Welcome to Part 3 of the Factory to Table Series. If you are new to the series, let me quickly bring you up to speed. Awhile back the thought occurred to me that there are a lot of moving parts required for me to head to the range our out into the backcountry to go hunting. From the gun, to the ammunition, to the scope mount, all of it. With that, I began thinking to myself, what would be a great back country gun, something compact and relatively light?
So with all of this in mind, I set out on my journey from Factory to Table. Traveling to different manufactures across the country in order to piece together my set up and have a hand in building all of it. For the gun I decided on the MiniFix by Q, chambered in 300 Blackout.
I paid Q LLC a visit in New Hampshire and built myself a MiniFix Pistol. Also while there, I built a silencer, their .30 Caliber can, the Trash Panda, to not only take advantage of the 300Blk cartridge but also to save my hearing since I already have tinnitus. My next stop would be to make some ammunition.
When it comes to ammunition, there are a huge number of companies in the mix. With that, the quality varies a lot from manufacturer to manufacturer. I decided to head up to Northern New Hampshire and visit David Stark, the owner of Discreet Ballistics.
As far as cartridges go, I feel like 300 Blackout is the wild west. No one has really settled on any type of standard loading with respect to projectile weight. This holds true for both supersonic and subsonic loads as well. The range of rounds varies wildly, leading to the consumer needing to educate themselves on what their intended goal is and what will achieve it. For me personally, knowing I’m going to be hunting with this gun, the fact I’ll be running it suppressed and the barrel is a 1:5 twist, I looked to Discreet Ballistics.
While a number of companies make subsonic 300 Blk, and some of them offer hunting loads, I’ve been impressed with the offerings I’ve seen from Discreet Ballistics. For one, their ammunition is sold based on barrel length. Rather than a catch-all round, they offer different loadings for short barrels or longer barrels, as this changes the dynamics of the round, especially when trying to maintain a certain muzzle velocity.
After traveling north from Portsmouth, NH, I met up with David and immediately went to his testing range. The snow was iced over and the weather was cold, but got to work. He brought up a few different loads and a Magneto Speed chronograph. The first order of business was to gather some data on the gun, to make sure we were getting the numbers we needed.
After firing a string of 5 rounds, we got the numbers. The Discreet Ballistics 188gr Selous Machined Copper Hunting rounds (made for short barrels) was coming in with an average speed of 955fps. at the muzzle. This was the sweet spot. While we could have pushed them to go faster and still be subsonic, the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. The range of subsonic ammunition is relatively short, but the threshold of reliable expansion is well past the realistic capability of the gun.
The 188gr Selous rounds will reliably expand down to 750fps. This gives an effective range of 300+ yards, provided the gun and shooter are capable. To be honest though, I don’t intend to take shots beyond 150 yards. Especially given where I live. Due to the dense forest, the furthest shots tend to be about 100 yards, shooting across clear cuts.
After we gathered our data, we shot a few groups. I’ll say it probably wasn’t my best work, considering how cold it was out there. But it grouped right around 2 MOA at 50 yards. These being the first rounds shot through the Green Mountain Barrel of the MiniFix, I fully expected this to tighten up with time. (It has in fact. Recently I shot a 1.25 MOA group at 50 yards)
Leaving the test range we headed indoors to the warmth of the production facility. Machines lined the far wall, with components on the opposite side. Between the two were a number of benches, each with a single purpose, ranging from quality control to packaging. After a quick run down on the process, I began to load the components into the machines.
While the process of making ammunition is fairly straight forward, ie. put the components together, the way this is done and the quality of the individual components is what separates the good from the bad. Starting with virgin Jagemann Brass (with APEX head stamp), I loaded up a Dillon 1050 . Next came the Winchester Small Rifle Primers and as well as a special powder David had chosen for his loads, giving a consistent burn and low smoke when fired. And lastly the 188gr Selous Rounds, named after Frederic Courtney Selous, a renowned hunter and conservationist.
I had previously done some ballistic testing with the Selous Rounds. They are, in a word, nasty. Machined of solid copper, they expand out with 3 petals pealing back. Giving them consistent terminal performance at subsonic speeds, all the way down to 750fps. Additionally, being solid copper, they retain all of their mass on impact, rather than fragmenting and wasting their kinetic energy.
With the components loaded, I fired up the Dillon 1050 controlled by a Mark 7 Autodrive with a custom program. While you can crank a hand lever and churn out rounds, you end up with inconsistencies. Did you apply the same force as last time? Did you short stroke it? The Mark 7 Autodrive takes all the guess work out of it.
After loading a number of rounds, it was time for QC. Quality Control is honestly what separates manufactures. You can put the same components in and get different products out. For each of the rounds loaded, I case gauged them in a Sheridan Engineering Slotted Gauge. After this, they all received a visual inspection for any dents or scratches that may have occurred in the loading process. The ones that passed were then loaded into a double layered package, ensuring no rounds make contact with anything else, keeping the ammunition in the best condition possible.
And with that done, I had accomplished another step on my Factory to Table adventure. Gun, check. Silencer, check. Ammunition, check. Next up will be a visit to Cole-Tac to make a custom suppressor cover for my silencer.
You can see the video of the process below.