Top Menu

Remanufactured Ammunition, Bad for Your Gun Right?

Freedom munitions re-manufactured ammunition

Left to Right – Remington 115gr, Armscor 115gr, Re-manufactured ammo ‘Brand X'

The firearms community is quite diverse and full of many different schools of thought on many topics.  I love reading articles and discussion boards because not only do I learn about what firearms topics are on people's minds, but I can also learn about how gun owners with different mindsets think.  I do have to admit, though, that resist as I may, I usually find myself in the comments section.

This is where the real entertainment begins.  Throwing all respect and civility to the wind, passionate people, use their keyboards to fiercely battle it out and prove their opinion is right, while everyone else is wrong.

Recently I was made aware of a post about re-manufactured ammunition.  The post went a little something like this:  Someone posts about going out to shoot their x-brand, re-manufactured ammunition.  And … the comments come in:

‘Re-manufactured ammunition will ruin your gun'

‘Re-manufactured ammunition will void your warranty'

‘You're cheap and not a serious shooter because you shoot re-manufactured ammunition'

I imagine at some point someone resorted to “your momma' wears combat boots.”  But all joking aside, is there truth to any of these comments and rumors regarding re-manufactured ammunition, or is it just two different sides of the coin hashing it out to their internet deaths, like two 21st century cyber gladiators?

What is re-manufactured ammunition?

It is important to first understand that it is different than Re-loaded ammunition.  Without getting into the weeds in every aspect of ammo production, re-manufactured ammunition is produced using commercial equipment, which adheres to the strict specifications set by the Shooting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute (SAAMI). It is produced with a new bullet, primer, and load components but uses re-purposed casings.

Re-loads, on the other hand, are not produced with the same quality control standards or large commercial equipment.  And then, of course, you have Factory-New ammunition, which is produced on the same commercial equipment but uses brand new casings along with all the other components.

Is it safe for my gun?

You will find in most firearms manuals (if you read them) a sentence stating something like: such and such firearm company does not recommend using re-loaded or re-manufactured ammunition in the handgun.  That using such ammunition is dangerous and will also void the manufacturer's warranty.

This warning sounds pretty definitive, but if you think about all the liability issues facing gun manufacturers, they must err on the absolute side of caution, lest they are sued and bankrupted over some knucklehead's actions; think of the person who sues the restaurant because they spill coffee on themselves and it is ‘too hot.'

Thinking along these lines, it makes sense that gun manufacturers are not going to take any chances that the re-manufactured ammunition was really up to SAAMI specs, or the re-loaded ammunition Uncle Jim just cranked out in his basement wasn't the batch made after his 9th Budweiser.  If I owned a large company, I wouldn't take any chances either.

But, is re-manufactured ammunition safe?  I can tell you that I shoot it a lot, and what I use is produced with the same SAAMI standards as factory new ammunition, only it uses casings that have already been shot.  I have literally shot tens of thousands of re-manned rounds, of various calibers from this company, and tens of thousands of factory new ammunition.  I have not seen any difference whatsoever in the reliability between the two.

I am sure that there are some companies cutting corners or slacking in their quality control standards.  So if you happen to purchase some from a company that doesn't adhere to SAAMI or quality control standards, you could get some bad results.

In fact, I am aware of a recent viral video circulating the internet showing a S&W semi-auto .40 cal blowing up in a woman's hands.  There is some debate on if the catastrophic failure was due to a squib or an overloaded cartridge, but the original poster of the video stated re-manufactured ammunition was being used.  The person doesn't mention the brand, only that it is a company in Washington State.

If you've never heard of the term “squib” before, here is a short video that explains it very well:

An incident like this may seem to add credence to skeptics claiming that this ammo is not safe.  In fact, many people see an incident like this and jump to massive conclusions, like ‘that's why I don't like S&W guns.' or ‘That is why I don't like plastic guns,' or ‘.40 caliber cartridges are not safe.' or ‘I only buy factory new ammunition' etc. etc.  I imagine these people also refuse to purchase or drive any automobile, because automobiles are unsafe.

After all, there is no automobile manufacturer that has not had a safety recall.

Shooting a handgun is inherently dangerous and no matter what the quality control standards, a bad round could make its way out to the public.  Squib loads and overloaded cartridges are not unique to re-manufactured ammunition.  I would argue that squib loads or overloaded cartridge problems can occur in factory new ammunition as well because I have seen it occur first hand.

