Five rounds expended and the target wont go down. You duck back behind cover and check your sights, everything is solid and the last time you practiced you were putting rounds in the target. Sure, it was a wider group than what you were used too, you wrote that off as fatigue.
Now there are four people in your house and they are shooting at you, after five rounds you know were on target it hasnt even moved. As they get closer you realize this might be it. For all of your hard work on the range and countless hours and dollars spent on a variety of courses you can see the end.
This could be anyone who practices regularly. The fix was understanding when the groups widened that the barrel was wearing out. To be truly prepared you need to understand that the tools you select do wear out. Regardless type, Ak-47’s through AR-15’s or Glocks and 1911’s wear occurs over time with regular use. There are a few simple steps to understanding how to fix and what to look for. Springs through barrels parts wear out and must be maintained well.
1. All new to you firearms should be sandbagged and have a minimum of four groups of ten run through them. Measure the spread and record it. These tests should be done using one case of ammunition from one lot number, the excess should be stored and ONLY used for this purpose.
2. Write down number of rounds and type of ammunition shot after each range session. Place this log in the same location as the test ammo.
3. Thourough cleaning should occur once a month using copper solvents on the barrel as basic brush and swab work may not fully clean out the rifling. This should happen regardless actual use of the firearm. A light coat of lubricant, Ballistol is my choice as it is both biodegradable and extremely long lasting, should coat all parts.
4. My personal recommendation is to change critical springs every 5-10,000 rounds. For glocks you can get spring kits like this Glock 19, 23, 34 spring kit work very well. For the AR the AR15 spare parts kit works well. And for AKs you can get similar sets as well. (Personally every firearm you own should have at least one and for those you are more likely to use, TWO spare parts kits.)
5. Barrels are another story, every five thousand rounds approximately, sandbag the firearm in question and test the bagged group with same ammunition and as close to similar conditions as possible. Gradually your groups will expand, however, if you notice a more then 50% expansion of bagged groups, its time to change the barrel. (The next step from experience are rounds beginning to tumble out of the barrel and more).
6. Barrels are up too the individual, and without getting to far into my personal opinions I can say, many times less expensive or well known manufacturers sometimes have great material! Having extra barrels and the ability to change them when issues are noticed is essential to being able to continue maintaining a confident ability to defend yourself.
7. Spare parts and ammunition etc., is also quite valuable as a trade item. Not everyone thinks like you do, which means not everyone will be prepared and stocked with additional parts as well.
So, does your bugout bags, vehicle bags and bugout locations/ caches include spare parts? Do you have spare springs for your magazines? Spare followers? End caps? Pins? It may seem like allot, but if you plan to have one set of full spares for every 3 magazines and a full set minimum parts for your firearms you will be better off than most.
Think smart, think ahead and keep living well!
Free the mind and the body will follow