Failure To Extract/Eject and Failure To Feed


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It seems that these are among the most common problems reported with P-11's, P-32's, and now P-3AT's.

Also be sure to check out Jack's DIAGNOSING FUNCTION PROBLEMS page

First check to make sure the ejector (P-11 part 115, P-32 part 280) is still there and the tip is not broken off. This should be visible with the slide locked back looking through the ejection port in the slide.

The next thing to do is make sure you have done all you can do to remove all of the friction you can. Reducing the friction of the slide travel will help ejection as well as feeding problems. I hit the rails on my slide, the barrel lug (important!) and assembly pin with some 400 grit (more on that here). Also if you replaced the plastic recoil guide rod with the metal one (more on metal vs plastic guide rod here), make sure you smooth it down as well (mine would not even work with the metal one, until I did). Now wrap the end of a pencil with some 400 grit and go in and out in the chamber, then finish with 600 (and maybe even 1000 if you wish). I also attempted to use some polishing compound, but doubt I did much with that as it is hard to get in there.

Also ensure that you can push on the rear most part of the extractor and it will pivot (under extractor spring tension) freely (it is a stiff spring, but should not be notchy or sticky).

Now make sure you have lube in the correct places.

Now make another trip to the range, and pay attention to a few things (if it is not already fixed):

General questions:

Is the problem Mag specific (mark the mags, A B C or something and take notes)?
Is the problem round specific (ie always early or late in a mag)?
Mags can cause many feeding and ejection problems.

Extraction problem questions:

Note: the extractor (part 180) is on th slide and spring loaded, it pulls the case out of the chamber when the slide moves back, the ejector (part 115 on the P-11 and 280 on the P-32) causes the case to twist out of the grip of the extractor and fly out of the ejection port. May people get these two mixed up

When you get a FTE is the case fully seated in the chamber, half way out (with a new one trying to nose up in the middle of it), or stove piped?
Look for the extractor and ejector mark on the rim of one that ejected and one that did not. Did the one that FTE hit the ejector at all, or did it not make it back that far (is there a mark on it from hitting the ejector)?
Did it twist before hitting the extractor (look at the relationship between the extractor mark and the ejector mark)?
Did it twist after the extractor slipped off (extractor mark not lined up with extractor anymore while the case is half way in the chamber, this would indicate that the case made it out of the chamber, but got pushed back in some)?
Does it look like the extractor got ripped off the rim (big dent or rip in the rim)? or look about the same as others that ejected?
How big is the extractor mark? (is just the corner of it catching the rim and ripping through?)
Is the case in the chamber straight? or is it cocked at an angle?
Dose the case drop free (just by gravity) if you hold the slide back and drop the mag? or does it take some coaxing?

Take home a few cases that did and did not extract (keeping track of which was which). Measure the diameter, if you have calipers, or if you don't just drop them in the barrel (after field stripping) and see if the ones that did not eject seem tighter in the chamber (like the may have expanded more), and compare to a new live round (see if they are expanding when fired, or if a new one is excessively loose or tight). Also look for any other differences in them (like bent lips or something). Another thing to look for here is dropping in (or measuring) some unfired rounds to see if there are just some production tolerances (like the slightly bigger ones don't eject right) in the ammo you are using.

Feeding problem questions:

when looking in the ejection port at the offending round, where is the round, how angled upward is it (nose up), and where is the nose resting?
Nose at the bottom of the ramp, middle, or against the hood or top of the chamber? Is the angle of the round about the same as it is in the mag, or has it started to angle nose up? to much angle?
If you pull the slide back does the round pop up a bit more in the mag? (a sign that the round did not have time to pop up all the way before it was attempted to be stripped from the mag)

General cause and solutions: Problems that are mag specific (or sometimes may not be if all of your mag springs are weak) that occur middle to late in the mag (last few rounds) tend to point to weak mag spring (or at least to weak for the recoil spring). This is because that is when the spring has the least upward pressure on the rounds, and sometimes can't push them up fast enough or get the nose up in the air enough to feed properly. Conversely, problems that are mag specific (again unless all springs are too strong) that only occur early in the mag (first few rounds) may be due to a mag spring that is to strong. Possibly on new mags/mag springs that have not taken a set yet. I would first try alternating weeks between fully loaded and unloaded for a month to set the springs in, then try again.

A stronger recoil spring may help with feeding problems, but to strong may introduce ejection problems.

Some explanation on some of my theories:

As far as springs go my theory is use the strongest ones I can (but balanced), because they should be able to overcome more friction (read, dirt, lint, what ever) and still work properly if need be. Also that they should be reliable longer as they age and become weaker. More spring info here.

