View Full Version : 1911: Tweaking the Extractor

June 11, 2012, 05:37 PM
Recently picked up a Citadel full size 1911. Shot it for the first time this weekend, and it totally beat the snot out of the brass. Case mouths looks like somebody lightly pinched them with a pair of pliers. I've read somewhere that this may point to a problem with the extractor. I found this: http://www.m1911.org/technic2.htm

I can get the extractor out, but how do I know when I've got it right without shooting the pistol? I tried tightening it up while I was at the range by pulling it out and holding it in a couple pair of vice grips. Went too far though, cause it starting failing to fully feed and beat the rear of the case head. Backed it back off a bit.. and was right back to what's seen below. It should be able to hold the brass in the slide...right? Here's some pictures of how it sits at the moment:

The brass, judging by the extractor mark see on the front of the rim, suggests that the brass slammed into the front of the ejection port.. but I don't see any evidence of an impact on the inside of the port... plus, these rounds did actually fully eject. Makes no sense to me.

Here's the position of the extractor, plus some light impact marks on the roof of the slide to the rear of the port... Is the extractor twisted?! Not sure how that happens; the firing pin retainer only lets the thing sit there one way.

More brass impact marks on the outside rear of the port? How the heck does that happen?

..and then another view of the extractor.

So... what do you think? Could a light load cause these same problems? Some of them wouldn't even pull the brass out of the chamber all the way. I was shooting a box of Aguila 230gr (came with the gun). I have a feeling that I'm seeing symptoms for multiple problems. :confused:

Please be gentle... :(

June 11, 2012, 06:11 PM
All the extractor can do is pull the cases out, your's seems to be fine.

You may need to tweak the ejector a bit tho, it may be a tad long.

June 12, 2012, 01:16 AM
The extractor does look like it is rotated out of "square" to the slide; can the extractor be rotated in the tunnel, or is the firing pin stop holding it firm? If it's held tight, and yet the hook is rotated relative to the rear of the extractor, you probably need a new extractor.
The field expedient method of adjusting tension is to put the extractor half-way into the tunnel, then bend it inward or outward to increase/decrease tension. A good ballpark tension level will hold an empty case against the breechface, while a loaded round will sag from the weight of the bullet. I've heard that some people will use a scale to try to set the tension to a desired number of ounces, but a 5" .45 should not be that finicky.

June 12, 2012, 08:04 AM
Tension on the extractor is important but it's not the only factor that makes it work properly. The bottom corners of the hook must be radiused slightly so that a rim can smoothly slip under the hook. Polishing helps reduce drag and keeps fouling and grit from building up and sticking to the extractor. The front part of the hook must not touch the case's extractor groove, only the rim. The extractor should hold a loaded round loosely with the nose hanging down a little bit but should not allow it to fall out. Sometimes the slot behind the hook is mislocated and will hold the round too far forward. The incoming round has to able to smoothly slip under the hook without any resistance and this has to happen in a very short time frame. Anything that interferes with that will cause extraction issues. There are some sticky posts over on the 1911 forums that explain how to check your extractor out.

June 12, 2012, 10:21 AM
Thanks guys. I found some reference material over on 1911.org that looks pretty helpful. The extractor is such that even with the firing pin retainer installed, the extractor can be clocked out of vertical; it's a couple degrees worth of error which I think is enough. The extractor is press-fit into the slide, so it has to be aligned prior to full installation.

I also performed a tension test as prescribed after getting the angle right. There were some problems there as well. The grind on the extractor claw looked good to me... So I'm hoping that it was just a matter of angle and tension.

Next order of business will be ordering a couple of Chip McCormick mags.. Like I said, this thing seems to have multiple issues. It may be a while, but I'll be sure to follow up.

June 12, 2012, 03:15 PM
It does look like it's either mis-shaped or is clocking/rotating. If the firing pin stop is too narrow, it can allow the extractor to clock in its recess and give inconsistent extraction behaviors.

Try to rotate the extractor manually and see if you get any appreciable movement. If so, the fix is to fit a more appropriately sized stop.

