Sep 1, 2010

Two is one...

Well, you know how that little tidbit ends.

Had a "first" in guns for me the other morning, and just now figured out what happened.

I got up at oh-dark-early Saturday morning to try filling a nuisance tag with a friend. (Nuisance tags are officially "deer depredation permits" and allow the taking of adult anterless deer outside the regular hunting season.) I hadn't gotten all my hunting kit together the night before, having been out celebrating a night off with a friend who has a six-month-old.

My hunting kit, like many hunters, ends up sort of scattered and jumbled as the various game seasons progress. By the end of winter, there is usually a large pile of RealTree/MossyOak/jungle camo "stuff" stashed into my closet.

The alarm buzzed, I slammed it off, grumbled and rolled my way to vertical. I fumbled on my undershorts and camo pants, grabbed a t-shirt from the pile, unburied my camo jacket, and stumbled my way downstairs to the safe. I pulled out my .270, a magazine for it, and a sling. After getting the sling attached, I stuffed the rifle in a zippered case and dug out four rounds for the magazine, then slipped that in a pocket.

Next, sidearm. I reached for the 21-4 out of habit, and started digging through the pile of leather on the top shelf for its holster ... Found one for the 9mm ... one for the 242 ... retention holster for the 1911 ... yaqui slide for the 1911 ... but no holster for the N-frames. Chances are its still sitting in the pile of hunting stuff, cast off at the end of regular season as muzzleloading season started.

I muttered and decided to take the 1911. Slipped on the retention holster, grabbed a magazine of ball ammo, and slid it into the pistol... Or tried to, anyway. About halfway up it hit some firm resistance. I nudged the mag catch and it went in the rest of the way, albeit a little stiff. Worked the slide and popped the catch to drop the magazine - except it wouldn't drop.

After pulling the magazine out with my fingers, I grabbed the next full magazine of ball off the shelf and slapped that in. Same issue - first half is fine, and as soon as it hits the mag catch, it got real sticky. I decided to take a chance and go with it as-is; it's a backup gun when I'm hunting and the slide felt fine. I didn't have to use it, although I did reach for it when I saw a doe standing in the brush 15 yards distant - she ran before I had it out.

This afternoon, I finally got around to checking the pistol. I presumed some gunk or corrosion had found their way into the mag well and was slowing things down. I field-stripped the piece, and looked down the well from both sides. A bit of powder residue, but it looked clean overall.

I grabbed the mag I'd been using and tried it... sticky insertion and wouldn't drop free. Grabbed the second one, and had the same result. A third magazine, however, inserted cleanly and dropped free easily. Hmmm...

I emptied the cartridges from the first two magazines and looked closely... sure enough, the feed lips had been bent out just enough to widen the magazine at the top. In fact, the follower was just barely being retained by the lips. Looking at the third magazine - the follower was clearly in further.

Now, these were cheap magazines, I won't deny that. My sort-of-local Surplus shop had a bin full of contract overrun GI magazines, new-in-the-wrapper, at 3/$25. They are 7-rounders, and stamped "COLT 45 AUTO" on the (welded-in-place) floorplate. They've functioned 100% until now. In truth, of all the magazines I checked tonight, only these two had issues - and they are NOT the only milsurps I have. All purchased at the same time. All have been kept fully loaded. It IS possible these two have seen more rounds cycled than some; most of the others are loaded with JHPs and don't get unloaded at the range.

In any case ... the failure point was certainly not what I was expecting, and a few new 1911 mags are now on my shopping list ... and yes, I'll probably be coughing up for 8-round stainless from a known maker. When I have a moment I'll run the calipers across them to see how far out of spec they are.

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