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A review: Ammo Encyclopedia by Michael Bussard

Published by Blue Book Publications Inc. MSRP $29.95. paperback

At the Shot show last month I ran into Mike Bussard an industry friend of long standing whom I had not seen in some time. We chatted about what we were doing and in passing he said, “I’ll send you a copy of my new book.

It came last month and has occupied a great deal of my time. It’s a big thing with 912 pages. As you would expect it has a thorough listing of cartridges old and new with typical specifications and such including a drawing with basic dimensions.

But the real treasure here is good explanation of all parts of the ammo manufacturing process with brief segments on the manufacture of all the components and illustrations of equipment. One thing I learned in many visits to ammo plants is they don’t want to show too much of their equipment since much is of a proprietary nature so instead there are drawings to show the various types of loading machinery.

The industry doesn’t like to tell you how many rounds they can- or do make- or how fast the machines run but there are chapters discussing the manufacturing worldwide and a detailed estimate of the abilities of companies both here and abroad including estimates of the numbers of the various loading machines and their capacity. It is fascinating stuff and information that simply is available nowhere else.

And as a point for the board’s discussion I’d like to exercise the reviewer’s perogative of quoting briefly from a very interesting section with the author’s prediction of short and long term trends or developments.

“The .40 S&W cartridge will eclipse the 9mm Luger cartridge in popularity for law enforcement and civilian applications.”

“The following pistol cartridges will be retired by many ammunition makers: .30Luger, 9x21mm, .38 Super Auto, 10mm Auto, .41 AE, .45 GAP, .45 Winchester Magnum and .476 Wildey Magnum.”

“Ammuntion makers will retire the following revolver cartrdiges: .32 Short, .32 Long, .327 Federal, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, .460 S&W Magnum and Special and .480 Ruger.”

Ed. Note: there may be a typo there…

I don’t know that there are any big surprises here and some have probably already come to pass but they provide food for thought.

Bussard has done an outstanding job of studying and explaining the complex and often secretive ammo business.
 

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Well, while I'm no fan of the 40 Short-n-Weak, it is a more effective cartridge than the 9mmParabellum and further, I do believe it's already supplanted the 9 in LEO circles. I know of no Depts. here in Southwest Ohio at any level that still field the 9mm. As for the rest of the Semi-Auto cartridges only one stands out as maybe premature in it's coming demise, the 38Super. I haunt several of the larger 1911 forums and this is a popular round there. There still seems to be alot of interest in it.

As for the cartridges to be retired, my only exception would be the .44Spl. It seems to be enjoying a small resurgence right now as people are coming to the realization that bigbores are better stoppers. The other revolver cartridges, in my mind, are pretty-much niche-cartridges that serve no real purpose that can't be served as well or better by existing, longtime cartridges.
 

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No disrespect Retmsgt., but one of my pet peeves is referring to the .40 as the "short&weak" It is only shorter and weaker in respect to the original 10mm loads. It is virtually replaced the 10mm and as some folks say on it's way to replacing the 9mm so why the derision?
 

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Charlie Petty said:
A review: Ammo Encyclopedia by Michael Bussard

Published by Blue Book Publications Inc. MSRP $29.95. paperback

"The .40 S&W cartridge will eclipse the 9mm Luger cartridge in popularity for law enforcement and civilian applications."

"The following pistol cartridges will be retired by many ammunition makers: .30Luger, 9x21mm, .38 Super Auto, 10mm Auto, .41 AE, .45 GAP, .45 Winchester Magnum and .476 Wildey Magnum."

"Ammuntion makers will retire the following revolver cartrdiges: .32 Short, .32 Long, .327 Federal, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, .460 S&W Magnum and Special and .480 Ruger."

Ed. Note: there may be a typo there…

I don't know that there are any big surprises here and some have probably already come to pass but they provide food for thought.

Bussard has done an outstanding job of studying and explaining the complex and often secretive ammo business.
There are only a couple of the calibers listed that kinda suprise me, but they aren't really shocking.

The .38 Super - I figured there was enough of a cult following to keep this one on the shelves, along with the .44 Special and .41 Magnum. All three are iconic calibers...'course if they don't make money, I suppose it doesn't matter how iconic they are. Bottom Line is Bottom Line.

