Sunday, July 23, 2023

PSA Rock Range Report

Last night I took the PSA Rock to an indoor range along with 100 rounds of ammunition, one box each of American Eagle 40 grain FMJ and AAC 40 grain VMAX.

Out of deference to range rules each magazine was loaded to only 10 rounds. The cartridges loaded easily into the magazines without the use of a loader. Loading them to full capacity may be easier with one, however.

It's worth noting that the magazines are of the double-stack, double-feed type, like AR15 magazines. To load you simply press the rounds straight down into the mag.

I shot the American Eagle ammunition first, and experienced no malfunctions. The AAC ammo was loaded noticeably hotter with a bit more muzzle flash.

Speaking of which, the gun was not as loud as I was expecting. Certainly, it has more blast and flash than a .22 or the .32 S&W Long ammo I shot in my Colt Police Positive afterwards, but it wasn't objectionable. I found it less obnoxious on the indoor range than some .40 S&W and .45 ACP I've been exposed to.

As expected, recoil was extremely light even with the hotter AAC ammunition.

There were two malfunctions with the AAC ammunition. In both cases the slide locked back prematurely with one round left in the magazine. It's possible that this was shooter-induced. I need to shoot it some more and pay more attention to which magazine I was using when the malfunctions occurred.

All cases ejected vigorously to about 4 or 5 o'clock.

I was shooting at 7 yards and kept my rounds within a few inches. The gun's heavy trigger pull makes shooting tight groups challenging. I am hoping that with another couple hundred rounds it will improve somewhat but it may need a trigger job.

I won't make a final judgement on the pistol until I have 500 rounds through it, but my initial impression remains favorable.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Got a PSA Rock 5.7 Pistol

After doing a lot of research, last Sunday I ordered a Palmetto State Armory Rock 5.7 pistol, and I was able to pick it up from my local FFL on Wednesday.

A picture with my Beretta M9 for scale:

(The Beretta has slimline grip panels from LOK Grips, which I can't recommend highly enough. They really improved the feel of the gun for me.)

5.7x28 is a bit controversial among shooters but I decided to try it for a few reasons:

  • The ballistics from a handgun should be similar to .22 Magnum from a rifle. Obviously, from 10+" barrel 5.7 will have significantly better ballistics. Based on what I've seen on YouTube, the AAC 40 grain loads should give me around 1800 FPS from this pistol's 5.2" barrel.
  • Mild recoil.
  • The pistols have the reputation for being easy to cock, which is good for people with hand problems.
  • Very high magazine capacity.
  • Lightweight, compact ammo. A 50 round box of 5.7x28 is not much larger or heavier than a 50-round box of .22 Magnums.

This picture shows a CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 115 grain FMJ round next to an AAC 40 grain VMAX 5.7x28 round:

Here are the specs of the package I bought:

  • Two-tone sniper green/black
  • Optics ready
  • 5.2" threaded barrel (1/2x28 threads)
  • 10 x 23-round magazines
  • A soft case.
  • Gun lock.
  • Chamber flag.

The cost was $599 + tax and shipping. My FFL charged $30 for the transfer.

This will be my first foray in 5.7x28-land. At some point I'll probably add a Holosun 407K but first I want to try it with irons.

After I I ordered the pistol I also ordered 300 rounds of AAC's 40 grain VMAX load (they were out of stock of their FMJ loads) and one box of American Eagle 40 grain FMJ. When I picked up the gun I also bought one box of FN SS197SR 40 grain VMAX loads.

Yesterday I got a restock notice from PSA and ordered 250 rounds of their AAC FMJ loads.

Fiocchi is now selling 150-count bulk packs of 40 grain FMJ rounds. At some point I'll get some of those because they end up being the least expensive practice rounds.

My initial thoughts without having fired it yet:

  • The grip is nice. My hands are on the small side but I have no problems gripping it comfortably. The grip reminds me of a S&W M&P-9.
  • Good three-dot sights made from metal. The gun can be fitted with any Glock-compatible sights.
  • The trigger pull is heavy but has minimal takeup and a short reset. No noticeable creep. With some lubrication and dry firing I'm already noticing an improvement.
  • The finish on the slide is nicely applied.
  • The magazine catch is a bit stiff but is already breaking in. The mag catch is reversible but even though I am left handed, I will leave it as-is. I used my middle finger to push it.
  • The takedown procedure is the same as a Glock but easier because of the design of the takedown latch. Putting the upper back on the frame is a little different because of the takedown latch.
  • Field stripping and reassembly are easy. The takedown catch is much easier to use than on a Glock.
  • The zippered case that it came in is very nice.
  • The owner's manual is very nice and printed on good quality, glossy paper.

