Expensive Ammo testing - How Many Rounds?

Expensive Ammo Testing - How Many Rounds?

This is a discussion on Expensive Ammo Testing - How Many Rounds? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have spent a long time letting my firearms expertise lapse. I mean a really long time. Getting caught up has been like drinking from ...

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Thread: Expensive Ammo testing - How Many Rounds?

  1. #1
    Member Array tjm's Avatar
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    Expensive Ammo testing - How Many Rounds?

    I have spent a long time letting my firearms expertise lapse. I mean a really long time. Getting caught up has been like drinking from a firehose, but I'm getting to where I know what I want. But, like everyone, I'm not finding a lot of ammo in the stores. I bought a Kahr CW9 and ran a few hundred rounds thought it, including some jacketed hollow points that I probably bought in the 70s. Not a single problem so far. But I am still working on what will be my carry round. Yesterday I found some Gold Dot 115 gr. GDHP and bought a box. But, ummmmmm, it was $20.95 for 20 rounds! I will probably end up doing some on line purchases but I'm thinking that the good stuff will never be cheap. So, could I please get a few opinions on how many rounds of a given type of ammo it takes before you're comfortable with it for a self defense weapon?


  2. #2
    Member Array stoprilshoot's Avatar
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    i run 1-2 50 round boxes and call it a day. some say to fire more.

  3. #3
    Member Array Firkin's Avatar
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    tjm, I have experienced the same thing that you have. Ammo, especially anything that would be worth carrying for defense, has become very expensive as of late. I decided to narrow down my choices to three loads before I bought any: one Gold-Dot round, one Federal Hydro-Shock round, and just by chance, was able to find some Remington brass-jacketed, +P, bonded, hollow points on sale at Cabela's for something like $15 a box.

    What I do is I will buy at least five boxes at a time, shoot three in order to make sure that the ammo functions well, and keep two boxes for actual carry. This might not be very many rounds to test functionality, but why shoot all your ammo and not have anything left just in case? Also, you KNOW that this particular lot# will work in your gun.

    The point of this is to do some initial research before you buy any ammo. Make a choice of 2-3 loads that you think will meet your needs. Buy only these loads (excepting FMJ stuff for practice) so that you know how they function. Have at least 2-3 choices so that you should always be able to find one of the three in any decent gun shop if you need ammo in a pinch. This way, over time, keeping with the same 2-3 loads, you will work-up to several hundred rounds of each load through you gun. This ought to be enough rounds that you are able to trust the gun/ammo combination. This also lets you identify any loads that your particular gun just does not like.
    Last edited by Firkin; January 30th, 2009 at 12:51 PM. Reason: correction

  4. #4
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    Look on line for Federal HST ammo. High quality and very reasonably priced. Last I bought was at a gun show for $23.00 for a box of 50. I would recommend the 124gr +p rounds for defensive carry.

  5. #5
    Distinguished Member Array T Bone's Avatar
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    I find my best prices on the internet (by far). For defensive loads, there are only three that I currently like enough to carry as a primary. Federal HST (the "new" kid on the block), Speer Gold Dot, and Winchester Ranger T (improved descendant of the vilified "Black Talon", my old standard from way back when).

    There are certainly other specialty rounds worth considering (Cor Bon, DPX, Glasers, Mag Safe, etc. etc.). But I've decided to stick with main stream and carry only one (in days past, it was common for many of us to carry a Glaser Safety Slug in the pipe, with a full mag of our favorite hollow points). Yesterday's hot defensive ammo is todays "I won't carry that" ammo. Two prime examples for me are Silver Tips and Hydra Shock.

    Fairly common recommendation (for function check) for carry ammo in a primary is 200 rounds. I do this with most (but admittedly not all). Once this expensive proposition is complete, I practice with cheap ball ammo (often WWB from Wally World), then fire a few mags of my carry ammo to finish up.
    Regards, T Bone.


    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety". Benjamin Franklin

  6. #6
    Member Array CharlieP's Avatar
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    Some numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by tjm View Post
    I have spent a long time letting my firearms expertise lapse. I mean a really long time. Getting caught up has been like drinking from a firehose, but I'm getting to where I know what I want. But, like everyone, I'm not finding a lot of ammo in the stores. I bought a Kahr CW9 and ran a few hundred rounds thought it, including some jacketed hollow points that I probably bought in the 70s. Not a single problem so far. But I am still working on what will be my carry round. Yesterday I found some Gold Dot 115 gr. GDHP and bought a box. But, ummmmmm, it was $20.95 for 20 rounds! I will probably end up doing some on line purchases but I'm thinking that the good stuff will never be cheap. So, could I please get a few opinions on how many rounds of a given type of ammo it takes before you're comfortable with it for a self defense weapon?
    The correct answer to that question is a matter of probablility. If the pistol/ammo combo have a 1 in 1000 chance of a failure, then if I fire 200 rounds there is an 82% probability that the gun will not misfire even once. But if I assume the pistol/ammo combo have a 1 in 100 chance of a failure, there is a 13% chance that I can fire it 200 times and not have a problem. So after 200 rounds, there is still some question about the reliability.

    If you increase the testing to 500 rounds, then there is very little chance that the 1 in 100 gun would not fail, but there is about a 39% chance that the 1 in 1000 gun will have a failure. If you want to assure yourself of really great reliability, like 1 in 5000, you will need to fire 1000's of rounds.

