Wednesday, August 22, 2007



Two Letters Re: The Current Ammo Shortage and Galloping Prices

Perhaps it’s a regional thing, but there seems to be an ammunition shortage in the United States. Here in NY, 7.62x39 has doubled in price in the past year. It is to $200 per 1,000 when you can find it. At last weekend's gun show only two of the 40 tables were selling 7.62x39 and one of those vendors only had 500 rds. The bad news is thus that it is too late to stock up on cheap 7.62x39. The good news is that your investment in ammo [already] on hand has doubled in value.

308[Winchester] is still available at $200 per 1,000 and up, depending on country of origin. A year ago I could find it for a few cents per cartridge less, but I think the time to stock up is now. One reason is that the military ammo is simply being used in Iraq and Afghanistan, so there is less surplus on the market. Another factor is the budding Chinese automotive industry absorbing every bit of metal they can buy. Copper wire has doubled in price in the past year. It is only reasonable to see this carry through to the raw materials for ammunition. So the price will be passed along to us even if the “shortage” is temporary prices are clearly rising.

I can see no downside to stocking up on the cartridges still available at reasonable prices. For instance, it is my personal policy to buy a 550 round box of 22 LR every time I’m in Wal-Mart. At $8.97 per 550 box that’s still under two cents per cartridge, including sales tax. I just don’t think prices will ever be lower. And with a 100+ year shelf life, how can you go wrong? Worst case - even in the unlikely event that my son and I don’t shoot it up during father/son backyard plinking sessions, I’m stocking a commodity for the next generation. Keep up the great work. May God bless you and yours, - Mike S.

God bless you Jim.
I just got back from a gun show here in the mid west and there were two over-riding topics of discussion among the dealers. First and foremost was that the cost of ammunition was going up. Soon. A case of .223 which was being sold at $219 will cost the dealer $250 just to stock it. Even if he sold it just to break even, that's a noticeable jump. Certain ammo streams (South African .308 for example) are drying up. One dealer who sells flashlights, cases, knives etc, told me not to buy his stuff and go get my ammo. I thought your readers should know now is the time to buy ammo.
The second topic of conversation is that people were being cautious, that they had feelings of unease, that things were not as good as we're being told it is. Add this to the bad wheat harvest projected and it equals Now is the time to get as prepared as you can. Just thought this might be of interest. - D.D.


A Critical Look at the SIG P-210 9mm

By Stephen Camp

Generally regarded as the most intrinsically accurate "service" pistol extant, the SIG P-210 has always commanded a hefty price. While part of this can be due to both import tariffs and exchange rates, the fact is that the gun's always been expensive. I bought my first one in the mid-'70's for the princely sum of $350.00 which would have bought two Browning Hi Powers and left change or nearly three Colt Series 70 forty-five automatics! A kindly gun dealer, Mr. Wilford Pierce, let me pay it out "on the book," as it was commonly called. At that time, the model designation was P-210-6 and it came with a very good trigger and a fine click-adjustable rear sight with a post front sight. The stocks were finely checkered and almost blonde. I don't recall what kind of wood, but the pistol appeared elegant.

Foolishly, I traded it off for a new S&W Model 66 with 4" barrel, an extra set of grips, a buck knife, and $35 cash!

I bought another on 03/26/96. Surprisingly, mine is marked "P-210-6," but is a fixed sight pistol. Perhaps model designations changed or the guns were originally intended to be for an adjustable sight pistol. I flat don't know.

