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Failures to feed

2871 Views 29 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  ClarkK
My Series 70 .45 was throated and had ramp polished years ago before I bought it. Never failed to feed anything, including flying ashtrays. First failure was a couple weeks ago with CorBon DPX 185 gr. I figured that was because the copper bullets protruded a tad further than usual.

Today I tried some Double Tap 230 gr Gold Dots. Right frisky rounds, they, with advertised velocity of 1010 fps. First 10 rounds worked perfectly. Accurate, too. Then they stopped feeding.

At home, I tried feeding Black Talons and Quik Shoks, with same result. Only Blazer roundnoses would feed. I disassembled, and everything looked fine. There's play between the chamber and ramp, but I never looked at that before, so I don't know if it's looser than before.

I'm thinking the bbl/slide linkage maybe has loosened up a tad, creating enuf of a gap between the chamber and ramp to hang up all but the roundnose bullets.

Any ideas? I love this old gun. Just had a set of Big Dot night sights installed. It belonged to a good friend who passed away about five years ago. He used it in competition in the '70s to good effect. He called her Esmeralda. I do, too, when we're alone.
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ClarkK, you say you're looking for the best defense load for that gun; well I suggest you use standard 230 gr ball ammo (that is 100% reliable & accurate also) in that pistol! If you are having that much un-reliability with those "other" SD bullets stay with the round noses!!!
They worked for us vetrans in at least four different wars: WWI, WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War!!!!!

By the way, HAPPY VETERANS DAY to all you other vetrans for your time is service to keep this Nation Free!!!!!!
It looks like you won't be punishing that frame by lots of heavy load shooting, so I wouldn't worry about those Wilson Shok Buffs. I would, however, recommend the CP's because they're really tuff and rarely break up (I've yet to see it happen in a non-competitive 1911).

The shorter the bullet, the more difficult it'll be to feed right, especially if it's an ashtray. The first couple of rounds will just smack the ramp and stick (full mag).

If that 1911 is going to be a self-defense gun (carried a lot and shot a little), you might consider trying one of Virgil Tripp's CobraMags in it. They're expensive but just might solve your problem. I say 'might' because some bullets just won't feed right in some frames (depending on feed ramp length and angle).

Right on Rick! Hardball did indeed serve us well, and according to some of my friends in Iraq, still does...much better than the 9mm rounds.
It's okay to believe the hype about flying ashtrays, but believe me, when a man is struck by one of those slow-moving, heavy 45 ball rounds, he's aware that he's in trouble. My partner (Sheriff) was hit with a 9mm in the upper leg and didn't even know he'd taken a round until he felt the blood running down his leg. He returned to active duty with his .45 and ball ammo.

Bob, glad to Know your Sheriff partner recovered! Its just hard to understand why so many shooters who have FTF problems with all this "hot" exotic ammo don't want to stick with the old 230FMJ @ about 850fps. It is cheaper to practice with and we all know that self defence is all about shot placement anyway!!! I carried the old 1911 .45 on my chest while flying in an A-4 Skyhawk in the late 1960's and I saw what it can do and how it can stop an enemy!!
Semper Fi!!
Bob -- I'm unfamiliar with the "CP" buffers. Who makes 'em?

Rick -- Just for the record, I served 4 in the Army during Vietnam. Never fired a shot at anyone, nor had any fired at me -- rear echelon puke, I believe you front liners called us, with some justification.

For practice I shoot beaucoups Blazer 230gr hardball thru Esmeralda. They're cheap, she loves 'em and they're fairly accurate. That my infatuation with the Double Taps hasn't caught on with her yet may mean I'll have to go with something else. But I'll keep tweaking this and that until we know for sure.

As to using hardball for SD, despite the consensus among many of us oldtimers that "they all fall to ball," I'd like a tad more edge in the equation. I'd like 'em to fall even faster than they do to ball. :D
Fired another 50 rds, this time thru McCormick and GI mags, all with Wolff springs. All but one mag -- a GI -- had at least one ftf, usually about 2 or 3 rds down. The McCormick followers tilt too easily, despite the spring strength. I wish I'd known more about 1911 mags before I bought them.

