norfdet893, The only thing they claimed to have done on the bill of lading, was to replace the extractor. I find it hard to believe that this alone cured the FTE and Stovepipes :? . It appeared to me that they had switched barrels, as the barrel was rougher around the lugs. I had done a couple of fluff and buffs and was sure that everything was smooth. I should have called and double checked to see exactly what they had done, but I was happy to have a reliable gun and left it at that. Since I got it back, I have done nothing but field strip it and clean. I have went by the old adage, "if it aint broke, don't fix it". It's had 450 flawless rounds since it's return.
Range test today and not quite there yet and still have some smileys. The smileys get more visible after about 25 rounds fired. Noted that the long, narrow ramp in slide had become fouled with black soot so that it no longer had any lub remaining. Rounds in the mag were being pushed forward more then also.
Testing below started with a clean, lubricated pistol with the ramp mod done twice, the narrow ramp in the
slide polished and lightly greased, and the magazine inside at top, back roughened (but obviously not enough).
Test 1. hand load round with slide, remove mag and measure gap on round, it moved forward..<1/16",,pushed round back , replace mag, fire, remove mag, eject round in chamber, NO SMILEY. UMC 95gr FMJ
Test 2. repeat 1. above, except do not push round back (leave forward <1/8"),, fire, remove mag and eject round. Slight scratch?? OAL before .966, after .964, setback .002"?? UMC 95gr FMJ
Test 3. repeat 2. above with Winchester Silvertip 85gr JHP. SMALL SMILEY & DENTED PETALS.
Test 4. repeat 1. above (no gap on round in mag) with Speer 90gr Gold Dot JHP. MINOR SMILEY. OAL before .938", after .939" (tip of hollowpoint was actually raised as if squeezed)
Test 5. repeat 1. above (no gap in mag) with Speer Lawman 95gr FMJ. NO SMILEY, SLIGHT SCRATCH.
All Silvertip rounds examined had some form of smiley damage to the petals on the nose of the hollowpoint.
Had one malfunction, a FTE with Winchester Silvertip after about 25 rounds. The pistol was getting dirty with soot at this point. This was a round that had been previously examined and was reloaded with the smiley. Examining the case after removal under magnification showed the extractor had cut through the rim, and the length of the fired case was longer than average at .971".
Examining many of the ejected cases showed all Silvertip brass had deformed more under the extractor than any of the other brands. UMC had the least amount of deformation under the extractor. Speer all looked normal. The Silvertip 85gr rated velocity is 1000fps, higher than any of the others and this coupled with the softer looking brass case makes it a borderline candidate for FTE's. I will not carry .380 Silvertips.
Flyer is correct in saying that the recoil, (the inertia in my first theory), is always going to shift rounds forward in the mag allowing smileys to occur and the only real cure is the ramp mod. I agree with this but the slippery magazine insides adds to the problem allowing rounds to shift forward as much as 3/8" where they will always get hit. Why some haven't had this, I don't know. The mag is not blued, it's painted with slippery black enamel, which is OK under the follower but adds to the trouble at the top.
Anyway, I have been back to the workbench again today and deepened the ramp mod some more and roughened the mag top back inside with a diamond tool by hand (the dremel got the enamel off but left it too smooth). I also used a center punch with a hammer on the mag outside top back, both sides to put
a small dent and tighten up the mag back (may have to do it again). In addition, when I polished the new cut on the feed ramp I also repolished the narrow ramp in the slide.
Just hand cycling the pistol now has reduced the gap on the second round down to < 1/32".
I won't get to test this again until next year. But in the meantime, I will be carrying my P3AT with the Speer 90gr Gold Dot JHP. Seems like the best alternative for now.
BTW, my accuracy wasn't too hot today, stayed in COM on an IDPA type target, but the P3AT is definitly not intended for target competition.
Rook Monday left a message in another thread that really has me thinking. He said "I kept reloading my magazine after shooting 6 rounds to keep from racking the slide after shooting it empty since it's so hard to pull back so that means that the top round was staying in the gun everytime I reloaded which could have been a bad thing if the bullet kept getting driven further and further back into the casing."
I was doing the same thing on my first gun that had a bad smiley problem which may be part of the reason it kind of "self destructed". When I would reload the mag, I would notice that the round left in the mag would have a sizable dent in the nose; when the dent got so bad that I thought it might get stuck in the barrel, I would remove it and put in a fresh round. At the time. I knew nothing about "setback" or that continuously smacking the nose of a round could increase chamber pressures. I just knew pulling back that slide was a bear and if I left a round in the mag - I didn't have to...
