Guns are mechanical tools; replace parts before they fail
Firearms are mechanical devices, and like all such tools require not only cleaning but regular maintenance and replacement of wearable parts. Recently a family member asked me to look at her Glock 19 as they were having extraction issues. She explained that the gun would fire fine, however it would “jam” several times each magazine. Being a Glock armorer and knowing this is not normal for a Glock, I asked specifically to describe what happened. I was told that when the gun fired, two to three times per magazine the case would be half stuck in the chamber and not eject. This particular Glock is a Gen 3 that she’s had for nearly 20 years, and is also her preferred home defense pistol that she practices with regularly. I immediately recognized this as a potential broken or worn extractor, a known weak point in Glocks. Given the guns age and number of times it’s been fired I had her order a compete slide parts replacement kit with the plan that I would replace all of the parts in the slide (roughly $50 from any of the major online vendors) rather than just the one suspected part.
When I disassembled the slide, I found the extractor to be absolutely trashed (that’s it in the picture). This part takes a beating, and the stock extractor is a MIM part – essentially powdered metal that is ‘pressed’ under high pressure in the shape of the part. Not only did the extractor tooth that grabs the case wear out, the entire center part was eaten away. Frankly, I’m surprised the gun didn’t malfunction on EVERY shot given the condition of the metal. Additionally, while the gun was exceptionally clean on all the areas cleaned by field stripping a heavy amount of crud was in the nooks and crannies only accessible with a complete slide break down. I completely cleaned and degreased the assembly, lubed appropriate parts and reassembled with the new parts kit. While I was at it, I took apart the frame and cleaned all the areas where she couldn’t reach in field stripping. When I received the gun, I could feel the ‘grit’ in the trigger assembly and knew cleaning that out (and replacing the worn trigger spring) would improve the feel. Reassembled and lubed, the gun should be good for thousands of more rounds. Total cost of parts was under $60.
Guns are mechanical tools, and like all tools there are protocols for simple cleaning and detailed cleaning/replacing parts that are unique to each model. Parts should be inspected and replaced according to the manufacturer guidelines, and detailed armorer’s inspection and cleaning should be invested in – especially with defensive firearms. The deer shotgun that gets a few ‘sighting’ rounds each fall then a couple of shots at a deer won’t need nearly the upkeep as a defensive pistol that you regularly practice with and keep ready to protect yourself. Know your tools, know which and when to have wearable parts replaced, and don’t skimp on advanced maintenance for defensive firearms. Your life literally depends on it.
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