Reviews & articles for shooting sport enthusiasts.

Archive for August, 2011

Pest control ammunition from … Cascade Cartridges?

TPF would hazard a guess that many of our readers have never heard of Cascade Cartridges Incorporated. Or at least not by the full name which it is commonly known as. CCI Ammunition was founded by Dick Speer under the original moniker of Cascade Cartridge Incorporated nearly 60 years ago in 1951. Yes, Dick Speer is related to the man who founded the Speer Bullet company, Vernon Speer. What started as a small venture to have commercially available brass cases and primers for reloaders has since blossomed into one of the premier ammunition manufacturing companies in the world today.

While CCI is well known to reloaders for their primers, it is their ammunition which has given wings to the company. Known for their rimfire ammunition in so many varieties and configurations, CCI is considered by many to be the leader in rimfire ammunition. Obviously this precludes dedicated target ammunition such as Lapua and Eley, as neither of those have rimfire ammunition commonly available at larger box stores (aka Walmart) and smaller gun stores.

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CCI 9mm CHS

What about centerfire ammunition you may ask? CCI does indeed have centerfire ammunition, but not quite like you may expect. It is true that CCI and Speer do have a combined effort in Blazer branded ammunition, but in itself CCI only manufactures specialty rounds in centerfire. Many thanks to Mr. Anderson of the Canadian Reload Radio Network for supplying TPF with this specific product for evaluation.

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CCI Shotshells come in packages of 10

TPF is proud to take an extended look at CCI’s Centerfire Handgun Shotshell, to be known as CHS for the remainder of this review. In this specific instance TPF will be looking at the 9mm Luger calibre yet several others are available. Available for rimfires in the both .22 LR and .22 WMR calibres, these are by far the most commonly available versions in Canada. However, besides 9mm, calibres such as .38Spec/.357Mag, .44Spec/Mag, .45LC, are available, as well as the .45ACP and the modern .40 S&W. Now before you all run out and decide to have a slew of fun shooting miniature shot loads from pistols, please be advised that most shot loads mass 1/3 or less of regular cartridges and therefore may not reliably function in your firearms. Originally designed for revolvers, the PCS was initially to be used for defending oneself from small animals such as rattlesnakes and other pests which can pose a threat to humans. Additionally, in a survival scenario, a firearm loaded with shot makes short range, small game harvesting much easier.

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53gr of #12 shot compared to a penny

The CHS are created using the following items. The aluminum case ,from Blazer brand ammunition, is primed with CCI primers when centerfire and an unknown powder mixture. TPF did not get masses of the powder as chemical composition was impossible to determine and would be of no help. The shotshell casing consists of a transparent blue polymer capsule which holds the shot load. A light, flexible wad seals the shot in the capsule and acts as a wad does in a shotgun by transferring and delaying energy into the shot mass. According to the specification data available from CCI, the 9mm shotshell contains approximately 53grams worth of #12 shot. The standard diameter for a #12 shot pellet is approximately 1.27mm (0.050″). TPF measured and massed three cartridges to find the averages. Shot from three cartridges measured 0.31mm (0.012″) up to 1.37mm (0.054″) in diameter and was not consistent. The shot of the three rounds massed at 51.6, 52.1, and 51.4 grains for an average of 51.7grains, which is close considering that CCI states that shot is loaded into the shells by volume.
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Target #1, plain cardboard

For this review, TPF decided to do some actual testing on these 9mm shotshells. The test outcomes were very interesting, and TPF will share the results with you. A total of 7 rounds were used in testing. Three rounds were sacrificed for construction evaluation.
Tested: CCI 9mm Luger #12 Shotshell
Firearm: Glock 17
Range: 3m (10′)
Target 1: Plain cardboard target
Target 2: Plastic cap over triple cardboard backing
Target 3: Unblemished golf ball

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The test equipment, a Glock 17

The review was based upon the  assumption that these specialty loads were primarily for use against hostile snakes, which seems like a very valid and plausible use. A distance of 3m (10′) was determined to be an approximate engagement distance. The Glock 17 utilized was bone stock except for an aftermarket disconnector. Unless otherwise noted, all magazines used were loaded with a single round and loaded by charging the handgun by engaging the slide release. Note that between fired rounds, the firearm was checked for obstructions and functionality. No obstructions ever became stuck or lodged in the barrel of the firearm.

