Reminded Once Again: Check Magazines & Ammo...


Stephen A. Camp
February 7, 2010, 01:14 AM
Hello. Over the last four decades I have come across defective factory ammunition right out of the box that should have never left the factory. In some instances, primers were seated upside down or completely missing, cases were crushed or the bullets themselves were visually out of spec.
Here are two Federal .45 ACP 230-gr. Hydrashok cartridges. It is pretty obvious that the one on the left is not as Federal intended when it somehow slipped out and was purchased in a box of ammunition. (This picture was taken several years ago and the cartridges shown were not a "rushed production" items. Many will recognize them as Hydrashoks using a truncated cone shaped bullet than the more rounded one used in current Federal Hydrashok ammunition.)

Though certainly not common, I have seen defective factory rounds from practically all manufacturers, not just Federal. While a little unnerving, I guess that when hundreds of thousands (or more) of cartridges are being manufactured, some that shouldn't slip by, do, despite quality-control checks.

My point is not to try and "defame" any reputable ammo makers, only to suggest that it is perhaps a wise thing to check each and every cartridge intended for "serious" use such as home defense or in a carry gun...and in all magazines dedicated for such purposes.

I routinely do this with all ammunition intended for such purposes, be it for rifle, revolver or semiautomatic.

A few weeks ago, I shot my SIG-Sauer P220 DAK, cleaned it upon returning home and locked it away in the safe. A day or two ago, I opted to load it up for home protection as well as for concealed carry for about a month in order to do a follow-up article to one done on the gun a year or two back.

My normal .45 ACP "carry ammo" is usually Remington 230-gr. Golden Saber, Winchester 230-gr. Ranger JHP or Federal Classic 230-gr. JHP (since I have quite a bit of the stuff around.) I usually pick whichever I happen to have enough rounds from an already-opened box to handle 8-shots in the pistol and 7 more in a spare magazine for it. (The current magazines will hold 8; I simply prefer my single-stack .45's to hold the same number of rounds as my 1911's and since I have 7-shot magazines by the score for them...)
When I carry a .45 auto, it is usually loaded with one of these three 230-gr factory JHP's. From left to right: Winchester Ranger, Federal Classic and Remington Golden Saber. Remington's 230-gr. Golden Saber is easy to spot as being slightly longer and usually measures right at 1.23" on average.

I began loading a couple of magazines for my P220 DAK SAS ("SIG Anti-Snag) .45 pistol with Golden Sabers. This round has proven to feed smoothly in all of my 1911-pattern pistols as well as this and my other P220 as well as one I recently sold. The magazines were brand new ones.

The ammunition "jammed" in one of them". LOA for the Golden Sabers was the usual 1.23" on average. I checked the LOA of cartridges from the box these came from against others having a different lot number; both had the same average LOA.

The problem appears to be the length of the cartridge along with the width/shape of the hollow point in some of the current 8-shot SIG-Sauer stainless steel factory magazines. (Not all but some. In my admittedly statistically-invalid case, the figure would be one out of four such magazines or 25%.)
This is the magazine in question. It is marked "SIG SAUER P220-1 45" on the lower left side and "Made in Italy" on the other. (I figure it was manufactured by Mec-Gar, a favorite maker of quality magazines by myself and many others.)

Though it didn't happen all of the time, Golden Saber cartridges would hang up tight and failed to feed when cycled by hand. (Later on the same day, I determined that they failed to feed as well in firing...but ONLY in that one individual magazine.)
Here you can see the "nose-dived" Golden Saber. In this particular instance, it was the last round in the magazine but this stoppage also occurred with differing numbers of cartridges still in the magazine.
Here is a view of the same problem from the top. The "inward curved" front of the magazine (about the 2 o'clock position) does not appear to be a "ding" or other than intended from the manufacturer. My other stainless 8-round P220 factory magazines are the same way and function fine with the same ammunition.

