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Posted: 2/16/2010 6:59:58 PM EDT
Tonight I went to the range, about 2 hours after sunset, to film the difference between regular and "low flash" self-defense ammo in .40 S&W.  While I assumed Hornady wasn't just blowing smoke, when they said of FPD:
Propellants are engineered to protect your night vision by minimizing muzzle flash.

I had to see for myself.

There definitely was much less muzzle flash with the FPD vs. ordinary ammo.  I captured the phenomenon in a couple of short movies, using my digital camera.  While it wasn't really that dark, since my range is near a major city and a couple of facilities with all-night flood lighting, the images came out pitch dark except for the muzzle flashes.  I commented on the ammo I was about to fire each time, so there's no doubt which flash is which.  It's crude, but it gets the point across.  

Lesson learned: The "civilian" FPD and "law enforcement" CQ versions of TAP are practically identical in terms of muzzle flash.  They have identical ballistics, so they are interchangeable for all practical purposes.

Eventually, I will locate some video editing software & produce a presentable video for your edification.  I might even get ambitious and post it to Youtube.

The boring details:
-Fired 4 different types of ammo:
––My own .40 S&W reloads
––CCI Blazer 165 gr. TMJ (aluminum case) .40 S&W
––Hornady TAP FPD 180 gr. .40 S&W (product #91368)
––Hornady TAP CQ 180 gr. .40 S&W (product #91365)
-Gun used: S&W M&P .40 S&W fullsize

-Time: About 1945 local, around 1.5 hours after local civil twilight

Link Posted: 2/17/2010 1:00:29 AM EDT
Tag for video.
Link Posted: 2/17/2010 9:15:30 PM EDT
Looking forward to video...

Very few people have ever actually shot at night, even though that's when over 75-ish% of self defense shootings take place.  Here in Va our range is open real late and is not restrictive except for basic range safety, so I've shot a lot at night, and had some REAL surprises! I ended up dumping a well-known brand because it was literally blinding to shoot.

It's good you thought about this.  
Link Posted: 2/17/2010 10:24:46 PM EDT



Originally Posted By thermocafe:


Looking forward to video...



Very few people have ever actually shot at night, even though that's when over 75-ish% of self defense shootings take place.  Here in Va our range is open real late and is not restrictive except for basic range safety, so I've shot a lot at night, and had some REAL surprises! I ended up dumping a well-known brand because it was literally blinding to shoot.



It's good you thought about this.  
What ammo did you dump?





 
Link Posted: 2/18/2010 1:19:24 PM EDT
I bought some Black Hills 124gr +P BH Gold Dot for my Glock 19, once upon a time. It was slightly hotter than the Speer load, but the flash at night was horrible. The Speer load was just a slight red-orange ball... Ranger T (my current carry load) is almost non-existent.
Link Posted: 2/19/2010 9:32:24 AM EDT
Taggage for vid-nanza
Link Posted: 2/19/2010 10:00:15 PM EDT
I realized how it can affect your vision, and how important it is to use low flash cartridges especially in .357sig. I shot some Rem 125gr JHP, Win-USA 125gr FMJ, and Speer Gold Dot 125gr. The Remington ammo had a huge white flash, while the other two I didn't notice any at all. This was as low light as I could get, basically turning off the lights overhead and down range (indoor).
Link Posted: 2/20/2010 12:58:54 AM EDT
Been working on editing the video.  I'm not entirely sure it's worth posting as video: there just isn't a darn thing to see, except for the actual muzzle flashes.  Maybe I'll post an illustrative still or two from each type of ammo fired.
Link Posted: 2/20/2010 5:41:56 AM EDT
Well we should have a list of ammo that does not blind the shooter at night.
Link Posted: 2/20/2010 9:04:17 AM EDT
Originally Posted By dragongoddess:
Well we should have a list of ammo that does not blind the shooter at night.


Good idea.
In fact low flash should be a "must have feature" for any good ammo, it's as important as penetrtaion and expansion, if not more important.


Link Posted: 2/20/2010 7:59:00 PM EDT
In an indoor range, with less than outdoor light the difference between the corbon and the gold dots I tried was AMAZING.  HUGE muzzle flash with the corbon, not so much with the gold dots.  Both worked in my gun, both are in the approved ammo list.  I carry the gold dots.
Link Posted: 2/21/2010 10:27:05 AM EDT
It's amazing how many "self-defense" loads do not use low flash powder. Bad things often happen at night and the last thing one needs is to be blinded by his own muzzle flash.
Link Posted: 2/22/2010 5:25:00 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/24/2010 4:36:56 AM EDT by Objekt]
Having problems with the video editing.  Windows Movie Maker keeps crashing on me, and another editor is producing out-of-sync audio.  Sigh.

Will post a still or two later, when I get around to uploading them to my flickr account.

Also planning to film Gold Dot .45 some time soon.  Speer describes it as using "low flash" powder, but again, visual confirmation can't be beat.

Here's what it looked like over my shoulder, firing the reloads with Bullseye powder:



Yes, that's a tiny picture, but it gives you the general idea.  I wasn't able to assess how this kind of flash would affect one's night vision, but testing in total darkness wasn't the point anyway.  The more likely scenario for CCW or home defense is partial or low light, not "inside of a cow" dark.  The night environment at my range is a little too dark for realistic training, really.

