Category Archives: Uncategorized

X-ring rubber pistol bullets

X-ring rubber bullets have been around for more than a generation. Currently they are manufactured by the Meister Bullet & Ammunition Company. Boxes of 50 retail for around $12.

These should not be confused with “less lethal” or riot-control projectiles. Rather, these are reusable primer-powered training bullets. I tested both .38 and .44 caliber versions.
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Heavy Metals for Bullets

As a preface to an upcoming series on subsonic rifles, I have compiled the following information regarding metals for bullets.

To produce good ballistics a bullet needs several characteristics.

  1. Internal: It has to remain solid at the temperature and pressures of firing, to avoid melting in the gun. It also must be softer than the barrel through which it is fired so that it conforms to the rifling of the barrel (which is critical to ballistic stability) and so that the barrel can be shot repeatedly without degrading.
  2. External: It should be as dense as possible, since density not only increases stability but also reduces the energy lost to air resistance during flight.
  3. Terminal: It needs to be tailored for some terminal objective. Depending on the target, we may want a bullet to explode, expand, penetrate, stop, or do some combination of those things.

Following is a list of elements that are of interest in meeting these objectives, ordered by density and noting their rough current cost:
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Products I’m looking for in 2010

Consumer High Speed Video Cameras

It has been more than a year since Casio began shipping the EX-F1, and it is still the fastest consumer video camera on the market. However, at its top speed of 1200 frames per second it only captures a very coarse 336 x 96 resolution.

Memory bandwidth and data buffering have previously been the bottleneck of high-speed video. Pros pay tens of thousands of dollars for specialty camera systems capable of capturing high-resolution video up to 10,000fps. (Higher frame rates require lighting power that would be beyond the means of amateurs.) But now that high-capacity solid-state data drives with write speeds over 500MB/sec are shipping for just a few hundred dollars the technology exists to produce a sub-$1000 consumer video camera that can capture full-resolution video at thousands of frames per second. I can’t wait to get my hands on one.

Better Console Gaming Controllers

Ten years ago Microsoft introduced a radical new gaming controller under its Sidewinder line called the Dual Strike. Apparently nine years ago they took it out of production. I used it to play several PC versions of Grand Theft Auto and liked the controller so much that when I discovered it was discontinued I scooped up a few more boxes at clearance. The Dual Strike is the best first-person shooter (“FPS”) controller I have ever used: It combines the precision and speed of a mouse with the convenience of a single hand-held gamepad that doesn’t tie you to a flat surface.

I recently picked up a PS3 and was excited to check out the state-of-the-art in FPS games. What I can’t believe is how bad the standard console controllers are for this purpose. Apparently people who are serious about these games buy split controllers like the FragFX which basically put you back at a desk with a mouse. Not exactly the setup one is looking for when plugging a console into a home theater system and sitting back on a sofa.

Though stockpiles of Dual Strike controllers are still available they are not compatible with the current crop of gaming consoles. I hope it’s not long before the console gaming complex rolls out a FPS controller to meet this need.

Computerized Ballistic Optics

Given how cheap and compact computer power is I can’t understand why the $1500 Barrett BORS is the only integrated ballistic computer on the market. Of course a professional shooter can do ballistics in his head for any shot one could take with a man-portable firearm (i.e., up to .50BMG shooting up to 1.5 miles). And serious amateurs cobble together their own ballistic computers, typically using a combination of smart-phone ballistics applications, Kestrel weather meters, laser rangefinders, and perhaps some angle gauges. Hopefully this is the year that scope or laser rangefinder manufacturers begin to integrate atmosphere and angle sensors along with ballistic data to provide precise firing solutions, perhaps even automatically adjusting the scope’s reticle for a particular shot. Before long I also hope to see laser rangefinders that integrate laser doppler anemometers to determine average windspeed and direction over the ballistic trajectory, making first-shot hits as precise as the rifle and the shooter’s trigger finger.

Bullpup Single and Double Rifles

As a fan of bullpup firearms I was excited by Steinkamp’s SW1 double rifle. But since their pricing is over the top I’m hoping that this year some domestic manufacturers will pick up on the concept to produce single or double bullpup rifles and shotguns.

Subsonic .22LR Ammunition and Barrels

As I wrote late last year, there are significant benefits to be had with heavier subsonic .22LR ammunition. I hope ammunition manufacturers step up their offerings of .22LR over 40 grains, and that .22LR barrel manufacturers switch to the higher twist-rates needed to shoot the stuff well.