There are literally hundreds of ammunition manufacturer's out there of various quality and price point.  In the re-manufactured ammunition category, there are several companies producing quality products that you can trust.

Armscor ammunition

Left to Right – Remington 115gr, Armscor 115gr, Re-manufactured ammo ‘Brand X'

What about the warranty you ask?  I have spoken with numerous firearm owners, who have sent their firearms back to the manufacturer for recalls or other service issues.  I can think of 5, off the top of my head, who kept their integrity and notified the company that they had in fact used re-manufactured ammunition in the firearm.  Not one of the 5, told me the company refused to honor the warranty.

In fact, one issue was not caused by re-manufactured ammunition directly, but just from the firearm barrel reaching the end of its life.  The company could have easily denied the service once the owner admitted to shooting re-manufactured ammunition, but they didn't.

This could be a lesson on honesty, dealing with a reputable company, or just a lucky customer service operator.  In any event, the use of re-manned ammo did not void out any of these firearms' warranties.

Of course, this does not mean that it couldn't/doesn't happen, especially if they say it in their owner's manual. It's just that I've never heard of it.

What is the appeal of re-manufactured ammunition?

Shooters use re-manufactured ammunition for various reasons, like:

  • Cheaper price
  • Easy to purchase in bulk
  • Purchase hard to find calibers
  • Subscription services
  • Delivered to your door
  • Brass trade-in credits

As a note, I purposely left out the name of the company I purchase my ammunition from because I am not endorsing a specific company.  I simply want to dispel some confusion about what it is, explain my experience using it, and show how I believe it can be beneficial for training.

Re-manufactured ammunition for practice and self-defense?

I mentioned I shoot a lot of re-manufactured ammunition, but do so exclusively for practice.  My opinion is that as long as my gun cycles it, I would rather be able to buy more ammo for the same price and train more, than worry about the unlikely possibility that my ammunition is going to destroy my gun or void the warranty.  If you purchase your re-manufactured ammunition from a reputable manufacturer, you won't have a problem.

For self-defense, I prefer to purchase factory-new.  Not because I have experienced reliability issues with re-manned ammo, but solely not to introduce any external factors that could increase the odds of my self-defense firearm not functioning, even if that factor raises the odds just slightly.  There are many ammunition manufacturers that have years of proven reliability, that it just makes sense to go with these proven defensive cartridges.

What is your trusted company that you buy re-manufactured ammunition from?  Let me know in the comments below.  And while we are speaking of ammunition, ever wonder what common stuff will stop a bullet?  Check out this evolving list of things that we have tested that will or won't stop a bullet.

, , , , , , , , , ,

27 Responses to Remanufactured Ammunition, Bad for Your Gun Right?

  1. Jay Lacson June 20, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    I make (re-load) my own ammo and have never had an issue. I prefer reloading my own ammo because it’s cheaper and I can get the ‘feet per second’ down in order to lesson recoil (I do this for competitions). For my concealed carry I use store purchased ammo, why?, because I don’t trust the ammo I make for self defense.

  2. John Hyland June 20, 2017 at 4:27 pm #

    Some may not agree, but I find that gun owners and shooters are inherently cheap skates and I am a proud member of that group! I have bought reman. ammo for hunting and target usage in many rifle and hand gun calibers with no complaints and rare duds, so they fill the bill with big savings. I must admit that for defense or big game use, I rely on factory ammo for obvious reasons. I also am privileged to have an expert reloader friend whom I rely to reload both handgun and rifle ammo with brass that I save, which adds to savings with no sacrifice of reliability. Being a shotshell reloader for years, I know the value of reloading so I enjoy reusing casings whenever possible and I have never had a gun problem with reloads! There is a nice hobby in this whole reload ammo area that I believe has many advantages. Talk to an advid large game hunter and you will find an expert hand reloader who makes his own loads!
    John Hyland

  3. Joe June 20, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

    I don’t particularly like to shoot reman ammo from small companies, but I do handload/reload my own rounds in various calibers and have been doing so with great success for many years and tens of thousands of rounds. Hand loading offers me benefits not only in the way of cost reduction, but also allows me to tailor specific loads for specific platforms and specific purposes. Even things like time of year/temperature effect ammo performance so it’s nice to be able to account for all of that!

  4. Joe D'Errico June 20, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    I have been using Freedom Munitions out of Lewiston, Idaho for several years and have had no problems with their reman ammo. I have bought and used .223, .45 acp, .40 S&W, and 9mm. It saves me a bundle and the shipping is inexpensive.

