Mil-Dot Ballistics Update

Wow,  I’ve really neglected the blog lately.  Ok, it’s been for some time now.

Hopefully, I can keep the motivation going.  My day job has been keeping me busy working 50-60 hours a week, and all of my free time has been spent with the family and working on the next version of Mil-Dot Ballistics, my iPhone ballistics app.  It’s getting really close to being ready for the app store.  About all I have left is to finish compiling the revised projectile library, the new factory cartridge library and finish up the data conversion routines that will make sure all of the existing users will not lose any of their data.

Lots of improvements this time around, here are some of the major highlights:

  • Real target shapes (about time huh?)
  • iPhone 5 resolution support
  • New reticles
  • Loaded cartridge library
  • New reticle diagram that illustrates estimated range for all major increment marks on reticle.
  • Print function now prints ballistic graph, reticle diagram along with the ballistics table.
  • Lots of polishing of the interface.

Here’s a couple of teaser screen shots (subject to change):

Mil-Dot_Ballistics_LarueTarget  Mil-Dot_Ballistics_RealTargetShapes



I’ll try to keep everyone updated as it get’s closer to the release.

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Buy A Gun Day Goodness

I’m really late getting this posted (B.A.G. Day was April 15th), but it was worth the wait.

I was lucky enough to score two this year. A S&W M&P 9 Shield, and a Ruger 10/22 Takedown.


I’ll get a picture up of the 10/22 Takedown soon.

UPDATE: Finally got to shoot the Shield. This little gun is a fantastic natural shooter. Not at all what you’d expect out of a subcompact.

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Wilson Combat Bullet Proof Ambi Safety for the 1911

Being a southpaw shooter, ambi safeties are a must for me when it comes to pistols.  But when it comes to 1911′s, the traditional ambi safety just isn’t all that durable.  It works great for right handed shooters who want to be able to operate the safety using their lefthand on occasion, but they don’t tend to hold up all that well for a left handed shooter.  Over time, the tongue and groove type joint that mates the two halves together, tend to losen up and are prone to failure.  I’ve had to have a safety refitted or replaced more than once over the years.  So when Wilson Combat released their Bullet Proof Ambi Safety a while back, I was so impressed by the design, I promised that the next 1911 I got would be equipped with one.

So what’s the big deal?  Two things.  One, the tongue and groove joint design has been replaced with a half-lap joint that spreads the torsional forces of operating the safety across the entire length of the pin between the two halves of the safety.  Where in the traditional design, the tongue and groove joint is the weak link.  The second feature that I love, is how the right half of the safety is retained. Instead of the little tab that rides behind the right side stock to retain the right half of the safety, the Wilson Combat BP Ambi Safety uses a special hammer pin with a screw in one end to retain the right half.  It’s a little difficult to describe, so I’ll let the following picture do it for me.  Note the slot on the inside face of the right side safety switch that engages the screw in the hammer pin.

Wilson Combat did a excellent job on the finish.

The fit between the two halves of the safety is extremely precise.   So precise, that it is very difficult to see where the two parts join together.

Here the Hammer pin has been inserted.  Note the little screwdriver slot in the pin which is used to keep the pin from rotating when adjusting the retaining screw on the other end.

This little screw in the end of the hammer pin is used to retain the right half of the safety.  You install it with blue lock-tite, adjusting it so that the safety operates smoothly with very little end play.  The hammer pin can be removed with the screw in place.

The retaining screw has been adjusted and the right side tested for fit and function.

Testing the fit of the left side.  I was fortunate that the safety fit perfectly right out of the package, and passed all function and safety checks.  I was not looking forward to fitting the safety, but it turned out to be a non-issue.  In fact, if any fitting had been required, I probably would have started to search for a qualified gunsmith to fit it for me.  The price to have a gunsmith do it right, would be a lot less than spending another $160 to replace the one I screw up.