I will shoot it first with iron sights but plan to mount a dot in the near future. I should get to shoot it this weekend and will post a range report.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Follow up on the homemade percussion caps

We've been having some unpleasant weather here in SE PA recently. Hot, humid, and rainy with thunderstorms. However, yesterday I managed to sneak out for a couple hours to Boulder Valley Sportsmen's Association and shoot some targets on the woods walk course.

I took the Slotter-style plains rifle (which has become my favorite rifle) and aside from a capper full of CCI No.11s, a also brought along 6 of the homemade percussion caps from last month, in a 3D-printed star capper.

When shooting a caplock rifle it's always good to make sure the flash channel is clear before loading. This is most commonly done by popping a cap while holding the muzzle near a blade of grass or a leaf. If it moves you know the channel is clear.

Note that if I'm loading the rifle prior to a hunt, rather that popping a cap I'll use some rubbing alcohol and compressed air to ensure the channel is clear, especially since I may be loading (but not priming) the rifle at home. This is not a bad idea nowadays anyway, since No. 11 caps are hard to buy.

I did that with one of the homemade caps and it moved a blade of grass. However, when I loaded the rifle I found that the homebrew caps would not ignite the main charge unless I primed the nipple with 4Fg black powder first. That slowed the lock time down so that it was comparable with a flintlock.

(I keep a nipple primer in my shooting pouch in case I encounter ignition problems. This was the first time I actually needed it.)

Having tried them and found them wanting for use in sidelock rifles, I plan to make up another batch but add more priming compound.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

High Standard Sentinel Round Butt

A few years ago I picked up a High Standard Sentinel R-101 snubbie with a 3" barrel. It came with a square butt grip, which is very comfortable. However, HS also made round butt grips for these guns, which would make it a little easier to carry in a coat pocket. I was able to buy one from Numrich awhile ago but didn't get around to changing it out until today.

As the gun came:

And with the round butt:

Changing the grip required removing the only screw in the gun, which goes through the bottom of the grip into the grip frame.

The original grip has molded in checkering while the round grip is smooth. The gun feels secure in my hand but we'll see how it is when I'm sweating. I've also seen the round butt with checkering, which would have been ideal.

One might wonder at the point of a .22 snub. These guns were sold for use as plinkers or tackle box guns, but they are usable for defense even if they aren't ideal due to the caliber. It has a 9-shot cylinder so capacity is on par with a lot of autoloaders.

Because of the heavy double action pull I wouldn't recommend any rimfire revolver for defense if you have weak hands, but if you have hand issues that prevent being able to deal with the recoil of a .38 Special or other better caliber, it beats harsh language or a pointed stick.

The High Standard has been perfectly reliable for me so far. The hammer hits the cartridge rims with authority and as far as I can recall, I've yet to experience a misfire. I tried some Remington Yellow Jacket hypervelocity ammo and got sticky extraction, but that's the only issue I've had with it. I intend to try CCI Stingers and Federal Punch in it. (I have a box of the Punch that I'd bought for use in my Ruger LCP II Lite Rack, but it had a lot of malfunctions with it.)

Friday, June 09, 2023

Homemade Percussion Caps

Last week while I was on a staycation I prepared a batch of homemade No.11 percussion caps, using the tool from and their Prime-All priming compound. I tried them out a couple days later.

I left out the tan/off-white component, which is either dextrin or gelatin intended to be a binder. By most accounts it works poorly as suck. Instead, I took a 1 oz. plastic bottle with a needle oiler tip, put a few millimeters of Duco cement in the bottom, then filled the rest with acetone to make a saturated solution.

Using a CCI Large pistol primer tray as a loading block I filled about 20 caps at a time with the mixed Prime-All compound and then put a drop or two of the Duco/acetone solution in it. Using a small piece of bamboo cut from a chop stick I gently tamped down the wet mixture.

After the caps were visibly dry I put another drop or two of the solution in the caps and let them dry in the open air overnight. I wanted to ensure that enough Duco cement was deposited in them to keep the priming compound in place. Duco is a nitrocellulose based glue so it's flammable even when dry.

For safety's sake make sure that you crush any lumps in the components before mixing them. Crushing lumps after the components are mixed can cause detonation.

