Sig-Sauer-p938

How Often Should You Change your Concealed Carry Ammo?

August 2, 2016

Today’s smokeless ammunition can take a lot before it fails. We should begin by explaining what failure is for a bullet in your concealed carry firearm, whether it be in the magazine or the chamber.

In this conversation, we will limit failure to the following:

  • The bullet fails to feed
  • The bullet fails to eject
  • The bullet fails to fire
  • The bullet ignites prematurely

If it fails to feed, it can often be due to the mechanics of the pistol rather than the bullet, but it certainly causes stress for the carrier. Such a failure, however, can be due to the ammunition used because surplus or substandard ammo casings sometimes get stuck in the chamber either before or after firing. This is called a “jam,” and it can usually be corrected easily.

Premature ignition is far more dangerous than failure to fire. Premature ignition occurs when the primer of the bullet casing is unintentionally set off by the upper receiver while loading. We suggest cycling out your concealed carry ammunition primarily because of premature ignition and failure to fire.

How Do You Know if Your Bullets Have Been Over-used?

Since it might seem strange to imagine an overused bullet, let’s explain this with your everyday concealed carry weapon as an example. If your firearm is being carried with a full magazine and a bullet in the chamber, it’s likely that you’re using defensive JHP, rather than FMJ stock surplus.  However, when you practice at the shooting range, it’s likely that you will eject the defensive round and loading FMJ.  It’s also likely that you’ll cycle through FMJ because your usual defensive rounds are expensive.

Because of all this, the round that you keep in your chamber is going to take some wear and tear from the upper receiver.  How much wear and tear it takes depends upon how you load it, how much tension is in the recoil spring, and the heaviness of the upper receiver.

The primer is protected by the backplate of the bullet casing.  The primer is simple: it detonates when it is hit by something sharp.  The primer becomes more exposed as the backplate wears down.

If you leave the same round in the chamber for three or four months, this probably won’t affect you.  Many people keep the same round in the chamber of their pistol for even longer than that without any negative effect.  Generally speaking, it might be safe to cycle out that round once per month.  Rather than loading the same jacketed hollow point every day, replace it with a different JHP from the same magazine.

When to Switch Out Magazine Ammo

People sometimes wonder how often they should change the ammunition in their pistol magazines.  To put it simply, you may never need to.  The ammo should be okay so long as it isn’t exposed to conditions outside what could be considered normal.  When you do the monthly operator maintenance of your pistol, you should completely unload any magazines and test the spring retention on them.  While doing this, you can also look at the rounds and make certain they are in good shape. This would also be the perfect time to cycle out the chamber round with a different one from the same magazine, as has already been suggested.


Nancy ThorneNancy Thorne is founder and principal of Thorne Business Research. With more than 30 years experience as an information research and writing professional in small business, trade associations and large corporate environments. She has expertise in writing blog posts, articles, newsletters and reports for a diverse group of clients in a wide variety of industries. Prior to becoming an independent writer and information professional, Ms. Thorne held research and analytical positions with Bank of America and Citicorp and was a licensed teacher of English.

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