I’m guilty. I admit it. I don’t regularly shoot my self-defense ammo.
I have done EXACTLY what a recent article on TheFirearmsBlog titled “CCW Truths Clash with Self-Defense Ammo Solutions,” said most CCW holders do.
When I go to the range, I set aside my carry magazine loaded with Federal Ammunition 9mm HST Hollow Point self-defense ammo and shoot the magazines that I’ve loaded with American Eagle 9mm FMJ rounds. Then, at the end of my range time I dutifully load the “carry” magazine back in my trusty Sig P320 and off I go.
The problem with rechambering
I am unintentionally impacting my safety with this practice. In some cases, your carry magazine could be years old without the ammo ever having been used, and, get this, with the same exact round getting chambered every time.
“It’s common knowledge within the firearms canon that chambering and re-chambering a cartridge can potentially lead to either the bullet seating further into the case, or even light primer strikes (AR15s). Maybe not on the second time, or the third, or the fourth, but it can eventually lead to a failure to fire, or even a catastrophic malfunction.”
I get it. self-defense rounds are expensive, often almost 2x what the same caliber and grain of full metal jacket (FMJ) or ball rounds cost.
So I called Federal Ammunition to see what they had to say.
Federal confirmed that what can happen over time with chambering and rechambering the same round is “bullet setback” where the crimp that holds the bullet in the casing can break. It’s a problem they said happens often with law enforcement but that they are now seeing with concealed carry as well.
So what should you do?
Federal recommends that every time you unchamber your round from your carry gun, that you first inspect the round. If it looks fine (you don’t see “bullet setback”) then unload the magazine, and load the round you’ve just unchambered to the bottom of the magazine.
This ensures for at least a few cycles (depending on how many rounds your magazine holds) you will be chambering a fresh round.
Federal also recommends that you completely change out the ammo in your magazine every 6 months to a year, even if you don’t see bullet setback. Just use it for practice and reload with fresh ammo.
I’ve adopted a new practice where at least once a month at the range I shoot my carry magazine loaded with HST. For me it’s good just for practice, and then I’m sure my ammo is fresh.
So stay safe out there, and use fresh ammo!