But what to do AFTER everything has bench-checked good? Slam-in a full mag and drive out to the range, ask the paper target if it feels 'lucky' and turn that new build sideways for a gangstsa-style kill-shot? NO! Let's talk about having a plan... Safety style (but with fun!).
First, lets acknowledge that everything is built, it is beautiful, First Time Quality, and more importantly Safety Checked (I'm saying this again on purpose). So, AFTER swapping-out your Armorer's Slide Back-Plate (because you have one and USED IT!!!) for the 'real deal', you have made sure everything is clean and properly lubricated (yes, MGB has a video for that too, of course! The man is a Pro...). We also should acknowledge, this is pretty exciting! You have built this little thing yourself, and now you want it to start walking, talking, and even start planning-out a college education. Okay, maybe not, a good trade-school is a valid life-choice too...😉 But that excitement can cause you to overlook something really important: You aren't done safety-testing yet. To be sure this new piece of Freedom is ready to Serve and Protect, you must know it not only walks, but RUNS. For that, you need a safe place to shoot it, and before you load-up those mags, you should have a Plan. A plan will help keep that excitement from getting away from you, and keep you from taking short-cuts that can compromise safety. [Boring, I know, but do you really want the 'excitement' of an AD (Accidental Discharge)?]
Here are some tips that might help with forming your Plan -and everyone needs to make their own to suit what they have going on, it is an individual thing...
0. Do NOT transport your new build loaded. Even if you live in a state where that is legal, until everything is tested fully, it shouldn't be allowed out of your hands with live rounds in it. If you put it in a locked case in the trunk of your car, where is it pointed after the last turn you just took?
-Okay, time to make some noise!
1. Consider wearing some type of glove, a light leather work-glove or even a driving-glove could help protect your hand in case of a catastrophic
ka-boom. Definitely use ear and eye protection though, they should NOT be considered 'optional', unless you plan on building another dozen 80%s and don't want to hear your spouse tell you to stop...😊
2. Start with some 'soft' ammo. Target or Range-grade ammo is cheaper and it SHOULD function just as good as Defense-grade rounds do, if your build can't eat everything you throw at it, that may be an indication that there is a problem somewhere. This may not be the case if you have specifically designed your build for hotter loads, such as with higher-pressure recoil springs -again it is an individual thing. Scale up to the higher-performing JHPs after you know everything is running right with lighter loads. Consider taking a variety of ammo with you for testing, FMJs, JHPs, various bullet-weights, etc.
-Example: I worked with a Top Gun shooter who ran a Beretta 92 as his Service Weapon. After a reported 2-3 thousand rounds (yes, THOUSANDS), he had reported ZERO jams, but a handful of failure-to-cycles: every last one of those was using 147-grain JHPs in one specific aftermarket mag -no other rounds malfunctioned in that mag, and the 147s never malfunctioned in any other mag, it was that ONE combination.
3. Only load two or three rounds into the mag at first. For one thing, if you have a run-away 'uncommanded' firing condition, controlling your new build through two or three shots is far easier than it running through 33 rounds at once. Also, it will put less pressure on the bottom of your slide. You DO want to run at least one FULL mag through, so you know everything is safe with full tension -hopefully you already bench-tested with a mag full of dummies...
4. Within the constraints of range-safety, test-firing at any angle you might find yourself in is beneficial to knowing your build will be reliable when you need it -reliability is a serious part of safety too if you may ever rely on this as a defensive weapon. Even range-toy builds should be considered safe and reliable for defensive use, or your standards are set too low.
5. Sight it in, if that is what you are ready for. Make sure every shot is consistent, fire slow through at least some shots to see if your build is accurate. Large groupings that cannot be attributed to the shooter may be caused by loose parts, improper fit, or a poor quality barrel. Find out now if you have a component problem, hopefully it is still under warranty!
6. Plan on at least field-stripping your new build after the first few rounds, and again after a mag or two. It only takes a few minutes to inspect and evaluate the condition of your build.
-Example: Even if it has started out flawless, if you have an aftermarket slide, do you KNOW it doesn't have a small crack forming? At least one Builder here reported his slide cracking open on range-day... How is your Locking Block? That is also a part that has broken on one of us. Odd markings or plastic shavings could indicate a problem, you might find your recoil spring assembly channel needs a little extra touching-up before continuing.
7. Take what you can with you. Have some jewelers' files, sand-paper, lubricating oil, a clean rag or two, some spare parts if available. Take your dummy rounds with you -you might find a problem you can fix on-site, but should test before re-loading with live rounds. ...But leave the dummy PEOPLE elsewhere -people who do not know anything about firearm safety or who cannot take this testing seriously are only going to cause an
unneeded distraction. This is a functional test, not a show-and-tell.
8. Keep notes. Anything odd, anything you are concerned about, anything that you want to attend to later, write it down.
9. Have fun. Seriously, you built it wrong if this whole thing isn't fun. SERIOUSLY.🤣