In a private lesson yesterday, I was working with a student that had recently put a red dot sight on his pistol. We were trying to zero the pistol at 25 yards, and even using the MTM pistol rest, the groups were more than 6″ and erratic, making it very difficult to determine what adjustments, if any, to make.
Because the Rangemaster Master Instructor class was going to include a lot of 25 yard shooting, I splurged on some Atlanta Arms Elite ammo to use for that course. It costs about 2x what low end plinking ammo does, but they promise 10 shot groups of 1.5″ at 50 yards. In doing comparison testing with the Atlanta Arms and Federal American Eagle, I did observe that the Atlanta ammo was consistently more accurate, giving me 1-2″ groups from benchrest at 25 yards, where the American Eagle was good for 2-4″ groups (still very good for factory bulk ammo, in my opinion).
I handed the student my Glock 48 w/ Holosun (the one I used in the Rangemaster class days prior) with a magazine of the Atlanta Arms Elite, and he shot a 2″ group at 25 yards from benchrest with it. Analysis: the large group size is not a student skill issue – it’s probably the gun or the ammo.
Next step, I had him shoot some Federal Syntech match ammo he had brought out of his gun. 2-3″ group. Atlanta Elite out of his gun, 2-3″ group. With a half dozen clicks we got his gun zeroed and moved on, confident in both the zero and his shooting. Without having the higher quality ammo available, we could have wasted a lot of time and never solved the problem.
His question to me was “why is this bulk 9mm practice ammo I’m using inaccurate compared to these other rounds?
The practice rounds appeared to be relatively consistent in overall length. From the sound of their report and observing the recoil cycle of his gun when he was shooting them, it didn’t appear that the powder charge was particularly inconsistent. The best I could offer was that the projectiles themselves were either inconsistent in shape. Many years ago we had purchased 10,000 bulk bullets to use for practice from a vendor many other local shooters were using with good results. We chose their jacketed round nose bullet, many of the locals were using their JHP bullet. As we found out after we took delivery of the bullets, the JRN bullets, regardless of which gun they were shot in or which shooter was shooting them, grouped like my student’s ammo did: loose groups with occasional mystery fliers. That same company’s JHP bullets with the same bullet weight shot great.
The lesson learned, if there is one, is there is value in having some trusted, known-good, high accuracy ammo on hand any time you are trying to zero a pistol with irons or a red dot, or determine if a red dot sight has a problem (other than obviously loose mount). I’ve had good accuracy results from Federal Syntech, Federal American Eagle and the Atlanta Arms Elite lines mentioned in this article.