Carry ammunition reliability testing for a... revolver?


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R.W.Dale
February 23, 2012, 08:46 PM
I just had the thought occur to me that whilst putting XXX shots of a given carry load through an automatic is accepted practice to ensure reliability that I've never thought of or heard of someone doing the same for a revolver.

In fact I must admit I've not fired a single round of my 44spl carry load through the barrel of my revolver.

What are you guts thoughts on this. Should ammunition be tested in a revolver too

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Michael R.
February 23, 2012, 08:49 PM
I think you should shoot it to see what kind of groups you get with it. As for reliability, this is a non-issue in a revolver IMO.

Waywatcher
February 23, 2012, 08:50 PM
Most definitely; it should be tested.

How do you even know where the bullets go when they come out of your gun, if you haven't tried it?

I say at least 50 rounds, but would prefer 100+. If you can get through all 100 rounds with zero failures, the theoretical failure rate is less than 1%.

Dr_B
February 23, 2012, 09:01 PM
I've never fired carry ammo through my revolver to test reliability or accuracy. I'm not worried about jamming, because its a revolver. Won't have that problem unless I double-clutch it. I'm also not worried about grouping, because the overwhelming likelihood is that I would have to use it up close and under circumstances where I wouldn't get to aim properly anyway.

I have fired carry ammo through my revolver to get familiar with the recoil and to test expansion in water-filled jugs.

R.W.Dale
February 23, 2012, 09:22 PM
LOL double clutch!

That's so true though.

I plan on shooting a few rounds over my chrony to verify I'm getting what I paid for. I'm not concerned with accuracy though as I'm a firm believer of when that front sight is somewhere between the neck and belt buckle the trigger is getting pulled

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jon86
February 23, 2012, 09:32 PM
I absolutely test my carry ammo in my defensive revolver. It's good to know where they hit, and at varying distances. It's good to know exactly how they feel, recoil-wise. (I'm pretty sure that's not a word.) And it gives me the warm fuzzies to KNOW that it will work. After all, what if the ammo manufacturer put bad primers in the ammo? I've never heard of that happening, but if I have to find out, I want to find out on the shooting range. :p

Pyro
February 23, 2012, 09:33 PM
I usually do to verify proper primer ignition.

jad0110
February 23, 2012, 09:52 PM
I do test my carry ammo in my revolvers, but not nearly to the same extent as semi autos. A cylinder full or 4 do it for me, and I also "shoot off" older crudier ammo as it ages. Here are some good reasons to test, even in a revolver:

1. Spent case extraction. I recall Winchester Super X .357 Magnum would not cleanly eject from my Taurus 66 (all other brands would). The cases could only be removed with the help of a screw driver and a small rubber mallet. That was annoying enough at the range; I imagine it would be a little more so in a fight.

2. Ignition reliability. Theoretically, a particular revolver may have enough energy in it's lock work to ignite one brand of primer, but not another.

3. Bullet/case separation. This is more important in flyweight revolvers under 20 oz, but I still do quick check on heavier guns as well. I did quite extensive testing on my S&W 642, by loading 4 chambers with my chosen carry load then firing a single, less costly round out of the 5th chamber, repeating about a half dozen times. Then I measure each of the other 4 rounds for bullet separation (I found very little in the 135 grn Speer Gold Dot, 158 Remington LSWCHP by the way). I did this several times over with various batches of 4.

4. POA vs POI. Self explanatory.

sidheshooter
February 23, 2012, 10:02 PM
jad0110 beat me to the reasons.

I'm not as hung up on revolver round count as I am with autos, but I like at least a box through my revolvers before I trust the gun/ammo/shooter combination.

YMMV.

kbbailey
February 23, 2012, 10:02 PM
I say some testing is needed. I have had some ammo that was rather difficult to eject after shooting.

PRM
February 23, 2012, 10:05 PM
Would I test fire my carry ammo ~ absolutely. Simply because I want to know the recoil and time it takes me to re-acquire the target for follow up shots. Its a given that the more familiar you are with a weapons system, the more confident you will be and that equates to how effective you are.

When most LEOs carried revolvers as a primary weapon, it was common to see full house .357s as carry ammo and a lot of wad-cutters shot for practice. There was a big difference in the report of the weapon and recoil. It made sense to require a qualification with duty ammo.

Today, the semi-auto practice rounds are close to their duty counter-part with the exception of bullet configuration. Your not going to see a lot of difference.

I would not worry as much about revolver reliability as other factors involved with the ballistics of the round.

mj246
February 23, 2012, 10:08 PM
I agree. I don't think you need to necessarily test a large number (100-200+) like many people do with their semi-autos, but firing at least a few cylinders full, both in slow aimed fire to see general accuracy and recoil, plus rapid fire to see that it goes smoothly and groups o.k. (hits near center mass) is a really good idea. The last thing you need when in a defensive situation would be for your ammo to hit several inches low at even close distances (not a problem if the attacker is right on top of you, but I could see needing to fire at 5 or 7 yards in certain rare situations) or that it is the one ammo whose primers are too hard for your revolver. Then there's possible issues with extraction if you carry a reload and need it for some reason, etc.

