I’ve been having a very interesting discussion offline with several people about the complex relationship between a semi-auto carry gun and its ammunition. Right now, we’re shooting the Ruger SR9c for Stock Service Pistol Master Class, and we’re using lots of different ammo. I know I’ve mentioned here and elsewhere that we were having issues feeding some light loads in the gun, specifically Remington 115 grain UMC 9mm discount ammo. Because I wanted to be fair to the gun and to the ammo, I did a couple of different things. I tried different ammo in the Ruger, and the UMC in different guns. Because I needed more data to make a valid comparison, I waited until I had shot almost the same amount of non-UMC ammo through the SR9c. As of today, the Ruger SR9c is at 1895 rounds, with 21 malfunctions, which were all ammo related. Out of those 1895 rounds, 916 were Remington UMC and all 21 malfs came from there.
Now, first off I’m not blasting UMC for this. This is totally legit plinking ammo, and if it runs your gun then buy it until the cows come home. However, it didn’t run my gun. My gun did run just fine on its usual steady diet of 147 grain whatever, be it Federal American Eagle budget ammo, Ranger 147 FMJ, or whatever else I could lay my hands on. With ammo other than UMC, including other 115 gr FMJ from different companies the gun has had 100% function rate.
Which leads me to the ammo discussion – should your carry gun be 100% reliable with whatever ammo you pick up off the shelf? I think the answer here is “no”, but with the caveat that it should be 100% reliable with the ammo that you shoot through it. For example, if I was going to a match where I needed the gun to perform reliably, I would certainly not run the UMC through it. Not because it’s “bad” ammo, but rather because my particular gun, with its particular mechanics doesn’t like it. If your gun likes it, shoot it. It’s worth noting that the Ruger SR9c ran Winchester White Box 115 grain FMJ just fine, and that’s the gold standard of economical blasting ammo.
I tend to personally vacillate on this issue. One the one hand, I think that a proper gun from a major manufacturer should run ammo from any reputable manufacturer. On the other hand, if your gun doesn’t run Brand X but it runs Brand Y like a house on fire, then problem solved – shoot Brand Y. Also, if Brand X chokes other reliable guns (like a Glock 17 for example) then maybe you should avoid Brand X.
It’s also important to shoot lots of ammo through a gun, from different manufacturers. This is especially true when you’re dealing with economical 9mm ammo. For the Quest for Master Class, I’ve shot the following brands:
- Remington UMC
- Federal American Eagle (and AmEagle Non-Toxic)
- PMC Bronze
- Winchester White Box
- CCI Blazer
- Winchester Ranger FMJ and JHP
I’ll shoot more brands as the test continues, but it’s important to note that with everything but the UMC the gun has been 100% reliable.
So what does this mean? Ultimately, not a whole lot. For me, it means I’ll be avoiding UMC ammo. For some people, it may mean that they think the SR9c isn’t reliable. I’d disagree with that statement. Some people may take it to mean that when fed quality ammo, the SR9c is stone cold reliable. This is one situation where all I can really do is present the data, which is that out of 916 rounds of UMC, I had 21 failures. Out of 899 rounds of everything else, I’ve had zero failures. I’m super impressed with the SR9c, and I plan on continuing to carry it and shoot it in competition.