Repeated Failure to Feed After 1K of Perfection

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Gary H

Dec 25, 2002
My Valtro has been functioning without a failure to feed and IDPA.. it failed three times. The magazine fed the round, but it never managed to get past the highly polished feed ramp. Magazines are all relatively new eight round Wilsons. The gun probably has 2K rounds through eight magazines. 1K of same ammo. The only change to the gun was a recent installation of a Wolf 18.5lb recoil spring.. spring rate suggested by John Jardine. Bullets were West Coast Plated 230RN and all rounds were Q.C.'d through a max cartridge gauge. Magazine lips appear to be symmetrical and without defect. The gun was just cleaned and lubed with Tetra Gun Grease. Ammunition was PF 167. Ammunition has never been an issue, but ejection is in the three to six foot range. Any suggestions.. other than send it to John? and I wasn't limp wristing it.. sensitive today aren't we..
You should probably bump up your mainspring to compensate for the bigger recoil spring.

Let me ask this though - if she was running good with the stock spring, why change it? I'd put it back. Nowadays, there's too much emphasis on fixing something that isn't broke, especially in the firearms world....
What recoil spring weight before change?
Is the new 18.5 correct length?
Did Wilson 8 rd work before recoil spr chg?
Do the Wilsons have a "newer" follower ? [ my old wilsons look different than newer ones]
Did you mark the mags? Same mag causing problems?

I'm focusing on two things, those two things "changed" , "different" than before. I'm prone to think the newer 18.5 is a bit long. I'd check one thing at a time, make notes.

I dunno...I do know some great questions tho'

Sounds like recoil spring long since I didn't know that I had to worry about the spring length. So, how do I determine best length? How do I measure length..relaxed..compressed?

Spring same weight as before, but previous spring came with gun. Wilsons are recent, but don't know how to tell if newer design. Same mags used before & feed was 100% I should add that I have had feed problems when using slide release and new spring. Previous spring slide release worked just fine. I will have to do some work to see if it is just one mag, but could not see any differences in lip.

Howdy Gary,

Which round fails? Top round? Last round? At random through the magazine? Does the round enter the chamber at all...or does it stop
before it gets there?

Not real familiar with the Valtro...If it has an internal extractor...have you
cleaned the extractor and the tunnel recently?

When it does it again, look closely to see if the rim is under the hook or in front of it.

Standin' by...


One of you folks that explains better than I - was 'posed to tell how to measure recoil spring length.

Might as well include the measurement for use with buffer as well.

That is why we pay you the big bucks we do on this here forum. :p :D

Old Fuff, Jim K, Tuner, Dave...Tamara, Sean...hard to find good help when you need it...;)
Recoil Spring Length

Howdy sm,

Recoil spring free length may vary from spring to spring within the same lot.
After installation and use, the spring generally takes a set, and the rate is
figured in after the a new spring may actually test out at a different
load than one that's had 50-100 rounds go down the tube.

Generally speaking, Wolff springs are about optimum free-length with 32
coils, regardless of the rating...and the check to determine the correct length for the gun isn't in the free or pre-load length, but rather the
compressed length with the slide fully rearward. As long as the spring
doesn't go into coil bind....stacked solid...the spring is okay. Also generally
speaking, the more coils the better. Sometimes, a spring needs to have a
half coil or so clipped for best function, but that's a rare case. Other times,
a spring needs to be clipped to prevent bind, but it's usually on pistols
with Commander and shorter-length slides.

ISMI springs come out of package overlength, and need to be fitted to
the gun.

As for checking to see when a spring is "worn out", the rule of thumb is
to lay it beside a new spring of the same rate and compare the free lengths. If the used spring has lost 2 coils in length, it's time to change.
Some need a change at 2,000 or so rounds...some seem to go on almost forever. Shorter springs....such as in Commander-length pistols, require
change more frequently than full-length springs.

On Gary's best WAG is that the magazine springs have
gotten tired. The feeding round isn't getting that last, little bit of upward
push needed to get the rim under the extractor...and if this is it, the malfunctions will become more frequent with use. ANY 8-round, flush-fit
magazine necessarily has a mag spring with fewer coils. They're already
on the edge, and it doesn't take as much use to weaken'em to the point
of causing problems.


:) Thank You Sir.
Just wanted a explanation for the files.
Access for folks doing a search.

[Sneaky ain't I? Folks have a Gold Mine of Info b/t TFL /THR]

I haven't measured since I don't have. Anyone have the older 47Ds , original configuration and a new 47D?
My gut says the spring is different dia. Is the follower different?
In my ... hey I ain't that smart...still contend the 47Ds are different and might be guilty of Gary's problem as well.
I was raised right, got my ethics,principles and such.
Word is one gets the cooties and worse from being around politicians that much.
They go places guns not allowed. I hear they even eat canned biscuits.