All the rest are no suprise, and no real loss - to me. I'm sure there are many shooters who will dearly miss one or more of the listed calibers if not offered in factory loadings. And only goes to show, if these predictions are correct, that the industry can't support the wide range of niche calibers that we have available to us now...a loading must be profitable or just fade away.
 

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Retmsgt. said:
I do believe it's already supplanted the 9 in LEO circles. I know of no Depts. here in Southwest Ohio at any level that still field the 9mm.
I'm not sure what you consider southwest Ohio, but IIRC, Cincinnati bought 15,000 M&P9s. I'm also aware of several major departments that would dearly love to return to the 9mm for various reasons, having become disenchanted with the .40.

Some of Mr Bussards predictions aren't real surprises. I've got a copy of a proposal from 1991/92 where I predicted the .40 would push the 10mm out of the marketplace. We adopted the 10mm anyway.
 

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SpecialEd said:
No disrespect Retmsgt., but one of my pet peeves is referring to the .40 as the "short&weak" It is only shorter and weaker in respect to the original 10mm loads. It is virtually replaced the 10mm and as some folks say on it's way to replacing the 9mm so why the derision?
I'm just used to referring to it that way as that's what we usually call it on the 1911 forums. I look at it alot like the 45GAP, another attempt to get 45ACP performance in a hi-cap gun.

Bill, I know five Cincy LEOs, two Detectives and three Street-Cops, all carry the 40.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I look at it alot like the 45GAP, another attempt to get 45ACP performance in a hi-cap gun.
Sarge I respectfully disagree. It was nothing of the sort. The goal was to duplicate the FBI 10mm load of a 180 gr. bullet @950-1000 fps. in a 9mm platform.

I was very much involved in both the FBI 10mm and .40 S&W and when they adopted the 1076 the .40 development was underway and, IMO, known to them but was not going to be available for some time and there was a desire to get to an automatic sooner.

I think Bussard is right that the 10mm is doomed but the .40 has already become a virtual standard in law enforcement. Estimates are the 70-75% of LE contracts are for the .40. If it really was "short and weak" how could it possibly be so popular? I'm not so sure that the prediction for the civilian market is accurate though.
 

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Retmsgt-I did qualify my remark, the memory isn't what it usta be. Some good size city in Ohio bought a slew of M&P9s. And the comments about some folks bitterly regretting being talked into the .40 stand.

We currently issue the .40. So long as someone else pays for the weapon & ammo, I'll use it. But there are better choices. Over the decades, I've used/been issued: .38 Spl, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 9 & 10 mm. If you put any of them in the right spot, they work. If not, they don't.

The 9mm isn't going to disappear from the marketplace. It's been my choice on my own time for quite some time.

Charlie: are you really saying the .45 GAP was an attempt to get 10mm Lite performance in a 9mm size gun? Or were you trying to say the .40 S&W was the attempt to get 10 mm Lite in a 9mm platform? I thought the GAP was Gastons attempt to get his name on a cartridge. He already had a .40 in that size package (or close-I'm not a Glockophile, closer to a Glockophobe).
 

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It has irritated me that the FBI, after the "Miami Massacre" spent millions of dollars on research and determined the .357 Magnum 125 gr load was the best round for Law Enforcement.

Then they bought the 180 gr .40 Caliber load derived from a HIGHLY THEORETICAL (made up) formula from a gun writer named Jeff Cooper. Millions in research versus a gun writer's sublime thoughts... writer WINS! Talk about the power of the press! The .41 Magnum with a light special load, was not successful in a revolver and the FBI quickly gave up the 10mm for the .40 S&W. Go figger..

Sigh. Your tax dollars at work.

Meanwise, Gander Mtn is discounting .38 Super if anyone is interested and they have 9mm at WalMart prices, more or less.

Geoff
Who is having some stomach discomfort, but has to work anyway. When duty calls I am not slow, grab the bicarb and off we GO!
 

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Skeptic49 said:
It has irritated me that the FBI, after the "Miami Massacre" spent millions of dollars on research and determined the .357 Magnum 125 gr load was the best round for Law Enforcement.
You sure about that?

