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  1. #1
    milquetoast is offline Member
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    Function testing on the cheap

    We all know you are not supposed to carry ammo for self-defense unless it is proven reliable in your gun. Rich guys like you can afford to do that. Poor guys like me can't.

    People throw numbers around: "Don't carry any ammo/gun combo unless you have fired N rounds through that gun without a malfunction." Sometimes, N = 200. Sometimes 100. Sometimes 50. Let's consider N = 100.

    I was thinking about chandging my carry load to DPX in my .45's. DPX costs roughly $1 per shot. If I want to fire 100 rounds for testing, that's $100. I have 9 .45's that I carry regularly, depending on climate/clothing/whim. One is my bedroom gun, for example. Two are "car guns" -- I leave them in the cars all the time. I have lightweights, full size, stainless, blue, a couple of hi-caps. If I test all of them, that's $900. At some point, it's not a question of "How much is your life worth?" but "How much can you afford to spend testing ammunition?" $100? $1000? $2000? Personally, I think my life is worth a billion dollars, but I can't afford to spend that amount testing ammo. (And then there are the guns in other calibers that I carry sometimes. How much should I budget for them?)

    What do you do if you get to Round 90, and you get a malfuction? Forget about that ammunition for that gun? Start over again with another 100, and see if it happens again or if it was a fluke, or a bad magazine? Start over with 100 rounds of a different load, also at a buck a pop?

    Also, what do you do if your ammo supply is limited? All my guns except one are "checked out" with Black Talons. I just bought a new gun. Can I trust it with Black Talons? I am down to my last 40 rounds of those. How do I test 100 rounds if I only have 40? Or how about Glasers, at $3.50 a pop, sold in 6-packs?

    As you can see, function-testing ammo can run into real money.

    Here's my cheap guy method. Maybe you will find it helpful.

    Load ball, expensive, ball, expensive, ball, expensive, ball, expensive …. Fire one round of ball, and see if the expensive round fed OK. If it did, eject it manually so you have another cheap round in the chamber. Fire ball, check to see if the expensive round fed. Cycle manually. Repeat as much as you want. You can re-use the same expensive rounds over and over again for feed-testing. Just check the re-used rounds for length against an unfired one every once in awhile, to be sure you're not getting bullet set-back, which could cause over-pressure and kB. Last mag before you leave the range will be the expensive rounds you used for feed-testing. That way, you test to be sure the ammo has the right amount of power to cycle your slide.

    If the expensive stuff does NOT feed reliably, use it in another gun, use it for chamber-only, sell it or give it away, or use it in a throw-down, so the bad guy will have a gun that doesn’t work. (Just kidding, OK?)

    It only takes a handful of expensive rounds (and 100 rounds of the cheap stuff) to get 100 feeding tests.

    DPX is my carry load now, in 7 of my 9 .45's. (The other 2 I just haven't gotten around to testing with DPX yet.) I've used about $40 worth of ammo, instead of $700.

    Anybody else doing this, or am I the only cheapskate around here?

  2. #2
    -gunut-'s Avatar
    -gunut- is offline Senior Member
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    Your method seems good to me! For good defense ammo on the cheap you can order a box of 50 gold dots for around $20 online.

  3. #3
    Baldy's Avatar
    Baldy is offline Senior Member
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    Frist of all why does the ammo have to be special. The 1911/.45 has been through 2 world wars and a couple of conflicks. The 230gr ball ammo has done just fine for our A/Forces. I reload it for about $5.50 for 50@ .11 cents a shot. Wal Mart is $21.00 @ 100 here. that's .21 cents a shot. I can buy another gun on what you are spending on ammo.

  4. #4
    Shipwreck's Avatar
    Shipwreck is offline HGF Forum Moderator
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    Baldy, For self defense, I wouldn't use FMJ in a 45. Just me, personally (the Military SHOULD be using JHP in those Berettas). For target purposes - its great...

    But, I think any of the name brand JHP in 45 ACP is fine. Not sure what U are trying to do that costs $1 a round. EVen my PS90 ammo is only maybe 40 cents a round or so. Glazer and all of those other freaky rounds aren't worth it, IMHO...

  5. #5
    milquetoast is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post
    Baldy, For self defense, I wouldn't use FMJ in a 45. Just me, personally (the Military SHOULD be using JHP in those Berettas). For target purposes - its great...