Admittedly, these are all very unlikely scenarios with a revolver in a "normal" self-/home-defense scenario, where it's close and only takes a few shots, if any. However, I figure it's worth the price of a box or so of premium ammo to know with "reasonable certainty" that these aren't likely going to be problems just in case the unexpected does occur. JMHO

firesky101
February 23, 2012, 11:56 PM
The only guns I have ever had seize up, and refuse to work at all (with the tools available at the range), were revolvers. Had some cowboy loads seize up a 44-40 once fired due to soft brass that expanded the rim thickness. Test everything you cannot afford to have fail.

Haxby
February 24, 2012, 02:16 AM
I guess I've always test fired carry ammo. Never needed to. Might have carried some for a while before I got around to testing it.

I haven't had any WW 158gr lhp 38 ammo for a long time. If I get some more, I might figure the test firing I did 10 or 20 years ago still counts.

The Lone Haranguer
February 24, 2012, 12:28 PM
Yes, I think you should. I have encountered sticky extraction with some brands in some revolvers.

RevolvingGarbage
February 24, 2012, 01:30 PM
Revolvers need to be function tested with new ammo just like a semi-auto, the difference is what you are looking out for.

>Point of impact versus point of aim at 3 and 10 yards
>Clean extraction an good primer strikes
>Fire off almost a full cylinder. Take the last unfired round, mark it, put it in another full cylinder, fire off all but that last round and check for the bullet being pulled out under recoil. Really it only needs to survive one cylinder full worth of recoil, but ideally it should be solid enough to survive more.

Some basic ballistics test are also a good idea. Will the round punch through a 2x4? How does it expand in water, or ideally ballistic media?

Cosmoline
February 24, 2012, 01:53 PM
In fact I must admit I've not fired a single round of my 44spl carry load through the barrel of my revolver.

How can you know the point of impact? How can you know how the recoil will be? How can you know if there are any hangups when reloading? How can you know if the primers are too hard for your pin?

Carrying ammo you don't shoot just strikes me as asking for trouble.

Longhorn 76
February 24, 2012, 03:03 PM
ditto what jad said. Primer sensitivity, overall length, bullet crimp

mavracer
February 24, 2012, 03:07 PM
I'm also not worried about grouping, because the overwhelming likelihood is that I would have to use it up close and under circumstances where I wouldn't get to aim properly anyway.
I'm not concerned with accuracy though as I'm a firm believer of when that front sight is somewhere between the neck and belt buckle the trigger is getting pulled
I'd rather not rely on getting a lucky shot. So I test POA vs POI, extraction, reliable ignition.

Nomad
February 24, 2012, 03:19 PM
I always shoot a few rounds through a revolver. I am rarely concerned with groups but I am concerned about point of impact vs point of aim.

oldfool
February 24, 2012, 07:24 PM
I am in the minority on this subject, and well aware of it

I don't distinguish between "carry ammo" and any "other" ammo, but I want to know the gun is reliable, and I am more inclined to rely on caliber, than specific loading (and factory centerfire cartridge failures have been about as rare as hen's teeth for me, be it whitebox or boutique). I don't often carry as hefty as many do, but if if/when I do feel the need, I just get a bigger gun out of the safe, rather than push it up with hotter loads of same caliber. "bring enough gun" for the load, control the shot

So I shoot minimum a couple hundred rounds out of any handgun I would even think about carrying, right up front (preferably a mix of brands & loads)... and generally a few hundred more (mixed loads, but nothing unique), before I actually would swap out with something I have been carrying. Many here have said 25 rounds will do, and that's ok by me, but not ok for me, that's all.

Odd attitude for a guy who leads a dull, quiet lifestyle, and doesn't even bother with carrying reloads much less a BUG , but I figure it's not the "probability", it's the consequences. I need reason to believe, beyond my high level of faith in revolver reliability (which is pretty doggone high).
Threat assessment (right or wrong, win, lose, or draw) determines what gun I carry, not what load. But whatever I carry has gone bang a whole lot first, no fail, whatever it is.

Old Fuff
February 24, 2012, 08:17 PM
My "most likely to be carried" revolvers have been with me for decades, and I know what the POA/POI is, and I consider this to be an issue of major importance. When a lethal attack is under way, a “somewhere” hit on the attacker doesn’t always bring the desired result. If the sights weren’t right in the first place something was changed years ago. I don't consider reliability to be an issue, and they are all well broken in. Most of them were purchased used in the first place, so someone else got to go to the expense of doing the "breaking." :evil:

jimniowa
February 24, 2012, 08:41 PM
All of my pistols and revolver guns I consider a carry or hunting gun or both. I reload and try to shoot all the reloads in each gun with in 6 mths, not including the what if and try that loads. We carry this out in the winter and it is a hobby for the wife and I with 5 differnt calibers 10 differnt hand guns. We both have carry permits and do exercise the right and practice regulary.
Jim

oldfool
February 24, 2012, 09:03 PM
just honestly curious here, not contentious, Old Fuff
(you being amongst those known to carry a snubbie every once in a while, fitzed or unfitzed, as the case may be, and been doing it for way more than just a few years)