  5. Tony June 20, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

    500+ rounds of freedom munitions 115 gr RN reman 9mm without a failure to fire or eject.

    • bill June 20, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

      I have used 8000 rounds of 9mm and 380 or more from them , NEVER HAD A PROBLEM

  6. Marty June 20, 2017 at 5:26 pm #

    I’ve never bought remanufactured ammo, but I do reload the vast majority of my practice ammo. I do purchase new practice ammo when I shoot at Front Sight as it is one of their requirements, no reloads, no remanufactured. The only problems I’ve had with my metallic cartridge reloads is an occasional hard primer which fails to detonate. Never looked into the price difference of reman vs reloads, however if I didn’t reload, I don’t know what I do with my time during the hard winters of central Utah (LOL).

  7. Jerry Gallman June 20, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

    Well written article. It boils down to use common sense.

  8. Gary Lee June 20, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    Great article very informative and non biased. Thanks

  9. Arthur Turner June 20, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

    I used to be a commercial remanufacturer. I used a Star reloader machine exclusively because I could check the powder charge in each casing prior to seating the bullet. My first batch through the machine was 38spl HBWC for a police dept trainer. I joyfully pulled the handle watching a round pop out every time I pulled the handle. This was far better than the single-stage press I had been using. I occasionally had a problem with an out-of-round casing hanging up on the sizing die. No problem–just raise the handle a little, use a pair of soft-nosed pliers to gently squeeze the casing back to round and press on with pride. after 10 to 15 times of doing this, started watching the casings coming out of the supply tube and rounded them by hand before they got to the sizing die. I still got a few bobbles but they had decreased dramatically. I was close to the end of the 1,000 round run when I had another bobble.and happened to notice that the charging bar was moving much further than the little bit I was moving the operating handle. I finished sizing the case and pulled the just-charged case to weight the powder charge. DOUBLE CHARGE! Somewhere in my brand-new glittering pile of ammo for my first bulk buyer i had 30 to 40 SURPRISES! Fortunately, I had enough casings and bullets to redo the order properly. I ran my bag of shame through my 357mag and, yes there were surprises!

  10. Darren Palmberger June 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

    I reload and use freedom munitions I haven’t had any problems with their ammo and it all pretty accurate.

  11. James Cosgrave June 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

    I use reman and reloaded for practice. Quality ammo for self defense. Always found reman and reloaded to work extremely well. I don’t recommend reloaded for self defense. Mainly because should you be involved in a shooting, a slick prosecutes can make something out of it and sell it to a jury.

  12. William Strossman June 20, 2017 at 6:14 pm #

    All I have heard about remanufacture or reloads is not to use any with lead bullets in a Glock and what happened to some who did. I bought a cut groove barrel so as not to take any chances.

  13. Bruce Frank June 20, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

    I have bought some reman ammo, but I reload extensively for Magnum Rifle to 357mag revolvers and 10mm autos. In over 40 years of rolling my own, I have had ONE failure to fire of a reload in a match. Upon inspection I found the primer had gone into the pocket upside down. I changed the way I prime cases and eliminated the likelihood of that failure.

    But, in my self defense arm I use ONLY new “self defense” designated ammo. Reason has NOTHING to do with reliability. The reason is an attempt to thwart any accusation that I am a cowboy looking to blow someone away with my super-duper nuclear detonation hand loads just to see how destructive they can be. I like the cartridges with the “self defense” designation as it removes further debate (the prosecutor can call the manufacturer to the stand to have him discuss the designation) over such things as “Why did you chose a hollow point rather than round-nose ammo? Was it because you think the alleged criminal you shot deserved to be ‘punished’?” (I live in CA where such accusations are not uncommon—in fact, city of San Francisco bans hollow-points for use in personal self defense guns—policed are, thankfully, exempt)

  14. Neil Nyberg June 20, 2017 at 6:25 pm #

    I’ve shot several thousand rounds of 9mm remanufactured Ammunition from American Marksman without any problems. The price is right , it is as accurate as I am , and not ex cessively dirty. What more could you want. Shoot more – Spend less.

