Appropriate Number of rounds to test for a CCW


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sleepyone
December 23, 2012, 11:04 PM
I was listening to a podcast with Massad Ayoob and several of other firearms experts. It was about an hour long. They were discussing the best PD rounds based on their testing, personal experience and reports from various LE agencies around the country. One of the guys said when testing PD rounds for your CCW the rule of thumb has been to buy 250 rounds, run 200 through the pistol and keep the other 50 for carry. He said that is getting harder to do now for many people with the price of ammo and that some of it getting harder to come in those quantities.

How many rounds do you shoot before you are satisfied it will cycle reliably? Do you actually test the expansion claims of a particular round or just go by documented results?

Finally, I just ordered 500 rounds of Winchester Ranger T 165 gr. for my M&P .40 based partly on the podcast I heard and partly on some ballistics test results I saw. I also like the reported fps and energy which is better than the Federal HST but a little lower than the Speer GD. Is anyone running the Winchester Ranger T through their M&P .40 or .45?

I appreciate your feedback!

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Robbins290
December 23, 2012, 11:25 PM
I buy 2 boxes. Run a box, save a box. But I buy a new box every year and cycle the ammo. Being hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I get nervous and change it out. I use the same ammo all year long, from going ice fishing, to fishing in a boat on a hot summer day to fall hunting.

sleepyone
December 23, 2012, 11:30 PM
I buy 2 boxes. Run a box, save a box.

boxes of 20 or 50?

Inebriated
December 23, 2012, 11:36 PM
I can't afford 250 rounds of HSTs when I buy a new gun.

When I get the gun to the range, I run 250 or 300 FMJ's, and then one box of my carry load (HST for every caliber).

bigfatdave
December 23, 2012, 11:37 PM
depends on the gun and the ammo, really.

For example, I don't worry much about a modern defensive pistol, generally I'll run it dirty on cheap ammo and run ~50 rounds through of a given load. More marginal or extremely compact guns might get a bit more, perhaps 100-150 rounds.

If I've tested a given gun with Gold Dots (for example) I don't worry much about another bullet weight of Gold Dots, beyond the quick 50-round check on a dirty gun.

Guns that need more testing will reveal themselves rapidly, I've been running on the policy of identifying a few good defensive rounds that run in any given gun (that isn't a range toy) and stocking up on those rounds as I find them in non-chump-size boxes.

9mmepiphany
December 24, 2012, 01:02 AM
When I get the gun to the range, I run 250 or 300 FMJ's, and then one box of my carry load (HST for every caliber).
This seems to have become a pretty accepted standard.

I do know that when I first started carrying, the 200 cycle of your carry loads was the standard.

Bear in mind that when you start the testing cycle, any bobble in feeding means that you need to start over from the beginning again.

Is anyone running the Winchester Ranger T through their M&P .40 or .45?I've run the 9mm 127gr and the .45ACP 230gr Rangers with good function and accuracy, but our department only issued the 180gr .40

ColtPythonElite
December 24, 2012, 01:10 AM
I have been issued 3 new duty pistols OTJ. We qualified a couple of times (100 rds or so) and put them into service.

Bongo Boy
December 24, 2012, 01:54 AM
I feel you can't trust your carry gun just because it fed a few hundred rounds successfully. I prefer to shoot it each time I go to the range (each week), and I shoot it with a variety of ammo. The 'testing' you're doing is not just that it will cycle a particular ammo, but that the magazines don't gum up, the slide release lever, extractor, mag release and so on don't break.

But, I handload, so I handload as closely as I can to the carry ammo I use--same bullets and same overall length, at least--and shoot for the closest I can get in terms of muzzle velocity. This allows me to shoot hundreds of rounds of the simulated SD ammo, on a routine basis.

You can do all this and still have the gun malfunction when you'd least prefer it.

