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Old April 15, 2012, 07:53 PM   #1
TunnelRat
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My Gun of Woe: S&W 1911

Hi all,
So this is not a true continuation of my previous thread. After some more range experience I have realized it is not the mags that are the problem. The gun itself is the problem. Today was malfunction day. Failure to feed, double feed, failure to go back into battery, ejecting casings (very painfully) into the left side of my forehead and I shoot right handed .

I've attached some pictures (some are out of focus and I apologize I had to hold the camera one handed).

By the way, I had one casing that managed to end up standing straight up when it fed. Any idea how that is possible? I was using Federal Champion FMJ 230 grain.

Obviously it needs to go back to S&W, but I thought if anyone else experiences these errors at least this would serve as a reference.

Lastly, I have zero faith in this gun. To be honest I don't even want it back, the only reason I would send it in is to have it fixed for when I trade it. I had a failure to feed or failure to go back into battery at least once a magazine. Would I be out of line asking the retail store for store credit back on the purchase? Would S&W be willing to do anything? I'd almost rather have anything else back.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 2012-04-15_16-28-51_141.jpg (261.4 KB, 190 views)
File Type: jpg 2012-04-15_16-36-56_804.jpg (246.1 KB, 169 views)
File Type: jpg 2012-04-15_16-37-08_839.jpg (243.7 KB, 163 views)
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Old April 15, 2012, 07:55 PM   #2
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Continuation of pictures.
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File Type: jpg 2012-04-15_16-38-46_502.jpg (244.4 KB, 115 views)
File Type: jpg 2012-04-15_16-40-52_545.jpg (244.7 KB, 111 views)
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Old April 15, 2012, 07:58 PM   #3
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The magical standing cartridge. The followers are dimpled so I am not sure how this happened.
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File Type: jpg 2012-04-15_16-25-20_338.jpg (256.3 KB, 122 views)
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Old April 15, 2012, 08:15 PM   #4
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Sounds like you have an extractor tension issue. Take the slide off and take the barrel out. Hook the rim of a live round under the extractor. Now shake the slide up and down. How much force does it take to shake the round loose? It shouldn't take too much. If it takes quite a bit then the extractor is too tight which is what I'm guessing is wrong with your gun. In that case I would send it back to S&W and have them do some work on it since adjusting external extractors take a bit more work then internal extractors.
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Old April 15, 2012, 08:36 PM   #5
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Lastly, I have zero faith in this gun. To be honest I don't even want it back, the only reason I would send it in is to have it fixed for when I trade it. I had a failure to feed or failure to go back into battery at least once a magazine. Would I be out of line asking the retail store for store credit back on the purchase? Would S&W be willing to do anything? I'd almost rather have anything else back.
Like any other item made by man, guns can fail out of the box. I've had similar issues with another brand, but in less than a week I got a replacement part and it has been 100% since. If I were you, I would get in contact with S&W. I'm sure they will fix it for you. Probably just something small, and you will be back to shooting in no time.

You could try and ask for credit, but I doubt that will go very far... I guess that really depends on how much business you give them though. Again, I would send it off and see how it shoots when you get it back. You may be pleasantly surprised.
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Old April 15, 2012, 08:45 PM   #6
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Extractor tension is my guess as well. But, I'd just send it back to S&W and have them do a total check of the gun to ensure that's the only issue.
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Old April 15, 2012, 09:16 PM   #7
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I am a new S&W 1911 owner with a problem too but from what I have read and seen so far S&W Customer Service is second to none.

Give S&W a call Monday and see what they say.
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Old April 15, 2012, 09:20 PM   #8
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I have a question.

Did you field strip the gun before you shot it the first time?

Did you follow the instructions in the manual when you reassembled the gun?

If you did, you may have the recoil spring installed 180 out.

The manual is specific that the closed end of the recoil spring faces forward.

What that does is slow the slide down and will cause exactly the problems you are describing.

Mine did the same thing and a friend of mine at the range with the same gun was having the same problem.

I called Smith and Wesson and was informed the manual is incorrect. The closed end of the recoil spring goes on the guide rod first and is an interference fit.

My friend and I have had no failures since we installed the recoil spring that way.

You may have an extractor tension issue, but you might want to look at the recoil spring orientation to see if that is part of the problem.

Please get back with us and let us know what you find out.

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Old April 15, 2012, 09:23 PM   #9
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I know S&W CS is good. I have a Walther P99 being fixed there right now . I know I know, not really their fault it's a Walther not a S&W.

My issue is at $1170 I find this all to be a bit ridiculous. I know you can spend far more on 1911s. I know every gun company can produce a lemon. I know all of this. But I am ******. Thins thing runs like crap.

