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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’d like to know what the general consensus is on some of the problems I’ve been having with my Wilson Combat 1996A2. I purchased it NIB in 1996. I also got 3 Wilson 47D mags and a Wilson Bureacrat 10 round mag, all with the “old style” feedlips.

I don’t know if you’d call this normal reliability, fair or poor. But here are some notes taken from my maintenance log. The gun had been cleaned at about 100-200 round intervals, or roughly after each range session.

- Rounds 1-200: 1 Failure to Feed from Slide Lock (FTF/SL) – round hung up on feed ramp.
- Rounds 201-400: 2 FTF/SL.
- Gun sent back to Wilson Combat for new Nite-Eyes as bad finish on originals. They test fired and sighted it in prior to return.
- Rounds 401-550: 1 FTF/SL.
- Rounds 551-650: 1 FTF/SL – note: slide cycles noticeably slower on second round from each mag than on rounds 3-8.
- Received 3 new Wilson 47D mags with the “new” feedlips. Had previously discussed FTF’s with Wilson Combat and they said new mags need to be broken in (left loaded for a few days and cycled), which should take care of the problem. I had always left the mags loaded, but nevertheless tried to break the new ones in per their recommendations.
- Received 500 rounds of Georgia Arms “Canned Heat” 230 grain FMJ. Later determined the OAL of the rounds varied and about 10% were as short as 1.22”.
- Gun went back to Wilson Combat for installation of an ambi safety. They also checked the feedramp at my request due to the FTF’s and gave it a clean bill of health.
- Rounds 651-1,150: 10-15 FTF/SL (Georgia Arms ammo)
- Changed Shok Buff at 1,000 rounds.
- In the process of trying to diagnose the constant FTF’s with the GA ammo, I sent all my “old style” feedlip 47D’s and Bureacrat mags in to Wilson to be exchanged for the new style. They sent me back 1 “new style” 47D and Bureacrat, but 2 “old style” 47D’s. I later put a dial caliber to the GA rounds and found that probably 10% of them were way too short (1.22” OAL).
- Rounds 1,151-2,000: No problems (shooting cheap production FMJ’s and S&B FMJ).
- Changed Shok Buff and recoil spring at 2,000 rounds.
- Rounds 2,001-2,250: 1 Failure to Eject (stovepipe, attributed to my friend limpwristing the gun) and 1 FTF the last round in 47D – note: my friend was also breaking in his new Kimber Custom Classic and had 1 FTF the last round in the Kimber using one of my 47D’s, though I did not isolate the two mags that it happened with.

I have since numbered my mags and will keep track of any problems. I suspect my gun doesn’t like the “old style” 47D feedlips or there are a problem with some of my mags? None of the mags have been abused and all are like new. I have not cleaned the mags since purchase and would like to isolate the problem mag before cleaning them as, with the exception of a bit of carbon fouling, they’re not dirty.

So, in 2,250 rounds, this well cared for gun has had about 20 malfunctions. The 10-15 that I had with the GA ammo could be attributed to bad ammo, but they happened all the same. All but the stovepipe were FTF hang-ups on the feedramp. And I can live with the stovepipe as my friend is a new .45 shooter. But then I recently had a FTF the last round in a 47D (never had that happen before) on a gun with only about 100 rounds since the last cleaning. My friend also had the exact same things happen in his new Kimber.

I was really starting to gain confidence in this gun the last 1,000 rounds. I also have a SIG P226 that won’t jam if I tried to induce one. I guess I wish my “flagship” 1911 would be as reliable. Or maybe I just need to work at getting the bugs out of this a bit more. I can’t believe that one gun would be so sensitive to magazines, especially when I’m using all 47D’s. Maybe I’m just being reactionary.