    One way to look at it might be that if you want to strongly assure a certain reliability, you need to fire about twice that many rounds, e.g., if you want only 1 in 1000 failures, fire 2000 test rounds. That gets a bit expensive. And if you want 1 in 5000 reliability, you may wear the gun out trying to prove it.

    IMHO, a better way to get reliability is to limit your gun/ammo purchases to proven combinations when possible. If you know that a certain pistol has been tested many times and proven to have a failure rate of 1/2000, then you can fire a couple of hundred rounds and begin to hope yours is also good for 1/2000. What this says is to avoid gun models that are known to be unreliable. Duhh! So spend the extra money on a known reliable gun, rather than spending it on ammo trying to prove to yourself the gun is reliable.

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array cvhoss's Avatar
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    You may also want to read this thread.

    Hoss
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    Senior Member Array Rustynuts's Avatar
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    An instructor once told me if the gun was for SD duty, not range fun, buy TEN (10) boxes of your chosen SD ammo (JHP). Expensive, sure, but you need to know it will function with the JHP, not the easier to chamber FMJ.

    Then go shoot 9 boxes, and if no failures, load and keep the 10th box for carry.

  9. #9
    Member Array johnsonabq's Avatar
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    Jeez, why would you have to put $150 - $200 worth of SD ammo through a Glock? Once they're broken in they'll feed just about anything. My 27's got over 1000 rounds through it. Much of it cheap reloads for practice. Many different kinds of hollow points. Never failed once. I just bought my first two boxes of 158gr Hydra-Shock for it. I'll fill my two mags and fire them both. If no problems, I'm golden.

    My point is to do what's appropriate for your weapon. For my Kahr PM9 I'll be happy with 25-50 trouble free rounds. My Taurus 606 .357mag? I don't feel any testing is required unless I want to see how they "feel" when fired.

    FYI... I'm talking about guns that are completely broken in and already proven reliable in general. A good quality gun these days practically requires a mortgage to buy. Now I have to spend that much or more again to break in and carry with confidence?

    Of course, that's just my opinion... I could be wrong.
    Jeff
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  10. #10
    VIP Member Array MitchellCT's Avatar
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    I've had a Kahr & a Kimber fail on me.

    I used to think I could just fire a few rounds of carry ammo through them and call it good if I got through 50 - 100 rounds without the gun barfing.

    Then my Kahr decided "I don't like Gold Dot." and started failing to feed. Every time.

    So, I switched rounds over to Remington Express 155 grain JHP. Lower Tech round, yes...but economical enough that I could fire a LOT of it and did so without failure.

    I also got a great deal on 180 grain SXT (Not Ranger T, the stuff in the 20 round boxes) and shot about 900 rounds of that stuff before the gun had trouble, but it wasn't ammo related and therefore not relevant to this thread.

    My Kimber...nightmare. First it would feed hydrashock. Then it wouldn't. Then it liked XTP...then not. Then I tried ball...The same.

    If you aren't able to buy top of the line JHP in quantities great enough to test sufficiently, Remington Express or Winchester USA are not terribly expensive rounds and are of sufficient quality that they will see you through if you do your part.

    I'd rather carry my gun with a low-tech round that I've fired enough of to insure reliability with than a high tech round that I haven't tested sufficiently.

    I've got about 2-300 rounds of BPLE, XTP, HST, Silvertip, Win USA, through my carry gun. A Glock 19. The gun that eats everything...

    But I didn't just assume it would.

    My Glock 26 which I haven't tested sufficiently currently eats only 2 things. Ball & SNAP CAPS.

    Till I test it sufficiently, its a dry fire gun and if I end up having to carry it...well. Ball will do just fine if I place it correctly.

  11. #11
    Member Array CharlieP's Avatar
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    testing

    Quote Originally Posted by MitchellCT View Post
    ... I'd rather carry my gun with a low-tech round that I've fired enough of to insure reliability with than a high tech round that I haven't tested sufficiently. ...
    Roger that

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array cvhoss's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, but I'm just never going to buy that you have to shoot 400+ rounds of a particular carry ammo out of a gun to ensure reliability. This reminds me of a CAS match I was at once. At the loading table for every stage, the shooter in front of me dry fired his gun 6 times before loading it. After watching this for about 4 stages, I finally asked why he did that. He said he wanted to make sure the gun was working before he shot the stage. When I asked him "What if it breaks on the seventh round", he couldn't come up with an answer.

    While any gun can have some initial break-in issues, once it's running reliably, it shouldn't take 400 rounds of a particular brand of ammo to determine compatibility. If it cycles 100 rounds, its going to work until it doesn't. If not, then what's the magic number. 500? Then what if it breaks at 510?

    I currently have 12 handguns that I consider carry guns (on any given day, I could carry any one of them). If I spent $250 on carry ammo for each one and then considering I've changed carry ammo brands 3 times in the last year, I'd have spent over $9000 just in testing and wouldn't have to worry about carrying anymore as I couldn't afford to leave the house.

    If you feel you need to, have the money and it makes you sleep better at night, then go for it. I'll save my money to buy some more guns.

    Hoss
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  13. #13
    Member Array johnsonabq's Avatar
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    +1... Like I said...
    Jeff
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    (my favorite but hard to hide)

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