Category Archives: Pistols

How Magazines Affect Reliability in Rock Island FS A2 9mm Pistols

This post reflects a journey I’ve been on regarding making and selling magazines for the 9mm Rock Island Armory (RIA) FS A2 pistols. These pistols are based on Para Ordnance designs that use a staggered magazine that can accomodate 15+ rounds in a fattened 1911 grip. Think of them as 1911 pistols on steroids with a fat grip the holds more rounds they hold more rounds so sometimes RIA calls them “HC” for high capacity.

These are my two 9mm test platforms. The top pistol is the 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC (you can see the checkering on the front strap of the grip) and the bottom is 51679 Tac Ultra FS HC.

For over a year now, I’ve been making magazines for the FS A2 pistols chambered in 10mm and .40 S&W. The interesting thing is that 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W and 10mm all use the same frame. You’d think making the 9mm mags would be an easy jump – I did at least — maybe it was just me.

The 10mm round is bigger than 9mm – it is fatter and longer. You don’t think about that a lot until you are trying to get the ejecting case to hit the ejector – the 10mm round is a hell of a lot easier to make hit the ejector than the 9mm. Also, the relatively short 9mm round has a long way to travel before it goes into the chamber. I found myself having to kick out some assumptions I had for magazines in order to get the 9mm round to reliably work.

In general, I now understand why the 1911 community is so fast to cast suspicion on the magazines when feed and ejection problems are happening. John Browning was an absolute genius and the 1911 design shows it but it does need all of the parts to be working together correctly to deliver a reliabile pistol.

Oh yeah, the magazines can make or break reliability. Let me share with you some observations I’ve made so far about the magazine after making a few hundred of the 9mm models either modifying P18 magazines (.38/9mm) or P16 mags (10/.40).

What about feed lip length?

The feed lips are the part of the magazine that hold the top round down and at the right angle. If they are too short, the round tends to be presented at too high of an angle and if they are too long, the front gap may not be adjustable enough to support the feed angle needed.

The blue rounds are A-Zoom Snap Caps. I use them during magazine prototyping and testing rather than live ammo The magazine lips are long pieces of rounded sheet metal that are going up the sides of the cartridge and are both positioning and retaining the round. Note the plastic “shelf” of the follower that is on the left bottom edge of each magazine that is level with the metal body. When the last round is fed from the magazine, the follower rises and that shelf is what engages the slide lock lever to put upwards pressure on it. When the slides travels rearword with the extraction and ejection of the last round, the slide lock level pushes up and locks the slide open ready for the next magazine to be fired.

The original 1911 was designed for .45 ACP but we are feeding a little short round from the back of the magazine towards the chamber a mile away. How can we maintain control? The short answer is have longer feed lips on the magazine. These longer lips are what get the relatively small 9mm round from the back of the magazine all the way into the chamber.

“We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there” were the famous words in “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed in the movie classic Smokey and the Bandit. The feed lips need to control the feeding of the cartridge all the way from the back of the magazine to the point the bullet engages the feed ramp and then starts to go into chamber. A 9mm Luger cartrdge is 1.169″ long. In comparison, 10mm Auto is 1.260″ overall. and .45 ACP is 1.275″. You might thing those differences are small but they definitely impact the design and operation of the pistol – they need to be planned for if you want reliability.

The reason I listed this section is that the length of the feed lips can vary depending on the model of pistol so if you are trying to use a magazine from another type of pistol you may find you need to trim the feed lips back. I didn’t have to change the P16 or P18 mags for the 9mm but I did need to modify the P16 Para mags to feed reliability in RIA 10mm and .40 S&W pistols.

What happens if the front feed lip gap is too wide? You tend to get a Failure to Eject (FTE) or the Slide locks open prematurely

The feed lip gap at the front of the magazine controls where the cartridge is going vertically – the angle towards the chamber. Increase the gap and the front of cartridge rises and decrease it and the angle goes down. But wait, there’s more.

If the front of the round pushes up too much, it will cause the extracting case to slide up the breech face and out of position thus missing the ejector bar you can see just above the rear of the cartidge. The tell tale is that you have the new round and the old case in the back of the slide at the same time.

Now here’s the first gotcha. The feed lip gap still controls the rise of the bullet in the front but if it goes too far, the bullet is going to interfere with extraction, pushing the extracted case upwards on the breach face of the slide and out of position to correctly engage the ejector and all of a sudden you have the old case in the slide, a new round trying to feed and you have a jam. If you go for a front feed lips gap of .305-.308″ you will be fine. Once you cross .310″, you are going to cause the ejection problem I just mentioned

There’s an interesting design issue with all 1911 breech faces – they are flat. The extractor pushes the case to the right in this photo. The ejector bar is exiting its cut out from the breech face in the lower right but there is nothing to truly limit upwards travel.

I’ve spent a lot of time chasing this dimension because you tend to get better feeding the more the bullet is oriented towards the chamber but with the 9mm you have to be mindful of the impacts on the the ejecting cartridge.

By the way, in addition to interfering with ejection, a feed lip gap that is too wide can allow the follower to travel too far upwards and prematurely lock the slide open with one cartridge remaining in the magazine.

I should point out that the most likely cause of a failure to eject (FTE) is a faulty magazine. The second most likely is a worn or failing extractor. It probably is not the ejector bar.

What happens if the front feed lip gap is too narrow? You tend to get a failure to feed (FTF)

If you move the feed lips to close together, the new round that needs to be fed into the chamber comes in at too flat of an angle and smashes straight into the feed ramp. On one hand the 9mm bullet is rounded abruptly but the feed ramp is quite abrupt. I tend to find that somewhere under .302″ this happens but I haven’t done a lot of testing on this dimension because I have been more focused on wanting the cartridge angled up vs. down.

The round travels up the feed ramp but it needs have enough of an upward angle to ride the ramp up. If it is too shallow it will slam the bullet into the ramp and stop. Note that RIA did polish the ramp – that was an unexpected nice touch. In general, I’d recommend polishing the ramp smooth to aid in feeding. Also, look at the shape of the snap cap – it mimics a classic full metal jacket 115gr bullet. The curvature of the bullet will aid in feeding. Different bullet shapes can affect feeding in some pistols and you may need to tweak certain mags for certain rounds – it’s next to impossible to guess so test your pistol with certain combinations of cartrdiges and magazines to ensure they are reliable. You may find your pistol likes some and hates others. I’d probably just move to another cartridge if it were me and my pistol had issues with a given round.

Yeah, the lips have a memory

So the magazines are made of high carbon steel that is heat treated. The feed lip gap falls within a certain tolerance. If it changed either wider or narrower, the lips are going to move back towards their original positing anywhere from .002-.004″ so plan accordingly.

