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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A Colt Combat O4012XSE Commander (Series 80) occasionally fails to return to battery (FTRB). The gun has always had some issues. It was purchased new. It has occurred with a severe bullet nose up attitude when shooting, typically on the last round in the magazine. When a severe bullet nose-up occurred, the nose of the bullet being jammed up under the barrel hood. But it does not happen all the time. If memory serves, it was always the last round in the magazine. However, recently some of the FTRB incidents have been with the cartridge well seated into the chamber, and almost horizontal. A few times when a light tap or push on the slide would close the slide. However, today, when hand cycling rounds through the gun, pushing or tapping on the rear of the slide had no effect. Lightly tapping the muzzle with a light rubber mallet resulted in the slide snapping closed into battery.

I re-read 1911Tuner's posts here and there on various forums about FTRB and the dreaded 3-point "jam". This appears to be the 3-point situation. Removing the recoil spring and hand cycling FMJ rounds with light thumb pressure on the back of the slide (with bbl in safe direction), most of the time it would feed the rounds very smoothly, similar to a Commander that had extensive custom work done and is quite smooth. Some times there would be a ka-chunk when hand cycling rounds. Most of the time it felt like grease through a goose. The problem has occurred with the Colt factory 8rd magazine (looks like wadcutter feedlips), Cobramags (8rd), as well as 7rd and 8rd Checkmate hybrid magazines.

Before typing this post, a fully loaded 8rd Checkmate hybrid magazine was inserted into the fully assembled (including recoil spring) Commander, and the slide dropped by depressing the slide stop lever. The gun failed to return to battery on the very first round. The round was entering the chamber and nearly horizontal. Tapping / pushing on the back of the slide affected nothing. Lightly tapping the front of the barrel with a light (4oz? 8oz?) rubber mallet resulted in the slide snapping closed. Manually cycling the slide ejected the round just fine. The slide was locked back. Then the slide released by depressing the slide stop lever. This was repeated for the remaining 7 rounds in the magazine. They all fed / ejected just fine.

I believe this gun is occasionally experiencing the dreaded 3-point failure to return to battery (FTRB). There is not much of a gap, if any, between the bottom rear of the barrel throat, and the top edge of the frame feed ramp. (I have NOT taken a Dremel to anything.)

My best "guess" is a sloppy (one can feel slop or play in the barrel pushing back / forth on it with the slide locked back) barrel to frame fit. My only other guess is a poor (sloppy?) link pin selection.

Gun sales are through the roof these days, and I imagine gunsmiths have quite the back log. What are some things I can try to further verify it is in fact a 3-point FTRB issue, and if so, what might I do to try to fix it? Or is it best to send it to Colt or to a 'smith well versed in 1911's and have them address the issue?

Will try to post a photo later showing the barrel throat / feedramp geometry.


1. About the gun: Colt Series 80 Combat O4012XSE Commander (stainless with front slide serrations)
c. how new? purchased new. Estimating less than 1000rds through it. Estimating around 500 rds total fired at this point
e. any modifications? none
f. shock buffer installed? no
g. recoil spring rating? unknown / do not recall replacing, so stock weight
h. extractor tension checked? no
i. extractor checked for clocking (rotating)? no
j. reasonably clean and well lubricated? filthy, needs cleaning, well oiled

2. About the ammunition:
a. exactly what type? 230gr FMJ (typically Blazer Brass)
c. which round in magazine jams: typically was the last round; first round when hand cycling just an hour ago
d. any bullet setback in jammed round? unknown
e. are other types of ammunition OK? have cycled hollowpoints ok. Think problem has occurred occasionally with them, however.
f. is this ammunition OK in other 1911's? No problems in Groks

3. About the magazines: Checkmate hybrid 7rd & 8rd; Checkmate 7rd USGI feedlips; Cobramags 8rd
c. work OK in other guns? yes
d. how old? 10+ years; But not a lot of rounds through Checkmates nor Cobramags; sat unused for a number of years
e. follower type? whatever came with above mags
f. do you get FTF’s/FTRB's with all magazines or just a few of them? do not recall; Was getting FTRB with Checkmate 8rd hybrid mags, which surprised me

4. Where was the nose of the bullet?
a. stuck on the frame feed ramp? no
b. stuck between the top of the frame feed ramp and the bottom of the barrel ramp? no
c. against the top of the chamber (with cartridge angled sharply upward)? yes, occasionally
d. in the chamber, but not quite fully forward (with cartridge level)? yes, most recently
e. pointing straight up behind the barrel hood? do not recall any like this
f. got a picture of any of this? sadly, no. will start taking photos.

