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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,
I've read a lot of posts here, before joining, and did so to share some of what I'm rapidly learning about a neat little pistol on which I spent a lot of money, and then had it barely function. But I don't give up easily. I've had a couple of those near perfect Kimber 82 rifles, expected the Micro 9 to be the same, and went into shock when it wasn't. But with a lot of effort, I'm getting there. Magazine wouldn't lock in, sharp edges were cutting me, gun would only fire on about 30% of the trigger pulls, which were over 11 pounds. The firing pin return spring was about twice as heavy as it should be.

But I have collected a few hundred guns over some 70 years, build them from scratch, fix them, restore them, and (rarely, as with this one) sometimes buy a new one.

What prompted me to join and post just now was that I finally figured out, and fixed, a really obscure problem which has likely jammed up the guns of some of you...or will do so sooner or later. And you don't know what it is. You think you are getting light primer strikes, but the OEM hammer spring is so strong you can hardly pull the trigger. At first, I thought that useless firing pin block safety was sometimes interfering with firing pin movement. That wasn't it. Here's what sometimes happens.

In an effort to fend off frivolous lawsuits, Kimber has made the firing pin too short on both ends. At the rear, it does not protrude more than about 1/32" above the retainer face. At the front, with the hammer down, the tip of the pin is not just below the hole in the slide face, but wa-a-a-ay back. Much too far back. What happens is that the hammer falls, snaps the firing pin forward, and if you are lucky, it strikes the primer with enough energy to fire it, but then deeply bounces back into its hole in the slide. So when the primer fires and pressure builds, there is no hammer spring pressure on the primer indentation. Even with normal 9mm loads, not hot ones, the indentation rises enough so that, on ejection, a thin sliver of soft brass may shear and wedge in the firing pin hole. Next time you pull the trigger on a loaded round, the closely fitted firing pin may wedge between that brass sliver and the firing pin hole in the slide face.

I had this happen a bunch of times, with in-spec original Winchester primers. It took weeks to figure this out. Then in this forum, I read where some member had heard about longer firing pins, but could not remember where they were sold. I can make such things, only when circumstances force me to do so, and I scoured the Internet to find one. Ain't any. So today I made one, to my specs, out of water hardening drill rod, hardened and tempered to remove brittleness. Then it took a trip to the nearby range to find out that all that work paid off. For the first time, I had a Micro 9 that could get through every magazine every time. The new firing pin, combined with my Mcarbo spring kit, made an entirely different and reliable gun out of my Micro 9. If only Kimber would simply make 'em this way. It's such a nice looking, nice feeling design.

I'm going to try to insert a picture of the pin I made. You can make it two ways. First way, as I did, is the old less safe way. When the hammer is all the way down, the pin rests on a live primer. Second way, like a "real" 1911, just make the pin slightly shorter than my numbers, so when the hammer is down, the pin is just below its hole in the breech face, a la Colt 1911 specs. Anyhow, I hope somebody starts making longer pins, both at front and rear. There's no reason why it should be an ordeal to make a wonderful and expensive gun simply "work right", out of the box.
125739


Well, I guess it worked. Sorry for being long-winded on my first shot, but I thought this was so important that I wanted to be helpful and share info with some of you who might have been stumped as to why your gun wouldn't work.
 

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Now that's how you make an entrance. (y) :cool:
Welcome to the forums.
Posts like these are why I love gun boards.
 

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Thanks for the info. I don't currently have any problems with my Micro 9's..but it's good to know of a fix if I do.
 

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Welcome from Oregon…
You took a lot of time to look at that…I’m sure it will help some Folks…
 

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Welcome to the forum PhilOhio, how about stopping by our "New Member Introduction" sub forum and introducing yourself to the membership. Tell us something about yourself, your interests, hobbies and where you're located.
 

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Welcome to the site from Tennessee.
 

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Well, I guess it worked. Sorry for being long-winded on my first shot, but I thought this was so important that I wanted to be helpful and share info with some of you who might have been stumped as to why your gun wouldn't work.
Very nice, Mister Phil. Nearly at eighth of an inch! I wouldn't have looked at it from that perspective. Might slam fires become an issue?

Of more interest to me is your technique in making the new firing pin. Do you have a furnace for heat treating, or do you just do it old school with your eyeballs?

There have been plenty of times that I've seen shards of brass in a firing pin channel, that's why I remove it periodically for routine cleaning. I've read that optimally, a designer would strive to have the firing pin sticking out a little to keep the hole clear of debris. But on many of the gun forums, the keyboard jockeys moan about striker drag.

Thanks for the post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Very nice, Mister Phil. Nearly at eighth of an inch! I wouldn't have looked at it from that perspective. Might slam fires become an issue?

