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Old 12-10-2009, 08:40 PM   #1
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P5, P4 and P38 recoil spring specs

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The dual recoil springs are the same for these three. (I am not sure about the P5 Compact).

To determine if they need replacement:

Dismount the slide and push each recoil spring guide in turn all the way rearward. Feel for steady smooth movement. The recoil spring should NOT go “solid” before the recoil spring guide contacts the rear of the frame. When fully compressed by the recoil spring guide, the recoil spring should still have a little room left between the rear coils to compress; test it by prying with your fingernail. If it doesn’t, the spring is too long; also, going completely “solid” with every cycle will cause premature spring failure.

Original factory springs vary considerably, but all use 0.6mm wire, coil diameter of 5.3mm, 41-1/2 to 43-1/2 coils with closed and ground ends. A new spring will measure about 123mm at rest; after a little use it will take a set to about 115-117mm. If it’s kinked or appreciably shorter than that, replace it. An excessively long, or excessively strong spring (thicker wire or more coils) can disrupt the designed-in "timing" of the mechanism: it may prevent full slide travel and/or shorten the cycling time, which may not get the slide back far enough to securely pick up the next round. It may also cause the slide to rebound too quickly and try to strip out the round before the magazine spring has lifted the cartridge high enough to be correctly fed.

On the other hand, it is implicit in this discourse that if your springs meet the above physical and functional description, they don't need to be replaced just because internet wisdom dictates so. They will work just fine; leave them alone. Try not to molest them unnecesssarily. It's silly to replace them before they NEED replacement. You will make Wolff's unhappy but your Walther won't know the difference.

A CAUTIONARY WORD: Great care MUST be exercised in checking or changing a recoil spring: the spring guide and spring, when compressed, must not be allowed to snap forward freely, as that WILL damage the frame by chipping or swaging out the guide retaining notch (thus allowing the spring and guide to fly out whenever the pistol is field-stripped). EASE the guide forward into its notch. Also take care not to nick or scratch the recoil springs with a tool, as scoring will lead to premature failure of the spring. A bamboo skewer sharpened to a chisel edge works well, and won’t leave marks on the spring or the frame.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:22 PM   #2
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Nice post, Mike. Thanks. This looks like Sticky material.
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Old 12-12-2009, 08:56 AM   #3
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Might as well put it all on one thread:

To change the springs without doing damage: use a bamboo skewer sharpened to a chisel point as a tool to avoid marring the frame or scratching the spring. If you are dextrous enough to be able to hold down the gun while working with both hands, the job can be done on a workbench; otherwise remove the grips and clamp the frame in a padded vise; the job will be much easier. Insert the skewer between the spring coils behind the spring guide and compress the rear portion of the spring while holding the spring guide forward. Once the spring is pulled rearward clear of the spring guide, it creates enough clearance in the frame for the guide to be easily plucked out of the spring channel. Gently release the spring compression and remove the spring from the front. The new spring is inserted in the channel and held back in a compressed position with the skewer. The spring guide is dropped in so that its rim engages the frame seat. Then the spring is gently released to surround the rear part of the spring guide. Then do the same on the other side.

DO NOT attempt to force the spring and the guide as an assembly either into or out of the frame channel. There isn't enough clearance, and you'll damage the frame.

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Old 06-24-2010, 11:42 PM   #4
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Mike, thanks - that is great information. In fact, if you're ever so inclined, when you have to change the springs on your P5, would you mind doing a brief documentary video on it and posting it on YouTube? Conceptually, I understand what you're saying when you describe the specific steps in the process, but I sure would like to see it done by someone who really knows what they're doing.

I've now heard from more than one source about the dangers of damaging the guide retaining notches when changing/removing the recoil springs. Maybe I'm being too critical, but this seems like a chink in the armor of what is otherwise a brilliant design. Is this danger something we should worry about, or take extra gentle care to prevent, when simply field stripping and vigorously cleaning the frame? Are the springs likely to be dislodged by say, a toothbrush or other appropriate cleaning tools? After all, it is a combat handgun, and I want to treat it as such. But I certainly don't want to damage it.
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