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Making it work.

At the range I start out using factory ball ammunition, loaded with FMJ-round nose bullets. Freshly machined steel has microscopic (sometimes not so microscopic) burrs and imperfections from the machining process. It's similar to a new automobile engine and transmission. It needs a bit of use to smooth-up parts' fit. And use a solid shooting stance, with no limp-wristing, as that can contribute to malfunctions.

Ammunition isn't cheap, and I appreciate the temptation for handloaders to use their reloads. I know you and I are competent handloaders, but the manufacturer doesn't. Makers also know there are a lot of handloaders who aren't quite as good as they think.

Protect the investment you've made in a new handgun by investing in a couple of boxes of FMJ factory loads from a reputable maker, not some gun-show cheap reloads. Often ball ammunition from major makers is considerably cheaper than high performance defensive ammo. I'll fire at least a few groups over a sandbag rest for accuracy testing. I admit I also rip off a few mags at close-range targets. I like shooting fast.

If the first 50 rounds are trouble-free I'll switch to factory loads with other bullet styles. If malfunctions occur I'll keep shooting with ball ammunition. If I reach 200 rounds with ball ammo and still have malfunctions I'm most likely going to ship the gun back to the manufacturer.

It's true I might be able to diagnose and fix the problem, especially on a 1911 (I know how to polish a feed-ramp, tension an extractor or select a recoil spring). But the typical buyer is likely not a real handgun enthusiast and it's not reasonable to expect him to tune a just-purchased handgun--not to mention it would likely void any warranty.

Give the maker as much information as possible if you return the gun. Advise what sort of malfunction occurred (e.g. failure to feed, failure to extract or eject, hammer-follow, slide lock problems), the approximate round count at which problems occurred, ammunition used, whether problems occurred with all magazines or only one.

Of the new handguns I've shot in the last few years almost all ran perfectly out of the box; mainly because they were well-made guns, and because I followed the steps outlined. Most likely yours will too. If not, provide the manufacturer the information needed to make it work.

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Title Annotation:BETTER SHOOTING
Author:Anderson, Dave
Publication:American Handgunner
Date:Jul 1, 2010
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