Browning HiViz Bird Buster… “start of a” review

Shooting clays is about pointing, not aiming. So, in principle, one can say that there is no need for aiming devices on shotgun. Do a 10 sec google and you will see the endless debate and opinions about this subject (cf. neutral vs. bright beads, the middle bead debate, etc).

I shoot a Winchester Sporting Select II, it has a white front and middle bead. I have found this middle bead convenient for practising my mount. Middle and front bead alignment give me a quick check for mount. If you can’t get the mount right, there is no point is wasting a shell by putting a whole in the sky. Once I start swinging that gun, I noticed that I’m in general not aware of those beads (and when I am, the orange substitute pigeon often escapes a horrible death).

I’m happy with my gun and its white neutral beads, but I’ve always been intrigued by the bright fiber beads you find on many sporting guns. Do they distract (and make you wrongly aim)? Or do they subconsciously assist your brain in crushing those orange disks?

Browning HiViz Bird BusterWhen I saw the “Browning HiViz Bird Buster” – magnetic clip-on sights with bright fiber pipes – that seemed a cheap way to try the “bright bead” and cool my curiosity.

Mounting the Bird Buster is easy (they snap on with strong magnets, and stay in place when a shot is fired), visibility is good, but I’ve noticed that they sit quite high. So the “new” front bead sits much higher than the fixed bead. Clearly, this was going to affect POA/POI (Point of Aim / Point of Impact). So, I went out to pattern my gun (note it’s a sporter so shoots about 60/40). The figure below shows the results.

As expected the shotgun pattern shifts downwards with the Bird Busters, ending up in a 50/50 to 40/60 configuration. Which seems very inconvenient to me, because this requires you to completely cover up the clay when shooting. Note that if I could raise my stock (comb), I could get the gun with the raised sight, back on the same pattern. My Winchester however has a fixed comb.

With this result, my enthusiasm has faded and I didn’t try the “Browning HiViz Bird Buster” with “live” clays yet. I should, because probably mounting this sight will probably not even matter, because I’m not really conscious of the beads when swinging… which at the same time makes this whole “bright bead” thing pointless 🙂

Shotgun Pattern with/without HiViz


Browning Hi-Power (GP) doesn’t fire – bent sear lever

Recently, I had a problem with my old Browning Hi-Power: about 10% of the time, it didn’t go off. I could use all the force I had on that trigger, nothing happened. Racking the slide always solved the problem.

browning-highpowerFirst I checked if maybe something was wrong with the safety or whether the gun went into full battery (maybe the recoil spring was worn). My next idea was that the trigger spring (48) was a bit worn out and didn’t push the trigger lever (46) snug against the frame anymore (my Hi-power has the mag safety removed which allows more side-ways travel on the trigger lever). If that was the case, the trigger lever would be hitting the slide when pulling the trigger rather that the sear lever (30). In a correct functioning Hi-Power, when the trigger is pulled, the trigger lever pushes the sear lever (in the slide), which in turn pushes the sear (in the frame), releasing the hammer. But also that didn’t check out, because when the gun was blocking I still could pull the trigger quite far, further than I would have been able if the trigger lever was really stuck on the slide.

Finally I found out that the problem was cause by a bent sear lever (30). The trigger lever pushed the sear lever correctly, however that being bent, it just bearily reached the sear, resulting in a failure to activate it about 10% of the time.

I’ve bent it back for now, the gun works perfectly again, but that quick fix will only temporarily hold I guess. I’ll have to buy a new sear lever. I thought I would share this for all Hi-Power fans out there who run into this annoying problem.


Very mild .357 Mag Load

Homemade .357 Mag

Homemade .357 Mag

Below, I’ve listed the load that I currently use most in my revolver. It’s a very mild load (more 38SP +P), “sub magnum”. It is however very enjoyable to shoot and accurate in my Colt.
Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for the correctness of this load data, use it as theoretical reference only.

