How Many Rounds Should You Put Through Your Concealed Carry Handgun?

How Many Rounds Should You Put Through Your Concealed Carry Handgun?

It’s a common question asked by concealed carriers once they’ve picked up a new handgun: how many rounds should I put through my gun?

There’s no clear manufacturer’s guidance regarding how many rounds before you need to change a barrel or a recoil spring. It’s very much a “see as you go” situation. Basically, after around 100,000 rounds of non-overpressurized ammunition, you’ll begin to see some wear and tear on the barrel. The recoil spring may have needed replacement by this point. But that 100,000 round marker isn’t some sort of scientific litmus test. There is no definitive guide that addresses all makes and models of popular handguns and then examines their lifecycle.

The lifecycle of a part is how long a part is generally good for use. If a part is critical to a machine’s process and it fails, the machine is effectively out of commission until that part is replaced. Items like barrels, triggers, recoil springs, striker pins — these are all critical pieces.

The good news is that with regular practice and routine maintenance, issues with a decent handgun shouldn’t crop up at all. The complications arise when the gun is left in bad conditions, like salty water or humidity, and covered in corrosive residue from cheap surplus rounds. And even then, a handgun shouldn’t fail.

Old military surplus made as early as the 1920s is still in decent functional order. If you walk inside any old gun shop, you’ll likely see a rack of military surplus that could be as old as you are — and it still works.

For your everyday defense and concealed carry purposes, your handgun is exposed to hazards which may lead to its degradation over time. These hazards can include:

  • Excessive sweat or moisture
  • Improper storage
  • Carbon scoring left over from surplus ammo
  • Overpressurized rounds (+P, +P+)

There’s other hazards as well but the majority aren’t detrimental in any near-term effect. It’s only after years and years of improper storage, failing to clean, and using hot ammo that we begin to see the effects on the handgun itself.

And why not take good care of your handgun by proper maintenance? There are people who say you don’t need to clean your gun after every time you use it. Regular maintenance is a really good habit to get into and especially after using the handgun. It reinforces proper safety, your own knowledge of the handgun, and maintaining pride in your tools.

After all, this is a gun that is expected to save your life should the need arise. Wouldn’t you want to take good care of it?

So, in general, feel free to put as many rounds a month as your budget can handle. It would be more ideal to practice at a regular interval than to simply put 10,000 rounds sequentially through a pistol during a heavy day of use. Almost any handgun is designed to withstand the wear and tear of firing rounds. If you feel your pistol wouldn’t handle 1,000 rounds of ammunition going through it, you probably aren’t carrying the right pistol.

Feel free to let us know how many rounds you’ve put through your everyday concealed carry handgun in the comments section below.

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  • bob_h

    Factually, many if not most handgun manufacturers do indeed have a maintenance/replacement schedule for at least the recoil springs on their products, although it may not be indicated in the owners manual. Recoil springs take the most abuse of any spring on a gun. As the additional cost is negligible, I’m a firm believer in replacing all of the springs at the same time.

    That being said, I over maintain my carry guns and under maintain my competition guns. Game guns I shoot till failure simply to see where the limits are. Blowing a stage is not nearly as important as not being able to protect my family…

    • ross kaleolani

      Bob H, I also agree with you. Although I don’t log how many rounds I put through my pistols I believe CCW holders really should have at least two pistols, handguns in case one does break down. Also purchase and have on hand the parts that are prone to wear or breakage. Sure, a handgun manual suggests after a certain amount of rounds to have handgun have some maintenance yet I think a well taken care of handgun will last many years. I am glad you take care of yours I field strip, wipe down clean etc, mine every couple weeks. I have read stories, in fact a police officer went to an armor or and said his gun didn’t work and he hasn’t fired it in a long time. We’ll, the officer never maintained it either, when the gunsmith looked at it there were chunks of food, gum wrapper, and all kinds of crap in the hammer area blocking the hammer. Like I said, at least have extra parts someone can replace themselves like guide rods, guide rod spring etc because who wants to wait a couple weeks just because they don’t have the part? This is the reason I believe people who owns handguns for protection should have two, for when one is out.

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  • Edward N. Barnes

    Kahr recommends at least 200 rounds break in before trusting it to carry. Some people say that is too much. Maybe, maybe not. When I got my PM9 it was fairly new on the market so I put 200 rounds through it. It jammed on rounds 49 and 51 but never a hiccup since.

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