My feeling is that you don't actually KNOW your gun by shooting a few hundred rounds through it. It may function well, and that's good to know. But knowing it like the back of your hand takes a lot more experience and time, and that should be gained through regular practice. I don't feel this is a prerequisite to carrying the gun, but should be accomplished as a regular part of the routine.

To me, knowing your gun means several thousand rounds of ammo through it, at the very least--but again, this can be gained over time, and it most certainly doesn't have to be the ridiculously overpriced SD ammo you carry. Few of us could afford to do that, I think.

Overarching ALL of this discussion, IMO, is the testing of the much simpler stuff such as: can you actually get to your weapon, draw and present it in an reasonable length of time wearing the clothing you actually wear. I don't think too many folks actually practice drawing from concealment to see how badly they fumble around. How well the ammo works is a moot point if it takes you 10 seconds to get the gun into action--you're already dead.

Jim K
December 24, 2012, 02:23 AM
Some time back, I was asked basically the same question and the poster said that he could not afford to buy much of his high priced carry ammo, so he tested with the cheap stuff, and it worked just fine with no problems. I rather strongly pointed out that he then had no idea whether his carry ammo would work. He got in a huff and decided to splurge and fire some of his expensive ammo. He got three or four failures in every magazine!

So if you want to practice with el cheapo ammo, fine. But for that first 200 round test, go with the carry ammo. How does it make sense to spend a grand or more on a gun you might need to save your life, then be too cheap to find out if it works?

Jim

Inebriated
December 24, 2012, 02:32 AM
This seems to have become a pretty accepted standard.

I do know that when I first started carrying, the 200 cycle of your carry loads was the standard.

Bear in mind that when you start the testing cycle, any bobble in feeding means that you need to start over from the beginning again.

I think if it'll cycle 300 rounds of cheapo FMJ, you're past any conceivable "break-in", and you know the gun functions fine. After that, a few mags (I shoot 50 rounds) of carry ammo to verify that it feeds that particular round are all I need. I do rotate my carry ammo out every 3-4 months though, so I do get practice with it.

1911 guy
December 24, 2012, 03:11 AM
My standard practice when getting a new pistol is to run a hundred or so ball through it and then a box of my chosen carry round. Admittedly all my carry guns are of the 1911 persuasion, but this should work fine for anything else. Run enough ball to make sure you've got good mags and such, then verify feeding with the CCW round.

Urban_Redneck
December 24, 2012, 09:02 AM
A friend of mine who has carried for 40 years explained that 99.5% of ammo related stoppages will occur at the last two or the first two rounds from the magazine.

For testing, he suggested that loading the first two and last two with the carry HP and filling the in between with ball rounds. Do this with all your carry mags as many times you can afford, inserting mags from both open slide and closed slide condition.

One last thing, you should never chamber the same round more than twice as you risk bullet setback.

YMMV

JERRY
December 24, 2012, 09:06 AM
some guns are poorly fitted and require hundreds of rounds to break them in before they run correctly....while others run correctly right out of the box or within a few dozen rounds.

bigfatdave
December 24, 2012, 09:11 AM
For testing, he suggested that loading the first two and last two with the carry HP and filling the in between with ball rounds.

I did some testing that way in the great ammo drought of 2009 - given limited supplies it isn't a terrible idea.

browningguy
December 24, 2012, 12:13 PM
Ummm, not nearly as much as some people do. The last Springfield XDM I bought I ran three magazines through it then went and shot a 3 gun match, no problems at all.

The last BHP in .40 I bought 5-6 years ago I put two mags through it then stuck it in a holster and started carrying it. Since then it has been through many hundred of rounds without a problem.

I guess basically I test with each mag I am going to carry with it and call it a day. Sure, you could get better statistical significance if you ran thousands of rounds through it, but then you may start wearing out bits and pieces and you need to start the testing over. And keep in mind it's a mechanical thing, stuff is going to break. Just because it didn't break in the first 250 rounds has absolutely no bearing on whether it will break at 251 rounds.