Anyone have any thoughts? I’ve been kicking around the possibility that I need new mag springs, although the folks at 1911Forum thought these were low mileage mags. If they’re kept loaded, do you recommend changing them every year? That seems excessive when the mag guru at AR15.com says that keeping a mag loaded doesn’t fatigue the spring (it’s the cycling of the spring, not constant force). Even Wilson advertises that you can keep them loaded for long periods. Could this be a feedramp, breech face or ejector issue? Maybe the last FTF was just a fluke and I shouldn’t worry about it? Arrrrrrgh!!

TIA
 

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Two Observations:

1)Georgia Arms "Canned Heat" is remanufactured ammo of varying case and OAL. This is bad. Strike one.

2)Sounds like you may have a hair too much extractor tension.
Slide a loaded round under the extractor (after field stripping) It should have enough spring to hold round slightly tipped down. If it it difficult to slide round under extractor, you may have too much tension.

Is there a burr or any sharp edges on your breechface? Make sure firing pin hole has a slight chamfer, so you can rule out drag from that source.

To recap, Clean gun, change springs, use new style mags ONLY, check extractor tension, fire 500 rounds of S&B.

If you have ANY malfs, send it back to Wilson's.
A reasonably clean gun, full-size with new "good" ammo like S&B should never FTF, IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Anthony:

Thanks for your reply.

The GA was the "new" (not remanufactured) "Canned Heat". My theory is that the loose packaging combined with loose crimp pushed a number of rounds in. I know that these FTF's should be attributed to bad ammo.

I've inspected my breech face before and there do not appear to be any obstructions, burrs or sharp edges on it (including the firing pin hole).

I've slid the round under my extractor before and it's always gone under there easily.

So I take it that I have a legitimate reason to be frustrated? I also expect 100%. It's not like I don't clean it or am trying to feed it my own homegrown HP handloads. I'm just trying to get 100% with FMJ at this point. I've also put about 150 rounds of 230 grain Hydra-Shoks through it with no problems.

EDIT: And by "change springs" do you mean change mag springs? Is this just to rule that out or do I really have to change them every year? That means that there were a few years in there where I'd be changing mag springs after only about 200 rounds.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: JacRyan on 2001-05-24 12:21 ]</font>
 

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...this is a glaring observation to me...


- Rounds 1,151-2,000: No problems (shooting cheap production FMJ’s and S&B FMJ).


Why change ammo?

I know the S&B runs long at 1.265...You could say that your Wilson "likes 'em Long"

If that's the longest stretch of good clean no problem shooting.
Then everything that was happening then was your "sweet spot"...Musta' been a pretty big one too...(800)not bad...

I'd try to use the 1.250 and longer rds and see if there is some carry ammo that'll work. Usually Hydra-Shoks are pretty well accepted...Don't know about "yours" though...I wouldn't think Wilson would call that "acceptable" but I don't do business with them so, one of the Wilson guys may be able to help..
Seems like Wilson Combat would catch this if you supplied them some ammo that's causing problems...I understand that they have a "preferred" ammo list. Try to find something from the list that works with yours and either stick with it ir you'll have to send it to SOMEONE that'll fix it for ya'...Mags, ammo, shooter, pistol...there's a lot to co-ordinate there...Doesn't seem like you have many probs other than this one...

The extractor-ejector relationship is pretty critical as well...I think Mr Lombardo pointed out a few things to check...

Here's a link or two you might enjoy...Good Luck :wink:


http://www.sightm1911.com/lib/tech/reli ... ecrets.htm


http://www.m1911.org/technic.htm

:wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
gyp-c:

Thanks for the reply. The last FTF was with S&B. I'm comfortable sticking with S&B, but I'd like to have a gun that digests a fairly wide range of ammo, particulary 230 grain FMJ. I would also like some versatility in terms of which mags I use. If I end up having to use someone else's at a match, I don't want to end up with a jammomatic. I don't want a pistol that only works with 6 mags.

Seems like nobody is crying foul over me not cleaning my mags. I don't think that's the problem.

