A reader recently emailed me with a tale of woe that will make any gun owner cringe. He was at the range with his beloved boom stick, making some noise and generally enjoying life. All of a sudden, there was an extra loud bang and his magazine ejected it itself. He was uninjured but the same couldn’t be said of the rifle. His upper receiver had an obvious crack and split among other issues.
He contacted the ammo manufacturer and one of the first things that they wanted to know was the lot number of the ammunition that he was using. Unfortunately, he had no idea because he loaded his mags at the range, pitched all the boxes, and didn’t think to pick one out of the trash on his way out. Thankfully, the ammo company is still going to make things right but I am not sure that all manufacturers would.
How to Protect Yourself
We are coming through one the most unprecedented firearm and ammo buying frenzies ever seen in this country. Ammo manufacturers have been running at full capacity and beyond in an effort to keep up with demand. You can call me cynical, but I suspect that during times like this, quality control takes at least a small hit. So, it is important to hedge your bets as much as possible.
I suggest you start doing four very easy things to protect yourself in the event that your ammo ruins one of your firearms…
- Buy quality ammo from a quality manufacturer. I know that it is tempting to buy whatever is available but avoid that urge. Buy ammo of established and acceptable quality made by a company that will make things right if something goes wrong.
- Inspect all your cartridges. I am not talking about getting out the calipers or weighing each one. Just give them each a quick once over. This is easier to do if you stuff your magazines at home. I have a very scientific, thorough, and complex system that involves dumping the ammo on the floor and sort of swishing it around with my hand to look and feel for obvious deformities.
- Retain the lot number of your ammo until you have burnt it all up. I stuff as many of mags as possible at home and keep at least one of the boxes on my desk or work bench until I get back from the range. Learn where the lot number is on your ammo. Some manufacturers print it on a small slip of paper that is inserted in the box, some print it on the outside, and others print it on the inside of the box. Retain this information because, if your gun is blown to pieces by defective ammo, the ammo manufacturer will want to know the lot number.
- Avoid mixing ammo. You want to be sure which ammo is responsible for destroying your firearm if something does go wrong. It is difficult to be sure if you have ammo from 2 or more manufacturers loaded into the same magazine.
You can’t always avoid ammo related gun destruction but you can take steps to protect yourself if they happen. Don’t forget the eye and ear protection!