This is where experience matters with the mags you are working with. Once you have your dimensions figured out, you may find you need to bend further than the nominal dimension so when the sheet metal starts to relax it will stop in the range you want.

You may also find that the metal does most of its movement in some number of minutes after you do the initial tune and need to do it one more time. Some guys will wait overnight to do the final tuning. I wait at least 30 minutes.

What about left and right bends to the feed lips?

The more you bend the feed lips in one direction too much, the round will point that way and either glance the chamber wall or actually slam into the chamber and stop depending on how off you are. Try and get the cartridge to point into the center of the chamber in terms of left to right.

This is an 80% RIA frame that I used during prototyping. I’m not enough of a machinist to actually complete it but it really helps you see what is going on. If the right feed lip is bent too much to the right then the round will go in that directton – same for the left lip. You want to point the round into the center of chamber.

What about the follower?

It’s really interesting how important the follower is. On one hand it is pushing the rounds up againt the feed lips properly and on the other, there is a small “shelf” on the front left edge that pushes the slide stop lever up and locks the slide open on empty (unless you are using competition followers such as the Arredondos that purposefully do not lock the slide open).

The walls at the top of the 9mm mag really need to taper inward to properly channel the staggered round into the single exit position at the top. The follower’s sides need to be appropriately tapered and rounded as well less they drag on the walls. The original Mec-Gar followers have significant drag that you can feel when loading the mgazine so revising them made the most sense.

The Arredondo follower is on the left. It is more angled and rounded on the right side in this photo than the Mec-Gar on the right. The Arredondo was desined for competition is when you look at the bottom right edge of each you will see the Arredondo slopes down fast so it will not raise the slide stop lever. The Mec-Gar has a more elevated edge that will lock the slide open. Our modified Mec-Gar followers improve reliability by having more rounded edges but still can lock the slide open.

By the way, to make life more colorful, when you install the follower the spring tension will spread the feed lips wider by about 0.002-0.004″.

How about the spring?

The Mec-Gar springs are okay. How much spring is enough or to little really depends on how well it can keep constant upwards pressure on the follower to move the rounds up fast enough and keep them in position. With the drag on the follower reduced, the spring can do its job.

There is an exception though – if you add a magazine extension or base plate that adds capacity, the spring really ought to be longer so get a Wolff or Arredondo spring that can supply the pressure over a longer distance.

The top assembly has the a easy to identify blue Arredondo follower and longer spring. The spring is made by Wolff but is bent to properly hold the Arredondo follower. The black follower and shorter spring are the original Mec-Gar units.

Yes, springs can and do wear our so if you feel the follower is being pushed up sufficiently or is sluggish *and* the walls do not appear bent then you probably need a new spring.

What about lubricant?

Mec-Gar mags come with some lubricant all over the insides of the mags, follower, spring, floor plate and base plate. On one hand it protects against corrosion but on the other it can attract dirt.

I would recommend that you use a good dry lubricant film. I used to use Dupont’s Teflon dry lubricant film spray but they discontinued it over environmental and health concerns about Teflon. The company is now producing a dry film using a ceramic technology that I really like and find it does a remarkable job at lubricating magazines.

If you are in a marine environment and you need the corrosion protection the use the oil of your choice – you need to worry about rust, I get it. For me, the Dupont Dry Film Lube aerosol spray does a great job. The new followers and the inside of the magazine tubes coated with this enables remarkably smooth movement of the follower.

Number your magazines

A tip you really ought to consider is to number your magazines so you can keep track of them. I like stickers because you can readily remove them if you put a baseplate on a different magazine tube but there are plenty of guys who use a permanent marker or etcher to uniquely identify each magazine.

The benefit of doing this is that when you are at the range if you find that some magazine is having problems, you can write down or take a photo of the number and know what you need to work on. Face it, if you have a bunch of mags and they all look pretty similar it can be hard to keep track of them otherwise.

By numbering the magazines, I can track dimensions and performance over time.

We do sell the stickers if you are interested – click here.

I’m still learning

I don’t claim to know everything – let me right up front about that. I now know what people mean whey they say “The more I learn, the less I know”. In other words, as I learn more I am increasingly aware that there is a ton of stuff I don’t know.

Hopefully this gives you some insight about why one magazine will work great but then another one doesn’t. The above are things to consider.

My reason for writing this is to give you some idea of what we’ve learned and are building into each 9mm magazine that you buy from us – we aren’t just relabeling Mec-Gar mags and selling them at a heck of a mark up.

What are are doing is ensuring the dimesions, doing the necessary modifications and testing teach magazine in one of our 9mm RIA pistols to ensure you get a reliable mag. If you have problems with a magazine from us, we will definitely make it right.

If you’d like to see our magazines, click here to go to our store.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Do I need a drill press for drilling Polymer80 frames?

The question above is asked a lot and I can understand why – drill presses can make accurate holes. Surprisingly though – DO NOT USE A DRILL PRESS WITH YOUR POLYMER80 JIG! How’s that for an emphatic answer – now let me explain why this is so.

The cool jig that Polymer80 came up with is designed to be clamped from the bottom and three holes on each side to be hand drilled. All of the stresses and what not on the jig were planned so the holes would go in the right place. Laying the jig on its side to use a drill press has led to alignment problems and frames that don’t work so don’t use a drill press.

The jig is clamped standing up and a hand drill is used to make the holes. The smaller holes use a 3mm drill bit and the larger hole requires 4mm.

While we are talking about drilling – do a hole at a time and do NOT drill straight through. The reason you do a hole at a time is that you can afford the angle to be slightly wrong on one side but if you go straight through and the angle isn’t perfectly true then the hole on the other side will be way off. Trust me, do a hole at a time. Yes, do take your time and try to drill a hole that is perpendicular to the frame – meaning not at an angle one way or another off the center of where you need the hole.

Any 3/8 or 1/2″ hand drill will work just fine. A cool perk with the old Ryobi drills is that they have a level built into the tool holder.

Use 3 & 4mm Drill Bits

The frame needs 3 and 4mm drill bits and the jig is labeled for what size goes in what hole. If you need the bits, we sell nice drill bits that are perfect for this. Click here to go to our Polymer80 tool page.

I’d definitely recommend you use a vise to clamp the bottom of the jig. That’s what the jig was designed for.

So, you don’t need a drill press but I would recommend a vise to hold it vertically nice and steady. You can get pretty good deal on little 3-4″ removable vises that will work just fine or you can use any woodworking or metalworking vise if you already have one.

