Joined: 15 Oct 2007
Location: North Central West Virginia
|Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:47 pm Post subject: Troubleshooting tips
|Before I did any major work, I'd send it back to the factory...
Tapping the back of the magazine against the palm of your hand helps to seat the cartridges. The top round should be angled up, and not be flat.
Do not shoot the gun with it rested on its magazine - it will jam.
To work on the feed lips without disassembling the magazine,
push the follower down with the eraser on a pencil, then stick a nail
or a pin through one of the “witness holes” to hold the follower down.
Magazines and firearm actions are made to be cycled at operating
speeds, so the feeding of a firearm should always be checked at full
speed, excepting the checking done on open-bolt models. Any cycling of
any firearm should always be done with non-firing dummy cartridges.
Most feeding failures that are magazine related can be attributed to lip failure or the magazine not being in the proper place.
Problem-solving with the pistol is much the same as with the
revolver. You must study the malfunction, both in terms of what the
pistol is doing, and what the pistol is failing to do. In what
particular part of the operational cycle is the malfunction occurring?
If, for example, the pistol fails to feed, you must dertermine what in
the feeding cycle failed. What stopped the round from going forward?
Does the fault lie with the pistol, the ammunition, or the magazine?
Or perhaps your pistol fails to eject reliably. Before you go bending
the extractor to increase extractor tension, or installing a longer
ejector, study the problem. Does the slide show brass marks from the
empty cases? Where are the cases hitting? Could that be preventing
As with the revolver, the most frequent reason for a malfunction in a pistol is dirt.
If you own a pistol that performs very reliably, and after tens of
thousands of rounds that one part in 10,000 breaks, box the part up,
send it back, and see if you can get a free replacement. If not, select
the best part for your pistol, buy it and install it, even if it is
from the same manufacturer.
It’s a different story when you’re breaking the same part
regularly. Chances are, something you are doing is placing the part
under much greater stress than it was designed to withstand.
Pistols also malfunction due to poor-quality ammunition.
Low-quality reloads, produced with tired brass, improperly sized or
seated bullets, or improper bullets, cause a large number of headaches
at the range.
In a revolver, where you place the cartridges in each chamber by
hand, when one doesn’t fit you can just lift it out. In a pistol the
slide has to chamber a round from the magazine. If the round doesn’t want to go in, you may have a struggle on your hands getting it out.
Trying to remove a live cartridge, one that didn’t chamber and doesn’t want to come out is a very hazardous thing.
1. Remove the magazine. You are struggling with only the one cartridge. There is no reason to keep a ready supply of others in the pistol.
2. Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
3. To remove the round, find a wooden post or table. Place the front of
the slide, next to the muzzle, against the edge of the post. Hold the
slide to the post with your weak hand. Pull your shooting hand back a
foot from the butt of the pistol and whack it, still holding with your
weak hand. Grab the butt of the pistol as your hand strikes home. The
impact should jar the cartridge loose. If not, strike again a bit
harder. When you have freed the round check the extractor. The banging
can damage it. Don’t hold the pistol and bang the end of the slide
against the post or table. Doing this bangs the muzzle against the
wood, which doesn’t help.
In a more stressful situation, such as hunting or defense, you must
be ready to use your pistol as soon as you clear the jam. Leave the magazine
in. Remove the round by striking your hand against the butt of the
pistol, as above. When you are trying to clear the cartridge, do not
point the muzzle at yourself. Once cleared, remember that your pistol
is loaded, and you are now ready to continue the match or the pursuit
of your quarry.
The next likely reason for a malfunction, and one unique to semi-autos, is use of a poor quality magazine.
Getting semi-autos to feed reliably with good quality magazines is
usually just a few minutes’ work. Bargain magazines take longer.
Without the proper magazines, the work is wasted.
The simplest removable magazine design is the straight magazine with in-line stacking of the cartridges typified by the standard 1911 semi-auto pistol magazine. A straight magazine is not suited for rimmed, semi-rimmed, or tapered cartridges. The 9mm Parabellum shell is best served with a staggered magazine,
as the shell is slightly tapered and its stacking describes a definite
arc. Having the shells in a staggered condition, the taper directs the
nose of the shell toward the center of the magazine instead of causing trouble by trying to slant the shell above it as in the Luger.
