Depends on the gun. I prefer the internal. The external has not shown me to be of any improvement over the internal. I know how to replace and tune an internal extractor so if I break one it's not a big deal.
Kimber is replacing every external slide sent back to them with an internal. Huge cost for a terrible choice! Many guns have externals, but the 1911 was built for an internal, and history has proven it.
My Kimber PRO CDP II (4") was built with an external extractor and was nothing but problems from the git go. I sent it back to Kimber for the slide swap to an internal extractor and it's been problem free ever since.
Maybe the basis for a manufacturer choosing one over the other is how they justify their design with their own reliability studies. Maybe it's a marketing gimmick. Not sure.
Also, every time I field strip I also clean out the extractor and firing pin tunnels. The internal extractor is real easy to remove compared to an external extractor.
The only purpose for an external extractor is for a maker to begin selling a 1911 variant before they've figured out how to properly make an extractor. A prime example would be Kimber. Couldn't make a good internal extractor if their lives depended on it, so they switched designs instead of using the proper (and more expensive) material to make them. Now they're back to internals because the beancounters ran the second method, too, and it didn't work, either.
I read somewhere it's a good idea to replace the stock extractor on the Springfield GI's and Mil-Spec's with a more robust extractor - any comments and recommendations? Also that the Springfields are just glued (!?) in place and not pinned?
One blogger said external extractors are a much better design option, but this thread seems 100% the opposite side...which is good to hear, since I've been having some niggling doubts about getting a 1911 lately....magazine and extractor design issues....
the 1911 was designed with an internal extractor and if it is fitted properly with a high quality one, they are as good as it gets. the problem starts when a poor quality extractor is used and it's not fitted properly, usually foul language follows.
rather than using a high quality extractor which may cost a couple of bucks more and training the fitters at the factories to fit them up right, some factories re-designed a "better mouse trap" and went with the external extractors to reduce cost or labor or both?
in the case of smith & wesson, their guns work, simply because they started building external extractor guns in the 50's and they got them figured out.
kimber on the other hand didn't and they are paying for it.
then you got para with their power extractor and they have been a crap shoot.
the bottom line is this, if you get an internal extractor gun, and it don't work, you can replace the extractor with a high quality one for about 30 bucks. and with a little bit of reading here or on the blind hogg site, you can learn how to fit one up. with the external extractor guns, if it don't work, you gotta send it back.
There appears to be no correct external extractor design for production 1911s out there. I have no experience with Kimber but others have put 2 and 2 together. Same with Sig. I have owned four S&Ws and all of them needed attention eventually and one of them is never going to be right. The S&W extractor is too high (cented around firing pin) and not wide enough (125 thousandths vs. 175 thousandths for an internal). When the bottom corner of the extractor claw wears it no longer retains the case against the breechface after the barrel links down and may even squirt the case down into the feed lips of the magazine. If S&W had made the extractor 15-30 thousandths lower or wider this would be a non issue but they wanted it to feed and require no polishing or fitting rather then have it work %100 (and I mean %100, not the weekend warrior %100) of the time at the round counts you see in training or competition. It needs to be monitored and replaced as a wear item when it ceases to extract positively and correctly without a magazine in the gun.
I feel more comfortable on the internal extractor design on the 1911 after reading this thread. But I guess I'm going to have to upgrade the extractor on the typical entry level 1911 (Springfield GI or Mil-Spec) if I want to count on it as a home defense gun. Fortunately I've heard nothing but good things about the Springfield custom shop.
Any smart 1911 shooter has an extra internal extractor tuned up and ready to go. Installation's a snap, try that with your external stuff. I've had properly tuned (easy to do, even for a rookie) internals last for years. Buy a Wilson Bulletproof or Brown Hardcore and you'll be good.
Wilson has switched from external on KZ models to internal
The Kimber external is junk.
The Smith external needs tuning over time to maintain tension
The Caspian/SIG is OK if you replace it with the EGW! LOL...
Lots of choice, none great. I recently bought a SIG at fire sale price just to play with it and see if I can make it really work. Oh joy.
As the OP noted its the slide location thats off....the external concept is sound. BHP's run great ..
With all that being said, most internal extractor issues are due to improper fitting, dirty extractor channels, or out of spec slides/extractors/firing pin stops. Properly fitted, a quality internal extractor (Not MIM or CAST) will function fine A LONG time. All an extractor does is, well, extract! Thats not a terribly hard job when the conditions are right.
A good extractor should last almost as long as a good barrel. Higher pressure cartridge guns may not last as long as lower pressure cartridge guns. Sheared hooks are usually caused by a poor part, filthy gun, or extractor nose smacking the barrel.
Me thinks the issue is mechanical force.
typically the extractor designs for external are starting with a handicap.
the pivot point is not directly behind the rim of the case.
HK rifles have a Killer extractor design, the harder you pull the more the extractor pulls in and digs into the case. (provided the material used is good and it is)
On the typical external extractor there are several issues.
As mentioned by our estute members the extractor location is too high. the gun fires and barrel pulls down out of battery, this drop may be .050 or more on many guns. The extractor location should be such that at the unlock point (the place the barrel positions the case on the bolt face) we do not want to be @ the radius on the bottom of the extractor. The extractor should be fairly thick from top to bottom, needs a bottom corner radius so it feeds reliably. And should NOT have an inside square corner that is a stress riser. also, again opinion, the extractor hook should grab inbound on the rim not at the outside edge. The hook should not be Too Long. The greater the depth of the hook the greater leverage the case has to snap the hook off.
Just in Raw material the hook being .200 high instead of .125 from top to bottom makes the amount of material that would need to fail to seporate the hook greater by over 50%
Next The pull point.
a firing pin stop is typically .480 ish wide.
the 45 case is roughly the same size.
this means even with minimal tension the hook pulls strait from it's anchor.
On many of the external ext. the fulcrum point is well outside the rim of the case. the only thing holding the hook on the rim is the spring and the leverage ratio of the spring. With dust or other problems increasing the force to extract the case the spring can be overcome by the resistance and skip off. The internal pulling strait from behind is at an advantage.
Depends on who makes the external extractor. Kimber = junk. I've also seen Para's extractor which is a MIM part break. I don't own a S&W, but I've heard they're reliable and work fine. My preference is for the internal extractor, but I'm more of a traditionalist.
all this talk sent me back to the gun shop today where my first kimber is on layaway for christmas. It is a used eclipse II ultra and the shop owner says he knew the customer..had sold him many guns, the customer died and the wife brought the whole pile in for sale. This particular eclipse originally had the external, but the owner had sent it back to kimber and they replaced the slide with an internal. I can see there has been some use on this gun...some carry wear on the slide release and safety flip, but kimber obviously did a ramp polish, replaced the top of the gun and I can only hope that it will run reliably...waiting for santa...(sigh)...but glad to see that the extractor issue has already been addressed on this gun.
I am charged with maintaining 800 Sigs in 357 sig cal.. A high pressure cartridge.. In the past 10 years, these guns have digested approx. 500,000 rounds per year, and I have never had to replace an extractor...
Facts about extractors. When it is properly made, an external extractor is better than an internal, less problems with fitting and tension, and more reliable extraction. The Sig Revolution uses an external extractor that works. Kimber had issues with their's, they were not made long enough or heavy enough to do the job correctly. The only internal extractor that I really believe is better than the rest is the PXT by Para. In all the years I've worked on 1911's, I have yet to see one fail.