Rook Monday said his UMC rounds went from .972 to .940 on his gun. My new gun doesn't seem to do the smileys like that first one so I can't test if this can be repeated on it and my first gun will probally come back as a restamped new gun. How can we set up a test to see if this is a common occurance?
Made it to the small range in the nearby National Forest (40miles) and finished tests after 3rd ramp mod and mods to the magazine. Pictures of my ramp and magazine are posted here and in the next 2 posts for your amusement.
Smileys in my P3AT have been reduced to an insignificant minimum!!
Fired FMJ and JHP into a wet newspaper pack and checked for smileys along the way. Couldn't even see a hit on the JHP's. After about 20 rounds and the narrow ramp inside the slide got sooty, the last round was getting pushed forward a bit and a tiny scratch would occur on FMJ.
My Conclusions Follow.
1. The ramp mod is important to stop hits on the mag follower.
By itself, a minimum ramp mod will not stop smileys altogether.
2. The Mec Gar magazine furnished with the P3AT is also responsible, maybe more so, for causing smileys to begin with the second round. This is due to the slippery enamel inside the magazine which allows the rounds after the first one loaded to be pushed forward by the narrow ramp in the back of the slide.
3. The hefty recoil coupled with the slippery magazine causes the round to move forward even more during firing putting it in the path of a hit by the feed ramp during cycling.
4. Modification of the magazine is also required to stop or reduce smileys. This requires grinding off the enamel inside at the top near the back and putting a dent in the mag on each side near the back. These steps increase friction and reduce the forward push of the round.
5. Smileys, without any mods, are detrimental to JHP rounds and will deform the 'petals' closing the hollow point.
6. Edited out this conclusion due to lack of evidence on my part. Read details why in my other posts down below.
My modifications have been drastic. My first picture follows:
Picture follows with magazine modifications. Hard to get a good pic of this, but maybe you can understand it.
With a clean pistol, and the narrow ramp inside the slide polished and lightly greased, the forward push of the round is <1/32", even after firing. And it does not cause any kind of malfunction.
Only after firing over 20 rounds does the narrow slide ramp get sooty and cause the forward push to increase to where a very tiny smiley occurs on FMJ's.
I haven't been able to make it to the indoor range in a nearby town to do any shooting, but sometime this week or early next, I will make it out. When I do, I'll take along 50 or a hundred rounds of fmj for the 380. I've reread the post a couple of times, and unless I'm missing something, the smiley is on the top round in the magazine after the gun has been fired and a new round loaded. The last time I posted, I stated I checked one magazine and found no smilies---This time I'll try ten magazines, and post the results.
Just a quick thought:
The cutout at the front of the magazine looks WAY deeper than it needs to be.
I just looked at another .380 mag, and it's nowhere near that depth... a full 50% of the second round's bullet is exposed.
Maybe I'll get out the Dremel and some cutting wheels, an old magazine, and do a little silver-soldering...
Can't do anything else with all this snow covering the windows. Might as well try something useful!
Great pics, oldgranpa!!!
I think I may be getting ahead of myself with a conclusion I made that I haven't really checked out.
I think we are making a wrong assumption that a round remaining in the magazine has a smiley and gets worse by reloading before the magazine is empty. After all, that round doesn't get hit unless the gun is fired and then it will be loaded into the chamber leaving the magazine empty.
To review the sequence...
1. magazine loaded in pistol
2. round hand loaded by cycling slide
3. narrow ramp in slide nudges next round in mag forward
4. no smiley yet
5. fire pistol, slide cycles to eject case and on the way back the now top round in magazine gets hit by ramp
6. cycle back completes and slide picks up the now top round
7. about half way through the chambering of top round it pops up into alignment with chamber
8. round underneath pops up to top of magazine
9. as chambering completes cycle, the narrow slide ramp nudges round forward
10. sequence repeats itself.
Therefore it just doesn't seem logical that a round being left in the magazine has a smiley, yet. If this is the case, then Kel Tec has no reason to care about it.
I plan to do more looking at this next time at the range.
See what you think and find out next time you go to the range.
When I head out to the range, I well check the top round in the Magazine after firing, and eject the round just chambered to check for smillies on that also. This has been suggested by OG, and it makes sense to check both.
My best guess is that the problem is a combination of all of the above suggestions. Yes the magazine does drop out when shooting left handed. Here is what I think happened.
1. With the A-grip too tight or just because of my grip, the recoil caused my thumb to swipe over the mag release partially depressing the button.