Here it is with the left side installed, getting ready to put everything back together.  Make sure you do a full function/safety check before fully reassembling, or you’ll just find your self tearing it apart again.


All Done an looking pretty.  The factory blued safety looked pretty good, but the Wilson Combat Bullet Proof safety make it look pretty lame.

Ruger SR1911 with Wilson Combat Bullet Proof Stainless Ambi Safety

How does it operate?  It is fantastic.  The safety flicks off and on with authority and has just the right amount of resistance between engaged and disengaged.  There is no play in the safety whatsoever.  The levers are significantly smaller than the factory lever, but it is just about perfect for me.  They give just the right balance of enough to operate easily, but not so much that it interferes with carry or increasing the chance of accidentally disengaging the safety while carrying.  I really like it.

For me, since I’m a lefty shooter who must rely on that safety lever to work 100% of the time, the Wilson Combat Bullet Proof Ambi Safety is worth every penny I paid for it.  I’m not saying other safety designs are crap, but I will never work with with the traditional design ambi safety again.  Yes, this one is that good.


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Ruger Vaquero in .357 Magnum

A little single action gun porn.

Ruger Vaquero

Why?  Because they are fun.   Just looking at this picture is giving me the itch to head to the range.


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iPhone Apps update – Mil-Dot Ballistics / Mil-Dot Rangefinder

Mil-Dot BallisticsI have finally submitted the new version (4.2) of Mil-Dot Ballistics and Mil-Dot Rangefinder to the app store today.  Both are a free upgrade for existing users.  It usually takes Apple about a week to review and approve new apps for the App Store.  So keep an eye out for it next week.

The biggest feature update for both applications is support for second focal plane scopes. You can now specify your magnification setting and the app will adjust the target size in the reticle accordingly. This will enable you to range your target at any magnification setting on a second focal plane scope. The only limitation is how accurate your magnification dial on your scope is.

I’ve also added a bunch of new reticles. I have plans for a lot more reticles that I will roll out via free in-app updates as soon as I can get permission from the scope manufacturers to include them in the app.

The good news for the iPad users is that I have finally written the iPad specific version of the Mil-Dot Ballistics user manual which I will be posting on just as soon as the new version of the app is available for purchase/download.

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Kimber 1911 .22lr conversion kit

With the price of ammo these days, I’m always looking for a way to get more trigger time for less $$$.    More and more, I find myself dragging my rimfire guns to the range instead of the guns I should really be practicing with.  Sure, I’ll take my carry pistol, a XDM Compact, and put a box or two through it, but most of my time is spend shooting rimfire because it’s gives me the most number of bangs for my buck.   That’s all fine and dandy, as I still have a lot of fun when I head to the range, but I’ve really neglecting my practice sessions for the USPSA matches I compete in every month.

For the past 5 or 6 months, it seems the only time I shoot my competition gun is at the match itself.  And let me tell you, it shows.  My performance on the first stage of each match has been on the verge of embarrassing.  The subsequent stages all show increasing improvement as the day progresses, usually ending in respectable showing in my class, and occasion taking the class.  But I’m not growing.  I’m not progressing.  My skills aren’t getting better.  On a good day, I’m maintaining the status quo.  On a bad day, I’m losing ground.

The bottom line, I need more practice.  A lot more practice.  I do dry fire drills, and they are truly invaluable.  But nothing can replace true trigger time on the range.  However, for me to put in the necessary amount live fire practice, I’d have to get a second job just to pay for the ammo.  That’s doubly true now that I want to jump from the production class (minor power factor) to the single stack class (major power factor), where the ammo will cost me 1.5 to 2 times as much.  That’s why I’ve decided to go with a .22lr conversion kit for the new SR1911.