Of more interest to me is your technique in making the new firing pin. Do you have a furnace for heat treating, or do you just do it old school with your eyeballs?

There have been plenty of times that I've seen shards of brass in a firing pin channel, that's why I remove it periodically for routine cleaning. I've read that optimally, a designer would strive to have the firing pin sticking out a little to keep the hole clear of debris. But on many of the gun forums, the keyboard jockeys moan about striker drag.

Thanks for the post.
I have no furnace. I did it the old way, heat, quench, temper with a torch while slowly watching the color move. So far, so good. I've made a lot of springs that way.

And yes, the main reason I did all this was to keep all the brass shards out of that channel. There's something about this Kimber design that was getting them in there and causing all these wedges after only a couple shots. It was doing this over and over, all the time. It took awhile to figure it out, because it's not the sort of thing you would expect to happen so fast, and not with hell-for-leather hot loads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Folks, that first firing pin worked really well on the range yesterday, for quite a few rounds. So I began to think I might be able to trust this pistol for serious use, after a little more shooting, to build my confidence in it. But I normally carry a pistol hammer-down on a loaded chamber, and that pin would not safely permit this. But the concept worked so well, with my water hardening drill rod, that I decided to make a second pin for safe hammer-down carry. And I would also make a new pin which would eliminate the risks of lawyer-engineered firing pin "safeties", which are anything but safe. My first pin will be backup, in case the second one breaks. And I thought why not just let Photoshop roll the whole story into one printable picture? So here it is. For those who have a lathe and propane torch, go for it.
125772
 

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Correct me if I'm wrong..but are not the standard firing pins inertia driven to arrive to their outer limit? So you can carry with the hammer down if you so desired. To prove this, I have a laser training cartridge inserted in my Micro 9. I can actuate the laser when the gun is fully cocked and the trigger is pulled.

I can also actuate the laser when the gun is at half cock and the trigger is pulled. That would probably be a light strike on a primer.

With the hammer fully down and resting on the firing pin and tapping on the firearm hammer with a brass hammer does not actuate the laser. I would imagine if I rapped on it hard enough it would indeed create enough inertia to drive the firing pin into the primer. But... would it be enough force fire the pistol or would it be recorded as a light hit? I'm not willing to pound on my hammer to find out.

This boils down to the question...WHY..would one want to carry with the hammer down? It would then require you to cock it if you needed to put it in use. Flipping a safety off is by far easier than cocking the hammer back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
"Correct me if I'm wrong..but are not the standard firing pins inertia driven to arrive to their outer limit? So you can carry with the hammer down if you so desired."...

Yes Argee, but the problem I discovered is that the standard Kimber firing pin is much too short, often allowing enough shaved brass debris to come back into the firing pin channel and wedge the firing pin when it goes forward again, either causing a difficult-to-understand light strike, or no strike at all. This is what took me so long to figure out, with all the firing failures I was getting. My Version 2 firing pin still allows a partially open firing pin channel after rebound, but that open channel is much shorter. Further testing will tell me whether this will work better than the Kimber pin or my Version 1 pin. But I have to have 100% reliability, or I won't carry the gun, except for playtime on the range.

"I can also actuate the laser when the gun is at half cock and the trigger is pulled. That would probably be a light strike on a primer."

It would be no strike at all. You need a much heavier hammer fall to get even a mark on the primer. Kimber was correct in setting that short distance for the half cock (safety) notch. That's what it is for, to be certain that from that distance it will not fire, if the full cock notch fails or breaks.

"With the hammer fully down and resting on the firing pin and tapping on the firearm hammer with a brass hammer does not actuate the laser. I would imagine if I rapped on it hard enough it would indeed create enough inertia to drive the firing pin into the primer."

No, it would not. Once the hammer is all the way down, striking it can cause no forward firing pin movement, unless the firing pin retainer piece is crushed.

"But... would it be enough force fire the pistol or would it be recorded as a light hit? I'm not willing to pound on my hammer to find out."

It would not fire the pistol and would not even be a light hit; zero movement.

"This boils down to the question...WHY..would one want to carry with the hammer down? It would then require you to cock it if you needed to put it in use. Flipping a safety off is by far easier than cocking the hammer back."

That's a good question, and I had to re-examine my reasoning. I guess it is because I have never been willing to accept the total reliability of a 1911-type thumb safety. And I am in the minority here. BUT I am impressed with the Kimber thumb safety. It is better than the 1911 type. It actually moves the hammer slightly backward off the sear and positively locks it. You only need to worry about friction from clothing or some sort of body movement changing the position of the thumb safety lever without your knowledge.