In Conclusion

No, you don’t need a drill press and for that matter you should not use a drill press because the jig was not designed for it. However, you do need at least a 3-4″ vise, hand drill and the right size bits to do a good job drilling. From there, you still need to trim your top tabs, remove the barrel block, clean things up and then you can install the parts of your choice.

We have a collection of Polymer80 tools to help you with your build. Please click here if you would like to see them.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


A Rare Anderson & Co of London Tap Action

Folks, Scott Igert is a very good friend of mine and he and his wife own Michigan Gun Exchange in Saint Joseph, MI. Once in a while he gets in some amazingly rare/unique firearms that he and I get to look over and today was one of those times. In this particular case, he has this pistol into sell on consignment.

At a high level, it is a tap action pistol from a bygone era. tap action pistols had 2-4 barrels and the user rotated a lever to direct the spark from the primed pan into the selected barrel. This action was used in the 1700s to 1800s – I saw quite a date range of tap lock pistols when I was trying to figure out what Scott turned up.

Okay, the pistol was made by a London, England, gunsmith at “Anderson & Co”. I tried digging on that name and didn’t have any luck. I was told once that there were a lot of people making firearms in London during that era so perhaps he was a small shop.

What really caught my eye was extensive engraving on the metal surfaces, finely shaped checkered pistol grip and an amazing carved lion head on the pommel. This was not a hack job – a ton of hand work went into this. The grip feels great even today.

I’ve been digging for a couple of hours and can’t find any info on Anderson & Co or this pistol other than it being a tap action. I’ve not had a pistol intrigue me this much in a long time.

Scott and I are really interested to know more so if you have any info, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com.

Again, if you have any further details, we’d love to learn more. Email me at info@roninsgrips.com – we’ll share the results here of course.

By the way, the closest looking pistol was made in Birmingham by a different gunsmith. Other than that, all the tap action pistol photos I can find are quite different.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


My Adventures With Rock Island Armory 9mm Extractors

Starting in 2021, I started to offer 10mm magazines for the Rock Island Armory A2 HC pistols – “A2” being a marketing opportunity to refer to the next generation 1911A1 pistol prototyping the US Army did starting in 2004 that experimented with different sights, extractors, mainsprings, etc. The “HC” stands for high capacity and reflects the RIA pistols are using a staggered magazine design to hold far more rounds than a single stack could.

At any rate, I had a number of customers ask me to produce mags for the 9mm RIA A2 HC pistols – the 51679 Tac Ultra and the 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC. Our 10mm mags had proven to be very successful and after enough requests, I decided to enter the 9mm magazine market.

One thing I learned with making AK grips is that you really need to have the weapon to make a part for it. This allows you to check fitment, reinforce potentially weak areas, etc. So, when I started with the 10mm mags, I bought a 52009 Rock Ultra HC and later a 56862 Tac Ultra Match HC. Why? Because you also find that a given firearm may differ enough that if you build and test only with it, you may not be making something others can use.

There’s an engineering problem called “stacked tolerance”. Every part has a specification that says, for example “9.0mm” and then there is a tolerance specified – for example “+/- .01”. That means the part produced can range from 8.99 to 9.01 in size. Make an assembly and all of those tolerances may combine, or “stack” in such a way that if you build a part to work for that particular unit then another assembly that happens to stack in the other direction may not be able to use that part. Testing on multiple pistols helps with a testing – at least a bit because you are reducing the odds of one pistol having a problem or working and others not.

So, by having both the 52009 and 56862 10mm pistols, I could test magazines to make sure they fed right, dropped free, etc. With the 9mm pistols, I had limited funds and just started with the 51679 – the Tac Ultra. That decision bit me hard.

The Initial Magazine Prototyping Didn’t Make Sense

When I prototype, I buy a bunch of original magazines and then start looking for what is close enough to modify and start tinkering with the feed lips, feed angles, the spring and the follower. To keep track of things, I applied numbered stickers to every magazine and kept track of the dimensions plus performance.

What I also learned with the 10mm mags is that the best dummy rounds are the machined aluminum A-Zoom Snap-Caps. Dummy rounds that are made from a case and a bullet will see the bullet pushed back into the case and/or get deformed after some fairly low number of cycles. The machined aluminum A-Zoom Snap-Caps are dimensionally accurate and can cycle hundreds of times before needing to be replaced. By the way, don’t do this type of work with live rounds – it’s an accident waiting to happen.

Back to the 9mm world, I was working on the mags and things just didn’t make sense. A magazine would work and then it wouldn’t. One set of dimensions would work and then they wouldn’t. Something just wasn’t adding up. The pistol would fail to eject randomly, I’d then have the old round and the new round in the slide at the same time and of course it jammed.

It had to be the mags right? I blew through a bunch of mags and time before it dawned on me that the pistol itself must have issues. I hadn’t questioned it before because the pistol was brand new out of the box. Sure, I had cleaned and lubed it first before cycling hundreds of snap caps through it. The problem was that I assumed it was good to go and the initial testing seemed to show a reliable pistol … but I only tested a few mags worth of snap caps – maybe 34-52 cycles max.

Testing The First Pistol

I loaded a magazine up, racked the slide and loaded a snap cap. I then pulled the slide back slowly and the extractor lost control of the extracted round as I pulled the slide to the rear. That wasn’t supposed to happen. If I went slow, it would either fail to extract completely or lose control of the round.

I’m not a 1911 gunsmithing guru but I had to learn some stuff really fast. I knew if I sent the pistol back to Rock Island/Armscor, it would be at least a month before I would get it back. So I read posts and watched videos that explained the pistol had an extractor problem and how to correct it. I bought a few different brands of 9mm extractors, the Brownells extractor tool, the Jack Weigand extractor gauge and tensioning tool.

Boy, I could not get that thing to work even after trying a few different brand extractors and a Wilson. At this point I was pretty ticked off. My last best guess was that the extractor looked like it was clocked slightly. When I inserted the Weigand 9mm gauge, I could feel initial tension as I inserted it and then it would drop off rapidly as I inserted the gauge the rest of the way (it centers over the firing pin hole). Rather than do a new firing pin stop plate, I decided to stop chasing best guesses mainly because I was blowing time I did not have to spend. The pistol was under warranty so feeling both stupid and defeated, I finally got an RMA to send the pistol back.

No, I’m Not Incredibly Patient

In the meantime, I bought a 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC and it has worked great – no problems at all. I was able to work out the details on the mags. Now, I am not patient so I actually ordered a second 51679 Tac Ultra that I looked at, cycled a few rounds through but really didn’t use a great deal – my primary go-to test platform was the 56862 … until I decided to take some photos about the RIA 9mm A2 HC pistols and looked at the 51679’s extractor.

