By Cassie Coburn
You take good care of your firearm. You expand and refresh your skills with trips to your local range, keep your gun clean, and practice firearm safety in your home and while carrying. Go you! These are all excellent qualities in a responsible gun owner. Could anything possibly be missing? We all have room to learn, from the most advanced shooter to the lady standing at the gun counter for the first time. Your routine sounds pretty solid; but there may be a few things you didn’t know you were missing.
Guns are made to last. Manufacturers know and respect the responsibility they have to their buyers for distributing a trustworthy, well-made tool. However, even the most diligently crafted Swiss watch goes out from time to time. Your gun is no different. It should be tested thoroughly and often if you are to trust it with your life and the lives of your family. Here are three simple practices you can perform to make sure the out-of-sight/ out-of-mind pieces of your firearm are working as they should!
#1 – Test Your Safety
Your safety mechanism is a thing; and sometimes things (like people) do not behave the way they should. It’s a good practice to occasionally test yours out. While at the range and exercising vigilant gun safety, pull the trigger with the safety on. If something happens; you know you have a problem. Stop using this firearm and call the manufacturer for repairs. In most cases, you will only be out the cost of shipping; and you may be alerting the company to a large-scale problem they weren’t aware of. If your firearm is acting up, it may not be the only one. Sometimes things wear out, break down, or just don’t function properly from the get-go; and this is one of those things you can’t trust blindly. I like to perform this test on each new gun’s first trip to the range, then periodically down the road as well. With all three of these topic points I’d say once a year is good, but feel free to do so more often than that if you feel the need. Part of the safety of carrying a firearm is feeling confident in your skill level and awareness; but an equal part is confidence in your firearm itself. You should know that your gun is functioning as it should.
#2 – Give Your Magazine Springs a Rest
Just like with the rest of a firearm, magazine springs are usually insanely tight out of the box. Over time, they loosen and relax, just like any other springs tend to do. The more you test a spring’s limits, the more quickly it will deteriorate. Magazine springs are made to be high quality and long lasting; but as I’ll say again and again- they are things. I like to change mind out from time to time. This is a step many feel is unnecessary, but I myself don’t like to leave matters like this to chance. A magazine with poor springs can cause your ammunition to jam, or not feed into the chamber at all. Bad news if you’re face to face with a real threat! It doesn’t hurt me to occasionally unload a magazine and swap it out for another. I like to do this after my range trips. I make a note of which magazine was loaded before my trip, and load a different magazine after I’ve cleaned my gun. Most who practice this will agree that a swap once or twice a year is just fine to keep your springs in excellent working order. I also make sure my magazines are well cleaned after each use, as particulate can build up and cause problems over time. A hard toothbrush or brass bristle brush with a little solvent sprayed on does the trick with little effort!
#3 – Change Out Your Carry Ammo
This is something that is debated frequently by firearm enthusiasts. Ammo is made to last, and can have a staggeringly long shelf life. However, many things can lead to the demise of your self-defense ammunition. Weather changes and your ow
n sweat can affect bullets in a negative way. I’ve also experienced a large number of “duds” right out of the box. If a situation of need arises, your life may rely on that first round of ammunition that you’ve been carrying around for X amount of years; and I’d hate to find I had been carrying around a dead round all along.
About once every year (sometimes more frequently) I like to blow off my carry ammo on a range trip. This not only gives you the opportu
nity to load fresh rounds into your gun; it also reminds you how it feels to shoot what you are actually carrying. For most of us, the difference between target ammunition and what we carry is extreme. My .32 is a breeze at the range, I could blast away target rounds all day long if not for the rising price of bullets. Recently I decided to shoot my self-defense rounds and was shocked by how much punch they really packed. It wasn’t any fun being behind the magnum rounds; so I can imagine how much worse it would be to experience the other end of one! It gave me a bit more confidence that my gun could do the job if I needed to protect my family with it.
These three tips are all pain-free, simple ways to check the reliability of your fi
rearm and extend the life of its parts. Think of it as Spring Cleaning for your gun- but instead of sweeping floors and beating rugs, you get to blow off a little steam at your local range!