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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At my previous range visit in August a mysterious loss of a round occured with my new Beretta Tomcat .32acp. The last round was found on the ground after 5 rounds fired OK and the slide cycled OK. A search of the old Beretta forum revealed a thread that explained this can happen due to the magazine follower being polished smooth. The last round then has no friction to slow it down and it jumps out of the breach before chambering. The best fix offered was cut a groove in the back of the follower to engage the cartridge rim and hold it momentarily. I cut a few scratches with my dremel and then went to the range. While there I ran a small wetpack test with the Tomcat. Picture below shows grooves on back of follower and the test results with Silvertip ammo to compare with the short test posted in the P32 forum.
I had no more "lost" rounds and the pistol now functions fine.
og
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My thesis on hollowpoint testing....

Thoughts about personal self defense handgun ammunition testing.

In the 1950's, when I served in the Marine Corp, all we had was ball ammunition for our pistols. And most if not all of it was bare lead nose. One of my uncles was a policeman in our home town. He carried one of those big, shiny, blue S&W revolvers, 38caliber lead nose bullets. For squirel hunting with my .22 all I had were Peters lead nose bullets. A Mr. Barnes is credited with producing hollowpoint .22cal bullets in 1932 but we didn't see any until the 1970's.
What we thought about back then was marksmanship, not "stopping power". Somewhere along the way, after WWII, LEA's petitioned the ammo companies for better handgun ammunition. Then along came the FBI with failures to stop felons with the firepower available. The big three responded with offers in HP ammo and the Glock 9mm caught the eye of the NYC police. The 9mm became the popular ammo with police in most of America and the JHP ammo business grew. Since then LEA's have changed calibers and arguments which caliber is best are frequent. LEA ammo requirements are different than civilian needs. Their ammo has to penetrate barriers and heavy clothing to pass.

In the 1980's the FBI wanted to know which rounds were best and used gelatin blocks for testing. If you are the FBI that is easy, money is not a problem and you can get big refrigerators and indoor ranges with temperature control to run your tests. They also chose a BB gun test for "calibration", whatever good that is.
Gelatin became the sacred cow for JHP ammo testing and is still regarded as queen to this day. A few labs came into being on a contract basis to do gelatin tests for customers. Ammolab comes to mind. In addition a few independants with money to burn also began testing and several collected data from shootings mainly with the thought of selling books in mind. Some books met with severe criticism and the authors refused to reveal the source of their data.
Various other agencies went to extremes with tests on live goats and cattle. But their tests were limited and not too reproducable.
Then there were the gunzine writers in more recent times who were being paid to evaluate handguns and publish glowing results in their gunrags. Many, but not all, of these authors chose water jugs to evaluate ammo in the pistols they were testing. Among that group the water jug presented a cheap, quick, reproducable way to get results that really looked good on magazine pages. And it avoided the messy, sensitive, expensive gelatin method. A few dedicated people with some spare cash have done extensive water jug tests with superb results published on the internet.

I can't remember how far back it was I heard about wet newspapers being used to test JHP ammo. A lot more people than me are doing it and there are numerous websites on the internet with instructions. So I am certainly not the Lone Ranger. We mostly do it for fun but the more times you do it you begin to realize the method gives pretty good results. And a wetpack of newpapers can be shot several times giving a kinda statistical view of the ammo being tested. One shot in a block of gelatin might look good, but can you draw a statistic with one data point? The only guy I know of that shoots more than one block of gelatin to get statistical results is Goldenloki. And I've read a lot of other "reports" and "books". It really disturbs these gel addicts for anyone to suggest using other methods.
Also, with a wetpack and the multiple shots you get into it, you can do 2 kinds of tests that you can't do very well with gelatin. One, you can compare different JHP ammo from the same pistol. And, Two, you can compare different handguns of the same caliber with one brand of ammo giving some valuable data, especially if different barrel lengths are involved. The wet newspapers, if done right, are fairly uniform throughout and the "Comparison" that you are looking for will be fairly valid. Like the Silvertip ammo test with the Beretta Tomcat shown above. Suppose I had done only 1 shot and got expansion and fair penetration. Then I would assume Silvertip ALWAYS expands fine with a short barrel .32acp pistol which is entirely untrue. That's why multiple shots in the same wetpack prove so useful.

By done right, I have found that using only the newsprint and not the slick paper advertisements works best. The pack should be about 9" - 10" thick. And I've found that you should soak the papers in a tub a minimum of 24 hours, maximum of 48 hours for best results (this does what is known as breakdown of any remaining lignin so the papers get a lttle mushy). Also, if your trip to the range is over about 15 minutes you should bring along a jug of water and wet the pack down again when you get there. Or some people carry the whole tub to the range and put the pack together when they get there. For fun, you can use phone books if you have some thick ones but it takes longer, 48 hours minimum, to soak them well. Magazines are a little too slick to wet well.
Finally, you can compare your results, expansion and penetration, with published data for gelatin by such groups as Firearms Tactical, Ammolab, or Goldenloki. These are the only 3 gelatin groups I have confidence in. You may be surprised at how close the expansion numbers are. Penetration in the wetpack will be less, maybe 2/3 or so. But now you have some data with Your Own handgun with Your Own ammo. And it was Free!! No expensive gelatin to mess with. No refrigerator to chill it. No "melting" in hot weather to blame poor results on. And multiple shots you can draw a "small sample statistic" from.

