Arguably, the most important piece of gear you bring to a fight, a match, or a training class is the ammunition; without it, your $2000 custom pistol is useless for anything other than a blunt impact tool. A lot of time is spent practicing speed reloads, emergency reloads and malfunction clearance, rightfully so, these are essential skill sets. However, how much time do you spend selecting and inspecting the ammunition you run through your gun or more importantly, carrying in your everyday carry (EDC) handgun? Ammunition quality control isn’t what it once was; over the last several months we have seen many “ammo” related problems in classes. Some of them, not a big deal, others, a big deal; big enough to destroy a handgun.  As part of your preparatory gun-handling process, the process in which you ready your firearm for practice, EDC, training, or competition, make it a habit to visually inspect each round you load into the magazine. This will go a long way toward preventing problems.


This round, from the box, no primer.

This round of 9mm from CCI was missing a primer out of the box. What if this was around you loaded into your EDC handgun and forgot to check over prior to loading? Do you know what immediate action is and how to do it in case your handgun doesn’t work?


Spit chamber/rear of the barrel on an SW5946.

As you can see the chamber (rear of the barrel) is split on this SW5946 duty weapon. This occurred during a class with the pistol operator noticing the pistol made an odd sound when discharging and then noticed the pistol had malfunctioned with a failure to extract. This is when the spent shell casing is stuck in the chamber and requires a bit of remedial action (time) to remove. In this case, standard remedial action of locking the slide to the rear, ripping the magazine out, and reciprocating the slide to extract the stuck casing, did not work. A cleaning rod was required to remove the casing.

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Note the split in the casing

The casing that we extracted was also split.

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Note the crack in the grip

We believe this damage to the barrel, grip, and spent casing are possibly due to an overpressure issue caused by a “pushed back” round. This is where the bullet itself is pushed back into the casing thus causing irregular pressure build-up upon discharge.

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Example of a pushed back round

This is an example of a round that got “pushed back”. We see these quite often during and after a block of instruction on malfunctions wherein the rounds themselves being used to replicate various malfunctions take some abuse. This is one reason I do not advocate “scrounging” rounds off the range surface until after the training class, practice session, or competitive event is completed and time is available to visually inspect each round.

Firearm and range safety encompasses much more than just the  FOUR RULES OF SAFE GUN HANDLING. It requires vigilance to your own gear, including your ammunition, what’s going on around you at all times, and always know the condition of your firearm.


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