    But, I think any of the name brand JHP in 45 ACP is fine. Not sure what U are trying to do that costs $1 a round. EVen my PS90 ammo is only maybe 40 cents a round or so. Glazer and all of those other freaky rounds aren't worth it, IMHO...
    I don't know. I never thought of DPX, Hydra-Shok, Gold Dot, Ranger, etc. as "freaky," just "high-quality name brand JHP."

    http://www.intlmidway.com/intl/eprod...eitemid=148833

    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=241451

    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=440561

    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=695547

    If you can buy DPX, H-S, GD, Ranger etc. for 40 cents a round, good for you! I pay about 20 cents a pop for WWB and AE hardball, but even if I could find the ammo I want to carry (which happens to be DPX) for 40 cents, 900 rounds for testing (100 rounds for each of my 9 .45's) would be $360. I know to some of you, that's chicken feed.

    I just scored 200 rounds of 5.56 TAP (note, not .223) for $190 (i.e., almost a buck a round). I asked a friend of mine if he wanted to buy half. He said no; he wanted to buy a thousand "for practice," because he wants to practice with what he carries. Some people don't need to worry about ammo prices; this thread is not for them.

    So, where do I get all this 40-cent DPX ammo?

  6. #6
    Shipwreck's Avatar
    Shipwreck is offline HGF Forum Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by milquetoast View Post
    I don't know. I never thought of DPX, Hydra-Shok, Gold Dot, Ranger, etc. as "freaky," just "high-quality name brand JHP."

    No, I know all the others... Never heard of DPX - and whatever it is, I don't think paying $1 for any 45ACP round is a good deal..

    When I said "freaky," I was referring to Glaser and these other shell shot types of rounds...

  7. #7
    Revolver's Avatar
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    You could always carry a revolver. Then all you need to worry about is the accuracy of a given load and POI. It's what I do.

    I would think that a couple of boxes(100 rounds) would suffice for function testing.

    I also think you're placing too much stock in the more expensive, "flashier" bullets. If you can't afford to shoot it, maybe you should go with something you can afford. These bullets aren't going to turn the whole round into a magnum. The bullet isn't going to fly faster nor hit harder just because of the bullet. They might just expand a little more than some of the less expensive ones given the right conditions. If you really think the caliber your carry piece is chambered in is inadequate, a slightly differently formed bullet isn't going to make all the difference. It just gives it a little more expansion under given conditions. But if you can afford the bullet type that you see as ideal, go for it. Otherwise get what you can afford.

    When did overpriced bullets make all the difference in power? If a round has inadequate power because of limitations of the cartridge, a bullet that expands a little more just makes it an inadequtely-powered round that expands more. Maybe I should stop ranting and start listening to marketing hype.
    Last edited by Revolver; 12-31-2006 at 10:20 PM.

  8. #8
    milquetoast is offline Member
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    Roger wilco

    Quote Originally Posted by Revolver View Post
    You could always carry a revolver. Then all you need to worry about is the accuracy of a given load. It's what I do.

    I would think that a couple of boxes(100 rounds) would suffice for function testing.

    I also think you're placing too much stock in the more expensive, "flashier" bullets. If you can't afford to shoot it, maybe you should go with something you can afford. These bullets aren't going to turn the whole round into a magnum. The bullet isn't going to fly faster nor hit harder just because of the bullet. They might just expand a little more than some of the less expensive ones given the right conditions. If you really think the caliber your carry piece is chambered in is inadequate, a slightly differently formed bullet isn't going to make ta big difference. It just gives it a little more expansion under given conditions. But if you can afford the bullet type that you see as ideal, go for it. Otherwise get what you can afford.
    Got it. From now on, will not carry Hydra-Shok, Gold Dot, Ranger, DPX or similar, because I can't afford "a couple of boxes (100 rounds)" per pistol for testing for all my semi-autos. Also, will stop carrying semi-autos for self-defense, but will carry only revolvers from now on.

    Or, I could do function testing the cheap way, as described above. Nah, I'll just retire the semi-autos. Thanks for the useful advice; I'll get right on it.

  9. #9
    Shipwreck's Avatar
    Shipwreck is offline HGF Forum Moderator
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    When I get a new gun, I fire 200-300 rounds of target ammo. If I have ZERO failures, I fire maybe 15-20 rounds of hollow points. If they function fine, then I am satisfied. I may shoot a few more hollow points on subsequent trips. But, I don't fire 100+ hollow points before I rely on a gun. That is admittedly too expensive.