  • Cases recovered from factory ammo (mostly GECO)
  • WSP – Winchester Small Pistol Primers
  • 158 gn LOS FP (copper plated bullets)
  • 6.5 gn Vithavuori VN340 (using the .71cc Lee auto disc)

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Hämmerli X-esse Sport review

my-hammerli-xesseI bought my Hämmerli X-esse Sport about 1.5 years ago as an affordable alternative for a real target gun. The fact that the X-esse still looks “normal” compared to competition weapons, I took as a plus. I fired about 3000 rounds with it (rough estimate). This post here reflects my personal experience with my Hammerli X-esse Sport, calling it a thorough review would be exaggerating, but I hope that its still helpful for people considering to buy this fine weapon. Continue reading


Vihtavuori 340 – Lee disk volume-weight cross reference

vihtavuoriSomewhere on this site, you can find a Lee disk volume-weight cross reference table which can be used as a starting point for building your loads. I’ve recently started testing with Vihtavuori 340 which is not listed in that cross-reference, so I’m listing 2 volume-weight reference points for it here.

Vithavuori .66cc .71cc
VN340 5.9gn 6.5gn

VN340 is a slow burning handgun powder, which I use for reloading .357M. It’s known for burning clean, being reliable and consistent and for being on the more expensive side. Where I live I pay about 130€/kg for VN340, good old HP38 comes at 99€/kg. Add to this that you typically need more VN340 than HP38, e.g. comparable loads for .230gn 45ACP with VN340 list about 1.2 times the weight of HP38. So if you do the full the price comparison VN340 is about 1.58 times the price of HP38 (again, that’s where I live).

My beautiful pictureVN340 is extruded powder (small cilinders) which in my experience, VN340 meters very well in a Pro Auto-Disk Powder Measure. The loads I’ve built with it have been extremely accurate.


Ammo comparison because of picky Browning Hi-Power

My 9mm Browning Hi-Power seems to be ammo picky. Not that it has feed issues (it “eats” everything), but precision seems to be very ammo dependent.For example: with GECO ammo 124gr FMJ, I have no trouble holding the black (i.e. get decent groups) on a standard ISSF pistol target at 25 m (diameter of black = 20cm = 7.8 inch). However, with S&B or Magtech 124gr FMJ ammo, shots end up all over the paper target. I should add some quantitative data on this phenomenon some time, but I’ve been testing this several times, shooting groups of 5, switching ammo brands. Continue reading


Overpressure in 9mm

Reloading is serious business and one should not forget that.

The reloader’s biggest fear is generating overpressure in the chamber when firing a cartridge. Overpressure can cause the gun to break (blow up) with a variety of consequences. Personally, I’m on the cautious side meaning that I don’t “hunt” for +P loads and I work up loads from minimum load data and my reloading process is tuned as much as possible for safety. Still, no-one is free from mistakes, one can only attempt to avoid them. Actually currently I also simulate my loads and check the effect of variations on powder charge and seating depth. I’m keeping pressure 15% off maximum SAAMI pressure.

But risks sometimes come from the outside… At some point in time I got some 9mm reloads from an experienced reloader. The picture shows how the cases came out of my Browning Hi-Power after firing. Clearly these were too hot for the gun and a possible safety hazard, luckily I noticed early and only fired a few rounds.


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Gun cabinet – homemade gun rack for safe

guncabinetLike any responsible gun owner, I’m putting my handguns in a safe. The one I have at hand is just a box with no facilities to proper store my guns. The result was that my pistols just lay on top of each other in an un-orderly fashion.

A free Sunday and some leftover MDF (Medium-density fibreboard) resulted in the nice arrangement on the left. Note that I haven’t bothered to paint the rack as it remains 99,99% of the time behind a lock steel door…

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SR1911 front-sight improvement

I have mentioned that my Ruger SR1911’s broke during shooting earlier this year, something that has happened to many people. Getting the front sight replaced has been quite an adventure. Cutting a long story short: I brought it back to my local gunshop for repairs, however obtaining a new sight from the importer lasted forever. I eventually contacted Ruger in the US myself to get the local importer off his butt and take action (Thank you ladies at Ruger export sales for the prompt follow-up). Anyway in this process, I got assurance from Ruger that they had solved the front sight issue by now.


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