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Old November 29, 2008, 10:15 AM   #1
bigbflex
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Bowling pin shooting

Was thinking about starting bowling pin shooting.
Any suggestions on pistol type, caliber or what velocity I should be looking for?
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Old November 29, 2008, 10:31 AM   #2
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Most bowling-pin shoots are divided into different classes for different guns (revolver, auto, "pin gin", back-up gun, shotgun, etc.), but the "classic" handgun for bowling-pin shooting is either a 1911 with heavy semi-wadcutters, or an N-frame S&W shooting the biggest wadcutter or hollowpoint you can find (and lots of practice with speedloaders). Bowling pins are tricky targets, so you want a set-up that puts as much weight into the pin as possible, even with an edge hit. As hard as hitting a bowling pin in the middle is, it gets a lot harder if you only tip that pin over, and it rolls around on the table while you're trying to get it off.
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Old November 29, 2008, 10:41 AM   #3
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Would a .357 work or would I be better off with a .44
I can't really find a 1911 in my price range.
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Old November 29, 2008, 10:47 AM   #4
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Do they separate classes just by pistol type or by caliber also?
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Old November 29, 2008, 03:51 PM   #5
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Every match I've heard about puts different guns into different classes, just so you don't have someone shooting a stock revolver against a tricked-out 1911 with a compensator and a red-dot sight. Usually, things like red-dots, comps, or weights will get you bumped into a higher class, but I haven't seen them break it down by calibres yet; since a heavier bullet is usually better against pins, that's what people tend to shoot (but some matches hold "side" events, where you're only allowed to use, for example, .22s or 9mms).
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Old November 29, 2008, 05:30 PM   #6
Shooter 973
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Bowling pin shooting

Yes a 357 will take pins off the table with good authority, as will anything bigger. I've used just about all the pistol calibers and the 357 is just about the minimum I'd use. A 45 will do just fine as will a 44 mag. I load my 45 for factory ballistics and my 44's are only slightly hotter than the 45's, around 1000 fps will do a magnificent job with out the punishment. I use cast lead slugs almost exclusively to. I use standard weight bullets in all calibers, 150-158's in 357 200-230's in 45 and 200-250's in the 44's.
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Old December 2, 2008, 07:44 PM   #7
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I've been charged with setting one of these matches up for our club. I have some concerns about the mid and large bore gun ammo.

Is it safe to do a 25 foot pin shoot with jacketed bullets?

I know the 22's will be fine at that distance,but worry about wounded bystanders from deflected slugs or shrapnel with higher caliber loads.

Advice please before we hurt someone!

Thanks,

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Old December 2, 2008, 08:42 PM   #8
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A lot depends on the specific pins you use; the newer all-plastic style can suck up a LOT of lead, to the point where it's not really fair to use them as targets anymore, because they don't roll. The older style (plastic cover over a wooden core) can also take a lot of damage, but they will generally shatter eventually. Ricochets back towards the shooter or spectators are rare, but they do happen (glasses a must for everyone; I once caught a 230-gr RNL off a pin that left a plum-sized bruise above my belly-button); when they DO happen, they're travelling so slow that they're unlikely to do any serious damage. If you have a shotgun match, you HAVE to say #4 buckshot or heavier, or slugs only, because anything lighter gets sprayed right back at you.
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Old December 3, 2008, 08:10 AM   #9
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Thanks for the info. I was concerned as a lot of the folks showing up for minor and major PL won't be reloaders. They will arrive with ball ammunition from Wal-Mart or the likes.

Thanks again.

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Old December 7, 2008, 02:44 PM   #10
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We have not done bowling pins in 15 years but when we did they told my cousin and I that our little pea shooters (referring to our 9mm’s ) did not stand a chance. Now back then we all were in the same class and it did not take long for auto’s to show the advantage of larger magazines. The other thing to look for is set up your own table because you want to look for projectiles that almost made it out of the pin or have splinters sticking out of the pin because that stuff sticking out will stop the pin from rolling. We used to carry wire cutters to snip off any protrusions while setting our tables.