I guess I'm thinking there might be something wrong with the adjustment of my extractor. I'll look at it and see if it has the bevel on the bottom to guide the round in. Is extractor adjustment best left to a smith, or can I do it myself? I don't want to go from too loose to too tight, etc. Maybe I should just get a new extractor. Just thinking outloud. Hmmm.
 

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I just went through somethin' with my SA Champion. Of course, it's not the quality as your Wilson, but I know the "feelings" you're having right now...:sad:...sucks...

I replaced an ejector and an extractor. Of course since yours is a Wilson, you have replacement parts available from the Factory! I used Brown for mine and a Brown spring and pin kit to replace all the parts while I was at it. I actually lucked out and had a smith take pity on me and finished it up for me...Pretty lucky huh! The E&E were not too difficult but the extractor was definitely less tedious than the ejector. Did you see the Wilson pages I suggested? Assuming you did, you can kind of tell what you'll be in for. I always buy 2 parts when I try it for the first time...(small parts that is)If I butch the first, I have one to send to the smith with the pistol!!
The one advantage YOU have...is yours has not been touched by anyone except Wilson...I would imagine that they'll do all that for you. If you've kept that level of documentation all along, you shouldn't have any problem at all! I'd send them an e-mail with the details and a copy of your documentation as an attachment and ask for help...I think you've been remarkably patient, but aren't you getting a little tired of all this? You get to a point where it's no fun, what then? Sell it? Hell no...

If you WANT to try it yourself, then go for it. As long as you don't go hackin' on the frame and slide, you'll be OK...Do you or your friends have any smithing books? Might wanna' be forarmmed instead of just jumpin' in blind...If you're gonna' try all this you'll need a few tools...and then there's the Firing Pin Stop...you may need to get one of those at the same time...Can you tell if the extractor is turning in it's slot as the pistol is being used?

...still interested?

Let me know about the books, maybe someone here will chip in to give you advice...

Here's a link to Brownells'...

http://www.brownells.com/benchtalk/04au ... %20Fit.asp

http://www.brownells.com/

The first is for "Benchtalk"...discussions with different people in the industry on a variety of interesting and useful subjects!

Good Luck!!!

:wink:
 

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The folks above have provided some good input, here are additional comments meant to help! I would stay with one acceptable brand of ammo for a test period. Acceptable ammo is what Wilson tells you about in their little info sheet shipped when you buy the gun.
As time permits I would clean each magazine to insure the spring is seated correctly and to once and for all get that behind you. If they are new magazines no spring changing should be required.
I would insure the gun has a new 18.5# recoil spring with a shok-buff if you use one. Only because I do this once in a while, check that your not dragging the slide with your thumb when shooting! In combination with a weak recoil spring a problem may show as not locking the slide back following the last round.
I shoot mostly 200gr SWC and feel comfortable with an OAL of 1.250 to 1.255 window. The gun cycles well with this configuration. Sometimes I shoot 230gr FMJ and see no problem. Sorry to hear a Wilson owner is having a problem like this. Perhaps Wilson needs to evaluate it a little more.
 

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On the subject of ammo, 1911's are designed to reliably feed and fire bullets of a certain length and "ogive". Alteration of this "ogive" causes many problems.

Some of the GREATEST offenders are FMJ "Ball" bullets. SB has a properly shaped bullet, not all others do. PMP from S. Africa has a very blunt bullet. Some Fiocchi has had poor crimp. I imagine the canned heat has poor crimp also. Take an S&B round and bring to the next gun show you attend. Compare 230 FMJ bullet profiles from various makers-you will find all shapes and sizes. Most are too blunt, too short, and sometimes out of spec causing case bulges and other problems.

The most RELIABLE reload will be a 200 or 230 grain HG 68 style bullet, loaded to 1.25 or greater. The least reliable will be anything with the wrong OGIVE, or blatantly too short.

