December 14, 2012 by jervin2012
Do you remember being 15? It was a while back for me… but not too long ago to remember clearly. Anyways, when I was 15 I was sure that I wanted to be like that man in the Heckler and Koch catalog:
My Dad, having spent a year with the US Army in Vietnam, knew reality all too well and would do anything to keep me from experiencing similar things. His solution? Give that young punk of his a chance to experience full-up handguns… much the same as the oh-so-hilarious trick of giving a new shooter the Magnum shell mixed in with the birdshot.
So … we went to Gateway Rifle and Pistol Club in Jacksonville, Florida: (www.grpc-jax.com) with my Dad’s Ruger Security-Six and this evil little yellow box of ammunition:
I don’t know what it was but all of the experienced shooters I’ve known agree that ammunition from the pre-1990s era was loaded ‘hotter’ than most ammunition brands today. Maybe this is simply a response to increased incidences of product liability lawsuits in recent years? Turn down the heat on the rounds and you reduce the risk of damage to an inadequate gun/shooter combination.
In any event, my interest was in learning to shoot handguns, specifically whatever a “tactical” handgun happened to be defined as at the time. Since he didn’t have any “tactical handguns”, we settled on his blued Ruger Security-Six in 357 Magnum. Off to the 7 yard handgun range we go…
Maybe I thought I was too tough for “practice” ammo, so that is why we were shooting up his 158gr JHP rounds from the 1970s… to give the 357 Magnum that extra fire “so I would know if I had fired the gun or not”… …
It’s very likely that I pasted some kind of “tactical scowl” on my face that I had seen in an advertisement somewhere. What I am certain of is that the scowl was wiped off my face with the first round fired. Maybe it’s hard to describe emotions via the keyboard, but it went a little something like this: a cross between being kicked in the balls and inhaling wasabi at the Japanese restaurant.
Our male readers can relate to what taking a shot in the rocks feels like… for everyone else, trust me: It Hurts. The Wasabi is a kind of pain equal and opposite to the sensation one gets when they smell a fresh Christmas tree at the beginning of the season. Anyways, back to the story and time for Shot Two.
I have no idea where Shot One impacted… but I was a terrible shot with handguns at the time, so maybe it’s still traveling through the air somewhere. Shot Two was a little bit easier to deal with, since I knew what to expect: lots of pain. By the time I had fired Shot Three, my eyes were welling up with water like I was about to cry. Out of the corner of my eye, I did the “Old Man check” … to see if my Dad was watching me or watching the target. Of course, he was watching me and grinning.
Shot Four presented an interesting challenge: how to focus on sight alignment and proper trigger squeeze when all that you want to do is to set the gun down and sit yourself in a corner. All while still trying to look macho and in control of things.
Shots Five and Six must have gone fairly smoothly because I don’t remember what happened after Shot Four. Anyways, that was enough for me… for about 2 years until I discovered 9x19mm handguns and then it was game on from there.
If anyone has experience shooting this ‘evil box of Yellow ammunition’ please share your experience. Looking back on the situation, now with the benefit of having been an ammunition engineer for 4 years, I think what happened is that the propellant bed became embrittled, which resulted in abnormally fast burn rates/pressure rises. This resulted in a concentration of solid recoil-generating evil by the time we fired it in 1995. Either that, or CCI loaded it hot at the factory and the propellant was stable all of these years, for which they should be commended.