Note that I did not have luck punching caps out of beverage cans, even doubled. I keep punching right through the material. Rather, I used 0.005" thick copper foil which is a more durable material.

I tried them in my Pietta 1860 Sheriff which has Slixshot nipples installed.

  • 6 caps to clear the nipples: All popped. I noticed they make less noise than CCI, Remington, or RWS caps.
  • 6 shots loaded from paper cartridges with 25 grains of Scheutzen 3Fg BP: The first 3 went off OK but the next 3 popped but failed to set off the BP. I recapped those cylinder and none set off the powder. I recapped once more using RWS 1075+ caps and all 3 chambers went off. They may work better with paper cartridges if I increase the amount of priming compound.
  • 6 shots with 25 grains of Scheutzen loaded from a flask: All 6 went off properly.
  • 6 shots with 25 grains of Triple 7 3Fg BP substitute, which has a higher ignition temp: All 6 went off properly.

The caps on shots with 25 grains of BP held together but flowed a little back into the safety notch in the hammer nose.

The caps on the Triple 7 loads all perforated but the skirts held together.

None of the caps fragmented and I had no jams. Some came off easily while others had to be pried off either with my fingers or pocketknife. All 27 caps I dropped the hammer on ignited properly.

Since the Prime-All fouling is corrosive I cleaned the gun with water and MPro 7 after getting home, and oiled everything with FP-10. I left it disassembled overnight to confirm I'm not going to get any rust and everything looks fine.

Overall, I consider the home made caps using the Prime-All compound a success for use in percussion revolvers and I'm sure they'd work fine in an underhammer. I need to test them in a sidelock rifle or pistol.

Article: Complex Systems Won’t Survive the Competence Crisis

It's been awhile since I posted anything political but, a few days ago this article was brought to my attention and I've been digesting it ever since. It clearly articulates much of what I've been thinking in the past few years, reinforced by my long term employment at a Fortune 50 company. The article's arguments and conclusions are spot on, IMNSHO.

At a casual glance, the recent cascades of American disasters might seem unrelated. In a span of fewer than six months in 2017, three U.S. Naval warships experienced three separate collisions resulting in 17 deaths. A year later, powerlines owned by PG&E started a wildfire that killed 85 people. The pipeline carrying almost half of the East Coast’s gasoline shut down due to a ransomware attack. Almost half a million intermodal containers sat on cargo ships unable to dock at Los Angeles ports. A train carrying thousands of tons of hazardous and flammable chemicals derailed near East Palestine, Ohio. Air Traffic Control cleared a FedEx plane to land on a runway occupied by a Southwest plane preparing to take off. Eye drops contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria killed four and blinded fourteen.

While disasters like these are often front-page news, the broader connection between the disasters barely elicits any mention. America must be understood as a system of interwoven systems; the healthcare system sends a bill to a patient using the postal system, and that patient uses the mobile phone system to pay the bill with a credit card issued by the banking system. All these systems must be assumed to work for anyone to make even simple decisions. But the failure of one system has cascading consequences for all of the adjacent systems. As a consequence of escalating rates of failure, America’s complex systems are slowly collapsing.

The core issue is that changing political mores have established the systematic promotion of the unqualified and sidelining of the competent. This has continually weakened our society’s ability to manage modern systems. At its inception, it represented a break from the trend of the 1920s to the 1960s, when the direct meritocratic evaluation of competence became the norm across vast swaths of American society.


The path of least resistance will be the devolution of complex systems and the reduction in the quality of life that entails. For the typical resident in a second-tier city in Mexico, Brazil, or South Africa, power outages are not uncommon, tap water is probably not safe to drink, and hospital-associated infections are common and often fatal. Absent a step change in the quality of American governance and a renewed culture of excellence, they prefigure the country’s future.

Emphasis added by me.

The full article is here and worth your time, IMHO:

DEI is a major force behind this trend but it's not the only thing. For example, I've seen repeatedly where senior level, highly knowledgeable employees are let go as a short term cost-cutting measure. Not only were these senior folks repositories of painfully acquired tribal knowledge, they were mentors to junior engineers. Senior leadership considers it a bonus when they can point to one less old white guy on staff, replaced by one or more diverse candidates.

As the one meme goes, "I know it's bad, but it's going to get a lot worse." The more independent you are, the higher your standard of living will be in the coming years.

Loading and Shooting a Muzzleloading Black Powder Patched Round Ball Rifle

I made this video last week but forgot to link to it from here.

