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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a SS PPK/s I bought from a friend about 10 years ago. It sat in my safe until recently when I started taking it to the range. The gun is accurate and reliable when fired in Single Action (racking the slide and then pulling the trigger) but won't fire in double action mode either by using the de-cocker and resetting or by setting the hammer down on the round without using the de-cocker. The trigger will pull the hammer back and it will drop, but the round won't fire. If I then pull the hammer back manually and pull the trigger it will fire.

I don't have a lot of experience with the PPK/s but either I'm doing something wrong or there is something wrong with this gun.

Does anyone here have any ideas why this would happen?
 

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Resist the advice which is sure to come to start replacing springs n' things, and first just try other ammo. By that, I am referring to good U.S. ammo of known quality made by a major manufacturer such as Federal, Remington or Winchester.

M
 

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According to some well informed members of the forum, the hammer draws back a little further in single action, than in double action. Follow Mike's advice and change your ammo to rule out hard primers. Also, next time it happens in DA mode, wait a few seconds, eject the round, and check the visible indent in the primer. Compare it to one that was fired in SA mode. It wouldn't surprise anyone if the culprit was a weakened hammer spring.
 

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Try removing the grips and check the point where the trigger bar releases the cocking piece. If either part is worn the hammer will release early - with insufficient force to set off the primer. This can usually be fixed with a small file set...but I'd suggest taking it to a gunsmith to be safe. Besides, even replacement trigger parts can require fitting. Good luck with it! :)

Milspec
 

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This thread is a good illustration of the difficulty and importance of accurate diagnosis. Maybe I am just too old and unenlightened, but I stubbornly persist in the belief that one sound diagnosis is worth a dozen remedies. I am also a great believer in trying FIRST the things that are:

1) SIMPLE
2) FREE OR AT LEAST CHEAP
3) MOST LIKELY TO ADDRESS THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM, AND
4) LEAST LIKELY TO CAUSE COLLATERAL DAMAGE

While it is true that the hammer falls through a shorter arc in double-action than in single-action and therefore does not hit the primer as hard a blow, several different conclusions could plausibly be drawn from the observation that misfires occur only in double-action.

The only indisputable conclusion is that the the energy delivered by the firing pin is marginal to fire THAT ammunition. Which raises the question: why? There are quite a few possibilities.

1) There may be something wrong with the ammo. Primers become less sensitive with age, and faulty manufacture or poor storage accelerate their deterioration. So-called "hard" are usually no harder then normal; they are simply in a noticeable state of chemical decay, and require a harder hit to fire them. Also cases that are rough or oversize may not feed smoothly and prevent full closing of the slide; the hammer's energy is then partly absorbed smacking the sllde fully closed, cushioning its blow on the primer and resulting in a misfire. A very fouled chamber can produce the same result; inspect it closely under a strong light (sunlight is best) and make sure it's clean and bright! A .380 cartridge case that is too short may cause the equivalent of excess headspace, which can also adversely affect firing pin indent. And --needless to emphasize-- when handloads are involved, almost anything is possible.

In all of these situations (and that's without delving into all the possible mechanical causes) there may be just barely enough energy left to fire in single-action, and not quite enough for double-action.

That's why I suggested to first try some fresh ammo of known quality for testing--not something 20 years old of unknown history that your brother gave you. It's simple, cheap (new ammo will eventually be used anyway and will not go to waste), will eliminate the most likely cause, and the gun does not have to be taken apart.

Experience teaches the most common causes of malfunctions. My own has been that, insofar as semi and full automatic firearms are concerned, the usual suspects are, in order of frequency and probability:

a) UNSUITABLE OR DEFECTIVE AMMUNITION
b) DIRTY CHAMBER
c) DIRTY MECHANISM
d) DEFECTIVE MAGAZINE, AND

(way down the list.....)

e) Something mechanically wrong with the gun.

2) The next item in the process of elimination is DIRT. Cleaning a gun is easy, cheap, and --even if dirt turns out not to be the cause of the malfunction--is usually beneficial and holds minimum potential for damage.

When the firing pin is delivering only marginal energy, it's often due to gunky powder residue and debris in the firing pin channel that is slowing it down or impeding its full travel. Who knows, in the course of cleaning, you might incidentally find a broken firing pin or a kinked firing pin spring, in which case you've found the problem without going too far afield.

