Pop Pop BOOM!

It was early Sunday morning and I was on my way to the range to shoot pistols outdoors with my buddy Mike. I was excited because this range covered all the disciplines pistol wise and they had a 1000 yard rifle range too. Knowing that the many courses of fire would require round counts in the thousands I grabbed everything I had and tossed it into a bag. There were factory loads, reloads, protection and duty rounds in all shapes and sizes for my 357 magnum.

If I’m one thing it’s a wheel gun guy, and I’m a come lately wheel gun guy too. When I was young and dumb in the military I went by the thinking that if you could put more bullets in the gun it must be a better gun. The 9mm was so exciting, finally putting the old 1911 to rest in favor of the “newer” (cough) 9mm, what a time to be alive and carry a gun. My judgement was clouded by T.V. and Hollywood and to a large part by my peers at the time. I switched back to the old school, and threw over my 9mm pistols for the smaller and more powerful .357 magnums.

Bullets come in all shapes and sizes and today there are more boutique ammo manufacturers and rounds that promise the world than ever before. There are +P cartridges, reduced recoil rounds, subsonic hush puppies, ballistic tip wonders and just about every other thing you can think of. In the dizzing array of ammo types it’s pretty easy to make a mistake with ammo. Selecting the correct bullet for your pea shooter shouldn’t be hard. The first thing a shooter needs to do is figure out which caliber they need to feed their handgun. Marked on every gun, usually on the receiver or barrel, is the caliber it is chambered for. This is a rated pressure the manufacturer says is safe for the particular firearm, it is not recommended that you exceed this pressure with factory or reloaded ammo. Some will say +P and will handle the extra sauce, some will not. You should never shoot +P ammo in a handgun that’s not rated for it or you might end up with a bloody stump.

Meanwhile back on the range I’ve got a bubblegum machine selection of rounds in my packet I’m charging my starving cylinder to feed the drill at hand. My Smith & Wesson R8 is running pretty good and chewing up the competition. When I’m down to the last handful of loosies I decide to shoot my tiny little Smith & Wesson 640-1 to clear out the months old Hornady Critical Defense .357 Magnums I’ve been running and jumping with. I make gorgeous hits and decide to shoot the last of my pocket ammo up since I have exactly 5 rounds left. It’s a mixed bunch of various poppers that my gun gobbles up one two three then a much louder and bigger bang followed by a boom that made a fireball go all the way to the ground. My finger tip felt like I just had my finger nail ripped off and my forearm was aching from the blast. Something was amiss as I’ve never even shot a .44 Magnum that peppered me like that little .357 Magnum did. Once I was able to finally swing the cylinder out I wasn’t able to eject the shells.

If I had been shooting a weaker gun I might not be typing this today, and as for my greed when free ammo comes in, well it’s definitely lessoned. My buddy Mike said “That’s why I always shoot the same ammo, consistency.”. His matter of fact statement said volumes to me and my stinging hand. The moral to my story is don’t shoot free reloaded ammo you don’t know a thing about. Yes free is cheap but at what expense? Those last two rounds I shot parted the cases and flattened out the primers, they were tough to extract but truly the little stainless J frame was over built and am I ever glad it was. The post explosion inspection revealed the little Smith & Wesson was none worse for the wear, had that been in one of my wonder 9’s I’d be called stumpy today.

Always be aware of the gun you are preparing to shoot and what ammo you are shooting. If you have a question about which ammo your gun will safely shoot take it to your local gun shop and ask. Fingers don’t grow back!