In the earlier post about hunting with semi-auto pistols, it was pointed out that the .45ACP is probably not the optimum hunting cartridge. Even though a 200gr Hornady XTP hollow point can be pushed to over 1000 fps out of a 5″ 1911 barrel, effective range is limited. It CAN get the job done – I recently fired some of those same bullets from my 1911 into the head and neck of a fair sized feral hog and was impressed by the penetration and bullet performance – but a bit more power would help make the semi-auto pistol a better hunting weapon. I also pointed out that the .460 Rowland cartridge is available in a few 1911 pistols, and offers performance very close to a .44 magnum, but this is a big step up in recoil and expense over the .45.
A long, long time ago at a magazine far away (Guns & Ammo), members of the staff headed by Col. Jeff Cooper, tried to envision a new cartridge for semi-auto pistols that would have more power than the .45, and be useful for military and law enforcement, as well as hunting and self defense. They settled on a 10mm – .40 caliber – which Col. Cooper stated should have about the same ballistics as the LAW ENFORCEMENT loading of the then new .41 magnum revolver cartridge. This led to the “legend” that the 10mm basically equaled the .41 mag, BUT not the .41 mag loading used by hunters – the Law Enforcement ballistics were toned down some. When the FBI decided to adopt the 10mm early on, they found many of their agents still could not handle the recoil, so they asked to have it’s power reduced even more. This eventually led to the development of the .40 S&W as a reasonable compromise to the .45. It also left the true 10mm sort of without a home.
Colt saved the 10mm from dying a natural death, probably, by chambering their Delta Elite 1911 for the round, and then outdoorsmen caught on that this was a potent round that could be fired in a pistol with a fairly high capacity – compared to a revolver – magazine. A fairly stout load in a 10mm does not equal a .41 mag, but it is comparable to a .357 mag. Besides Colt, Kimber and Rock Island Arms make 1911 pistols chambered for 10mm, and of course Wilson Combat chambers their superb “Hunter” series of 1911 for it. The other major semi-auto pistol (there ARE some revolvers in 10mm, also) in 10mm is the Glock.
Glock has a wide reputation for making a pistol that is almost fool- proof (important for me!) rugged, and performs well. The Glock also has the lowest base price of all the 10mm semi-autos. Because I had talked my editor at Texas Fish & Game Magazine into an article on handgun hog hunting, and hoped to possibly interest another magazine or two into similar stories, I decided to “invest” in a 10mm. REAL gunwriters get “loaner” guns from manufacturers – guys like me have to buy them. The RIA 1911 interested me, even though it is made in the Philippines, but every time I found a used one for sale it got away before I could get my hands on it, and I could not find a new one in stock locally. The same was pretty much true with the Glock, but I found a few at The Glock Store in San Diego, CA (www.glockstore.com) and ordered a G20 with a 6″, “Hunter”, barrel and a few other updated parts as recommended by my friends who shoot plastic pistols. Glock also makes the compact version of the G20 in 10mm, but that was not what I needed. Right after ordering my G20, I managed to stumble across a G20SF 10mm in Bass Pro, but elected to stick with what I had ordered. Turns out, the G20 is a large pistol, fully as big as a 1911, but “thicker” I can handle the grips, but just barely, and might have been better off with the SF. The Gen 4 version of the G20 should be “out” by now, and it will have a slimmer grip with “add-ons” that can change the shape and size of the grip(to make it larger again, it seems). The G20 magazine holds 15 rounds, which is a lot of firepower for a pig hunter. Since ammo is an iffy thing these days, I ordered some HOT 10mm loads from Double Tap (230gr Hard Cast Lead at 1120 fps) and Buffalo Bore (220gr HCL at 1200 fps and 703 ft lbs of muzzle energy. I have come to really appreciate the penetration of heavier Hard Cast lead, and figured the hottest loads available would be best for hog hunting.
