Broken Extractor, Ho Hum

After two Timed Fire shots in the centerfire portion of yesterday’s 1800 “postal”, the slide of my 1911 failed to travel forward. I looked quickly to see if it was something I should clear and continue but when I saw the shell of round #2 still in the gun but not attached to the slide, I knew I had some sort of extraction problem. “Slap, rack, bang” would not succeed.

The gun was broken.

I raised my hand for an alibi and it was duly granted.

Since we only had three shooters and they were as curious as I about what had happened, we stopped to figure it out.

I dropped the magazine and, using a 3/16" brass rod from the muzzle end, I pushed out shell #2 and at the same time verified that the barrel was clear. No undue pressure was needed so I knew it wasn’t a stuck shell.

Indeed, having experienced this once before, my suspicion was that the extractor tip had broken off.

But looking at the bolt face in the now empty gun, the tip was still there.


But this was definitely an extraction problem so I got the OK to ready the magazine and manually cycle the slide, without firing, to see if it would extract subsequent rounds.

Round #3 chambered fine but when the slide was pulled back, it did not extract. Round #3 remained in the chamber.

Removing the magazine (and using the brass rod to push out round #3), I then removed the firing pin stop plate, firing pin and, finally, the extractor.

The tip, while still present, was canted back at an odd angle. It was obviously broken. You can see the fracture in the photographs below. (Click any picture for a bigger image.)

Fortunately, I had a spare extractor in my gun box. I installed it and had the gun back in service after only a short delay. We resumed and I fired the alibi string and finished the competition on the new extractor.

No problem.

I’ve since purchased another extractor and will have it “tuned” for that gun. It will then be marked and stored in the gun box until needed.

In the past, mechanical malfunctions have always flummoxed me. But this time, between understanding what was happening and having a replacement ready to go, it didn’t bother my shooting.

On the contrary, I was quite pleased at how everything had played out.

Experience and spare parts paid off very nicely today.

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