  15. Ernie Davis June 20, 2017 at 6:37 pm #

    The warranty can be voided for other reasons, one being that the warranty just isn’t worth the paper out was printed on. I teach the Texas handgun licensing classes and see many many different handguns every month and have for 22 years. All manufactures have asst some time had a firearm malfunction or break on the line. Wee have too doo Adm ammunition inspection before shooting and the state of Texas specifies the ammunition must be first run American manufactured SAAMI ammo. Yet there have been hundreds of malfunctions and misfits and only one squib loss that I know of. But I experienced a barrel blowing up in the first round ever fired through it. The warranty in my opinion is not rated as HIGH as the companies name suggests. It isn’t too the POINT. It does say you can’t use remanufactured or reloaded ammo. I know this person was using American manufactured ammunition, low pressure target loads, in a green box. After they refused to repair or replace the barrel I sent them an affidavit staying who I was and what I saw. Their reply was they didn’t care what I said our who I was the still felt he was shooting over pressure hand loads. So now he has a $179 paper weight because even as heavy as it is it isn’t heavy enough for a trot line weight. I have shot tens of thousands of reloads and remans and haven’t ever hurt a firearm with either one. It is the only way some of us can afford too shoot ask the time. I do agree with you that my personal defense loads are always first run, and besides, being a police officer, policy demands it.

  16. Brad Dontpublishmynameplease. June 20, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    I reload several calibers in both pistol and rifle and have tens of thousands of rounds of success. I am always careful to keep track of how many times the brass has been reloaded. I would like to know, in reman ammo, what assurance do I have that the brass is not on its 50th reload? Do they check the casings for SAAMI specs? (There are specs for case length. I find most manufactured ammo is just over the minimum length and semiauto pistol brass has often been hammered under the minimum spec after just a few reloads.) I have switched to buying Starline and Nosler brass. They measure out to more in the middle of the spec rather than on the short end. I plan to try some other brands of brass too.

    So what do the remanufacturers do to check the brass?

  17. Chester Eberhard June 20, 2017 at 10:25 pm #

    I have been using my own reloads started at age 16 I’m now 71 I had an expert teacher he, at the time, he was an FFL loader for new ammo and we loaded and cast for serval Police Departments. we used all steps when reloading that a lot of people say why or bullshit, I will list some here tumbling once fired brass, cleaning out the primer holes and checking flash holes for size weighing the brass, bullets as well and the primers, grouping for like weights and weighing power for each round checking the bullet seating depth length seizing each piece of brass chafing all brass. and some of you will say no need. Note I’m not in a race to get a round loaded but to make each round as close to the next in the target as I can so I cover as many options as I can before pulling the trigger keep in mind that to me its is more important as to where the bullet hits not how long it took me to load it!

    • Chester Eberhard June 20, 2017 at 10:28 pm #

      OH I forgot I have not had a problem with and of my RELOADS

  18. Steve Bindner June 21, 2017 at 1:04 am #

    hi… Great article… I used to reload 357s back in the 70s while stationed at 29 Palms…. Great shooting territory. Based on current pricing along with casings flying everywhere, I have moved on to re-man and new from LAX. I’m sure some will disagree but this has been good practice ammo for me. I have limited my shooting to 9 and 45. I carry Hornady Critical Duty and Critical Defense. Over the last 18 months I am north of 16,000 rounds from LAX thru Glocks, HKs, numerous 1911s, numerous XDs in 9 and 45, Beretta CX and PX and a M&P 9c. I have had 4 issues… 2 were light primer strikes from a XD45 (pretty sure)… 1 round… Bullet went forward and primer went backward in the M&P and I don’t remember what happened with the 4th round or which weapon. The M&P locked up pretty good, but my son (also a Marine) and I were able to clear the jam. I apologize for the grammar and spelling… It’s 0300 and I’m tired. Would love input.. Thanks and Semper Fi !!

  19. john 2nd amendment June 21, 2017 at 7:28 am #

    speaking of self defense Ammo . the main reason you should use factory name brand ammo for self defense is because if you are ever in a situation where u need to defend yourself and fire your semi auto or revolver and end up in court
    the prosecuting attorney will grill u relentlessly about your knowledge of your own reloads or purchased reloads and u will look foolish because of lack of the intricate details of reloading
    like how many grains what type of powder, primer, casings etc
    However if u use factory ammo from one of the majors
    they will send an expert from their firm to defend you and answer questions, this protects u and the ammo firm from ridiculous prosecution

  20. Ron Schlatter June 21, 2017 at 8:49 am #

    Common sense. Today I shoot both factory and reload ammo and have found them to be consistent. When I first started shooting I felt the factory loads were inconsistent for silhouette target competition. I started reloading my own where, I had control over how much powder and which primer to use. As I have gotten older, I still reload my own following the specs for the caliber I reload with no failures.