The second 51679 is at the top and the 56862 Tac Ultra Match is at the bottom. The Match pistol has nice checkering on the front of the grip, the top of the exposed barrel is a grey matte finish and has a target rear sight.

“You’ve got to be kidding me” – I thought to myself. Inserting a choice F bomb of course. The extractor in the brand new 51679 that probably has less than 100 hand cycled Zoom snap caps through it was almost completely broken off other than a little tiny nub on one end. WTF?!?!

I was happily taking photos for a blog post when I saw the silver grain of the busted extractor. Yeah, I was swearing up a storm. Really?

Okay, two 51679s bought from different vendors off Gunbroker about a month apart both having extraction problems …. wow. I’ll be honest – I’m disappointed. RIA 1911s are econobox models but they usually work – so, no, I’m not remotely happy not to mention jumping through hoops waiting for ever for their customer service to respond. I did learn a bunch though and will share with you what I did and what you can do if you want to.

Metal Injection Molding For Extractors Isn’t The Best Choice

The problem is that to keep costs down, Armscor, who owns the Rock Island brand, make the ejector using Metal Injection Molding (MIM). If you search on the web, you will see a ton of guys arguing against the use of MIM in high stress parts. As I just learned with extractors, it’s not the strongest manufacturing approach – making them from forged high-quality steel is a far better idea.

I removed the extractor from the pistol and zoomed in as best I could to get you this photo. You can see the grainy structure that is a signature of metal injection molding. That nub at the top right edge in the photo was just enough to yank the case out of the chamber … sometimes.

Okay, if you get a new RIA 9mm pistol, check the extractor out of the box. Clean and lube it, go to the range and keep your eye on the extractor. If it breaks you have two options – send it back to Rock Island/Armscor for a RMA repair or do it yourself. Heck, you could even just replace the extractor yourself before you have a problem if you want to.

I Decided To Replace the Extractor Myself

I learned a ton on that first pistol plus I had all of the tools and spare Wilson Combat extractors. I just needed to trust in my abilities a bit more and try it again. If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I am persistent and don’t give up easy. With this in mind, I dove back in again with far better results.

The top is the failed Rock Island 9mm ejector and it is a series 70 design. The lower extractor is a state of the art forged 9mm extractor from Wilson Combat. It is a series 80 design but will work just fine in a series 70 pistol.

First, let me explain why I went with a Wilson “Bullet Proof” .38/9mm extractor. They have an excellent reputation a number of guys posted about throwing away their RIA ejector and installing a Wilson. Instead of being MIM, here’s what Wilson says about their extractors:

  • Fully Machined from S7 shockproof tool steel with a tensile strength of 275,000 PSI
  • Optimized hook design for maximum strength and case rim contact
  • Hook location tolerances held to +/- .001″
  • Radiused corners for extended life and smooth feeding
  • Enhanced design holds tension longer over factory part many times over
  • Heat treated to optimum hardness and cryogenically treated
  • Guaranteed for life against breakage or we will replace at no cost to you

Note I went with a series 80 extractor even though the RIA pistols are based on a series 70 design. You can use a series 80 extractor in a series 70 pistol but not vice versa. You can get them from Brownells, Wilson directly and other places.

Recommended Tools

You don’t need specialized tools but if you can afford them, I would highly recommend the following:

The long angled tool is the 1911 Extractor Tool from Brownells and totally worth it in my opinion. The long angled end lets you reach into the slide and push extractor back and then down into the hole for removal. The other end is perfect sized for pushing down the firing pin to aid with the removal and installation of the firing pin stop. Note the blue A-Zoom snap cap – that is the color of their volume packs of rounds. Exact same material and tolerances – just a different color.
The silver block with the red handle is Weigand’s tool for adjusting extractor tension. The big orange thing is the Lyman mechanical trigger pull gauge. The brass plate is the gauge with a brass S-hook that I added. The gauge is sold as a set and each end is for a different caliber. The hole you see is actually for lining up on the firing pin hole – I just added the S-hook on the .38 end because I don’t have any plans to shoot .38 Super. Note, the small blade screw driver makes it real easy to nudge the firing pin up or down so the firing pin stop plate can be pushed into position.

Polish the Extractor

From what I read and saw, the Wilson extractor is practically ready out of the box other than setting the tension. Some guys recommended polishing the surfaces where the cartridge will come in contact and I did that with one of the small rubberized abrasive polishing bits in my Dremel.

How to Install

Make sure your pistol is unloaded – that the chamber is empty and a loaded magazine is not inserted. In short, work safe. Also, do not use live ammo for testing – I highly recommend A-Zoom Snap Caps.

Let me give you an overview and then a couple of videos to watch:

  1. Remove the slide
  2. Remove the firing pin stop plate by pushing down with the straight short end of the extractor tool and then slide the plate off. Be CAREFUL that the firing pin and/or spring don’t come flying out as you remove the plate.
  3. Push the extractor backwards by pushing the head of extractor backwards down the hole out the rear of the slide
  4. Insert the new extractor and line it up so the stop plate can be re-inserted. It needs to line up with the top and bottom of the stop plate groove and it needs to be straight up and down parallel to the sides. You don’t need to install the firing pin and spring until you are done.
  5. Insert the Weigand gauge and pull it out using the trigger pull gauge to find out how many ounces it takes.
  6. Use the Weigand tensioning tool to increase or decrease the tension. I dialed mine in to 28 ounces (1.75 pounds).
  7. You can try testing feeding and extracting dummy rounds to see how it performs. The extractor should maintain control until the extracted dummy round hits the ejector.
  8. Once it is dialed in, you can then re-install the firing pin return spring, lube the firing pin and reinstall it also.
  9. There’s a trick to the plate – wiggle it in and push down the firing pin enough to get the plate to sit on the “shelf” at the rear. You can then maintain pressure on the plate and use the other hand to use the extractor tool to push the firing pin down far enough and hold it there while you push the plate back into place.

More Details

Wilson has a video on how to change to their extractor and a bit about setting the tension:

Now, I also read the Brownell’s blog post about extractors plus a more detailed Wilson Combat instructional PDF file.

The following is a video of Jack Weigand explaining how to use his extractor gauges and tensioning tool:

Adjusting The Extractor Landing Pad

The most detailed post and guidance in general about extractors that I read is here – and if you read down, you will get to sections/replies about 9mm extractors. One thing you will notice discussed is reprofiling the “fitting pad” to better fit the radius of the extractor hole. I stoned and polished the fitting pad to be more rounded but that was it. I put more emphasis on getting a weight in the 25-28oz range and did do that after may 3-4 tries.

