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Discussion Starter #1
I have a recent (2000) Lightweight Commander that runs fine with hardball but fails to feed on the last round with hollowpoints. This occurs about a third of the time. I'm using all factory ammo like Federal Hydra-Shok, Speer Gold-Dot, Winchester SXT etc. What happens is the last round will be pointing up with the rim still in the magazine. Sometimes it will get further and get partially into the chamber. I first tried a variety of magazines. This doesn't seem to make a difference. I mostly use the Wilson/Rogers mags. I tried a Chip McCormick Power Mag recently and that seemed to help a bit but still got some FTF's. I have also tried several heavier Wolff recoil springs (20-26 lb) in place of the factory spring but this doesn't help. I sent the gun to Wilson's and had a reliability job done. This includes throating the barrel, polishing the chamber and adjusting the extractor. This didn't change anything. I then sent it back and they rechecked it. Still had FTF's. I recently checked the extractor tension and it was much greater than on my Kimber Custom so I lightened it. I'm going to check and see if this helps this weekend. I've been trying to get this resolved for several months and I'm not sure where to go with it. Otherwise I like the gun but if it's not reliable it's not much good to me. Suggestions?
 

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Hey Bowman, I just happened across your post, sorry to see you got no response to it. I'm kinda stumped. I had the solution after the first sentence but then you had already tried it by the eigth sentence. Sounds like you've covered all the bases-- what's the latest? I'd have said magazines. All I can think is that even though you are using W/R mags, as you should be, that they are older and could use new springs? Are you using a recoil buffer? This is usualy proscribed in a Commnander, but I have seen them work, too.

[This message has been edited by Ned Christiansen (edited 12-09-2001).]
 

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My first thought was a weak mag spring but it sounds as though you tried several different mags with the same results. I believe the heavier recoil spring added to the problem. I would look at the breech face of the slide to make sure its true and polished and I would check the extractor to make sure it has the proper angles cut on it. Also check the tension of the extractor to much tension can cause this problem.
Regards, Bob Hunter www.huntercustoms.com
 

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So if I understand the FTF correctly, the rim of the case is still under the feed lips of the magazine, the bullet nose has started up the ramp, and the slide is pushing against the back end of the case?

Is the back end of the barrel overhanging the feed ramp by chance? Could the nose of the bullet be catching on the way up?

As for recoil springs, I've had the best "luck" so far using a 20 lb variable in my commander length pistols.

Let us know if the extractor adjustments makes a difference. By the sounds of the problem description, the rim of the case isn't getting up to the extractor yet?
 

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Try and find some magazine followers with the rounded top, they seen to cure that particular problem. Because the top of the follower is rounded like the cartridges, I guess it tricks that last round into thinking that theres another round remaining in the mag. :)

7th
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the ideas. The gun did seem to work more consistently after I loosened the extractor tension but I still had some FTF's, especially if I only loaded 2 rounds in the mag. I'm not sure about the extractor cut angle etc. It doesn't look bad but I'm not a gunsmith. I would think if something was really off they would have caught it at Wilson's. The breech face looks smooth and I'm not using shok-buffs. I guess I described the FTF incorrectly in my initial post as the rim of the cartridge is getting out of the top of the magazine. It just doesn't make it all the way into the chamber. The Wilson-Rogers mags I've been using are in good shape, most are 7 round w/ the rounded follower and several are new so I don't think the problem is the mags. At this point I'm kind of stumped.
 

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Hello bowmam,
If I understand you correctly the round is partly in the barrel. Clean the barrel thoroughly inspect the chamber for any type of roughness. Also the barrel may need to be throated or the sharp edge at the bottom of the barrel as the round starts in the chamber may need to be dressed.
With just the two rounds in the mag still makes me think this is a mag spring problem. You might take one of your mags and try an extra power mag spring made by Wolff.
Regards, Bob Hunter www.huntercustoms.com
 

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Bowman,

Wollf makes the Wilson Mag Springs or so Wilson and Wolff say. If you have the same problem with different Wilson mags, they are 7 rounders (not 8's), Wilson's history would say that it probably isn't the Mag. They are the best IMHO.

