View Full Version : Weird 1911 problem

Steve Smith
February 10, 2002, 07:22 PM
I just tried out my new SA Loaded Full Size. Went to the range with about 250 200 gr. SWC's. Everything went great until round 90 or so, and had a "jam." The cartridge was about 95% into the chamber, and the slide was slightly out of battery. At the time, I didn't notice the exact problem, but thought, "Hmm, must be a fat round" and pressed on. Again, it happened at round 230 or so, and again (like an idiot) I didn't inspect the gun before opening the slide. I saved both rounds and figured I'd check 'em at home. Went home and began cleaning. BTW, I checked the two rounds and there was NO problem with them...everything was in spec. The dang SA rear sight was just about to fall of, so I grabbed my allen wrenches and some locktight, and after a THOUROUGH cleaning, I went back to the range, with about 40 more rounds, and two mags of Speer Gold Dot factory stuff for my carry gun. I began sighting in the gun, and sure enough, the "jam" happened again! This time I had the sense to look, and found the issue. The cartridge rim was ahead of the extractor. Hmm...how could that happen? Just in case, I tried the Gold Dot (expensive test ammo!) and it happened again!

So guys, what's going on here?

James K
February 10, 2002, 11:14 PM
Hi, Steve,

Have you tried another magazine, preferably a GI mag? I have seen that before and a GI mag solved the problem, but of course I can't be sure if it will this time.


Steve Smith
February 10, 2002, 11:45 PM
I had about 6 Springfield mags with me today, and I did not see a correlation between a particular mag and the malf. These mags have been 100% reliable in another SA. I can definately try different mags, though.

BTW, a local gunsmith friend advised that my recoild spring may be a little light, and the slide might not be keeping up with the cartridge when it "jumps" upward from the mag lips.

February 11, 2002, 01:24 AM
I bought a SA loaded full size a year ago shot great 1st magazine.
2nd was good too 3rd mag my groups opened up. Noticed the rear sight problem you had. Rear sight replaced and then started getting the misfeeds like yours. I ended up sending it to SA they polished the feed ramp and sent it back. I decided to trade it for a remington 700 after all the nonsense. For the poor next owner the hammer snapped off using mild bullseye shooting loads. I'm not buying another SA.
Also take a look at the mag lips mine were barely holding the follower in place, tiny little things. Local gunsmith told me to throw em out if I were going to carry the pistol for defense.

Badger Arms
February 11, 2002, 02:26 AM
If it were me, I'd replace the recoil spring with a factory one from SA. Here's why:

If the extractor isn't 'jumping' over the rim of the case, that means the slide isn't coming forward with enough power to do that. You should always be able to drop a round in the chamber and let the slide go home so that the extractor will snap over the rim. It might also be your extractor. You could save yourself lots of time and heartache by replacing both and just pressing on.

Steve Smith
February 11, 2002, 10:08 AM
Umm...a 1911 extractor isn't supposed to snap over anything.

Steve Smith
February 11, 2002, 11:17 AM
Spoke to Springfield. They believe that it may be a short extractor. They're sending a replacement. What do you guys think about this?

Jim V
February 11, 2002, 07:10 PM
Short extractor or one with the hook shaped wrong.

James K
February 11, 2002, 11:23 PM
Hi, Steve,

In normal firing, the round from the magazine slips up under the extractor. But the extractor should also be shaped to allow a round to be chambered and the slide released. Most of the advice not to do that is based on the fact that the current crop of cheap cast and MIM extractors seem to break or lose tension if placed under the slightest strain. A good spring steel extractor, properly shaped, can snap over a cartridge rim indefinitely with no damage.

(And no, I don't care what expert X said in some gunzine.)


February 12, 2002, 02:00 AM
Gold Dot is loaded a little short. The most common reason I've seen for this to happen is that the slide and frame rails need polishishing up a bit and the feed ramp and barrel as well.
Do what you want...the correct way to load a 1911 is from a loaded magazine. The extractor and ejector may both need attention in the 1st thousand rds. The ones I've seen have been a bit tight and after about 100 rds or so, there is just enough crud to hold the action slightly open. Try blasting it out with something and keep shooting next time. Just don't use any type of penetrating fluids.
In general, some of the guns from all the manufacturers will need some sort of attention to get them right before the 2nd thousand is down range. Maybe parts or just shooting the crap out of them...they're all different. Try not to get discouraged and if you need some more reassurance or service, contact Dave Williams at :


Let us know how it turns out for you. http://www.stopstart.fsnet.co.uk/smilie/bandit.gif

Steve Smith
February 12, 2002, 10:01 AM
Jim, I absolutely agree that the ejector is shaped so that it *can* snap over the rim, but again, its not supposed to be doing any snapping at all. I have to get this thing working correctly first. BTW, it will snap over the rim if I draw the slide back about halfway and release.

What I've done:
I purchased a 17.5# recoil spring...this will increase slide speed and closing force.

SA is sending a new extractor. The on in it now is visibly shorter (not much, but some) than my other 1911's, so maybe that'll help.

Loaded about 500 more rounds. I have no heartburn doing some training this weekend and at the same time getting some rounds down this gun.

February 12, 2002, 10:19 AM
In normal firing, the round from the magazine slips up under the extractor. But the extractor should also be shaped to allow a round to be chambered and the slide released. Most of the advice not to do that is based on the fact that the current crop of cheap cast and MIM extractors seem to break or lose tension if placed under the slightest strain. A good spring steel extractor, properly shaped, can snap over a cartridge rim indefinitely with no damage.