I've ordered some Cobra-Tripps, and will run another box of DTs with them. If the rounds still act up, I'll move on. At least the experience will have resulted in me getting the Bar-Sto bbl and some first-rate mags.
Update -- Finally, success!!. After about half a dozen range trips interspersed by Dremel work on the barrel throat (mostly buffing, with just a tad of light grinding) the old girl finally fed two magazines of Ranger T 230 gr jhps as if they were hardball. She has one more test left before I bring her back into the fold -- next trip I'm running all 6 Cobra-Tripps loaded wtih the Ranger Ts through her. If all is slick, Esmeralda will be my gal again. It's been a long harrowing courtship.

The Double Tap ammo, I'm thinking now, loosened the old barrel so it didn't sit firmly in the frame. The Bar-Sto needed throating, and I proceeded cautiously to avoid the kind of horror stories I've heard of over-Dremeling. Along the way I learned about the Cobra-Tripps, and have made the switch to them, including buying Cobra upgrade kits for my McCormicks.

Now I'm wondering if I dare shoot the Double Taps in my SIG 220. They're stout loads, altho as advertised they don't exceed standard pressures.

Any thoughts?
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Three Point Jam with flying ashtrays

I should have send this to you initially. Read it and see if it applies to your pistol:
3-Point Jam
Reliability in a defensive sidearm is paramount. Reliability comes first, and everything else is a distant second. No man-made machine is, or can be completely reliable over its useful life span. Sooner or later, there will be a malfunction or parts failure, but we can take steps to reduce the possibility of malfunctions with a little understanding of how the gun works, and a little attention to detail.
One malfunction in a thousand is a fluke. One in 500, and we start to get a little nervous about the gun. One in a hundred, and the pistol is virtually useless, except for range work...and even that gets to be a hassle.

Feed stoppages...Probably the most frequent issue... second only to extraction/ejection malfunctions...and most often these are a failure to go to full battery. Rather than go into the standard advice to adjust the extractor...polish the breechface...get good magazines... polish the ramp and throat...ad nauseum...I'll assume that the reader has already addressed these areas, and is at a loss to determine the cause of his woes. Most pistols these days come with the throat and ramp already done and usually well-executed. Many pistols have been ruined by over-zealous work in these areas. Unnecessary work.

Stem bind is usually the culprit in a failure to return to battery. Actually, that's misleading, since a little stem-bind is always present in the 1911. That's what slows the slide as it goes to battery and prevents damage to the lower barrel lug and slidestop crosspin, and gives the round time to get under the extractor. Excessive stem bind is more accurate...or what is technically known as the "Three-Point Jam"

Three points...binding between the breechface, the barrel throat, and the underside of the barrel chamber. Forget what you've heard about the overall length of the round for a minute. If the 1911 is correctly set-up, it's more forgiving of cartridge length variation than many would have you believe.

Consider the barrel link. If the link is correctly fitted to a correctly shaped and in-spec lower lug, there probably won't be a three-point jam. Why?

As the cartridge strips from the magazine and strikes the barrel throat, it pushes the barrel forward. Due to the tilting-barrel design, when the barrel moves forward...it also moves upward. If the barrel is correctly fitted, this upward movement is provided by the front radius of the barrel being cammed up by the slidestop pin, and the rise is gradual.

Want to feel your pistol feed more smoothly than you ever imagined that it could? Load 3 or 4 rounds in a magazine...lock the slide to the rear... push the muzzle against the edge of a table, and ride the slide forward... not in slow-motion...but not at full speed either. You won't feel a bump... no hesitation...no stem bind as the round chambers. None.

Tripp Research has attempted to address this issue by designing a magazine that presents the cartridge at a lower angle as it enters the barrel throat. While this approach will often work...it's a band-aid that masks the true nature of the problem...and it doesn't always work.

Now, consider the incorrectly dimensioned lower lug. If the link is the correct length for vertical lockup, where the lower lug and slidestop pin bear the load of the vertical lock...but the link is long enough to hold the pin away from the front radius, you have the makings of a 3-point jam.