3) Finally: if you are STILL getting DA misfires with new-bought Federal American Eagle, and the gun is squeaky clean, THEN look elsewhere. I have left the hammer spring suggestion for last. That is because a new spring costs money that might better be spent for more ammo or an extra magazine, and changing it is not simple. Unlike the recoil spring, changing out the hammer spring is a workbench job that requires tools and some mechanical skill. It is, frankly, beyond the ability of some owners to accomplish, and there is a high likelihood of losing small parts or scratching or damaging the gun - which will then mean a trip to the gunsmith. Moreover, in my experience try-and-see replacement is usually unnecessary; PP-series Walters seldom exhibit this problem, and a lame hammer spring generally can be "felt". (TPHs, on the other hand, are chronic sufferers of DA misfires; there's just not enough mass in the small hammer, and a strong enough hammer spring makes the slide hard to retract.)

There are other, more esoteric causes of misfires, but troubleshooting those is best left to a gunsmith experienced with Walthers.

As for filing away on the trigger bar or the cocking piece (the latter is semi-permanently riveted in and difficult if not impossible to work on without removing it), I'm not going to discuss it.

Sorry this went on at length; it was not originally so intended. But I think there is much to be said for a syllogistic approach to the diagnosis of malfunctions.

This is my last post for the holidays. Merry Christmas, all.

M
 

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Small Arms Maintenance

This thread is a good illustration of the difficulty and importance of accurate diagnosis. Maybe I am just too old and unenlightened, but I stubbornly persist in the belief that one sound diagnosis is worth a dozen remedies. I am also a great believer in trying FIRST the things that are:

1) SIMPLE
2) FREE OR AT LEAST CHEAP
3) MOST LIKELY TO ADDRESS THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM, AND
4) LEAST LIKELY TO CAUSE COLLATERAL DAMAGE

While it is true that the hammer falls through a shorter arc in double-action than in single-action and therefore does not hit the primer as hard a blow, several different conclusions could plausibly be drawn from the observation that misfires occur only in double-action.

The only indisputable conclusion is that the the energy delivered by the firing pin is marginal to fire THAT ammunition. Which raises the question: why? There are quite a few possibilities.

1) There may be something wrong with the ammo. Primers become less sensitive with age, and faulty manufacture or poor storage accelerate their deterioration. So-called "hard" are usually no harder then normal; they are simply in a noticeable state of chemical decay, and require a harder hit to fire them. Also cases that are rough or oversize may not feed smoothly and prevent full closing of the slide; the hammer's energy is then partly absorbed smacking the sllde fully closed, cushioning its blow on the primer and resulting in a misfire. A very fouled chamber can produce the same result; inspect it closely under a strong light (sunlight is best) and make sure it's clean and bright! A .380 cartridge case that is too short may cause the equivalent of excess headspace, which can also adversely affect firing pin indent. And --needless to emphasize-- when handloads are involved, almost anything is possible.

In all of these situations (and that's without delving into all the possible mechanical causes) there may be just barely enough energy left to fire in single-action, and not quite enough for double-action.

That's why I suggested to first try some fresh ammo of known quality for testing--not something 20 years old of unknown history that your brother gave you. It's simple, cheap (new ammo will eventually be used anyway and will not go to waste), will eliminate the most likely cause, and the gun does not have to be taken apart.

Experience teaches the most common causes of malfunctions. My own has been that, insofar as semi and full automatic firearms are concerned, the usual suspects are, in order of frequency and probability:

a) UNSUITABLE OR DEFECTIVE AMMUNITION
b) DIRTY CHAMBER
c) DIRTY MECHANISM
d) DEFECTIVE MAGAZINE, AND

(way down the list.....)

e) Something mechanically wrong with the gun.

2) The next item in the process of elimination is DIRT. Cleaning a gun is easy, cheap, and --even if dirt turns out not to be the cause of the malfunction--is usually beneficial and holds minimum potential for damage.

When the firing pin is delivering only marginal energy, it's often due to gunky powder residue and debris in the firing pin channel that is slowing it down or impeding its full travel. Who knows, in the course of cleaning, you might incidentally find a broken firing pin or a kinked firing pin spring, in which case you've found the problem without going too far afield.

