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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Assessment: Slide not locking back after the last round is fired.

Mudbug is having issues with his pistol that he cannot resolve. We have gone back and forth on e-mail with still no positive results other than reducing the occurrence somewhat. I will start by saying that every P22 I've ever had reliably caught the slide after the last round was fired. What is supposed to happen is simple but what steps should you take in resolving an issue like this and specifically this issue. Step one is to understand how the system works.

A fired round creates blowback pressure from expanding gasses forcing the lead out of the barrel. This happens quickly, quicker than the mass of the slide can even begin to move. The round is long gone before the slide ever moves. This is because the mass of the slide is much greater than that of the round. So the round has left the pistol, the remainder of most of the gas blows out the end of the muzzle and off the rear end of the projectile. But, energy has been imparted into the breech face by this blowback gas acting against the rear of the cartridge case….and this energy, although very slightly delayed, should be enough to force the slide all the way rearward until the muzzle cup stops it by hitting the front of the take down lever. The slide then begins to rebound forward under pressure from the compressed recoil spring but if properly functioning....the follower button on the magazine has pressed against the lower leg of the slide catch arm forcing it up against the bottom of the left side of the slide where it waits, pressed against the slide, and in position to catch the forward moving slide stopping its movement. This happens very quickly. Two critical things must happen....first the slide must be moved rearward enough to allow the catch notch to pass the waiting catch arm and the arm must move up fast enough to quickly catch the forward moving slide. The slide will then remain open until the magazine is removed or reloaded and then the stop arm physically pressed down or allowed to drop by manually retracting the slide. This is similar to how just about all semi auto pistols work although the details of how this is accomplished can be different.

When the slide moves rearward the blowback energy has to strong enough to do several things; move the slide all the way rearward, compress the recoil spring, overcome friction along the way and cock the hammer and cause the spent case to fly rearward out of the chamber and with enough energy and velocity to hit the ejector which caused the case to bounce out of the pistol through the ejection port. The part that is causing all of this movement is the expanded gas acting on the spent case, blowing it out the rear of the chamber and in the process accomplishing all of the above actions. Since .22 ammo is relatively weak nothing can be allowed to interfere with this process. Dirty pistol, dirty chamber, weak ammo without adequate blowback energy, something dragging on the slide like your hand and ammo that isn't to spec., limp wristing.. etc.

So you are having this problem and you know how the system is supposed to work, what next?

Clean and properly lube the pistol and magazine including the inside of the mag.

Remove all aftermarket products that might have been installed. Reinstall the correct factory parts.

Retract the slide with an empty magazine fully inserted and locked in. Does the slide catch work 100%...if not, you need to figure out why. If all is well so far...

Insert one round into the magazine and chamber it. Make sure you are using high velocity ammo like CCI Mini Mags or Remington Golden bullets. No target ammo, no Winchester, no Federal....no quiet, subsonic low velocity ammo.

Make sure there are no shooter problems....firm grip required...not a death grip, but firm, thumb/hand away from the stop arm and in a position where the mild recoil will not cause the hand to move. Test fire. You only need one round for each test. Still having problems

Inspect for any damage anywhere, slide catch arm, slide catch for rounding, movement of the stop arm by inserting an empty magazine and manually retracting the slide to see if the catch arm is working as it should. If not, you have to determine why. There is a tiny spring under the left side of the grip tasked with keeping the arm down and away from the slide. The much more powerful magazine spring forcing the follower and follower button up is what engages the stop arm when the magazine is empty. This easily overrides the strength of the smaller hold down spring. Is the mag clean, does the follower move all the way to the top, does the stop arm move freely up and down. Does inserting a magazine press the catch arm up every time? It must.

Is the slide catch still not catching the slide?

Inspect the spent cases. Is there evidence of any unordinary scratches along the sides. If so go back over that chamber and properly clean it and inspect for any rough spots. Lead is hard to get out and polished up just like steel. Do the spent cases easily go back into the chamber by hand, pull out easily. They should.

By now we have tested and inspected the common issues:

Weak ammo causing a short stroke
Limp wristing
Dirty, improperly lubed pistol
Damage to anything...recoil spring, guide rod, slide catch arm, slide catch notch, chamber, proper ammo etc.

So, how can I test to see if the slide is moving all the way rearward...short of a very expensive high speed camera. A simple test is to remove the slide, chalk up the inner edge of the muzzle cup. Blow off any excess dust. Carefully remount the slide. Test fire the pistol, one shot. Dismount the slide and inspect the muzzle cup and face of the take down lever. If the slide was fully blown rearward chalk will be left on the face of the take down stop. See photos.

If this is successful with several tests of various ammo then weak ammo isn't the problem nor is limp wristing....something is wrong with the catch arm/magazine follower being too slow or not being able to move fast enough.



Above is a picture of a stock QD model with the slide retracted until the muzzle cup hits the take down lever. The slide catch notch should move appx. 1/8" past the rear edge of the catch arm. I normally have an O ring over the guide rod which reduces this over travel but still have reliable function here.



