How Many Rounds Prove Firearm Reliability?

Whether it is your carry firearm, truck gun, home choice, etc etc …

At what point can you officially say a firearm is
deemed reliable?

Besides number of times fired and/or number of malfunctions, what else can add to a firearm being deemed reliable?

On the flip side, what signs show that a new firearm could be unreliable?

Thank you for your time.


Catch 22. The more it is fired, the higher its reliability. The more it is fired, the more wear it sustains.


I think reputation can play a part in determining reliability. If a lot of forum posts and reviews mention reliability problems then I would probably avoid the firearm, at least as a defensive weapon. At the very least I would want to fire a lot more rounds through it before trusting it.

Another issue is that some firearms can be specific ammo picky. You want to run a certain number of the exact ammo you plan to use for self defense through it before trusting that combo.

For me, if the firearm has a good reputation, fires a couple hundred rounds of practice ammo with no malfunctions and fires 100 rounds of my intended carry ammo without a hitch then I feel pretty confident.


I really think that’s a personal determination. And maybe not so different than, say, an automobile. Are you comfortable knowing that your firearm would function properly when needed? Do you know what to do if it doesn’t work? If you don’t trust your firearm, what do you need to make you more comfortable (more range time, more training, a better firearm)?


I’m sure it varies by personal preference or the type of firearm. For me 200 rounds to consider it broken in.

If being used for SD, I like to run 100 rounds of SD rounds to feel comfortable with the combination. I try combinations of +1 to start, then reload on empty, and reload with one still in chamber, full mags, half empty mags, etc.


Most on here believe brand or war cred is what makes it reliable , I’ve seen the best pistols limp wristed into a failure, not cleaned to a failure and neglected to a failure. Bottom line with the ammo you use to defend yourself buy extra because some guns are finicky your gun needs to chew what ever you throw in it. Period or you will be sol. To give it a diet of premium grade high fiber low drag soft pop whatever is impractical, imho lube gun run a box slow 3seconds between shots 10 rnds
10 rnds 1 second apart mag dump 1 mag then 3shot string and done


My personal observation is product complaints outnumber fanboy posts.
I would rely more on documented recalls.


Agree but complaints often proceed the recalls. I look for posts, opinions and reviews from people who clearly know what they are talking about. That’s how I finally figured out my LCP 2 was a lemon having the same issues many others were having. Should have read the forums first before waisting a lot of ammo trying to figure out the issues myself.


I don’t use round count for this directly. The firearm may seem to be reliable at the range even after 1,000 rds… but it may not be reliable in dynamic situations.
But, if I have to provide the number, I will go with total 500 rounds of “combat shooting” with all magazines. (at least 3 different ammo types and manufacturers).


The answer depends on the manufacturer. For S&W I recommend 250-300 rounds for break in. Glock, in contrast, needs no break in, 50 rounds prove nothing is badly wrong with the gun.
You can extend this onto other models built with tight vs lose mechanical tolerances. E.g., Berettas -250, 1911s - 250, etc.
Just my 2 cents


Reputable company -gets good reviews
Fit- it has to fit my hand good
Good sights that I can see good
Short but distinct reset- I have to be able to feel it
Points where it feels like it is pointing
Nothing sharp sticking out that can get caught or cut me or something.
Inexpensive- it has to fit my budget
I also like extractors that I can press on the back so it can go around the rim of the casing.


The old rule of thumb was 100 for a revolver, and 200 for a pistol - then have them checked out by a gunsmith - especially for cylinder gap and timing. I suspect much of the problems with pistols lay in the feed ramps, reliable with hardball ammo, but not with hollow-points.


All of them.

Any time a firearm fails to function properly a single time for a reason you cannot identify and correct (repairable part, ammo selection, user technique), the gun has proven its unreliability. Could be in the first 50 rounds; might not be until round #5001. But there will be no proof.of reliability.

It’s all just a matter of subjective perception and comparison to alternatives. If you have just one gun and one box of ammo — and they function properly for five shots — it’s reliable enough compared to the alternative (i.e. having none).

If you have an entire armory (or the ability to acquire one), the criteria suggested by others are good ones to consider in deciding when one solution offers subjectively equal or greater confidence in reliability than alternatives. Most of us will be operating in the broad space between those extremes.

Any tool — regardless of reputation, testing, or prior performance — might suddenly fail you in a moment of need. Arbitrary round counts of 100, 200, 500, 1000, or 10,000 should eventually get you past any “break-in” period, suggest reliability (up to the point of wearing out), and provide subjective confidence — but you will never really know until the final exam.


As a rule of thumb probably 500 rounds without failure give or take.

A firearm with a good reputation you can go lower, a firearm with a bad reputation… well, don’t even bother :wink:


It’s all feel to me, example
My 380 was finicky for the first 200-300 rounds so I didn’t trust it for SD but now, it never missed so in that case break in made me nervous but experience has helped me gain confidence.
My 9mm has a problem when racking with a full mag, -1 it’s 100%. After that it’s been as close to perfect as it can get. Again experience has helped me gain confidence, I know that my second mag has to be -1.
My 38 Spcl, revolver is 100%, never misses so again, experience wins.


One other thing needs to be addressed your magazines they can make or break a gun. Use the best magazines you can afford. When I was in the military the magazines we were garbage they worked on the range but as soon as we got to the sand box they stopped working, even being cleaned 2 or 3 times a day. As far as I’m concerned the 92 platform is good, I have 2 but I use very good magazines. Oh bye the way my last time to the sand box myself and the rest of my team took our own magazines and had no problems.


I also read of front sights becoming loose.
Lots of stress put on the gun, lots of moving parts.
What could possibly go wrong?


I kind of agree, with the caveat that there are so many things that can make a firearm misfire, up to and including user error. My inability to identify the root cause does not mean that the firearm is faulty. (Kind of like UFOs… my inability to identify an object in the air is not proof of extra-terrestrial life.)

But I think your point is that my inability to identify the problem/solution makes the firearm unreliable to me. I kind of agree with that. I just hope people aren’t out there throwing away perfectly good firearms simply because they bought cheap ammo or need a little work on their grip. :laughing:


400 Rounds in a semiautomatic for me. Had a new Browning Hi Power that had the front of the slide fly off down range after about 350 rounds when I got into firearms. It was fixed under warranty and I have not had a problem since. Had a Walther CCP that broke after 100 rounds, it was fixed under Warranty.


For me it depends, in part, on the gun.

If we’re talking about a brand new Glock, bone stock, 100 rounds FMJ plus 50 rounds JHP with perfect function in every way, and I’m happy carrying it with that JHP and the already tested factory Glock magazines.

If it’s a home built AR-15 type with a suppressor added, I’m going to want to see more rounds, due to more variables etc.

If it’s “finicky”, it’s not reliable and I won’t use it for defense. Period. I’m talking “Finicky” with quality ammo, not finicky with off brand cheap mags and steel case junk, necessarily.

All that said, what I personally really like, is about 1,000-2,000 rounds total and 200 rounds JHP of flawless function, at which point I shoot it little (here and there to rotate ammo and just make sure, and relube) and instead practice with a substantially similar firearm. Two is one, good excuse to buy another, etc.