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Cycling/Replacing Self Defense Ammo.

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Styx, Nov 25, 2022.


Did you or have you NOT cycled your carry ammo and:

This poll will close on Mar 25, 2023 at 2:38 AM.
  1. NEVER experienced problems

  2. Experienced problems. (please explained below)

  1. Styx

    Styx Member

    Dec 11, 2014
    First, let me preface this by saying I am NOT looking for a debate between those who cycling through their carry ammo vs those who do not. This is more of a question for those who do not and what their personal experience has been good or bad. If you never done so and are vehemently against it, that's understandable, but this thread isn't necessarily about that.

    My question is, has anyone experienced or witnessed first hand the failure of carry ammo in their or someone else's EDC that has been carried in the pistol for years without being replaced.
  2. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Administrator Staff Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    DFW Area
    I've seen deformed bullets, deformed cases, obvious nicks and damage and some tarnishing on the top round in the magazine in a carry gun. The deformation seems to be from force of the magazine spring driving the top round up into the stripper rail on the slide combined with the movement/vibration/bumps from normal carry. So far, nothing bad enough to cause a malfunction.
  3. Blkhrt13

    Blkhrt13 Member

    Mar 18, 2017
    The armpit of Satan (south Louisiana)
    I have one odd duck habit in regard to this. I will not load my first round with high dollar defense ammo. The one in the pipe is usually an fmj. As I occasionally have to clear the chamber for cleaning my carry gun. After being stripped out of the mag 2-3 times I move that round into practice ammo. I don’t want multiple trips up the ramp to cram the bullet deeper in the case. I inspect my carry ammo for corrosion. As long as it’s not showing any signs of malfunction I don’t worry about it not going bang. Been this way a long time. After enough time I may replace the defense ammo. Decade or so. If I get rained on or carry it over water that changes a lil bit.
  4. KyJim

    KyJim Member

    Jan 20, 2007
    I don’t deliberately cycle new rounds into my semi-auto pistols. When I unload, I’ll check the round in the barrel for setback. If it looks like there is some setback in a round, I’ll fire it at the range. I will also occasionally fire a mag or two of the premium defense rounds just to keep myself acquainted with them.

    With revolvers, I just occasionally shoot a cylinder or two of premium ammo. The revolvers and rounds I use don’t lend themselves to setback.
  5. Archie

    Archie Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    Hastings, Nebraska - the Heartland!
    Have't noticed problems.
    Have Colt Commander in .45 ACP. Loaded with old Federal Hydra-shok 230 grain HP (of which I have several hundred rounds). I replaced the first 'set' of ammo (a full gun and one reload) after some five or six years, and I think I'll do it again in 2023. Looks a bit surface darkened from exposure to air, but nothing noted.
    Second - alternate defense handgun is S&W K Frame (model 10) with old fashioned 'Chicago' load. Full gun, one reload. Ammo brass need polished and bullets (lead) need wiped with a cloth or fine steel wool, but no problems.

    No tension cracks in cases, can't test for failure to fire with specific ammunition. (Go figure.)
  6. Bill_in_TR

    Bill_in_TR Member

    Aug 18, 2019
    South Carolina
    I am not sure if my observations qualify or not. I have left mags for my carry gun loaded for over a year. Don't remember if it ever went two or more. I don't consciously follow a cycle strategy. But I certainly shoot my carry guns for practice and consequently the carry mags get shot at some point. I have never examined the rounds cosmetically but I have never had a malfunction using a mag that was left loaded a long time.
  7. trackskippy

    trackskippy Member

    Oct 2, 2010
    For the past couple of decades or so now, Ive been shooting the ammo in the gun I carry a couple of times a year and then load a new mag with what was in the reload, and then load the reload with a new mag and with new ammo. That way everything gets rotated. Rinse and repeat about every six months or so.

    I dont unload the gun in between. In the distant past, I used to unload every night when I took it off before bed, and dealt with the top round set back by rotating it out every couple of loadings.