A lot of people will tell you that training with a .22lr conversion is a waste of time, and counter productive, because you don’t have the same recoil, the same weight, along with a whole host of other reasons.  That reasoning could easily also apply to dry fire practice.   Why waste your time pulling the trigger if it’s not the real thing.  The truth of the matter is dry fire practice is extremely beneficial.  It lets you focus of the fundamentals of grip, stance, sight picture and trigger control without the distraction of recoil and report.  It lets you get hundreds of repititions of a specific movement burned into your brain so that it becomes second nature, for free.  You will not find one successful competitive shooter that will tell you dry fire practice is a waste of time.   So why are there so many people that discount training with a .22lr?   Mainly because they don’t understand it’s role in your training.   Training with a .22lr conversion kit on a 1911 cannot replace practice with your actual competition loads.  You need to practice at some point with the full recoil of the loads you will be shooting in competition.  You have to learn, and maintain recoil control.  You have to learn how to require your sight picture after every shot with your competition loads.  So in a way, the naysayers are partly right.  Practice with a rimfire is a lot like dry fire practice.  It can be very beneficial if done properly.  It’s sort of an in-between step for developing a skill.  Start by practicing the mechanics of a skill in dry fire practice.  Move to the rimfire and drill that skill in until its perfected.  You can run hundreds of repetitions before you even hit the cost of a box of .45 ACP ball ammo.  Then, once you have the skill pounded into your brain so that it is natural and automatic, move up to the full caliber load.  It will only take you a relatively few repetitions with your competition loads to incorporate the proper recoil management into the skill you are trying to learn.  Instead of going through $300 of ammo in one training session, your in for $30 – $50 with similar end results if not better.

Which reminds me, I recently let my brother-in-law try out the Glock 17 with the Tactical Solutions .22lr conversion (expect another article on that soon).  Afterwards, he said “I finally get it!”.   He like many others had believed the .22lr conversions were “gimmicky”, and that the money would be better spend on a Ruger 22/45,  Browing Buckmark, or the similar.  But after the converted glock, he’s itching to find a conversion for his Springfield XDM.  Now if someone would actually make one…..

On to the Kimber .22lr conversion kit.  There are quite a few conversion kits for 1911′s to chose from.  My personal requirements were that the conversion kit have a standard 1911 form factor and operate reliably.  The converted gun must be able to use the same holster and mag pouches.  Magazines must be readily available to purchase either online or at my local gun store.  My last requirement was that I can handle the kit in person prior to purchasing.  The only kit that I could find that met all these requirements was the Kimber .22lr conversion kit.  One of my local dealers had one in stock, on sale for a little less than $300, and plenty of spare mags available for purchase.  Sold.  They had one in a stainless looking finish, and one finished in black.  Both are some sort of paint finish.  I ended up picking up the black one because it closely matched the look of the slide on my Talo edition Ruger SR1911.

The Kimber .22lr conversion kit comes with the slide assembly, and one 10 round magazine.

The slide assembly consists of the slide with adjustable target sights, barrel, barrel bushing, and the recoil spring assembly.  The ejector is incorporated into the barrel.


The magazines are polymer, hold 10 rounds in a single stack configuration.  The one limitation of this kit is that it does not lock the slide back after the last round.  So it will be a little hard to practice slide lock reloads.  But on the plus side, it’ll do a pretty good job of making me practice my malfunction drills.

One of the nice design features of this kit is how the top of the magazine sit’s just barely below the chamber.  This provides for very smooth feeding of the rounds into the chamber.

Here you can see the ejector that is incorporated into the barrel and the extractor.

The barrel features a recessed target crown.

It looks pretty nice on the SR911 frame.


The one thing I wish I would like to change are the sights.  They are nice target sights, but they don’t replicate the sights I will be using in competition.  The sights are dovetail mounted, but the slide is cut for the adjustable target sights.

