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Posted: 7/6/2002 5:12:43 PM EDT
I have a Colt 1991 Compact model that has a persistant and annoying problem. The last round out of the magazine stovepipes (I think that is the correct term, see pics) almost everytime, regardless of the magazine or ammunition that I use.

Today, I went to the range to try and see if the problem were isolated to just one or two magazines or brand of ammo. I had failures with all six of my magazines:

4 Factory Colt
2 Mec-Gar

and failures with 3 different types of ammunition:

Winchester white box 230gr FMJ
American Eagle 230gr FMJ
PMC 230gr FMJ

Anyone have any ideas as to what I should try and do to fix this problem?
Thanks


Link Posted: 7/6/2002 6:17:06 PM EDT
This has been a recurring problem with the Colt .45s for almost as long as the piece has been around, tho it really didn't start happening with frequency until the shorter barrel pieces were introduced. While I have no direct experience with this model, I have had it happen with other models of the .45. The problem seems to be a function of the mag follower and the difference in angle of that last round in the mag. Colt changed the design of the follower some years back, which resulted in some improvement, particularly in the Government and Commander models, but it has remained a problem in the Officers model. I've not owned a 1911 type .45 in years so I'm not sure what's out there at the moment. Pachmayer used to make a modified mag follwer that pretty much solved the problem, at least in the longer barrelled pieces. I seem to recall that the Officers model recoil spring arrangement played into the problem, and I know that there are aftermarket spring setups for that model.

I notice that all the ammo you tried was 230 grain hardball stuff, and I wonder whether or not you'd have the problem using the lighter weight combat loads of 185 to 200 grains.

Check the aftermarket supplier sites that deal in .45 accesories. I suspect you'll find that some of them have stuff out that addresses this problem. If all else fails, you could always do what I did 20 years ago-----take your .45 business to Smith & Wesson.

Seriously, good luck finding a solution.
Link Posted: 7/6/2002 6:27:12 PM EDT
For a cheap fix try holding your wrist stiffer.
Link Posted: 7/6/2002 6:33:00 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Arock:
For a cheap fix try holding your wrist stiffer.



I would agree, also polishing the feedramp and throating the barrel may help. I like the Wilson combat magazines. Never have a failure to feed with them.
Link Posted: 7/6/2002 6:41:35 PM EDT
Try a recoil buffer, then a heavier recoil spring.
Link Posted: 7/6/2002 6:55:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Royal_Lancer:
Try a recoil buffer, then a heavier recoil spring.



Heavier recoil spring?

Admittedly I don't know squat about Officer's sized 1911's, but it seems that his slide is coming back into battery quicker than the magazine can get the round up into feeding position.

Looks like one of two problems:

1. Mag springs weak or follower of poor design; or

2. Recoil spring too heavy.

Of course, Arock's suggestions that you could be limpwristing is something you should check out before you try either of these fixes. It's hard to diagnose this when you're not shooting the gun, but think "crush grip."

You should not have a casual, relaxed target style grip. You should feel the tension from your grip in your forearms.

It will help with recoil and may also cure these FTF's. Heck, even Glocks have problems with limpwristing (actually worse than a steel framed gun, in my experience).
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 4:13:49 AM EDT
Thanks for all the replys.

I gave the limp wristing thing a thought while I was at the range yesterday, and I tried using the tightest Weaver push/pull type stance and grip that I could without any success. I am 6'6", 330 lbs and turn wrenches for a living, grip and wrist strength has never traditionally been a problem. However I am having some neurological problems with my ring and pinky fingers on my right hand, those two fingers stay numb and swollen 24/7. I'm waiting to see a hand specialist... So I am not going to rule out that I am limp wristing the gun and will take another experienced shooter with me the next time I go to the range.

As for increasing or decreasing the recoil spring rate, which way should I go with it. Up or down? Do I want to slow the speed of the slide returning to battery?

I forgot to add that I have had this gun since 1994 and it used to function perfectly, it is in the last year that it has started malfunctioning.
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 6:45:38 AM EDT
From the pic, it looks like a LOT of oil there....
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 6:53:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By liberty86:
From the pic, it looks like a LOT of oil there....