As long as your bullet is slightly tip down held under the extractor, your extractor is probably set up properly. Wilson's have the bevel treatment to the hook as well.
If an extractor has enough tension to hold the round without easily falling out if you shake the slide, it should be fine.

Why buy a $1500 dollar pistol and shoot gun show ammo it?

For plinking, buy case lots of SB or buy quality reloads from Black Hills, Mullins, etc.

For carry, most high-end JHP's are of proper config.
Hydra shocks, Sabers, and XTP's seem to be fine. XTP's are most feed friendly.

In 1911 there were no hollowpoints, or "Canned Heat". JMB designed the gun to work well with one load and one load only- a 200 (yes 200) grain FMJ bullet with a somewhat pointy ogive. This is what any GM will work best with.

Quality ammo is the #1 critical element for feed reliability in any 1911. Good mags, extractor tuning, and throating/ramp work is good to have, but all the tuning in the world will not allow a GM to feed poorly shaped bullets it was not designed to digest 100% of the time, especially if the crimp, ogive or other variable is incorrect.

I wish someone would make a 230 grain HG 68 style plated bullet practice load for about 200 bucks per thou. This would be ideal.

Georgia Arms sets up at many gun shows here in SC.
Their ammo has never impressed me one bit. It too expensive for what it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I plan on sticking with S&B.

So, I should just chalk the performance during the first 600 rounds to break-in and disregard the malfunctions during rounds 700-1,200 due to the crappy GA ammo. Fine. I'm comfortable with that.

But should I then NOT worry about 1 FTF in 800 rounds of quality S&B ammo? Is 1 FTF per 800 rounds acceptable? Well, I *may* be able to accept that, but I'm not thrilled with it.

Tonight I'm going to clean my mags and this weekend I'll probably go through about 250 rounds of S&B. If it gets hung up at all this weekend, I'll be boxing it up to send back to Wilson. This sucker had been go another 1,000 rounds before I even see a hint of a problem.

Everyone agree?

PS I double checked my extractor yesterday and it seems like it's all up to par. I checked it using the round test and also looked at it against the m1911.com diagrams. Feedramp's clean and breech smooth.
 

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Hello JacRyan maybe I am stuck in the past ( try a luger) but 1 FTF in 800 rounds is not something I would worry about. Stick with quality ammo and dont sweat it. I would disregard all FTFs with the canned heat and concentrate from here on out on logging all problems. I shot a Glock 34 for about a year (approx 4000 rds factory winchester ) and had about the same luck you are having, and while I wouldnt dream of comparing a Glock to a Wilson the Glocks do have a reputation of shooting anything. Keep up with the records and let us know how it turns out.
Thanks
Gerald
 

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Wilson 8 rd mags, of which I own and use about 15 of different vintages, can be temperamental. The 8 round tubes tend to compress the springs more so than the original JMB 7 rd design. As such, they'll take a set in a hurry, losing up to 1/3 of their length in just a few months. This has occurred both when left loaded or in weekly use, left unloaded. The set will reduce spring power and create a host of reliability problems. The followers can also get chewed up and fail to lock the gun back properly. They need to be replaced too.

The 7 rd mags apparently last much longer and with fewer maintenance requirements, but I am set up to service the 8 rd mags, so I'll stay with them for now.

Some guns just won't run 100% with Shok Buffs in place. I doubt that Wilson's would tell you this. I break in all new guns to 1-2000 rds without a buff. If the gun doesn't run with a buff after this period, then it doesn't get one. The buffs prolong frame life, but if it's a toss up b/w 100% reliability or a long, unreliable duty cycle...

Consider purchasing a quantity of Winchester white box 230 gr FMJ or Federal/Amer Eagle 230 gr ball. Both are excellent loads, and if your gun won't run with them, then it ain't the ammo. Remington ball sucks. It burns super dirty and the rounds vary in length by as much as .020".
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hmmm, interesting point about the Shok Buff Hilton. I was almost set to take it out a few weeks ago until a post here convinced me to keep it (well, a new one anyway).