Pictured above is how my arm caught the slide after firing one round. In the picture it is a bit hard to see due to light and I Phone use but the rear face of the stop arm is fully caught against the hardened pin. The pin is to stop rounding of the zinc here that would occur rapidly if allowed to drag against the steel catch arm.



What the catch arm looks like when the follower button on the magazine is not pressing it upward.



What the catch arm should look like when an empty magazine is inserted and the follower button is pressing up on the lower leg of the catch arm. This only occurs when the magazine is empty....so, when that last round is removed from the chamber, the catch arm is pressed up against the bottom of the slide and should pop up into the catch slot the moment the slide is retracted enough for it to do so. Either manually or when firing.



To test if the slide is moving fully rearward until hitting the polymer stop ( face of the take down lever) I put some white chalk on the lower portion of the muzzle cup....this is the part that hits the stop. I blew off excess powder, carefully remounted the slide and test fired one round. The slide locked back.



I can see that chalk was removed from the muzzle cup.



Looking at the front of the take down lever I can see where chalk was deposited indicating that the slide solidly impacted the stop. This means the slide is being blown back as far as possible which should allow the slide catch to function properly.



The notch in the slide cannot be rounded off or the arm might not catch it. Make sure the pin is installed and not damaged. Also make sure the rear face of the catch arm where it engages the notch is not damaged, worn, cracked, etc.

If all of the above checks out I would inspect the mag well, watch manual movement of the catch arm by an empty magazine being inserted, physically feel how smoothly the arm moves up and down. If all is smoothly moving without any catches I might expect that the magazine spring/follower simply isn't moving the arm up fast enough. Try other mags, try stretching one of the mag springs just a bit. If that doesn't resolve it....call Ft Smith and tell them you have thoroughly tried to solve this and don't take no for an answer. If these steps don't resolve it I would be very interested in what else could be causing the problem. Anything I've left out??? 1917
 

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Hi 1917!
Thanks for putting this tutorial together.

Yesterday I had time to remove both the off-brand ejector and the captured spring assembly that I put on it a while back. Now the gun is back to origional equipment.

I gave the gun a really good cleaning...or at least all the cleaning that could be done from a standard field stripping.

I shoot only CCI Mini-mag hollowpoints.

I will start by saying that I took the P22 to the range for a short trial today and it still locks back on the first couple of magazines, then begins to fail to lock back on the final round once it warms up. If I just load one round, then try it, it will cycle reliably through 6 or 7 mags before it begins to fail. The other day I noticed that if I shoot a full 10 round clip, the first mag will be okay, but the second one will fail to lock back. So warming up helps it fail.

I have not completely read through this entire instructional here, so give me time to do that, then I will comment further.

I don't have any chalk, so will have to wait to get some at Wally World later.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Lipstick will work just as well as chalk, blue powder from a chalk line will work but chalk is the least messy and easiest to clean between shots. ...all we are trying to do here is determine if the ammo is blowing the slide back far enough for the muzzle cup to reliably hit the takedown lever. Hot or cold. You must clean the chalk off after each test and reapply. If the muzzle cup is hitting the take down lever face with each shot.....that rules out over half of the potential problems areas.

I can see no reason why the slide would fail to lock back simply because the pistol is warmed up from firing. Check your barrel nut to make sure it is tight. I assume your frame half screws are tight. I will have to put up a picture of what the two parts should look like when properly tightened. These little screws have been known to work loose...especially the front on. You have to remove the polymer grip to access them. That involves removing two roll pins. the grip can be removed with the slide on the pistol but you must make sure you don't lose the tiny spring tasked with holding the slide stop arm down and away from the slide until the follower button overrides it and presses the catch arm up.

Let's concentrate on one thing at a time. Use the chalk on the muzzle cup, fire one round holding the pistol firmly. Remove the slide and look at the face of the take down lever. You will need to press the lever back up to see the face. No chalk on it tells us one thing. Chalk on the face tells us the slide is being fully blown back. Repeat 10 times keeping record of what you see. If every time the muzzle cup deposits new chalk on the slide stop....then you don't have an ammo problem, a recoil spring problem, a limp wristing problem or any undue friction problem along the movement of the slide. Be consistent, take your time....obviously your pistol, ammo, grip, mags....something...is not right. We need to take it one step at a time to resolve it. If you have any questions...ask em. Other folks will benefit from what we learn. 1917
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Mudbug, just to be clear....you are not having issues with the slide prematurely locking back with rounds in the mag. It is simply that the slide does not reliably lock back, last round chambered and fired, magazine empty. Shall I send you a mag that I know works properly? The chalk test will tell us if the pistol is short stroking. If the magazine follower button can't position the stop arm fast enough it is possible the slide is rebounding too fast for the arm to catch it.....but, I'm doubtful of that unless your mag spring has really weakened. With an empty magazine and one in the chamber....the stop button should already have the catch arm pressed up against the bottom of the slide where it just waits for the opportunity to pop up a short distance into the slide catch notch. When you cycle your slide back and forth, no magazine inserted.....does anything cause movement to the catch arm. It shouldn't move. 1917
 

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1917, I've read through your write up four or five times, and the best that I can say is that I come away with a headache each time. I am simply not advanced enough to follow your instructions. I don't know gun part names and don't understand what their function is most of the time. So I often read a sentence or paragraph, then reread it over and over to try to sort out the meaning sometimes.

