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Ammo: How to balance economy and performance.

Jul 8, 2005
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So, today was clean-out-some-old-ammo day. I shot through a few half-boxes of ammo. After just sending some downrange without any particular purpose, I decided to compare my standard practice rounds to some slightly better stuff. Both targets were shot at 50ft, single-action. .38 spc. ammunition. (And, used up the Shoot-N-C targets I bought for a new shooter to play with...)

16rnds - M&M Reloads 148 gr wadcutter (CPWC - I don't know what "CP" stands for) - cost $7.95

...and then...

20rnds - Fiocchi 158gr FMJ - probably cost between $10 - $12 for 50

So, the Fiocchi obviously shoots better. But I was surprised at the difference in shot placement. I figured that the M&M would have larger groups, and maybe fall a little (there's a substantial difference in recoil), but that seems to be about a 3" difference over 50 ft. Also, it's a little weird that one group tends to be high-left and the other is low-right. I didn't expect any change in windage.

What kind of balance do you strike between performance and price? Would you, seeing the difference above, drop the wadcutter and practice with the better stuff? I like the way the Fiocchi hit close to the point of aim, but being the cheap bastard that I am, I don't think I'll regularly pay $12 for ammo. (In fact, I'm pricing .22 pistols so that I can spend less on ammo...). But if I want to improve past my current plateau, it would be good to know that I'm seeing at my own error rather than ammunition. Maybe I just need to quit using the wadcutters and move up to full power loads that fly straighter.
AAAARRRRGGGHHHH! In my Charlie Brown style frustration. [laugh] I've attempted numerous trips to the range by myself to get a feel for what ammo shoots best out of what gun. Be it a day with 3 diferent types of 8mm ammo and one Mauser type rifle, or 4 diferent types of 7.62x54 and one Mosin Nagant, i've noticed that nothing is consistent because I usually deal with temperature ranges, wind, my own mood when i'm at the range, and various distractions around me. But thats military surplus ammo and my own mystery of shooting milsurps.
One thing I have noticed is that Golden Tiger 7.62x39 ammo out performs any Wolf or corrosive milsurp stuff i've shot in my SKS rifles. That being said I can honestly say if it were me either shooting for practice, or concentrated target effort, i'll always choose the better ammo if I can get it.
Look at it this way... you're hungry. You can either eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for $5 and be full or eat at Pub 99 and have a steak for $15 and be just as full but enjoy your meal more with the higher priced dinner, but... in a pinch a 3 piece KFC meal with a drink will fill ya up just the same.
Same goes for shooting... you can shoot good ammo that will let you enjoy the groups you're seeing and feel good about that range trip or you can shoot average ammo that will get you on paper but leave you thinking you could have done better with better ammo.
Myself I say go for the good ammo and enjoy what it will do. After all, in a carry gun or defense situation, you're going to want to use what works best for you. And if it comes down to having a tight week for cash and you wanna go blasting... just pick up a box of the cheap stuff.
I'm thinking of getting some steel auto-reset popup targets so I don't get all hyper critical of the group size.
crakowski said:
I'm thinking of getting some steel auto-reset popup targets so I don't get all hyper critical of the group size.


Funny, but I do better with reactive targets. I like to set up spent shotgun shells on a saw horse at 30' and blow them away. I can nail them pretty consistantly. (maybe 3 out of 4 shots). Last week at Jim's "intro to defensive shooting" class I did great on a steel plate. But if I put up a bullseye, forget it...

I know it's psycological, though after this post I'm tempted to blame it on my choice of WWB!! Oh wait, that's all I ever shoot (besides checking my defensig loads)... so much for that excuse...

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