I got a good deal on .223 ammo. I am trying to get over 1k rounds to shoot through my first build. Bolt is arriving Wednesday.
I have done some searching and I knew I was getting into unknown territory with this particular brand of ammo. I don't think it is good form to post here the brand name and start flooding this thread with haters/lovers of the ammo so I am going to leave that out. The majority of people have reported this ammo good to go but I have seen some fairly serious issues posted. Things like the bullet falling into the case, non-annealed necks, over charged blow outs, etc. It was enough to scare the shit out of me despite what appears to be mostly good reviews.
My question: How do I safety check all my ammo? Even the known good stuff. I don't want a blow out and lose an eye or damage my rifle.
My best guess of what to do:
1) .223 rounds should not be packed fully with powder, so shake the round and see if I can feel the powder moving. In my 5.56 ammo this won't be possible.
2) Press down with my finger on the bullet and see if it moves in the neck of the casing. If it does, toss it.
3) Visually inspect for cracks or faults in the casing.
Is there anything else anyone can recommend? If you are going to say something like 'throw it away' or 'don't use it' then just keep it that simple. That opinion is appreciated but I would like some actual advice on how to inspect all my ammo. Even the known well made stuff. I doubt there is a brand of ammo that hasn't had a failure, so good information for checking ammunition would be very much appreciated.
Thanks for your time everyone.
Don't buy 1000 rounds at one time - buy the smallest available amount and inspect it visually (for cracks, major dents), push in on the bullet (should not move even with quite a forceful shove against a table), then shoot some and look for problems (signs of pressure, pierced primers, primers falling out, functional problems/FTFire). If you can, check the velocity with a chronograph for power and consistency. Some loads may be fully packed with powder - not an indicator of problems.
Personally, I would not buy ANY brand of reloads except for Black Hills. New factory ammo is widely available now at not-unreasonable prices... why take the risk? If you want to save $$$, invest in your own reloading setup. Just my 2 cents worth
Thankfully I limited myself to 150 rounds of the questionable stuff. Everything else I have is 5.56 M193. I also couldn't find .223 readily available so when this was on the shelves and 'On Sale' I scooped it up.
It actually visually appears to be better quality than my IMI/Federal M193. I went through a handful of the rounds and they are all identical in height and I can't push in the bullet. I do feel the powder in the bullet when I shake them so they aren't packed fully which is what I would expect from the not as hot .223 round. But, I know nothing so I don't know what that observation is actually worth.
I will take your advice and shoot one and do a full inspection. If I notice anything funny I will stop. If I have any questions I will be posting in this thread. My plan is to shoot the first 20 or so boxes of factory 5.56 I have first then see how the rifle runs the .223.
I have been impressed with my .40 S&W BVAC reloads from Selway armory. I had a box of 250 and I think I had an issue with only a single round of it. I know not all re-manufacturers are equal.
Thanks for the advice.
first off you shouldn't have bought it if you were that worried.
Originally Posted By WBlacklidge:
I was getting into unknown territory with this particular brand of ammo. I don't think it is good form to post here the brand name and start flooding this thread with haters/lovers of the ammo so I am going to leave that out. The majority of people have reported this ammo good to go but I have seen some fairly serious issues posted. Things like the bullet falling into the case, non-annealed necks, over charged blow outs, etc. It was enough to scare the shit out of me despite what appears to be mostly good reviews.
secondly, you cannot really check any of that sufficiently w/o pulling the round.
lastly learn from others
so you can either shoot it, or not
eta only 150 rounds why even chance it???
Okay, I knew it was going to come down to: you probably shouldn't have bought it. Which given the amount of experience you have is probably very sound advice that I will take into consideration. I think I should have asked a different question. I am trying to operate safely in the unfortunate set of circumstances that we are all facing: ammo isn't as readily available as it used to be and it is more expensive. In an industry that is rushing out ammunition that may not meet quality standards they once had or are implementing new manufacturing process I think any brand of ammo could be facing quality control problems. Obviously some more than others. So my goal is to learn how to mitigate the risk of having a catastrophic failure whether that be with cheap reloads or quality factory brass. I would like to know common points of failure that could occur on a .223 or 5.56 round. It has been indicated that without pulling the bullet there really isn't much that can be done. So I am willing to accept that, but if there are ways that can help mitigate risk and discover any potential failures before pulling the trigger I would like to do that.
