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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I read a topic on this site about someone having feeding problems with their .22 semi auto and it got me to thinking. Semi autos have been in widespread use for over a century, yet feeding/ejection problems still pop up even on the high end guns with alarming regularity. Last year, I experienced this on a $1,100 gun that took me three months to diagnose and fix. Just this weekend, I saw someone at a match being penalized for having feeding problems on a $1,400 gun.

The concept is pretty streight forward so why can't moderate and high priced gun makers get it right every time. Why should we be expected to break in a gun with 250-500 rounds before it will function as it was designed? Why should we use only round nosed ammo for perfect feeding? Why should we have to pay a 'smith extra to polish the feed ramp and enlarge the ejection port and install an aftermarket ejector just so it will function properly, every time, not just most of the time? When reloading our fired cases, why should we have to deal with dented case mouths and gouged rims?

They seem to be able to do it with revolvers, so maybe they need another hundred years or so to get the semi auto right.

Is it too much to expect the gun to be totally reliable right out of the box?
 

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One can't argue with much of what you have said. People have problems sometimes with autos.
I, however, don't think that the problem is extreme. Yes, I had a little Beretta .22 blowback gun that would rarely work. I gave it away. I replaced it with a little .25 Bernardelli that has NEVER not worked.
The same goes for a Russian Makarov that I own - many, many rounds of ammo and NO malfunctions. And on and on...a Glock 36 in 45ACP - always works. I don't remember when the last time my Gold Cup malfunctioned or my Ruger Gov't .22 or my High Standard Victor (and I shoot thousands of rounds through those last three every year). But...the fellow down the line from me last set of matches was having problems with his Buckmark and then later with his Gold Cup. Go figure.
Most problems with .22s, in my experience, are traceable to two sources - the feed ramp on the magazine and inferior ammo.
Pete
 

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Semi-auto's are there.

But there are so many variables with semi's, from the magazines being out of spec, crappy ammo, filthy pistol, lack of lubrication, to the unskilled shooter actually inducing the malfunction.

I carry a handgun daily as part of my job. We used to carry revolvers. Switched to pistols in the late 80's.

I have no reservations about carrying a semi-auto, but then again, I carry a Sig.
 

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Hi everyone

Here is a thought. I look at it like semi-autos are the "Wheel". You can improve on the design and make it more efficient but the wheel is still the wheel. People still buy the current technology because it has a proven track record and works well enough to justify its continued production. The day they come up with something better and can prove it in every way without question then the semi-auto will go the way of the dinosaurs. There would have to be a radical change in all aspects of safety, function, reliability, etc. Probably not gonna happen in the near future.

Metal Storm is the only thing I know of in development at this time. Anyone else know of any other cool stuff in the works?
 

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Not to mention different wheels for different functions. An IPSC Open-class shooter doesn't mind if his gun malfs from time to time; a defensive arm needs to be 100% all the time, to the detriment of pinpoint accuracy if necessary (usually not an issue, especially with good modern guns).
 

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But what if you could have both? What if the new design included 100% reliability, High power, High capacity and a ridiculous simplicity and durability? Hell, maybe even add some kind of "smart ammo" that can be made to fit any situation like nonlethal needs, deep penetration for walls and doors and perhaps even explosive. I know it sounds like science fiction but I would think that it will be a matter of time before we see this kind of leap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Re: re: Why are semi-autos still not there yet?

Sigp250c said:
Hell, maybe even add some kind of "smart ammo" that can be made to fit any situation like nonlethal needs, deep penetration for walls and doors and perhaps even explosive.
When it comes right down to it, I think the ammo makers have done more to enhance the effectiveness of the handgun than all the gun manufacturers combined. Staggered magazines, ambidextrous safeties, glow-in-the-dark sights and exotic materials (polymer/Titanium, etc.) are nice, but do you remember when you had to drive a bullet 1,000 fps to get any expansion? Now you can get good expanding bullets in just about any caliber, and ones that won't fragment either. Given a choice, I'll take a stock 1911A1 shooting good expanding ammo over a Glock 21 with laser sights using 230 grain hardball.
 