Yup good catch, I added a few drops of CLP to the frame rails at the range for the last two mags to see if that would help the problem. So, yes it is definitely over-oiled....
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 7:26:32 AM EDT
I'd suggest going with a lighter than stock spring first. The gun might not be cycling all the way - hence a stovepipe. Also a stronger spring will increase the cyclic rate and may lead to more jams as the last round can't get into position before the slide cycles. Also might try extra power mag springs.

Stay away from recoil buffers in a shorty 1911 - there isn't enough room for it and still cycle reliably.
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 8:44:52 AM EDT
Not to be repetitive of others' responses but my "gut feelings" when reading your initial post were:

1. Improper recoil control (limp-wristing)
2. Too tight of a recoil spring
3. Buy some Wilson mags because neither Colt nor Mec-Gar are known as "quality" 1911 mags (and/or you need to replace the springs/follower in your mags)
4. Light loads (i.e. you need hotter loads to really push that slide back)

GETTING BACK TO THE MAGS QUESTION:
You mentioned later that this wasn't a problem until a year ago. Have you kept your magazines loaded with ammo while stored? If so, your magazine springs are definitely needing to be replaced.

Good luck!
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 9:08:42 AM EDT

GETTING BACK TO THE MAGS QUESTION:
You mentioned later that this wasn't a problem until a year ago. Have you kept your magazines loaded with ammo while stored? If so, your magazine springs are definitely needing to be replaced.



Bingo......I think Tailgate hit it on the head. Try replacing your mag springs before messing with your Colt.

PS.........handguns.ar15.com




Link Posted: 7/7/2002 11:14:28 AM EDT
Had an Officer model once that stovepiped but after 500/700 rounds, it worked fine. Don't use a buffer on a carry gun because it gets chewed up fast with the shorter slide and will jam the action. I always ran some Federal hydroshoks through it on and off and it never jammed with them. Change the mag springs first.
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 11:19:40 AM EDT
I'd suggest changing mag springs first, and then examining the followers on them. The last round could be canting up with no weight on it, which is why it only happens on the last round.

I noticed Springfield Armory has their new Micro pistols and their followers have the dimple farther in the back to insure proper feeding. I'm not sure if Colt mags are designed similarly.

Remember the Alamo and God Bless Texas...
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 11:32:58 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/7/2002 11:43:08 AM EDT by Corey]
As previously posted:


Looks like one of two problems:

1. Mag springs weak or follower of poor design; or



You should be changing your mag springs and followers every year. Granted, you might be able to run one spring 10 years before it loses strength, but then you're only catching the other springs after they fail.

The only one I missed was mentioned by Tailgate -- light loads. I once tried WinClean .45 ACP and only later learned that it is notorious for being lightly loaded. I had a ton of goofy malfunctions with my 18 pound spring on my 5". My friend's Kimber with it's 16 pound spring was fine, although I think he also installed an 18 pound spring at some point.

If your gun was fine til recently, seems that the mag springs have gotten weak and are not getting that last round up there quick enough and the slide is missing the rim. The toughest rounds for a magazine to feed are the first (too much spring tension against the feed lips) and the last (too little spring tension at the end of the springs cycle).

But definitely do the mag springs first and only make one change at a time (i.e., leave the current recoil spring in there).

Let us know what happens.

EDITED to say that the only thing that I disagree with in Tailgate's post is this:


Have you kept your magazines loaded with ammo while stored?


I think that mag springs wear out by being cycled and that a properly designed magazine can be stored loaded.
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 12:28:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Corey:
EDITED to say that the only thing that I disagree with in Tailgate's post is this:


Have you kept your magazines loaded with ammo while stored?


I think that mag springs wear out by being cycled and that a properly designed magazine can be stored loaded.



Please don't take this as a flame or being argumentative, but you are wrong, sir.

In fact, any tactical operator will tell you that you should unload and reload your springs daily for maximum reliability (that it, to take the tension off of the spring). I know that sounds morosely obsessive, but when you know you are going into combat a FTF is not something you want coming up due to poor magazine preparation.

Now, I personally keep a number of magazines loaded and maybe rotate them once a month (if lucky)...the odds of them not working are small...but so are the odds of me having to use them due to my lifestyle (I am not an LEO).

