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Discussion Starter #1
A colleague handed off a wartime P38 with its slide stuck. He asked me to fix it; I told him there was a great resource here

The slide can be withdrawn perhaps 3/16'', where it encounters serious, metallic sounding resistance. The hammer will cycle and the decocker works.
The slide and barrel appear to be firmly joined.
Any ideas on the potential problem?
Thanks,
Moon
 

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I'm sure you checked to make sure there isn't a live round down the chamber (thin pencil should go all the way the length of the barrel).
I suspect that the locking block is broken. Can you see if the locking block ears under the barrel are there (may be seen, but very tight viewing)? Can the takedown lever be moved forward so as to let the slide and barrel forward at all? May not be able to tell until after the slide is removed, unfortunately.


'Tapping' on the barrel while the slide is safely vised may loosen the mating.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
mat', thanks, you are suggesting securing the slide while tapping on the barrel?
Moon
 

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Discussion Starter #4
One, perhaps critical correction; the decocker does not work, but the trigger does.
Moon
 

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I do suggest securing the slide, but only tapping the barrel rearward (with intermediate wood block on muzzle) so as to break the wedging of parts. May do no good either though.


Can you remove the grips and see if the decocker hammer release is properly set? May have a role in it too.
 

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It would help if he described to you the circumstances of how it arrived at being locked up.

Could be nothing more than a jammed decocking lever. Worst case, broken locking block.

Strongly recommend more investigation and observation before pounding on it.

M
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Strongly recommend more investigation and observation before pounding on it.

M

Fair enough. What in particular should I examine? Is matthane correct that something in the decocker might be a place to start?

Concur on wondering how it came to be so; my colleague isn't gun-savvy (he thought this pistol was either a Luger or a Ruger....:eek:), and he didn't know, or wasn't 'fessing up about how the problem arose.
Thnx,
Moon
 

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If he was shooting it at the time, it's likely a broken locking block or something similar.

If he was trying to take it apart at the time, it's likely a jammed internal decocking lever.

I'd hand the gun back to him and tell him that unless he can refresh his memory, he should take it to a gunsmith who will fix it for a charge but won't ask him any embarrassing questions.

M

P.S. Both types of jams mentioned above often can be cleared without disassembling the gun if proper technique is employed. (Of course, if the locking block is broken it will have to be replaced, and that's a different kettle of fish for the uninitiated.)

P.P.S. Remember that no good deed goes unpunished; if you pound on it trying to free it, and damage it or discover a broken part inside, guess who'll be blamed?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Points all taken, but it is less than clear when it happened, or if he knows.
Let's try to address fixing it (I'm not making any money on this, it's a simple, maybe, favor. But then, I just spent all day fixing my sainted 94 year old mum's adjustable bed, it should have been a 5 minute job.)
So we're back to the decocking lever; what's the best approach to diagnosing it.
Full disclosure; I've had PP series down to about bare frame, but never had a P38 past field strip.
Thnx,
Moon
 

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... but never had a P38 past field strip.
Then do him AND yourself a favor and send him to a gunsmith.

M

P.S. However, if you are a glutton for punishment, begin here:


You've said the slide and barrel are firmly joined, so I'm assuming you can't retract the barrel/slide assembly far enough to unlock them.

Make sure everything is "at rest", i.e., hammer uncocked, safety off, trigger forward, takedown lever locked, slide and barrel assembly in FULL battery on the frame. The last is important: check the front and rear sides of the slide and frame to see if are in alignment, more or less flush with each other (though on late wartime P38s, especially Spreewerk, the slide might sit abnormally forward on the frame).

Now cock the hammer and see if the decocker will release it. If it does not, the decocker is the problem. It could be a broken safety or something jamming the slide at the rear, in the vicinity of the fire control group. Pull the trigger to release the hammer and return everything to "rest".

You're not going to be able to fix it unless (a) you can get the slide off, OR (b), shake loose and remove whatever is broken. Remove the grips and use a strong LED light to try to find the problem. It is possible to dismantle the slide without removing it if you can get the top cover off without damage, which will free the rear sight and provide access to remove the signal and firing pins, and then the safety.

On the other hand, if the decocker works, the problem is more likely a broken locking block. You won't be able to fix that either unless you can field-strip the pistol.

