Hunting season is upon us, and Americans are particularly concerned about personal and family defense today, so it’s a good time to talk about ammunition.

The late, great Col. Jeff Cooper once said that it’s the ammunition that does the job, and the firearm is just the delivery system. True enough, but you want both to be in tip-top shape at the moment of truth.

Winchester’s law enforcement ammunition division published this blog entry on what cops need to know about ammunition maintenance.

What cops know about this, all law-abiding private citizen gun owners should know too. Check it out. It pertains to handgun, rifle, and shotgun ammunition alike.


    • The article does allude to setback with the repeated ramp hits during cycling but I agree, a clear statement to inspect for setback would be a good addition to this criteria!

    • I agree on the setback issue, which I believe is the main one. Fortunately, this can be measured and then those with shortened OALs can be discarded if excessive or shot for practice.

  1. Tom Givens suggested to one of his classes that I attended, that you not reuse ammo that has been chambered even once. He noted that, repeated chamberings can break up the primer compound “pill” and cause a misfire. I’ve personally experienced that with factory ammo I cycled too many times.

    A compromise that I have found works well is to mark the extracted round with a sharpie on the base each time you cycle it through the gun. When you have four marks on a round, retire that round to your practice batch. Even if you cycle a round through the gun every day, you would only retire about 8 rounds a month. Very affordable price for the security of knowing you have only fresh ammo in your gun. My 2¢…

  2. Good advice from Winchester. I store my ammunition inside my house in a closet, kept in metal .50 caliber ammo cans and heavy cardboard boxes that cans of black powder was shipped in. I rotate the ammo in my ready guns every six months and always check them visually and by rolling them on a flat surface to make sure the bullets are seated properly. Whenever I unload my pistols, I always put the cartridge taken from the chamber into the bottom of the magazine as the rims take a beating every time the action is cycled. Revolvers are much easier on bullets and cases, but watch out for bullets that may be pulled out slightly from shooting as they could interfere with cylinder rotation. I have revolvers from .22 LR to .475 Linebaugh calibers, but only have one always loaded, a S&W 37 used for backup in an ankle holster. Whenever I rotate my pistol ammo, I also switch out magazines and have at least two sets for every serious defensive pistol so their springs could have a six month rest.

  3. I’ve heard it both ways: “God is in the details” and “the devil is in the details.” This article about ammunition presents some truly invaluable (possibly lifesaving) details, including some new information, new to me at least. Thanks for yet another informative, thought-provoking article.

  4. Good tips, Also Mr Ayoob, I wanted to tell you KUDOS for your excellent article this month in American Handgunner “WITH A GUN TO YOUR HEAD, THE LARRY GOLDSTEIN INCIDENT”. Excellent article, hit home to me, not because I am a Dr or live in a rich neighborhood, but I stash guns around the place ‘just in case’. Excellent article, Thank you!

  5. I haven’t read Mas’s article, but stashing guns about the house is just giving intruders an Easter egg hunt for firearms. Potentially arming your opponent isn’t a real bright idea. If it worked for someone, somebody has to hit the lottery. Doesn’t mean it will be you.

    • statistics work like that, but reality does not. Just because one guy pulls it off no problem does not increase the likelihood the next guy will fall under the bus. five thousand coud get off with it no problem… and the overal “odds” wn’t change. We are not playing life with a deck of only fifty two cards, thus your odds of drawing to an inside straight today are the same as the next guy’s tomorrow. Otheriwse we’d all be walking around semicomatose in fear that “our number is up because Charlie’s wasn’t yesterday.

  6. Came back from a local gun dealer juat yesterday (pawnshopping, one of my hobbies.) He had this PMC ‘premium’ 62 grain FMJ ‘green tip’ for sale. Get this… $19.95 for A BOX OF 10!!! Ridiculous! I just smiled and turned away.

    Fortunately I learned from Dollar Bill Clinton many years ago. I’ve got my guns and ammo and reloading supplies (it helps being a IDPA/IPSC/NRA Leg match shooter for 30+ years.

    I don’t need scalpers priced ammo, or guns.

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