5. Where was the case head/case rim?
a. in the magazine? no
b. below the center (disconnector) rail of the slide?
c. against the breech face but below the firing pin hole?
d. against the breech face and up to the firing pin hole?
e. against the breech face and just covering the firing pin hole?
f. against the breech face and in contact with the bottom of the extractor?
g. against the breech face and in full contact with the extractor (with cartridge level)?
h. got a picture of any of this? sadly, no. will start taking photos.

I examined the breech face, and observed no burrs. I have not attempted to polish the breech face. I observe possibly a sharp burr or edge around the firing pin hole. However, the rounds do not seem to consistently hang up at the same point on the breech face.

6. If the case of the round that jammed had never been fired before and the round had been released by the magazine, were there two nicks on the edge of the rim about 180° from each other? Do not know. Is there a link to a photo showing for what I should look?

7. When the gun jams, how far from battery (fully forward) is the slide? There were a few times when hand cycling that the bullet released from the magazine before sliding up under the extractor hook. This has occurred with light thumb pressure on the slide (with recoil spring removed), and also moderate thumb pressure cycling the slide much quicker. The slide would not close because the extractor was back behind the rim. I believe this may be a magazine spring issue? (Disappointing because these Checkmate hybrid mags do not have a high round count.)

8. Would thumb pressure on the back of the slide get it into battery? Last time(s) shooting, I believe this worked.

9. If not, would a rap on the muzzle with a stick get it into battery? Hand cycling rounds with recoil spring installed, releasing slide from slide lock by depressing slide stop lever, the gun FTRB on the first round. Rapping the muzzle with a light rubber mallet caused the action to close with a snap.

10. Was there a circumferential dent/crease (smiley face) in the case of the jammed round about ¼ inch back from the case mouth? I have observed a few smiley cases.

11. When the slide is locked back, is the aft end of the barrel resting on its bed in the frame - with no gap between them - as shown below? Very little gap, if any. Will post photo later.

12. How much of a horizontal gap is there between the top of the frame ramp and bottom of the barrel ramp when the linked barrel is pushed downward and aftward on the frame? Not much, if any.

13. Can you post a photo similar to this one (minus the captions)? Will post photo later.

14. Are these FTF’s/FTRB's something new or has the gun always had them? Gun has always had occasional issues. One stoppage per magazine, or a few stoppages every 50-100rds. Thought maybe it was functioning better, but that appears to not be the case.

15. If these FTF’s/FTRB's are something new, what was changed to make them start to happen? N/A

16. How far does the gun eject the empty cases? Not sure; Several feet. Will try to gather more information.

17. When the gun chambers a round from slidelock, does it make a “Chunk” sound or a “Ka-Chunk” sound: Usually a Chunk, occasionally a Ka-Chunk
a. if that round is the top round in a full magazine? Just cycled another couple magazines through gun. Top rounds OK. Bottom rounds OK.
b. if that round is the last round in the magazine?

Here are some photos showing geometry of barrel throat to frame feed ramp. There appears to be some slop or play in the link pin? Notice the difference in the gap distance. Is this normal? Maybe the gun runs fine when the gap is larger, but when somehow the barrel ends up in its most rearward position (little gap), this FTRB is popping up?

Prior to the above photos, I hand cycled two magazines of fresh 230gr Blazer Brass FMJ's through it. I took these photos. There appears to be very find brass (copper?) shavings around the feed ramp / barrel throat area. Are these indicative of anything or otherwise clews?


1,804 Posts
If the gun is fairly new, I'd send it to Colt with a SHORT explanation of the problem and any pictures you can take.

When I say short, I mean a lot shorter then this post.
Gunsmiths don't have a lot of time and often don't fully read letters. That means they may miss important facts buried in a long letter.
Also don't attempt to diagnose the possible causes, just tell them the problem and let the expert figure it out.

If you don't want to use Colt, there are expert pistolsmiths who can help you.

One the Colt Forum recommends is Frank Glenn in Arizona. He's an American Handgunner magazine Top 100 pistolsmith and offers fast turnaround, excellent pricing, and top reviews for quality of work.

Frank Glenn-Glenn Custom Complete Gunsmithing Service Glendale AZ

53 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
dfaris -- thanks for the reference.

Am trying to avoid having to ship it somewhere if possible, but appreciate your suggestions.
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