Friday, March 27, 2009
When you get bogged down and can't find the answers, go to the experts.
I spent some time on the phone yesterday with John May at Wilson Combat, getting his input on what might be causing the feeding problems with the Para LTC. Along the way he told me some things about magazine design and the peculiarities of the 9mm in the 1911 which were very helpful.
I told him that when the mags were fully loaded that the nose of the cartridge was almost horizontal, so that when a hollowpoint came off the stack it went straight into the ramp, stuck the nose in and failed to feed. He wasn't surprised. Seems that the tapered case of the 9mm makes for trouble because each succeeding round loaded in forces all the rounds to lie more horizontally, tipped down by virtue of the case taper. After two or three rounds have been fired, the nose magically comes up and the rounds will feed. Not a problem with ball ammo at any point in the sequence, but a real hassle with most hollow points. In addition, trying to get the magazine capacity up to 10 rounds in a 1911 pistol can exacerbate this situation, but he and Bill Wilson agreed that fewer than 10 rounds wasn't enough. He said that they worked a LONG time to get that magazine right!
He suggested that I load all the magazines up to capacity and leave them that way in order to put some fatigue on the springs and take out just a bit of their tension, and see if that gave any relief.
He also suggested that the problem with the last round staying on the follower was a function of the cartridge case rubbing up against the slide stop, and to look for brass marks on the slide stop. Sure enough, there was a small bright stripe on it, just barely visible. I'm going to have to think about taking just a smidge of metal off of it and see if that fixes it. This doesn't happen with the Wilson mags, which allow ZERO lateral movement of the cartridge in the feed lips, but the Paras let the round wiggle just a little bit and that might be all that it takes to trip the stop.
I hadn't talked with John in a long time, not since way back when I used to shoot IDPA and we ran into each other at the Nationals where I worked as a Safety Officer, and later when I was writing about the match for the now-defunct 'Gun Games' magazine. Guys like John made the sport fun. They were good to talk to and were always ready to help you out with technical problems. If all the folks in the shooting sports had been like John and Ken Hackathorn and some others I'd likely never have dropped out of it. We yacked about guns and gun companies, the new Wilson 9mm pistol and our mutual love of the Wilson synthetic-frame KZ45, a 1911-pattern gun with great potential that never quite took off in the marketplace. We could have burned up a lot of phone time on those subjects.
We'll wait and see if the mags lose a little of their 'oomph' after a week or two of full compression, and in the meantime order up some other brands of hollowpoints to see what WILL feed in this puppy. Thanks, John!
Posted by Chaz at 3/27/2009