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Old 12-10-2018, 04:38 PM   #1
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Recoil spring selection for Interarms .380 ppk/s?

Greetings all,

Question for the experts here . . .

When cycling, the slide on my .380 often fails to return to full battery (i.e., it won't return all the way forward by as much as 1/2"-3/4". From what I've read here and elsewhere, this issue could potentially result from multiple sources including:

1) Ammo choice (bullet type, weight and/or muzzle energy)
2) Weak (limp-waisted) firing technique
3) Improper recoil spring tension (20 lb. factory vs. 17 lb. reduced power, etc.)

However, the issue seems to happen regardless of bullet weight and/or type, or muzzle energy, and it still seems to occur when I'm concentrating on shooting technique or even when others are firing it.

So . . .

Could this be as simple as too weak or too strong of a recoil spring? And if so, what spring tension do you think I should replace the original spring with (17 lb. or 20 lb.)? Also, why is a typical (factory) 20 lb. recoil spring shorter in length than a 20 lb. spring? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Basically, I just need someone to help educate me on this subject, so that I can head back to the range prepared with the right springs(s) and other materials.

Thanks!

EDIT: By the way, I phoned Wolff Springs directly, and they indicated that they avoid the practice of making recommendations or suggestions on specific spring tension or spring selection.
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Last edited by RIngo; 12-10-2018 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 12-10-2018, 07:53 PM   #2
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halfmoonclip .22
Ringo, remove the recoil spring entirely, and cycle the slide on the frame. Any rough spots? (You did have the small end of the recoil spring over the barrel, yes?).
The chamber; with the slide removed, 'plonk' rounds into the chamber. Do they drop in cleanly? Will they fall back out the same way? No? Clean the chamber. Thoroughly.

What ammo have you been using? PPKs aren't crazy about hollow points.
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Old 12-13-2018, 11:40 AM   #3
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Moon,

Thanks for tips. I'll give all of these a try this coming weekend and get back to you on this, and yes, I've made sure that the small end of the spring has been slid over the barrel, with the larger end facing the muzzle per the manual.

As for the ammo that I've been using, I've been experimenting with a wide variety, and like I said, the issue seems to happen with most types and brands, but I've been trying to stop that practice recently and focus on just one brand, one type, which has been the Winchester Super-X, 85-grain, JHP, Silver-tips.

Thanks again for your suggestions and I'll let you know on the other aspects of your suggestions by early next week.
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Old 12-13-2018, 02:50 PM   #4
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The consensus here is that recoil springs aren't the usual culprits in malfs, and changing their value rarely solves the problem.
I saw your other post about .32 recoil springs as well. What was the issue there?
Headed out the door just now, but I'll put a vernier on a .32 and .380 Interarms recoil spring.
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Old 12-13-2018, 03:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halfmoonclip View Post
The consensus here is that recoil springs aren't the usual culprits in malfs, and changing their value rarely solves the problem.
I saw your other post about .32 recoil springs as well. What was the issue there?
Headed out the door just now, but I'll put a vernier on a .32 and .380 Interarms recoil spring.
Moon
Thanks Moon! And to be clear, no issue(s) with the .32 whatsoever. In fact, it operates flawlessly, and I have no intention of changing anything on it, including recoil spring. I was just curious about whether it might differ on the .32 ACP relative to the .380, and if so, in what direction (lighter or heavier)?

Reason being, I'm still trying to figure out the basic dynamics of these silly things by design, like why a 17 lb. spring is 20-25% longer than a 20 lb.? And should a guy look to use a 'lighter' spring on larger calibers? Or a 'heavier' spring, etc.? Curious minds just wanna know.
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Old 12-13-2018, 07:12 PM   #6
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There was information posted about a book that explained pistol dynamics and design a little while ago in this sub. In short, there are complex timing equations that need to be worked out on all of the springs and and the action from beginning to end. Everything needs to be finely timed. Modification of the timing of even one spring by being too heavy or too light
(either through wear or self modification) can and often does alter the timing of the entire action causing the various problems that people post questions for daily.
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:16 PM   #7
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A particular issue with the PPK in .380 is slide velocity; the gun was designed as a .32 and stretched to the larger caliber. As a result, the slide is moving very fast, and the cartridge stack only has milliseconds to rise in the magazine and present the top round to the moving silde.
As 'Watcher correctly observed, change anything in the equation, especially when the .380 is a near-run thing anyhow, and you're apt to have problems. Add to that the gun wasn't designed for hollow points...
I don't have an accurate scale that can weigh the slides, but there is no noticeable extra metal in the .380 slide; it is noticeably harder to rack.
As regards spring length, there are other variables...were both those springs brand new?
The recoil spring on my PPK .32 is 0.050", and the .380 is 0.054"; full disclosure, I'm no great shakes at fine measurement.

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Old 12-13-2018, 10:38 PM   #8
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The PPKs,and PPK/S doesn't feed hollow points well,because there is a step on the feed ramp.
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWatcher View Post
There was information posted about a book that explained pistol dynamics and design a little while ago in this sub. In short, there are complex timing equations that need to be worked out on all of the springs and and the action from beginning to end. Everything needs to be finely timed. Modification of the timing of even one spring by being too heavy or too light
(either through wear or self modification) can and often does alter the timing of the entire action causing the various problems that people post questions for daily.
Yup! Thank you, Watcher. I have no doubt that its all a rather complicated matter, and I'm not here to try and dissect that complexity. I haven't made this particularly clear here previously, but my interest in recoil springs and their respective functions in both of my ppk/s models (.380 and .32), was sparked by an almost accidental discovery with my .380.

As mentioned earlier, my .380 has been malfunctioning at certain times with certain loads, and when I inspected the recoil spring for the first time, I discovered that it had been cut (shortened) by a previous owner, by about a full inch in length. In fact, it looked as though someone had simply taken some wire cutters and cleaved off some of the muzzle end of the spring. Naturally, this led me to wonder whether this could have been the source of its malfunctioning?

So, I purchased a whole set of replacement springs for it, directly from Wolff Springs, all of various spring tension (14,15,16,17,20 lb., etc.), to allow me to make some visual comparisons of overall length, and to enable me to test different tensions directly, to see if the recoil spring could in-fact have been the culprit. That's what started it all for me, and I've yet to have time to get to the range and try them out, but I soon will.

Hopefully, this will help clarify the general reason for my 'recoil spring' inquiry, and thanks again for your response.
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halfmoonclip View Post
. . . As regards spring length, there are other variables...were both those springs brand new?

The recoil spring on my PPK .32 is 0.050", and the .380 is 0.054"; full disclosure, I'm no great shakes at fine measurement.

Moon
Thanks Moon.

Please see my earlier post to Watcher for a bit better explanation of things and why I've been curious about recoil springs at all, but to answer your question . . . no, both firearms (.380 and .32) were purchased used and the recoil springs in each are/were NOT new.

Also, what you've said here about the .380 slide and the .380 itself being somewhat of an after-thought of the .32 makes perfect sense. One way or another, I'll eventually solve this issue with it, and as you and 'SlowerNow' have both said, that resolution may very well be as simple as the elimination of hollow point ammo.
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