apex free-float handguard was light and slim, but it got unpleasantly hot between shooting and being out in the sun.

Manta Defense has a solution: the TAC-Wrap.

Manta Rail Covers: The TAC-Wrap

Manta rail covers TAC-Wrap
Right-side view of the TAC-Wrap mounted to the rear of the handguard.
Manta Defense TAC-Wrap
Bottom view of one of Manta Rail covers, the TAC-Wrap

The TAC-Wrap is a straightforward design made of a soft, tactile, rubbery material that’s very heat resistant.  It is designed to clip to the top Picatinny rail of a handguard and wrap around the sides and bottom.  The wrap itself weighs just over 5 ounces and is 5.75” long.  Thick and ribbed (please compose your own jokes), it provides you with a comfortable gripping surface on your weapon’s forend.  It will work on most slick, KeyMod, or M-LOK handguards between 1.25” and 2” in diameter.  It will probably not work on a Picatinny quad rail type forend.  Measure your handguard’s diameter before you buy.

The Tac-Wrap Instructions

Manta Defense TAC-Wrap Instructions
Page 1 of the installation instructions.
Manta Defense TAC-Wrap Instructions
Page 2 of the installation instructions.

Mounting the TAC-Wrap is straightforward.  It comes with two metal rods threaded on each end.  Using the included lubricant (a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer), you slide the rods through the tunnels on either side of the TAC-Wrap.  A plastic cross-bar clip goes at the front, and the rear of the wrap, and the whole thing is held together by four acorn nuts.  You can attach it without tools, and you’ll need a few drops of blue thread locker.  (If you skip the thread locker, the nuts may work themselves loose under recoil.  If you lose one, you can order a replacement set from Manta for only $5.00.)

Manta Defense TAC-Wrap
Angled shot showing the installation of the TAC-Wrap. An acorn nut goes on each end of the metal rods, securing them to the cross-bar clips.
Manta Defense TAC-Wrap
The TAC-Wrap is laid out and ready for installation.
Manta Defense TAC-Wrap
The TAC-Wrap Kit comes with the wrap itself, two rods, four acorn nuts, and four sets of cross-bar clips for different diameter handguards.

The Tac Wrap Kit

The TAC-Wrap kit comes with four sets of cross-bar clips that accommodate handguards of different thicknesses.  You can mount the wrap wherever you like on the forend, provided you have top Picatinny rail sections where the cross-bar clips need to attach.  From my experience, I would suggest making sure you know where you want to mount the wrap before you secure it in place because once affixed, it’s not quick-detach.

The complete kit costs $49.95 from the Manta Defense website and is available in four popular tactical colors: olive drab, flat dark earth, wolf gray, and basic black.  When installed, it leaves the section of rail between the front and rear cross-bar clips exposed.  If you prefer wrapping your thumb over the handguard, Manta also sells an optional top piece for $10.95.  Alternatively, that top section might be an excellent place to mount a tape switch for a weapon light.

This top cap is made of the same heat-resistant, rubbery material as the wrap itself but is reinforced with metal inserts.  The one I received was a bit too long to fit in the space between the two cross-bar clips, but it can be trimmed to the desired length.  Keep in mind that you’ll need to cut around the metal inserts.

An Overview of the Manta Rail Covers

Manta Defense TAC-Wrap Top Cap
The optional top cap for the TAC-Wrap covers the Picatinny rail, providing a more comfortable grip if you like to shoot with your thumb over the top of the handguard.
Manta Defense TAC-Wrap Top Cap
The Top Cap received was too long to fit in the space above the TAC-Wrap. However, it can be trimmed to whatever length you like.

Evaluation of the Manta Rail Covers

I installed the TAC-Wrap on my Sig Sauer 716i “Tread” rifle, caliber 7.62mm NATO, and put it through its paces.  The wrap did exactly what it was supposed to and gave me a comfortable spot on which to place my support hand. However, even after shooting several magazines’ worth of ammunition, the TAC-Wrap was barely warmer than ambient temperature.

The wrap could have other uses as well.  If you shoot from an improvised rest, even on a rough surface like concrete, the TAC-Wrap will protect the finish on your handguard from scratches.  It’s useful for giving yourself an index reference if you’re concerned about maintaining a consistent shooting stance.  You could use it to route a wire to a tape switch.  If you have large hands, you might find the thicker gripping area provided by the TAC-Wrap more to your liking than the handguard itself.


I purchased the TAC-Wrap with my own money and have no relationship with the company. However, I became aware of them by their being mentioned in a Small Arms Solutions video on YouTube.  I’m pretty pleased with the quality of the product and would definitely buy it again.