(And no, I don't care what expert X said in some gunzine.) :eek:

Dang Jim, I got flamed from here to Timbuktu when I suggested the same thing some time back. Glad your half century or so of experience w/ ol slabsides has not softened your brain yet like it apparently has a lot of um "experts.":eek:

February 12, 2002, 02:46 PM
I had the problem with the rear sight on my TRP. It has been back to the custom shop twice. I like Springfields and am in the process of gettong a MILSPEC Operator, but will probably have it worked on by some else. I have never had a customer service problem at SA they are great people just wish the quality contro was better don't give up...

Art Eatman
February 12, 2002, 07:47 PM
BigG, I'm with Jim on the extractor thing and loading. Which way I get that round in the chamber and a full magazine into the pistol sorta depends on the mood I'm in. I've been doing it both ways since around 1970 or so, and "It ain't made no nevermind, nohow."

I've never been noted for paying much attention to other folks' opinions, though...

:), Art

James K
February 12, 2002, 08:59 PM
FWIW, another odd idea that is going around is that the 1911 type extractor should protrude from the breech face only enough to allow the rim to fit in. That is not the way it was intended. When feeding and extracting, the rim of the case is held by the portion of the extractor behind the hook bearing on the rim, not by the hook itself bearing on the bottom of the extraction groove. That is why extractor tension is so critical and again where some of the current junk extractors fail, with resultant jams.

The bottom of the extractor at the breech face also needs to be angled and polished to allow the cartridge to slip up under it when feeding. If that is not done, the round will jam partway into the chamber and with its rim partly under the extractor. A long and sharp hook that will dig into the brass at the extraction groove will do the same thing.

The extractor is so critical to proper feeding and extraction, that I just don't understand how the modern makers can screw it up so badly. The only conclusion I can come to is that they don't really know better or that they just buy the cheapest thing that will half work and don't care. Some seem to feel that that they are making big boys' toys and not serious weapons.


February 13, 2002, 02:15 AM
I just don't understand how the modern makers can screw it up so badly
As you are already aware of Jim, companies do not hire engineers to make it better, only cheaper.

James K
February 13, 2002, 11:02 AM
I once called a company which I shall not name (but which is a highly touted maker of 1911 type pistols) about a problem a friend was having, and talked to their engineer. After discussing the other problem, I asked why they left out the little half-moon cut in the recoil spring plug. I said I knew leaving it out saves money, but it prevents loss of the plug. He had no idea what it did, or why it was left out. 'Nuff sed.


February 13, 2002, 01:31 PM
Art, as a budding OFIT I have done it since 1970 or thereabouts both ways more times than I can count, also. It really chaps my nether regions when some self-ordained expert gets in his pulpit and says "thou shalt not never..."

Jim, these "odd ideas" sometimes result in progress but in the case of ol slabsides they more often than not are a retardation rather than an enhancement of the pistol. The latest lunacy I've seen is an extractor with a couple small coil springs working laterally to operate the piece. Touted as an "improvement" to the tune of oh, say $100 over the design genius of the original Colt forged and machined extractor. :barf:

Also, for the umpty-umpth time I will say it is an affront to the dignity of the true Colt/Browning government pistol models 1911 and 1911A1 to call these generic trash pistols 1911s. Colt Government Models I can see since they are the patent holders and manufacturers of the commercial model, but any others :barf:

James K
February 14, 2002, 12:57 AM
Hi, BigG,

I once argued until I was frustrated and had sore fingers that only those pistols made by/for the U.S. Government could be called Model 1911 or Model 1911A1. I got flamed by fans of the cast clones, and remembered the old saying that trying to teach a pig to sing only frustrates you and annoys the pig.

I now use the term "1911 type" to cover all the clones, good or bad. I reserve the above terms for true GI pistols.

BTW, I also asked that same guy if his company's frames and slides were cast or forged. He replied that they were "machined". I asked if that meant machined from stock. He said he had been told to say only that they were "machined". Since cast parts are "machined", I figured I knew what he was not allowed to say.


February 14, 2002, 02:45 PM
... who call a clone by the name of the genuine article. BigG

trying to teach a pig to sing only frustrates you and annoys the pig.

Amen, Brother Jim, amen! :)

1911 type it is, and always should remain.

James K
February 15, 2002, 02:23 PM
I don't necessarily think that everything old is good. Many copies of the 1911 use a hook type extractor powered by a coil spring, and there is nothing wrong with that. Browning used the same type extractor on the Colt pocket pistols, and they work fine.

I have seen a .45 slide modified to use an extractor like the one on the P.38 (no pin, just held in by a spring and plunger) and it performed fine. In fact, I think such a change would probably be for the better, except that "tradition" would get in the way.

Browning himself did not set up the extractor with that gap between the bolt face and the hook. The military demanded it to deal with variations in ammunition, an issue of much concern at the time (we are talking 1910, remember?), but which never proved a problem. Other type extractors require more precise headspacing and ammunition dimensions.

BTW, there is no truth at all to the idea that the 1911 is supposed to "headspace on the extractor". The .45 cartridge headspaces on the case mouth, just like the .380 ACP and most 9mm cartridges. The .38 ACP/Super and .32 ACP headspace on the rim.


Steve Smith
February 16, 2002, 09:11 PM
After receiving the new extractor in the mail Friday, I ran off to the range today. BTW, the new extractor was polished on the front end so it would snap over if necessary, and the grove was bevelled toward the bottom more than the first one. Things looked promising. I also changed the recoil spring to a 17.5#, but in the future, I'll try the 16# again, because I like it better.

I fired about 225 rounds today through the gun, with zero problems. She never even hiccupped once. I think the extractor did it. Thanks guys.

I also found out that it'll feed empty (unsized) cases, when I was goofing around with it earlier this week. That's always a good sign for reliability.