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Old October 16, 2012, 11:59 AM   #1
KMAX
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Wearing out a handgun.

I occasionally see a post referring to a handgun wearing out too quickly if too many rounds are run through it. Where do you draw the line of wearing out too quickly for a revolver or semi? How many rounds should one expect to get out of a gun?
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Old October 16, 2012, 01:00 PM   #2
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The answer you seek depends on many factors, here are a cpl: regular & correct cleaning procedures, # of rounds fired and what type i.e. Lead alloy bullets at target load levels, jacketed rounds at 1000 fps, or full max magnums.

As to correct cleaning procedures...much of the wear on a rifle or handgun barrel comes right at the muzzle crown...sawing the cleaning rod back and forth across the lip there, will destroy the accuracy over time. The same holds true for revolver cylinder mouths, but to a lesser extent. These are not my views alone...Camp Perry Service Team armorers have stressed these facts over the years, and will not let their shooting team members clean a barrel without a bore guide.

Anecdotal evidence being what it is...one man's opinion based on his experience, I can say that I have 1911's that have more than 10,000 rounds through them and still hold excellent accuracy...that means in my case, less than 2" groups for ten shots at 25 yds, rested. Most of those rounds were Lead Alloy, but a goodly number were jacketed. A couple of my revolvers have similar load counts and exhibit an even better accuracy retention rate. It's a fact that I rarely shoot magnum or max loads through my guns...I save these rounds for hunting, and rarely, load development; just to see what the gun's capable of.

Wear patterns differ: revolvers shoot loose in the fore and aft region, and may lose timing as well, especially if they shoot a diet high in magnum, high pressure loads...gee whoda figgurd.

My experience with autos is predominantly with the 1911. I've had only one of my guns tightened over the years...frame rails and their mating parts on the slide and I've never had to replace a barrel. I've not messed with the rest after they were initially gun smithed for triggers and initial rail tightening. That's one out of a dozen or so here in my family...(sons and I.) We do have a cpl of S&W M41's and a short barreled Colt Woodsman Target, but neither has had enough rounds down the pipe to worry about...less than 5000 each would be a fair estimate. And we never clean the barrels on any .22 lr gun that we own..rifle or hand gun...we do wipe them down and keep the bolt faces and rail clean, however.

I can't comment on the newer plastic type frame materials...our experience with Glock and Sig limits our involvement..maybe some others here can help with that.

We do own collectively, two Colt Commanders with aluminum frames that have 3000+ rounds through each of them with no accuracy degradation, as does my #2 son's Beretta M92...over 5000 through that one with no accuracy or functioning problems.

HTH's Rod
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Old October 16, 2012, 01:12 PM   #3
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Rodfac: Excellent response. I realize that my questions were quite broad range, but I was looking for broad range discussion on the topic. Thanks.
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Old October 16, 2012, 01:13 PM   #4
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I had this concern as well and while there usually tends to be less of a specific answer unless your model was the one tested in a relevant "torture test", there are a few things to help keep the big picture.

Like cars, many parts can be replaced that restore either functionality or accuracy after they wear out. Barrels can be replaced or re-crowned. Barrel bushings (1911's) can be replaced. Frames and slides can be tightened on metal guns. If your gun is all steel, it could potentially last "forever" if you find a gunsmith willing to weld/build up worn areas then fit them again. In these polymer guns, often times the contact surfaces are replaceable (guide rails) and can be had fairly cheaply. If your serial number is on the frame or slide, you can buy the whole other half if need be.

Whenever I used to ask this question people would say: don't worry about it, go shoot. You'll never shoot it out in your lifetime. This was assum
ing regular maintenance like recoil springs. And at the time I was looking for information on the life span of J-frames revolvers.

Another consideration: a company's warranty.

Last edited by dyl; October 17, 2012 at 09:40 AM.
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Old October 16, 2012, 01:39 PM   #5
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When I wear one out, I'll let you know. If I'm still able to type then.

My Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt has seen a wide variety of ammunition run through it, from 185 gr. JHP to 350 gr. cast, to the tune of nerly 20,000 rounds. No problems thus far.

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Old October 16, 2012, 02:01 PM   #6
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I have a Colt Delta Elite that has about 20,000 full powered 10mm auto rounds through it. No problems.
The only gun I ever "wore out" was a Marlin lever action it was the feeding mechanism that broke after 20 years and over 30,000 rounds of .22 rimfire ammo through it.
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Old October 16, 2012, 05:40 PM   #7
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In his book Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting-published in 1937 or so-Ed McGivern has photos of tight one hole machine rest groups fired through S&W K-22s with over 200,000 rounds through them. For a semiautomatic pistol-especially of the M1911 and similar designs, barrels, bushings-even slides-are easy to replace, IMHO wear on the rails is the one thing to worry about. Type of ammunition used is the other main variable, the rule of thumb being hotter rounds accelerate wear. I would think that Bullseye and CAS shooters are high volume shooters yet I see little discussion by them of wear and tear on their handguns.
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Old October 16, 2012, 06:53 PM   #8
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The only gun that I wore out was a Charter arms Bulldog which is a 44 special.
I purchased it used in the early 80’s and shot several thousand rounds of heavy (240GR) bullets.
The gun was not worn out but the cylinder had a lot of play and we are talking about a lot of play. It was still safe to shoot but not for a carry gun. I gave it to a friend for a bed side gun which he still has and I liked the gun so much I bought a new one and shoot only 200 gr bullets.
The only other gun that I handled that I considered wore out was an S&W 19.
The owner felt that the only way to close a cylinder on a revolver was to swing the gun as hard as you can to slam the cylinder shut. He did it so much that the crane was no longer straight to the frame of the gun. He used to practice it daily.
More damage is done to guns by owners than by shooting them. I remember when I purchased my first Ruger MKII. I was told that when buying an MKll you’re buying it for your grand children. The gun has such a long life span that they will be shooting it.
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Old October 16, 2012, 07:12 PM   #9
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KMAX,

I've only been able to wear out one handgun in my life. It was a Ruger S6 in 357 magnum. The wear occured at the forcing cone. Don't know how many rounds I put thru that gun, but it was a lot.
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Old October 16, 2012, 07:39 PM   #10
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I have hundreds of thousands of rounds through a couple of my glocks and Ive never had to replace anything other than recoil springs.
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Old October 16, 2012, 07:43 PM   #11
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Wear one completely out?

No.

Have had high mileage pistols that have broken springs, extractors and even a Smith revolver that jumped time, but have never completely worn one out.

Incidentally, the Smith that went out of time was bought used. I put several thousand LSWC rds through it before it went out of time. Sent it to S&W, pistol was repaired ,thoroughly cleaned and sent back... NO CHARGE... and yes, per our phone conversation, they knew I bought it used.

What a great company.
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Old October 16, 2012, 08:14 PM   #12
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Well, the good thing is that if you do manage to wear one out you will have something to show for it. Frames and forcing cones can and do crack but it takes a very long time and a lot of ammo. For most people who do not shoot competitively you will probably never wear a gun out. I have a Springfield 1911 from about 1989 that saw 1000 rounds a week for 8 or 9 years (during match season) just in practice sessions. I still have it although it has developed several cracks in the frame. I consider it "worn out". It was worth every penny I spent customizing it and wearing it out. And I learned a lot of useful stuff in the process. Just shoot and be happy and don't worry about wearing your gun out. Worry about being safe and being accurate.

Last edited by drail; October 16, 2012 at 08:25 PM.
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Old October 16, 2012, 08:24 PM   #13
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There have been reports of S&W and Colt double action revolvers that have fired over 100,000 rounds of .38 Special standard velocity with no significant impact on reliability or accuracy.

