Ammo Reliability

I had a fun conversation the other day with a gun friend of mine – we were talking about firearms reliability in light of “guns break” threads going on over at Tam’s place.  I keep a decent sized whack of spare parts on hand for any gun I shoot in competition or carry, because I assume that eventually that gun is going to throw a pin, or a spring will break, or whatever – plus I do regular maintenance to try and avoid that kind of stuff.

However, that brought us around to the topic of ammo reliability; he wanted to know if the gun in question (my Gun Blog 9mm) was “reliable”, to which I asked “well, what do you mean by reliable?”  He wanted to know if it would feed 124 grain hollow-points from some maker (I think Speer), and I said “how would I know, I only shoot 147 grain rounds through it.”  This followed into a conversation about that I don’t then if my gun is “really” reliable, because I haven’t tested it with all kinds of ammo.

I don’t understand that line of thinking, because to me, if the gun feeds and fires the ammo I want to shoot through it, it’s reliable.  If all I shoot through it is Wolf Gold 147 grain HP and Winchester Ranger 147 grain JHP, then I don’t need to know if it feeds 124 grain Golden Dotted SaberBlade hollow points, because I’m not going to shoot them out of that gun.

“Oh Caleb, you’re just an elitist, what about 115 grain ball ammo?” Well, I will say that if I bought a 9mm that wouldn’t feed 115 grain ball ammo I’d send the thing back to the factory because it’s broken. I have shot that out of the Gun Blog 9mm, but for competition and carry, it’s 147 grain all the way. Unless I get my hands on some of those Fiocchi 158 grain subsonic loads, because I’m aching to whack some bowling pins with that round.


  1. I think it depends on the purpose of the gun.

    I agree with you with regard to a competition gun or even a regular duty/carry gun.

    But for a SHTF gun or TEOTWAWKI gun, I would say that it needs to be able to eat anything you feed it.

    You may not be able to find the ammo you prefer when you’re running away from a hurricane or the zombie hordes and may have to use whatever you can lay your hands on. If your gun won’t feed it, you may as well just carry a club.

  2. Well, w/that in mind, that’s why every 9mm I own (for example) needs to be able to feed 115 grain ball ammo, because that’s just about the most common round in the US right now.

  3. I’ll side with Sailorcurt on this one; I test my carry guns with every make and model of ammo (and bullets for reloading) I can lay hands on. I may use only 185 gr HP Cor-Bon +P in the.45, but someday it may be pretty darn handy to know that it’ll feed everything but 200 gr Speer HPs and cycle everything but 68 grain MagSafe.

    Since my carry guns ARE my front line TEOTWAWKI guns I’ve also got some degree of knowledge about where all that different ammo prints at distance.

  4. Perhaps he’s an olde tyme wheelgun shooter. Coming from such a background myself, there was an adjustment period for reloading when I’d previously worked with revolvers–where case dimensions weren’t as critical. Basically, if it fits in the chamber and the bullet doesn’t get stuck when fired, then it’s usable.

    I have since tested the extremes in my auto-loaders. Some of them are surprisingly forgiving, but experimentation is more the purview of the single-action revolver, or single-shot breech-loader.

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