Keeping a magazine loaded for long periods of time will definitely affect the spring negatively.
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 3:54:47 PM EDT
Thanks to all that responded. I am going to try and order some Wilson magazines this week, and get out to the range. I'll post a follow up as to whether or not the magazines are the culprit. Hopefully my magazines will get here at the same time as my new Bushy.
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 4:13:56 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/7/2002 4:15:29 PM EDT by stratsandaks]

Originally Posted By Tailgate:

GETTING BACK TO THE MAGS QUESTION:
You mentioned later that this wasn't a problem until a year ago. Have you kept your magazines loaded with ammo while stored? If so, your magazine springs are definitely needing to be replaced.



Bingo......I think Tailgate hit it on the head. Try replacing your mag springs before messing with your Colt.



3 of the Colt magazines were left loaded for extended periods of time.

The 4th Colt mag and the two Mec-Gar's were purchased used last week. I found them while digging around in a big box of magazines at the local fun store. The Colt mag is an absolute POS and won't even activate the slide stop, the Mec-Gar's looked pretty good but didn't function any better....
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 6:17:17 PM EDT

Please don't take this as a flame or being argumentative, but you are wrong, sir.



I absolutely do not take it as a flame. I actually prefer to discuss these types of things without getting bent out of shape. So, thank you for your cordial reply.

I seem to recall that the magazine guys here (including a few who have extensive spring knowledge) have been promoting the idea that springs fatigue by cycling, not constant loads.

I'll try to see if I can find a link to support my position. Maybe even see what Wolff has to say about it.
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 6:29:41 PM EDT
Well, here's what Wolff has to say about it. I'll do some digging in the mag forum, but Wolff might just be the final word. After all, they do make the best gun springs in the world.


5. Should I unload my magazines, rotate magazines, load with fewer than the maximum rounds? How often should I change magazine springs?

Magazine springs in semi-auto pistols are one of the most critical springs and the subject of much debate and concern. Magazines which are kept fully loaded for long periods of time, such as law enforcement applications, will generally be subject to more fatigue than the weekend shooter's magazine springs which are loaded up only when shooting. Magazine design and capacity also affect the longevity of the spring. Older designs where maximum capacity was not the goal such as the 7 round 1911 Colt magazines will last for years fully loaded. There was a lot of room for a lot of spring which reduced the overall stress on the spring. In recent hi-capacity magazines, the magazines were designed to hold more rounds with less spring material. This puts more stress on the spring and will cause fatigue at a faster rate. Unloading these magazines a round or two will help the life of the spring. Rotating fully loaded magazines will also help the problem somewhat but is not always practical. In applications where the magazine must be kept loaded, a high quality magazine spring such as Wolff extra power magazine springs, will provide maximum life. Regular shooting will verify reliability and regular replacement of magazine springs will provide the best defense against failure from weak magazine springs.




www.gunsprings.com/1ndex.html

So, Tailgate just might be right on this one.

Although I wonder how much of the fatigue has to do with overworking a compromised spring (i.e., an 8 rd. 1911 mag versus a 7 rd.)?
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 7:02:23 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/7/2002 7:21:15 PM EDT by Corey]
Well, this might not carry the weight of the Wolff quote, but....

www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?id=126884

Still digging.

EDITED to add another thread (and fix code):

www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?id=124753

Maybe this is the difference that we're talking about (as stated in the Wolff quote):


This has been covered many times. Properly designed springs wear out through compression/decompression cycles, not from remaining compressed over time. USGI magazines contain properly designed springs.



EDIT #2: The search function seems to be down and I'm calling it a night. Any mag people want to chime in here? It would be nice to hear some science.
Link Posted: 7/8/2002 3:07:28 AM EDT
Try posting this question on www.pistolsmith.com
Tere are a number of 1911 'smiths that post there.

Good luck,

Mike
Link Posted: 7/8/2002 7:35:37 PM EDT
I try to cross reference all my links related to each other, so here's this one:

www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?id=130840

And I really don't care if I was right or not. I'd rather figure out the correct answer.
Link Posted: 7/8/2002 7:52:37 PM EDT
Get a 24lb recoil spring... your slide is moving too slowly into battery on the last round (least mag tension) and the round is flipping up after contact with the ramp. Speed up the slide, heavier spring.
Link Posted: 7/8/2002 7:53:42 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/8/2002 7:56:15 PM EDT by bsouth401]
Betcha a dollar to a hole in donut that a Wilson mag will fix it. What else have you done to it other than the Dlask medium lenght trigger?
Brian
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