If you spend enough time as a gun writer, you risk getting pretty blasé© about ammunition. Everyone has something new, everyone claims to have the most accurate, the best expanding, the best for werewolves, zombies, thugs, despots and deer. But in my job, it all goes downrange the same way, in the course of work.
So I have to confess that I was not all that excited when Creedmoor came calling.
"Yea, I'll test some," I said. Send me a bunch and I'll give it a go." I mean, how much fun can it be?
When samples arrived I took them to the range along with a bunch of other guns and gear, and did my chrono work at the end of the session. I had other things higher on my list, and if they ran over, well, the Creedmoor could just wait. I had the time, so I ran the three loads I had over the chrono. Well, actually, I ran them past the chrono, since I now use a Labradar radar, no sky screens, and no risk of shooting the chrono.
Just for kicks, I had brought two new guns with me. The Creedmoor loads were in 9mm and .45. In 9mm, they had sent me their 115-grain XTP, loaded to +P, and their 124 XTP, also loaded to +P. In .45 it was the 185 XTP.
Hmmm, noticing a pattern here?
The 9mm pistol I'd brought along was a Tristar T120, done up in hard chrome, that they call the platinum finish. It is a CZ75 clone, and with an empty weight of 30 ounces, I figured it would be a piece of cake to shoot even with +P loads.
The .45 is one of the first HOSS 1911s from Guncrafter Industries. What Alex Zimmerman did was simple but not easy. He increased the structural dimensions of all the stressed parts on a 1911, making an already tough firearm into one that is nearly indestructible.
The first shot of the Creedmoor 115 XTP +P load let me know that I was in for a treat. The 4.7-inch barrel scooted the bullets past the bright orange Labradar at 1,375 fps. Wait a minute, what did the box say? The label promised 1,260 fps, so the ammo delivered 100 fps more than that. Nine rounds later I had an average of 1,367 fps.
Yowza! That is just short of making Major from a relatively light and compact carry gun. Out of a full five-inch competition gun, with a fast barrel, you could be making Major with this 9mm load. The 124s proved to be a bit slower but not much less in power. Their 1,216 fps seems a lot slower, but the power factor is less than five percent off of the 115s punch.
Next up was the HOSS. The 185-grain XTPs zoomed out at an average of 954 fps not quite the near-warp speed I had been anticipating, but that's still good enough to have made Major back in the good old days, when men were men and all holsters were leather. The 185 XTPs also were spot-on with the label assurance of 950 fps. It certainly isn't a slouch in speed or power, and I'd be just fine with stuffing my carry magazines with it and heading out the door in the morning.
They fed just fine in the two guns, so I made plans for the next range trip, which would be accuracy testing. For that, I brought an extra gun, because I wanted to see what the ammo would do at distance. Off the bench, the Tristar shot quite well, even though it isn't what I'd call a bulls-eye gun. Even so, when you can shoot three-inch groups at 25 yards, with an unturned CZ75 trigger, the combo is no slouch.
The HOSS did better, but then I expected it to. XTP bullets have a stellar reputation for accuracy, and Alex Zimmerman knows how to build a 1911. The extra heft and clean, crisp trigger meant I could count on shooting two-inch groups.
As a backup to the 9mm, I had brought along my own 2011, an STI built for the express purpose of shooting small groups at long range. Nicknamed "Longbow" this pistol is capable, once you learn the drop, of keeping all its shots on a USPSA target at 200 yards. Alas, my gun club only goes out to 100, but we have gongs at 100; each less than a foot square.
Hitting them with Longbow, and the Creedmoor ammo, was a piece of cake. Noisy, flat-shooting, the-bullet-gets-there-right-now cake. The HOSS had a bit more drop, but it also proved to be an easy gong-banging tool.
In no time, I had spent the afternoon having fun, shot through all the ammo they'd sent me, and had not had a single failure. Well, there had been a failure, but it was mine, not the ammunition or the guns. I had gotten too full of myself thinking this is easy and not paid attention to the sights and trigger, and actually missed. Twice. But, I had made up for that.
You see, I had left a box of each load back in the shop. I try to keep photo samples on hand, and I don't take all there is with me. That way I have pristine boxes to photograph, and I haven't shot up all the ammo, having fun.
Because it was fun. I'd almost gotten to the point of forgetting what fun was, on the range. I'll tell you what it is; an accurate handgun, Creedmoor ammo, and a gong at a challenging distance. That's a recipe for fun. But wait, it gets even better. Not only does Creedmoor load 9mm and .45 (yes, they do load it, so it isn't made by someone else and slipped into Creedmoor boxes),but they also sell direct to consumers. And they load other calibers as well. Seven calibers of handgun ammo, four calibers of rifle ammo, and all of them the most popular and most likely to be the calibers you want for competition, hunting or defense.
Creedmoor uses only the best components, and only new brass. Since they are an independent company, they can pick and choose the bullets and powders they deem best for a given combination and caliber. Well, in these loads they certainly hit it out of the park.
Each morning at the Creedmoor factory starts with a performance check of the first rounds to fall off the machines. Then each lot is tested, in-house, and the resulting products are shipped directly to you (where allowed, they won't ship to places that will get the customer in trouble) and shipped free when you buy 10 or more boxes.
Is this a great country, or what?