American Handgunner March/April 2013 Digital Edition - Page 26

PISTOLSMITHING the underside of the extractor hook needs to be gently beveled to allow a cartridge feeding from the magazine to slip smoothly under the extractor rim. tHe INsIDe scooP oN PIstoLsMItHING tecHNIQUes ALeX HAMILtoN A tuned extractor will hold a case well enough so when it slams against the ejector in the 1911 frame, it gets kicked out smartly through the ejection port. emoving a “smoking hot” fired .45 note the ACP case from a 1911 gouge in the chamber which has just extractor groove contained 18,000 to 20,000 of this .45 Acp case. PSI is quite a feat for a little the extractor on this 1911 piece of metal with a .032" hook needs careful tuning. on its end. The extractor accomplishing this feat is one of the most misunderstood parts of the semi-auto pistol. Remarkably, it’s one of the few “modern” extractors that retain geometry and engineering devised well over a century ago — but it’s still effective. The majority of pistol extractors in today’s autos are coil spring-driven and are designed for positive feeding, just like the extractor in the 1911. Positive feeding is when the cartridge slips up under the extractor hook as it’s stripped from the magazine, and the breech face moves it forward into the chamber. Coil spring-loaded extractors, such as used in Springfield XDM models, Glocks, M&Ps and others, are unique in they not only aid positive feeding, but can “snap-over” a cartridge already in the chamber without breaking the tip of the extractor — not so with the 1911 extractor. If the 1911 extractor is forced to snap-over a loaded or empty case in the chamber, you do run the risk of breaking the tip of the extractor off, rendering the pistol a single shot. Extracting FirEd casEs r n untuned 1911 extractor can be a major source of feeding problems — yep, that’s right, feeding problems. In order to accomplish perfect, positive feeding, the cartridge must be stripped from the magazine, moved up the surface of the breech face, press the extractor tip back and smoothly slide under the extractor hook. Now here is where a major problem rears its ugly head. If the front tip of the extractor touches the front of the extractor groove on the cartridge case it will slow down the recoil-generated feeding cycle and potentially cause a malfunction. This type of extractor is easy to diagnose by examining your fired cases. If there is an indentation or mark on the front of the case extractor groove, the nose of your extractor needs to have metal removed at about a 45-degree angle, enough to allow the extractor nose to clear the front of the extractor groove. Correcting this problem will assist a clean, fast reload from the magazine. Another little tuning chore you should accomplish to facilitate positive feeding is to bevel the bottom of the extractor hook to about 45 degrees, which will keep the sharp corner from cutting into the rim of the cartridge as it moves up and under the extractor hook. Polishing the bevel and the bottom of the hook will also facilitate smooth feeding, even if the case rim is a little rough. case scenario would be to break the tip of the extractor. The 1911 extractor has passed the 100 year “test of time” and is still ticking along just fine today. However, a periodic cleaning will do wonders for reliable feeding and extraction. About every thousand rounds or so I remove the extractor and run a Q-Tip soaked with Hoppe’s No. 9 solvent down the extractor channel numerous times until the channel is clean as a whistle, and the extractor is also nice and clean. Performing this little ritual every so often will help keep your 1911 in top running condition. a FEEding glitchEs Final Tuning he final job of tuning your extractor for maximum efficiency is to set the depth of the extractor hook to somewhere between .030" and .035" so the edge of the hook will not bottom out in the extractor groove. A small file and a set of dial calipers is all you need to do this important little job. The other side of extractor duty is removing that blistering hot case from the chamber so the ejector can kick it T out of the way of the next round, which is already on its way up from the magazine. It’s also just as critical as in cartridge feeding that the nose of the extractor does not touch the front of the case extractor groove if you are to achieve smooth, flawless extraction. If the nose touches the front of the extractor groove it will not allow the tip of the hook to seat all the way into the cartridge extractor groove and could leave the empty case in the chamber — or only halfway out. A worst * 26 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MARCH/APRIL2013

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