Maybe what I'll do is take the Shok Buff out for the next 1,000 rounds. If I make it through that stretch without any FTF's, then I'm afraid I'm going sans Shok Buff.

Besides, haven't guns gone many tens of thousands of rounds without shock buffs before? I plan on keeping a fresh recoil spring in there every 2,000 rounds, so I won't be allowing the frame to be battered due to a weak spring.

I'm glad I caught this post. I was just about ready to go upstairs, unload all my mags, and spend an hour scrubbing clean magazines. Now it'll take 30 seconds to ditch my Shok Buff, grab a beer and watch Nash Bridges!! (Woohooo! You know you're getting old when that's your fun for a Friday night!) I'll keep the mags and ammo the constant variable, and experiment with no Shok Buff.

I'll let everyone know how the shooting goes this weekend -- though it's suppose to rain. Any other comments would be appreciated.
 

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Hilton,
great point re: Mags.

Your observations are very true. The latest incarnation of Wilson mags certainly seem the best, but they do require some ongoing maintenence.

The 7 round spring sure aids in both reliability and mag ejection, although my guns seem to work fine with the 8rders.

I also agree wholeheartedly re: UMC 230 gr ball. Its junk.
American Ammunition co. is probably the wost I have ever seen. New ammo with a bulge in every case!

I always thought 1911's were unreliable until I started shooting GOOD ammo through them. Then I realized its the ammo mfr's that are unreliable!
 

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RMLamey brought up a good point about the gun should go bang with any well made ammo and mags. The sentiment is good, but the statement is not enitrely correct.

Unfortunately, the quality of the ammo may not be the issue, but length as noted earlier for S&B ammo. There are some quality made brands that don't go bang in every gun because not all manufacturers make ammo to the same length (and some can't keep it consistent to a particular length). As such, some brands, good brands, don't go bang every time because the don't feed well in a particular gun.

Aside from S&B, Wilson's list of preferred ammos does not inlcude many inexpensive brands for practice. I don't worry so much about my practice ammo not going bang every time and in fact, have had to start inserting snap caps randomly so that I still get the odd round to not fire and force me to do tap-rack procedures. It is good to keep those skills strong even if the gun is not normally prone to problems. So for ammo, what is really important is that your defense ammo does go bang every time or that your competition ammo goes bang every time. Spend some bucks and go through a few boxes to make sure this is the case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well, I was looking for an excuse to get rid of the Shok Buff, and Hilton's post made me dump it. I ran 42 rounds of S&B and 100 rounds of Rem UMC (I missed the reference to this ammo in Hilton's post, but it's always ran in this gun) through it this weekend. It ran 100%, with the exception of a poor grip locking the slide open on a full mag (see below).

It *seemed* to me that the gun ran better without the Shok Buff. I can't explain why -- and my opinion might be shading this perception -- but the gun just seemed to have a bit more positive feed and slide return cycle without the Shok Buff. I felt no increase in recoil, but would describe the gun without the Shok Buff as feeling more solid. I also like the handling of being able to run the slide back and ease it forward on an empty chamber versus hitting the slide release. I still use the slide release when doing reloads from slide lock.

I'm not a big fan of slingshoting the slide, but have stumbled across a valid tactical reason for not using a Shok Buff (or at least Wilson's, which does not allow slingshoting). When I was shooting this weekend with my Dad we were running late (we were on vacation so I was lucky to be at the range at all), and I wanted to shoot all my practice ammo for function testing. I shot my last magazine rapid fire over the 25 yard berm aiming at the 50 yard berm. As I was just trying to dump the ammo, I took a sloppy grip. My grip is usually high on the gun with my dominant thumb over the grip safety with the support thumb resting up alongside the frame over the front of the trigger guard.

