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Discussion Starter #1
OK, this may give some of you a chuckle, but I gotta ask, what causes jamming?

I went to an IPSC match today, my first one, to watch and see what was going on. Some folks had what appeared to be stock 1911 45's and some had what I consider to look like a gun from a sci-fi flick, but I saw several folks that had their guns jam, both types. I don't know specifically what happened, but digging out of casings and stripping out a magazine appeared to be what was required to clear it.

When I was a police officer, we shot S&W 4006 and rarely did I see any guns jamming up, and I was always taught that the 1911 was so freakin reliable that they almost never jammed, but today I saw several.

Is it just the speed of firing or is it guns that are too tight? Is there a gun that doesn't jam as much?

Remember, I'm a FNG, so this is all new to me.
Tank you berry much,
Dan'o :} :D
 

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Well, the people that don't like jellys usually like jams.

Thus, a whole industry has grown to create jams. Companies like Smuckers, Knotts, and others both have jams and jellies.
 

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secrets of the Universe

1) fer-crap ammo

2) weak (or too strong) magazine springs

3) deformed magazine lips

4) fer-crap guns (usually, but not always, 'modified' by owner)

5) fer-crap ammo

6) fer-crap shooter (not as often, but shooter-induced failures are possible)

7) fer-crap ammo

My personal thoughts on this matter are simple and straightforward: "First it must go bang".
It must do so repeatedly, and on demand.
I would rather have a reliable gun that shoots 12" groups at seven yards vs a 1" @ 50yd gun I can't utterly depend on (a phrase I feel critical to our sport, and to real-life carry) to go "bang".
"First it must go bang".

If not, stop EVERYTHING, and make it so. IF unable to, rid oneself of POS and buy/find/make a reliable gun.
Just like cars, a 'reliable' gun can be any type of any brand; all makers have clunkers.

And NOT 'kinda' reliable, or 'mostly' reliable; I mean "utterly reliable".

The mental relief alone is worth millions......

A33102
 

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my story (and I'm sticking to it)

My first 1911, an all-custom Caspian, ran over 7K before its first jam (a friggin' POS Amerc case got me). Later I found it would jam after 120--150 rds of Bullseye-powder loads, so I switched powder.
Utterly reliable.

My newer 1911 was a 9x19 Springfield; some minor modifications by me and it is great (but not perfect; I'm hoping a Mr. Smith-n-crew trip will make it perfect). Less than 10K, but perfect performance so far.
Utterly reliable.

My newest 1911 is another Springfield, this time in 40 S&W.
Only one match so far, but in testing and in match utterly reliable gun (shooter sucks, but you'll have that).
Utter reliability (in an admittedly short time frame).

I also use EAA Witnesses, one customized 9x19 (by Mr. Cogan) SO reliable I cannot recall it EVER failing during a match (although I DO recall it not ejecting an empty case on the last shot fired of a stage; I attribute THAT to 'shooter error, no follow-through and poor ending grasp/grip'). Friends call that gun my 'snow gun', or 'sand gun', or 'rain gun', or 'chrome gun' ('cause Mr. Cogan also hardchromed it).
Rd-ct stands above 40K.
Utterly reliable.

My goal is to take all my guns and make them and their ammo never fail. Good goal.

"First it must go bang"
 

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My 2 cents:

In competition any advantage obtained by fine-tuning your equipment is desirable. Most shooters make changes to their equipment (gun / mags / ammo) until they get the sweet spot, from finding the best reloading combination that feeds reliable and is still accurate to the perfect tuning of trigger pull, mainspring, recoil spring, etc. Until you get there, some failure is expected, and it is difficult to simulate all the match condition testing in the range only.

I also have seen all kind of guns jamming, Glocks, 1911s, STI / SVIs, CZs, you name it (this includes my 1911 when I was tuning the trigger pull – worked fine in the range, but I got misfires during the match due to a mainspring too light). The most common source of failure are reloaded ammo (OAL, bullet shape, fat case), magazine (bended lips, follower dragging), improper combination of recoil spring (FTF / FTE due to timing), and mainspring too light. Since different people are doing these things all the time, looking from outside it seems a lot of competition guns have problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
OK, sounds like a lot of things can contribute to a jam or failure. So I just need to get a good quality gun and have it tuned when something goes wrong? Sounds like I'll need to shoot a whole bunch to make sure the gun is OK (oh, that just breaks my heart, having to shoot all day long!!).
Thanks for the info, this clears up a lot.
Dan'o :} FNG
 

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You should be fine with whatever gun and ammo you get (most of all). If they work OK on the range, and then you shoot 1 or 2 matches and they still are OK, you will be fine for long time. The worries comes when you start tweaking your gun / ammo / mags, until you get then right.

Just participate in the matches and have fun :)
 

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one other small bit......

