Friday, September 13, 2013

Light Firearm Repair on Common Handgun Issues

Don't forget to check out ALL of my Last Man On Earth Studies posts!

A few months ago, I posted an article covering the dangers of feeding problems of handguns and their effects on your safety.

I had mentioned that I had several Taurus handguns that I had purchased because they were a good deal, but despite the apparent quality of them, I was having some feeding issues. Luckily I had found these while shooting them in a recreational setting, as opposed to a life saving one. In particular, I have a TCP .380 and a PT-145 Pro Millennium that would give me problems.

Now, neither one of these guns had chronic problems with FTF(failure to fire) or FTE (failure to eject), but they would do it every once in awhile. But every once in awhile isn't acceptable. Furthermore, many of you will immediately say that Taurus must be junk and I should refrain from buying them and stick with higher end guns. Initially, I thought that was what I would have to do, and I wasn't excited about it. I liked having a lot of toy guns, and having to spend double the money per gun would pretty much end my short love of this hobby.

I went so far as to remove the TCP from my wife's purse and replace it with a much more reliable revolver. But after months of stewing on it, I got on the internet and decided to see what I can do about it. So, I started doing some research on the subject and I found a lot of articles covering potential feeding problems and associated fixes to them. You can find these articles on websites like,,,, or even video fixes on youtube. While Taurus has great customer service and I could simply send it in, I am reasonably good with my hands. I don't shy away from detailed mechanical work. Nor did I want to have to wait on a gun to be repaired, especially when everything I read said the repairs were easy. Additionally, part of me loves a challenge, AND since this is about prepping for the EOWTAWKI, you have to recognize that you may not always have "someone else" to fix your problems.

Surprisingly, each one of the guns had a solution or two that would fix 90% of the problems.

  • The easiest problem to disassemble the gun, clean it, and lube it. Sound silly? Really, it is. Turned out, my PT-145, like many others, were not properly lubricated, particularly the slide. I disassembled it, cleaned it, lubed it with Rem Oil, and that at least made the action a lot easier and smoother.
  • The next thing I did was to polish the feed ramp. Polishing will smooth out an already nice feed ramp and it will removed tool marks that may exist from the machining process from the factor, which will cause a lot of issues on the round being fed into the chamber. This isn't news to most firearm owners. But, I find that the information out on the web is downright dangerous. I see people using power tools, incorrect polishing compounds, and terrible techniques. There are several things to consider when polishing a feed ramp: You want to ensure that you evenly polish the ramp. Additionally, you must ensure that you do not cause wear that will affect the heat treatment of the ramp material. Either one of these two types of damage can easily be done in mere seconds. Especially if you use power tools or improper amounts or direction of force when polishing. What do I mean by that? Make sure you use an object that is near the size and shape of your ramp and barrel. This will prevent uneven polishing.Even if you use a proper sized object, using it too forcefully can cause a heat buildup that can effect the molecular structure of the grains...ending the proper heat treatment. Take your time and inspect frequently. It took me 30 solid minutes to smooth out the machine marks on my PT-145. It may take you longer. 
  • One of the most common solutions I read said to give the gun a few more chances and take it shooting. The metallic jacket from the bullets do the rest, filling in and smoothing out those machine marks. This wasn't my solution, but it is a viable one. 
  • One of the most common problems with almost ANY brand of firearm can be linked directly to the magazine. You can have improper follower spring pressure, you can have a mag that is too tight on the lead round or even too loose. Experiment with trying to carefully reshape the tabs of the mag. That is one of the most common solutions for the TCP
  • Always remember....never do any damage that may void a warranty. In the end, this is usually the best card you have. None of the simple work I stated above would void it. In the case of a more serious problem, like a common extractor issue on the TCP, you will do best to have it sent in.
Here are some pictures for how I did mine. I found a Sharpy was the PERFECT size for the PT-145

After a thorough cleaning and the small amount of work, I never had a problem with either gun again. Now, that won't solve EVERY problem, but the point is....with a little research, common sense and a work, you can fix 90% of the issues you will encounter on your firearms. I recognize that there are also the other 10% which may require expensive and extensive tooling, tools, and training. I don't have a lathe or a mill at my house, and I am barely capable of operating them if I did. I imagine that most of you are the same. But, being able to fix 90% is a ratio I can live with. Remember, you may not always have access to the internet or a gunsmith! Better to learn to do things yourself!