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Tight 204mm (8") group, later determined to be not at full power

Round #1 on Target 1: The shot patterned roughly a 204mm (8″) circle, and were spaced relatively evenly. Noted extremely light recoil compared to standard 9mm round, in fact the reduced energy did not fully cycle the slide, resulting in a stovepipe of the empty brass. The pellets easily penetrated through the single sheet of 3mm (1/8″) corrugated cardboard. Spread of the pellets was even, and a hole where the wad shot through the cardboard and small blue plastic fragments were embedded about the target. Subsequent shots had triple layers of corrugated cardboard as a target backer.

Round #2 on Target 1: Misfire, what appeared to be a light primer strike on the primer. Round was removed and will be mentioned further onward.

Round #3 on Target 1: Perceived recoil of the shot was approximately double that of round #1. Shot patterned roughly a 410mm (16″) circle, and were spaced relatively evenly. Pellets passed through triple layers of cardboard. While still much less than a standard 9mm in felt recoil, the performance had enough energy to fully eject the case, but not enough to lock the slide back on the empty magazine.

Round #4 on Target 1: Results were identical to previous round (#3).

Round #5 on Target 2: On target 2, a small plastic cap was attached to act as a focus point as well as additional resistance for the pellets. The cap had a material thickness of 1.17mm (0.043″) and was typical to those found on 20L (5Gal) water bottles. Pellets passed completely through the cap and as prior tests passed fully through all three layers of cardboard backing. Same shot spread and recoil results as round #3.

Round #6 on Target 3: For the third test we used a golf ball, specifically an brand new, Spalding Top-Flite Plus. The ball was raised up a small bit on a cardboard stand to allow for a stable target in this test. The wad missed the ball, albeit not by much, and the ball itself was only hit by two (2) pellets. Pellets did penetrate into the outer cover of the golf ball, but did not pass through. Same shot spread and recoil results as round #3.

Round #7 on Target 1: In this test we loaded two of the 9mm CHS rounds into the magazine. Round #7 would load first, followed by the previous round #2. The purpose of this test was to determine if the recoil of the round was enough to load subsequent rounds into the chamber of the test firearm. Upon firing of round #7, which had the same performance characteristics as round #3, the next round had the blue plastic shot carrying case shattered during the loading process, which resulted in a tip up failure to feed and #12 shot cascading through the firearm. Now it is unknown the storage condition which these rounds have experienced, and the plastic capsules were extremely fragile. The cause MAY have been age of the plastic as well as thermal and/or moisture absorption. TPF has an email inquiry into CCI about the manufacturing date of that specific batch of ammunition.

Testing results show that the 9mm CHS round is indeed a very effective round for it’s intended purpose. shooing through multiple layers of cardboard and some pellets retained enough energy to perforate coroplast which was downrange at 10m (33′). At the tested distance, there is no doubt that if the rounds perform as they should, that nasty rattlesnake would never threaten another hiker again. Here in Canada, it is TPF’s opinion that the 9mm and other centerfire versions would not be as popular as the rimfire versions.

The 9mm Centrefire Handgun Shotshell cartridge, manufactured by Cascade Cartridges Incorporated, better known as CCI, has an MSRP of $15.95 USD, and is available at places such as Target Sports Canada. As always, it is up to you to determine if it is tactical, practical, or fantastical?


Gerber’s Freeman Guide – A folder with authority…

Once again TPF delves into the realm of bladed tools and as before, Gerber Legendary Blades has become the focus of this review. Gerber has been around for over seven decades of creating tools for people, with an eye on edged instruments for use in nearly every application. As technology and designs continued to evolve, so did the products of Gerber, and for the last thirty years, the sword into the rock image has been the hallmark of that legendary brand and continues in a similar theme even with the latest logo change just a few weeks ago.
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Awaiting purchase and use, Gerber's Freeman Guide Folding knife.

Now many designers at Gerber develop concepts and prototypes for a multitude of blades, tools, and equipment. When individuals come up with this blade design, it was so well received that it now bears his name in recognition. Named after longtime employee, Jeff Freeman, the Freeman Guide series of knives debuted in 2003 and are targeted specifically for hunters. Initially created as a fixed blade, the folder versions were introduced a couple of years ago. The Freeman Guide folding knife is the current generation of this knife family and we at TPF are pleased to be able to show you the details and specifics of this product from Gerber.

