How Many Rounds Prove Firearm Reliability?

The reliability of a firearm is a matter of firearm and ammo and confidence. developed from operation
without problems. over time and plenty of use.

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What if we flip the question?

How many issues can you tolerate until you decide a firearm is too unreliable to use for self-defense?


Round count is only one of the criterion I consider re: reliability. I don’t have a specific number; it’s more a matter of how much use it takes for me until I quit thinking about reliability.


Nice One Q5.
Since every firearm on the planet will eventually miss a beat, my EVO SP, at the range and out in the desert plinking, is around 99.8% perfect. That’s feeding it anything and everything. So I’m 99.8 percent confident it’ll work. The .2% suspicion is why I look around for cover or escape routes…


Only catastrophic failure can make the firearm unreliable.
All other issues are fixable… unless someone doesn’t fix issues at all.


There you go! :+1:
As my earlier comment, just one is enough to seek a better answer if I cannot identify and correct the cause of malfunction (gun, ammo, operator).

My earliest EDC, an Officer Model 1911 clone, developed a problem I could not quickly resolve (no slide lock on empty). In a higher capacity pistol with no reload carried, it would be a minor concern for diligent pursuit. With 6-7 rounds to empty, an efficient recharge was a critical issue from the first time it happened.

With no quick fix, I move to a 16 round double stack producing no faults over several thousand rounds. I now carry no reload, and work on the 1911 is a back burner nostalgia project. But the first failure out of the M&P which I cannot confidently resolve, is the first step to a different solution.

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Good question.

1 failure in 1,000 rounds is pushing it, for me. I require less than that.

My personal record at the moment is a pistol with over 4,000 rounds and 0 malfunctions of any kind whatsoever for any reason, ever

My current primary carry is only at 525 but they have been perfect, 75 of those were JHP, and it’s a reputable make and model I trusted coming into it


I had a SA 1911 that was just horrible when I first bought it. It had all kinds of feeding issues. A friend filed and polished the edge where the bullet feeds into the chamber (word escapes me at the moment, sorry), and it’s been great ever since. Turns out that’s a common issue with cheaper 1911s.
I also had an issue with cheap ammo, but I’ve since learned that lesson, too.

It’s not my EDC, but I don’t have any trust issues with it, anymore.


I call that the barrel hood — not sure if that’s the real term.

Mine is an old Detonics — always fed perfectly, extracted and ejected perfectly, shot as good as I could hold a 4" sight radius. It just stopped locking back when empty. I messed with magazines, lips, springs, and the slide stop interface without consistent results. I feel like I can get more for less with modern 9mm bullets and plastic frames — so I kind of stopped working to make the .45 a reliable performer.

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Barrel hood:
Top part of the barrel (chamber area) which is visible via ejection port:

A 2022-03-11 19-35-19

The opening of the barrel or chamber (the rearmost part of the barrel) is called breech.

A 2022-03-11 19-44-50

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It’s easy.
When you have that feeling that you can trust that firearm with your life you will know it. Do your homework with ammo etc.
you will know!


Um, ok. Not sure why, but I see Mr Google likes that usage.
I call it the “chamber block” because it’s the block at the end of the barrel, within which is the chamber.
But that’s just me making up stuff so that I know what I’m talking about.

What I thought @Ouade5 was talking about was the specific spots where feed issues at the breech are often addressed with a bit of buffing

  1. feed ramp
  2. barrel hood
    1911 breech

On the same project site, the following photo is captioned
barrel hood
“Chamfer all edges of the hood as part of the reliability package.”

That’s consistent with my understanding and usage — but maybe archaic, or misunderstood, or used inappropriately. Beats me. I’d be glad for an authoritative “correct” term for that part of a barrel — Mr Google has not been helpful there.

Images are borrowed with appreciation and adapted from: Gaspains 1911 build chronicles/instructions (PICS FIXED) - AR15.COM


Gunsmiths may do this even more complicated, adding their nomenclature. :upside_down_face:

  • barrel throat
  • barrel mouth
  • barrel ramp
  • barrel face

Anyway, I think we get the idea no matter what we call those spots. :crossed_fingers:


Many consider firearms low tech, however when one truly looks at every little design feature even in a 113 y/o semi auto or older revolver it is amazing what needed to be thought through in metallurgy and design for everything to work smoothly and reliably!


Defensive rounds:

Some good points raised here, What stood out for me was the exact type of ammo and the firearm itself.

I hear terms such as certain guns like certain bullets and vice versa, certain bullets feed better. I seek a happy medium, always on the look out.

For me, I look at the best firearm I like. Then I look for my favorite ammo, and for semi’s, I look for less jams, as a primary characteristic.

I like JHP, nickel plated, and copper instead of lead bullets. However, I don’t prefer JHP which have too large of an opening/hallow point.

I test out different ammo brands when the budget allows. For me, visiting the range includes practice in accuracy with lower cost FMJ, but also testing reliability of defensive rounds.

I’m seeing lots of newer ammo, kinda pricy, but their shape has me guarded or questioning their reliability until tested.

Since I don’t get to the range often, I now think testing reliability is a life long testing; saving up enough to afford to buy the more expensive rounds, and after each test - I write down all the results and save them electronically for those small minute comparisons/differences which would be important if ever in a sentinel event.

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No round count. Made by Walther and model starting with P. That’s all. Jk. 500 rounds I’d say is a good starting point for me as long as it has no user induced malfunctions and cycles multiple types of ammo without issue.


that’s why i like revolvers kinda hard to screw that up


As usual a lot of good responses to a “loaded” question. I am lucky to have access to several magazines with great gun revues. Read a lot before spending the $$$. Look and feel a lot at your local gun store. Lastly shoot one. Many at a range will share before you buy. Then a 100 round hard test should help you determine you made the right choice. By hard I mean rapid fire fast reload scenarios.



These are the situations when “reliable” firearm may fail…

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Yes sir. If you buy you will have plenty of time to be accurate but it must function.