Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Guns: Diagnosing FTEs, or "I'm back to the S&W 642 for awhile"

It's never a pretty sight when a carry gun goes down. The problem child in this case is my formerly-flawless CZ P-01 9mm, which recently developed problems extracting rounds out of the chamber. A FTE is very serious - the gun should immediately be repaired (a backup gun can be essential here if you want to continue carrying a firearm for defense). There are quite a few possible causes to this type of malfunction in an autoloader...

1) Weak extractor spring (or extractor not properly tensioned in 1911-style guns)
2) Damaged extractor

I'm not a gunsmith, but I'd wager the following would also be causes...

3) Weak recoil spring (slide is moving rearward at an improper rate, causing the extractor to "slip" the case rim)
4) Rough or burred chamber (dirty chambers, however, are no excuse for poor extraction)
5) Weak hammer spring (same as #2, but far, far, far less common)

In the P-01's case, I think #4 and #5 can be ruled out, given that the gun was flawless out of the box. #3 is a possibility, though I've only put about 1600 rounds through the gun - most recoil springs for standard size pistols last much longer. The extractor looks fine, which leaves #1. Thankfully, I have a spare extractor spring from Wolff (always have spare parts ready in case something goes wrong) from when my CZ-75B had a similar problem (CZ has always had a problem with undersprung guns - it's a shame in that it's a niggling flaw in an otherwise fine product).

To correct the problem, I'm going to need a sturdy 1/16" punch, a hammer, and a vise. I'll take it on over to MSS and see if they can do the swap there.

UPDATE: The spring is changed and the gun seems fine after 400 more rounds. I'm expecting a full recovery for this patient. ;-)

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