I will likely end up sending it in to S&W and hopefully it is just an extractor issue. But I will not be keeping it. If that makes me childish that is fine. This is not a range toy for me, it was meant to be a carry gun. I just can't carry something I have lost all confidence in.
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Old April 15, 2012, 09:25 PM   #10
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I have the closed end of the recoil spring go on the guide rod first. I always put the tighter end of the spring on first...Just habit.
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Old April 15, 2012, 09:44 PM   #11
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With that out of the way, I would guess extractor tension.

My SR1911 had similar issues and that was the diagnosis. The gunsmith onsite at my range fixed in about 6 minutes and did not charge me a dime.

I had the slide off the gun when I took it in and he popped the extractor out and bent it a little. The gun has run like a champ since then. I hope you have good luck. My feel is I would let a local smith look at it before I went through the trouble sending it back.

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Old April 16, 2012, 06:22 AM   #12
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I agree with you that for the kind of money companies are charging for 1911s these days they should work, but unfortunately too often it's not the case. I had the same issue with a Kimber I had; I paid more than twice what you pay for a Glock/M&P/ect... and they didn't even fix it. The good news for you is that S&W will
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Old April 16, 2012, 12:07 PM   #13
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Mine has been less than reliable. It might need a trip to the gunsmith. It has been to SW once. I won't carry it as EDC, even after the fixes.

It's just a fun gun.
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Old April 16, 2012, 12:19 PM   #14
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Before you guys bark too far up the extractor tree remember that the S&W has an external extractor so the "test and adjust" method isn't going to do him any good. External extractors are not tensioned like an internal extractor, just a good ol' coil spring at work. This also rules out any recommendations to get a Brown or Wilson extractor and swap it out with his.

Best send it back to S&W or have a local gunsmith look at it.
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Old April 16, 2012, 12:48 PM   #15
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Quote:
Before you guys bark too far up the extractor tree remember that the S&W has an external extractor so the "test and adjust" method isn't going to do him any good. External extractors are not tensioned like an internal extractor, just a good ol' coil spring at work. This also rules out any recommendations to get a Brown or Wilson extractor and swap it out with his.

Best send it back to S&W or have a local gunsmith look at it.
See post #4.
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Old April 16, 2012, 01:18 PM   #16
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Thanks for the sharp shoot, sometimes I forget this is a gun forum. See Post#11.
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Old April 16, 2012, 01:39 PM   #17
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The oversize extractor used in the E series guns has a couple of different extractor springs available, as I recall. I'd have to look for the list I got when I was ordering some parts last year (in preparation of thinking about adding one sometime). I just remember realizing at the time that the springs and extractor pin were different for the E series guns than for my regular SW1911 5" gun.

Also, the extractor tension isn't checked by seeing whether it holds a Dummy round when the slide is gently shaken. The external extractor fit is checked differently (bar gauge) than an internal "1911" extractor, as is the tension (force dial gauge).

I'd have company check the gun again. There's no reason they can't get the PC style oversize .45 extractor to run well in the E series guns.

Might be something other than just the extractor or its tension, too.

FWIW, if I were function-testing a repaired 1911, I'd choose to use factory ammunition that runs more toward the upper end of the normal power levels for 230gr ball or hollowpoint loads.
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Old April 16, 2012, 02:11 PM   #18
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Stopped by the store today. They are shipping it back to S&W themselves, hopefully the turn around might be a bit faster as they are a rather larger retailer for S&W. The guy said this is the first issue with these he's had and the others he has sold have been fine. He was convinced I was limp wristing. Towards the end of my shooting I might have been, I was just blasting rounds cause I was angry, but this is not my first 1911 and not even my first S&W 1911 and I never had those issues before.

I will update this when I get it back.

Quote:
FWIW, if I were function-testing a repaired 1911, I'd choose to use factory ammunition that runs more toward the upper end of the normal power levels for 230gr ball or hollowpoint loads.
I agree with you, however if it won't run with cheaper factory ammo I don't want it regardless. The most this can be for me at this point is a fun gun. I do not feed my fun guns expensive ammo.
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Old April 16, 2012, 02:52 PM   #19
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But I will not be keeping it. If that makes me childish that is fine. This is not a range toy for me, it was meant to be a carry gun. I just can't carry something I have lost all confidence in.
I can understand that you are upset, but S&W will take care of you. I've owned guns from so many makers and regardless of cost most of them needed some bit of massaging. The main issue is whether S&W can make it right, and I'm certain they will.

Good luck!
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Old April 16, 2012, 03:07 PM   #20
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I agree with you, however if it won't run with cheaper factory ammo I don't want it regardless. The most this can be for me at this point is a fun gun. I do not feed my fun guns expensive ammo.
Yeah, this is a bit of grey area, though.

I can think of some folks who thought they could run just about anything through their .45's and get good functioning, until they ran a particular "low-cost" product line through their guns. (I'm thinking of another brand in this particular instance.)

I've run many ten's of thousands of rounds of Winchester USA .45's (both FMJ & JHP) through more .45's than I can remember, including all of mine (an assortment of 1911's, TDA 3rd gen's, a Ruger P90 and a M&P) without so much as a bobble. Ditto a few thousand rounds of Rem Express and many thousands of rounds of Rem's BJHP. No particular problems with Speer, either.

