Thursday, January 03, 2019

Going the distance (for a given value of distance.)

The U.S. military has a gun cleaning fetish that is a holdover from the days of corrosive primers (and black powder before that.) Boiling water cleaning and "white glove" intolerance for carbon have probably resulted in more guns being cleaned to death than shot to death.

In reality, most modern firearms just need lubricant, and even that's to a varying degree. Current polymer-framed guns like the Glock, where the "frame rails" are tiny little tabs with hardly any bearing surface that mostly exist to keep the slide flying in close formation with the frame, are tolerant of running pretty dry.

Occasional attempts to dispel these myths, like Uncle Pat's efforts with Filthy 14, manage to change a few minds, but the culture of squeaky clean remains well-entrenched.

Me running Filthy 14 in a class in '15, photo by Pat Rogers
I mean, you want to go into game day with a gun that's going to run, which means well-lubed and not terribly caked with residue.

Thus comes the widely misunderstood "2,000 Round Challenge" started by Todd Green. When logging in the results with the Ruger at pistol-forum, I read back a few pages and found this laugher:
"This is like driving your car 50,000 miles without any maintenance just to see if it would operate without maintenance. At the least you'll cause accelerated wear due to dirt and grime buildup."
This shows a stunning lack of the realities of lubricant, pistol wear & tear, the actual life expectancy of a modern quality firearm, how often people who shoot a lot actually shoot, and a host of other factors. This is unsurprising when you realize that the average pistol gets a box of ammo fired through it and then gets thrown in the safe until it's traded in on the next shiny thing on the cover of G&A.

The origins of the 2k challenge came about way back when Todd was still doing his year-long, high-round-count tests. When you're at the range every day (or even every other day) chewing through rounds, you'd spend as much time cleaning as you did shooting if you adhered to the traditional white glove standard, and Todd was known for his lackadaisical cleaning habits on these guns, which he carried.

In response, he pointed out that...
"It's really pretty arbitrary. The Challenge was begun after so many people balked at my, shall we say, "less stringent" maintenance habits. In my experience, just about any serious modern handgun, using something like Miltec, should be able to reach 2k without cleaning, without needing more lube, and without stoppages. 
The thing many people "forget" is that the 2,000 Round Challenge included absolutely no adding lubrication to the gun during the whole 2,000 round cycle. You clean & lube before you start, and then do nothing but shoot the gun until you hit 2,000. If you add some oil or grease during the 2,000 rounds, it's disqualified."
And he's absolutely right, as has been proven on these pages over and over again. (To say nothing of the results dozens of people have logged at pistol-forum.)

Commander Zero sussed this out and noted it in a post at his blog:
"As I was looking through her blog at all the other 2,000-rd tests one thing becomes clear: virtually any handgun from a reputable large manufacturer, using quality ammo, is darn near 100% reliable. Many of the failures that do occur in the tests that she writes about involve Wolf ammo, or bargain ammo of questionable pedigree. Not all, but enough to let me form an opinion about the ammo. The point being that if you buy a new, modern manufactured handgun in 9mm (that isn’t a Remington R51) and feed it quality (not high grade, just ‘quality’) ammo, you will probably achieve monotonous reliability."
With quality modern pistol and factory magazines, the "2,000 Round Challenge" is a test of lubricant and ammo more than anything else. If you've got visible lube weeping from the rails, you're probably still good to go. The idea that two cases of ammo dramatically accelerates wear on a pistol that should be good for, at a minimum, fifty or sixty cases of ammo (and which .0001 percent of users will ever see) is hilarious.

And even if it did, allow me to quote member JAD at p-f:
"Oh no. I would hate to wear out a gun."