From our friend "across the pond" the eminent Dennis Martin...
------------------------------------------The primary quality of the defensive handgun is reliability. As I wrote elsewhere “It must work ..if it doesn’t everything else, accuracy, ergonomics etc are irrelevant. The pistol must function reliably.
How reliable should the pistol be? 100% reliability is not attainable in any mechanical instrument made by man, and 99% is unacceptable. I wouldn’t own a weapon that failed with one shot in every hundred. So we try for as near to 100% as possible. So let’s devote this topic to reliability.
The first thing is to choose a weapon with a proven track record, one that has been tried and tested and has gained a good record for reliability. Sadly, there are some weapons with inbuilt design flaws, which will never work properly. These we discussed here.
Of course, an individual example of an otherwise reliable design can be undependable, so it’s essential to “road test” any model before carrying for self protection. You should put about 200 rounds of your chosen ammunition through the weapon before relying on it.
This brings us to the next concern:
There is a tendency for some shooters to carry a magic super-exotic type of ammo, “guaranteed” to stop a charging buffalo with one shot, without ensuring that it feeds and cycles consistently in their particular pistol. One reason is that exotic ammo tends to be expensive, and putting a couple of hundred through the pistol is a significant cost..... but consider the cost of failure.
Ammunition must suit the weapon. Bullet profile, recoil impulse and gas pressure produce an individual set of characteristics which must match your weapon. Also, performance may be flawless when you are locked in, two handed, weight committed, but in a worst case scenario you might be firing one handed, from an off balance position, with a sweaty or bloody hand. Under these circumstances will the weapon still cycle that ammo?
These are the source of the majority of reliability problems, and I’ve discussed this in depth here.
Basically, your hands must match the weapon. If the weapon is too big, or, too small it’s possible that your fingers will interfere with the controls and cause inadvertent stoppages. An example is the thumb pushing up on the slide catch, causing the slide to lock back in mid shoot. Elsewhere I mentioned “ the S&W auto that a friend bought. I can't remember the exact model, and don't have my Smith & Wesson decoder ring, but I seem to recall it was a 645. The weapon sported a pair of ambidextrous decockers, mounted on the slide, in just the position where your hand naturally went when performing a slide manipulation. I remember my mate going through a stoppage drill, which required the familiar "Tap-rack-bang" routine. As he racked the slide, his hand pushed the decockers down, rendering the weapon inoperative. Instead of the "bang" he just got a mushy trigger action. Thinking he was still suffering a malfunction, he went through the Tap-rack drill again, with, of course, the same result, until finally he realised what was happening. The same thing happened during "Stovepipe" clearances. He soon got rid of that, as a weapon which is prone to operator-induced stoppages, is pretty dismal.
I was on range once and saw a guy do a malfunction clearance on an H&K P7, during which his thumb hit the disassembly button, resulting in the weapon coming apart in his hands. Not ideal.
There have been holsters, too, that can cause a stoppage. I don’t know how true it is but there were stories of a shoulder holster which disassembled the Beretta on the draw.
"Look after your kit, because it looks after you" is an important principle. Institute a regular maintenance program, for your handgun.
Cleaning should be:-
[blockquote]a] daily, a wipedown and inspection even if the weapon hasn't been fired.
b] Complete cleaning and lubrication after firing.
c] Regular armourers' checks.
d] Keep a malfunction log. Note details of every stoppage, ammo used, type of stoppage, magazine used etc. This will give you a picture of what to pay attention too.[/blockquote]
For complete cleaning my favourite products are Hoppes 9 as a nitro solvent, Birchwood Casey GunScrubber, to remove all grease after using the solvent. Then Tuff Glide, from Sentry Solutions, as lubrication. To wipe the weapon after daily carry I prefer TuffCloth.
Follow the maintenance procedures recommended by the manufacturers. For example, on one trip to Jo’burg I loaned Clint my Glock 19 to shoot during a training course. At the time, Glocks were rare in RSA, and he was thinking about buying one. After the training, which used about 300 rounds Clint offered to clean the pistol. I showed him how to strip it then left him to it. Lubricating the Glock requires just three drops of oil. I don’t know how many drops Clint used, but it ended up like a Greek salad. There was still oil seeping from it weeks later back home!
Hopefully, this short piece will emphasise the importance of reliability, and give you some insights into how to achieve the maximum.
Dennis Martin's Combatives Community