MARCH 13, 2018

Around the Water Cooler: Special Ammo for Short AR-type Guns


Is the Hornady "SBR" 5.56 NATO round a good choice for AR pistols? Photo from Hornady.


I’m still working with some gear received last year. Among those things, we have the Springfield Armory SAINT pistol, a 7.5” AR-platform chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO. Ever wonder if it was really chambered for 5.56 and not just .223 as some guns are – regardless of markings?

Well, I didn’t but I was asked why I hadn’t tried Hornady’s new SBR round.

They’d made an “SBR-specific” round, designed for 10.5” (or so) barrel rifles for police customers. The bullet was made to meet/exceed FBI protocol minimums. They also used a new propellant “tailor made for SBR’s.” They found accuracy to exceed other rounds in both AR pistols and regular 10.5-11.5” carbines.

A small sample arrived and I shot it over a chronograph. A five round string over the chronograph showed a high of 2,037 fps and a low reading of 1,984 fps. The extreme spread was 56 fps, and the average was 2,016 feet-per-second.


From supported kneeling at fifty yards, five rounds went into 3 1/4" with the best three clustering into 1 5/8".


Using Hornady’s online ballistic calculator and the ballistic coefficient they provided for the round, I found that at 2,000 fps muzzle velocity, I could expect about 1,685 fps remaining at 100 yards. While it remains supersonic further out – to over 350 yards – it still falls short of the 1,900 fps threshold Jim Cirillo mentioned when he admitted the superiority of the 30 Carbine round in NYPD Stakeout Unit engagements. Out of a better (though heavier and less compact) 11.5” pistol/SBR, the round would still be getting 1,975 fps at 100 yards.

That makes the round an “inside 100 yards” proposition for the SAINT, not a terrible thing as I can’t imagine a circumstance in which I’d use it at any greater distance. Not all people live as I do, so there’s that.

Lesson from LEOSA – And from Range Exercises

Getting ready to reholster the S&W Shield M2.0 at recent LEOSA requalification.


I’d been recently becoming reacquainted with the Smith & Wesson Shield pistols due to a minor irritating flare up of back pain. In keeping with that, I shot the M2.0 Shield on the very handy benchmark from Justin Dyal in SWAT Magazine, the “5-Yard Roundup.”

In short, you use the NRA B-8 repair center, set a par time of 2.5 seconds and stand off five yards. The accomplishments are a single hit from the holster, four hits from “ready,” 3 hits from ready with the dominant hand alone and 2 hits from ready with the non-dominant hand.

That’s 10 rounds. As I was pushing critically left – even at that distance – I scored only 90/100. That’s not the gun’s fault. It wasn’t the gun’s fault when I failed the Hackathorn Wizard drill due to a 10 round hit over time – though I was still a point down as the illustrated target shows. In my defense, it was a cold day and I was clawing the gun out from under layers of clothing – just like I’d have to do on the street.

No excuses.

I took the M2.0 along when I had the opportunity to shoot the annual LEOSA course – and shot a miserable 98/100 using Winchester USA Forged 115 grain FMJ. It was a hit out on the left side of the ‘bottle.’

Not a lot of sadness though, as the majority of the fifty holes centered in a tight cluster. If the Shield M2.0 were mine, I’d cause that rear sight to be pushed ever so slightly right. I’m too old to change the way I shoot.

What about reliability? Like the “Retail Shield” of last year, along with the Performance Center Shield and the 45 Shield of previous tests – plus the older Shield that’s been here nearly forever – the M2.0 is quite reliable. It’s very handy and I just like the format.

Sorting through the Hatch S7 Sling Bag for magazines.

I’d taken along a bag to hold the M2.0 and a revolver I’d taken – if you carry a revolver, you have to qualify with it as the agency takes the position that federal statute meant that. I don’t mind as I like shooting revolvers. When I arrived, it was determined that we’d all make one trip to the target line “so carry all your goods with you.”

It was great that the bag I selected was the Hatch S7 Sling Pack. I covered it in a piece from March 2016. This thing is great as, in addition to other features, the top flap opens outward away from the wearer. You get free access to the interior without fighting a top flap that keeps closing while you’re trying to fish out magazines, sort out ammo, etc. The interior color – silver – contrasts with the outside of the pouch and contrasts with items inside.

The C-clip located on the back allows you to clip onto your belt to minimize any bouncing while running – something I didn’t have to do. You can quickly ‘unclip’ the S7 from the belt to bring it around front and dig gear out of it.

I expect it’ll be seeing a lot more use in the near future.

- - Rich Grassi