Suppose the TAC-Wrap isn’t to your taste. In that case, Manta Defense makes a variety of other heat-mitigation products that you may find helpful, including Picatinny rail and M-LOK covers, tape switch fasteners,  rail covers with wire routing built into them, suppressor covers, grip wraps, and a barrel cover for the Browning M2 machine gun.  Manta Defense is an American small business, and its products are made domestically in the State of Ohio.  I would recommend them without reservation.

Sig Sauer 716i Tread with Manta Defense TAC-Wrap
One of Manta Defense Rail Covers, the TAC-Wrap installed on the author’s Sig Sauer 716i “Tread” Rifle

CategoriesGun Reviews

Sniper Elite 5 — A Gun Guy Goes Gaming

I’m not much into stealth games, I mean, besides Syphon Filter. So I’ve not played the first four entries into the Sniper Elite series. After watching a friend play Sniper Elite 5, I gave it a chance. Plus, it’s free on Xbox Game Pass, so it’s not like I was out any cash to give it a try. I’m glad I did because I had an absolute blast playing the game.

Sniper Elite 5 has you playing as uber commando and sniper Karl Fairburne. (Possibly named in reference to W.E. Fairbairn?) The setting is France, 1944, and you’ve been dropped to help the resistance stop something called Operation Kraken. To be honest with you, the story isn’t a big deal here. I couldn’t remember much of it if my life depended on it.

You’re an allied sniper, and your goal is to kill Nazis, so the story is just an excuse to drop you into different environments to do just that.

Sniper Elite 5 — Sandbox Done Well

Sniper Elite 5 isn’t a free-roaming game in the same vein as Grand Theft Auto or Far Cry. Each level is self-contained but a sandbox unto itself. Players get dropped into a map and can approach the objectives and mission any way they want. Every objective seemingly has multiple angles of approach and various solutions.

Inside the levels, you’ll have main objectives that have to be completed for exfil purposes. Then you’ll have optional objectives gathered from found intel, as well as a high-ranking Nazi that needs killing. Doing these bonus kills and objectives unlock new weapons and experience for your character.

Sniper Elite 5 third person view
You can aim via first or third person.

Every rank gained delivers a skill point that allows you to choose different perks in three other ‘skill trees.’ These are combat, equipment, and body. Upgrading the different trees allow for different skills and abilities, but it’s super shallow and fairly simple.

Prior to every mission, you can upgrade your character or pause the game at any time to upgrade your skills. Also, prior to every mission, you can select your weapons and gear as well as customize your guns. We’ll talk more about that later.

Diving Into Sniper Elite 5

One thing that stands out to me in Sniper Elite 5 is the level design. It’s fantastic. These massive levels are well designed and allow for multiple, unique approaches to an objective. Maybe as you circle right, you see a machine nest, backed by a fireteam of Nazis. If you’re going stealthily, then this might not be the correct route for you. So, backtrack and approach the area in a different way.

The levels are open and allow for a lot of freedom of movement. As you navigate the levels, you can climb vines and ladders, vault over walls or through windows, climb under fences, and take zip lines when necessary. This freedom of movement allows for easy navigation and grants you the ability to get out of rough situations reasonably quickly.

Stealth mechanic in Sniper Elite 5
If you’re sneaky enough you can listen to enemy conversations.

Obstacles all have different solutions. For example, let’s say you have a locked door. You can blow it to pieces with a satchel charge, or you can slowly and stealthy pick the lock, or maybe you hunt down and kill who has the key, which is both silent and quick.

Most of your killing will be made with your guns in Sniper Elite 5, but there are some creative ways to dispatch enemies. Exploding red boxes, barrels, and more show up, making it easy to take three Nazis working on a tractor out. You can lay down booby traps and mines and even plant grenades under dead nazis for other Nazis to find.

Maybe you drop a chandelier on a Nazi. Or, you plant a mine at the end of a bowling alley and take out a high-ranking Nazi who thinks he’s Randy Quaid from Kingpin.

The Action

Unsurprisingly Sniper Elite 5 puts a big emphasis on stealth gameplay. Lots of crawling through high grass and sniping from long distances. Throughout the game, elements allow you to conceal yourself and your shots. Planes flying overhead are loud enough to help silence your shots, and generators can be rigged to make noise for the same reason.

You enter a mission with three guns, a sniper rifle, a submachine gun, and a handgun. You start with two options in each category and can pick and choose between British and American firearms.

X-Ray headshot display
The X-ray shots show your bullet doing its damage.