This is my second SIG P-210. It's put together very well and its POI exactly matches POA for me with most ammunition. I've read that its spectacular intrinsic accuracy is limited to but one load, a 147-grain Swiss FMJ round made for maximum accuracy performance in this model pistol. I've never shot any of it so I don't know, but reports that the P-210 "is no more accurate than other quality automatics" has not been proven true in my experience. I have some other pistols that group as tightly as the P-210 for me, but none that group better and I'm not capable of shooting well enough to tell the difference. The pistol is 8.5" in overall length with a barrel measuring 4.72." It weighs 2.14 lbs. and is all steel. The single-stack magazine holds 8 rounds of 9mm ammunition. It has a FLGR and a captive recoil spring and uses a one-piece feed ramp like the Browning Hi Power and other pistols. Rifling twist is listed at 1:10 in most places, but it's actually closer to 1:9. It has internal slide rails, i.e., the slide rides inside the frame and this allows for longer slide rails. Like the Makarov, it has its magazine release at the pistol butt to the rear of the magazine well. There is no internal firing pin safety, nor is the external thumb safety ambidextrous. The extractor is external and pinned. It does have a magazine safety.

I do not know if the trigger, slide release, and hammer are hard chromed with a matte finish or some other finish has been applied or if they're matte finished stainless, but on the well-done blued slide and frame, they make for an attractive appearance.

This pistol's front sight is a serrated ramp that's steep enough to be almost a "semi-ramp" and is dovetailed in place. The top of the slide is nicely serrated.

The rear sight is a "U" shape that I find mildly annoying, but must say that it has not affected being able to get both a good sight picture in slow fire. Its front sight is thin and fine for precise, slow shooting, but hard for me to pick up at speed. You can see the finish on the hammer and slide stop in this picture as well as the thumb safety in front of the grip. Note also the reversed slide rails and the fit between slide and frame.

An unusual feature of this pistol is that the entire hammer, sear, mainspring assembly can be removed from the frame as a single unit for ease in cleaning.

In this picture, you can see how well the stocks fit the gun as well as the almost invisible seam where they meet. Under the tang, you can see a screw head. Removal of this screw allows for the hammer, sear, and mainspring to be lifted out of the frame when the slide is removed.

The interior finish on the P-210 is better than the exterior finish on many of today's pistols.

The SIG P-210 is well finished both inside and out. Though they cannot be seen in this photo, the slide grooves in the frame run the full-length of the frame and there's very little movement either vertically or horizontally between the slide and frame.

The barrel is precisely machined and fitted to the pistol. This feed ramp has not been polished nor have any "tool marks" been removed. What you see is how the P-210 comes out of the box.

The pistol feels "graceful" to me an in a way similar to the Browning 9mm Hi Power. I do wish that from the factory, the Browning/FN Hi Power had either fine stippling or serrations to improve the grip when hands are wet or sweaty.

The P-210 has a finely serrated front grip strap. It provides ample purchase and is quite comfortable in firing.

So, it's a well-made, very expensive pistol in 9mm, but how does it shoot and is it reliable? The two that I've owned were with ball and most JHP rounds but do hang up now and again with the short 90-grain JHP 9mm cartridges. This really doesn't bother me as I seldom shoot anything less than 100-grains and most often, 124-grain bullets are my choice.

This 10-shot group was fired using a rest from 25 yards with the shown handload that's proven accurate in several other 9mm pistols including Browning Hi Powers and CZ-75's.

If you happen to mortgage the house and buy one of these, you'll at least find that it groups the widely used Winchester 115-grain USA FMJ very well. The flyers in both targets are my fault, not the gun.

Also fired from a rest and with wrists sandbagged, this group was fired at fifty yards. It's the handload shown above and uses Hornady's excellent 124-grain XTP over 6.0 grains of Unique.

I killed this javelina using the same handload from the SIG P-210 in far south Texas a few years ago.

As shown in the preceding picture, I've used the P-210 in the field on a couple of occasions. I did not find the smallish sights to be a problem, but I do think they would be in dimmer light or if trying to use them very quickly…at least for my eyes. (I'm also happy to report that I've lost about 35-lbs. since that picture was taken!)

The P-210 does not have a "slow" barrel and here are the velocity figures for some loads I've tested in the pistol. As usual, they're based on 10-shot averages with the gun's muzzle being about 10' from the screens.