In my view you are simply doing a function test. Will it feed the ammo of choice through the magazines you have, and that should be figured out very quickly.

Magichelmt
December 24, 2012, 02:32 PM
I have put 500 rounds through a gun before I add it to my carry rotation. I will run 400 rounds of FMJ and then 100 rounds of HP defensive ammo. Not sure where I got this procedure from. It might have been my grandfather.

smalls
December 24, 2012, 04:58 PM
For testing, he suggested that loading the first two and last two with the carry HP and filling the in between with ball rounds. Do this with all your carry mags as many times you can afford, inserting mags from both open slide and closed slide condition.

If the first and last two rounds were trouble, wouldn't it make sense to make those ball, and the rest JHP's?

I personally run 300 FMJ's, then 50 of my carry ammo on a new gun.

Urban_Redneck
December 24, 2012, 08:21 PM
Not if you are evaluating reliability with HP ammo :cool:

smalls
December 24, 2012, 09:18 PM
Ah, gotcha. Misread that, and thought it meant for carry.

BSA1
December 24, 2012, 10:28 PM
Semi-autos are much more complicated mechanically than revolvers and more sensitive to bullet style and velocities. My standard is 500 rounds of FMJ trouble free. As 9mmepiphany says any bobbles and the testing starts all over.

Case in point. I have a 30 year old Ruger 9mm that started misfiring. I attributed the problem to a gummed up firing pin spring from WD40, cleaned and replaced the spring. Another 100 rounds later the problem started reoccurring so I plan on replacing the hammer mainspring. After I do the 500 round test will start anew.

Nor do I just go out and run 500 rounds through the gun. I incorporate it in regular range practice and only shoot until I get tired so I am not reinforcing bad shooting habits. It takes a little more time and expense but the extra confidence I get is well worth it.

481
December 24, 2012, 11:47 PM
For a gun that I will be CCing, I break it in with 200 or 300 FMJs and then each magazine that will be used with the gun has to go through three full firing cycles, from fully loaded to completely empty, without a problem using my SD load.

Since I use at least 2 magazines for my CCW (I always have a 'back-up' mag)- a Glock 17, that means that I will need to fire a minimum of 2 mags x 17 rounds x 3 times for a total of 102 rounds of my SD load through my gun before I'll trust it.

It's cheap insurance.

sleepyone
December 25, 2012, 12:25 AM
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I will run a total of 100 rounds of HPs and another 200 rounds of FMJs through both magazines. I have already put about 200 rounds of FMJs through it with no issues.

Mr.510
December 25, 2012, 01:55 AM
I also use the 'old standard' of 200 rounds of the chosen carry round through a dirty gun to prove reliability with that round. I typically run 300-500 rounds of FMJ through a pistol before trying the chosen carry ammo or considering the gun for carry. So I guess my 'rule' is 500 rounds without a hiccup with 200 of those being the carry round of choice. I'm not talking about just pouring ammo through the gun either. All rounds are used for training and part of the '500 round rule' is familiarity with the weapon. To put this into perspective, my XD45C is well past 10,000 rounds of every make and style of factory 230 grain without a single hiccup. :)

C0untZer0
December 25, 2012, 02:14 AM
I live in Illinois so I don't carry, (yet), but my preferred round is the Winchester 9mm 147gr Ranger "T" Series RA9T.

To me it doesn't make sense to just put rounds through my firearm, but Ranger Ts are expensive. The 147gr Q4358 cartridges are a little less expensive but similar to the RA9T, and the Speer 147gr Lawman TMJs are very similar except for the feed profile.

There are lot of 9mm pistols that can eat 115gr FMJ all day, but have trouble cycling different weights, bullet types or over-all lengths. So I try to keep my practice ammo close to what my "carry" ammo is.

In the case of some small pistols like the Kimber Solo, there are some cartridge characteristic that the pistols like better than other, so the bullet weight and velocity may be more important than the bullet shape, as far as practice ammo simulating your carry ammo.

leadcounsel
December 25, 2012, 03:46 AM
A box or three, mixed HPs and FMJs staggered randomly.