Pulling the gauge out the final time was about 1-3/4 pounds which is 28 oz. In testing the pistol, extraction was just fine.

Was The Match Pistol Higher End?

I wondered if maybe more care was put into the match pistol. There are some nice perks in terms of features but the trigger feels about the same between the two pistols. I’ll write up something more detailed down the road – for now let me just say they pistols are not night and day different in terms of how they feel with cycling the slide or pulling the trigger.

In terms of pricing, there’s not a huge difference on Gunbroker. The first 51679 was bought on 3/5/22 for $819.99, the Match pistol was $899.00 on 3/25/22 and the second 51679 was bought on 4/3/22 for $899.00 also. In writing this, it’s surprising that the Match wasn’t $100-200 more on the street but it wasn’t. If you look at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) – Armscor did set the 51679 at $899 and the Match 56645 at $1099. In other words, Armscor was hoping the Match would command a premium.

You can find the 51679 pistols right now with a bit of hunting. The 56645 match pistol is challenging to find as it seems to be a bit more rare now but it is out there too. I’d tell you to get the 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC if you can find it. As you can imagine, I’m not too thrilled with my 51679 experience right now and there is little to no price difference *if* you can find one.

Conclusion

I’m not sure what to tell you about what happened – I only have data from two 51679 pistols and one 56645 pistol. It could just be really bad luck – neither of my current 10mm pistols have given me any trouble and the 56645 Pro Ultra Match has been fine so far as well although I have only cycled maybe 500-600 snap caps through it so far.

The first 51679 had something going on that I can’t explain and am waiting on Armscor to fix it under warranty. It certainly was not a broken extractor. For the second one to have a snapped extractor claw with so very few rounds – I guess that highlights the limitation of MIM and that forged extractors are better – there’s a reason why Wilson’s Bullet Proof extractors have such a good reputation.

So, at this point, magazine production is in full swing and we offer a number of magazines based on Mec-Gar P16 and P18 designs for owners of 9mm RIA A2 HC pistols.

We’ll see what Armscor comes back with regarding the first pistol and I’ll report it here. I guess the big thing I want folks to know is that changing an extractor is not an arcane black magic endeavor. There are tons and tons of videos and posts that you can read. At some point you just need to wade in, give it a go and learn.

My other lesson learned is that don’t replace a busted Armscor extractor (MIM) with the same thing. Upgrade. I decided to go with Wilson Combat due to all the good reviews I read and would recommend that.

I still have a lot to learn about 1911s and don’t claim to know much. I’m really focused just on the mags but I hope this helps out anyone who reads it.

A Stunningly Good 1911 Reference Book Recommendation

By the way, If you want a really good book with tons of dimensions, drawings and photos, then get Jerry Kuhnhausen’s “The Colt .45 Automatic – A Shop Manual”. What I bought off Amazon is the “New Expanded 10th Edition” published in 2015. It gave me a better understanding about the extractor and the firing pin stop.

I hope this post helps you out!


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Adjusting the the feed lip gap on our 3rd Generation RIA 10mm and .40 S&W Magazines

As you may know, we offer a third generation staggered 16 round magazine for Rock Island Armory (RIA) pistols chambered in either 10mm for .40 S&W. Having the correct front feed lip gap is critical for reliable feeding and I want to update you on some changes.

S&B 180gr FMJ round. The black “flaps” over the back of the cartride are known as the “feed lips”. They serve to limit how far the cartridge sticks up, the vertical angle as well as the left-to-right angle. On our magazines, it is the front of the lips, or right right edge of the lips in this photo, that are key for proper positioning of the round.

When I first started the magazines, I was setting the front edge of the feed lips between 0.36 and 0.375. In talking with customers who have bought the mags and were having feeding problems (notably stovepiping) , when the magazine lips were down at the lower end of 0.360″. I’d walk them through setting the gap for their pistol and at the end, I would have them measure the final front lip gap that worked. It was usually between 0.370 and 0.390″ and averaged 0.380″.

Here is a photo with labels.
There are a lot of different 10mm cartrdiges on the market. Look at the different bullet shapes – the different angles can all affect reliable feeding which is one of many reasons why you may find one pistol likes one ammo and can cycle it all day long but not another.

Adjusting the Feed Lips Isn’t Hard

I’d recommend the following tools for the adjustments:

  • 1/2-3/4 pound non-marring mallet – or even both. A lighter one for fine adjustments and a heavier one for coarse adjustments. It doesn’t take much to bend the lips.
  • A pair of snap ring or malleable chandalier pliers that can spread the lips open
  • A pair of straight plastic jawed pliers come in hand if you need to tweak the lips left or right.
  • A vise with non-marring jaws or some means to hold the mag without crushing or excessive scratching
  • A pair of measurement calipers can help you with consistency and recording what gap your pistol works the best with give a particular type of ammo.
  • Use Zoom Snap Caps to test cycling vs live ammo. In general, snap caps or action proving rounds are a good idea to avoid misfires. There’s also a second reason – the recoil springs in the RIA pistols are robust and if the bullet from a live round or dummy round (a bullet loaded into a case that does not have powder or a primer) smacks hard into something, it will get pushed back further and further into the case plus they deform easily. All of my testing is done with solid aluminum snap caps now.
From left to right bottom row: Vaughan 3/4 pound NT-125 mallet, Vaughan 1/2 pound NT-100 mallet and Westinghouse 7009900 lighting fixture chain pliers. The Vaughan mallets hold up great – the plastic is both pretty solid and robust so tapping in the feed lips goes very smoothly.
The Westinghouse pliers make opening the feed lips wider a very easy job. You could also use snap ring pliers but they will not distribute the pressure the same or be as easy to use.
The Westinghouse pliers have wide jaws – meaning left to right in the photo above. I’ve bought a number of chain pliers and the cheaper ones do not have as wide of jaws and have a tendency to want to roll when you are applying pressure. They work – but take a bit more control on your part.

Procedure to follow

Ensure your pistol is unloaded and no ammo is immediately nearby that might get accidentally loaded during testing.

Okay, let’s walk through the steps:

Checking Cartridge Alignment

  1. Lock the slide open
  2. Put a snap cap in the magazine
  3. Insert the magazine into the pistol
  4. From different angles, look at where the catridge is pointing in the chamber. Imagine a line from the center of the bullet going straight forward – where is it hitting? You will want to make small adjustments and test over and over until you get that bullet pointing into the center of the chamber (no, it does not need to be perfect).
The front edge of the feed lips are adjusted such that the cartridge is aiming into the middle of the chamber vertically and horiztontally.