Retract the slide as far as it will go. If you can rotate the takedown latch down to the dismount position, do so. On a wartime gun, the slide has to be retracted back far enough for its front edge to clear the latch (postwar guns have a notch machined in the underside of the slide to allow latch rotation earlier).

Let's assume the slide won't retract that far.

See if the slide can be retracted far enough back to unlock from the barrel. As a guide, observe the extractor hook's position in the barrel notch. If there's little or no movement between them, it's not unlocking.

The most likely reason is that the locking block is fractured and a broken-off fragment probably has fallen into the frame cavity in such a way that obstructs the main part of the locking block from pivoting downward to unlock.

Hold the pistol upside down and jiggle the slide rapidly back and forth on the frame to try to dislodge the fragment and make it fall back into place, or into any space where it will allow the locking block to move. If this doesn't work, try rapping the sides of the slide gently with a plastic mallet to try to make the fragment "dance", all the while scissoring the slide to try to get past the point where it now stops. Work by "feel" --not by force.

You'll be fighting the recoil springs in this process, so if slide suddenly unlocks from the barrel, don't let it close again. Keep the pistol inverted; pull the slide all the way to the rear and lock it open. Then you can rotate the takedown latch, dismount the slide, and remove the barrel and locking block.

M
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks, Mike, and appreciate the in-depth analysis. I was judging a forensics meet, or could have told you sooner what the owner said.
The jam occurred while he was attempting to field-strip the gun.
I'll have a look with the grips off (already removed them); refresh my memory on removing the top cover?
Moon
 

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Removing the top cover is not so simple when the barrel is locked to the slide. There may be room to get a dental pick or jeweler's screwdriver under the front lip of the cover to lift it up and pry it forward until it pops out, which will release the rear sight. Take care not to scratch the barrel or the slide doing it.

It's a toss-up whether you try to free up the gun this way, or drift out the cross-pins in the frame that hold the hammer, sear and assorted levers and remove them. If you do that, remove the hammer spring first.

M
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Referenced my NRA schematic book about the top cover as well. The real question; once the loaded chamber and firing pin, and safety drum, are off, is it likely to free the slide?
Or am I better served going after the pins?
Thanks for your patience. :)
Moon
 

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This is not necessarily a breakdown of the locking block. It can be a broken (bent etc.) unlocking rod.
You can try the cycling, in which you need to press on the ears of the locking block with a toothpick or something like that.
In any case, at least it becomes clear whether the block is broken or not.

PS I do not see a direct connection between locking and decocking.
These can be two separate problems.
 

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... The real question; once the loaded chamber and firing pin, and safety drum, are off, is it likely to free the slide?
Or am I better served going after the pins?

...
I don't know, it depends on which of many parts might be broken, bent or jammed (separate problems) and your friend's amnesia is no help.

Before I took any of it apart, I think I'd try to learn what I could about the locking block. Actually Matthanne had a good suggestion in Post #2 above.
It MIGHT be possible to see, with magnification and strong light, the ears of the locking block through the cracks between both sides of the slide and the hood of the barrel over the chamber. On a loose wartime gun it might be possible to insert a very thin razor blade into that crack and jostle the ears to see if one is broken. Or try a magnet to see if it's loose from being broken.

If you determine that the block is fractured, don't bother with the decocking assembly.

M
 

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Discussion Starter #17
As noted above, it appears that the trouble began with a bodged fieldstrip, not with the gun being fired. The chamber is clear of a spent round, and the owner stated that he was trying to take down the gun.
So I think we can (perhaps credibly) presume that the issue is with the decocker.
Moon
 

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Moon, I can't add anything to what I've already written. You have now reached the zone where one must to proceed by "feel". That is learned from experience; it can't be transmitted via the internet.

M
 

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One further thought, late last night.

Hold the hammer cocked with your thumb, Look at the safety drum on either side of rear end of the firing pin. Rotate the safety lever. Is the entire drum rotating, or just the half closest to the lever?

And is the lower web of the safety drum present, or missing?

M
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'll have a look at the safety drum, and sincerely appreciate the guidance. I'll do a little more fiddling, but am recognizing that I may be in out of my depth.
We don't have any local 'smiths with Walther experience.
Who do you suggest? M&M?
Thnx again,
Moon
 
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