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docmccoy wrote:
The concept is pretty streight forward so why can't moderate and high priced gun makers get it right every time. Why should we be expected to break in a gun with 250-500 rounds before it will function as it was designed? Why should we use only round nosed ammo for perfect feeding? Why should we have to pay a 'smith extra to polish the feed ramp and enlarge the ejection port and install an aftermarket ejector just so it will function properly, every time, not just most of the time? When reloading our fired cases, why should we have to deal with dented case mouths and gouged rims?
Why break in a gun with 250-500 rounds? Because shooters demand tighter tolerances and higher accuracy which means that the pistol has to be broken in for it to function reliably. The original 1911 A1 was extremely reliable, but only meant to function as a close quarters, combat accurate weapon; not a competitive match accurate weapon. There are trade-offs in life.

Why use only round nose for perfect feeding? Sounds like all your questions in this post are directed at the 1911. The pistol was designed by Browning to fire military ball. My 1911 handles self defense ammunition without problems though. The only stuff it dislikes is semi-wadcutter "green" ammunition (WinKleen).

Why should you have to pay a 'smith extra to polish the ramp and lower the ejection port? Well you don't--if you want an original 1911 A1. Again, that's how John Browning designed it. Obviously, following the Kimber model, there are a myriad of 1911 that come factory modified to include all those "extras" you spoke of.

Why deal with dented cases? Because you're apparently firing a stock 1911. Our GIs didn't spend a lot of time gathering up cases crossing Europe and the Pacific Islands. My Kimber doesn't dent cases.

If something close to 100% reliability is your goal, then a revolver is your best choice. Still, given the slightly lower reliability of an automatic pistol, the world's military forces and police seem confident enough in their reliability--including a number who use modern 1911s.

Respectfully,
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
TMats, I wasn't referring exclusively to the 1911 models. Presently I have about 20 Colt, Browning, Beretta, Kahr, Springfield, KBI/FEG in different calibers and configurations, all but three bought new. In the past, I have also owned S & W, Walther and Llama. I have shot H & K and Sig's.

My observations were based on my experience with these guns, some more troublesome than others. Although I had no malfunctions with it, I had a factory recall on one of my Glock 17's where they replaced several internal parts. Another gun had to be sent back for several replacement parts when the trigger started to refuse to reset about every third time. I had to remove the follower from a brand new Beretta mag and do some judicious filing to get it to function properly. I had a Colt Officers model that would dependably stovepipe about every fifth round and I finally traded it out of frustration. I had a Springfield Ultra Compact (an $800 gun BTW) that had more machine marks that a garden spade. I had an FI Pony whose chamber was so rough it would absolutely refuse to eject any case. I sent it back. They replaced the barrel with one that would eject about every other one.

I have had six or eight semi's (out of 30 plus) that ran perfectly right out of the box and would handle any bullet shape I fed them. The rest were temperamental and required either a special diet, long break-in period, tinkering with extractor tension, recoil springs, magazines, sanding/filing or combination thereof. Or a trade.

I've owned as many revolvers, if not more, than the semi-autos. I have yet to experience the first hint of a problem. If the reliability of the two types are about equal, I look forward to a long run of trouble-free semi's, 'cause I'm sure due.
 

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When I first joined the Dept. back in 86, my first weapon was the S&W 586 .357mag with a 4" barrel. I bought it brand new from our local dealer. Took it to the range to qualify, and after about 24 rounds, (mind you, this was a BRAND NEW GUN, right out of the box) the cylinder would not rotate any more.
Took it back to the dealer, he said it was a defect and he would send it back to S&W. well, it came back and it Still would not rotate after 20 or so rounds. sent it back a second time, they said it was fixed... wrong....again the same thing, after 20 or so rounds, the cylinder would not rotate.
I carried that gun for several years, Praying that I would never have to use it, and if I did, I wouldn't need more than the 18 rounds that I carried. I was very fortunate, I did have to draw it a few times, but never had to "use" it. (Thank you Jesus, Amen)
I have carried the Glock 22 also, I thought it was a great pistol, then about 5 years ago, I tried the Springfield XD. Sold the Glock. The XD is a far better weapon in MY OWN Opinion.
So, the "WHEEL" gun, is NOT always the reliable gun. You get lemons in everything there is out there.

I personally choose a Semi-Auto as an Everyday carry, and as an off duty carry with an IWB holster.

So if you ask me, Semi-Auto's ARE there now.

Then Again, These are just MY personal opinions.
 