Adjusting The Vertical Angle

On most mags, including our’s, the angle the bullet sits at is adjusted by the gap of the front mag lips. The back can’t really be adjusted because it will buckle or crack. What happens is that by opening the front of the mag lips, the front of cartridge sits higher (meaning it is a steeper angle). Correspondingly, by narrowing the front of the mag lips, the cartridge can’t rise up as far and the bullet sits lower.

The circle representing a cartridgeis the same size in both figures. By making the gap wider on the right, the circle rises up higher before it contacts the black feed lips.

The angle is often the biggest problem. If the bullet isn’t angled enough, it gets stripped from the magazine by the slide and will either slam straight into the feed ramp and stop or it will hit, shoot up at a 45 degree angle jamming the pistol open – this is known as “stovepiping”. In both of these cases, you would want to open the lips up until there is proper feeding.

There is such a thing as the lips being too wide and hitting the top of the chamber or literally falling out. The feed lips need to be narrower than the case diameter of 0.421″ for sure otherwise the case will literally fall right through the lips.

To open the front of the lips, use the chain pliers shown above on the front of the feed lips. It doesn’t take much pressure to open (or close) the feed lips so you will need to get the “feel” for how much to squeeze.

To close the front of the lips, tap the left feed lip in and then the right feed lip in equal amounts using the mallet. If you aren’t careful then you are liable to have the bullet pointing too far left or right even though the gap is the same.

Note, it doesn’t take much force with the mallet to move the lips. If you go crazy and crush the lips such that the gap dips below 0.33″, you may find that the throat of the magazine bent and the follower will not longer be able to pass. You don’t want this to happen so make small adjustments, measure and test over and over.

Adjusting the Horizontal Angle

You have a few ways to adjust the left to right horizontal angle. The first is to tap the lips in the direction you need. You can hit in the outside edge of the lip to close it or the right side to open it. I don’t use this because I find it takes too long.

I like to use parallel plastic jawed pliers that fit right inside the lip and let me easily adjust the angle with a good deal of control.

Here’s another look at the lips without a cartridge present.
Here’s a magazine with a 180 grain FMJ round by S&B loaded.

Summary

Each pistol can vary slightly so each magazine may need different feed lip gaps. Going forward, the feed lip gap on our 10mm and .40 S&W magazines will vary between 0.370 and 0.390″. This gives you a starting point but you may find a bit of final tweaking of the feed lips beneficial.

I hope this helps you out.

Click here to go to our store page with our various RIA pistol magazines loaded.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Use Dupont Ceramic Dry Film Lubricant In Your Steel and Aluminum Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun Magazines To Smooth Their Operation

Firearms box magazines all work the same – a spring is pushing against a follower that is then pushing the ammunition on the direction needed. The follower is often pushing against at least one wall of the box magazine and dragging. This can be especially bad with steel and aluminum magazines making loading the magazines more tedious and even cause problems with feeding. It begs the question – how can I lubricate the inside of the magazine?

The knee jerk reaction is to put oil in the magazine to lubricate things. I’d recommend against this course of action because the oil will trap dirt and eventually can start causing sticking and jamming.

I’d recommend that you use a dry film lubricant aerosol instead. These sprays on and then the liquid evaporates off and what is left in place are thousands of particles that are slippery. I do not recommend any of the dry films that include a wax – like chain lubes. The wax may trap dirt as well over time.

Don’t spray anything in, or on, a plastic magazine without first checking with the manufacturer. Some plastic magazines are self-lubricating and don’t need any additional lubrication. Also, when spraying any solvent (which is basically what the dry film particles are floating in) on plastic, you risk the plastic getting gummy due to a chemical reaction – this depends on what plastic they useed. My recommendation is really for steel and aluminum magazines.

A Quick Side Note About Teflon

Up until a few years ago, I used to like Teflon, which is what Dupont, the owners of the trademark call it. Teflon was discovered by Chemours, which was a spin off from Dupont, in 1938. If you see someone selling “PTFE” – that is the generic name for Teflon. By saying their product contains “PTFE” then they don’t have to pay royalties to Dupont or risk having Dupont sue them.

So, Teflon and PTFE were selling great and then people started worrying about the safety of people eating Teflon, Teflon in the environment and so on. I’m not hear to weigh in on this but whether it was concerns over marketing, lawsuits or just the pandemic, the Dupont Teflon Aerosol Spray went on hiatus for the longest time.

In late 2021, it re-appeared but with a different formulation. The new spray uses a ceramic now and not Teflon. I corresponded with Hank Krause the president and CEO of Finish Line Technologies – the group that actually markets the spray. I was concerned about the change in formulation because the Dupont spray had been excellent before. Want a quick way to test this?First, spray some competing dry films on a black plastic surface and see how some of them actually leave very little residue. Also look at how evenly the distribution is. Not all are the same.

I think this photo says a lot. On the left is the original Dupont spray with Teflon. In the middle is Super Lube’s Dry Film and on the right is CRC’s. This is why I swore by the Dupont dry film for years. The CRC was dry film was going to be my fall back once I ran out of the Dupont Teflon.

Nano-Ceramic Boron

At any rate, Hank told me that they have moved away from Teflon to Nano-ceramic boron nitride particles and I told him my concern that I didn’t know whether to change to a new dry film technology I knew nothing about. Hank told me the new formulation used thier same propretary technology for binding the particles to the surface and the following are benefits of the new ceramic technology over Teflon (I will copy and paste his list verbatim):

  • Helps extend life of the lubricant, thus delivering longer relubrication intervals
  • Provides enhanced lubricity
  • Provides better extreme pressure capabilities
  • Increases the high temperature operating range of the lubricant
  • Provides better resistance against chemicals
  • Helps repel water and moisture more effectively

So, based on Hank’s assurances, I ordered in some cans of the spray and started testing them. The residue looked very similar to the Teflon test above – the ceramic dry film residue is also white.

The black strip is the shiny side of a piece of Kydex. I included the cans in the photo. The Dupont sprays put down the thickest coat. Interestingly enough, the CRC left a very fine film. I couldn’t find the SuperLube product – I may have tossed it – I’m not sure.

In terms of lubricity, it does the job just as well and maybe even better than the Teflon. While this may seem subjective, the lubrication seems very good with one solid spray of the ceramic both in the tube of the magazine and on the follower. Any over spray wipes right off with a rag.

With the ceramic spray, feeding rounds by hand into the magazines and unloading all feel very smooth. Bear in mind that this comment is after hundreds of loaind and unloading cycles by your’s truly.

Our new second generation followers for our RIA 9mm magazines are converted from OEM followers with the final step being fine sanding paper. It’s my speculation that the ceramic particles are getting into the tiny grooves of the follower and providing excellent lubrication.

