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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of the real deep dark secrets of marketing is to make the service somehow mysterious and far too difficult for mere mortals.

That is what has been done to the 1911 extractor so that someone can charge $25 to "tune" it.

Do you think Mr. Browning knew or cared how many pounds of force it applied or used a special tool to adjust it?

All you have to do is rub the nose across a sheet of emery cloth a couple of times to polish it a bit and check to be sure that there are no burrs on the back side of the hook. If you want to go the whole nine yards you can take a swiss file a radius the bottom a bit so the cartridge can slide up smoothly.

All you have to do to set the tension is to be sure that the extractor will not fall freely into the hole. You should need to push the back just a smidgen to get it to go in. It is best to use a screwdriver or the firing pin stop to make sure the slot is aligned before reassembling the firing pin.

My experience has been mostly with GI or Colt parts and in all these years I think I have replaced two that broke the hook off. I did encounter one aftermarket part not long ago that had asbolutely no temper and no spring at all. I have heard some good gunsmiths complain that current parts are not as good but it isn't as if they break in wholesale numbers.

I'd love to hear some extractor horror stories.

Most of the time you just put them in and they work.
 

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Have to say that I agree with you. From an original 1914 Colt through my present day Kimbers and Springfields, I have pretty much followed the same method with good results. I think this whole business of needing a tool, setting to a precise number, etc., is overkill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'd really like to know how one determines what the "right" number is. Usually they either work or don't.
 

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Of course, some folks will go bonkers and tension the extractor too much. This can cause some vexing Failures to Feed that typically get blamed on anything and everything other than the extractor. A similiar effect can be had if the extractor's hook/tip digs into a case's extractor groove and/or bevel.

Bill Wilson once wrote that 4 lbs was the ideal when pushing a case into place under the extractor. Jerry Kuhnhausen has stated that it should take no more than 4.5 lbs to push (not pull) an extractor gauge into place on a standard pistol. (This is lowered to 4 lbs for wadcutter guns.) He places the bottom limit at 3.5 lbs. Kuhnhausen also notes that there was an Ordnance gauge for checking extractor tension. It looks like a single-ended version of Weigand's gauges. He suggests making one out of 0.05" thick sheet stock.

Perhaps you could sell an article where you test how large the "Go-No Go" tolerance is for extractor tension vis-a-vis reliable function?

First, you could test a range of 1911s for extractor tension. Layne Simpson has written that factory 1911s which he has tested ranged from 20 to 70 ounces. Custom 1911s ran from 15 to 40 ounces in his experience.

Then you could tweak an extractor from zero tension to reliable function, and beyond to failures to feed, noting the level of tension along the way. This would of course require something like the Weigand extractor adjustment tool.
 

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A couple of questions:

1. Assuming I start out with a good quality original factory extractor, approximately how many rounds of ball ammo before it would need to be adjusted or replaced?

2. The S&W and SIG 1911's use external extractors, why did they not stick with the original design? Cost?

Thanks.
 

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Machining an external extractor slot is much easier & cheaper than the internal channel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
1. probably never.

2. Everyone is promoting external extractors as "improvments" but it is more often a case of fixing something that ain't broke. The original 1910 Browning design had an external extractor but it was changed to the internal design to eliminate parts and "make it more reliable."

Cost certainly is a factor in S&W's because it is a simple hook, spring and pin but if you look at Kimber's they've actually got 4 parts: hook, plunger, spring and plug. Probably it is a wash costwise. It might save them a bit on parts cost but it actually seems to take them longer to assemble it. I've been there and watched it done both ways.

Now in 100 years we may be able to say the external extractor is better but there is a hell of a marketing job going on to convince Joe Sixpack that the new one is better. Remember nobody is offering much in the way of proof, they're just making claims.

To be fair I haven't had any trouble with either Kimber or S&W so we aren't losing anything... or gaining. It's just a different way of doing something.

I did get criticized for missing one point that could be called an advantage for the external style to wit: it will not harm the extractor to put a cartridge in the chamber and lower the slide rather than feed it through the magazine. I'll agree with that in principle but wonder how many people actually load single-shot. Interestingly though Springfield Armory just sent out a notice warning people not to do it that way.

I'm also curious how the different authors arrive at their recommendations. Have they shot thousands of rounds at 4 lb. and then changed to 4.5 and seen a difference? I don't think so. It is more likely to be one man's opinion. That's fine as long as we understand that there probably ain't two cents worth of difference.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
I'm also curious how the different authors arrive at their recommendations. Have they shot thousands of rounds at 4 lb. and then changed to 4.5 and seen a difference? I don't think so. It is more likely to be one man's opinion. That's fine as long as we understand that there probably ain't two cents worth of difference.
I suspect it is more along the lines that they take an existing pistol that has a known history (good or bad), and then measure the extractor tension. If you kept track of such minutiae, after a while I'd think that you'd probably start to notice a general trend of what works and what doesn't.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
1. probably never.

2. Everyone is promoting external extractors as "improvments" but it is more often a case of fixing something that ain't broke. The original 1910 Browning design had an external extractor but it was changed to the internal design to eliminate parts and "make it more reliable."
Charlie, I am in no way disputing your superior knowledge and experience but I can't seem to find a picture of a Browning model 1910 with an internal extractor. Even the 1922 models that I have seen have the external extractor. When did this change take place?

I think the High Power went from in internal to and external extractor with the release of the 1962 models.

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I could have made that more clear...

Browning's .45s went through several iterations (1909, 1910) before they settled on the basic design we know as the 1911. There were only a very few 1910s made but it looked very much like the 1911 with the exception of the extractor.

The most complete reference is Colt Automatic Pistols by Bady which contains test reports from Springfield Armory and outlines the different variations.

I have no idea whether anything like that is available on the web.
 

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Actually, the Colt M1909 was the last .45 prototype to have an external extractor. The internal extractor was introduced with the M1910 prototypes. The big difference between the original M1910 prototypes and the M1911 is the lack of a thumb safety. The right side of the M1910's slide is visible in Bady on Pg. 190 (in my copy).

You can also check out the photos at http://www.coltautos.com/.
 

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Thaks guys, I was looking at the Belgian models 1910 and 1922, etc. The .32 caliber pistols.

Ed
 
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