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Discussion Starter #1
I went to the range today and had along my Defender .45 acp. I had a newly bought Wilson combat mag, and shot I think 150 rounds through the gun. I did have 3 instances where I would consider it a 'failure' Once I had the slide lock back and fail to feed the next bullet, once I had a stovepipe jam on the last bullet in the new clip, and once my cousin managed to get a bullet into the barrel without the slide closing the rest of the way. Almost like it failed to extract, but it wasnt shot.

I got it out, shot the round and ran 3 more clips after that so I'm not sure about that particular item.

In any case, I wonder what folks might consider adequate reliability in this sort of thing.

How many rounds between these sort of things would make it seem right to either not worry about it, or to seek a gunsmith to look at what is happening.


I have issues with this gun from time to time. It has been much better since I installed tripp upgrade kits into my magazines.

I've probably put 2500 rounds through it in the 6 or 7 years I've owned it. So its broken in I'd say.

Any thoughts?
 

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I would say, for me, that 'Reliability' means I have never had any sort of malfunction period.


However, if a Magazine is a little goofed up or less than prefectly made, the malfunctions which can result sometimes would be those of the Magazine rather than of the Gun itself as itself, so...that can be a mitigating factor, just as Ammunition can be.


A dirty or sticking extractor might occasion a Stove Pipe, but, so could an undercharged Cartridge...or a Recoil Spring which is intended for heavier Loadings.

The events you describe, respectively, could be those of the particular Magazine being not quite up to par, and, of some examples of that batch of Ammunition having been a little undercharged.
 

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My .45 ACP Colt Defender used to have FTF and stovepipes regularly with hollow point ammo, but operated reliably with ball ammo. I looked carefully at the feed ramp, and there was a big gouge in the feed ramp - perhaps caused by the steel followers in some of my magazines hitting the ramp after the last round was fired. So, I took the gun to a smith, he lightly polished the feed ramp, and now the gun runs 100% reliably using hollow point ammo and the Wilson Combat mags. It is no longer reliable with round-nose ammo in Colt magazines. Go figure!?!?! Since it is my carry piece, I just use hollow points and Wilson Combat mags, and have 100% reliability. You are looking for 100% reliability for your carry piece.

If you need to save your life with your Colt Defender, is 98% good enough? Do you accept a 2% failure rate on your lifesaving equipment?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well, since you've had your gun worked on, you imply that you've had zero failures since then. Yes? Is that with 200 rounds? 2000?

100% I think is not a realistic goal, since at some point your gun may fail given enough rounds. In your example case, one might say that you're not 100% since you cannot fire ball ammo any longer.

Arguing is not my point though, what I'm trying to figure is that where is the line that you decide that I'm going to the gunsmith? 98% 99.5% 99.95% if you follow me. Or another way: How many rounds should I fire with no failure in this gun I have now to conclude that it is good and I can leave it be as it stands now?

What I think I should really do is number my mags and chart my failures over time to see what my rate really might be. As you say, 98% sounds pretty good but might not be enough or confidence building truthfully. I have a SIG P239 that I haven't jammed yet in about 500 rounds since I picked it up. Problem is, I shoot the Colt much better.
 

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I think the main point may be what is the gun used for? If it is just a range gun, and the only time you are firing the gun is at paper targets. Some FTF, etc.... might be acceptable. However, in a "carry weapon" I agree with "Collects" , any failure for the gun to go "boom" when you need it, is unacceptable. Me personally I carry a few different guns on a regular basis, I shoot what I carry in the gun for quals and practice. I have never had a malfunction, but if I had one of my "carry" guns give me trouble on the range I would take that weapon out of my carry rotation. I would not feel confident enough to carry the gun, and hope it functioned properly if I needed it. On the other hand if one my target guns had a malfunction, I would not be as concerned. JMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well. In my mind I suspect that this gun could perform better. Does anyone have experience with this type of gun being worked on at Williams gunsight in Davison mi? I suppose I should find a Michigan smith for my Colts.
 

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The only semi-auto concealed weapon I will ever carry have been those that #1) I've NEVER had a FTF, FTE or mag problem #2) have at least 20 boxes of ammunition through them at the range so that I'm (as close to 100% as humanly possible) confident that #1 won't happen #3) Detective Special that I'm more than confident will do the intended purpose every time I pull the trigger. One key to success is maintenance of your carry weapon. If you don't regularly use and clean it how can you be sure it's going to function as required?
 