I agree with Hunter's suggestion about any roughness that may be causing the round to "Hang Up" as it is going into battey. Check for this by taking out the barrel and dropping a round in the chamber. Does it drop in smoothly? Does the case head fit flush to the back of the barell hood? Turn it upside down. Does it drop out smoothly? It should do all three.

Because you said the gun runs with hardball, there very well could be a burr somewhere that is catching on the hollow point.

The chamber can be "GENTLY" buffed with a Dremmel Felt Wheel and some rouge. Very Gentle on this!

More about the extractor and its' proper fit:

Make sure the round is not hanging up on the bottom of the extractor. Stop and look carefully. Is the hook engaged around the rim at 9 O'clock on the case head? Is the round square to the breech face and held there by the extractor? Does the round "jump up" when you pull the slide back slowly to examine the problem. If so, I think the extractor is still not right.

I had the same problem when I put in a new extractor in my Commander, but it went away with some adjustment. My problem was with the last round in the mag.

After your requalification of the problem of the round not going all the way in after clearing the Mag feed lips, I think it could be only 3 things:

1. Poor extractor fit. (Still my bet)

2. Obstruction of some type in the chamber, (But why on only the last 2 rounds?)

3. Burr on the breech face around the firing pin hole which used to be fairly common.

At long last, you could accept the fact that John Moses Browning designed the gun for 230 Gn. Hard Ball and Jeff Cooper, Clint Smith, Chuck Taylor and a host of other "Officiandos" say Hard Ball is the only way to go.

Let us know. You really got me thinking about this.
 

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Bowman: When a round hangs with it's tail caught in the mag's feed lips, the first thing I do is take the mag apart and use a small file to round the sharp square edges of the feed lips where the hang is occurring. The mag shell is steel, and a sharp edges can dig into the brass case of the round.

In most cases like you describe, polishing the feed ramp and the inside of the barrel throat will fix it. I think one clue here is that ball ammo runs, but HP hangs? Well, at the entry angle into the throat, a HP nose is more likely to dig into the barrel throat roof. Ball will slide right by. If I had to bet, I would say polising the TOP of the barrel throat in the area where the HP tip is contacting it will fix this. A careful inspection might show some fine dings where the round's nose is digging in?

I fixed a similar problem on my new Para by taking some #600 sandpaper and using a drill bit about the diameter of the round. Wrap the paper around the smooth end of the bit. Using some oil, polish in and out on the barrel throat top. Always use a front-to-back direction, not rotary. What I've found is that most barrels come with fine rotary-direction cut lines in that area which can hang HP and FP bullets. Sometimes a gunsmith polish doesn't fix it if he uses a dremel tool that also polishes in a rotary direction.

It's easy to do. Let us know how it turns out.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for more ideas on this puzzling stuff. I'd like to clarify a couple more things (doing this makes it easy to see how a picture is worth a thousand words!).

The first thing I did when I encountered the problem was try using extra power Wolff mag springs. This didn't help.

Most of the time when the FTF on last round occurs the cartridge is sticking up with the nose to the sky at about 45 to 60 degrees.
The bullet nose is usually not in the chamber although occasionally it does get partially in. Unless the bullet is partially in the chamber the cartridge rim is not under the extractor.

The barrel has been nicely throated as part of the reliability job from Wilson's. The chamber and throat seem smooth and a cartridge will easily drop in the chamber to the proper depth and fall out if turned upside down. The top of the throat looks smooth to me although I am no expert.

A question for Bob Hunter: what do you do to "dress" the sharp edge at the bottom of the throat?

Since I am not super mechanical and certainly no gunsmith I am beginning to wonder if I should sell the gun. Sending handguns in the mail for work is pretty expensive these days and I don't feel confident that there is an obvious fix although it's probably something simple.

