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Wiley Clapp: Stick With SAAMI

Wiley Clapp: Stick With SAAMI

Even for handloaders, the cost of shooting is going up and that has been true as long as I can remember. I am at a loss to explain why this is—and to a greater degree than the cost of living as a whole, but then I had my long-ago problems with Economics 101 in college. More to the point of this piece, the shooter who wants to shoot a lot (of which there are many) is always on the scout for bargains in ammo (of which there are few). Ammo that is potentially destructive to your quality weapons or possibly dangerous to shooters or bystanders is no bargain at all.

I would be careful with the stuff that comes in dilapidated packaging with unreadable labels on the bargain table of your local hardware store. This is not to say that bargains in imported ammunition do not exist. I have fired low-cost ammo from Italy, Brazil, Mexico and Russia. I also believe that you're better off with ammo manufactured by firms that are members of SAAMI (Small Arms Ammunition Manufacturer's Institute). This is an organization founded—and supported—by leading members of the ammunition industry.

The idea was to develop and standardize cartridge dimensions and their pressure levels by empirical testing. The data thus produced was for the use of all. But SAAMI is not and never was a regulatory agency that had any sort of enforcement powers. Lots of people would like to load to higher velocities than the Institute deems prudent. SAAMI cannot stop them from doing this, nor can they deter anyone from advertising that their products are loaded to SAAMI specifications. The last thing we need is another agency that exists to regulate an industry and ends up restricting it. SAAMI was the first to use the term “+P” in connection with specifications for a small number of handgun cartridges. The specifications were carefully developed, specific and not subject to commercial interpretation by guys who will do anything to sell their hot ammo. You will be OK in your ammo shopping if you stay cautious, conservative and use commonsense.

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