At any rate, I am very happy with the new Dupont Ceramic Dry Film aerosol for use inside firearm magazines and wanted to pass along the word. Going forward, we are using the Dupont product in all of our steel magazines that do not already have an anti-friction coating (AFC).

By the way, I cleaned out a bunch of IMI Galil magazines that I bought and you could tell there was a bunch of friction going on in the mags between the parkerized tubes and followers – the parts hadn’t worn in yet by any means. With the mags disassembled, I sprayed in a heavy coat of the Dupont Ceramic Dry Film in the tubes and sprayed both the followers and springs, let them dry and re-assembled the mags — wow! What an amazing improvement.

Note, the Amazon listing is a bit confusing. I think to try and get traffic they started selling the ceramic forumla from the same listing they had for the Teflon formula. So, you will see a photo of an aerosol can that says “ceramic” but then in the text of the listing you will see mentions of Teflon – it is the ceramic formula that they are selling now.

I hope this helps you out.

We make a variety of magazines for the 10mm, .40 S&W and 9mm Rock Island Armory (RIA) FS A2 pistols. Click here to see them.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


The Ruger LCP Max – Compact, Reliable, & Chambered In .380 … But That’s Ok

I’ll put it right out there – I am a pistol cartridge snob. My favorite is 10mm Auto and my second is 9mm Luger. I held .380 in about the same regard as .22 LR for self-defense but then I ran into a weight problem. Yeah, I am overweight but I also wasn’t liking the weight and size of my Every Day Carry (EDC) pistol in all situtations – the SIG P365, which I think is an amazing pistol – but I wanted something smaller and lighter.

I looked at derringers and .22 pistols and just none of them really struck me as something I wanted to carry – I normally had Hornady Critical Duty 9mm +P in my P365 but it just weighed too much. Some derringers weigh a ton, some weigh less but you still have just two rounds. I read a stat once that most gun fights conclue in 5 rounds or less … just having two rounds didn’t sound appealing not to mention my big hands trying to hold a way too small pistol. Everything kept pushing me back to the P365 despite its weight. It was reliable and packed a heck of a punch.

Then my friend and FFL dealer, Scott Igert, of Michigan Gun Exchange, recommended I take a look at a Ruger LCP Max. It was light, compact, got great reviews … and was chambered in .380. Uh…. what?

The words “.380” and “amazing stopping power” will never be next to each other in the same sentence – at least not in a serious discussion. Let’s think about this for a minute. Depending on the load, a .22 long rifle cartridge will generate 120-160 foot pounds of energy. A .380 is maybe 190-294 foot pounds. The Critical Duty +P 9mm generates 369 foot pounds and 10mm Underwood 180gr is 676 foot pounds — all at the muzzle.

So, .380 has more energy than a .22 but pales in comparison to modern 9mm and 10mm loads. As I was feeling snobbish, I actually recalled a story the Kyle Lamb told about meeting a guy in a pistol shop and talking about the best pistol. Kyle told the fellow he had a Bersa .380 in his pocket and the other fellow started putting it down. Kyle then asked him where his pistol was and the guy stopped dead in his tracks – it was in his truck. The whole point is that carrying a pistol beats not carrying a pistol.

With that memory it dawned on me that having a .380 with me that was light and small beat not having anything with me due to complaints about weight, size, etc. So, I shut up and had Scott order me one while I started digging into ammo choices.

After doing some reading, I ordered in SIG, Federal, and Buffalo Bore ammo to give it a try. Then whent he pistol arrived, I field stripped, cleaned and lubricated it before heading to the range.

Time for me to do the safety briefing thing. First off, always clean and lubricate a new firearm. They are not good to go right out of the box. Second, not all pistols like all magazines or forms of ammunition. Be sure to thest your pistol with your different magazines and ammo before you rely on them. For most pistols you will find one or more combination that you need to steer clear of. Reliability doesn’t magically happen – you need to help it happen.
The Ruger LCP Max is a little pistol. Note on the lower right side of the photo the relatively big 10mm round on the left next to the small .380 round on the right,
This is my Glock 29 Gen 4 10mm on top and the LCP Max .380 under it for size comparison.

At the range, I put a few hundred rounds of 10mm through the Glock 29 and my RIA 56862 Tac Ultra HC. After shooting them, just picking up the little LCP Max made me realize it was a mouse gun. Then I loaded the little bullets into the little magazines and made little pew pews.

Okay, joking aside, I did not have one failure to feed, fire or eject. The litttle pistol did its job. After shooting the 10mms, the .380 recoil was very light to non-existent. I was shooting plates and bowling pins at about 30 feet. It knocked over the plates but the bowling pins would often just jiggle a bit and not fall over.

Tip: Want to have a fun first range session? Read your instruction manual, clean and lubricate your pistol and then cycle the slide back and forth a few hundred times to help things break in. It may sound goofy but it will make a world of difference for most firearms.
The LCP Max shot every type of ammo I brought with no problems at all.

A Compensating Ammo Load Out

`As I jokingly stated earlier, the .380 round is not a power house and there is not a SAAMI specification for .380 +P. Now maybe you have seen vendors say they load .380 +P but bear in mind it is their own recipe that will generate pressures only they know. How did I find this you? The Ruger LCP Max manual states in big bold letters not to run +P and I couldn’t figure out why so I started digging.

There are only four cartridges where SAAMI created a specifications for the higher pressure +P loads: .38, .38 Super, 9mm Luger and .45 ACP. That’s it. The shooting industry loves marketing and appealing to the guys that want the hot rod ammo so there are groups out there – both who sell ammunition and make firearms – who will stamp +P on everything but the end of the day, outside of the four rounds previously listed, there are no standard +P loads so watch out.

Personally, I will stick with name brand ammo and not push the envelope. Ti m Sundle, who owns Buffalo Bore ammunition, posted the observation that your typical .380 hollow points aren’t going to penetrate very far so consider using hard cast bullets for greater penetration. I always find his write ups about his ammo very interesting and click here for this standard pressure .380 ammo listing and his thoughts. Note, his real word testing with a Colt Mustang with a 2.75″ barrel ought to be close to the LCP Max because the LCP Max has a 2.8″ barrel – close enough to get an idea of the muzzle velocity of 910 FPS and about 193 foot pounds of energy.

Okay, rather than enter the world of ballistics calculators, let me put it this way – the relatively short 2.8″ barrel of the LCP Max will mean most ammo will not generate the velocities and energies they post. For example, Hornady lists a 1,000 feet per second and 200 foot pounds of energy but that is with a 4″ barrel and depending on other factors such as how long the slide will remain closed before beginning its rearword travel and releasing pressure will all affect the velocity and energy you actually realize.

