During our recent class we ran into a problem we don’t see too often. Though it can be a major problem when it does happen. It is no secret that ammunition is hard to come by, while it may be getting slightly easier in some places, it is still pretty hard to get in mass quantities. So naturally we see a lot of reloads. Several years ago we had gotten to the point that for safety we prohibited them from being used in our classes. We experienced one too many catastrophic failures and luckily injuries were minor. With the ammunition shortage what it is we obviously lifted that ban, but we strongly suggest you follow a few guidelines if you travel down the reload road.
The first thing to do is research, research the company. See what people are saying both good and bad. Then, I highly recommend you opt to go with ammunition that is factory remanufactured ammunition that is boxed and labeled from a commercially licensed and insured manufacture. Call them up and ask them if they have had customers complain about their products and don’t be afraid to ask if customers have contacted them about damage or injury as a result of their product. Then, ask what is their policy if it is determined that damage or injury is caused by their product. It cannot hurt to ask and it could be very informative based off not just the answers, but the way they answer.
If you decide to purchase reloaded ammunition inspect a few boxes randomly, open them up and just look at them. Do you see cracked cases, bulged necks, poorly seated primers or anything else odd? If so, you might want to check more than a few boxes. You could always throw away those that don’t meet your standards, but you have to ask what else might be lurking under the surface. If you really wanted to get crazy, safely remove your barrel following all protocol and just try dropping a few into the chamber area to see if they seat properly and fall out easily.
If after all this you still feel it is a good idea to take the ammunition to the range then you absolutely without question must wear ballistically rated wrap around eye protection. For more information check out this blog; Raise the Blast Shields. If you are going to attend a training class, then I highly recommend you have some spare parts or even better a spare gun.
So, what happened today? A student was shooting some locally manufactured reloads when I noticed him performing several malfunction clearances in a row. I made my way over to him and asked to look at the pistol. I noticed there was a casing lodged in the chamber that had the rim ripped off. Not only that, the malfunction clearances slammed the nose of several live rounds into the ripped casing expanding it to the point it was literally fused to the chamber wall. The local gunsmith had no luck attempting to remove it and more than likely he will need to replace the whole barrel. In this case it will probably only cost him $150 or so, but there were no injuries so it could have been a lot worse.