To illustrate, I had to look up 'Limp-wristing' to be sure that I understood what it was. I was pretty much right...just not having a firm grip on the handgun when it is fired. But I did not know or understand how that could affect so many actions of the gun.

Tomorrow I will travel to Walmart and pick up a small box of chalk to do that test. At least I can give you that much information. I do have a bottle of Pop-Line chalk, but you write that using regular chalk will give better results. I can understand that pop-line chalk is very powdery and possibly won't adhere to the muzzle cup as well as the thicker chalkboard chalk. I ain't putting no lipstick on my gun!!! (Call me a Liberal and paint my gun Pink!!!)

I'm going to email you and discuss this further.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Well, I only put that in there to make sure you didn't carry lipstick.. :p

This is a really simple test. Take the slide off, wipe any oil off the bottom of the muzzle cup where the front of the recoil spring rests. See previous picture. Press the take down lever back up and clean off the face of it. A Q Tip will work fine if you can't get a rag in there. Now rub some chalk on the lower portion of the muzzle cup. That is the part of the slide that hits the face of the take down lever when firing. It physically stops rearward movement of the slide. This is why you have to pull it down in order to dismount the slide. Fire one round. Remove the mag, remove the slide and check to see if the chalk on the nose of the slide was forced onto the takedown lever face. If it does....then limp wristing, weak ammo, etc. are all ruled out as problems.

When you load a round....do not pull the slide back hard against the stop or that will deposit chalk onto the face of the takedown lever and ruin your test. Yepper, wish I had your pistol in hand.....we'd have it sorted shortly. 1917



Some times folks get too close to the object they are discussing with their photograph. I've had to look a pictures before to try to figure out exactly what on the pistol did the photograph show. Oooops. This is the front nose of the slide. Wha we are interest in is some white or yellow chalk being rubbed onto the bottom half of the cup as shown. Where the chalk is located is the portion of the slide that hits the takedown lever and stops the slide at its rearmost position. So, if the slide is being blown all the way rearward as it should be....this white powder is going to show up on the face of the take down lever.



After removing the slide you need to press the take down lever back up so you can see the face of it to clean it, perform the test and then inspect it for chalk deposit. If the muzzle cup slams into the front of the take down lever when firing....then that is good. You can see bits of chalk deposited on the front of the take down lever in this picture. I fired the pistol one time with a Rem Golden Bullet and this tells me the slide went as far rearward as possible and the catch arm did hold the slide in the rearward position.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, we think we got to the bottom of the issue. Mudbug thinks he bought a new pistol. I think he was sold a used pistol that someone had been working on and I don't think his pistol has been working correctly from day one. All the tests for manually retracting the slide and having the stop arm catch work 100%. What isn't working is the slide locking back when firing all the time and especially on the last round.

When he fires most of the time the hammer locks back, sometimes it follows the slide and in the process keeps the slide stop arm from catching. A picture of his hammer seems to show that someone has removed material from the face....too much material and while slow, manual cycling of the slide will not cause the hammer to be caught....firing will. How could that be.....momentum...when firing the slide smacks the hammer back hard enough to most of the time the momentum apparently carries the hammer back just enough for the sear to engage the primary hook on the hammer. When casually firing you might not notice that the hammer isn't being fully cocked as the hammer will drop to half cock and will then fire in DA....if you weren't paying attention...you might not notice this was happening.

Ft Smith is going to fix him up....new slide, new hammer....hoping this resolves the issue and no, Mudbug says he never touched the hammer face. I also noticed a lot of wear to the small bump that jiggles the firing pin block in the pictures sent.....much more wear than 35,000 rounds causes. Mudbug believe he has fired no more than 5,000 rounds. If so, someone had fired this pistol a lot, monkeyed around with it, traded it back in and Mudbug was sold what he thought was a new pistol. That is as close to what I can figure.....but Ft Smith is coming through for him as they should. Hope that ends the issues....we will know when Mudbug gets the pistol back and can resume firing. His targets show him to be a good shot. 1917
 

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Yeah, it's been quite an adventure for the past week. At first Walther wanted to deny that the repair should be covered by warranty, but as more and more evidence started showing up in the gun, they agreed to go ahead and make the gun good.

As 1911 said, we really believe that the gun was sold to me 'used' right out of the new box about 18 months ago. This gun has never been dependable. Anyone frequenting this forum can probably remember how often I complained about different issues that came up with it.

It's going to be fun to have it behaving itself for a change.
 
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