  10. #10
    Revolver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by milquetoast View Post
    Got it. From now on, will not carry Hydra-Shok, Gold Dot, Ranger, DPX or similar, because I can't afford "a couple of boxes (100 rounds)" per pistol for testing for all my semi-autos. Also, will stop carrying semi-autos for self-defense, but will carry only revolvers from now on.

    Or, I could do function testing the cheap way, as described above. Nah, I'll just retire the semi-autos. Thanks for the useful advice; I'll get right on it.
    The point I was making was that if you can't shoot a given round/load enough to gain confidence in it, then don't buy it. I generally shoot the rounds I use for defense. I can afford to do so as I put them together myself. I also feel it's important to practice with a given load you'll be using. With factory ammunition, you have to fire your expensive rounds as you can't be sure as to how well the charge is duplicated in your practice stuff. That gives you a different POI and different performance between your practice stuff and the stuff you'll be staking your life on. I feel that the best compromise for someone in your situation is to buy the ammunition you can get a good "feel" for.
    Last edited by Revolver; 12-31-2006 at 10:50 PM.

  11. #11
    -gunut-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baldy View Post
    I reload it for about $5.50 for 50@ .11 cents a shot.
    I sure wish I could get 50 rounds of .45 for $5.50! How do you do it? Where does one go about learning how to reload? I am sure it also has to deal with how cheap you can find all the parts as well (case, primer, powder, etc). Learn me Baldy!

  12. #12
    milquetoast is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by -gunut- View Post
    I sure wish I could get 50 rounds of .45 for $5.50! How do you do it? Where does one go about learning how to reload? I am sure it also has to deal with how cheap you can find all the parts as well (case, primer, powder, etc). Learn me Baldy!
    And I sure wish I could get DPX, Hydra-Shok, Gold Dot, and other "high quality hollow points" for 40 cents a round. Maybe somebody can learn me that! Until then, even at 80 cents to a dollar a round, the typical price of the "good stuff," I can afford to test thoroughly, simply by loading ball/HP/ball/HP/ball/HP. We all can.

    With nine .45's, and DPX at $1 a round, I can get 900 test cycles for, say, $300 instead of $900. Even assuming somebody knows a source of 40 cent DPX/HS/GD, etc., and only has one gun to test, the choice is between $40 and $25. If there are people out there who don't need to save money, that's their business, I guess. Whatever....

  13. #13
    -gunut-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by milquetoast View Post
    And I sure wish I could get DPX, Hydra-Shok, Gold Dot, and other "high quality hollow points" for 40 cents a round. Maybe somebody can learn me that! Until then, even at 80 cents to a dollar a round, the typical price of the "good stuff," I can afford to test thoroughly, simply by loading ball/HP/ball/HP/ball/HP. We all can.
    Like I said, you can get a 50 round box of Gold Dot (high quality hollow points) online for around $20. Just keep looking! If you have soooo many .45's then I am sure you can afford that. Especially with your method of testing the rounds. I really don't care what you do or do not do.

  14. #14
    Baldy's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by -gunut- View Post
    I sure wish I could get 50 rounds of .45 for $5.50! How do you do it? Where does one go about learning how to reload? I am sure it also has to deal with how cheap you can find all the parts as well (case, primer, powder, etc). Learn me Baldy!
    Your initial start up cost is about the price of a good gun. Press,scale, and on, and on. Buy your bullets,powder,and shells the frist time in bulk. Shells can be used over and over or till they split. You have to have a fair supplier near you with in driving distance. Mines 40 miles away. It will take a few years to pay for your stuff but in the ln long run you will save a bunch. Everytime you shoot 100rds of .45 you save $10 or $11 and you take that off the cost of your loading equipment. It will take awhile but in due time your making cartridges for a lot less than you can buy them for and they are tuned for your gun. Good luck. Start with a couple of reloading books and ask a bunch of questions.

  15. #15
    bangbang is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baldy View Post
    Start with a couple of reloading books and ask a bunch of questions.
    Why does everyone recommend a FEW good reloading books? How much knowledge could it possibly take to reload a practice round?

    I know that this stuff is dangerous...but the reloading books I have seen are THICK. I cannot immagine needing all that info to put a few grains of powder into a primed casing, placing a bullet on top, and crimping.

    I figure a nice pamphlet should suffice.

    Do those books go into great detail as to mixing the powders for certain effects? Can you usually stick with a single powder for most loads? Do you need to learn a lot about metal and metalurgy?

    I just don't get it...

  16. #16
    OMSBH44 is offline Member
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    Exclamation Mix Powders! NEVER

    I couldn't let that go without a comment.