Nope Never...raised right like I said. :D
I am wondering why anyone would recommend an 18 1/2 LB recoil spring when the gun is running just fine? I do not measure these springs but rather hold a new one up against the old one and see how much it has gotten shorter. Then I make the call to keep using it or replace it. I do not like 18 1/2 LB recoil springs in 1911's. I use 16 1/2 LB which is what is was designed for. That is what works for me, but I really don't have a problem with John telling you that because I am not familiar with the 1911 you have. I will never understand the burning desire of these times to fix things that work. That is what it's like to be an old coot. The new Sig 1911's are using an 18 LB recoil spring and they are hard to pull the slide back for me. They also say to use hot ammo with them or they will not work very well.
Don't Fix What Ain't broke

Dave said:

I am wondering why anyone would recommend an 18 1/2 LB recoil spring when the gun is running just fine?

Me too. I never saw the sense in using an 18 pound recoil spring in a
5-inch gun anyway. It makes the gun more grip sensitive and the magazine timing is pushed to the limit...AND puts more stress on the
lower lug.

Sometimes, when a pistol is "iffy" on the return to battery, the advice is to
go to a heavier recoil spring, but that's kinda like takin' aspirin all day
for a never-ending headache. It covers up the symptoms but it doesn't cure the real problem.

I still vote magazine. Wilson 47D's ain't the cure-all for feed problems that
some think they are...


I realize that old magazines springs, or overpowered recoil springs can cause feeding problems, but never thought that I would have such problems early on. It seems that it might be worth putting extra power springs in the magazines.

The round jams with forty degrees nose up. It doesn't make it to the chamber.

The extractor is internal, but hasn't been out of the gun since replacement 800 rounds ago.
40 Degrees Up

Gary said:

The round jams with forty degrees nose up. It doesn't make it to the chamber

Howdy Gary,

Does the jam occur mostly on the last round or two in the magazine? Is
the breechface against the BACK of the rim...or is it on TOP of the rim?
Is the front edge of the breechface ever in the case's extractor groove?

Sounds like you're havin' a Bolt Over Base...or gettin' close to it.

I'd drop back to the 16 pound spring and see what happens. That may slow the slide down enough to give the magazine time to catch up. If
the lighter spring reduces or cures it...add some extra-power mag springs.
The ones in the Wilson 8-round mags have a rep for givin' up the ghost
pretty early. I'm PRETTY sure that Wolff makes the proprietary springs for
the Wilson-Rogers followers.

Standin' by...(and waitin' for the call from the farmer in the dell that he's
loosed the cattle.)

I'd call Mr Jardine up and ask him what to try next, right after I put the 16 lb recoil spring back in and did or did not see the same problem.

You do not need a HD recoil spring for PF 167 (230@725) ammo. It might do better with a softer than GI recoil spring and the dinky Wilson magazine springs and light loads.

Wilson magazines have well shaped lips but chintzy springs, there is just not enough room in the tube length for eight rounds, a trick follower, a slide-off floorplate, and a whole lot of spring.

40 degrees nose up. Sounds like a stem bind or three point jam, the heavy recoil spring ramming the round against a sharp chamber mouth. That is the bogey I always check for in such a situation. Had a guy with several such in a near new SW1911 at yesterday's shoot here. Hope he will ask his coach the right questions and get usable answers.
Gary: clean your mags and get new springs in there. Check the OAL of your ammo.

Cleaning my Wilson mags fixed a similar problem. Also: go back to your old spring for a while.
Cleaned Magazines prior to shoot.

I really wish that I had numbered my magazines. I tossed my spring, but have a 16#. That is the easy near term fix. I'll use the 16# and see if the problem goes away.

Now I need to find a way to mark the magazines.. most of them are black enameled. I think that carved numbers in the base should do it.
China pencil works well... I have a couple magazines with a huge red grease X on them... trust me, those mags don't get touched very often, for a reason.
It sounds to me like a rough breechface and maybe a slight extractor tweak might be in order here. I am surprised that your Smith did not suggest that. The hook has to be very smooth and cut right and it also has to have the proper tension to allow the bullet to slide up into the breechface and then into the chamber. It also could be the barrel throat has too sharp an edge on the top. A heavier spring is not a good answer to me. I agree with Tuner. You need to find the REAL problem here. Magazines could be a factor but a well tuned gun should not be magazine sensitive. I always tell my people that any 1911 out of any factory could use a reliablity tune up.

Dave's post reminded me of somethin'...When was the last time the
extractor channel was cleaned? Gunk and cack gets into the channel
and can keep the extractor from camming open to let the rim slip under
it. Acts like there's too much tension on it. Since your problem started
all at once after no problems for a thousand might be worth
takin' a gander at.


Try it with the 16 pound spring like everybody recommends. I like yankytrash's observation. :) It seems like today in the gun world we have a tendency to fix everything until it's broke. :eek:
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