Load Velocity (ft/sec)

Handload: 115 gr Hornady XTP/6.0 gr Unique/Starline Cases/ WSP primer

LOA: 1.11" 1238 (ES: 9, SD: 6)

Handload: 124 gr Hornady XTP/6.0 gr Unique/Starline Cases/WSP primer

LOA: 1.11" 1280 (ES: 81,SD: 34)

Handload: Speer 124 gr GDHP/6.0 gr Unique/WSP/Starline Cases

LOA: 1.115" 1195 (ES: 62, SD: 26)

Winchester USA 115 gr FMJ 1242 (ES: 38, SD: 15)*

(*This is much hotter than previously checked loads. No Nato marking on cases.)

Remington 115 gr +P JHP 1291 (ES: 17, SD: 7)

Federal 115 gr JHP (9BP) 1173 (ES: 42, SD: 18)

MagTech 115 gr FMJ 1148 (ES: 50, SD: 18)

Notice that in the two XTP handloads, everything is identical except for the bullet weight. The slightly heavier, slightly longer 124-grain causes more pressure and in this case, higher velocity than the 115-grain load.

While this P-210 will group decently with cast and plated bullets, for me it has done its best with jacketed ammunition be it factory or home-rolled.

The pistol is a very good one, but it does have its less than stellar features as do all handguns. First, it is very expensive. Even used or refurbished ones run from about $800 and upward. Its importation is an on again - off again sort of thing and spare parts can be hard to find and they will be expensive. For example, a spare factory magazine costs around one hundred dollars. They're certainly well made, but I just don't see the single-stack 8-shot magazine being a hundred bucks' worth! As mentioned earlier, the recoil spring is captive so changing or replacing is not so easy as it might be was this not the case. In my case, the hammer routinely bites me and due to cost of replacing it, I'm very hesitant to try and bob the spur or alter the pistol very much at all. Unfortunately, as a result I don't shoot this gun as much as I would otherwise. When at the range, I take a bit lower grip on the pistol and usually have a piece of duct tape covering the web between my thumb and forefinger. When hunting, I just get bitten!

Though I've never really considered this pistol for a defensive arm, some might. While it absolutely has more accuracy than most could ever put to use, it does have some drawbacks in my experience. With eight rounds on tap, it has sufficient magazine capacity (some will disagree on this), but the butt release on this pistol is pretty stout and the magazine must be pulled from the gun. I really don't mind this for hunting or range work as a speed reload is not a necessity and I'm not so likely to drop, damage, or lose those high-dollar magazines, but it would be slow in a fight. For others, and myself the thumb safety is a bit too far forward for easy on and off manipulation and the smallish sights, slow to pick up in a hurry. Because the design uses the reversed slide rail set up, there's less of the slide to grasp in a hurry should you have a malfunction (very rare) or need to chamber a round in a hurry. While the trigger does have the usual military type take up, the actual trigger pull is light and crisp. I've not measured this one, but I'd estimate it at about 3 1/2 lbs. A momentary lapse of proper gun handling and a finger on the trigger with the safety off when not immediately preparing to fire might just result in an unintended firing of the pistol under stress.

I came pretty close to selling this pistol a short time back, but when I got it out and began photographing it from all angles for the prospective buyer, I realized that I really didn't want to…so, I didn't. I'll keep the thing and enjoy it for what it is, recognizing that while not perfect, it is very well made and try to appreciate it for its strong points. I am not interested in another unless at a ridiculously low price and in very good condition. I might consider some customization to such a P-210.

If they're still being imported, some of the complaints I've mentioned have been addressed by SIG in another version of the pistol. It has an extended tang, oversized thumb safety, better sights, and a push button magazine release. The last time I heard, it had a price tag near $5,000, too!

For me, the two P-210's that I've shot were extremely accurate with a wide variety of loads in several bullet weights. They've been reliable and easy to carry in the hunting field, too, but I remain quite concerned with the price and scarcity of both accessories and spare parts. That said, they do have a certain "style" or "class" about them and if you truly want high quality, this might be a viable choice. It will help if you have smaller hands to fully appreciate the pistol as you're less likely to get smacked with the hammer spur. If not, try and love a lower grip with this gun at the range!