3) Finally: if you are STILL getting DA misfires with new-bought Federal American Eagle, and the gun is squeaky clean, THEN look elsewhere. I have left the hammer spring suggestion for last. That is because a new spring costs money that might better be spent for more ammo or an extra magazine, and changing it is not simple. Unlike the recoil spring, changing out the hammer spring is a workbench job that requires tools and some mechanical skill. It is, frankly, beyond the ability of some owners to accomplish, and there is a high likelihood of losing small parts or scratching or damaging the gun - which will then mean a trip to the gunsmith. Moreover, in my experience try-and-see replacement is usually unnecessary; PP-series Walters seldom exhibit this problem, and a lame hammer spring generally can be "felt". (TPHs, on the other hand, are chronic sufferers of DA misfires; there's just not enough mass in the small hammer, and a strong enough hammer spring makes the slide hard to retract.)

There are other, more esoteric causes of misfires, but troubleshooting those is best left to a gunsmith experienced with Walthers.

As for filing away on the trigger bar or the cocking piece (the latter is semi-permanently riveted in and difficult if not impossible to work on without removing it), I'm not going to discuss it.

Sorry this went on at length; it was not originally so intended. But I think there is much to be said for a syllogistic approach to the diagnosis of malfunctions.

This is my last post for the holidays. Merry Christmas, all.

M

Lots of good points...I agree with every one of them. Given that a person will clean his gun and use proper ammo the difference between single action success and double action failure is insufficient hammer velocity. One potential cause is wear at the point where the trigger bar acts as a sear to release the cocking piece.

In addition to normal wear over time, trigger damage can be caused by soft stainless steel or "trigger jobs" that cut through surface hardening. Some folks even try to speed up the break-in process by pushing the hammer forward while trigger-cocking the pistol. You can also damage the trigger bar by over-tightening Pachmayr grips (binds the cocking piece) and then forcing the double action trigger to cock.

To clarify, I don't (didn't) recommend that owners repair the trigger bar or reshape any other critical parts themselves. I strongly recommend that small arms tools only be weilded by qualified armorers and gunsmiths. That's why I sent my Walther PPK/S-1 back to the factory...where they repaired my exact same double action problem by fitting a new trigger bar. Works just fine now! :D

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all! :)

Milspec
 

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Change Hammer Spring

Hmmmmm........

I just learned that I should not have been able to change the hammer
spring on my PPK/S-1

It only took about 5 minutes....

And, the new spring only cost about $10.00 directly from Wolff.

And, it cured the problem I had with misfires.


Oh, well.
 

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Springs and Things

Hmmmmm........

I just learned that I should not have been able to change the hammer
spring on my PPK/S-1

It only took about 5 minutes....

And, the new spring only cost about $10.00 directly from Wolff.

And, it cured the problem I had with misfires.


Oh, well.
There you go...following the instructions... ;)

What weight spring did you end up using? :)

Milspec
 

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Hammer Spring

Milspec, I purchased a factory duplicate from Wolff, and it worked!

So, that means the factory hammer spring wore out after approximately
1500 rounds in a year and a half. The gun is a Smith & Wesson made
stainless steel PPK/S-1.

I learned back in the '70's while using several Smith & Wesson revolvers
that one never reduces the hammer spring strength. Especially on guns
used for duty or self defense.

Christmas season has put a severe crimp on my shooting time and related
activities. Now that Christmas is over, I should be able to get on with
finding this gun a new owner.

I'll talk to y'all later!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well I want to thank everyone for the good advice in this thread. I've been back to the range with different ammo (winchester) and cleaned the gun thoroughly, but it still doesn't fire in DA. One thing I did notice is that the hammer goes back noticeably further in SA than DA. I'd say 1/4 of an inch difference. I think this is the reason it doesn't fire in DA. I'm going to take it to the local gunsmith for a once over one of these days. Until then it sure shoots nice in SA :p
 

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PP/PPK

Interesting post and information, as well.

My WW II PP only functions in singe action as the trigger pull does not activate the hammer, whatsoever.

Any one have an idea of what part might be non-functional?
 

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It is gratifying to learn that even a 10-year-old thread can be helpful.

Ammo.crafter: Check the hammer dog (the small lever pinned to the front face of the hammer). It or its spring are broken, stuck, lame or missing.

M

Edit: The other possibility is that the trigger bar spring has become dislodged.
 
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