Shooting is not a cheap hobby. Especially with 8 years under Obama's rule. The fear of a gun ban, and ammo shortages have lead to massive amounts of ammo hoarding. Now that we have a chance to get a pro gun candidate elected these fears are starting to go away, and as a result store shelves are rather well stocked on most common calibers.
For a while the high cost of ammo for calibers like 9mm, had driven many to consider reloading. Of course the cost of reloading is dependent on how much you value your time. Should you go buy a box of 50 for $20, or reload your own for $6. Now that ammo prices have come back down to reasonable levels, reloading for calibers like 9mm no longer makes sense. So the new challenge is trying to find a quality 9mm ammo for punching holes in paper at the range.
If you make your purchases based simply on price, then you will likely end up with some russian made steel cased cartridges. Unfortunately steel cased ammo usually is not polished, which leads to difficult loading of magazines and cycling problems in some guns. Then there is aluminum cased ammo, which performs much closer to brass, while costing less. Unfortunately you can't reload either steel or aluminum ammo. Plus many ranges don't allow anything buy brass due to safety concerns of sparks. So this leaves you trying to find the cheapest brass cased ammo. Keep in mind we want a reliable consistent ammo, for the purpose of practice at the range, and self defense if we so choose. Some people think if you aren't loading your magazines with the latest Zombie Grade high expansion hollow points then you are cutting yourself short in personal defense.
My own thinking is you should practice with the same ammo you plan on defending yourself with. Your Ammo should be reliable and consistent. Some cheaper ammos don't always have the most consistent power loadings. The result is the recoil varies from shot to shot. When shooting from greater distances consistency is important.
Its always good to keep a good supply of ammo on hand. Nothing worse than trying to find ammo last minute before going to the range, or even worse paying a premium at the range for their ammo. Keeping your ammo in a safe place is important. You don't want boxes of ammo sitting around the house, especially with kids. If you are a responsible adult, you likely keep your guns and ammo in a safe. But your safe has a finite amount of space. Every cubic inch matters. If you are like me you likely have a shelf in your safe that is designated for stacking boxes of your ammo.
Unfortunately some manufacturers don't appreciate the limited amount of space we have in our safes, and they go for biggers boxes which at a glance look more impressive on store shelves. The illusion that a bigger box has more value than a smaller box is deceptive marketing. Consumers want the smallest packaging possible while still providing protection for the product and support for the weight of stacking multiple boxes. I understand that some manufacturers are trying to cut costs, and for them its easier to just use the same card board boxes and trays for all Handgun ammo calibers. It pisses me off when a box of 25 ACP is the same size as a box of 45 ACP for the same number of cartidges.
Here we have the packaging for 4 different brands of 9mm 115 grain FMJ.
You can see how the Federal and Aguila waste a lot of space, whiel the PMC and PPU are much smaller and about the same size.
Ammo Trays for each brand. Once again Federal and Aulia seem to think they need extra space between rounds. While PMC and PPU have smaller trays. The PPU trays hold the rounds very snuggly which I like, but do not provide very much horizontal protection. The PMC trays have a high edge providing excellent protection from horizontal impacts. None of the brands provide complete veritcal protection. Though this would make it harder to remove ammo from the trays. I have always wondered why manufactures do not design trays that store ammo in a staggered layout. If I ever bought a 3D printer that is probably one of the first things I would design.
Something you might notice is the 2nd case seems shorter than the rest. This can happen due to poor packaging, which causes an impact on the boxes to push the bullet deeper in the casing. This can be dangerous with full power loads. The powder will create a specific amount of pressure based on the volume of space behind the bullet. When bullets are set too deep in the casing the volume decreases and the preasure increases. The results can vary from cracked casings which you will not be able to reload, to damaged guns. The Aguilia is the round that is a little too deep in the case, the rest are to spec. The one of the left is the Federal Aluminum cased ammo. Aluminum tends to be cheaper than brass, but most ranges do not allow it. Aluminum cycles and loads into magazines much closer to brass than steel, but due to the unpolished finish it will not perform as reliably as brass. It is possible to polish aluminum cases, but unfortunately I have yet to find any manufactures that do this. Doing so would bring the reliability up with brass, but you still wouldn't be able to reload it.
I will be testing with the following guns. I only have 100 rounds for testing, so I am only going to use 1 full magazine for each gun.
One thing that stood out while I was loading magazines was how hard it was to grab the bullets out of the trays. The high walls of the trays which I complimented earlier for protecting the ammo, have a side effect of making it difficult picking up bullets from the trays. Granted this is a minor issue, but still worth pointing out.
I ran tests with the above listed guns. I ran 1 full magazine through each of the guns. I got similar results from other ammos I have shot, Everyone of the rounds fired, no hard primers, or weak loads. Everything felt consistent. The Taurus PT92 and Colt Pocket 9 where new transfers I was picking up that day, so I didn't have any prior experience to compare those guns to. What I can say is the PT92 did not perform like my Beretta M9A1. The experience actually might deter me from buying Taurus again. Granted its a used gun, but still didn't feel right. The Colt Pocket 9 on the other hand felt well constucted, but has the worst trigger of any gun I have never fired. Heavy and rough. To the point there is no way to keep on target with the amount of force required to pull back the trigger. I am starting to wonder if Colt only made the Pocket 9 for 1 year because of the lawsuite with KAHR, or because people hated the trigger that bad. Either way with only 5000 of them its a collectors piece worth holding onto.
Everything went perfect until the end. I had some extra ammo left over and used the last of it with my M9A1, which is my favorite 9mm. I fired off several shots in rapid succession, and then one bullet had a failure to feed. This was towards the end of the magazine. I have never had any problems with ammo cycling in my M9A1 before, though I haven't cleaned this gun since buying it and since that time I have ran maybe 200 rounds through it. It might be time to Clean my M9. After doing some google searches it seems this is a common issue with the M9A1 and 92FS which are pretty much the same gun.
If anyone else has had issues with failure to feed on a Beretta M9A1, or 92FS, let me know.
If you are interested in buying some PMC 9mm Bronze, I highly recommend Ammoeasy.