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The Freeman Guide package only comes with the knife and a versatile sheath

The Freeman Guide Folder (FGF), is a classic drop point, liner-lock folding design which has several features that may appeal to hunters and other outdoors-men who would utilize it. With the 440A stainless steel blade measuring 91.4mm (3.6″), the FGF’s edge is not exceptionally long when compared to other similar style fixed blade knives. It does however offset that with a large profile and blade thickness; back to belly distance of 30.0mm (1.2″) and being roughly 3.0mm (0.120″) wide. This profile helps the FGF tip the scales at nearly 190 grams (6.6 oz), and while hefty in mass, the large finger grooves in the handle allow for solid grip and control of the knife.  The grips themselves are manufactured from Gerber’s exclusive TacHide™ material and offer a comfortable, non-slip texture.

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Definitely not small!

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The huge and rugged lanyard slot

The blade itself mounts dual thumb studs for ambidextrous opening, and the liner lock is very strong and secures the blade open very well. The actual construction of the entire knife is very solid with the use of several Torx screws to secure all aspects together, from the massive lanyard opening on one end to the solid blade stop above the pivot. TPF will note that this knife does not have a pocket clip and at the mass of this blade, it is not a surprise considering the size of this folding knife..

The FGF’s sheath is black nylon belt sheath which has a typical button snap enclosure for securing the folded knife inside the pouch. Other than a trio of raised bumps over the top of the Gerber logo, formed into the surface, there is nothing extraordinary regarding the outward appearance of the sheath. However; the sheath’s construction allows for multiple mounting orientations which is a nice option for such a large folder. The These orientations has provisions for vertical mounting on a 38.1mm (1.5″) belt or horizontal mounting on a belt up to 31.8mm (1.25″) in width, and before some ask, no, this sheath is not molle compatible.

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Even folded, the FGF is a large knife

Another version of this folder is available from Gerber, and it includes a gut hook on the blade as well, opposite of the knife belly. The gut hook version is slightly heavier but has the same features as the plain FGF reviewed on TPF. The Gerber Freeman Guide, folding knife is offered with an MSRP of $43 USD regardless of blade style, and is available at nearly all commercial Canadian Tire stores across Canada.

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The Freeman Guide folding knife, designed for field use and abuse.

The Freeman Guide folding knife  offered by Gerber Legendary Blades:
Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?


SOG Twitch-II: A classic lock back upgrade?

Once again Spring Assisted Openers are featured on TPF. In this case, SOG Specialty Knives & Tools offered up a small everyday carry knife labelled the Twitch II. The original Twitch I, was introduced into the market many years ago and its small 48.3mm (1.9″) blade, with Spring Assisted Technology was the result of the imagination of Mr. Spencer Frazer.

For those that do not know, Mr. Frazer is the founder of SOG (originally an anagram from Studies & Observations Group) and as a result, SOG has been designing, manufacturing and producing knives for the last 25 years. Having many patents with his name attached to them has helped SOG grow into one of the top dozen known companies for quality, innovation and customer satisfaction with their lines of blades and multi-tools. Fast forward to late 2005-early 2006, and the Twitch II was introduced into the commercial marketplace. A bigger brother to the original, the Twitch II is literally an up-scaled version of the Twitch yet it is not the largest in this design family. That title is held by the Twitch XL. However, for this overview TPF focuses on knife which sits in the middle of the pack.

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The Twitch II by SOG

Featuring a flat ground, drop point blade, which measures 68.1mm (2.68″) in length; the Twitch II is a fair sized knife for EDC. The biggest difference between this design of knife and other spring assisted opening knives is the use of a modified spine lock to secure the blade in the open position. Mounting dual thumb studs on the blade and a kick on the opposite side for opening allow for easy ambidextrous opening of the knife via thumb or finger. Part of the design is the formed lock back which fits around the kick when the knife is in closed position. The opening of this knife using the kick is very fast (see the attached video at the end).

The Twitch II is not a grand knife designed to ohh and ahh people who see it, but is meant for users who may need a knife for everyday cutting tasks. Tight, simple controls, and possessing a smooth appearance from the use of aluminum grip panels; the Twitch II appears to be a logical choice for upgrading from the classic folding, lock-back pocket knives that were carried by many.

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Non-Reversible pocket clip for tip up carry.

Similar it may well be to those older knives, but the same it is not. The Twitch I & II have non-reversible pocket clips due to their sculpted shape, the bigger Twitch XL uses a clip similar to that of the previously reviewed SOGZilla. That being said, the Twitch II clip orientation allows for tip-up carrying while in the pocket and the clip is very small in profile to not have a significant visibility factor.

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The formed lock back lever and safety switch.

