My 1911 is more reliable than my Glock*

*With certain types of ammo. If you head the Handgun Steel Cased Ammo Test, you say that one of the issues I had with steel cased ammo in a Glock is that if the magazine wasn’t periodically disassembled and cleaned, the rounds would bind up in the magazine and not feed. That’s problematic.

Hornady Steel match (300x177)

I recently had the chance to test my Colt 1911 CCG with 250 rounds of Hornady Steel Match ammo; of the two brands of steel ammo I tested last year, the Hornady was head and shoulders above TulAmmo in terms of overall quality, but still suffered from the magazine binding issue I experienced. In my Colt 1911, no issues of any type were encountered over the 250 rounds.

Now, an astute observer would probably note that it’s going to be a lot more difficult for a single stack magazine to bind up than a double stack magazine, and you’d be absolutely correct. By no means am I saying that a 1911, even one so excellent as my CCG is a better choice for a duty gun than a modern polymer handgun, however I did find it interesting that under this one set of circumstances, my 1911 was far more reliable than my Glock could ever hope to be. This does give me an opportunity to beat one of my favorite drums though: test your gear before you take it to a match. There is a great quote in one of my favorite movies, The Ghost and the Darkness where the professional hunter berates the main character for “taking an untested weapon into battle.” While shooting an action pistol match certainly isn’t the same as hunting a man-eating lion in Africa, the point transfers to our concerns. If you care about whatever it is that you’re doing with your gun, you should absolutely take the time to test your gear. You must know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your gear won’t fail you at a critical moment.

Lack of confidence in your gear can absolutely affect your performance. If during “Make ready” you’re thinking about whether or not your gun is going to malfunction, that means you’re not thinking about executing the course as you visualized it. It means you’re not doing something productive with your mind. Test your gear, so you can trust your gear.


  1. “You must know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your gear won’t fail you at a critical moment.”

    This is not very realistic. It is impossible to know whether or not your gun is going to work for the next shot. Personally, I have experienced a previously “tested and trusted” Glock 23 go belly up on the second day of a class due to a bad channel liner. I walked around for a full day with an S&W Model 625 with no firing pin. I only discovered it because I do function checks with Snap-Caps and saw no pin strike it. It broke during dry fire the day before; I found the end of the firing pin on the floor. My brand new S&W Model 27’s firing pin shattered on the first shot. It had spent a year in the gun store and had been dry fired without Snap-Caps. People should definitely test their gear, but should refrain from drawing too many conclusions from the results. In my opinion, shooter skills and reactions are far more important than the gear.

    You need to have a random sampling of Glock 21 Gen 4 pistols out of a batch in order to have valid statistics on a hypothesis. The minimum would likely be between 20 and 25 guns, though more would be better. The answer is that your Glock 21 Gen 4 had a 0.22% failure rate with steel cased ammunition, but it does not follow that all Glock 21 Gen 4 pistols (within a certain confidence interval, minimum 95%) will have that failure rate. It also does not mean “pistols” in general will have a higher failure rate with steel cased ammunition. A better test would be to test different magazines with the ammunition in the same gun. The test itself could still be considered flawed, but it would give you an idea which brand works best in that gun. Besides, everyone needs 25+ magazines from each manufacturer in this economy! We have to do our part.

    It also may not follow that the 1911 is more reliable than the Glock 21 Gen 4 if your methods were different, which you did not list. What procedure did you use? Did you clean the gun and magazines every X rounds? How many rounds did you fire between cleanings? Were the procedures between the Glock and 1911 tests different? How were you shooting the guns? You’d likely need to shoot from a rest to minimize variance in technique to avoid common errors that lead to failures. I certainly don’t see you running 11,000+ rounds through a Glock 21 from a rest, though 250 is certainly possible.

  2. You made an absurd assertion. I called bullshit because it is impossible to know. All one can do is work with the weapon, train, and increase the odds things will work out (which you have done). Other than that, all you did is shoot 11k rounds through your gun…and you think it is not reliable enough because of a whopping 26 failures? You are massively overthinking this. Stop buying into your own “gun guy” crap. You need to recalibrate your brain back to normal.

    1. 26 failures in 11,000 rounds is higher than the industry standard of 1:2000. So as a matter of actual fact, yes, my Glock 21 wasn’t reliable with steel cased ammo. That’s just a fact, sorry.

      I actually am working on sourcing another couple of pallets of steel cased ammo to repeat the test with a 1911, because learning stuff is cool.

  3. The problem is that it is not really less reliable; you think it is but really have not shown it in a repeatable way. You did not perform the test with consistent methods. You went out and shot your gun in training, for practice and fun. There was variance between shooting sessions, cleanings, etc and some of those failures could have been due to some factor beyond the gun. It is only your opinion that it is so. Confidence in a defensive weapon is very important, however.

    The problem is that as a member of the gun writing community you need to be cautious about what you say and how you say it. My newbie coworker who I am teaching to shoot reads stuff like this and comes to false conclusions. This could easily go from your opinion of “Caleb’s G21g4 has slightly lower reliability with steel cased ammo” to “Glock 21 Gen 4 pistols are not reliable with steel cased ammo.” He reads stuff like this on the ‘net and then I have to spend 20 minutes explaining why it is wrong or of limited value in a specific context. The latest conversation revolved around the old myth that the sound of a shotgun slide will scare intruders away, rather than cause them to move to cover and shoot in the direction of the sound. These round count threads are entertaining, but people who do not know better use them to make decisions.

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