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The only semi-auto concealed weapon I will ever carry have been those that #1) I've NEVER had a FTF, FTE or mag problem #2) have at least 20 boxes of ammunition through them at the range so that I'm (as close to 100% as humanly possible) confident that #1 won't happen #3) Detective Special that I'm more than confident will do the intended purpose every time I pull the trigger. One key to success is maintenance of your carry weapon. If you don't regularly use and clean it how can you be sure it's going to function as required?
LISTEN TO THIS MAN !!! The criteria is PERFECTION, PERIOD. My 45ACP carry gun has NEVER malfed a round. On the other hand those I know who have seen the elephant more than once ALL carry a revolver to the last man. And the best of 'em, he has put bullets in 33 men in the line of duty, says to always carry a bigbore revolver.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Let me clarify a couple things. I have other guns I could carry including revolvers. I'm not carrying this one. To those hollering perfection forever. That ship has sailed on this gun. So the real issue is should I work on the gun? I think probably yes. Part 2 of that question would then be. At what point do you decide that you've settled your issue? 500 rounds or 5000. If your never fail gun malfs a round in your next range trip are you going to the smith or will u wait for a second failure to clue you that it is the piece? Just curious.
 

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Before working on the gun, I would make sure that it is not the magazine(s). And, at the risk of sounding like the grammar police, "clip" is not the correct term and causes me to winch when I hear it. I recommend a label of some sort (number, letter, color) so you can keep track of which magazine(s) have had malfunctions. It is surprising the different malfunctions that weak magazine springs can cause. If you are sure it is not one or more of your magazines causing issues, then it would be worth having it checked. Even for casual range sessions, I think 3 failures out of 150 is too many.
 

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Maybe I am too picky but I cannot stand unreliable guns. Even for punching holes in paper. My hunting rifles need to shoot better than 1" at 100 yrds or down the road they go. Even though that level of accuracy is not necessary in a hunting rifle. One of the mags for my .38 special mid range, hardly a defensive firearm, FTF's on the fourth round every time. Drives me nuts. I just got rid of a Sig Mosquito because it was not reliable. These arn't even defensive firearms so I guess I would have to say that if it isn't 110% reliable I am not going to use it to defend myself and others. Why would a person use a life vest that only floats occasionally?
 

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We would do well to distinguish a malfunction as being something having to do with the particular Ammunition or individual Cartridge...something to do with the Magazine when with Automatics...and, when or if the malfunction is really something at-the-time intrinsic to the Pistol itself somehow.


If determined to be intrinsic to the Pistol itself, I am sure most instances would be able to be repsired by a competent Smith familiar with the Model, so the Pistol then could then earn it's "reliability" status.


The few .45 Automatics I own have never been anything less than "100 Percent" reliable as far as I can recall, with whatever Ammunition I fed them - Silvertips, various brands of Hollow Points, old WWI and WWII Surplus Hardball, me-re-Loads or RNL and Lead Semi-Wadcutters, factory Semi-WadCutters, etc. They are all bone Stock, and old.

The only failure I recall was with some 'range ammo' years ago, where I would encounter 'Squibs' and sometimes what seemed like 'double Charges'...the former of course would just go 'click' and maybe a little curl of smoke would drift up and the Bullet would be either still in the Cartridge case or would have got some ways into the Barrel, where it would then need to be driven out with a drift or Brass Rod or other. The latter of course would be as 'Bang...Bang...Bang..."BOOM!!!"...and, thankfully, nothing seemed to have been harmed by the couple instances of that.

Not so good...

So, I decided I would steer clear of 'range ammo' from then on.

I do not know why so many present day .45 Automatics are finicky about Ammunition or Bullet types, but, there is no end to one's hearing about how they often are that way.

When they are that way, then the solution seems simple enough to me - find the Brand and Loading and type of Ammunition the Gun likes, and, stay with that...or, have an able and familiar Smith adjust or correct the Magazines and or Feed Ramp, as need be.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Decided to work on the extractor a bit to see what I can improve with that. Seems like that is a key piece of the puzzle as far as jamming and ejection. I will let you know what transpires from here in the future.
 