We hear a lot about the critical difference in POA vs. POI
In your hand, your gun (pick any example you personally like for "most likely to be carried")
How much difference would you say POI varies from POA (how much you compensate for on POA), for the "worst" of your own top three picks for your own carry.. (no need to even name specific model).. include any disparity of load example for anything you might choose to shoot thru that gun choice, be it range play, or seriously concerned about self, or all of the above.

at 7 yards ?
at 15 yards ?
at 21 yards ?
(give or take fair approximations of distances perfectly acceptable, of course)

I have heard of some pretty dramatic differences, just don't myself shoot varied enough loads.. or I just don't shoot worth snot, maybe (never said any different)

Just looking for results from someone who has been there and done all that, no kidding, I am a believer, not a skeptic
POA vs POI sure does matters, most certainly does
(mama raised a fool, not an idiot child)

mavracer
February 25, 2012, 08:18 AM
How much difference would you say POI varies from POA (how much you compensate for on POA), for the "worst" of your own top three picks for your own carry.. (no need to even name specific model).. include any disparity of load example for anything you might choose to shoot thru that gun choice, be it range play, or seriously concerned about self, or all of the above.
I've had many snubs over the years. Had a third gen Detective special that shot 6-8" high at 15 yards with my prefered loads 135gr golddots and 158gr LSWCHP, I got some 110gr silvertips and this brought it down to only being 3-4" high. I still wasn't real happy with this, and while I felt comfortable carrying it, I was given an opportunity to trade for a DS-II and jumped on it. It shoots my 135gr golddots right on top of the front sight blade at 15-25 yards as it should be.
This kind of performance is typical of all my pocket guns that I've ended up keeping.

jad0110
February 25, 2012, 08:22 AM
On adjustable sight models, the POI can be adjusted to match POA, so I won't mention those.

Of my fixed sight revolvers, my Taurus 431 and S&W Model 13 both have a POI about 2" to the left at yards. No biggie. My Ruger Police Service Six and my pre-Model 10s all hit exactly POA to POI.

AFDavis11
February 25, 2012, 08:32 AM
I buy a box of ammo and shoot it all except a carry load of 18. Then I build a comparable hand load and shoot that, replacing the carry load every other year or so.

Viper225
February 25, 2012, 09:15 AM
I thing of two to think about.

If you are a serious revolver shooter you probably have a gun or two that has been tuned to near perfection.

With the trigger pull improved you might experiance Light Primer Strikes.

Now if you are shooting say factory Federal 38 specials for practice, or reloading using Federal primers, the revolver will still probably shoot every pull of the trigger.

OK now think about your carry ammo. Are the primers as sensative as the Federals? I recommend shooting a box of the same ammo you carry, and make sure it is 100% on ignition.
Next it does not hurt a thing to see where your carry ammo impacts on target.
It is also a good plan to get a handle on recoil.
And again as was said above if you get sticky extraction with your hot carry ammo, it might not hurt to know about that in advance.

An example of sticky extraction is my LCR 22. Shooting the WalMart 550 pak Federals the brass almost falls out. Now shoot some Stingers in it, and you need to rap the ejector rod fairly hard to get the cases out.

It is best to not have any new discoveries the first time you really need your carry revolver.

Bob

19-3Ben
February 25, 2012, 11:00 AM
I test using 2-3 cylinders worth of ammo. Not a huge amount. The things I test for are:
1) Reliable ignition of primers
2) Bullets jumping crimp
3) POA= ~POI

Those are really the most important things to me. Since I don't have to worry about feeding/ejecting, it keeps life simple. Which is good, because i'm kinda simple!

Jim NE
February 25, 2012, 11:55 AM
Spent case extraction. I recall Winchester Super X .357 Magnum would not cleanly eject from my Taurus 66 (all other brands would). The cases could only be removed with the help of a screw driver and a small rubber mallet. That was annoying enough at the range; I imagine it would be a little more so in a fight.


None of my current revolvers have a problem to that extent, but my Rossi had trouble extracting spent cases. The ejector rod would only push them out so far, then I'd have to pull them out by hand.

I remedied this by putting one of those "swab" cleaning rod attachments from a gun cleaning kit into an electric drill. Then I'd use it to polish the revolver chambers using polishing compound or Mothers mag polish. They slide right out now. Also, pushing the ejector rod quickly and forcefully helps.

My Smith and Wessons and my Ruger don't seem to have that problem. They slide right out.

marcclarke
February 25, 2012, 01:41 PM
Ditto for seeing revolvers seize up hard at the range (both during classes and during matches). Pistols we could always get running again in a few seconds (other than a squib load stuck in the barrel). Revolvers generally required a trip to the gunsmith.

Yes, by all means test fire your carry ammunition in your carry revolver.

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