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Right Caliber, Wrong Ammunition? What a Difference a Grain Makes

Experienced and new shooters alike may find their pistols not performing as expected.  While there are many things that can cause malfunctions, sometimes it’s the ammo.  Proper caliber is an easy choice; get what’s labeled on your chamber or barrel, but what about grain?
Sometimes misunderstood as the weight of powder, the grain measurement you see on a modern box of ammunition is actually the weight of the projectile.  There are 437.5 grains (gr) in an ounce.  They are important to us though as they can be indicative of the way a bullet will perform.  Lighter bullets are often loaded to fly faster (measured in feet per second or fps) and heavier bullets fly slower.  After testing 9mm rounds as light as 50gr and as heavy as 158gr, I can attest that there is a strong difference. 

Mass x Velocity = Energy
115gr bullet flying at 1,150fps = 338 foot pounds of energy
147gr bullet flying at 1,050fps= 360 foot pounds of energy

Not only will the weight effect total energy, but it often leads to different overall lengths, some of which may not work properly in your handgun.  The picture above has seven different loads of 9mm varying from 85gr to 147gr.  Examining them closely you can see that they all have different lengths.  Some bullets also have different shapes to them that may or may not feed well in your particular gun.

Different heights and starting diameter among ammunition of the same caliber


This is why it is so important that before trusting your life to a defensive round you try at least one magazine’s worth through your gun.  Another concern is pressure and recoil.  Unless your handgun is specifically rated for +P or +P+ loads these are best avoided.  The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute (SAAMI) has established and agreed upon levels of pressure that ammunition can generate.  If this is exceeded the round is labeled +P, or +P+.  This method is often used to squeeze a little more velocity out of a round.  You may have seen “CIP” stamped on European arms and ammunition.  This is the Permanent International Commission for the Proof of Small Arms, a similar organization to SAAMI, but international.  A combination of SAAMI and CIP markings makes me feel best, which is why I support many European arms and ammunition companies like Fiocchi because I know their goods to be dually approved.

About Graham Baates
“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel on the side. Visit Graham on Youtube .

Every now and then an event has meaning greater than the itself. The Outdoor Buddies pheasant shoot was such an event. For those few hours, pheasant shooting acquired symbolism for the noblest virtue: the selfless joys of helping others and passing the hunting ethic to younger generations. As has been done so many times before, Fiocchi USA donated cases of ammunition to the participants.

Outdoor Buddies is an all-volunteer organization with the mission to provide opportunities for those who have been deprived of enjoying outdoor experiences. It focuses on mobility-disabled people, at-risk youth and youth groups. Outdoor experiences include hunting, fishing, boating, camping, and education in the use of the outdoors for recreational activities.

Outdoor Buddies was co-founded in 1984 by Sid Sellers and Sam Andrews. Sam was Director of Therapeutic Recreation at Craig Hospital, world renowned for brain and spine trauma care and rehabilitation, and Sid was a long-time volunteer Hunter Education Instructor for the Colorado Division of Wildlife and an avid outdoorsman. The organization was created because of a need to find therapeutic recreational opportunities for rehabilitating patients who had suffered spinal cord injuries.

About fifteen youth hunters, twenty disabled participants and a dozen able volunteers congregated at the Drake Land Farms Club about an hour east of Denver. The hunt was orchestrated with symphonic precision by president Larry Sanford and his wife, Penny, the chef of a world-class gumbo served for lunch.

Crates of pheasant were strategically placed on fifty acres of cornfields intersected by dirt roads and bounded by thick stands of pines and hardwoods. The first group of hunters made their way to the northern fields, many in the electric mechanized ‘trekkers’ that moved like a small silent tank division. An effervescent “Let’s get going!” enthusiasm pervaded the group which sported smiles as wide as the Grand Canyon. Splashes of orange vests dotted the landscape like splattered paint on a green brown canvas. Well-trained dogs leaped about like porpoises over the waves. A comment often heard from the disabled participants was “Here I am equal to the able-bodied folks. I can do what they do.”

Thirteen-year-old Luke eloquently captured   the event’s value when he answered my question, Why did he attended? “My grandfather took me hunting. Then he had an injury and joined Outdoor Buddies. This is a great way to help people and to be outside, not sitting at home looking at the computer, like so many other people my age. This is fun, and I know I am doing something good.” The pheasants flew high, but our exhilarating spirits were even higher.


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Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer and writer in Denver, Colorado. See his book The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values. Available at


The search for the perfect hunting tool began very early in human evolution. While humans are not the only mammals to use tools to get to their food, they are unique in the way they improve on what nature provides. Once they realised how lethal a pointed object could be, they started to polish and chip pieces of stone and fashion them into spearheads.

Fossil records show that our ancestors’ brain size increased dramatically about 500,000 years ago, and continued to grow, as they learned to look at rocks, stones, antlers, horns and bones and imagine how they could transform them for different purposes. More than that, it appears that they had an eye for beauty and a pride in craftsmanship; many of their stone tools are exquisite. Their problem-solving ability led to great technological breakthroughs such as learning how to make glue and use heat to fasten their spearheads to wooden shafts.

Applying their ingenuity to increasing the range of their weapons led early hunters to develop different kinds of spear throwers, sometimes called atlatls. Recent discoveries in Pinnacle Cave, South Africa, revealed that as early as 70,000 years ago they were hafting sharp stone tips, about 2 inches / 5 cms long, to be propelled from their atlatls to lethal effect. Darts from an atlatl can fell prey at 40 metres /45 yards, earning it the nickname ‘Stone Age Kalashnikov’. Versions can be found throughout the world including Australia where it’s known as the woomera or miru.