    Bullet set back was really the only issue I ran into. On occasion, while still using leather mag carriers, Id have to deal with verdigris on the top round of my reload. Although I do wonder what daily carry, in all temps and activity levels might do to things like the powder over time. Along the lines of what a vibratory tumbler might do. Thats the main reason I just shoot it up.
  8. unclenunzie

    unclenunzie Contributing Member

    Sep 6, 2009
    An older female friend had a nice model 64-2 snub that belonged to her brother until he passed. She kept it in a drawer loaded with a mix of whatever 38 special cartridges. I advised her to replace the ammo with a fresh box of good hollow points. We took it to a range for her to shoot and familiarize with, and had misfires with the old ammo. Nothing wrong with that snub shooting fresh ammo.
  9. tws3b2

    tws3b2 Member

    Jul 21, 2019
    Asheboro NC
    I go to the range once a month. When I do what's in my carry gun and mags get shot first. Then fmj's. Then it will get reloaded with fresh ammo again. Same with my nightstand gun. What's in it goes first. Then fmj.
    For the life of me I can't begin to understand why anyone would load a carry or defence gun with ammo and let sit for years without shooting/practice/cycling.
    But still, I would think it would take many years for it to affect the ammo much.
  10. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

    Jun 5, 2013
    I personally rotate my SD ammo.

    Our county had an issue when deputies were involved in a high profile shootout with a cop killer and several of their patrol rifles had ammo that had bullets setback into the cases. Because no one was inspecting guns regularly or rotating old ammo out, the county instituted a rotation policy for duty ammo that continues to this day.

    At work; Every year we get a fresh box for work, so I pop out the old rounds, save them, and load up fresh rounds. I have lots of spare defensive ammo with only a year in my magazines as a result, and new ammo in the gun. Since this gun is daily carry in all kinds of weather our county is very good about this.

    At home; Annually I pull out the handguns that are loaded for HD/SD, examine what the rounds look like, then rotate the chambered round to the bottom of the mag (if an auto) and reload. If the round(s) look tarnished or damaged or just not right, I will rotate new ammo in to replace it.

    Rifles; same routine as above since they are no longer carried daily in my vehicles. When they were carried in the cars daily, the rifle ammo got swapped out every two years.

    Now, I have seen firsthand how often neglected ammo gets turned in when people retire. I’ve seen verdigris on ammo stacked in Glock mags, handgun and rifle ammo with obvious bullet setback, oil-soaked ammo, etc. all turned in by “professionals” who clearly didn’t care enough about their safety or mine to examine their stuff once in a while. Rusted rifle magazines, dirty and/or bone dry Glocks or Mini 14’s were also commonly left for me to clean, examine, lube and get ready for reissue.

    If you aren’t exposing your gun/ammo to the rain/snow/heat associated with duty carry you can easily go a while without changing ammo out. But if you do carry your gun a lot, leave it in the car during summer or otherwise put some stresses on it, I think an annual (or even bi-annual) swap is probably a good idea. :)

    Stay safe.
  11. Obturation

    Obturation Member

    Dec 24, 2018
    Northern illinois
    I do cycle it out every 6 months typically. Tough to come by my preferred carry ammo sometimes and when that's the case I'll let it ride 12 months. Always keep 50 or so fresh cartridges for my edc . if I've got less than 50, I don't rotate it out. I just shoot the carried ammo at the range and it all goes bang. The context is that my childhood friend carries the same cartridges for years , the cases will be green and they all go bang.
    Worst offender of all time- my anti gun mother. She got an amt backup in 380 sometime in the mid 90s, same ammo in the magazine. Seriously . the gun doesn't even work anymore from neglect but it remains loaded and she even carries it occasionally - I've told her how horrible of a plan that is but she refuses to listen. I would happily give her ammo for the thing if it still operated but it's pointless. That ammo does still fire, tried one off the top in my g42, bang.
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