The single-column, single-position feed consists of a sheet metal box. One of the best magazine
manufacturing methods used in the U.S. is using seamless extruded
tubing. But this is only practical for straight-sided magazines, so the
majority of the magazines have bodies either rolled or stamped and
machine welded for neatness and economy. Its section is roughly the
shape of the cartridge it is to handle and its dimensions slightly
greater than the cartridge. Internally, the column of cartridges is
pressed upwards against the feed lips by a follower. Pressure is provided by a follower spring, which is attached to either a fixed or removable magazine floor plate. To function properly, the spring and the follower must move freely, without undue friction through the body.
springs come mainly in four types: round coil, obround coil, flat
folded, and constant force. The flat folded is the type found on most
rifle magazines, the round coil springs less common, and the obround
spring is found in nearly all of the handgun magazines you will see.
The spring must have sufficient force to hold the full column of cartridges against the underside of the feed lips at all times, particularly during recoil. For example, if recoil forces push the cartridges downward in the magazine, then the top cartridge may not be stripped from the magazine
and chambered properly by the slide or bolt. Yet the spring must not be
so powerful that it holds the cartridges too tightly against the feed lips.
Excessive spring force will cause the top cartridge to bear too heavily
against the slide or bolt, creating excessive friction that slows slide
travel and may cause a short-recoil malfunction.
Thus, the magazine
spring must be strong enough to hold the cartridges in position at all
times, but not so strong that it creates excessive friction. The
follower must hold the cartridges at the proper angle for feeding, but
without producing excessive friction when the last cartridge is
FEEDING MALFUNCTIONS AND CORRECTIONS
In order to shoot, your pistol must get a round into the chamber. If it doesn’t, and you’ve made sure there’s a loaded magazine
in there, start with the feed stroke. Like a well-crafted story, the
feed stroke has three areas to check: the beginning, the middle and the
In the beginning the breechface of the slide contacts the rim of the cartridge and pushes it forward under the lips of the magazine. Most malfunctions at the start of the feed stroke are magazine related.
are most likely to cause difficulties. If they are dented or bent,
cartridges will not be held at the proper angle to be stripped and
chambered. If feed lips
are nicked or burred, this may dig into cartridge cases, causing undue
friction which also prevents proper feeding. If severely bent, the lips
may prevent the top cartridge from being caught by the slide or bolt at
all, or may cause it to be stripped at an incorrect angle.
When the feed lips
are spread too far apart at their forward edges, the cartridge nose
will rise too high, resulting in a "cocked" round caught vertically
between slide and breech. This may be corrected by squeezing the feed lips closer together at the front. In a well-worn magazine, the lips may be too weak to stay in the proper position and the magazine must be discarded.
This fault may also be caused by incorrect follower angle; that is, the
front of the follower may be too high in relation to its rear,
positioning the cartridge at too sharp and angle for proper feeding.
This usually occurs only with sheet metal followers found in
Colt/Browning designs and may be corrected by bending the follower to
the proper angle.
When the front of the feed lips
are squeezed too close together, or if the follower is bent with its
rear too high in relation to its front, then the cartridge is jammed
nose-down, with the bullet point rammed against the feed ramp.
Corrections should be obvious.
When the top cartridge fails to raise high enough to be stripped from the magazine, feed lips may be deeply dented or, more likely, dents in the body are binding the follower. Dents in the magazine body, if not too severe, may be corrected by disassembling the magazine
and filing away the inward protrusions. If the dents interfere only
with the follower movement and not the cartridge movement, it may be
simpler to file the follower’s sides until it moves freely.
Magazine Feed Lip Sanding
By “Needforspeed3685” on HiPoint forums
Well, I fully modified 2 of my 3 magazines this weekend. I emulated a
R&R process I use at work to study the changes created by each
point of modification, and used the best combination of results for the
second magazine. I then test-fired using the all new Wolf FMJ's and studied the differences between the 3 magazines. Here are the results:
Please note I'll be posting a full thread with process pictures and
results soon, for those that want more info on what exactly I did.
• New, EXPO #2 wood pencil
• 7/16's open-end wrench
• Pencil-file (round metal file)
• Compressed air & CLP
The first obstacle in modifying the magazine will most always be the follower.
