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Old 12-17-2003, 07:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: oklahoma
Ammo's affect on a firearm

I have a question regarding ammo choices and their affect on the firearm. If using cheap ammo at the range, am I doing anything that will affect any long term characteristics of my pistol? Does using cheap ammo change the physical properties of a gun more than a quality ammo? I am new to this and would really appreciate any and all feedback.
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Old 12-17-2003, 09:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Location: SE USA
Barring such out of normal experience wierdness as catastrophically bad ammo or extremely worn/fragile weapons, all that bad ammo is likely to do is foul your gun more. In other words, the lower quality powder and lower quality bullets will leave more carbon and lead deposits causing you to work harder when cleaning.

Cheap ammo may well affect reliability though, and reliability failures may cause mnor damage. If you are firing an auto-loader, a cheap casing may cause a stovepipe (ie when an ejected round does not clear the ejection port and is trapped by the slide/bolt returning to battery), and stovepipes can cause minor damage to your firearm's finish.

The thing to remember is that you firearm is (hopefully) very well built, and designed to work under adverse conditions (all guns, excepting competition guns are designed, in one way or another, to function in adversity), and to accept ammo loaded to a broad range of tolerances. Don't use truly crap ammo and be careful if you have a stoppage/failure.

Last word, some cheap ammos use corrosive primers. It's not that big a deal so long as you religiously clean the bore after every trip to the range, but it is something to pay attention to as corrosives will wear/corrode your bore if you do not properly clean them out after a shoot.
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Old 12-17-2003, 10:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: oklahoma
Thank you Moonduck. Other than price, is there a way to tell the bad from the good or does that come with experience? Are there particular brands to look for or avoid? My application is a 9mm S&W 910.
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Old 12-17-2003, 09:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Location: SE USA
Well, surplus military ammo is usually where your best deals reside, but it is also where you'll find such things as steel cases (bad idea) and corrosive primers. Ask whomever you are buying ti from what the country of origin is, what the cases are made from, and whether or not it is corrosive.

For new ammo for plinking/range-time, I tend to buy Sellier & Belliot when I can find it. It is reasonably priced and made by a NATO provider, so it is up to snuff (it is also lacquer-sealed at front and back making it an excellent choice for long-term storage). I also deal a lot with Georgia Arms for professionally reloaded amoo. They make good stuff. For actual carry, I shoot Federal Premium, good, reliable stuff with excellent terminal performance.

I would advise you to be very wary of Chinese surplus ammo. My experience has shown it to be utter crap. YMMV.
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Old 12-17-2003, 10:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: Farm country, South Dakota
Other than one minor point, Moonduck has it nailed. (Sorry, but I have to disagree on this one)

Moonduck mentioned theat steel cases are a no-no. In most precision tolerance firearms (ie new, non-military style firearms from major manufacturers) steel cases are not good. In military-style rifles (Ak's, SKS, mini-14 etc.) steel cased are ok. They were designed to looser tolerances and so steel cases are such a problem. However, I hesitate to include civilian models of the AR family. The civilian models are generally built to tighter tolerances than is normal for military style rifles.

I persoanlly don't hesitate to feed steel cases through my Mini-14. (Wolf brand ammo for anyone familiar.) In fact, Wolf ammo has better performance than most other cheap ammo. Because of the steel cases they can push more powder into it, and get more power. The only issue I have with the stuff, is it isn't clean. If I put 40 rounds through my gun, it must be cleaned. However, that is more from the design of the firearm than dirty ammo. But that's another thread.
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Old 12-17-2003, 11:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: North Carolina
For your handgun, I would avoid the cheap foreign brands like Sellier & Bellot and Wolf. They have a reputation for destroying guns.

Also, stay away from reloaded or remanufactured ammunition. This stuff is often the cheapest stuff on the shelf, but many, if not most gun ranges won't let you shoot it at their range, and it will void the warranty on your pistol. It is often that bad.

Other than that, if you keep your weapon clean and well maintained, you should be able to shoot just about anything.
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Old 12-18-2003, 06:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: oklahoma
thanks to all.

I really appreciate your advice!
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Old 12-18-2003, 08:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Location: Wisconsin, USA
One more thing to watch out for. Some steel cased ammo is coated with a varnish of some type to inhibit corrosion. This can melt and stick to the inside of your gun chamber while shooting. As long as you are shooting you're ok, but once you stop and let it cool down, it hardens and you suddenly can't chamber a round. This happens more with close tolerance chambers like a match ar15 for example. If I remember right foreign surplus ammo is frequently treated this way because of the conditions it's expected to be in, but doesn't Wolf ammo do the same thing? Can't remember for sure but maybe someone else does.
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Old 12-18-2003, 09:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Location: Farm country, South Dakota
Nope, Wolf isn't coated. It is sealed at the primer and bullet, but every other ammo maker does that.

Handguns, I will leave to Moonduck. But for rifles with loose tolerances cheap ammo is not a problem.
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Old 12-18-2003, 09:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Location: SE USA
Yup, nixed steel cases because of the specific gun mentioned.

Can't agree with Greg700 on S&B or that all reloads are bad. I've put thousands of S&B 9mm rounds through my Glock with nary a hitch. The Czech's make usable ammo, not match grade, but never had problems with it. As to reloads, Georgia Arms being the example I offered, I'd put it through any gun I own. They do good work. It is more a matter of who is doing the reloading, not reloads in general.

I don't like steel cases for anything. Last thing you need is a hardness issue where the case is harder than the lip on your extractor. A chipped extractor is a very bad thing. That said, I had no problems running steel cased ammo through the coupla Kalshnikovs I had. They're built with steel cases in mind.
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