Like everything, there are a few disadvantages. One is the wetpack is not recognized by LEA's as 'ballistic', 'certified', etc. for lack of a calibration test. Who cares, you're doing it for fun. And the second, only real disadvantage, is you get your hands dirty black from the newsprint ink when you take the wetpack apart to recover the slugs. Take along a wet towel to wipe up afterwards. Take along a tape measure so you can record penetration. A caliper can be used to check expansion. And you will be amazed at the size of the wound holes about 3" or so into the pack where the bullet starts to expand!
Good shooting and have fun!
og......let the flames begin! remember, I'm not talking about "stopping power", whatever that mystery?? might be.
 

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Good points, oldgranpa.
By the way... nice looking Beretta! Something about those classic lines and the open slide just can't be beaten in the "looks' department.
Another good thing about wetpack tests... the REAL value of testing ammo ISN'T actually to determine theoretical "stopping power", but rather to simply compare one round's performance to another.
Obviously, this is vitally important. If you test a round and it provides similiar results in the wetpack tests as a well-known, documented effective load, you can be pretty sure it'll be that round's equivalent.
With new bullet technology developing so rapidly, it's going to be hard to keep up with their performance... and when one round emerges as a "king" in actual, documented shootings (as it always does, like the Silvertip in .32), it then becomes the standard of comparison.
Your wetpack tests are ideally suited for comparing rounds, and in my opinion are COMPLETELY valid and as informative as Ballistic Gelatin tests. You can compare wound channels, wound cavities, "temporary stretch" cavities, and penetration all you want... but in the end, the test is whether or not the bad guy falls down and quits when shot!
If a round only penetrates one inch and expands gigantically, that's what took him down... it DIDN'T require 14 inches and a CNS shot to do the job. When the same round has the same result time and again, pet theories must be tossed overboard and facts accepted, no matter how galling it may be to your personal prejudices.
Flyer
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
this site.....

thanks, Flyer, it's all the folks like you on this site that encourage me to continue testing ammo the way it should be tested, with multiple shots into the same test medium. Not just one shot into a block of melting jello. :lol:
BTW, I just checked the Articles section item 10 for our wetpack tests and had a real laugh from the note Midi put on top of the list....
"Marshall-free zone".
Midi is one cool cat!
og......(banned is good :p :moon: :lol: )
 
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Re: this site.....

oldgranpa said:
that encourage me to continue testing ammo the way it should be tested, with multiple shots into the same test medium. Not just one shot into a block of melting jello. :lol:
does that mean the we will see some 10mm testing in the future?...... :D
 

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That Inox really looks great! A lot better than the black oxide or whatever it is on my kitty!

On a side note, have any of you noticed how a lot of guns dont have a nice blued finish anymore? Went to the gun store to buy some ammo (bought a box of Cor-Bon 9mm for the storm, 1 round was missing, the rounds were dull and the cases scratched as if they had been chambered! :x Looks like some jerk decided he didn't want to spend 10 bucks on new carry ammo so he decided to return the box with his old stuff! What angers me even more is that they put it back on the shelf! I shall be paying them a visit tomorrow and be buying most, if not all my ammo online or somewhere else!) anyways, there were tons more stainless, parkerized, black oxide, whatever type guns in the case, hardly any blued ones.

let the wifey shoot it yet?
 
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It does seem that most companies have gone to some type of "Hostile Environment" finish (to quote H&K). Glock has tennifer, Sig has Nitrox. Atleast you can still get back to the good old fashioned bluing on revolvers. The new Smith and Wesson mountain gun in 45 long colt has a beautiful blue finish on it. I like them but they are a nightmare to keep from pitting, if it is a carry gun......JMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
wetpack easy to do.....

norf,
a wetpack is easy to do so you can do that 10mm test for us. I don't own one and spent my last allowance on the Tomcat. Or you could ship your 10 to me :wink: , with ammo of course, and then I can test it for you. :shock:

bulbie,
can't get wifey away from her bridge parties long enough to get her to the range. Soon I hope.
The last really pretty blued guns were the old revolvers made by S&W. You're right, most mfgs stopped doing that on the new ones.
BTW, my least favorite ammo is CorBon stuff. Just read an article about .32acp ammo and Win Silvertip was rated best for better functioning in most pistols. Something about the rim is rounded to make it feed smoother and the bullet crimp has less of a ridge. In our original wetpack test (Articles Section) CorBon had most failures to expand for me. Speer and Silvertip were better.
In higher calibers, I like Rem Golden Saber for best performance.
og
 

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yeah, well this should have no trouble expanding. The wetpack test I did with the .380 out of my Sig was excellent, and this is 9mm +P out of the 16" or so barrel of the storm. Maybe I should test that tomorrow or the day after!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
bulbman's Tomcat

bulbman,
I am sorry to hear about your problem with the Tomcat. :cry: And I hope you will get it fixed soon.
When you find out what it is please let me know so I can check mine.
I'm wondering if you can tell me if yours is an old model or the so called new model. My serial number is DAA360xxx. Is yours anywhere near that?
Also, how many rounds had you fired before the problem showed up?