Having said that, I believe that this inward curve to be at the core of this magazine's function-problems with this ammunition. I cannot measure how much it is curved inward compared to other magazines but I suspect that it is very slightly more. I cannot see it visually when comparing this magazine to others of the same line. However, this inward curve is less noticeable in my old blued factory 7-shot magazines...of which all that I've tried so far (10) have worked flawlessly. FWIW, the "problem magazine" worked 100% with:

24 shots using Winchester Ranger 230-gr. JHP
24 shots using Federal 230-gr. Classic JHP
24 shots using Federal 230-gr. Hydrashok (truncated cone)
24 shots using Federal 230-gr. Hydrashok (current style)
24 shots using Hornady 230-gr. TAP (XTP)

My point is not to criticize Remington, SIG-Sauer or Mec-Gar. It is simply to suggest not taking any product's functioning or "dimensional correctness" out of the box for granted. This problem-combination just happened to be the latest I experienced.

Such "unintended consequences" could be aggravating at the least on a range trip or tragic in the extreme in a deadly force situation.


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February 7, 2010, 01:47 AM
Yep. Always wise to double check a product. I've bought black hills ammo before and one cartridge had a split case. Called black hills (not the store I bought it from) and told them about. They asked for some numbers on the box and a few weeks later I got 2 new boxes in the mail. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

February 7, 2010, 07:28 AM
Excellent post Steve, as always.

I tell my students they can't trust their gear until they have testes their pistol with the ammo they plan to carry in the *exact magazines* they plan to use. You provided a perfect example of why right here.

February 7, 2010, 08:30 AM
Trebor, as a rule of thumb, I usually try to keep my testes away from my pistol and ammo. ;)

February 7, 2010, 08:45 AM
This is The High Road; be kind to Trebor; He's a 4 MOA typist. :D

The Lone Haranguer
February 7, 2010, 08:47 AM
I wish I had followed this advice when I loaded some Fiocchi .45 that had a bulged/crumpled case into my SIG and it would not chamber. No harm came from it; I was able to get the round back out by pulling very hard on the slide. The advice often given in such cases to hit the back of the slide did not work; it only served to wedge the round in tighter. Upon further examination, close to half the rounds in the box turned out to be damaged. I also had some rounds of American Ammunition (A-MERC headstamp, not to be confused with Federal American Eagle, which is good ammo) with primers upside down or turned sideways. And I rejected some "gun show reloads" (private sellers marketing their own reloads at the table) for case bulging. You should definitely inspect each round of ammo that you load in a firearm for self defense.

February 7, 2010, 09:44 AM
I had a half box of 30-30 ammo that must not have been crimped (bought at walmart) I loaded up my gun for a day of hunting glad I did not shoot a thing that day for when i extracted the ammo all the bullets had pushed in to the shells almost half way, not sure what would have happend if I fired my gun

February 7, 2010, 06:12 PM
Good post, again, as usual.

Zeke Markham
February 7, 2010, 11:16 PM
That's nothing. I've got a blazer 45 with two extractor grooves!

February 8, 2010, 02:19 AM
Trebor, as a rule of thumb, I usually try to keep my testes away from my pistol and ammo

Yeah, good advice, that. I'll let the typo stand so as not to make the thread look weird later.

This is The High Road; be kind to Trebor; He's a 4 MOA typist.

Yep, probably about 4 MOA accuracy at my "fully cylic" rate of about 80 WPM.

I could slow down a bit, and be more precise, but close enough for forum work.

February 8, 2010, 05:35 PM
Thank You Mr.Camp.

A week ago, I found a Federal Hydrashock that did not have a hollowpoint cavity. It was more like a jacketed soft point.

February 8, 2010, 06:37 PM
A couple of years ago I had a 230 grain FMJ (Remington) that would not fully go to battery. I couldn't figure out why. I put the round in a revolver, and I couldn't close the cylinder. That's when I took a closer look. The brass case was too long.

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