Definition for "follower": A metal piece inside the magazine that forces the cartridges upwards against the feed guides (lips) via a spring.
Since this is spring-loaded, it's hard to hold the follower down and
out of the way while filing, so I used the eraser-end of a wood pencil
to push the follower down just below the hole on the left side of the magazine, then inserted one "claw" of the open-end wrench in this hole to hold the follower in place.
Using an increasing diameter round file I filed in the direction a round will travel when exiting the magazine. Filing all surfaces made enough chamfer on the magazine guide lips to aid in pushing the round out easily.
Before I did this I had to "slam" or push the slide forward to chamber the first round of each magazine, and some consecutive rounds thereafter. Round chambering was slow when cycling the gun and mis-feeds were prominant.
Now the slide moves forward quickly with a dominating "thud" as the first round is moved from magazine to chamber. General action of racking the slide is better and faster, and cycling the gun is much smoother!
I'm VERY impressed with the results, as it's given me a new-found confidence in my C9 as more than just a plinker!
If the dents are more severe and will not even allow the cartridges to pass through the magazine body, then they can sometimes be removed by drilling or cutting them out of the magazine body.
Alternatively, a steel mandrel may be shaped to fit closely inside the magazine
body, allowing the dents to be hammered sharply from the outside and
flattened out. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t; often the
amount of hammering distorts and enlarges the magazine so that it will not enter the gun freely.
Dented, kinked, or broken springs will fail to elevate cartridges
properly, particularly the last three or four rounds in the column. If
in otherwise good condition, bent or kinked springs can be straightened
by careful manipulation of two pairs of pliers on either side of the
When the spring is too weak or perhaps too short to elevate all
cartridges properly, it may often be temporarily restored to proper
function by stretching it. Alternatively, correct functioning with such
a spring may sometimes be obtained by loading the magazine with one, two, or three fewer cartridges.
When magazine lips are badly distorted, it is often difficult to reshape them unless an undamaged magazine is available to use as a pattern.
While most magazine repairs are usually possible, you should keep a spare magazine
or two for each pistol. Often magazines that appear to have been
correctly repaired simply will not produce 100 percent feeding
reliability and should be discarded.
Sometimes, magazines fit too tightly in their recesses in the gun, usually the result of minor bulges in the magazine
body which do not otherwise affect functioning. They can easily be
corrected by polishing or filing off the bulges, which are usually
identified by scraping or rubbing marks. If no marks exist, smoke the magazine in a candle flame and insert and withdraw it to discover exactly where the binding occurs.
When a tight fitting magazine
is encountered, you should not immediately assume, however, that it
needs to be filed down. Sometimes grip screws protrude inside the magazine well and cause binding. Burrs inside the magazine well also cause the same problem, as can bent internal part.
By “1inthechamber” on HiPoint forum
Keeping with the theme of my polished slide, I went ahead and polished
my magazines. These pics were from my scanner, looks alot better in
person, especially when the light hits it just right.
- 320 grit sandpaper
- 400 grit sandpaper
- Small flathead screwdriver
- A cleaner such as Break-Free CLP
- Tissues or an old shirt (to wipe dirt off)
Step 1: I took the small flathead screwdriver and inserted the head between the plastic base and metal on the bottom of the magazine.
Pushed it down, flipped it over while still holding the other side (so
it doesn't reattach itself (the tab will 'pop' back in the hole) and
pop the other side out.
Step 2: Carefully slide the floorplate down along with the spring and
follower. Make sure you remember exactly how it was put together. I
placed all the parts to the side together organized so I know how to
Step 3: Take the 320 grit sandpaper and start stripping off the black
until it becomes shiny. Some parts will be tougher to get all shiny,
such as the back of the magazine (flat part where the 'zig zags' meet).
Step 4: Take the 400 grit and 'rub' until a desired finish.
Step 5: Clean the inside and outside with Break-Free CLP or other cleaner using Q-Tips/tissues.
Step 6: Apply a thin layer of gun oil.
Step 7: You can repeat the sanding process if you like before you clean and put the magazine together.