And, thanks for the reminder to send in my warrenty. Will do that tommorrow.

Cheers,
og
 

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oldgranpa,
Your Tomcat is one of the newer "widebody" models. You shouldn't have any problems at all with it.
The ones that DID have problems were the original Tomcats with slimmer slides... they would occasionally fail around the 1000 round mark.
The new, wider slide has completely cured this problem. So, no worries.
Flyer
 

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Mine's DAA3364XX, not that near to it. It's probably had about 200-300 rounds through it. I think the problem is the vertical play in the front of the slide. When I pull the slide back and push the front up while simultaneously pulling the trigger, I can see the top tang of the trigger bar which I'm not supposed to be able to see. One can imagine when firing, the slide moves up more (bullets are better than my one hand in a very awkward position) and the trigger bar can pop out. I imagine that the front bar of the slide that connects the two sides or maybe the barrel or catch system was at the upper spec. limit when leaving the factory, and those rounds I shot through it made it worse, bad enough to see that problem. I'll let you know when I get the gun back from Bolsa in a couple of weeks(Beretta service had a 6 month backlog :shock:). In fact I'm off to go to the gun store to get a copy of the reciept (lost mine :x) and ship the gun FedEx. I can ship it pretty much any method FexEx wise I please, yeah?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
serial no......

bulbman,
I would say your serial no. is one of the new design Tomcats. I saw one that was new with serial 322xxx.
BTW,
with my pistol there was a card enclosed saying not to shoot ammo with over 130fpe. Recommended was Silvertips, Speer Gold Dot, Fed HydraShok and 71gr FMJ ammo.
What ammo are you using? Sounds like CorBon stuff is not recommended.
og

also, FedExpress sounds OK. UPS has been known to steal guns.
 

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she's stuffed with Winchester Silvertips. Had CorBon until somewhat recently, but changed when I saw it's marginal performance in .32 ACP. Haven't fired any personal defence ammo in it, just FMJ stuff. I didn't get any card like that with my Tomcat, just a warning in the manual that said using hot loads makes the gun wear out quicker (duh :roll:)
Mine should be of the new design unless my dealer had it sitting on his shelf for a few years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
range trip with the ladies

bulbman,
Finally got the ladies to the range. My shooting partner and his wife and my wife tried out a bunch of guns today. Both ladies shot the Beretta Tomcat with good results but actually liked a Bersa Thunder 380 better. It was a close decision and we fired them over and over. In all, the ratings look like this from least popular to best...(ladies ratings!!)

Glock G19 and a Sig 9mm......was too noisy and kicked for them
S&W 431PD, .32magnum revolver....too much recoil and noise
KelTec P32.....good, but didn't like long trigger pull, hurt finger
Beretta Tomcat....better trigger and recoil than P32 but heavy trigger pull
Bersa Thunder380....best trigger and not bad recoil, my wife's first choice

And we let them shoot a Browning .22 which they liked the best but we're not considering that for a self defense pistol.

So my wife gets the Bersa for her personal defense gun. She will mostly keep it at home so the size doesn't matter. The final verdict is not in for my friend's wife. Might hear more later. I offered to sell them the Beretta.

BTW, anything you've heard about the Tomcat being sensitive to limpwristing isn't true. The ladies fired lots of rounds with it and never had a single malfunction.

og.......take your lady to the range, you will learn something! :wink:
 

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Re: range trip with the ladies

oldgranpa said:
og.......take your lady to the range, you will learn something! :wink:
Have several times, learned she can out-shoot me any old day and twice on Sunday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
happy is the man that.......

Tx'
It is a happy man indeed whose wife supports his gun interests and will go to the range now and then. Is your wife related to Annie Oakley by any chance? Double lucky to have a wife that is a good shot!
Cheers,
and thanks for the good words,
og
 

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well, I got the gun back on friday and went to shoot it today. When I got it, the paperwork said "replaced trigger bar and test fired." I cussed a bunch becuase I knew the trigger bar was not the problem. The problem is that the slide has way too much up and down play at the front. Well guess what. 30 rounds of .32 (mixed Dynamit Nobel and Magtech) and during that period, I get 3 failures to feed, and then the trigger bar pops out again. I'm thinkin maybe the springs are shot, and are battering the frame or something. So tomorrow, I will call Bolsa, raise hell and demand they fix the gun and pay for the shipping to them, and when they're done, put at least a friggin box through it. I should not have to pay for thier laziness. If the gun still isn't up to snuff, it gets sold when it gets back a second time. I've pretty much had it with the cat, but I'm torn 'cause I love it so much. Hopefully, they'll fix it, but if not, I'll get a P32 a little early, then I can get that Ruger MkII NRA model for christmas :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
WTH

What the heck? Can't believe this little gun can have so many problems. We are having a discussion at the Beretta forum about the last round "spitting" out. Waiting for Beretta to say something which may be never. Probably sell mine too.
og
 
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