2. The barrel slamming into the 2nd round exerted downward pressure on the magazine and rounded or sheared off the top edge of the mag catch. At least it looks chewed up.
3. Now that it is rounded or shorter, just the impact of the smiley problem is enough to push the magazine catch out of its slot and drop the magazine.
Solution looks to be a new magazine release button and spring and a modified grip with a more definitive thumb shelf. I'll extend the ridge just above the release button to shield it.
It is also time to take care of the smiley problem which should eliminate the downward pressure. Needle files get ordered tomorrow.
I could be totally wrong but it is my best guess.
ps Flyer, thanks for the kind offer but since I'll be working on the barrel and grip there will be plenty of time to get the parts from KT after Jan. 4. I need another magazine and a few other parts anyway. Thanks again for the offer and always for the expert advise.
End of quote.
Made it out to the indoor range last week, and this is the first chance I've had to post the pictures of the bullets I used. The interesting developement (at least to me), was that the more I shot, the worst the smileys became. If you look at the picture from left to right, the first bullet is a Winchester SXT 95 grn. These were the first rounds I shot (a total of 12 rounds of SXT Olin HP), and I had no smileys. The next bullet is round 24 (Fiocchi 95 grn FMJ). I shot and additional 12 rounds, again with no signs of a smiley on any round 1 through 36. The next bullet to the right (number 3 from the left side) is round 48 and this has the first sign of a smiley (very faint). The fourth bullet is round 60, and the smiley is starting to get more noticeable. The next two rounds are number 72 and 84. As you can see the smileys are slightly more noticeable, but about the same. I checked each and every round after it was loaded, and the rounds from 72 to 96 remained consistently the same (couldn't tell one from another). To me, it looked like as if as the gun became dirtier from shooting, the smileys increased in severity and then remained the same.
One other interesting developement, the Winchester SXT Olin were hard to group on a 8 x 11 inch target at 8 yards. Some were plain off the paper. When I went back to the Fiocchi FMJ 95 grn, I was again getting decent groupings. Has anyone else had bad resluts with the SXT's?
I see a similar effect with a barely visible smiley after about 25 rounds. And I have done the drastic mods shown in previous posts. The long, narrow ramp in the top of the slide gets sooty and then it is rough enough to push the next to the top round forward more in the magazine during cycling. So even with the feed ramp mod and the mod to the magazine I have made, when the pistol gets dirty I still get a little scratch on the bullet nose.
It's hard to explain, you'll have to go back and read my posts for Dec 8 and Dec 15.
The smiley's you are getting after firing a lot of rounds are pretty bad, IMO, and would damage a JHP round nose.
Have you done any mods to your feed ramp?
Does your magazine have the slippery black enamel inside?
The next time you have a chance to test fire, try this,
During the first magazine, after about 3 shots, drop the mag and note if the top round is pushed forward and how much.
Then, after about 5 magazines do it again and note if the top round is being pushed forward more.
You can also look up the magazine well and see the narrow slide ramp and note if it is clean or sooty.
I can't get to a range right now to do anymore tests but when I do I'll see if this is still a problem.
About your Winchester SXT, I've only tried the Winchester Silvertips 85gr and they seem to do pretty good.
I agree that the worse of my smileys would be a problem with HP's, BUT it took 48 rounds before any sign of a smiley showed up. I'll continue to check for smileys, on my next few range trips and see if it continues to take that long for them to appear. If this continues to hold true, I won't attempt to do the ramp modification. If the worse case scenario ever happens, I can't imagine being in a gun fight with my P3AT for 48 rounds :shock: . I never carry a dirty gun, as some do. I'm pretty anal on cleaning right after a range outing, before using that gun for concealed carry.
Having just gotten into the Keltec scene with a P11 and a P3AT, I'm reading all I can but haven't had a chance to fire either.
The smiley problem looks to me as strictly an inertial problem
of the top bullet in the mag flying forward under recoil and striking the knife edge bottom of the feed ramp as the barrel moves rearward. When the knife edge is removed and feed ramp radiused, it better fits the bullet nose contour, increasing the contact area and decreasing the force on any one portion of the bullet nose. If you raise the front of the magazine to keep the bullet from moving forward it might not have the time
to clear the mag lip and chamber. On the other hand, I can see a jam resulting from a smiley hanging up on the knife edge
of the feed ramp.
Nope, the feed ramp comes back and, coupled with the flexibility of the plastic grip, nails the round in the mag.
The round CAN'T move far forwards... it remains under pressure by the top of the slide and therefore restricted by the front wall of the mag.