Step 8: If you forgot how your magazine
was put together, take the spring and place the 'hook' around the
'stub' inside the floorplate. At this point the spring should be
leaning 'forward', place the follower ontop of the spring, hold the
floorplate and spring together and slide it in the magazine body. Once you have all components inside the magazine
body, press firmly on the bottom of the floorplate until you hear it
'snap' back into place. Make sure the follower is seated correctly.
Once you get the hang of taking apart and putting together your magazine(s), it will make it easier to clean the inside whenever you wish.
Another problem, particularly with those magazines constructed of very thin metal, is excessive distortion of magazine-catch notches. When a magazine
is worn at its catch notch, it slips downward in its well and may not
elevate the cartridges high enough to be stripped properly. Such
magazines are best replaced; however, they can be repaired by very
careful welding up of the worn surface and then filing to fit. Ideally,
the surface should be raised so that when the magazine is pressed fully into position the catch will just barely engage.
The middle of the feed stroke, like the middle of a story, contains all
the heavy action. The front of the round must feed up the ramp, hit the
chamber top and cam over the corner of the chamber and feed ramp
junction. While this is going on the rim of the round has to slide out
of the feed lips,
and start going up the breechface. While the bullet nose is camming up
and down, the rim has to slide into place under the extractor without
A feeding problem in the middle of the cycle will often send a new
shooter to the feed ramp, which he will polish to a mirror finish in a
hopeless attempt to solve the problem. The feed ramp must be at the
right angle, and in the correct location on the frame for the firearm
to operate properly. Sometimes, the feed ramp does become rough enough
to cause the bullet to stop on its way to the chamber. To correct this,
the ramp may be polished.
Feed Ramp Polishing
By “Needforspeed3685” on HiPoint forums
How-To: Polish the Feed Ramp
Hi-Point C9 9mm Compact
(works for others)
• Dremel with polishing discs including at least one cone-shaped
tip (the flex-shaft, used here, really makes this a lot easier!)
• Red jeweler's compound or low-grit polishing compound
• Extra rags, an old t-shirt, or something to seperate the gun and work surface to catch the excess polish compound
• Q-Tips (not pictured)
• Gun Solvent and oil (CLP and Outer's products shown)
• 3/32" pin punch, or ice pick, or if you can't find anything else, the
allen wrench included with the gun for sight adjustment fits perfectly!
Begin by removing the slide. Always follow the manufacturer's
instructions for doing this, and always ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE GUN IS
UNLOADED. Check the chamber twice, save your life.
After the slide is off, you'll have much better access to the feed ramp.
The feed ramp is the small inclined plane that the nose of a bullet slides against when entering the chamber.
As you can see in this picture, the black finish began chipping off the
feed ramp on mine after 1500 rounds. At this point, you might as well
polish the feed ramp, as the small deviation between the finished and
unfinished surfaces will cause a round to "hang-up" in the chamber and
not feed properly.
Begin with the Dremel on it's lowest speed setting. This is somewhere
around 5000 RPM's, and is more than sufficient to begin the polishing
process. Apply compound to the polish tip and polish the feed ramp with
constant movement, as to prevent and low spots. As the ramp is polished
some and the compound begins to work, you can up the speed to 1/2 to
3/4 power. I found that full speed only slung compound everywhere
instead of actually polishing.
Once the feed ramp is covered with a layer of compound (which will turn
black when used) wipe it down with a rag sprayed with a shot of CLP.
This will quickly remove the polish and reveal any spots you may need
to go back over once more.
Here you can see the middle is fairly polished, but the sides are still coated and need more work:
While you have the slide removed, you should consider running a Q-Tip
chucked in the Dremel up the firing pin channel. This area is victim to
the same surface finish chipping problem, and will clean up well with a
few passes with a rotating Q-Tip.
Once you have everything removed from the feed ramp, it's time to CLEAN
CLEAN CLEAN! As you can see, the polish compound really goes
everywhere, including down the barrell.
Wipe the feed ramp down with rag or cotton patch dipped in Gun &
Reel Oil or equivalent to prevent any rust from showing up. Make sure
this coat is VERY light.
I noticed a huge difference when I did this to my C9. It now chambers
rounds more smoothly and quickly, and I don't have to manually rack the
first round. I simply touch the back of the slide and it does the rest!