If no hiccups, good go go.

If there are hiccups, that means more fluffing/buffing and more test firing. If there's a hiccup I need to see it work through 500+ rounds flawlessly to feel okay about it.

777TRUTH
December 25, 2012, 09:35 AM
I run a couple hundred RN through thye gun and a couple of mags of JHP through and I'm good to go.

Hangingrock
December 25, 2012, 09:59 AM
This same subject has been brought up for discussion previously the number of occasions eludes me. A response that I recall from one particular respondent was statistically 300 was the optimum number. I believe that S&W tested each 4506 with 24 rounds total with a mix of brands and configurations. That said my example of the 4506 after 25Yrs of service with 26,000 plus rounds fired thru it has not had nettlesome issues.

Ledgehammer
December 25, 2012, 12:21 PM
Buy a glock and you're good to go. Lol just kidding...

I run a couple hundred rn for break in and a couple mags of my carry load and if no issue I'm happy with that. That being said I'm very good about keeping guns and mags clean.

481
December 25, 2012, 12:34 PM
Buy a glock and you're good to go. Lol just kidding...

I run a couple hundred rn for break in and a couple mags of my carry load and if no issue I'm happy with that. That being said I'm very good about keeping guns and mags clean.

After a making sure the gun will digest your SD ammo, that is probably the most important thing to do.

Bovice
December 26, 2012, 05:05 AM
My opinion on how to determine reliability has changed over the years of shooting. At first, I did it by successful rounds cycled and fired, mostly FMJ with small sample tests of JHPs. Then I got into IDPA and saw things differently.

Firing at a static range that most shooters have publicly available vs. an IDPA stage are very different. Most indoor ranges have rules on rate of fire, and I agree that it's an acceptable policy without knowing everyone's firearms experience. A "troubled" pistol may work fine during slowfire. But at a rapid pace, perhaps the magazine springs aren't keeping up. I've seen guns that work fine on a bench absolutely choke in an action shooting sport, where rate of fire can be pretty high.

So nowadays, my criteria is 100% flawless function throughout a full match or two. I highly recommend that those who carry use their carry weapon in IDPA. It's a good way to check for bugs or find a part failure. This is also where I see a lot of "limp wrist" failures in glocks, and is why I will not use something so temperamental. This "trial by fire" is how I determine the trust in a pistol, and no longer do I worry about firing a certain type of round. Check that it feeds, but don't shoot 200 rounds of it.

gazpacho
December 26, 2012, 07:16 AM
After a prospective carry piece has been broken in, I clean it thoroughly before I test it. For the test, I place my newly clean a oiled firearm in a box with 2 hand fulls of pocket lint and dust bunnies. Then I used canned air to mix it all up, and crud up the gun. After that, the gun needs to perform through a full load plus one reload.

CCWs pick up a lot of crud, and I want to know how the gun will perform under less that ideal circumstances.

marano35
December 26, 2012, 11:59 AM
So before I carry one for that purpose I run a box of 50 rounds of ammo thru it. If it is good for those 50. I feel confident in loading up and carrying it.:)

Shawn Dodson
December 26, 2012, 12:00 PM
How many rounds do you shoot before you are satisfied it will cycle reliably?

My opinion has evolved over the years. Currently I believe three magazines fully loaded with the defense ammo under test is sufficient. Seat the magazine; chamber a round; remove, top-off, and replace the magazine; shoot until the magazine is empty. Magazine capacity and round count don't matter. If the ammo doesn't feed and function well with the gun then it will be quickly apparent.

If the gun is new then shoot 50-100 rounds inexpensive FMJ ammo to exercise the gun before testing the defense ammo.

My previous position - "Personal Defense Ammunition Functional Reliability Test for Semiautomatic Handguns" at http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs25.htm

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