The spear was not the only popular projectile. Contrary to popular belief, boomerangs were not exclusive to Australia. The earliest yet, made from a mammoth tusk, was found in a cave in Poland and dated to 23,000 BCE. This takes us into the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, when bows and arrows, being lighter and more portable, gradually replaced the atlatl in most parts of the world. Today, however, the atlatl is enjoying a revival in sport.

As the glaciers from the last Ice Age retreated, hunters followed herds across land bridges between continents. Their technology had grown more varied and sophisticated to include fine arrowheads, harpoons and tools using tiny blades to work skins into clothing, tents and other objects. Fish bones and piles of empty shells show that diets and hunting methods had become more varied. Gradually humans began to settle down and start farming and herding as the New Stone Age or Neolithic began. But hunting remained popular both to supplement their diet, particularly in the winter, and as a sport.

The wonderful hunting scenes painted on rock faces from around 40,000 years ago attest that hunting was not just a way of obtaining food, but was also deeply ingrained in culture. The most ancient examples include those from caves in the Dordogne in France, and Eastern Spain, which were decorated over hundreds of years. A magnificent scene from the Cova dels Cavalls, Spain, shows a group of archers chasing a herd of nine deer; a painting from another cave depicts six hunters chasing and hitting boars with arrows. Did these commemorate hunting success, or were they created as ritual hunting magic to ensure a good result, or were they painted for other reasons?  The jury is still out.


By Celine Castelino - Archeologist




Some great action here room from the Paralyzed Veterans of America's shoot at Redlands Shooting Park.

You can show you support for Paralyzed Veterans of America through he link below!



Now that the sporting clays season is firing up across the country, there are so many choices… which events to go to this year.  If you are a Fiocchi customer, we’d ask you to consider a shoot or shoots that we support.

We take great care in supporting the ranges that stock our excellent ammunition.  These sponsorships are a testament to supporting the shooters, our end use customers, as well.  By providing sponsorships, we help the ranges keep the cost to the customer lower than without.

At this year’s three (3) Fiocchi Cups, the sponsored ammo is given to the shooters through either performance or just old fashion luck.  Each of these events have a different format for ammo distribution, however the ammo this year will be from our Exacta line.

Back to picking shoots to attend this year, here is a list of the major events Fiocchi is proud to sponsor.  All of them are being held at top rated ranges with exceptional staffs.

March 22 - 26, 2017 - NSCA Western Regionals & North American F.I.T.A.S.C. - Coyote Springs Sporting Clays - Tucson, AZ

March 30 - April 2, 2017 - ACUI Collegiate National Championship - National Shooting Complex - San Antonio, TX

April 25 - 30, 2017 - World English Sporting Clays Championship - National Shooting Complex - San Antonio, TX

May 17 - 21, 2017 - NSCA Northeast Regional Championship & U.S. National F.I.T.A.S.C. - M & M Hunting Preserve - Pennsville, NJ

June 5 - 11, 2017 - NSCA U.S. Open - Big Red Oak Plantation - Gay, GA

June 21 - 25, 2017 - U.S. F.I.T.A.S.C. Grand Prix - Michigan Shooting Centers - Orion, MN

August 1 - 6, 2017 - NSCA North Central Regional Championship - Caribou Gun Club - Le Sueur, MN

August 18, 2017 - Fiocchi Cup Central - Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Academy- Branson, MO

August 23 - 27, 2017 - Fiocchi F.I.T.A.S.C. 500 - Northbrook Sports Club - Hainesville, IL

October 21 - 29, 2017 - NSCA National Championship - National Shooting Complex - San Antonio, TX

November 16 - 19, 2017 - Fiocchi Cup West - Ben Avery Clay Target Center - Phoenix, AZ

December 15 - 17, 2017 - Fiocchi Cup East - South Florida Shooting Club - Palm City, FL

We encourage you to pick your shoots for this year from this list.  For more information, please contact the range.  When you are picking your ammo please remember, in the end it’s the shot that breaks the target!!!



In continuation of last month’s lesson, we can take that muscle-memory to the next level and start the “cool guy” double tap.  If you missed last month’s article read it first here:  The double-tap is actually a useful tool in competitions and for self-defense.  Competitors are scored on a mix of time and accuracy with the option in many divisions to either land one great shot or two good shots.  When ammo conservation is of no concern it’s often quicker to fire two rapid shots and move on than to slow down for a perfectly-aimed shot.  In self-defense ammo conservation is often more important, but multiple hits offer better insurance of neutralizing the threat. 

Now that we understand the why let’s get to the how.  There are actually two types of double-taps.  The first is what we see in all of the movies and is faster, but less accurate.  We’ll refer to is as a “hammer”.  The second takes a bit more time but offers better accuracy and is referred to as a “controlled pair”.  The difference is in aiming.  With a Hammer, we aim once and squeeze the trigger twice quickly.  For a Controlled Pair, we trap the trigger to the rear while getting back on target and fire again as soon as we have a flash of a good sight picture.  As the name implies the controlled pair offers us a lot more control and so is usable at longer ranges and offer the chance to not fire a second shot should the need arise. 

In competition, in self-defense, or having fun on the range these are practical skills to develop and practicing them will increase your skills as a shooter regardless of what you use them for.  After getting comfortable with the basics challenge yourself by testing your skills at different ranges.  Begin at 5 yards and work the target farther and farther away in two-yard increments.  Find your natural limit to the effectiveness of hammering and try to push that limit while maintain what you consider acceptable accuracy for your application.  Remember “aim small, miss small!”  Double-taps are not a race but rather a specific skill set.  Firearms with shorter, crisper resets make it easier, but this can be performed with any semi-automatic firearm.


“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel and blog on the side. Visit Graham on Youtube .




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