Malfunctions in the middle of the feed cycle are usually ammunition
related. Carefully examine the slide for burrs or machine marks on the
breechface or breechface sidewalls. Either one can bind the cartridge
rim, preventing reliable feeding. The joint between the feed ramp and
chamber, called the cam-over edge, is sometimes the source of
difficulties. If either part has been polished, the edge may now be too
sharp, digging into the side of the cartridge. If the chamber has been
reamed out, the edge will certainly be too sharp. The cam-over edge
must be rounded, but only slightly. Too much, and you will leave the
At the end of the feed cycle the round fully chambers.
If your pistol fails to fully close, and you have some time, stop
and take a close look at the jam before clearing it. You will likely
find that one of your rounds was not fully sized down. Failing that,
the chamber is probably very dirty. Occasionally, you may run into a
firearm with a rough, short, or undersized chamber. When clearing the
round, don’t just smack the slide to close it. You’ll only make the
problem worse. Instead, work the slide and remove the round. Then, use
a case gauge to check the round that failed to chamber.
Once the round is fully seated, the slide moves to its fully
forward position. Failure to lock is usually due to bad ammo or extreme
dirtiness. If the slide is held out of battery by just the smallest
amount, and it can be pressed closed with a thumb, then the problem is
dirt. If the slide is held out of battery 1/8” and stubbornly refuses
to move when you press on it with a thumb it is likely a bad round.
Rarely does a firearm fail to unlock, but when it does, the cause
may be underpowered ammunition. Severely underpowered ammunition will
leave a bullet in the bore. Firing another shot will then bulge the
Slide won’t return forward
By “rimfirehunter” on HiPoint forums
Picture one shows what the hold open slot looks like inside the slide, it is NOT engaged by the hold open.
Picture two shows what it will look like when it IS engaged by the last round hold open.
Picture three shows where the hold open spring is located and how it SHOULD look.
If the spring is weak, improperly installed or damaged this could cause the hold open not to disengage after the magazine is removed and the slide retracted and let go.
A few other things could cause this, but for now this is the first
place I would have a look at. If anything looks out of place, damaged
or missing then contact Beemiller or MKS directlly.
The failure to extract is usually an extractor problem, sometimes a
chamber problem, and occasionally both. If the extractor fails to pull
the fired empty out, the firearm usually tries to feed another round.
Check the extractor tension first, and then look for broken extractor
Even if you locate your problem in the extractor, checking the
chamber to see if it is rough or undersized is a good idea. After all,
the extractor lost tension for a reason, and hauling the fired empties
out of the chamber against the additional friction of a rough, pitted,
or undersized chamber can tax even a new extractor.
The stovepipe jam, the feed ramp jam, and the three-point jam are
the most common jams in semi-autos. Other common jams include the
failure to extract the empty shell, the slide not picking up the shell
from the magazine and the cartridge dragging on the breech face.
In the stovepipe jam the empty case is caught between the slide and the
chamber upright or sticking out to the side. These jams are often
caused by the shell hitting the ejection port because of a port that is
too small or the ejector not doing its job.
In the three-point jam, the bullet’s upper front is caught against
the top of the chamber with the lower middle of the case bearing
against the lower mouth of the chamber, and the upper rim pressed
against the breech face. One of its causes can be traced to the magazine
not releasing the rear of the shell in the proper place to allow the
shell to align with the chamber in time. Another cause of the
three-point jam is related to proper throating of the chamber.
Proper ramp-to-throat transition is the real cure, but a good magazine
follower design often lifts the front of the bullet over this
interface, totally eliminating this confrontation. Improper seating of
the barrel in the chamber nest in the top of the receiver can cause
this jam, whether it is a three-point or slug to the rear of the
chamber. Either jam is unrelated to the magazine.
If the three-point jam doesn’t respond to other treatment, the rear of
the shell may be contained too far forward so that the rear of the
shell is held down when the slug strikes the top and the throat of the
chamber causes a three-point jam. If it is always the last shell, then
look into changing the follower to a rounded-top type so that the last
shell’s rear is kicked up the same as if it were being raised up by
In lieu of a rounded follower, you must get the rear of the shell up sooner. To do this, the sides of the lips
must be formed to hold the case down for about ½” of travel and then to
release it quickly so that it can jump up onto the breechface in line
with the chamber.
