Rotating Carry Ammo

Justin throws a post into the ring on the hand load carry round question, and talks about rotating ammo:

Here’s where I air my dirty laundry: I’m a dunderhead when it comes to picking carry ammo. It’s just not something that I dwell on. I don’t even rotate it out every 6-12 months. I’ve carried with factory ammo that’s over 4 years old. I buy some, run a few magazines through the gun and if it works, which it always has, I’ll keep it around far longer than any gunny would think proper.

I have tended to rotate my ammo every six months to a year, but mostly just because it seemed like good practice. Ammo does last a long time, on the shelf. But carry ammo is not ammo that’s sitting in a safe or a foot locker, in its factory container, often sealed. You’re carrying it around with you. You sweat, you extrude oils, salts and various proteins, which get on the ammo when you handle it, and are on the dust particles your skin and clothes give off and end up in your gun. Every time you chamber and unload, you’re putting stress on the ammunition components.

Now, I will say, I’ve never had a round misfire or jam in my gun, even when I’ve shot carry ammo I’ve carried for a year, and then had in my foot locker for two more. So I don’t think the folks who said they don’t rotate are risking that much. But there’s another reason I’ve always thought rotating was a good idea.  When you run your 20 or 50 rounds of carry ammo through it gives you a good idea that your gun and magazine will still feed it reliably. A good rule of thumb is that you should run a hundred or so rounds of carry ammo through your gun before relying on it. I will admit that I have not always been good about doing that, but I also carry a common gun and carry common loads, so I’m pretty confident any feeding problems a Glock 19 has with any common carry load are well known. But I still think it’s a good idea to dump a few full magazines every now and then of your carry ammo just to check everything out.

11 thoughts on “Rotating Carry Ammo”

  1. Another reason to rotate is if you do administrative loading and unloading regularly. Over a few rechamberings, you can set the bullet back and overpressure can occur. Important for you Glock users that don’t have fully supported chambers.

  2. I rotate my carry ammo out whenever I forget to swap magazines before practicing with my carry gun. I think it’s good to occasionally practice ‘cold’ with your carry gun and load when you arrive at the range.

  3. Every time I go to the range (assuming this to be once every month or so), the first magazine I shoot is the one that I’d been carrying in the gun. I do not oil or clean out the gun prior to going to the range. I arrive, unholster, and start my work using the carry ammo. After the first magazine, I might give the gun some oil and blow out the dust if I’m going to be shooting a lot more.

    This is very reassuring, especially if you’re prone to “gun won’t work” nightmares. The point being driven home is that it WOULD have worked had you needed it. If it DOESN’T work, of course, you’ve got issues to deal with.

  4. especially if you’re prone to “gun won’t work” nightmares
    I thought I was the only one that had those :) Sometimes it works, but the rounds just peter out of the barrel.

  5. Amen to Noops (comment 1, above). Semi-auto users need to be mindful of bullet setback. Loading and unloading the same defensive round exposes that round to lots of bullet-nose impacts, which can dislodge the bullet, driving it rearward toward the primer. I carry a Colt Model 80 1911 with ball ammo, and I rotate rounds in my carry magazine because I find bullet setback at least twice or three times a year. I typically segregate and fire those rounds at the range unless they look REALLY set back. Then I discard those. You are inspecting your ammo, right, shooters?

  6. Another reason to rotate is that if you carry enough, the josteling of just walking around for a few months the feed lips on some magazines will start to wear a grove in then top round. I know that this was reported as a problem on the Beretta forum a few years back.

  7. I don’t carry, but the first magazine downrange is the one I was using as the “ready” mag for my home defense piece.

    Just makes sense to me that unless you’re firing unobtanium-tipped gold-cased bad-guy-b-gone rounds that you would rotate by fire each time you went to the range and fired that weapon. (Or even if you are using somewhat more expensive rounds for day-to-day than you are at the range – a single magazine from time to time isn’t that big a deal?)

    And I manage to get to the range a little more often than every 6 months.

    Disclaimer – I don’t carry, I’m not picky about what ammo I buy, and at home I store the defense piece without a round chambered. For home defense I expect to have time to rack the slide, and as I own a Glock there is no real safety.

  8. Frump-Frump, I’ve got some of the same hollow points I bought about 10 years ago. Every once and a while I’ll pop a few off at the range. No hiccups yet. Not worried. Worst case, I go home to see Jesus.

    Both times I’ve been in a situation where I felt I was in enough immediate danger to have to pull my firearm, that alone ended the confrontation.

    But buying new ammo is fun, maybe I should use this as an excuse to the wiff to buy some more…

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