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Discussion Starter #1
I just bought a Smith & Wesson PC1911 Doug Koenig model in .38 Super. I shot it this morning for the first and experienced quite a few failures to extract. The empty cases were pulled perhaps one-third of the way out of the chamber, not left in the chamber. I have two other S&W 1911s with external extractors, both in .45 ACP, and neither has ever exhibited any sort of problem.

I don't have any .38 Super magazines to try aside from the two Metalform ones that came with the gun, in case a magazine concern can be contributory to this condition. I hesitate to buy more as I once bought several from Wilson Combat that were advertised to improve any 1911's functioning but they wouldn't work at all in a .38 Super I no longer own. Wilson told me that their .38 Super magazines often don't work in some 1911s and refunded my money and paid the return shipping.

Any suggestions for remedies I might be able to perform?

Ed
 

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What kind of ammo? How well did you clean and lube it? The extractor and also the mags?

I run Tripps and CMCs in mine.

Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I was shooting my handloads that extract fine from my Kimber .38 Super - a 125-grain Missouri IPD #6 cast semi-wadcutter over 5.7 grains of AutoComp in Starline cases that were on their seventh loading.

Although the gun looked clean even after shooting it, I thought a dirty chamber might be the culprit, making the fired cases hard to pull out of it so I tried dropping a fired case into it. I had to push on it quite hard to get it just most of the way in so I gave the gun a good cleaning. When I finished, a fired case dropped in as thought I was doing a "plunk test" with a live round.

I'm going to shoot it again tomorrow and am hoping the extraction problem is cleared. Although the chamber and bore looked clean, I suppose there could have been some kind of protective film on the chamber that kept the cases from being extracted easily. I really wouldn't expect a Performance Center gun to be shipped with a problem that was due to poor machining or an improperly tuned extractor that would have caused this condition to surface while test-firing.

Ed
 

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Different brands of 38 Super ammo seem to have different dimensions. I was playing around with a 357Mag cylinder from my Ruger 357/9mm convertible SA revolver and seeing which 38 Super ammo would drop in the cylinder. Some dropped in easily, some needed a little push and some would not go in. Given some 38 Super pistols seem to have tight chambers I could see a problem. So I guess do the plunk test on your pistol and try different ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I didn't get to shoot it today as planed but my handloads as well as a fired case drop right in now that it is clean. The only factory loads I have are Cor-Bons, which are in the same cases - Starline - as my loads. I'm hoping that now that an unsized fired case drops in, the problem is solved but of course shooting it will be the acid test.

Ed
 

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I have a DK PC1911 in 38 Super as well. I haven't had any failures to eject. Have shot several different brands of ammo and a lot of Starline brass that I loaded.
 

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I think you've already figured out the most likely culprit. And of course, 38 Super rounds generate very high chamber pressures; also, with some brass, the high pressure may cause the brass to expand excessively for your barrell's chamber which, as a PC/match-grade barrell, is probably very closely matched to exact technical dimensions.

I do not believe the magazines are related to the difficulties you've described. You could try changing them (esp. if you desired additional magazines anyway) but I doubt that it would make any difference with the extraction issues.

Regarding the external extractor, and even though I prefer internal extractors in a 1911, the specific extractor S&W installs on their PC 1911s is a very solid piece of hardware. It is unlikely to be the problem.
 

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I have a DK PC1911 in 38 Super as well. I haven't had any failures to eject. Have shot several different brands of ammo and a lot of Starline brass that I loaded.
(Just fyi ... a minor detail) The problem the OP is experiencing is not a failure to eject ... it is a failure to extract ... Although it is true that a failure to extract will certainly also result in a non-ejection, it is a markedly different problem with a different cause and a different corrective solution needed. Obviously your gun and ammo are working well with respect to both of these functions.

Also BTW, a friendly salute to the Texas Aggies of 1985 ... A good school and a good class.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well, I think it's safe to report that the problem has been solved. I shot the gun today with the clean chamber and the sixth shell did not extract fully so I called S&W. They asked that I shoot some factory loads through it to rule out my handloads so I did - 20 rounds of CorBon 125-grain hollow-points went through it perfectly. That's the same weight bullet I load and I use the same case, Starline. The only difference seemed to be muzzle velocity - the CorBons were much hotter.

I was loading 125-grain Missouri cast semi-wadcutters over 5.5 grains of AutoComp, the minimum load according to Hodgdon's website, so I loaded 100 rounds with 5.7 grains and still had some fail to extract. I called S&W back and asked about the two extra recoil springs that came with the gun. I didn't want to use one that is too soft for fear of damaging the gun under recoil and frankly, wasn't sure how the recoil spring could affect extraction as the slide was traveling fully and always locked back on an empty magazine, even if that shell didn't extract fully.

They said it could cause what I was experiencing. They then checked and learned that those guns came with a 16-pound spring installed along with extra 12 and 14-pound springs. I suggested I try the 14-pound one first and if the problem didn't clear, go the 12-pound one. They concurred so I did just that.

The first shell fired failed to extract fully so I installed the 12-pound spring. Now, with 5.7 grains of powder and that spring, I get an occasional failure to fully extract, so I'm on the right track. I'm going to load some shells with 5.9 grains of powder (6.1 is the maximum recommended charge) and think that with the light spring, the problem will be gone.

Given the normal slide operation, it still surprises me that the recoil spring along with excessively mild loads had that effect on the extraction. My Kimber Stainless Target II in .38 Super digested those loads with only a very, very occasional hiccup but if I recall, those guns come with a lot softer spring.

Ed
 

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Is your failure to extract a result of the extractor failing? ie slipping off the rim and then double feeding. Or is it short cycling and redepositing the empty back into the chamber? It sounds like the latter. 16 lb recoil spring sounds just a tad excessive... 9mm/38s 1911s are usually 14lbs and light loads should around 12.

The total package of mainspring, recoil spring, and firing pin stop profile are in a way intertwined and all need to play nice with each other for best performance.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I can't say what the exact cause was. The slide was always found locked back on an empty magazine even if the last round failed to extract or trying to chamber a round with the last fired case protruding from the chamber. But with the 12-pound spring and 6.0 grains of AutoComp under a Missouri 125-grain .356" coated semi-wadcutter, failures are non-existent. The charge of 5.8 grains and that spring resulted in five failures to extract out of 50 rounds fired; a vast improvement that indicated I was headed in the right direction. Perhaps I will obtain a 10-pound spring and retry the 5.5 grain loads that worked so well in my Kimber.

Ed

An afterthought - I can understand why the 16-pound spring is factory installed, having shot some +P factory fodder through the gun. That stuff is quite hot and the gun cycled perfectly with it, indicating that the stiff spring is necessary if that sort of ammunition is going to be used.
 

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Just a thought, have you tried checking the extractor tension with the slide off. Even through it's external you can use a similar method as internal extractors. It should be able to hold an unfired cartridge in place.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I read somewhere that you can't use that test on external extractors but I did anyway - the shell "sort of" stays under the extractor but not very tightly. When I spoke with them about the extraction problem, S&W told me that the reason they use external extractors is because they are trouble-free. The only time they say they have to do anything to one is when it wears enough to require replacement.

BUT - I wouldn't be opposed to stretching my extractor's spring a tad...

Ed
 
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