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I rally don't think it is as much of a gun problem as it is an ammunition problem. A revolver is pretty basic as to getting a round out of the muzzle, just line up one tube with another and you are done.
A semi-auto on the other hand requires an object to leave one plane (sitting in the magazine), to another (move up the feed ramp), and then to a third plane (chamber). This is accomplished quite well with standard FMJ bullets as that is what is usually used in the design parameters. Adding a hollow point or changing the bullet profile with a heavier or lighter bullet begins to change the angles which is where the problems occur. This is why one is strongly encouraged to run a couple hundred rounds of their chosen defensive load through a gun, to verify that the bullet profile will work reliably in the gun. The more expensive the gun (generally the tighter the tolerances) the more this is likely a minor change in bullet profile will have an effect on reliability. Many target disciplines exacerbate this as they also use rather low powered loads to decrease the effects of recoil and enhance accuracy. Many or the duty models do not have this problem due to greater tolerances but then they will also seldom be target grade guns either. The Glock is a classic in this regard, it is noted for feeding and ejecting all forms of ammo in a given chambering with extremely rare occurances of problems, in my experience the Glock has had fewer problems than revolvers during our qualifications courses.
The added mechanical operations of an autoloader is also a point where problems can develop but those occur mainly in the very beginning or after a few hundred rounds as wear or binding can crop up. Fortunately, if this should occur, it will happen during the familiarization process which is not a bad place for problems to crop up. With a revolver, the problems occur in much the same time frames but I also find in them an additional one later on if used a lot with heavy loads. this is usually a cylinder timing issue as the pawl begins to wear and the cylinder no longer falls in line with the forcing cone.
I too, think the auto is "there" now though it requires a bit more thinking on the part of the operator as to its feeding and care. My choice in handguns for most uses is by far an autoloader, the revolver gets the nod when something more powerful than a 40 S&W or 45 ACP is needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
xd.40: Smith did have some cylinder rotation problems back in the eighty's mostly in their lighter frame .357s, induced when they were fed a steady diet of full house ammo. I have a couple of model 19s from that era and have had no problems. I was told by a SHP Smith trained armorer that it was not uncommon when they started qualifying with .357 loads rather than .38 wadcutters to have this occur, always in Smith model 19s.

The .357 and 44 mag ammo from the 70's and 80's seemed to be loaded a little hotter than what is encountered today. Elmer Keith routinely shot off-the-chart loads in his N framed Smiths that gave the engineers in Springfield nightmares. For the most part, they all held together. And I seem to remember the Colt Lightning was a particularly fragile design and Colt single actions in general are considered less hardy than a comparably sized Ruger.

While that particular malady you experienced was restricted to one group of brand specific revolvers, I'm not ready to write off the revolver or Smith just yet.

BTW, how did you qualify with that revolver that would only shoot 20 times? I carried a Smith, first a 38 M&P, then a 19 for almost 30 years, qualifying every six months, 50 rounds at night and 50 rounds during the day on a standard FBI course of fire. The first 20 years or so we used 38 wadcutter ammo, then it was strictly full power .357 loads. I can't imagine my agency signing off on someone who's gun couldn't complete the course. And even if they would have, I can't imagine going to work with it.
 

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docmccoy,

Well I started out in a small Po-Dunk town where the chief only carried a snub nose on the weekends, any other day he thought it was not needed. (SCARY Huh!) Yah, that's what we thought too. :shock:
To Qualify, I would start the course with "my" S&W Model 586 .357 using 38 swc, then when it would stop rotating, I was instructed to use another officer's Colt Python, now That's a SWEET gun. But that is how I would qualify. Pretty Scary.
Oh ya, get this, the very first time it stopped firing, I held up my hand on the range as instructed, and the Range master came over, looked at it, walked over to the staging area, bent down and picked up a ROCK, and banged on the cylinder until it opened. HOLY Cow, I got pissed. So much for fixing it. We had a FEW WORDS if you know what I mean. now I had a BIG scratch on the cylinder to boot.
A few years Later when that chief retired, we were Blessed with a Younger Chief, Well (younger than our 1 bullet barney chief), we quickly went to semi-auto's in 9mm, (S&W 659) then later to the glock 22's, and I have since moved on to bigger & better also. :D
Don't get me wrong, I still like revolvers, and S&W's, there is Nothing wrong with either one of them at all, I just Personally Prefer a semi-auto to the ol' wheel gun. I Still get tight groups with the Ol' model 10 .38 smith just plinking around, but then again, also with my XD.

Stay Safe
 
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