September 27, 2017

While many of us check our carry guns and equipment religiously, how many check your ammunition?  Consider that billions of individual cartridges are produced each year by factories, commercial reloaders, and handloaders.  In training, thousands of rounds are fired.

Upon inspection of their ammunition, many shooters have found imperfections. There have been factory-new rounds that had the bullet crimped in backwards, crumpled case walls that prevented chambering and occasional upside down primers.

Check factory out-of-the-box ammo before you load it for any visible flaws.  Look to see if the bullet is correctly oriented and firmly crimped.  Is the case itself all right?  Be sure it is not bulged or crumpled. Is the primer right side up and seated to the correct depth for reliable feeding/firing?

If you are using a revolver, check the primer to see that it is even with or slightly below the base of the case to prevent tying up cylinder rotation.  In a semi-auto, a high primer could lead to a slam-fire as the slide or bolt moves forward.  This is for factory ammo.  Re manufactured or reloaded ammo also needs the same checks.  If you buy re manufactured cartridges for a handgun or rifle, inspect each, and then drop them into a Wilson check gauge appropriate for the cartridge to see if it will chamber and is not over-length.  If you don’t have one for your semi-auto pistol and have a removable barrel, such as a 1911, Glock, etc., you can use the barrel to see if the round fits the chamber correctly.  It should slide in and out without hang-ups.  Reloaded ammo starts with cleaning the cases and checking for cracks or other problems.

Always check to see if your ammunition matches the marking on your firearm.  In two instances, this was not done and problems followed.  In the first case, a person was issued ammo to be used for a qualification.  During the course of the exercise, the person thought they had experienced a squib when he noted an unusual report and lighter than normal recoil.  Upon inspection of his Glock 22 in .40 S&W, no problem was found, but the ejected case told the story: whomever had issued the ammunition had put a single 9mm Luger round in with the .40 S&W’s.  The bulged case showed what happened.  A 9mm will fire in the .40 chamber, which is a 10mm diameter.  Case lengths are the same, so it fed and fired, and in this particular instance, ejected.  The second situation was during a rifle instructor course.  One participant had an AR-15 in 9mm Luger.  In the shooting exercise a strange failure to eject happened.  It was cleared and he continued with no further problems.  As it turned out, it fit the magazine, but did not fully chamber and fired as the bolt came forward, crushing the case into the chamber.  No damage to gun or shooter, however it reminds us to check each round to make sure it is the correct size.