Already mentioned was the innovative design style of the lock back lever which surrounds the kick yet allows it to move freely. In order to open the blade, the resistance imparted by the lock back lever must be overcome but this is accomplished easily and the blade opening speed is very fast. The folded sheet metal locking lever design is accompanied by a small safety slider which secures the locking lever into position. This enables the knife to have a blade secured in both open or closed positions. The safety has a definite mechanical stop in both engaged and disengaged positions so that it will not accidentally shift into an undesired position. Be aware however that the safety, while preventing the blade from fully opening, does not prevent the tip from extending past the handle by 3mm (1/8″) with direct force on the opening protrusions. Such an occurrence was tested and proven with the reviewed Twitch II, but did take a directed effort on either the kick or the thumb studs in order to open. Research into this shows that this is a rare occurrence and that the vast majority of Twitch II users have no such issues. Overall this SOG appears to share a hallmark feature that TPF has seen of other SOG products, a durable design meant to be well used.

The Twitch II can be ordered as reviewed (TWI-8) but can have two other versions if so desired. A partially serrated blade can be found (TWI-98) or a standard blade but with all components having a black titanium nitrite finish. (TWI-12). As reviewed by TPF, the Twitch II has an MSRP of $72.50 and can be found at a variety of Canadian retailers such as Warriors & Wonders located in Vancouver, British Columbia.

As always the final say is yours; the reader’s.
SOG’s Twitch II: Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?


CRKT’s Centofante Tribute – Sharp & Elegant

As stated before, TPF has limited experience with blades, and has to rely on online sources and the word of individuals with more knowledge about this subject matter. So when Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) donated some knives to the CSSA for their fund-raising dinners, TPF was able to temporarily acquire the donation to do a small review on it. For most utilitarian people, a knife and/or multi-tool are always a part of  their everyday carry gear. Now here at TPF, EDC gear is minimal and more often than not, crude and on the rough side for appearance.

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Frank Centofante's final collaborative work

The Centofante Tribute offered by CRKT is anything but crude and rough; in fact it is closer to elegance of design in the author’s opinion. From the company itself, it is known that the blade was part of a collaborative design with a renowned knife making.

Frank Centofante, one of the pioneers in the custom knife making movement, passed away in September of 2009 before he could see this lock back design go into CRKT production. After a few moments of reflection, we decided to name the series the Centofante Tribute.

The Tribute, Frank’s final production collaboration, is a fitting statement of simplicity and craftsmanship. It is a classic drop point lock back folder, with no gimmicks, no frills, no complex mechanisms, not even a clip. His meticulous approach to knife making is detailed in his chapter in the “Bible,” How To Make Folding Knives, published in 1988, and that is exactly how we are making the Tribute.

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Showing off the flat ground, drop point blade

Honestly, before acquiring the Tribute, TPF had not heard of the now deceased, Mr. Frank Centofante. It is items like this which help expand our knowledge into other areas and gain understanding into some of the history and background for such individuals. Mister Centofante was one of fewer than two hundred custom knife makers in North America in the mid 1970’s, and has always has a penchant for thin, slim folding knives. Now nearly four decades later, this Tribute from CRKT depicts many of the classic elements which are synonymous with Mr. Centofante’s folding knives.

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Stainless steel internals wrapped in sleek hand formed micarta grips.

This folding knife features a 79.4mm (3.125″) drop point, plane edged blade and masses only 43 grams (1.5 oz.). As the release by CRKT states, the tribute has no extra features and is very simple in design. With the blade secured open via the spine lock, the Tribute is 181.1mm (7.13″) in length and truly shows off the sleek look of the knife. The overall design shows off the smooth contour of the hand carved and polished Micarta handle and completes the “gentleman’s knife” association with this blade. The flat ground blade is manufactured from 7Cr17MoV stainless steel and features the classic “nail-nick” for opening.

This knife has no sheath, no pocket clip attachments as it is a small, lightweight folder meant to be carried unobtrusively in an individuals pocket, ranging from the inside of a dinner jacket or the back pocket in a pair of blue jeans.

The Tribute has an MSRP of $49,99 USD as listed on the CRKT website, but is available from at various Canadian dealers and retailers across the country such as MilArm Co. Ltd. in Edmonton, Alberta. A smaller version known as the Tribute 2 is also available, but it mounts a slightly smaller blade and appropriately sized handle, but otherwise has all the same features as the larger version.

Columbia River Knife and Tool’s Centofante Tribute folding knife: Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?