So how did it run?  Flawless so far.  I have a little over 1000 rounds of CCI MiniMags (40 gr solid) through it so far, and not the slightest sign of feeding or extraction issues.  If you’ve never run a 1911 with a rimfire conversion kit on it, your missing out.  How accurate is it?  I’ve been having so much fun with it, I’ve neglected to shoot for groups.  Most of the time I have on it so far has been shooting at a rimfire dueling tree and my Caldwell Shootin’ Gallery and have had no issue hitting the 2″ round plates from 10 yards.   So at this point, I’m willing to say, it’s adequate for my needs.  When I get a chance to shoot for groups, I’ll update with my results.

For $300 you can just about buy a dedicated .22lr pistol.  But in just the first 1000 rounds of .22lr, the conversion kit has almost paid for itself in ammo costs.


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Ruger SR1911 Talo Edition

When Ruger announced earlier this year that they were going to produce a 1911, I was genuinely excited. I was excited because 1. It based on the series 70 design, 2. It has almost everything that I want in a 1911, and 3. It has a street price right around $600. I’m usually cautious about being an early adopter of new models of guns from any manufacturer, but whats new about a 1911?

So when Ruger announced that they were shipping, I started calling all my local dealers looking for one. Of course nobody had them yet, and none of them could really tell me when they would have one. So I gave up, and ended up spending the money on a SW MP9 for the wife. About a month and a half later (around June) I had my gun fund built back up enough to give it another shot. After spending about 3 hours calling all the local dealers within 100 miles, I gave up. But this time I got added to the waiting list at three different dealers. At one dealer I was #9 on the list, and the other two, I was #14 and #16. The three dealers that had me on their waiting lists had only received 1 SR1911 each, and were all sold before they hit the display case. After another month went by, I started dipping into the gun fund for other things (Ruger Vaquero in .357 Magnum, an Eotech EXPS3-2 holographic sight for the AR-15, and a couple cases of ammo). Then just before thanksgiving, I get a phone call one day on my way home from work. It’s the dealer, they have a SR1911 in stock, and its mine if I want it. However, theres a catch. Its not a standard SR1911, it’s a Talo limited edition with the slide finished in black Cerakote, and it would be an additional $50 for this model. Without hesitating, I said I’ll take it. Right after a quick phone call to the wife to let her know I’d be home late for dinner an to not freak out about the $700 charge that was about to hit the account, I turned the truck around and headed straight to the dealer. After filling out the necessary paperwork, waiting for the feds to admit that yes, I’m still not a bad guy, I swiped the debit card, and headed back home to face the wrath of the love of my life. Luckily Im also the love of her life, so she didn’t make things too difficult for me. Besides, I just bought her the new MP 9 a few months ago, right?

So heres the specs:

Caliber: .45 Auto
Slide Material: Stainless Steel
Slide Finish: Black Cerakote
Grip Frame: Low-Glare Stainless Steel
Sights: Fixed Novak® 3-Dot
Capacity: 8+1
Barrel Length: 5.00
Height: 5.45
Overall Length: 8.67
Weight: 39.00 oz.
Width: 1.34
Twist: 1:16 RH
Grooves: 6
MA Approved Certified: Yes
CA Approved: No
Retail: $799.00 (standard edition)

Included in the box were a standard 7 round magazine, an 8 round magazine, a barrel bushing wrench, a padded zip up carrying case, and the manual.

Standard features for the SR1911 include Novak 3-dot sights, skeletonized trigger and hammer, beaver tail grip safety, extended thumb safety (right hand only).

