Category Archives: Shooting Tips and Techniques

Light Weight 9mm Bullets Combine High Energy with Very Low Recoil

If you like the idea of a 9mm load that packs a lot of kinetic energy, but still has really low recoil, you need to take a look at lighter bullet weights.  Heavier bullets have more inertia, so it takes more effort to get them moving and to stop them.  So heavy bullets cause more recoil when you fire them and they penetrate better when they hit the target.  The opposite is true for light bullets.  They are easier to get moving since they have less inertia so they cause less recoil when fired.  And on the target, they slow down faster which is good if you want to avoid over penetration.  Because lighter bullets are easier accelerate in the barrel and they allow more room for the powder charge, they can be driven at much higher velocities which creates higher levels of energy.  So they have less mass and momentum, but more energy.  In a 9mm pistol or 9mm AR carbine, this allows you to combine very low recoil with very high velocity and high energy levels.  An example would be a Cor-Bon 90 Grain +P Hollow Point.  The energy level is 450 ft./lbs. at a blistering 1500 feet per second out of a pistol and considerably higher out of a carbine.  Yet the recoil level is one of the mildest 9mm loads you can shoot.  Cor-Bon’s 100 grain 9mm Powerball is the same way.  These types of loads will not over penetrate on walls, etc.  And when hitting a hostile threat, they will expand very rapidly and make a large wound channel, yet will not penetrate as deeply as the heavier 9mm bullets like the 124 or 147 grainers.  This can allow for very easy, fast follow up shots and causes your blowback operated AR 9mm to run much softer than it does with the heavier bullets.  So for many, these make a lot of sense and are worth a look as you try to find the best load for your purposes.

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Aiming Iron Sights using the wings and hoods

Most shooters are well aware that proper alignment of the front and rear sight are key to shooting accurately with a rifle.  But how do you get the best sight alignment?  Is it to use the smallest rear aperture available and center the front sight post within it?  While this method has its merit and is useful at times, I find that it is way over used and misused.  It seems that many think or have been taught that they need to be using the smallest rear aperture possible in order to shoot accurately.  What this belief often leads to is shooters squinting through a tinnier hole than necessary, trying to center the front post on a target they can hardly see.  If using a front sight with only a post and nothing else, larger apertures are faster, and smaller ones may be needed for long range accuracy.  However, if your sights have protective wings, the front post is not the only part of the front sight that can and should be used to align the sights.  Most military style rifle front sights and even many commercial ones have some sort of protective wings or hood.  In the best designed sights, these are not meant only for protection of the front sight post, but are also meant to assist in sight alignment.  The military wing style front sight like that on an M-1 Garand, M-14 or M-16 rifle uses the wings to curve out to the inside edge of the rear aperture when the top of the sight post is centered.  When using the smallest possible aperture, you can only see the post so the wings can’t assist in the alignment.  The military post and wings sight picture is very familiar to most military veterans and I’m sure they remember that visual image.

sight picture

Hooded front sights sometimes make the best sight pictures of all with the hood around the front sight post forming an aperture that fits perfectly within the rear sight aperture.  So you have a post within a circle within another circle.  I personally think this is the best arrangement.  Nothing is simpler than a circle within a circle for ease of alignment in every direction.  Another variation  of this is a semi-hooded front sight, often referred to as HK style even though HK sights are often complete hoods.  Many aftermarket AR-15 sights have this arrangement such as those by Troy, Midwest Industries, Yankee Hill Machine, LWRC and many more.   Some AK-47 sights with rear apertures also use this design.

HK sight picture          imagesCACG3Y7K

When using the wings and hoods to help align the sights a larger rear aperture size can be employed.  Since you’re centering the whole front sight assembly in the rear aperture instead of just the post, you can center it very precisely while using a larger rear aperture.  This has several advantages.  It is easier to see the sight picture and the target since you’re looking through a larger hole.  More light gets to your eye through that larger rear aperture, so the front sight and target will appear brighter.  This is an easy enough concept to understand, but it goes farther than just the size of the hole.  There is light distortion around the edges of a sight, so when looking through an aperture, light does not pass through it very well around the edges.  Only through the very middle does a full amount of light pass through.  This means on a small aperture there is normally only a very tiny part in the center getting full light to your eye.  With a larger rear aperture, the area of undistorted light is larger allowing you to see the whole front sight with full light and less distortion. To see this for yourself, take a rear aperture sight alone and hold it up against a light background like a white wall or the sky where there is enough light and you will see a distorted, darker area around the edges of the inside of the aperture and a small hole within that which is brighter where full light is passing through.

ar15news pic of fsp ws

For these reasons, I recommend using a front sight design with wings or preferably a hood or semi-hood and using a larger rear aperture for aiming when possible.  This will make your whole view of the front sight and target brighter and more appealing.  Plus, if shooting in a tactical scenario or a 3-gun match, this has the added benefit of less tunnel vision and better view of the target area.  If you have a rear sight with a large and small aperture, a good arrangement is a smaller one that the front hood just fits perfectly within and a larger aperture that allows some light between it and the front hood for faster, close range shooting.  Using this method, you’ll find that you can see your sights and targets better, there will be less eye fatigue and less squinting and your accuracy will not suffer.  Give it a try and see what you think.