Question: What are ways that I can safety check a round and my rifle to help maximize my safety and reduce the risk of a catastrophic failure that could hurt me or damage my rifle?
So I will start with the obvious answer to this question and then take shots in the dark because I don't know what I am talking about and hopefully someone will correct me:
1) Never mix ammunition. If you have 5.56/223/300 BLK/etc make sure they are stored and marked appropriately to avoid mixing. Store ammo in a dry location.
2) Ensure your rifle is chambered for the round. 5.56 is only appropriate for .223 wylde or 5.56 NATO chambers.
3) Make sure that the barrel is clear of any obstructions. Inspect the firearm in its entirety for any visual sign of damage.
4) Buy the highest quality ammo that I can afford to shoot. This ammo has higher quality control.
5) Do my own quality control on each round this is to include:
-Pushing down on the bullet. If it is at all loose or drops into the case it is no good.
-Check the round's case for any defects. Cracks, chips, bulging are all signs that the round should not be used.
-Annealing marks around the neck generally signifies that the neck has properly been treated, although some rounds are cleaned after the annealing process (I really don't know what I am talking about in regard to this, I just understand that annealing is some sort of flame to neck treatment of the case and I can see signs of that process on my M193 rounds.
6) Fire a single round from the purchased batch. If there was something functionally that went wrong with the rifle stop and diagnose. Then check for defects in the round itself and casing. If anything is weird do not continue firing the batch.
Friends don't let friends buy Ultramax.
The only way test it is either break it down and check each round or shoot it and see what happens.
The consensus is that re-manufactured ammo at the quality level of Ultramax is too unsafe to shoot? How is this stuff even for sale by a major retailer? I am just having trouble grasping what the real risk is. Anecdotal evidence is okay but it gives a false impression that I am playing Russian Roulette with this stuff. I know it isn't at that level of danger that the impression is given.
I like real numbers and it seems that data isn't available.
Where I currently stand: I think if the stuff looks good it is most likely just fine to shoot. The occurrence of minor failures is low and the occurrence of failures that cause catastrophic failure is so low that it isn't statistically a real risk. But, I am going to hold off on using it while I gather more information. I have more than enough 'safe' ammo to shoot.
I have shot 1K+ rounds of Ultramax ammo, all before I had been educated to the dangers of doing so. I question whether I dodged a bullet (no pun intended) or if the ammo isn't really that bad. I have joined the better safe than sorry crowd and no longer will purchase Ultramax.
I've never seen Ultramax for less than I could buy new ammo for so I've never had the desire to own any. Then I saw a few kabooms that were using Ultramax and I decided even if I ran across a great deal on it, I would pass.
Stealthy, TaylorWSO, bdawg, Eric802, JoeGunner... thanks for your input. Particularly you guys with a lot of experience, I didn't want to turn this into an ammo bash, just wanted the facts on what I can do myself to reduce the risk of failures. Turns out, there isn't a whole lot.
If anyone else has any input or anything they do to check their ammo before shooting it would be much appreciated. I think even with ammo that has a good reputation; I will still be inspecting each individual round before I put it in my magazine.
I did the math:
150 rounds @ $0.39/round ... I saved $16 over buying the standard $10/box M193 5.56 that I have been finding (although I am not including shipping on the online orders for that ammo.). Either way, even if it came out to $20 savings that seems trivial with the risk of blowing up my gun or worst case scenario having an incident while my girlfriend is shooting. I couldn't forgive myself for that.
Again, thanks for the input.
Besides a kaboom of a over pressure load listen/feel for squib loads. Just as dangerous if not more so. I have had just about everybody I know run across a squib at one point or another. Usually it will be a primer only shot with the bullet stuck in the chamber. They will think it didn't fire, eject the casing and try to chamber the next round. It won't chamber and the bullet is pushed back into the neck. That is the best case scenario. The worst case would be a light powder load pushing the bullet further into the barrel, chambering the next round and kaboom. Know/listen for the difference, especially when your GF is shooting it.