The enemies in Sniper Elite 5 are pretty aggressive, and if discovered, you’ll be pursued mercilessly. They lay down gunfire at you or where they think you are. If you fire a loud shot, the enemies will isolate your position and come to that position. If you fire a loud shot and quickly sneak away, they’ll isolate the area they think you are.

All the different guns have different audible distances measured in meters. The louder the weapon, the more likely someone is to hear it. The use of suppressors and even subsonic ammo can reduce this noise. Additionally, a 9mm SMG isn’t as loud as a .30-06, which makes sense.

Also, if you find yourself outnumbered, I’d advise running. You won’t last long against a fire team of Nazis. That’s not how the game is played. Stealth matters a lot in this game.

The Kill Cam

The Sniper Elite games have this kill-cam feature. Occasionally, when you make an impressive shot, the camera will follow the bullet until it hits the bad guy. When it hits the bad guy, an X-ray camera will show it violently ripping through the bad guy’s head, lungs, and testicles.

Xray headshot killcam in Sniper Elite 5
The Xrays are quite gruesome.

The Guns and Ammo

Sniper Elite 5 is packed full of guns, both the guns you expect and guns you don’t. Sure, we have the M1911, the Thomspon, and even a scoped M1903, the usual suspects. However, we also see some experimental weapons like the Welgun, the SREM-1 pump-action, bullpup sniper rifle, and Welrod Mark 1.

The game allows you to pick one from each category before each mission, and you’ll unlock more firearms in the armory as you get bonus Nazi kills. Oh, also, there are some period-correct but oddly placed guns. For example, the Nambu Type 14 and Type 100 are both Japanese weapons that found themselves in France somehow.

Welgun SMG in Sniper Elite 5
The Welgun is one of many experimental weapons you can use in-game.

The damage guns do all over the place is typical for video games. Also, a .32 ACP gun, called the MAB Model D, randomly pierces armor with standard rounds. To be fair, an urban legend states that the .32 ACP pierced Nazi helmets more consistently than other pistol rounds. The Webley Mk VI is stupidly powerful, like a magnum-powered revolver.

The game does give a variety of weapons to the player. As you play the levels, you can pick up Nazi weapons to use temporarily. When out of ammo, or when you swap to an equipped weapon, you’ll ditch your battlefield pickup. This allows you to make on-the-fly changes to your equipment because sometimes you need an MG42.


Sniper Elite 5 features a deep and rich customization system. You can make some real Frankenguns through this system. Sure, you can attach suppressors to your guns, a Cutts compensator to your Thompson, and extended magazines.

Customized M1911 pistol in Sniper Elite 5
The weapon customization goes fairly deep and far.

You can also get a little weird with it. Let’s attach a stock and three power scope to a 1911, cause why not? Let’s make it full auto, and get crazy with it. You can do that with most of the guns and make something that would make John Browning frown.

Players can grab different ammo types as well. You can swap between standard rounds to armor-piercing loads or subsonic. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Heck, there are even nonlethal loads, but don’t ask me why. These are the Nazis we are talking about. They only get the lethal lead.

Sighting In

Sniper Elite 5 is a very fun game. The only downside is that the objectives are rarely much different and tend to repeat themselves. However, the level design, enemy A.I., and multitude of solutions make the game a ton of fun and grant you some real replayability.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Fiocchi Defense Dynamics – Budget Home Defense Buckshot

As a shotgun nerd, I laugh when rifle and handgun bubbas complain about the cost of .30 cents and .40 cents per round prices on their ammo. Even when ammo is cheap, shotgun rounds never get close to those price points. Especially when it comes to buckshot and slugs. For high-quality defensive buckshot, you’ll find yourself spending upwards of two dollars a round. However, Fiocchi’s relatively new Defense Dynamics buckshot loads promise a budget-friendly alternative to your home defense needs.

My shotgun load of choice is Federal’s eight pellet 00 load with the Flitecontrol wad. However, Flitecontrol loads can cost over two bucks a round, and when ammo demand is high greedy shotgunners like me gobble it up. I recognize that there are a lot of new shotgun owners out there looking for a defensive ammo option without breaking the bank.

This led me to experiment with several shotgun loads, and one of those loads is the Fiocchi Defense Dynamics buckshot. I think it might be one of the better options for a defensive buckshot load on a budget. I’ve gotten a case of it to find out anyway.

Not All Buckshot Is Equal

There are lots of buckshot loads on the market, and most will stop a threat. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t chase loads that are better tailored for defensive shooting. Let’s examine what separates a defensive buckshot load from every other buckshot load on the market.

First, we have to look at shot size.