IF your gun ever actually needs work, most highly recommend professional help (your friend is NOT a 'gunsmith' LOL -- unless, like mine, he actually is).

Springfield Armory, IMO, offers the best warranty help (unless you're into the Rock River / Ed Brown / Wilson class).

There is www.egw-guns.com, and other fine pistolsmiths not in the Guild, but when in doubt look here: www.americanpistol.com
 

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In my experience, malfunctions in competition are usually ammo-related. Out-of-spec handloads are the major culprits. Magazines, and especially mag springs, would be second on my list. The "one more" mentality is a great contributing factor; the perfectly-running 19-round mag that will j-u-s-t hold a 20th round, but then doesn't work all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It sounds like I should just get a nice gun and shoot the heck out of it and not tinker with it myself. Just didn't seem logical that all these guns should jam so much, but if everybody heard or read somewhere that this is the hot setup and then tweaked their guns, I could see where this would be a problem. I guess I better listen to gun tweaking advice with a grain of salt.
Dan'o :}

Thanks again for all the info. I'm gettin better educated every day.
 

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With my own 1911 all failures have been lube, mag and spring. In that order. I have seen a lot of problems with handloads, but nothing a little more care at the reloading bench wouldn't have prevented. Making a gun go bang at the target range is a little different than making one go fast.
 

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Jamming is when two musicians, i.e. guitarists get together and play, usually with lots of adlibbing. :)

Malfunction is what occurs in a firearm.
 

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I'll say ammo for one. Bullets can be a headache. I've tried some plated and lead that seemed to work most of the time, but not foolproof. When I went to quality jacketed, problems solved. I chamber check my stuff for a match that counts, but not locals.

I've got to stay on top of my mags, or things go downhill fast. Tubes and springs both. I usually don't spend much time before a local match worrying about my mags though.

Understand that some of the guns, gunsmithing, untested mags, or reloads, may show up at a local match for the first outing. Not all of the USPSA members, including myself, have a range in their backyard. The more fortunate, iron out the wrinkles, before they play. Some of the local matches can get pretty ugly with failures.
 

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I guess a lot of things can cause jamming. I will only give one I know that has happened to me.. I handload all of my ammo. With say my M&P .40 S&W when I load near max loads it seems to jam. Where as when I load say factory to powder puff or light loads it never jams! So as far as my jams Id say the springs and what type of load has a lot to do with it... Thats from a reloader's prospective.:rock:
 

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A lot of what I see is bad ammo,,,,a crimp die on your final station to true up the case walls often works wonders,,,,beyond that, it helps to run your ammo through a case guage to make sure it will chamber easily,,,,many guys are too lazy to do that.

Bad mags are a contributor,,,,many guys will number their mags and when they have a jam,,,make a mental note about which mag was involved,,,,,if you jam everytime mag number 4 is in the gun,,,,chuck it, fix it, or something.

Another factor is cleanliness or lack thereof. Run the gun completely dry,,,let in gum up with powder residue, brass shavings, and etc,,,,eventually you'll have problems.

Cold weather plus a lube that is too think, and between runs it'll stiffen up and slow down the slide,,,,then you'll get feeding problems.

There are tons of other things,,,,just a few that I thought of real quick.....
 

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Discussion Starter #17
A lot of what I see is bad ammo,,,,a crimp die on your final station to true up the case walls often works wonders,,,,beyond that, it helps to run your ammo through a case guage to make sure it will chamber easily,,,,many guys are too lazy to do that.

Bad mags are a contributor,,,,many guys will number their mags and when they have a jam,,,make a mental note about which mag was involved,,,,,if you jam everytime mag number 4 is in the gun,,,,chuck it, fix it, or something.

Another factor is cleanliness or lack thereof. Run the gun completely dry,,,let in gum up with powder residue, brass shavings, and etc,,,,eventually you'll have problems.

Cold weather plus a lube that is too think, and between runs it'll stiffen up and slow down the slide,,,,then you'll get feeding problems.

There are tons of other things,,,,just a few that I thought of real quick.....
Thanks for the info. From what I've been reading, these do seem to be the most common problems that cause the gun to jam. I'll definitely keep an eye on these things.
Dan'o :}
 

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My opinion on 1911 jams you see at a match

My opinion by rank

1) Improperly reloaded ammo
2) Improper extractor tension
3) Someone altered the gun such as:
a) changing the recoil spring
b) changing the main spring
c) changing the feed ramp angle
4) magazine issues such as:
a) weak springs
b) bent feed lips
c) dirt or sand inside the mag

Before an during an IPSC match, I always clean my mags. When I drop a mag and I think it looks like it may have picked up sand or dirt, I will clean it before the next stage. Also, before each match, I drop each round in a case gauge and look at the primer. Every once in a while I find an empty primer pocket which is a pain in the butt when shooting a low round count speed/fast stage!
 
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