Here we need to discuss some “peculiarities” of Glock pistols. First, Glock does not recommend using lead bullets in their pistols, because their rifling does not like lead and can develop problems from it’s use. The companies who make hard cast bullets counter that their product is not “pure” lead – and has significant amounts of tin, antimony, and other metal – so it should work fine. In my case, the Lone Wolf aftermarket barrel that arrived with the pistol has cut rifling, and should be fine even with softer lead. The next thing is that Glock barrels, because of the type of feed ramp they choose to use, do not fully support the case head of the cartridge, and neither do the Lone Wolf barrels sold for use in Glocks.This is probably not a big deal with their popular 9mm pistols, but with that silly millimeter more in the 10 – and a large increase in velocity and pressure, you see the infamous “Glock Smile” when the cartridge case bulges at the base where it is not supported. With loads as hot as the Buffalo Bore and Double Tap I ordered, even more serious problems can occur, as I was to find out.
I also picked up a box of PMC 170gr Jacketed Hollow Point ammo at Gulf Coast Tactical Supply in Lake Jackson, Texas, who received the pistol for me. Owners Dave and Phyllis Robinson were very helpful to me in getting this pistol – and this project – headed in the right direction. This ammo worked very well in the pistol, but was not quite up to the task I bought the G20 for – or at least so I thought. When I got a chance to check these with the chronograph they measured a surprising 1300+ fps! My first attempt to fire the hotter Hard Cast Lead loads was not very successful. The Buffalo Bore ammo refused to feed and chamber, jammed every time I tried to manually cycle the pistol. The Double Tap was almost as bad, but I finally got a round to chamber. On the third shot, my hand got very hot, smoke was coming from places I didn’t think it should be, and the pistol was jammed solidly. The (plastic) magazine release was broken and fell out in pieces – the end piece blowing out of the grip stung my hand. I could not get the action open. With the help of Gulf Coast Tactical Supply owner Dave Robinson and a lucky visit from Gunsmith Dave Christiansen, we were finally able to get it open with more sophisticated tools – a hammer padded with an old gym sock. What fell out was a Double Tap casing that had ruptured and resulted in the dreaded “Kaboom”. The magazine was cracked, also, but otherwise the pistol appeared OK.
While researching what had happened and why – so I might avoid another occurrence of this type, I was told by various folks that it MUST have been everything from the barrel, to the ammo, to the lead bullets, to the Glock, to me as a person. Finally I talked to an “Industry Insider” – owner of a company that briefly made METAL frames for Glocks – who told me on the phone that ALL aftermarket barrels for Glocks were out of spec, and not just in the chambering, but in the shape and placement of the barrel locking lugs. The Glock does not use a barrel link and pin like the 1911, but instead has lugs on the bottom of the barrel that mate with blocks in the frame. He also told me that a Glock will fire out of battery, and that when this is combined with a bad barrel lock-up, a kaboom will very often happen.
When the new magazine release parts arrived, I elected to remove the 6″ barrel and try the 4.6″ Glock factory barrel. With this one, ALL the ammo I had on hand cycled, and it fired and functioned perfectly with the PMC JHP and American Eagle 180gr FMJ factory ammo. Even the DT and BB rounds cycled – by hand. I am probably not going to shoot these at any point in the near future, instead hand loading 200gr JHP for my hunting. I am also returning the Lone Wolf barrel and exchanging it for a Glock factory 6″ barrel.
Investigating the ammo that caused the malfunction, I first measured the OAL of the cartridges. I have found that my 1911 feeds better with cartridges on the short end of the SAAMI OAL specs, but the Double Tap rounds that did not want to feed in the Glock were just within SAAMI specs, on the low side. The Buffalo Bore ammo was towards the upper range of the specs, while the other two factory loads were sort of in the middle. Lone Wolf says their barrels are “match grade”, and thus might be a bit tight – they even offer to ream them a bit for you, if you’ll send them back. Using the “drop” test, where cartridges should drop fully into the chamber, then fall out on their own when turned upside down, the PMC and American Eagle rounds were fine. The Buffalo Bore ammo would barely go halfway into the chamber without being forced. The Double Tap stuff was a bit better, although it did not go all the way in – and it was a DT round that ruptured on me.
