Everyday, and I mean every day, I
receive email from readers who seek out and buy the best
possible weapon to carry as an everyday defensive piece, but are
disappointed in the chosen weapon’s reliability. In almost
every case, the problem is traced to the ammunition.
Larger, full-size auto pistols such as the
1911 and other service size pistols are more forgiving, and will
shoot anything from mild target loads to hot Plus P ammunition.
They have large parts with plenty of weight, full-length
springs, and a sizeable handle with which to hold the weapon,
and can shoot most any decent ammo available.
Small, lightweight pocket pistols, and even
abbreviated siblings of full size weapons are not as willing to
accept substandard ammo. The pistols have smaller parts, shorter
lengths, and must complete the firing, ejection, and loading
cycle in a much shorter length of space and shorter span of
time. The makers of these small carry guns MUST build these
pistols to withstand the pressures of premium combat ammunition,
so the springs and the timing of the operating cycle has to be
spot-on for the fighting ammunition. If a pistol is set up to
function with some hot Cor-Bon hollowpoint high performance
ammo, it cannot be expected to run well on that box of cheap
ammo that was made in Crapammostan and purchased for six bucks
from Cheaperthandung.com. If the gun maker sized the springs in
the weapon to run reliably on that junk ammo, it would beat
itself to death in short order when fed the high performance
I know that it downright hurts to spend
better than a dollar a pop on practice ammunition, and for that
reason, I started loading my own ammo when I was just a
teenager. Good ammo is expensive, but it is foolhardy to expect
a premium gun to run on junk ammo.
The fighting weapon is a compromise. Knowing
that a fight was coming, most of us would choose a good shotgun
or rifle for a fighting weapon. At the least, we would grab a 45
caliber 1911 or something similar. However, as we go about our
daily lives, most of us slip a small handgun into a pocket,
knowing that most likely, a fight will not come today.
Nevertheless, when a fight does come our way, we have to use the
weapon that is at hand, and it will most likely be that gun that
we carry everyday. It makes sense to load it with the best
ammunition that we can buy, regardless of price.
There is a lot of good ammunition available.
Some of the foreign stuff is very good. However, some of it is
made to function in full-auto submachine guns, and has primers
that are too hard to be reliably ignited by a small pocket gun.
Some of the foreign “surplus” ammo is not really surplus at
all, but is ammunition that has been rejected by some foreign
government because it is substandard. Some of it is cheap
because it was made from cheap components on cheap machinery. It
is a lot like buying good hotdogs: they do not grind up premium
beef and sell it for 89 cents per pound. Good hotdogs require
expensive ingredients, and so does good ammunition. There is a
legitimate reason that some ammunition costs two or three times
as much as ammo that appears to be similar. If you have an
American-made pistol, buy good quality American-made ammunition
to feed it. Your pistol was built with that ammo in mind. It was
tested with it at the factory. I have visited a lot of gun
manufacturers, and none of them used cheap eastern European ammo
to test their weapons. If you buy a new gun and it does not work
properly, invest in a box of quality ammunition before giving up
When you are facing some punk in the dark
while holding a weapon that does not work, and the only warm
feeling you get is running down your leg, that extra few bucks
for that box of premium ammunition does not seem too expensive