For buckshot, the smallest shot size consistently penetrating 12 inches of ballistic gel is No. 1. No. 1 is easily the most efficient shot size for defensive shooting, but it’s often ignored. No. 4 buck is often suggested but is a poor penetrator and best used for coyotes and vermin. That leaves us with the tried and true 00 buckshot. These .33 caliber pellets penetrate deep and hit hard.

Fiocchi Defense Dynamics Buckshot box of 10 12-gauge shotshells
Affordable, defensive buckshot is a real option.

Second, we also want to balance recoil and power.

This leads us away from full-powered 1,600 FPS buckshot. It has a lot of recoil and no noticeable defensive value. On top of that, we tend to avoid 3-inch magnum shells for home defense due to the recoil and the loss of capacity. The use of 2.75-inch shells frequently allows for an additional round in your magazine tube.

So we have 2.75-inch shells with 00 buckshot loaded into them. Most common loads use nine pellets. That’s fine, but eight pellet loads, like the Defense Dynamics, tend to pattern more consistently. Nine pellet loads will often have a’ flyer’ separating from the main pattern by several inches.

What makes the Fiocchi Defense Dynamics different?

Looking at what we discussed above, let’s look at what the Defense Dynamics load does and compare it to what good defensive buckshot should be. First, these are 2.75-inch shells with a listed velocity of 1,325. Not exactly low recoil, but still controllable. They are guaranteed to run in any semi-auto, even if it’s a bit picky.

Next, they are an eight pellet load, which is desirable for more consistent patterns. It’s also a 00 buckshot load, so it’s perfectly capable of penetrating deep enough to stop a threat. The Defense Dynamics load scores high in the basics of being an excellent defensive shotgun option.

Fiocchi Defense Dynamics shotshells
High brass paired with excellent velocity makes this load well suited for semi-autos.

We also get a round that provides a high brass casing. While most high-quality shotguns cycle most shells, some can be picky and require high brass to function correctly. Fiocchi went with a rolled crimp instead of a star crimp. Typically a rolled crimp increases the length of the shell exponentially and can often reduce capacity by a single round in magazine tubes.

Fiocchi Defense Dynamics shotshell roll crimp
The roll crimp doesn’t add any extra length to the shell.

That’s not an issue here. I can fit five in a five-round tube without a problem. The roll crimp does help prevent moisture from building in the shell, but I doubt that’s a concern for most defensive shotgun enthusiasts. Overall the construction of the Defense Dynamics load is solid.

Performance at the Range

While everything above sounds great, it’s all nothing more than a theory until we get to the range. So, to the range, I went armed with 200 rounds of Defense Dynamics and a variety of shotguns. To be fair, it was extended over several days, but you know what I mean.

Travis Pike aims his shotgun
The Defense Dynamics rounds delivered excellent consistency.

I tested the Defense Dynamics through a few different shotguns. Specifically, the most popular platforms on the market like the Remington 870, Mossberg 590, Benelli M4, and Mossberg 930 SPX. In terms of reliability, each gun ate every round of Defense Dynamics without so much as a burp.

Benelli M4 shot pattern
Here is the pattern from the Benelli M4.

Unsurprisingly the 1,325 feet per second rating doesn’t make it the lightest recoiling round but still makes it plenty easy to control. I handled the rounds fine in a TAC-14 PGO. In a stocked shotgun, the Defense Dynamics rounds are fairly comfortable, especially in semi-auto platforms. Enough so that I can control quick double taps on multiple targets without losing my focus.

How do the Defense Dynamics rounds pattern? That’s a fair question. I took a few shots at ten yards from each gun and measured the performance. The 590A1 presented the tightest group, and I could cover the entire pattern with the palm of my hand. The loosest pattern was probably 6 inches or so and fired from the Remington 870.

A box of Fiocchi Defense Dynamics buckshot
The load performs exceptionally well for defensive shooting.

The Benelli M4 presented an impressive pattern as well, somewhere in between the two. Overall the Defense Dynamics rounds rill the role of defensive buckshot quite well. These rounds cost about a buck a pop, which is about half the price of Federal Flitecontrol.

What I’d Change

These rounds aren’t perfect. I’d toss in a Flitecontrol wad if I could. However, other than that, the only thing I’d change is reducing the velocity to reduce the recoil to make it even more controllable. Take it down to 1,250 FPS, and it’d be downright comfortable.

The Fiocchi Defense Dynamics loads promise and provide a comfortable, reliable, and consistent load for home defense shooting. The load offers enough power, penetration, and reliability to conquer any home defense task. It also won’t break the bank and is seemingly easy to find. 

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