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Discussion Starter #1
This is my first time to post on this forum so what better way to introduce myself than to pick your collective brains for some gunsmithing knowledge!

I recently acquired a NRM Colt Series 80 Commander. I had Novak install a set of LoMount night sights on it prior to shooting it and a personally installed and ambi-thumb safety.

This afternoon I took it to the range to ring it out, however after about 50 round through it I had a malfunction which would not clear with the standard malfunction drills. After closer inspection I noticed the firing pin plunger had worked it's way out enough to catch on the rear of the frame, causing the slide to lock back. I worked the plunger the rest of the way out and continued my range session with no further malfunctions.

Aside from liability/safety concerns, what would the consequences be of just leaving the plunger out?

Thanks!
 

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Kildak, The plunger is held in by a machined "lip" on the extractor. I would suspect you have either and oversize hole in the slide, and undersized or reworked plunger, or a bad extractor. Any of these could conceivably cause your problem, though I think the most likely problem is with the extractor. From the standpoint of problems with removal, there aren't really any, though with an open hole in the slide you would need to keep an eye on the extractor tunnel to avoid a buildup of residue in the tunnel and possible subsequent problems with extraction. If you elect to leave it out, I would also remove the upper frame lever (only) or replace both levers with a spacer (Brownells has them), as the upper lever could possible catch in the empty hole. The '80 series guns have actually proven to be quite reliable, though like anything else, they need to be properly installed.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
donw,

Thanks for the information! Is it possible that the plunger could have been reinstalled incorrectly after the new sights were added, or would that be something to obvious to miss?

I retained the plunger and the spring, should I decide to reinstall it, is there any test I can do to insure the assembly is intalled correctly?

Thanks again!
 

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I'm not Don, but I'll take a crack at it...

The plunger can only go in one way. One end has the cutout for the little spring, the other end is solid (that the lever will bear against when activated by pulling the trigger). It would be very obvious if it was assembled wrong.

The test to assure the Series 80 pcs. are working properly is the old pencil trick. Ensure your pistol is unloaded. Point it upwards and drop a pencil that has a rubber eraser on the end, down the barrel. Pull the trigger - the pencil should fly out of the barrel. If you pull the trigger and nothing happens, chances are the S80 parts are not assembled correctly. It could also be that your overtravel screw (if you have one in your trigger) is turned too far in to allow the necessary trigger travel to activate the S80 levers properly.

The other check is to see of you have any gouging of the firing pin, around the cutout area where the plunger blocks the FP. If you do, the levers are not moving enough to push the plunger out of the way and the FP is contacting the plunger when the hammer drops.

Welcome to the Forum, by the way!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
shane45,

Thanks for the reply. Glad to be here!

Incidentally, when I received the slide back from Novak's I noticed the plunger did not want to depress. I gently pushed it in with a punch and it stuck in the recessed positon. There was just enough of the plunger protruding where I could grab it and pull it free with a pair of needle-nose pliers. I worked it a little more until it loosened up. Would this indicate a specific problem?
 

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Could be a (minor) problem. Plunger may be oversized in diameter and is sticking in the slide, or there may be some interference between it and the firing pin, as I have indicated above. Regardless, if it moves freely in the slide now, and your pencil test works OK, and there is no burring or gouging on your firing pin, you're probably OK now.
 

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You may also have had some blueing salts residue in the hole, which could impede free movement of the plunger. Shane's correct with the pencil test, but you can also test by removing the slide, ease the hammer down, and pull the trigger as you would normally. There should be a minimum of .100" lift on the upper lever, though I'm happier with .125. If you don't have at least .100 of lift, you could have firing pin drag, or in a worse case scenario, the gun won't go bang at all. As well, the plunger will drag if the extractor is too far forward or back in the slide when it's being assembled.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the insightful replies.

I just finished detail stripping the slide and and noticed the "lip" on the extractor is missing, as in broken off. I probably helped it on it's way by manually working the plunger.

Does anyone have a brand recommendation for a replacement extractor?
 

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The Colt "barstock" that came with the gun should have been fine- we have installed several and had excellent luck with them - they drop in the gun and have correct tension (!), but if the retaining lip for the firing pin plunger broke off I would simply contact Colt for a replacement.

The only problem is, you don't know if it was damaged during the gunsmithing/reinstallation process at Novak's. Novak's certainly knows there way around a Series 80 Colt, but the fact that it didn't work like factory upon return is a bit odd and points in their direction. Mistakes happen. You might want to contact Novak and see it they want to check their work - the firing pin plunger tunnel may have been left full of gunk or mismachined. But I'll wager Colt would replace the extractor anyway.

All the aftermarket vendors make a 1911 extractor, some out of barstock, some MIM, some cast. I personally have had good luck with the Cylinder & Slide Spring Steel extractor - Spring Steel is the original John Moses Browning specified material for the extractor. A couple of people have noted fit problems with the C&S unit, although I don't think this is common, and as long as you don't alter it, it is under a lifetime warranty.

Warmly, Col. Colt

"Beware of Counterfeits & Patent Infringements" - Samuel Colt, from a mid-1850's Colt Newspaper Ad. Still true 150 years later.
 

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Who could have forseen that, after more than 7 years from the last post, this thread, already proclaimed dead, would help someone?

Who'd a' thunk it? :)
 

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Does the spring show any damage, have had them get messed up by slide upon reassembly.
 
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