Jim
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Old October 16, 2012, 08:29 PM   #14
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.38 Spl.? Sure. Go above that level and things change pretty quickly. Trust me. I have trashed a forcing cone on one .357 (a GP100, you know the ones everybody says will never wear out?) with less than a couple thousand rounds of the hot stuff. So have a lot of other handloaders who like to push that envelope. Stay away from the ultra high velocity light bullet ++PP++ junk and you won't have any problems. Standard velocity and pressure ammo is all you really need. The other stuff is just bling.
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Old October 16, 2012, 09:11 PM   #15
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bottom line

If one can afford enough ammo to 'wear out' a gun, one can afford to repair/replace it.


I have a couple past 100K, and a couple past 50K.
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Old October 17, 2012, 12:01 AM   #16
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I see a lot of people talking about guns that need service. But few have really worn them out. A shot out forcing cone, a gun damaged by improper use. All of that can be repaired, its similar to your car, just because you have a flat tire does not mean the car is worn out.

My last duty gun was an H&K P2000 in 40 S&W. I put 15,000 rounds of hot 40 through that and it still shot fine. They have a Glock 9mm at FLETC with several million rounds through it. If you re-cut the forcing cone on a revolver you can prolong the barrels live significantly.

I never hard about hurting a revolver cylinder with a cleaning rod.
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Old October 17, 2012, 12:23 AM   #17
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Had 2 contender frames replaced by tc .After years of heavy use back in the 1980's
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Old October 17, 2012, 12:31 AM   #18
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I liked your post

Quote:
The answer you seek depends on many factors, here are a cpl: regular & correct cleaning procedures, # of rounds fired and what type i.e. Lead alloy bullets at target load levels, jacketed rounds at 1000 fps, or full max magnums.
also depends on manufacturer(in my opinion)
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Old October 17, 2012, 01:07 AM   #19
wayneinFL
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Just about any service type handgun, with a modicum of care, ought to be able to handle tens of thousands of SAAMI pressure loads without being "worn out". Just about any 38, 357, 9mm, 40, or 45 by SIG, Glock, S&W, H&K, Beretta, Springfield, or Colt. They might not all be tight fitting toward the end fo their service life, but still be working combat guns, capable of combat accuracy.
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Old October 17, 2012, 06:43 AM   #20
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Buy a Hi Point....
They come pre-worn out.... .

Ok - calm down - I'm just kidding...
I do have to really wonder how many rounds, on average, a Hi Point can go before it does break down.

Some low cost guns, Davies, Lorcin, Jennings,,,some H&R revolvers,,,,Iver Johnson,,,,,,etc...
Do come sort of pre-worn out.
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Old October 17, 2012, 06:45 AM   #21
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I am trying to wear some of mine out before I die. I think I will wear out before they do, however.
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Old October 17, 2012, 08:08 AM   #22
KMAX
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^^^+1 Me too.
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Old October 17, 2012, 08:13 AM   #23
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I don't know how many rounds. A lot though. 1920 and 1918 production

Still work fine and are accurate. Dark pitted bores and all

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Old October 17, 2012, 01:33 PM   #24
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Wear out a gun ...not likely ..../ especially if its well made.

I have a nice 1911 ( wilson combat ) that recently went over 40,000 rds ( its 6 yrs old - bought it new in Fall of 2006 / broke the extractor a few weeks ago - it was shipped to Wilson for repair under warranty - had it back inside of 2 weeks...../ worn out, no ---just needed a new extractor ( and springs once in a while )...

Wilson Combat reports ...they have some barrels, in their "range" guns ...that have well over 750,000 rds thru them with no discernable accuracy deterioration..../ so even though I shoot a lot ....to get one gun, over 750,000 rds ...no, not in my lifetime.

I have some favorite S&W revolvers...model 27's especially that are over 30 yrs old ...and while I don't shoot them every week ...I shoot them quite a bit ...at least 3,000 - 5,000 rds a year..../ and none of them are showing any signs of wearing out yet...
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Old October 17, 2012, 01:43 PM   #25
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one of my favorite 357 snubbys is a taurus but honestly I could see that handgun not standing the test of time(and bullets) if put to the test next to my S&W and ruger 357s
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