  21. Doug June 21, 2017 at 11:30 am #

    I’ve used remn. ammo from Freedom Munitions for years now with no discernible problems. I like the company and the product but mostly I like the price! I’d recommend them to anyone. Their rounds make power factor for IDPA so I practice and compete with them. As others have stated, I never carry anything but new factory defensive ammo that I have researched at Luckygunner.com/labs. My choice for all calibers, except .45, is Hornady Critical Defense. I use Speer Gold Dot JHP for my .45 defensive load. By using all the same type there’s little question which ammo is in which gun and manufacturers do extensive testing on load performance that an individual cannot duplicate. If you can’t make up your mind on what to carry, just call your local police and get what they use.

  22. Matt C June 21, 2017 at 1:40 pm #

    The issue with reman ammo is that, relatively speaking, you tend to see more (albeit very few) QC issues with it than with new ammo, which to me personally comes as no big surprise. Take Fedarm of Fort Smith, AR for instance – they reman millions of rds of ammo for sale. I have personally gone through several thousand rds of it in 9mm, .40S&W and .45acp. I am also a headstamp collector, and due to the wide array of mixed brass they use, I hand-check every single rd to see what they are. In doing this I find that around 10 out of every 1000 rds has some sort of minor QC issue, and maybe only one or two serious issues like a cracked or squished case-neck. I don;t recall ever finding these sorts of issues on new manufactured ammo, but then when using range brass such as Fedarm does, they don;t actually know if the brass is once-fired, or already reloaded or reman ammo. So in general the reman ammo is fine if from one of the larger reputable outfits, but when found in bulk at guns shows, auctions, or from smaller newer manufacturers – then who knows? …. You tend to find relatively more issues. it comes down to due diligence of research on what, where, and who as far as reman ammo origin & quality. I have also noticed that Fedarm, and others will practice a method of selling what they refer to as “factory seconds” as if to relieve themselves of liability in suggesting that they are “components only”, but people are obviously buying it to shoot. When this stuff is resold via auction or otherwise, then it can create a bad rap for the manufacturer as well if problems arise.

  23. Mikial June 21, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

    Great article.

    My wife and I go to the range weekly. Each trip we both shoot around 200 rounds of reman ammo, mostly from Freedom Munitions, and neither of us have ever had an issue of any kind. We shoot our 1911’s, my Glock and Jericho 941, and her Beretta 92 and Ruger American. We participate in Freedom’s excellent brass credit program and are very happy with the quality of the practice ammo we shoot.

    Of the two squib rounds in my personal experience (one from an ex-wife who was too stupid to recognize what it was and blew up her gun with a second round, and one from my current wife who knew immediately what was wrong and all ended well. Yeah, I traded up for sure.), they both came from factory ammo.

    No need to say we both carry high quality HP ammo for EDC when going out.

  24. John Grimes July 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

    Until today I didn’t realize there was even any question about reman ammo. I bought some recently from a reputable store in southern Maine but I haven’t used it yet (.38 158gr semi-wadcutter lead). The issuing company is Bullseye Ammunition in Woonsocket, RI. Visual inspection of the box of 50 shows me all rounds but one were originally Hornady, either .38 Sp or .38 Sp +p (the lone flier was originally by Aguila). The casings and the primers look good, bright and shiny, and the lead seems seated properly. But I’d still like to hear from some of you who have used Bullseye’s stuff before. Do any of you have experience with remanufactured ammo from this company? Any problems? (I’ll be firing this stuff out of a S&W 642.)

    • Matthew Maruster July 18, 2017 at 10:26 am #

      Hi John, Thanks for the question. I personally haven’t used Bullseye Ammo before, hopefully, some of the readers have and can give their feedback. I have mainly used Freedom Munitions for my reman-ammo. As far as the failure rate of remanufactured ammo vs factory new, I don’t think anyone has done a credible comparison that is based on facts and data, instead of conjecture and rumor. A lot of people lump reloaded ammo (ammo that someone reloads as a hobby) in with remanufactured ammo. MOST remanufactured ammo that comes from reputable companies meets SAAMI specs just like factory new. Like I said, I haven’t shot that particular brand but, I would just suggest looking up the company online and seeing what kind of feedback the ammo gets on some blogs etc. Shooters are usually pretty quick to call out a company that is producing bad ammo or a bad product. Sorry I couldn’t be of more assistance. Stop back and let me know how your ammo runs in your firearm, definitely will help other shooters as well.

Leave a Reply