Joe
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Old December 7, 2008, 10:11 PM   #11
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The normal pin gun is a .45 semi-auto with high visibility iron sights. Either a comped gun or stock. No difference in classes for the gun. The shooters are classed. No optical or red dot sights are allowed, usually. At least they weren't at Second Chance. Club matches will vary.
230 grain cast RN or FP bullets are work just fine. The pistol needs a bit of modification to feed SWC's reliably.
A .357 is ok with heavy cast bullets. A .44 with heavy target loads(cast bullets too) will do, but full house loads take too much time to recover between shots. A 9mm doesn't have enough energy to knock the pins off a regular table. However, the table can be set up with the pins farther back for 9mm. Those tables are not shot with a .45. Shotguns need #2 or larger shot. Smaller shot will bounce back. A .22 can be used as well, but the pins are closer to the front and you only have to knock the pin over as opposed to off the table.
"...plastic cover over a wooden core..." They actually get too heavy from bullets staying inside. The wood gets mushy, but they rarely break up.
In any case, use whatever pistol or revolver you have. Pin shooting is great fun.
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Old December 11, 2008, 09:28 PM   #12
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Shot my first last night and it was the most fun I've had shooting. We did head to head matches with the pins set at 7 yards. You shot from each lane until somebody won two matches and that person advanced to the next round. I used my trusty Kimber Gold Match with FMJs and it did a good enough job for me to win the event (a dozen shooters I think).

Folks used a variety of guns ranging from 9mm to .45 and since one fella used a wheel gun, we only loaded 6 in the mag for fairness. The folks shooting less than .45 generally were using hollow points as FMJ just drilled the pin with hardly a wobble. Great fun!
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Old December 11, 2008, 11:26 PM   #13
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NGIB, nice shooting!

Where I live now there are no pin matches, but many years ago they were everywhere, great fun!
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Old January 7, 2009, 09:24 PM   #14
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Bowling Pin Match

I attended the first bowlig pin match at Allen Arms, a local indoor range tonight. Double elimination tourmanet with five pins on the table at 25 feet and all five pins had to be knocked off the back edge to stop the clock. There were flat wood rails on the front and both sides of each table.

We had 3 classes to shoot in:
Men - semiauto, any caliber
Men - revolvers, any caliber
Wonen - any type or caliber handgun

9mm pistols were outclased by .45 ACP pistols, The 9mm's usually just knocked the pins over and took several shots to knock them off. You had to have a dead center 9mm shot to knock the pins off the table on the fisrt shot. The 45's fared much better.

I am wondering about the best .45 ammo would be for a bowling pin shoot, semi wadcutter or JHP? Also what would be the best ammo for my .357 Collt Python revolver? There were very few revolvers there tonight.
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Old January 7, 2009, 10:07 PM   #15
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I used to shoot alot of pin shoots a few years ago. .45's were always the a good choice for the auto class. We also shot .22's, now that is fun. You just have the top part of the pin above the stripes to shoot at (they cut them off) and with the smaller target it can be fun. We even got into 25 yard rifle stuff using handgun cartridges for the indoor range. We built up some real nice 10/22's for that but then I switched to using one of my AR's with a conversion in it and that thing rocked for pin tops at 25 yards.
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Old January 8, 2009, 12:45 AM   #16
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We have a pin range at our club and shoot about a match a month. We break 3 classes into .22, .38-9mm, anything larger. In addition, the .22 match is pintops 3 feet from the back of the table, the 'larger' is full pins at 3' and the .38-9mm is shot 18" from the rear of the table.
Full pins for the smaller guns set at 18" is a lot more realistic a task for them. I use .38s in my Python, 158 Rainier HPs at a +P speed. It really makes the pins dance. I prefer to hit them up and right of the sweet spot, they spin from the impact and it helps them roll off the table.
Then again, hitting them down low with a full-house 10mm Glock doesn't look as cool, they just lay down top forward and scoot off the back of the table 'most' of the time...
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Old January 8, 2009, 07:39 AM   #17
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I've shot a lot of pins in years past. Very, very addicting.

9mm simply doesn't do a very good job. 147s are a bit better than the lighter bullets, but not by much.

.38 Special with heavy bullets? About the same as 9mm.