Skeptic49 said:
Then they bought the 180 gr .40 Caliber load derived from a HIGHLY THEORETICAL (made up) formula from a gun writer named Jeff Cooper. Millions in research versus a gun writer's sublime thoughts... writer WINS!
Or that?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Geoff... again with no disrespect I don't think either of those statements are accurate.

Conventional wisdom for years was that the .357 was best but the FBI load for their last revolver was a .38 Special +P 158. The average agent was not authorized to carry magnum ammo although some specially trained agents were.

I was very much involved in the FBI ammo tests. The equations developed were efforts to quantify the results and not based on Cooper's (or anyone else's) writings. I'm not a great mathematician, but did study them and concluded they weren't much help.
 

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Okay, they were still trying to emulate a more effective round in a Hi-cap gun. And, look what has happened, they upped the velocity and pressure to the point where I cringe at the range when a 40 is fired near me. Granted, this is with lighter bullets(155s I believe).

I thought Cooper had championed the 10mm, not the 40, in the Bren-Ten. I also daresay El Jefe was more than a 'gun-writer'.

think Bussard is right that the 10mm is doomed but the .40 has already become a virtual standard in law enforcement. Estimates are the 70-75% of LE contracts are for the .40. If it really was "short and weak" how could it possibly be so popular? I'm not so sure that the prediction for the civilian market is accurate though.

This is pretty-much what I stated guys. I did state that it was more effective than the 9mm in practically any loading. My problem with the 40S&W(That better Ed?) is that there are way too many older guns(Read;Glock) out there chambered for it based on the original load that're getting stress-cracks and Chrystallized chambers from the newer,hotter loads. When you take a gun optomized for a 950fps load and constantly run 1200fps loads through it something's going to give.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
I was very much involved in the FBI ammo tests. The equations developed were efforts to quantify the results and not based on Cooper's (or anyone else's) writings. I'm not a great mathematician, but did study them and concluded they weren't much help.
Charlie, can I ask exactly why you decided the FBI testing results weren't of much help? Was it their methodology, or did it seem they were determined to conclude "more penetration" was the way to go no matter what (which is my thought), or something else entirely? I know this is off topic, but I'm nosy by nature. :)
 

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Wasn't it an FBI firearms guy who said: "you can choose any caliber as long as it starts with a four"
 

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Charlie, can I ask exactly why you decided the FBI testing results weren't of much help?
That isn't what I said or meant... I was referring to the calculations based on them. For me it was more meaningful to look at the figures for penetration and expansion. There were 5 shots to each event and I thought consistency was more important than averages.

Ed. That was Urey (Pat) Patrick and he said it to me in John Hall's office at Quantico while I was there for the American Rifleman article. I'm sure he said it other palces too but I quoted it.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
Charlie, can I ask exactly why you decided the FBI testing results weren't of much help?
That isn't what I said or meant... I was referring to the calculations based on them. For me it was more meaningful to look at the figures for penetration and expansion. There were 5 shots to each event and I thought consistency was more important than averages.
Mianhamnida, Charlie. (That's I'm sorry in Korean). Just trying to think of a different way of saying "Duhoo!", or "Here's yer sign!"

:headbonk:
 

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Charlie Petty said:
Geoff... again with no disrespect I don't think either of those statements are accurate.
Conventional wisdom for years was that the .357 was best but the FBI load for their last revolver was a .38 Special +P 158. The average agent was not authorized to carry magnum ammo although some specially trained agents were.
I was very much involved in the FBI ammo tests. The equations developed were efforts to quantify the results and not based on Cooper's (or anyone else's) writings. I'm not a great mathematician, but did study them and concluded they weren't much help.
Charlie, that's where they ended up! Which either means Jeff Cooper was brilliant for basing his work on tests back just after the turn of the last century, or a whole lot of tax dollars were expended to get the 357 SIG (no decimal).

Personally, I love the results, but I carry a 9mm because I live in the land of spandex and shorts where small, flat and compact rule.

Besides, 9mm is 9-11 bucks a box, as opposed to 18 and up for the .40 S&W.

Geoff
Who loves it when ancient wisdom is confirmed.
 

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Bottom Line:

Does this new book replace "Cartridges of the World" as the standard reference?

Geoff
Who has two copies bought 15 years apart...because it was on sale.
 
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