If the cartridge is getting jammed against the breech face and the
middle of the case isn’t hitting against the throat of the chamber,
then the likely cause is the bullet dragging against the breech face.
The rear of the rim of the cartridge case must travel up the breech
face as the slide is pushing the shell forward, so the surface finish
of the breech face is important to the smooth transition of the rim
against the slide. This is more common in the smaller calibers,
although it is also found with the larger ones, too.
This kind of jam can be caused by the rim of the shell getting stopped
by either the surface roughness of the breech face or an extrusion
around the firing pin hole. Either on can be remedied with an abrasive
stone and neither of them is related to any fault of the magazine construction or design.
Failure to extract, another common cause of jamming, can usually be
traced to either a rough chamber or a problem with the extractor or
extractor spring – problems not related to the magazine.
Check the angle of the underface of the extractor by looking at it
while it is extracting, or if this is not possible, hook a case onto it
and feel how well the extractor holds onto it. The angle often needs to
be sharpened to slightly more than 90 degrees. A simple pull on the
extractor’s hook will give you an idea if the spring is stout enough.
The extractor should have a surprising amount of force, but needs
to be moved easily enough to allow the extractor to be cammed over the
rim of the shell with the recoil spring alone.
When the slide misses the top cartridge, which is not really a jam, the cause can be traced to the magazine being lower than proper, among other problems.
(Make sure it is inserted all the way!) The positioning of the magazine is dictated by whatever mechanism or physical feature is employed to hold the magazine in the firearm. The holding scheme directly affects the magazine’s positioning. Be it the bottom of the magazine or a notch in the side of the magazine, if the magazine is too low, something must be added to the magazine to make it come into place.
A good piece of spring wire, or even a good guitar string silver
soldered into place, will cure most improperly cut or wallowed edges of
notches. Just cut a short length of wire of the proper diameter, and
silver solder it into the notch or onto the bottom of the magazine to shim the magazine up into the proper place.
If the magazine is seated properly, then the rear of the magazine is most likely at fault. Bending the rear of the mag lips
should be approached cautiously, as some magazines have rolled-over
rear tops that just cannot be easily bent into a higher configuration.
If the construction of the rear of the magazine’s
mouth can be bent such that the rear of the cartridge is allowed to
seat higher, then some duck-billed pliers are exactly the thing to bend
the lips wider apart. Care must be exercised to keep the top or the magazine from dragging on, or interfering with, the slide’s bottom.
Another situation that is encountered in failure-to-feed problems is the cartridges getting stuck down in the magazine
instead of allowing the spring to lift them up into queue. This can be
caused by a spring with too little pressure due to length or poor
temper, a cartridge that hasn’t been sized properly, or an overlength
cartridge. The overlength cartridge is easy to spot, as it is jammed
tightly against the front of the magazine
and resists being moved. It will usually free up if the front of the
bullet is raised with a knife or screwdriver blade. After checking the
front of the magazine
for obvious dents, I would check the overall length of the cartridge
against data published in one of the respectable reloading books. If
the length checks out all right, the front-to-back dimension of the magazine should be checked against a “known-good” magazine.
If a slight push on the top of the uppermost cartridge moves it down easily, and all of the shells drop toward the mouth of the magazine when the magazine is inverted, the trouble will probably reside in a weak magazine
spring. This is assuming that the obvious condition of a stuck follower
isn’t present. If the follower takes more than a very slight push to
move it toward the magazine’s base, your problem will most likely be one or more dents in the sides of the magazine or some residue inside such as rust.
Too much spring pressure
It is possible for the magazine
spring to be exerting so much force on the cartridges that a light
recoil spring just doesn’t have the oomph to strip the shell out of the
and still have enough force left to finish chambering it. This can
easily be seen during dry cycling if you look closely. The slide will
either stop with the shell partially out of the magazine,
or it will stop in a fashion that might be mistaken for an extractor
spring that is too strong. The difference can be distinguished if the
top cartridge is pushed downward to check its freedom and force. If the
spring is too weak, the slide will insert the cartridge into the
chamber slowly enough to be noticeably the fault. If the cartridge is
run into the chamber rapidly, but the extractor isn’t jumping over the
rim of the case, then look for a weaker extractor spring or a rough