Before I continue, I have to make a disclaimer.  While I love 1911′s,  I’ve only owned a couple of them over the years, so I am no expert on the subject of 1911′s. Now, I could repeat all the Ruger marketing talking points how the barrel and bushing are machined front the same bar stock, and kept together from that point on, and so on, but I really don’t care about all the marketing talking points.  I care about results.  Is it reliable?  Is it accurate?  How does it feel?  Fit and finish?   With that in mind, I will do my best to keep from repeating the same stuff you see in all the other reviews, which you could also find the product brochure. Let’s get the technical specs out of the way.  It’s a standard 5-inch, 39 ounce single action, 7-8 round 1911. The slide is forged stainless steel, and the frame is investment cast stainless steel.   The frame has a bead-blasted finish, while the slide is finished in black Cerakote.   The barrel is also stainless steel.  The loaded chamber indicator is accomplished by a small cut in the top of the barrel where it meets the breech face so that you can visually inspect if a cartridge is present in the chamber.  The slide release, thumb safety, magazine release, flat main spring housing, and beaver-tail grip safety are blued.  The grip safety has a raised bump at the base to help ensure that the safety is properly disengaged when gripped.  The front strap is not checkered.  The main spring housing is checkered.  The stocks are a traditional checkered wood, and are secured with allen-head screws.  The safety plunger tube is integral to the frame, not staked on like the traditional design.  Sights are Novak 3-dot, mounted in dovetail cuts.  The recoil spring is the traditional setup (no full length guide rod).  The firing pin is titanium.  Upon inspection some of the internal parts, I was able to confirm that at least the hammer, thumb safety, grip safety and slide release are all MIM parts.  The  sear and disconnector may also be mim, but I didn’t tear that far into it.  I’m not a fan of MIM parts in general, but that’s to be expected in a $700 1911.  At the same time, I think MIM parts have come a long way in the past few years.  Eventually I will probably replace the MIM parts, but that’s not in the foreseeable future.


I didn’t intend on getting the Talo edition, but I’m glad I did.  I really like the two tone look.  The fit an finish is pretty good for a $700 1911. The slide has a tiny bit of lateral play on the on the frame rails, and the barrel to bushing fit seem pretty good.  At least to my untrained eye.

My initial range tests were very informal.  I only had 100 rounds of Remington/UMC 230 gr. ball to work with, so I focused on reliability, not accuracy.   With a standard USPSA target set up at 15 yds., I proceeded with controlled rapid fire strings and quickly burnt through my 100 rounds of ammo, firing only as fast as I could maintain proper sight picture ensuring hits in the A zone of the target.  The trigger by my uncalibrated finger ran around 5-6 lbs with a bit of creep, but not at all unmanageable.  I only really notice the creep when whork in my trigger press during dry firepractice.  The SR1911 ran flawlessly.  No feeding or ejection issues.  The brass piled up neatly in a pile about 2 ft in diameter about 3 feet to my right.  The spent brass all had clean firing pin dents in the primer.   No sign of primer wipe and no signs of the spent brass contacting the slide during ejection. I know that’s not exactly a 1000 round endurance test… ok not even close.  But after the first 100 rounds, everything was still running just as smooth as the first round.

I’ve pretty much decided that this will be my USPSA single stack division gun.  So the first thing I’ve done is install an ambi-safety, since I’m a south-paw shooter.  I went with the Wilson Combat Bullet Proof Ambi Safety.   I ended up going with the stainless version, only because the polished blue version was on backorder and probably 4 months out.  I will be doing a full writeup on safety later, but for now, here’s how it looks installed.

Wilson Combat Bullet Proof Ambi Safety

So to wrap things up, I think this 1911 is a great buy.  I’ve already purchased another 8 magazines and can’t wait to get the rest the gear I need to start using it in the USPSA single stack division.  You really do get a lot for your money.


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B.A.G. Day

Buy a gun day has once again come and gone. I do my best to participate every year, and this year is no exception.

More info later…

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Mil-Dot Ballistics 3.02 Walkthru video

New Mil-Dot Ballistics walk-thru video is up.

More information, including a detailed user manual, is available at

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Mil-Dot Ballistics is on sale! Happy 1911 Day!

On March 29th, 1911, the US Army formally adopted the Model 1911 pistol. 100 years later, it is still one of the most popular pistol designs. In honor of the 100th anniversary of John Moses Browning’s iconic design, Mil-Dot Ballistics will be on sale until the end of the month.

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