Being perfectly honest, was I interested in another highly accurate and reliable 9mm, I'd probably get another FN Competition Model or STI Trojan 1911. The latter can be had in standard 5" barrel length or in the 6" long slide. All three of these have more built-in accuracy than I can wring out and I flat cannot tell you which is the most accurate. Even though I prefer the Hi Power in many cases, I'd probably go with another STI, but that's for another time.

For those still reading, I did buy the gun with the optional .22 conversion unit. While the conversion is quite accurate, mine has not proven reliable. Extra magazines are even more expensive than those for 9mm.

The finish and tool marks on the .22 barrel are much more visible than on the 9mm barrel.

Except for the magazine, this is the conversion unit. It, too, has fixed sights that are well regulated.

I like the P-210-6 and appreciate it for its extremely precise fitting and closely held tolerances, but in a fight and for general use with the 9mm, I'd take a lightly modified Browning Mk III Hi Power. For pure bullseye shooting, I prefer the FN Comp or the STI Trojan 6" and for hunting small game with a 9mm, I'll take the Trojan the vast majority of the time.




DEBKAfile: Fighting escalates between Israel and Gaza Strip in fresh spiral

August 22, 2007, 9:22 AM (GMT+02:00)

Palestinian snipers in Gaza

Palestinian snipers in Gaza

In the first half of the week, at least 16 Palestinians were killed by Israel military responses to the waves of Palestinian missile and mortar fire buffeting the population living around Gaza. Hamas, Jihad Islami, Fatah-Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Popular Committees and al Qaeda-linked Salafi groups are all shooting missiles and mortars at Israeli communities around the clock – two dozen in the last 24 hours. An empty nursery school and factory were badly damaged in Sderot. The IDF has brought into action new surveillance instruments and short-range high-precision surface rockets.

Tuesday night, Aug. 21, one Hamas terrorist was killed, and several injured as they crept up to the border fence. During the day, 9 Palestinians were killed, including two children standing by a launcher near Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, who were mistaken for a missile team.

Palestinian organizations are now fielding their Qassam missile and mortar teams day and night. Marksmen armed with sniper rifles fitted with night-vision equipment are shooting at IDF border positions, armored patrols and civilian traffic within range of the border.

Israeli farmers have been ordered by the military to work their fields only up to one kilometer short of the border.

Yet Israeli forces are not permitted to execute their plan to carve out a 1.5-2 km buffer strip inside the Gaza Strip to keep Palestinian assailants at bay, although prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak have promised that the Israel military will not pull its punches against the enemy.

A senior officer in command of the sector complained that without this buffer, Palestinians hold the initiative of when, where and on what scale to wage war. “We are only allowed to shoot when they are near the border fence. It is therefore inevitable that the Palestinians will intensify their attacks, extend their range and start building up casualties on our side.”

Military commanders told DEBKAfile Tuesday night that there is nothing to deter the Palestinians from bringing out their advanced anti-tank rockets and extended-range Qassam surface missiles against the towns of Ashkelon and Netivot, as well as the cluster of military facilities guarding the Israel-Gazan border.

They also believe that not all the tunnels running under the fence from Gaza into Israel have been found and the Palestinians intend to use them for surprise attacks.

DEBKAfile’s Palestinian sources explain that local Hamas extremists have intensified their offensive, defying guidelines laid down by their political leaders in Gaza and Damascus, in order to break out of the military, economic and financial blockade clamped down on their rule by the US, Israel, Egypt and the Europeans. This stranglehold prevents Hamas from exercising government and its rule is in danger. To save themselves, Hamas’ military chiefs are driving their war with Israel to extremes. They hope for enough civilian deaths to force outside intervention for a ceasefire in hostilities. Then, Hamas can make its acceptance contingent on the reopening of the Israel-Gaza and Egyptian border crossings under their control.


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