Thanks again for the help. -Bowman
 

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Hello Bowman.
If the barrel has been throated more then likely the sharp edge has already been dressed. So with out seeing the gun I would recommend that you do nothing to the barrel throat.
To answer your question I use a half round needle file to break the sharp edge and then polish it with a fine craytex tip. Now lets see if we can solve your problem.
The 1911 style of gun is designed as a controled round type of feeding. What this means is when the round is striped from the mag it should slip under the extractor and then feed into the barrel. It sounds to me as if your rounds are jumping in front of the extractor and this is causing your feeding problem.
There is several things that can cause this.
1 A weak mag spring.
2 To heavy of a recoil spring.
3 To much tension on the extractor.
These are the things that I would check first. Also the extractor should have two entry angles cut on it.
I think you said something about having a little better feeding using a McCormick power mag. Have you tried it after you changed the extractor tension? Do not sell the gun yet.
Regards, Bob Hunter www.huntercustoms.com
 

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I had a lightweight commander length gun once from one of the famous semi-custom houses which had a similar problem. Sometimes a live round would end up standing straight up pinched between the slide and barrel hood. My final conclusion was that the aluminum frame was too soft and under recoil the slide would hit the frame causing the frame to spread and thereby limiting slide cycling due to binding. By the way, what brand gun is this?

What weight of recoil spring are you running at this time? I've been using a 20 lb variable in an all steel commander length gun these days. Bob mentioned too strong a recoil spring can cause this sort of behaviour. You might want to try the lightest recoil spring you have, maybe an 18 lb?

Are you running a shock buff? If so, that could affect timing on this size pistol.

Question for Bob: can you describe the two entry angles on the extractor a bit more? I think I know what your refering to but I'd like to know for sure. Thanks :D
 

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Hello 10ring,
I'll do my best to try and explain the two angles. However this is one of those things that I find is much easier to show someone then to tell them how to do it. The two angles we are dealing with are the entry angle in the groove of the extractor and the entry angle on the hook of the extractor. I like to cut both angles at 45 degrees. The one on the hook does not have to be excessive just enough to break the corner on the hook. The one on the groove is more aggressive and more rounded so there is not a sharp edge and is flared slightly wider at the bottom toward the hook. This will give a better entry for the rim on the case. It kind of guides it into the groove of the extractor. Both of these angles are cut at the bottom of the extractor nose or tip as some call it. Well I hope I didn't confuse everyone, It would be much easier if I had a picture to show you.
Regards, Bob Hunter www.huntercustoms.com
 

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Discussion Starter #15
In reply to Bob, yes, I have shot the gun with the powermag after I reduced the extractor tension. It was better but still had some FTF's. I'm currently using the stock (18lb?) recoil spring that came with the gun from Colt. I wouldn't want to go lower than that with full power ammo would I? The bottom edge of the throat is somewhat sharp but the FTF problem predates the throating so I doubt that's the main issue.

In Response to 10ring, This is a recent model Colt less than 2 years old so I would think they would have used a modern alloy that would be hard enough. I'm not using a shok buff.

I'm having some trouble visualizing the extractor cuts but it sounds to me like the extractor may still be the culprit since the FTF rounds generally don't get under the extractor. Maybe I should have one of the local guys who work on the IPSC shooters guns fit a new extractor. I don't think I have the skills to be sure it's right.
Thanks,
bowman
 

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Bowman,

I would suggest just replacing the extractor.

I had the same problem with my Daly 1911A1.
I just replaced the extractor with an
Wilson Bullet-proof and I have not had a problem
since. If feeds everything. No FTF or FTE's.

Just my 2¢ worth. :D

Hunter
 

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Thanks for the explanation Bob. I think I understand what you're saying. Now if we could just figure out bowman's problem. I suppose a limp-wrist could aggravate this but then the problem would occurr on more than the last round in the magazine.
 

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Now that I've thought about what you said Bob I have one question. How do you "cut the flared slightly wider at the bottom toward the hook" to give that little extra opening for rim entry? Do you use a small file and go easy while leaving the rounded surface of the groove alone?

And bowman ..... any update to the FTF.
 

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Thanks for the tips Bob! I finally took some time to visit your web site. Looks like you put together some fine creations there. Keep up the good work! Oh, and Happy Holidays!
 
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