James K
June 12, 2012, 05:42 PM
The extractor looks too sharp on the bottom edge. That will likely have nothing to do with ejection, but it could give feeding problems. I would round the sharp edge a bit and thin the front of the extractor down a bit so it fits better into the extractor groove in the case.


June 12, 2012, 06:09 PM
The extractor in your photo looks as though it has never been dressed and radiused and it does look a little long. It also appears to be rotated at an angle that will cause it to throw cases into the port wall. That may not be your only problem though.

June 12, 2012, 06:13 PM
Here's a pic looking through the slide with a case hanging there. I'd already gotten it straight.


How's that look to you guys?

June 12, 2012, 08:25 PM
Is the extractor in contact in contact with the groove thats just fwd of the case head?


June 12, 2012, 08:58 PM
There's a couple thousandths gap there; I was more curious about the gap between the case head and the breach face. Are you asking because contact is a bad thing?

June 13, 2012, 12:38 AM
Lower the port.
Install an extended ejector.
Leave the extractor alone until you are positive it is a problem.

Then your brass wont get beat up.

June 13, 2012, 05:05 AM
From the picture, it's not only clocked, but there's way yonder too much of the tensioning wall in the breechface. A redneck way of saying that you have too much deflection, and the only cure is to weld the front pad behind the hook and refit...or get a new extractor with an oversized pad and go from there.

Can't tell if the problem is with the pad or with the extractor channel being mislocated or bored on an angle or is oversized, but it may be that somebody removed a good bit of the front pad for some reason.

What you're shooting for is .010-012 inch of deflection with a .473-.475 inch case rim. With proper deflection, the gun will tolerate a good bit of tension without causing a failure to go to battery.

A clear picture of the rear of the slide with the extractor and firing pin stop installed may reveal more.

June 13, 2012, 08:51 AM
I'm a 1911 rookie ,but here is another thought.

Agreed,the extractor is important,but your complaint is the bashed up case mouth.

Might that mean the slide velocity is a little zippy going back,and the act of ejection is a little on the violent side?

I would think if the damage was occuring inside the port,it would jam?Isn't the case mouth striking the outside of the slide?

I might order a couple of new recoil springs...isn't the design stock spring a 16 lb?Maybe just a stock 16,plus an 18,try those?

June 13, 2012, 09:20 AM
The extractor is at the root of this. Get the deflection addressed so that proper tension can be applied without causing a feed problem, and the banged-up case issue will very likely go away.

June 13, 2012, 12:07 PM
Post # 11.

Yessir, its a control feed. If I remember right, that is the platform has control of the round from the time the magazine gives it up to the time the ejector kicks it out.

I 'think' the extractor hook should accept the incoming case head and hold it in place untill the ejector boots it out the window.


June 13, 2012, 01:58 PM
I was more curious about the gap between the case head and the breach face

That's normal. The gap is supposed to be there.

June 13, 2012, 09:27 PM
Here's a pic of the rear; the extractor can be installed in a twisted position (contrary to how it sits now). I'm about to pull it out again and take some measurements. http://img.tapatalk.com/621397aa-4c1c-ebb4.jpg

June 13, 2012, 10:13 PM
I just spent some time recutting the bevel on the nose of the extractor with a 600 grit sanding block and then a stone; it wasn't to print, nor was the overall tensioning bend. It's much closer now than it was, and just got done cycling several rounds of brass through it; place a single round in the chamber, slide release to close, rapid rack to eject. Not a single dent on the head, and it can hold a live round under tension with some wiggling.

Maybe this did it? We'll find out this weekend. Still gonna buy a couple of new mags and try some different ammo.

June 14, 2012, 01:42 AM
The butt-end looks good, so we know that the channel isn't located too far starboard. There's still too much of the tensioning wall protruding into the breechface, though...and that will either cause a feed stoppage or force the extractor to clock...which can cause it to drop the last case and crunch the mouth...along with erratic ejection on all the others.

Just for giggles, remove it and use a caliper to measure the distance between the two rectangular blocks at the bottom of the breechface. You're looking for .484-.488 inch. Be careful not to let the caliper jaw get into the extractor channel or you'll get a false read.