.357 gets a lot better, especially with the heavier bullets. One guy I was shooting with was using 200 grain bullets. Those worked very well.

.44 Special. I've seen several people have a lot of success with the .44. I've never used my .44 Special for pins, though.

.41 Magnum/.44 Magnum. As much as you will ever need. I don't have a .44 Magnum, but I do have a .41. With 215 gr. bullets going around 900-1,000 fps the pins go with authority.

.45 ACP is the gold plated standard for pin shooting as far as most people are concerned. I have a Springfield Mil Spec 1911 and pin shooting is about the only reason I use it.

10mm also can do pretty well. I had a 10mm for a time and tried 180 gr. cast lead bullets and they did a good job as long as I hit close to center of the pin. If I got either high or low, it would simply spin them on the table a bit faster than they would spin from a 9mm hit.
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Old January 9, 2009, 06:01 AM   #18
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I know at the one I shot last month that most folks using 9mm were shooting hollow points. My .45 with 230 gr FMJ did just fine and it's what I'll continue to use. These events are a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to the next one...
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Old January 24, 2009, 10:55 AM   #19
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used to run pin matches

I used to have fun pin shoots in Northern Utah till I moved about a year and a half ago. My favorite pin gun is a S&W 629 classic DX with an 8 1/2 inch barrel. My favorite load and one that never let me down was a 240 to a 260 grain lead cast semi wadcutter at about 850 to 900 ft per sec. through a Chronograph. You don't need the high velocity magnum loads way to much recoil for fast recovery. Oh by the way the above mentioned load is a 44 special load. It works just fine and picks up and throughs the old style pins clear of the table with a good hit.
The most important thing is to have fun and shoot safely.
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Old February 13, 2009, 07:36 PM   #20
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Why speed loaders?

With a lot of the guys I shot against if you needed to reload you had already lost. You have 5 pins with enough practice you should only need 5 shots.

Have fun and enjoy yourself.
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Old February 15, 2009, 08:32 PM   #21
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The 1911 seems to favored pretty heavy as is the 45acp round.

A few things I have noticed, the 9mm guys some time run into trouble with not having enough power to blow the pin off the rack if the pin is full of lead, the heavyer the pin the hard it is to clear the rack.
1 thing that works well but annoys the people who hold the events is the "big bore" guns 44 mags / 500SW these tend to destry more pins then the average .45
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Old February 16, 2009, 01:03 PM   #22
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At our local club here in Indianapolis, we do a bowling pin shoot once a month for fun, no prises. There are no classes. Everyone shoots what they want, no red dots or such. We do set the pins back 12" for "minor" caliber (38 SPL and 9mm) but we shot them in random rotation with your opponant drawn by lot. I have done well using a 9mm S&W 639, a GP-100 and a CZ97B. Our finding is that heavy bullets, even at lower velocity, work better than fast light ones. My GP-100 worked wonderfully with a 158 gr. Rainier FP over 10.5 gr. Blue Dot giving around 1200 FPS. The 45 loads were similar to standard ball loads and the 9mm works very well with 124 gr. Rainer FP over a good load of Power Pistol. The guy to beat uses a S&W 629 but loads 240 gr. bullets near 44SPL velocity.
It's all how you hit them, not the gun/load you use.
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Old February 20, 2009, 10:45 AM   #23
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Shot my second here last night and missed the finals by a fraction of a second. For giggles (and because I have a lot more .40 ammo than .45 ammo), I used my Sig 229. Since my win in December, at least 5 people have picked up 1911s for this event, in fact I was one of the minority last night not using a .45 ACP.

The 180gr FMJ .40 did a good job but I could notice the difference from my 1911s. It was a good experiment and I've decided to stay with my trusty .45s from here on out...
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Old February 22, 2009, 12:18 AM   #24
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9mm is taking a beeting! well I found that aiming 2in up from the base and in from the right a 1/4 to a 1/3 when the bullet hit it would vear right in the pin and that with its spin would send the pin spinning off the table.

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Old February 22, 2009, 09:24 AM   #25
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Haven't done this in awhile but my go to load for 357 was 180 grain FMJ bullets, Speer made them for silhouette loads. 12 grains of 2400.
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