    NEVER, EVER mix powders.

    That kind of thinking is exactly why you need to read more than just a
    pamphlet before jumping into reloading.

    Find a friend who is into reloading and ask him about the subject.

  17. #17
    bangbang is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by OMSBH44 View Post
    I couldn't let that go without a comment.

    NEVER, EVER mix powders.

    That kind of thinking is exactly why you need to read more than just a
    pamphlet before jumping into reloading.

    Find a friend who is into reloading and ask him about the subject.
    OK...you just made my point for me. If mixing is NOT allowed...a simple capitalized line like the following can be added to each page of the pamphlet:

    DO NOT MIX POWDERS.

    Problem solved. If mixing is not allowed, then reloading is simplified even further. There is only 1 powder to buy...you need to know the weight of the powder, and then assemble the round. I still think a pamphlet could be used to educate the average person.

    I am trying to understand how reloading requires such a large book. I mean, I guess every powder is addressed, as is every casing, primer, bullet, press, tumbler...and so on. Is that what is contained in the books? In addition, why should several books be consulted?

    If I want to reload ONLY 9mm FMJ for practice...why would I need to read 3 books on the subject? Once I understand how to remove the old primer, and install a new one, and I weigh the powder to the .1 grain (how precise do you need to be?) and I have the equipment, and crimp the bullet...what else is there.

    Aside from safety guidelines and procedures...if you are only reloading 1 bullet type for one specific purpose...how could 2000 pages of text be justified?

    I must admit that I may also load +P as well, and I would need an extra page or two of explanation as to the safe methods of doing so.

  18. #18
    Snowman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by milquetoast View Post
    Got it. From now on, will not carry Hydra-Shok, Gold Dot, Ranger, DPX or similar, because I can't afford "a couple of boxes (100 rounds)" per pistol for testing for all my semi-autos. Also, will stop carrying semi-autos for self-defense, but will carry only revolvers from now on.

    Or, I could do function testing the cheap way, as described above. Nah, I'll just retire the semi-autos. Thanks for the useful advice; I'll get right on it.
    Unnecessary.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bangbang View Post
    OK...you just made my point for me. If mixing is NOT allowed...a simple capitalized line like the following can be added to each page of the pamphlet:

    DO NOT MIX POWDERS.

    Problem solved. If mixing is not allowed, then reloading is simplified even further. There is only 1 powder to buy...you need to know the weight of the powder, and then assemble the round. I still think a pamphlet could be used to educate the average person.

    I am trying to understand how reloading requires such a large book. I mean, I guess every powder is addressed, as is every casing, primer, bullet, press, tumbler...and so on. Is that what is contained in the books? In addition, why should several books be consulted?

    If I want to reload ONLY 9mm FMJ for practice...why would I need to read 3 books on the subject? Once I understand how to remove the old primer, and install a new one, and I weigh the powder to the .1 grain (how precise do you need to be?) and I have the equipment, and crimp the bullet...what else is there.

    Aside from safety guidelines and procedures...if you are only reloading 1 bullet type for one specific purpose...how could 2000 pages of text be justified?

    I must admit that I may also load +P as well, and I would need an extra page or two of explanation as to the safe methods of doing so.
    Many of the reloading books are manuals, giving the information one might need on any caliber of gun for which the reader is reloading. So, you would not need to know much of the information contained in the manual. But, if you decide to reload another caliber, you have the information needed. Even the manuals will have several chapters devoted to learning the basics of reloading since reloading by its very nature carries the risk of serious injury to your gun and you (and bystanders) if you don't know what you're doing. It sounds like you view reloading as a chore instead of a rewarding hobby. So, you are looking for the most efficient way to get the chore done. Most reloaders, I think, like to reload, gain satisfaction from it that goes beyond the cost savings and they want to gain as much information as they can about reloading. If it really is more like a chore to you, I suggest you avoid the initial outlay of funds and stick to buying factory ammo, as many shooters do.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post
    When I get a new gun, I fire 200-300 rounds of target ammo. If I have ZERO failures, I fire maybe 15-20 rounds of hollow points. If they function fine, then I am satisfied. I may shoot a few more hollow points on subsequent trips. But, I don't fire 100+ hollow points before I rely on a gun. That is admittedly too expensive.
    +1. If I do have a FTF of other ammo related problem, I repeat the process untill I'm satisfied I know what caused it and/or the problem is corrected (bad ammo, poor grip, broken pin or spring, etc).

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