In this case, my support hand was more cradling the dominant hand and gun with the support thumb underneath the slide lock lever. Big no-no, I learned. The slide locked open with 4 rounds remaining in the mag. Interestingly enough, I noticed that the top round moved forward due to recoil and the nose of the bullet was touching the feedramp. I'm not that worried about this as I've heard of other .45's (SIG P220) where the top round in the mag jumped forward under recoil, rubbing the inside front of the frame and resulting in the mags not dropping free. In my case, the round was still securely in the mag and was in no danger of popping out of the gun. Just interesting detail that I noticed. Now everyone can tell me to replace my mag springs. :smile:

Anyhoo, if in that situation I was still using the Shok Buff, a standard Tap-Rack-Bang drill would have been INEFFECTIVE in getting the gun running again. The racking of the slide would not have brought the slide back enough (stopped due to the Shok Buff) to cam the slide lock down. It would have been Tap-Rack-NoBang. Therefore, for those would routinely practice TRB drills to clear everything short of a level 3 jam, you had better not be using a Shok Buffer (or similar product) that prevents you from slingshoting your slide. Even if you never use this technique to drop the slide from slide lock, this is one pretty crucial point where you want that feature.

Because I was trying to diagnose any FTF's, I did not do T-R-B but instead looked at the problem. Other than my gun running great this weekend (besides me needed to practice a more consistent grip), I see this as another reason to not have a Shok Buff. Now you can tell me to go back to a "support thumb over dominant thumb grip." :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Argh! 100 rounds of S&B this afternoon over lunch hour and 3 premature slide locks with ammo still in the mag!! I was keenly aware of my grip on the 2nd and 3rd and am *positive* that my support thumb wasn't anywhere near the slide stop.

Now, before I get too excited about the gun being a POS, let me state for the record that I have completely disassembled the gun twice. The first time was to clean it at about 2,000 rounds or so. The second time was to replace the sear spring after breaking the retaining nub installing the mainspring housing after the first disassembly. So, I'm not ruling out "operator error" (i.e., that perhaps I messed up the reassembly of the plunger assembly).

I wasn't able to look at the gun in any detail due to time constraints, but was able to feel tension being exerted on the slide stop by the plunger. My recollection is that when I reassembled the plunger spring and caps, I installed the short cap toward the slide stop and the long cap toward the safety. I did the because this was how I recalled disassembling it and it also seemed to make sense with the safety operation needing more travel from longer cap.

Is this the correct way to install the plunger spring and caps? Anyone able to tell me what generally causes premature slide lock (other than grip, which I ruled out)? For the record, my 1996A2 comes with Wilson's lightened BulletProof slide stop. I believe the reason for this is to reduce the inertia of the part during recoil. What should I be looking for here?

No one other than myself or Wilson's smiths have ever worked on the gun. I have not done any "home smithing" to the slide stop (although it was replaced at about 750 rounds when I got an ambi safety installed -- the original was fit too loosely for my taste), feed ramp, magazines, or other parts that I'd suspect are causing this. So, other than me reassembling the gun, you can rule out the usual "dremel tool mishap."

And, just to make myself feel better about the sear spring (and potentially the plunger assembly), I'm sure that NONE of the fine smiths or shooters on this board have EVER broken a part here or there while learning their way around a 1911.... Right? :wink:
 

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Does your slide stop have a detent cut in it? It'd be a small dimple cut where the plunger would ride on its face. All my guns have this done, and it eliminates this problem for me. Otherwise, my guns will often have false lockback. It's quite common, so don't sweat it. It can be from various things, but it's the first fix for slide lock problems, and the least intrusive of the fixes. Also make sure that the noses of the ball ammo aren't hitting the inside lug of the slide stop. Wilson should be able to address both of these quickly, if you were to send it back to them.

Glad the gun is running better. It just may be one of those guns that doesn't want a buff in it. Run it some more before you decide about sending it back to Wilson. If the false lockback is all that's left happening, then your gun may well be pretty much ironed out and good to go.
 
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