Considering the potential QC variations that might occur with the huge number of "factory" rounds being churned out nowadays, I've accepted that there may indeed be some of the "budget lines" ... or at least some production lots ... which may not run well, consistently, in an occasional .45 I might be using.

I've spoken with different customer service reps, armorer instructors, repair techs, plant managers or engineers for some of the major gun companies over the years. Some have run mostly one brand of ammo through their guns for T&E purpose, and some vary their purchase of different loads that they feel represent the 'norm' of what's used by either their commercial or LE/Gov customers. Just depends, it seems.

As an armorer, I've had a couple of the companies make subtle recommendations for and against different brands and loads when the subject was guns that were being used as dedicated service/defensive weapons. QC can have its ups & downs, it seems.

Then again, I'm no longer surprised if I occasionally find some bargain gasoline that doesn't really make my vehicles run as well as I'd like, too.

It's kind of difficult to draw a consistent line in the sand about not owning guns that won't consistently function with the cheapest ammo available. There's a lot of "cheap" ammo I wouldn't even think about running through my guns. Stuff that makes 50's & 60's vintage American surplus.45 ball loads look outstanding in quality & consistency.

If you want to check the baseline functioning of a 1911, it's a good idea to use baseline ammo that doesn't potentially contribute to the "functioning issue", but rather helps eliminate the potential for an ammo problem to mask itself as a gun problem.

In a small way, it's sort of like saying that you'll only use a 1911 that will feed any ammo from any 1911 magazine, without giving some thought to using the better quality magazines.

It's not all that perfect of a world.

If you were to chrono the load you're using, and happened to see that the velocity was significantly below the recommended velocity window that the 1911 was originally designed to feed and use under normal conditions, would you still think it's a good idea to use it? Just a thought?

I've learned of contract 9mm & .40 S&W loads that were linked to functioning issues throughout the years, and when some production lots were checked it was found that some of them were producing velocities down in the mid & low 700 fps range (instead of 980-990 fps). Some of the .40 loads were also found to have case rim dimensions that varied toward being much thicker than anything the gun company had tried among other brands of duty loads on the market, too, and it suddenly wasn't surprising that the particular "budget contract" load was linked to feeding & functioning issues. A major state agency started testing random loads from every shipment received ... and rejected some upon occasion.

It happens.

Why would it be surprising if it were to happen more often among the lower cost product lines, right?
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Old April 16, 2012, 03:30 PM   #21
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...
Wow, you ramble like a pro, awesome. Federal Champion is not the absolute bottom of the barrel. Nor is Winchester White Box. I don't expect it to run steel case, i.e. Tul. However if it won't run either of those two brands, which my SIGs and HKs and other 1911s have never had a problem with, then I really don't care. If you disagree, congrats ! I guess I'm fortunate that it's my gun, I can do with it what I want. If I was wrong in expecting it to work with those brands, then I will accept the fault.

Btw 400 rounds have been put through the gun at this point, so it's not a matter of one faulty box. My HK45 has shared running that same ammo, from the same box, with no issues. Now hey if Federal comes out with a massive recall at some point then I guess I'll have egg on my face.
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Old April 16, 2012, 03:38 PM   #22
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I had a chronic issue with my sw1911 in that it would periodically fail to chamber properly. My experience with 1911s told me that this was extractor related so I sent it in to SW customer service. Turned out to be the barrel not being fitted correctly. They fixed it according and it only took two 2-3 weeks to get it back. I sent the gun in on Christmas Eve so I was pretty amazed that the turn-around was so quick. They paid for the return overnight shipping as well.
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Old April 16, 2012, 03:39 PM   #23
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@Brian48

Your location description, being a resident to your north and a former resident of the same Republic, makes me smile
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Old April 16, 2012, 04:10 PM   #24
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Maybe you misunderstand my ramblings.

I'd first suspect something to do with the extractor and/or its tension. Maybe involving a barrel fit/spec issue, too. (Presuming a stock recoil spring and the use of good quality magazines, of course.)

The shooter component (fatigue, frustration affecting grip stability, etc) can only be eliminated by you.

The use of bargain ammo is just something that may sometimes contribute to an existing gun and/or shooter issue, making it a bit more complex to diagnose.

I have no concern over the ammo someone else uses in their privately owned handguns. I neither shill nor recommend specific ammo. (Sure, I have an interest in the ammo used in an agency-owned weapon that I'm responsible to help support & maintain, and as an armorer I'd like to know what's being used if someone brings me a gun for diagnosis & correction of a reported "problem", but that's a different subject.)

Luck to you.
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Old April 16, 2012, 04:25 PM   #25
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Thanks for the sharp shoot, sometimes I forget this is a gun forum. See Post#11.
No problem...any day
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