It isn't visible in the photos due to the angle, but the tritium night sights REALLY stood out.  They aren't bad in pitch blackness, but in "merely dim" conditions they strongly draw the eye.

Update: Another picture:


Hornady wasn't kidding!  That's the TAP FPD there.
Link Posted: 3/3/2010 5:31:13 PM EDT
More photos.  Here is what the Blazer looked like:



And the Hornady TAP CQ:

Link Posted: 3/4/2010 10:09:15 AM EDT
Even with a digital camera, it is not actually 'looking' for that high a percentage of the time, the same issue with film cameras for short duration events.

It takes significant time to scan the image off the chip, and during that time it is not capturing a new image.

When the scan out is done the entire image chip is 'cleared' and a new exposure started.

A camera that can be set to start and stop exposure on command allows for it to gather an image for the entire duration of a short event.

On film cameras it opened the shutter and left it open until the button was released.

I have not seen a digital with this capability, but they must be around (even if not on the consumer grade cameras).

Link Posted: 3/5/2010 4:33:58 AM EDT
That's nice.  What is your point?
Link Posted: 3/5/2010 6:53:04 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Objekt:
That's nice.  What is your point?


Your camera did not capture the amount of flash that the eye will perceive.
Link Posted: 3/5/2010 7:50:50 PM EDT



Originally Posted By brickeyee:



Originally Posted By Objekt:

That's nice.  What is your point?




Your camera did not capture the amount of flash that the eye will perceive.



Looks pretty close to me. My RA9TA with the flash retardant looks just like that to my eye.



 
Link Posted: 3/5/2010 7:54:42 PM EDT
So is there a low flash powder available for reloading.
Link Posted: 3/6/2010 12:20:28 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/6/2010 12:30:11 PM EDT by Objekt]
Originally Posted By brickeyee:
Originally Posted By Objekt:
That's nice.  What is your point?


Your camera did not capture the amount of flash that the eye will perceive.


No camera responds to light in the same way as the human eye, whether film or digital.  This is a triviality, not worthy of further discussion.

Much more importantly, the pictures are representative of what I saw.  They accurately capture the relative brightness of muzzle flashes with various ammo.  That was the point, not a perfect recreation of the events discussed.  Jeez, some people will nitpick anything to death.
Link Posted: 3/6/2010 12:41:01 PM EDT
Originally Posted By dragongoddess:
So is there a low flash powder available for reloading.


I've never seen any "low flash" powder for sale.  That's not to say it doesn't exist, just that it isn't easy to find.

I suspect the ammunition manufacturers blend it themselves, using ordinary powder plus other ingredients, according to a closely-guarded recipe.

Getting a "low flash" result could be as simple as making sure all the powder is burned by the time the bullet leaves the barrel.  That would require knowledge of the barrel length, I would think.  Regardless, I have no interest in "rolling my own" in this department.
Link Posted: 3/7/2010 11:11:03 AM EDT



Originally Posted By Objekt:



Originally Posted By dragongoddess:

So is there a low flash powder available for reloading.




I've never seen any "low flash" powder for sale.  That's not to say it doesn't exist, just that it isn't easy to find.



I suspect the ammunition manufacturers blend it themselves, using ordinary powder plus other ingredients, according to a closely-guarded recipe.



Getting a "low flash" result could be as simple as making sure all the powder is burned by the time the bullet leaves the barrel.  That would require knowledge of the barrel length, I would think.  Regardless, I have no interest in "rolling my own" in this department.
FWIW: Universal Clays in 9x19mm loadings is pretty low flash.



Power Pistol is quite flashy.





 
Link Posted: 3/7/2010 3:00:01 PM EDT
I went to the range today, and shot some 185 gr+p Golden Sabres. This round doubles as a flame thrower. It had more muzzle blast than a 2" .357 mag. This round should not be carried at night! You will go blind...temporarily anyway.
Link Posted: 3/7/2010 3:28:50 PM EDT



Originally Posted By aggunner:


I went to the range today, and shot some 185 gr+p Golden Sabres. This round doubles as a flame thrower. It had more muzzle blast than a 2" .357 mag. This round should not be carried at night! You will go blind...temporarily anyway.


Damn, that's not good to hear. I have 230 gr Golden Sabre's loaded in my 1911. Need some of those instant darkening visors the Nuke bomber pilots wear




 
Link Posted: 3/8/2010 1:23:12 AM EDT
There might be some powder difference between the 230 and 185+p. but I would check it out. I was in a well lit indoor range and could still see the fireball.
Link Posted: 3/8/2010 9:26:54 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Objekt:
Originally Posted By brickeyee:
Originally Posted By Objekt:
That's nice.  What is your point?


Your camera did not capture the amount of flash that the eye will perceive.


No camera responds to light in the same way as the human eye, whether film or digital.  This is a triviality, not worthy of further discussion.

Much more importantly, the pictures are representative of what I saw.  They accurately capture the relative brightness of muzzle flashes with various ammo.  That was the point, not a perfect recreation of the events discussed.  Jeez, some people will nitpick anything to death.


Great metric for making decisions.

"They accurately capture the relative brightness of muzzle flashes with various ammo. " cannpt be correct if "No camera responds to light in the same way as the human eye, whether film or digital. "
is correct.

Movies are ALWAYS worse than still pictures.

If you film 24 frames/second and each frame is 1/100 of a second, the camera is not even taking an image for 76% of each second.
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