The condition is known as "Riding the Link". When the barrel rides the link around the lower lug's radius, it causes the barrel to rise early in relation to the slide's position...when the round is just entering the throat. In addition to rising too soon, it moves upward too abruptly, which puts the slide and cartridge even further behind in its approach to battery. Bang! A three point jam has just taken place. (Many factory-built pistols these days have this condition.) When you get a pistol that seems to feed everything that you put in it without a glitch...look at the link to see why.

Think back to your childhood, when you'd find a suitable stick to play "Pole Vault" with. Remember how the dynamics changed the higher you placed your hands on the pole? There was a point that you wouldn't be able to vault, no matter how fast you ran. Same principle.

Okay...You've plunked down your long green for a factory pistol that doesn't have a correctly dimensioned lug...The barrel is riding the link, and your pistol produces a return to battery stoppage often enough to destroy your confidence in it. You don't have the money for a gunsmith to refit the lug or another barrel...and you either can't afford or justify buying another pistol on the chance that this one will be "right". What to do?

Often the advice is to install a heavier recoil spring in hopes of using enough force to overcome the jam...This is not only the wrong approach, it usually doesn't completely eliminate the stoppage...It just makes it less frequent...at least until the recoil spring starts to get tired. You still have a nagging doubt that the gun will perform in an emergency. The ramp and throat have already been tended to.

There are a couple of approaches that will usually work. If the barrel is standing on the link in vertical lock, you can try a shorter link. You're limited to about .003 inch shorter here. If the shorter link will make it around the front radius without getting into a bind, you can go with that and likely cure the problem. A shorter link will have the effect of unlocking the barrel a little earlier...which can possibly be an extraction issue if it unlocks TOO early..while the chamber pressures still have the case expanded, but this will probably happen only if the unlock timing is right on the line anyway.

If the barrel is correctly locking via the bottom of the lug and the slidestop pin...and the lower lug is dimensioned so that the link is holding the pin away from tha frontt radius, you can't use a shorter link unless you modify the bottom of the lug...which will undermine your vertical lockup.

You can, however, modify the link a little by elongating the slidestop pin hole at the top to get the barrel off the link and onto the lug where it belongs. The barrel rise will be delayed, so that the slide will be a little further forward and the round a little deeper into the chamber...and at a shallower angle. The unlocking and linkdown timing will be unchanged, since the BOTTOM of the link's hole determines where and when the barrel will begin to unlock...and your stem bind will be substantially reduced.

On this modification, you are limited to about .005 to .006 inch of elongation, and even if it doesn't put the radius on the crosspin, it will put it much closer...relatively speaking. The probability of correcting the three-point jam with this is high...about 95%. If the lug rides on the pin, the chances of success are even higher. Elongating the hole even as little as .002 inch will usually produce a dramatic difference...so take it a little at a time. No more than necessary. This will make it a trial and error exercise.

To do this, I use a Dremel and a 3/16ths chain saw sharpening stone. The stone is slightly smaller in diameter than the slidestop pin, so you'll need to use a slight "rocking" motion to make the radius of the hole the same size as the pin. Otherwise, the pin and link will bind. You'll also have to be careful to keep the stone square to the link as you cut. If the hole isn't straight and true, the barrel will still ride the link, and possibly cause a side-load and a bind in that direction.

Use light pressure, so that instead of cutting, you are actually polishing the material and removing very little at a time. Be careful not to enlarge the hole farther than the sizing of the bottom half where the slidestop pin will fit into. Use a scrape to deburr the sides of the hole, paying attention to the modified area in the top. The tip of a good pocketknife will do. Measure the size of the hole with a dial caliper, and re-measure it often as you go. Test the feeding at .002 inch intervals, and stop when you fix the problem. A little is good...A lot ain't necessarily gooder.

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Many thanks, Bob. Obviously a good diagnostic eye is crucial here. Not sure I'm up to it. I'm hoping my throat/ramp polishing did the trick, but am glad I have this option to look at if not.
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