I use 10% extra power Wolf Springs in my P-11, P-32, S&W 12 and 15 rounders. Stock springs are in the P-40 (I don't carry it, or it probably would get the wolf ones), stock P-11 mags, and P-32 mags with the +1 extension (the spring that comes with the extension).

Any friction in the movement of the slide and the mag follower is your enemy. It will impede the movement of the slide rearward (affecting ejection) and the slide moving forward (affecting feeding), as well as the rounds popping up in the mag when the slide travels all the way back (affecting feeding).

Now what to do about it:

I am not a gun smith, nor have I encountered all of these problems. The questions above were thought of to attempt to get all the facts about a specific problem, and start you in the right direction to a solution (after all you need to know what the problem is exactly before you can even think about a solution, right?). Here are some of my thoughts on what I would try if I were to encounter a few of these problems (if your exact answers to the questions above are not addressed here, hopefully the questions and some of the actions listed below will get you on the right track and give you some ideas on where to start):


If the nose of the offending round is at the bottom of the feed ramp (or even kinda stuck under it), the round may not be pointing upward enough in the mag to allow proper feeding (polishing the feed ramp also helps and I would recommend doing that first). To accomplish this, slightly bending out the forward edges of the feed lips on a mag (widening the gap in the front of it) will allow the nose of the top round to point up more and give it more angle to help feeding. Also check to be sure that the round is hitting the center of the feed ramp (cycle it slowly and watch). If it is hitting the left side, bend the right lip out a bit, and bend the left lip out if it is hitting the right side of the feed ramp. This will help center the round on the ramp as well as angle the nose up in the air more. When bending out the feed lips, go slow and try to keep them even (round hitting the center of the ramp) and don't mess with the rear of them. If you go to far opening them you can introduce ejection problems (but I think you would have to go pretty far) or cause the nose to hit the top of the chamber at too much of an angle. Another possibility is trying stronger mag springs to allow the round to pop up faster and get fully into position.

Another possible cause of the nose hitting the bottom of the ramp, or even getting stuck under it, and not feeding correctly is due to limp wristing (not giving the grip enough resistance to movement and allowing it to move with the slide to much under recoil), or to strong of recoil springs. What happens is that the slide does not travel back far enough to give the next round in the mag enough time to pop up into position. This usually shows itself as an ejection problem though as it will be likely that the spent casing would not eject properly if the slide did not go back all the way (but still possible to be a feeding problem, and may show up as both).

If the nose of the offending round is hitting the top of the chamber when it fails to feed, try squeezing together the forward edge of the mag lips a little, still making sure the round is hitting the center of the feed ramp by hand cycling after and looking through the ejection port (this can be done without the recoil springs in, so that you can slowly cycle the slide easily).


If the rim looks like the extractor was ripped off of it, then the extractor was doing it's job and there was enough rearward slide force, but something was keeping that round from moving so the extractor was forcefully ripped off of the rim. One of my theories is that the next round in the mag may be popping up a little and front edge of the casing of the unfired round could catch on the bottom of the rim of the casing that is trying to eject. So I would try weaker mag springs (or letting them set in) if it seems to happen more at the beginning of the mag, and/or slightly squeezing together the forward lips of the mag. This will keep the nose down of the next round in the mag (but don't go to far or you will introduce feeding problems). Another reason for this is a rough chamber. As you drop in a fired case and remove it, it may seem easy enough and smooth, but remember that the extractor only has a grip on 1 side of the rim. So because of this when you only try to pull on one side, the case will want to angle a bit in the chamber, so it will feel rougher as the edges of the cartage try to angle against the walls of the chamber. Try to remove a spent case from the barrel (after removing the barrel) with just a fingernail (or what ever) under one part of the rim, and go in and out a few times like that. Seem a bit rougher?? That is what the extractor feels, only add the fact that there is pressure trying to expand that case tight against the chamber walls. You may need a bit more chamber polishing...

Another possibility is that the chamber is too loose, if the chamber is too loose on an unfired round, but tight on a fired case, then you may have a chamber that is too large. The case will then expand to the chamber size when firing and become wedged in it, making it to hard to extract. This will require a trip to the factory for verification and a new barrel. Also keep in mind that slightly oversized chambers are there on purpose on KT's to more reliably feed a wider range of ammo, but if overdone can lead to extraction problems (you also may start to see split cases).

If the rip or gouge in the rim looks like just the corner of the extractor got it, or that it was not all the way in the rim, and extractor mod may help you out. I'd call KT and ask for a new extractor and extractor spring. Then try this with one if them (so this way I have a spare if I mess up) to see if I could make it get a better grip on the rim.

If the chamber is too tight then some 400-600-1000 grit will probably take care of that with some chamber polishing.

If I were blindly trying to cure extraction problems and did not want to mess with it to much I'd call KT and get a new Extractor and spring, put those in and polish the chamber. That will probably fix many extraction issues.