If you like it please hit that Like button and subscribe.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Goex Update

Yesterday I got an email from Maine Powder House stating the following:

Yes, in case you have not heard, GOEX production date was pushed back again.

GOEX dealers were informed the new projected production date is end of June. If they are able to make this happen, this means they will not start shipping product out to dealers until earliest August. GOEX has also informed us prices will be going up, but they have yet to give us a new price list.

Schuetzen and Swiss containers are here in the US, however their prices have gone up 17% and 22% respectively. This price increase was a surprise to all of us...including the distributor. Current prices listed as of the date of this email DO NOT reflect the 17% & 22% increases.

Maine Powder House current inventory on black powder is very low. I will be working with the Schuetzen/Swiss distributor on a new order, however it will be a limited order due to the anticipation of GOEX getting back in business sometime this fall.

Check the website for details as I will keep that up-to-date for everyone.


My $0.02:

With Goex availability pushed back yet again, if you need black powder I recommend buying Scheutzen, Swiss, or Graf's house brand (made by Scheutzen) from MPH, Powder Inc., Grafs, or whoever else might have it in stock. If you shoot a gun that works reliably with it, don't turn your nose up at Pyrodex or Triple 7, either. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Update on Percussion Cap Availability

Here's a video update on the availability of percussion caps, from the NRA convention.

Key points:

  • Per Ethan, CCI produces caps in seasonal runs. Next run is in June, reaching shelves in July/August.
  • No real updates on Remington or RWS caps.

My $0.02 is that I recommended stocking up after they become available this summer.

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Alpineaire Black Bart Chili Review

 Back in the fall I bought two packages of Alpineaire Black Bart Chili from Amazon Prime. Today I decided to try one for lunch.

To prepared it, pour two cups of boiling water into the bag, mix, and then let sit for 10 - 12 minutes. Then mix it again before eating.

I let it sit for at least 12 minutes, mixed it up, and it looked like this:

It came out a bit soupier than I'd like. The texture was typical for reconstituted freeze dried meals. It was fairly spicy.

Because it was so soupy, after I ate half I tried adding some parched corn flour to it to thicken it a bit. Not recommended. I didn't care for the resulting texture.

Overall, I'd recommend it and will probably buy some more for my camping/emergency prep food stash.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Converting Rifle Brass to Use No.209 Shotshell Primers

AKA, “Yet another reason to have a small lathe.”

Obligatory disclaimer: We don’t guarantee that these will be safe in your rifle or with your components. Do this at your own risk.

The cartridge cases converted using this method are NOT safe to use with full loads. Read that again. They are only safe to use with low pressure reduced loads. Use at your own risk.

My friend N. has recently delved into shooting his M-1891/59 Mosin-Nagant and No.4 Mk.I Lee-Enfield with "mousefart" loads. These are even less powerful than Ed Harris’s “The Load” of 13 grains of Red Dot under a 150 - 180 grain bullet. N. is loading a 115 or 125 grain cast bullet on top of 5.0 grains of Bullseye. (His first try in 7.62R used 6 grains of Bullseye but accuracy was horrible. Backing off to 5 grains shrank the groups.)

He has a good stock of No.209 shotshell primers but not a lot of large rifle primers. He also has a lathe in his basement workshop, as you can see in the picture. It’s an older Jet unit with a 7” swing (not sure how long it is). He took some Berdan primed .303 cases that he’d stashed away and drilled out the primer pockets so they will accept No.209 primers.

Per N., he used three drill bits to modify each case:

"Center drill to keep main drill from following the firing pin dent, letter C for the main body, 21/64 to countersink the flange on the battery cup.  Be careful!  My Fiocchi primers are .002" larger than my Cheddite, and I understand the Cheddites are larger than most Yankee brands."

So measure the No.209 primers you have and pick drill sizes to match.

We haven't tried this with Boxer-primed brass but I don't see why it wouldn't work. This project was primarily to make something useful from what otherwise would be trash.

Something else to consider is how your rifle will handle escaping gas if something goes wrong. I have been present when someone experienced complete case head separations in a No.4 Lee-Enfield and another time in a Mosin-Nagant. The Lee-Enfield shooter didn't notice anything awry until he opened the bolt. The Mosin shooter got gas back in his face but was uninjured because he wore eye protection.

Also note that a lot of milsurp .303 and all 7.62x54R were corrosively primed. Make sure to clean your rifle accordingly when shooting that ammo. You also need to rinse out the brass with water if you plan to reuse it. (The No.209 primers are not corrosive. I'm only referring to the initial firing with the original primers.)