My conclusions at this point are: #1 – I will not try to shoot DT or BB ammo in this pistol as yet. I have a full box of Nosler 200gr JHP bullets that will be my hunting loads, and all cases will be checked for bulges and full length resized when loading. Jeff Cooper’s original loading used 200gr bullets at around 1200 fps, although I plan to stay on the safe side of this velocity. #2 – At this point, I do not think I could recommend a Glock in 10mm, mostly because of the unsupported barrels. Even the lower priced 1911 made by RIA has a fully supported barrel, and should easily handle the hotter loads.
As always, I do this sort of thing – blow up perfectly good pistols – so you, the reader, do not have to. At the same time, such events give me a sort of dubious experience level. A very well respected gun writer who has written two books each on the 1911 and the Glock, was once a top competition pistol shooter, and also a gunsmith, was generally complimentary of Glocks in his second book on them (I have not read the first). Most writers are complimentary of Glock, possibly because Glock spends – and makes – a whole lot of money, which tends to influence those sort of guys. This particular writer DID mention that a cartridge rupture in a metal-framed 1911 might damage the magazine and crack the grips, while with the same problem in a Glock, you’d probably be buying a new frame. Now, he did not say if he had ever actually experienced a cartridge rupture in a Glock? Well, I HAVE! While your mileage may differ, my only real damage was the broken magazine release. The plastic grip section held up fine, and there was certainly no other “frame” damage. The “cracked” magazine? I accidentally loaded – and fired from – that magazine the next time I shot the pistol, and the only problem was that I had to manually pull it out of the mag well when it was empty, because the peeled back plastic made for a tight fit. The plastic casing near the top of the mag WAS cracked, but after I trimmed it a bit and glued it back to the metal insert with super glue, it works fine.
I do think the Glock can still be a handy and effective hunting hand gun, and expect to have a picture of it posing with a dead feral hog soon. I will discuss this Glock further in another post, or an update, however.
Here is a photo from earlier today, showing two jacketed hollow point pistol bullets fired into dirt.
The 230gr .45ACP bullet fired at 900 fps ended up at 238gr (dirt, maybe) and .8″, the 170gr 10mm slug at over 1300 fps weighed 165gr and measured .68″. Either would have been deadly if placed in the right spot of a hog – or deer’s – anatomy!
UPDATE! I contacted both Double Tap and Buffalo Bore about the problems I had with their ammunition. Both companies have stated they used a Glock 20 with a factory Glock barrel for most of their 10mm load development. Tim Sundles of Buffalo Bore was the first to respond, and he recommended only using his ammo in a Glock with a Glock barrel. The chambering problems I had with the Lone Wolf barrel do not occur in the Glock, which has a more generous chamber. Double Tap suggested that their 230gr hard Cast had a “generous nose” that might make it difficult to chamber, and also admitted they had seen some problems with a recent batch of brass. In a phone conversation, their rep suggested I try their 200gr Hard Cast load, or their 200gr loading with the Nosler Jacketed Hollow-point. He even offered to exchange my two boxes of 230gr Hard Cast (one of which was now only a partial box) for a box of each of those loadings.
When the Double Tap ammo arrived, it was in 2 boxes of 50 rounds each – even though my other Double Tap ammo was in 20 round boxes. The Nosler 200gr bullets are rated on the box as getting 1250 fps, while the 200gr Hard Cast are expected to shoot at 1300 fps. Both of these were chronoed out of 5″ barrels, so I expect a slight increase from my 6″ barrel. Shortly after receiving this ammo, I received a box of Wilson Combat ammo I had ordered before I got the pistol. This batch is loaded with Hornady 180gr XTP jacketed hollow points, and labeled as reaching 1280 fps from a 5″ barrel.
If the Glock and the 6″ Glock “Hunter” barrel will handle these loads, I figure it will pass the test as a serious hunting pistol. Yesterday I tried shooting the Buffalo Bore 220gr Hard Cast ammo, and it fed and fired perfectly – and accurately. I also noticed a big difference in recoil since replacing the stock 17# recoil spring with a 22# version, and exchanging the plastic guide rod with a stainless steel version. I will give the other “hot” loads a test on my next trip to shoot.