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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone check their pistol with the old "pencil check"?
You drop a pencil down the bore (eraser first) and dry fire to check FP function.
I recently bought my Defender back from a friend and decided to detail strip it for a good cleaning and inspection. Reassembled the thing and thought it was all good....decided I should dry fire it....dropped in the pencil, pulled the trigger and nothing. :( Pulled the slide and inspected....all looked good. Looked at the frame carefully and realized that I didn't capture the FP block lever with the sear pin so it wasn't pushing the FP block up.
The pencil check may not be as good a test as taking the pistol to the range but it showed me I had a problem that was easily rectified.
My other thought here is what a pain the little series 80 parts can be when reassembling the pistol!
It's launching that pencil across the room now! :)
 

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I think its a better test than go to the range. It also lets you know how hard your primer strikes are. I use it a lot when dealing with secondhand guns.
 

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Be careful launching pencils with your pistol. It would hurt to get poked in the eye.
:eek:
 

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I never thought of the pencil test in this way before, but I would highly recommend it to anyone with a firing pin safety after reassembly, particularly on a working gun (one that remains loaded and is on call, either for carry or home defense).
 

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I use that test on DA autos with hammer-drop safeties. If you drop the hammer and the pencil pops out, you've got a problem.
 

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There was a thread about this recently, although that one quickly deviated to talk of the 'other' kind of pencil test... :biglaugh:
 

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I first saw this in the Army about a hundred years ago. When I get a new pistol, I clean, inspect, lube and then last thing before the range is the Pencil Test. I keep brand new #2 pencils in my cleaning area just for this test!!! :)
 

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When I was working I had a set of test gages for checking firing pins.
These were short rods made of brass or aluminum (depending on the gun, some won't work well with heavy gages), and with a hard nylon end to pad the firing pin.

These worked like the pencil test, but were weighted to give a good idea of firing pin strike energy. These were weighted to allow a properly working firing pin to drive the gage up so about 1/2 the gage popped up out of the barrel.
If the gage didn't make it up that high, something was wrong.

A little more accurate a test than a pencil.
 

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When I was working I had a set of test gages for checking firing pins.
These were short rods made of brass or aluminum (depending on the gun, some won't work well with heavy gages), and with a hard nylon end to pad the firing pin.

These worked like the pencil test, but were weighted to give a good idea of firing pin strike energy. These were weighted to allow a properly working firing pin to drive the gage up so about 1/2 the gage popped up out of the barrel.
If the gage didn't make it up that high, something was wrong.

A little more accurate a test than a pencil.
Pretty cool. I will look for those gauges.

I also have done the pencil test should the question arise. While I agree a range is the best test, one isn't always immediately at hand.

Regards,
Greyson
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
When I was working I had a set of test gages for checking firing pins.
These were short rods made of brass or aluminum (depending on the gun, some won't work well with heavy gages), and with a hard nylon end to pad the firing pin.

These worked like the pencil test, but were weighted to give a good idea of firing pin strike energy. These were weighted to allow a properly working firing pin to drive the gage up so about 1/2 the gage popped up out of the barrel.
If the gage didn't make it up that high, something was wrong.

A little more accurate a test than a pencil.
It may be a more accurate test but in my case the pencil at least showed me I had a problem.
 

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From what I understand it won't work on striker fired guns like the Glock
 

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War story, well Ft Dix

About 15-20 years ago my son joined the Army and was sent to Ft. Dix for basic. First day in boot camp he broke his leg. Since the leg was damaged quite a bit, healing would take some time so the Army put him on "light-duty" and he spent time in the Company office doing some telephone and such service.
Because of his NCO got used to him being around he got to do a few things. Like join the guys in the back room. One day a sergeant came in a little peeved, his personal 1911 would not fire at the range. After the guys looked it over, my son asked if he could look at it. Thery said OK. He then asked if he could strip it, they said OK.
He detailed stripped it and put the series 80 parts back properly and did a pencil test, all within a minute. The pencil may still be in the ceiling.
And his stature increased a lot.
 

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About 15-20 years ago my son joined the Army and was sent to Ft. Dix for basic. First day in boot camp he broke his leg. Since the leg was damaged quite a bit, healing would take some time so the Army put him on "light-duty" and he spent time in the Company office doing some telephone and such service.
Because of his NCO got used to him being around he got to do a few things. Like join the guys in the back room. One day a sergeant came in a little peeved, his personal 1911 would not fire at the range. After the guys looked it over, my son asked if he could look at it. Thery said OK. He then asked if he could strip it, they said OK.
He detailed stripped it and put the series 80 parts back properly and did a pencil test, all within a minute. The pencil may still be in the ceiling.
And his stature increased a lot.

The pencil must be sharpened.


So it sticks in the ceiling.


:rock:



:)
 

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I've done the test occasionally over the years, but I'm not sure how to quantitatively assess. Meaning, how far should a pencil- not on the eraser- fly? Say, out of a striker fired 9mm? Looking for ballpark here, of course.

Chuck
 

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That totally depends on the gun.

As example my gage set (you can't buy them, you make them) will drive a solid brass gage 1/2 way out the muzzle of a Government Model as designed.
However, to get the same results with my Kahr Arms K9, I had to build a lightened aluminum gage.
I had a different gage for 6" barreled revolvers, and another for 4".
 

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I use BIC pens since the only pencils I keep around are mechanical, the FP leaves a nice little divot in them afterwards. BTW watch out for ceiling fans, I still haven't found that pen.
 

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Excellent thread!

I have used this for years! When I bought a used SP101 a year or so ago, I did the pencil test in the gunshop before purchase. Most of the guys standing around had never seen it, and said "Whoa" in unison!

Jamie
 

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Both my Para P14 and my Colt OACP will launch a pencil to the ceiling...while seated. (serves as a baseline for fp impact energy with 23 lb mainspring and functioning fp block)
 
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