If a person enters into a self-defense situtation with a .380, I doubt one round will end the fight – maybe it will but probably not. This is where the doctrine of shooting until the threat is ended enters in. I also run an alternating loadout in my mag. The first round is a good hollow point (such as Hornady’s Critical Defense or Sig’s VCrown) followed by a Buffalo Bore hard cast load, which is then followed by another hollow point, another hard cast and so forth.

Consider loading your mags alternating with hollow points and hard cast bullets. That is a Critical Duty load that will go in first and the a Buffalo Bore hard cast solid underneath it for penetration.

Carrying The Pistol

In terms of the ability to carry the LCP Max in a concealed manner, this is where the LCP Max shines. It is less than an inch thick (0.81″ actually), has a an overall length of just 5.17″ and weighs 10.6 ounces empty.

You can carry it in your pocket – mine came with a pocket holster – or wear and inside or outside the waist band holser. Because it is small you have a ton of options not to mention it doesn’t feel like you are carrying a boat anchor.

Hickok45’s Video Review

In this day and age, I realize a lot of folks like watching videos. I’m a writer and not really not into making videos but I do watch them when I am researching firearms. Here’s a good one from Hickok45 (his videos are always worth watching on YouTube – I subscribe to his channel):

Summary

There is no magical pistol or round that is perfect for every situation is what you should always bear in mind. You need to think and the pros and cons and select accordingly. The LCP Max is a reliable pistol and can serve defensively in urban situations where weight and/or size concerns limit what a person can carry. My preference is still the Sig P365 for normal self-defense duties and I do carry a Glock 29 10mm when traily hiking these days but the LCP Max has filled a niche for me when I need something small and light.

I hope this post helps you out!


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Customizing My Glock 29

The Glock 29 Gen 4 offers a solid platform out of the box and for many, that is all they want. For me, after building a few Polymer80s and having a better idea of what I liked, I knew I wanted to upgrade some of the parts to personalize it plus run heavier loads.

Wait – Not The Trigger You Ask?

You may look at that list and be surprised that I left the trigger alone – yes, I did. I’ve used Zev, Overwatch and other aftermarket triggers along with other aftermarket parts like connectors, springs, etc. My personal choice, and this is just me, was to go with the tried and proven OEM Glock parts and let them wear in. I’m not shooting matches or precision targets – this was to be a defensive pistol so I wanted reliability and a trigger with enough pull that I wouldn’t have an accidental discharge. There are guys that will agree with me and ones that will strongly disagree – the trigger decision is totally up to you. Mine was to go with the original Glock trigger parts.

New Sights

The original Glock sights are better than nothing but I really do not care for them. Others must feel the same way because there are a ton of aftermarket sight vendors. By the way, go for a brand name – some are just total junk and not sufficiently rugged.

I’ve had very good luck with TruGlo and Trijicon and I tend to favor the latter more. Trijicon sights are very well designed, make aiming super easy and are incredibly rugged. I opted for the Trijicon HD Night Sights (GL1040) for large frame night sights that have an orange ball in the front and tritium illumination. I intentionally wanted a low-light sight but not to add an optic.

I used a Wheeler Sight Tool for pistol sights and really like it. Installing and removing Glock sights is a breeze with this tool. You can’t see it from this angle but I do have blue painter’s tape on the slide to protect the finish just in case.
My current tool for removing and installing Glock sights is this 2-in-1 Real Avid tool that has a pin pusher on one end and a pin pusher on the other. What makes a good tool? The little bolt you see requires a 3/16″ thin wall socket. Having a rare earth magnet at the right depth makes all the difference in the world to properly hold the bolt while you are trying to get it threaded into the sight. Cheap tools do not have the socket properly formed, don’t have a magnet, etc. The Real Avid tool gets it right. Cheap imports are just that – I’ve seen them useless right out of the box.
Done. It took me maybe 10-15 minutes including taking these photos. The right tools make it very easy.
The dots glow green in low light due to tritium inserts.

Changing The Controls

That is a Rival Arms Extended Slide Lock. An OEM Glock Slide Stop Lever and a Tango Down Vickers Tactical Magazine Catch.

I like to replace the slide lock, slide release and mag catch normally. The slide stop is actually a big problem for me as I have a hard time grabbing, even feeling, the two sides to pull it down to remove the slide. This really drives me nuts and is one thing I always replace. I installed a Rival Arms extended slide release that sticks out just enough for me to get a much better grip on it. I wish I could find the packaged but I installed a no-name unit online and it had problems from the start – the Rival Arms unit is what I went to next and am still using. Point of the story – beware of cheap parts and test your stuff.

For the Slide Stop Lever, I actually am still using the Glock unit. Normally I would replace it but had a hard time finding one that would fit a Glock Gen 4 model 29. I can use the Glock lever, it’s just not my first choice.

For the Magazine Catch, I went with a Tango Down Vickers Tactical model. I’ve used these a number of time of times now because I like how it sticks out just a bit more than the original but not too much. I’ve tried ones that stick out so far that if you even lay the pistol on its side, the catch is depressed enough to release the magazine and then the next round fails to feed because the mag isn’t properly seated.

The Vickers Tactical Magazine Catches are really my preferred unit these days for Glocks and Polymer80s.

Recoil Spring Upgrade

The stock Glock 29 spring is rated for 17 pounds as I understand it. To better run the hotter loads from Buffalo Bore and Underwood, I wanted to put in a stiffer spring but I wasn’t exactly sure what to go with. This helps with obtaining both higher and more consistent velocities with these loads. Yes, the OEM recoil spring will still work – this is an improvement is all. However, if you run too stiff of a spring, your pistol may not cycle reliably with other loads you want to run.

Wolff Gun Springs makes this decision super easy for you. They sell what they call a “Recoil Calibration Pak” with springs at 17, 19 and 21 pounds. They have a variety of these assortments for different Glock models as well.

To install the spring, you need to get a two piece guide rod assembly and Wolff sells them as well. The native Glock springs are in a captured assembly that really isn’t designed to come apart. The Wolff guide rods make it super easy for you to try different springs and do not affect accuracy or reliability in terms of the rods themselves.

That is the Wolff two piece guide rod and springs. It’s worked great so far.

I installed a 19 pound spring and found it functioned just fine with all of my Buffalo Bore, Ammo Inc, S&B, and Underwood loads. That’s what I am running at this point and haven’t had any reliability issues so far.

In Conclusion

The pistol is configured the way I want it and as reliable as ever. The end of the day, what you do is your choice but just be sure to test your combinations (the new parts, magazine and ammo) before you rely on them.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

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