Monday, December 1, 2014

PMC Starfire (.45) Review


When it comes to self-defense rounds, there are plenty of options out there on the market.  Most people tend to go for a good old fashion hollow point.  Even if you just decide on wanting to have a “hollow point”, you still have tons of options available for you.  While we could spend all day with caliber options, let’s put that aside, and I’ll tell you that I carry a .45; a 1911 to be exact.

If you have not gathered by all the SCCY posts, I do enjoy a good bargain, so my 1911 is a used Taurus PT1911 that I got from a local gun shop.  Following the same budget minded avenue, when I first picked up some hollow points to carry, I settled on the PMC Starfire due to its reasonable price online and good reviews.

On paper, here are the stats about the rounds:

Caliber: .45 ACP
Grain: 230
Bullet Type: Starfire
Velocity: 850 fps
Price Per Box: $10 - $15 (USD)

Everything about it points to the round being a good defensive carry round.  You can find a good amount of YouTube videos of people testing these rounds, which I watched.  I decided that I would purchase a box.  This is where things got interesting.

When I got the box in the mail, I put eight rounds into a magazine, slid the magazine into the handgun, and racked the slide.  Pause for a moment: having a lower end 1911, I was worried about feed issues with hollow points.  Unpause: my worries became true.  The first ever PMC Starfire round to chamber into my 1911 got hung up, and the slide did not go fully into battery.  I pulled the slide back, put the round back in the magazine, and tried again.  The second time it was fine.  (Side note: I have never had feed issues with this Taurus before or after Starfire.  It’s a surprisingly good firearm.)

As time went on, things got worse.

Even if I don’t fire my 1911 much, I still clean it once a month or so since it’s my carry gun.  It’s good to get all the dust and dirt off/out of it, and keep it especially clean since my life my one day depend on it.  The first step to cleaning any firearm is make sure it is unloaded, so I remove the chambered round, placed it back in the magazine, then rechamber it when clean.  After time, the brass I touched lost its luster.  Now is this something worth complaining about?  No.  It’s brass, it happens. 

This is where I experienced failure; very bad failure.

A few months later, I was doing my normal cleaning and when I rechambered the round, the slide hung up.  I didn’t think much of it, so I repeated the process, and the same thing happened again.  This time when I took the round out, I noticed something very strange: the round seemed shorter.  What had happened is the bullet pushed itself further down in the case.  That shows that something was made with inferior metal or poor workmanship somewhere.


The Starfire may have functioned flawlessly out of the box, but people don’t normally buy hollow points to go to the range.  The buy them and carry them for long periods of time.  For that reason, they should always be ready to work considering your life could be dependent on those rounds.

Immediately after this discovery I emailed PMC to see what could be done.  They were very fast in getting back to me.  I had to fill out some long paperwork, take pictures, and ship the ammo back (at their expense).  I was given the option to have the rounds replaced, but I asked for a refund instead.  I was very honest with them and will tell you he same thing I told them.  I said that I will continue to buy their bulk/ball ammo because I have never had a problem with it, but I will not buy semi auto Starfire again.  It’s supposed to be their high end stuff, but I don’t want my life depending on something that I have seen fail.

As for the refund, I did get it, but it took me much longer then I had hoped for.  There were some emails that were not responded to, some calls that were not returned, but in the end, they stayed true to their word and fully refunded my purchase that I originally made from a third party vendor.

Final Thoughts

This is one of those “you get what you pay for” moments.  Would I buy this again?  Not for a semi auto, but I would for a revolver since this particular failure wouldn’t happen in a revolver.  All in all, I would not recommend Starfire for long term carry in a pistol.  Short term or revolver is fine.  I will commend PMC for refunding my purchase, and I will buy range/ball ammo from them again.

Remember, it’s your life that these round may come down to protecting one day.  Is that something you want to take chances with?

Want more info on these rounds?  Want me to review something?  Have a question?  Tweet me @RandomFirearm, or let me know in the comments below!

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