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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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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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.
Moon
 

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Discussion Starter #3
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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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
 

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Discussion Starter #5
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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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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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.

Moon
 

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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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Discussion Starter #9
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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Discussion Starter #10
. . . 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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I understand your mission now. The reason why I cited the book (which the title escapes me, perhaps someone else can post it again) is that you requested and understanding of pistol design and function.

Unfortunately it all still comes down to timing. I don't think that you will reliably be able to just settle on a set length spring to solve your inquiry. If timing and tension are the keys, Spring length and tension may vary based on the materials that the springs are made out of by the manufacturer as long as they produce a product with the proper tension. Different loads can produce different pressures which further add variables. The default saying around here is see what your Walther's like to eat for just that reason. You may be able to tweak a spring or two to be able to reliably digest one type of ammo at a set pressure, but the doesn't mean that it will be able to digest all brands of ammunition or all pressures.

Some get lucky and have flawlessly function guns, and others can be finicky. The factors involved can be from single or multiple aged springs or parts to machining issues. You just have to find out what your pistol currently works with and if you want it to go heavier or lighter in loads or trigger pulls, then calculations and estimations in what modifications will need to be made to get things to function properly will need to be explored. Just my two cents for what it's worth (and not much at that ;) ).
 

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. . . Just my two cents for what it's worth (and not much at that ;) ).
Nope, its ALL very valuable information and all very much appreciated. I clearly lucked-out on my .32 ACP, because it has operated literally 'flawlessly' on virtually every ammo type that I've tried with it, but for some odd reason, the .380 is different, and it could very well be any one or all of the following:

1) The butchered (chopped-off) recoil spring
2) Hollow point ammo
3) Insufficient slide recovery time (referred to earlier by Moon)
4) Etc., etc.

But I'm confident that I'll know the answer soon - as soon as I can get some more practical time spent with it, including some different springs and different ammo types, down at the range.

Anyway, thanks again to you and Moon both! I'm grateful to you.
 

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Finally found the book info. It was in the General discussion forum, not this one. It is The Textbook of Pistol Technology and Design by Walther's own Dr. Dallhammer.
 

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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?
I'm curious about your recoil spring being cut off at the muzzle end. I would assume this means one end of the spring is closely coiled and the other is terminates with a single spring wire. I don't know if you are aware, but the spring you are describing is consistent with the recoil springs sold by Wolff, accept the coiled end belongs at the muzzle end. The old conventional springs that are coiled at both sides are available through InterArms https://interarmstx.com/product/ppk-recoil-spring.

BTW, the length of a spring is most inconsequential. I spring under constant compression, will shorten when the compression is released, but it will retain most (if not all) of it's compression spring weight. So, if you compared a spring that has been under constant compression, against a new and identical spring never compressed, the new spring will be longer, but again the compression weight will be the same. Variables more important than length, is the wire gauge of the spring or the number and/or size of the coils.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm curious about your recoil spring being cut off at the muzzle end. I would assume this means one end of the spring is closely coiled and the other is terminates with a single spring wire. I don't know if you are aware, but the spring you are describing is consistent with the recoil springs sold by Wolff, accept the coiled end belongs at the muzzle end. The old conventional springs that are coiled at both sides are available through InterArms https://interarmstx.com/product/ppk-recoil-spring.

BTW, the length of a spring is most inconsequential. I spring under constant compression, will shorten when the compression is released, but it will retain most (if not all) of it's compression spring weight. So, if you compared a spring that has been under constant compression, against a new and identical spring never compressed, the new spring will be longer, but again the compression weight will be the same. Variables more important than length, is the wire gauge of the spring or the number and/or size of the coils.
Wow! Thank you for providing this added information. I had no idea about this difference in manufacture or spring design, nor did I realize that this seemingly simple topic could ever become so complex. I'll never look at recoil springs the same again! 😂

Anyway, you're absolutely right, in that this raises the question about whether the spring that I encountered in this .380 is/was not original equipment, and not modified at all, as I had concluded, but rather an aftermarket (Wolff) product. I'll have to take a much closer look at its 'uncoiled' end to see if I can detect any true signs of cutting or toolmarks. If not, then perhaps its an earlier aftermarket (Wolff) product, as your posting here suggests.

However, if this distinction between aftermarket (Wolff) and original equipment (Interarms) springs is in-fact true, it complicates things even further, because I just purchased about 5-6 different springs for this thing directly from Wolff, and ALL of them have closed (coiled) loops at both ends, just like those pictured on the Interarmsstx.com link that you've provided here. Thus, the current Wolff and Interarms products appear to be identical.
 

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The Interarms OEM springs have a flat ground on their face toward the muzzle.
As regards the .32 running flawlessly, remember, that's an original caliber, not an afterthought.
Ringo, let me do you a favor. The folks at Ulm, and at Ranger in Alabama, and in Houlton, and now in Ft. Smith, have likely invested no small time in evaluating recoil springs. If they, over the years, haven't unlocked the secret of getting a .380 PPK run all the time on most ammunition, due respect, but chances are you won't either.
So, a suggestion. Return to an original spec recoil spring, and see what runs with that; tune the ammunition rather than the gun. Garden variety FMJs should work, tho' rumor has it that they're a little underloaded. Perhaps try the foreign brands (Fiocchi, S&B) and see if they are better.
For anything serious, SilverTips are reputed to work; try some of those. The real rub is spending the time and money to rigorously test ammo to prove it works.
That's not to say you can't experiment with your spring assortment, but I wouldn't wait for an eureka moment.
Moon
 

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If I may sum up the previous two pages...

The factory knew what they were doing. Put a factory spring in the thing, find some ball ammo that works in it, and be happy with what it is.
If you feel you absolutely need hollow points, well, that's what a PPS is for.

Good luck to you sir.
 

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However, if this distinction between aftermarket (Wolff) and original equipment (Interarms) springs is in-fact true, it complicates things even further, because I just purchased about 5-6 different springs for this thing directly from Wolff, and ALL of them have closed (coiled) loops at both ends, just like those pictured on the Interarmsstx.com link that you've provided here. Thus, the current Wolff and Interarms products appear to be identical.
I have only recently bought a recoil spring for a PPK from Wolff, but it has not arrived yet; all I have ever seen is the open end springs like this from Wolff. https://www.ebay.com/itm/48620-WOLFF-FITS-WALTHER-PPK-PPKS-20-LB-FACTORY-STANDARD-NEW-FREE-SHIP-/302404696430?hash=item4668b9796e I recently bought a used PPK 380 and even though it was inspected by a GS, I wanted to have an extra recoil spring. The recoil spring in my PPK is the open end variety like yours, so I assumed it was the same as I linked on ebay. BTW, I made the mistake of mounting the spring backwards, with the open end toward the front, and it didn't work very well as the slide would consistently stop short of locking the round into battery.
 

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