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The first thing i do with any new or used 1911 is to polish the feed ramp. I remove all the finish and tool marks and make it mirror shiney without changing the angle and not removing too much material. Now i'm sure she should positively feed. Then i lube the frame / slide rails with moly and put some on the barrel bushing and recoil spring too.

Any malfunction is unacceptable. They have to all run at 100% i accept nothing less. In 1990 i purchased a new SA 1911a1 series 90 in black park. Since then it sat in the safe because it would stove pipe 1rd per 8rd mag everytime. Since i retired i purchased every dvd on how to repair, tweek, build and tune from AGI, Wilson combat and Jerry K with his 45acp book too. I found that the extractor lost its tention. I then purchased the extractor tuning tools from brownells and went to work. My new 1990 SA now runs ammo flawlessly.

On my new Auto ordnance army WW2 copy i ran 250rds flawlessly thru it so now i can trust it to carry. I used the orginal mag for the break in and test run on dependability/reliability. I never use a replacement mag during this test. During my reliability / dependability test is shoot only ball ammo.

I installed a new national match barrel bushing and a usgi barrel with a flgr and 18# recoil spring in my norinco 1911. She has been flawless for well over 500rds now with ball ammo. She even shoots 1 clover leaf per 8rd mag too.

After owning two new 1911's in the 70's and 80's i deceided to learn how to work on them by getting all the dvd's for instruction and buying some fixtures and 1911 tools. Being a retired engineering tech, class a machine builder and car and truck mechanic i figured i have the talent to learn it too.
 

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When was the last time you changed the recoil spring? The short 1911's seem to need a new one every 1000 rnds give or take. That would be the first thing I'd do.
 

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Make sure you have a firm hold of the weapon, limp wristing a light weight semi auto handgun will cause mis-feeds. I am guessing you are already doing this though.
 

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I agree...reliable is 100% function. No if's ands or buts. This problem could be ammo, or mags or operator error. Short barreled 1911s are more finicky than their full size cousins because of spring and slide travel. The shooter MUST keep their wrists and arms locked against recoil for the piece to cycle completely. This goes with any semiauto, but especially lightweight, short-barreled .45s and .40s. My bonafidees: 35+ years LE, 24 years instructor, 14 years rangemaster.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well, I finally drug myself to the range again with the Defender after I worked on the extractor. I built a tension tool and adjusted it to the reccomended tension and smoothed the end of the extractor the way it is outlined on various web links. I think it was Wilson Combat that had the diagram that I used to pick my spots.

Fired 100 rds FMJ round nose through the gun using all three of my mags. No feed issues or jams so far. I did get three rounds to the head still. First shot in fact. Right to the glasses. Clearly I need some more bullet through the gun to call it good, but it may be in better shape.

If anyone knows the trick with the rounds ejecting into your head, I'd love to hear it. I wonder is it a tight extractor condition, loose condition, wrong angle on the hook? That kind of thing. I thought about fiddling at the range with the tension, but I had no idea which way to go. That said, I chose to shoot it until I ran out of bullets.

On a side note, That lawman snub shoots pretty well I think. I'm better with that than with the sig p239 I bought early this year. That is itself another thread yet to be made..

For those who asked.

I used to shoot loose, now I've firmed it up a bunch I think

I have a new large outer spring in the gun, say since the new year. The original inner spring is still in there.

Thanks again for all the help.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well, if anyone is interested, I had things going along pretty well. Say 250 rounds with no incidents. I took a CPL class Ssunday, using a new type of ammo, the Winchester SXT ball stuff. When the last drill was called, he said empty the gun as fast as you want. I did this, probably too fast really, and jammed it up hard. Kind of ruined the day for me, as I guess I am not done yet.

In any case, does anyone have any experience with Wilson Combat extractors? I thought mine was working OK, but I wonder if a change of parts might influence the function.

Other than that, how about any ideas about the gunsmiths at either Gander mountain in Flint or at Williams gunsight? Is there a reason not to ask those folks to work on the gun?

Thanks again
 

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Personally I would shoot it some more. One jam when shooting full speed could be from many things, including fatigue and operator error.
 
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