But there is another problem you cannot overcome, even if everything is working right mechanically. Carrying the pistol for a long time with the hammer cocked, thumb safety on, there is a fairly good chance that, sooner or later, you may get some small piece of debris in that great big open cavity between the hammer and the extremely short exposed rear of the firing pin. Take the safety off, squeeze the trigger, and the hammer falls on the debris, not cleanly and heavily hitting the firing pin. This is much more than a theoretical problem with 1911s. So if you carry with the hammer down and the chamber loaded, that cavity is only open when you cock the hammer. It takes about as much time to do that as to flip the safety off. And that is the way I have been carrying, here and overseas, for about 45 years. And I never could trust striker fires pistols, although I'm beginning to trust my Glocks, the ones I build and also the ones I buy.

Here's something most recreational shooters don't understand. In serious land, there is almost never a situation where you don't have time to understand what may be about to happen. You have time to think what to do, run it through your mind, and get ready to do it...almost rehearsing it, carefully but quickly. It is never like IDPA shooting with timers. Some of your policeman friends can tell you about it. A car stop would be different, but most of us will not be doing that.
 

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I just looked at over 150 fired casings from my Micro 9 with a magnifying glass and none of the primers show any sign of having any issue with shavings being removed by face of bolt. I don't think this is an issue that needs to be addressed by all micro owners. I don't even see a problem with excessive flow backwards of the primers. All of the brass I examined were from factory 124gr fmj loads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Twobits73,
I think you may be right about the question of where the shaved brass is coming from, but it is "coming" from someplace, and other owners have seen it also. It most assuredly did jam the firing pin in its hole, sometimes after only a couple shots. Perhaps not you, but I and others are getting jammed guns from these shavings. It may have something to do with some sharp edge shaving brass from cases during the feed cycle, or something the extractor is doing. But the problem is not imaginary, or I would not be wasting so much of my time on it, trying to make the gun just function. Because you don't see the problem with your particular pistol doesn't mean it doesn't exist for other owners. What I am seeing through this forum is that Kimber is not doing a very good job regarding the uniformity of products going out their doors. Some are great and some are not. Why that is, I have no idea. But it almost surely involves quality control and reasonably thorough testing (or not) of each finished firearm. Colt and Smith & Wesson have also gone through these problems over the years.

On the Internet, before ordering my Micro 9, I read multiple reviews where Micro 9s (allegedly) fired hundreds or thousands of rounds without a malfunction, and I thought, "Finally! that's the carry pistol for me." Then, out of the box came something entirely different. But I'm getting there. It has just taken a tremendous amount of work. The pistol looks beautiful, and it's just the right size.

And whatever I have done, right now I am not seeing the shaved brass and not having the jams. They are not happening (cross my fingers), but testing will still take awhile.
 

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I have seen some shavings similar to the ones you are talking about come from factory loads that have a crimped in primer. Those could get stuck in the firing pin hole. That is a problem mostly with companies that also sell to the military and that would be mostly 124gr fmj ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Excellent observation, Twobits73. I haven't seen that one, but it makes sense. What I have seen with some of these primers in the Micro 9 is that it looks like, during ejection, the firing pin hole in the breech face works sort of like a carpenter's plane, shaving any raised part of the primer absolutely flush and shiny. That's with the OEM pin. Then those shavings stay in the pin hole and jam the pin. With my pins, it doesn't do this. I still don't fully understand this phenomenon. The strangest part is that it doesn't relate to hot, high pressure loads, just normal ones. With any luck, I won't see it any more. Guns never stop being interesting. Just when you think you have seen it all, something new, like this, pops lup.
 

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The brass shavings are not unique to Kimbers, 9 mm's, or one kind of ammo. It's just a thing.

Where do they come from? I don't know. Case mouth on ramp? Extractor on rim? Sharp magazine lips? Probably all of them. The brass shavings go wherever spent gasses go. Most get blasted out the ejection port. Some go down the firing pin hole. The more the firing pin is blocking the hole, the fewer shavings will go down there.
 

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Excellent observation, Twobits73. I haven't seen that one, but it makes sense. What I have seen with some of these primers in the Micro 9 is that it looks like, during ejection, the firing pin hole in the breech face works sort of like a carpenter's plane, shaving any raised part of the primer absolutely flush and shiny. That's with the OEM pin. Then those shavings stay in the pin hole and jam the pin. With my pins, it doesn't do this. I still don't fully understand this phenomenon. The strangest part is that it doesn't relate to hot, high pressure loads, just normal ones. With any luck, I won't see it any more. Guns never stop being interesting. Just when you think you have seen it all, something new, like this, pops lup.
On those rounds I am talking about those shards of brass come from the bit of brass forced in around the primers during crimping.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've been thinking about it this afternoon, and what RustyIron said about it not being unique to Kimbers. It may relate to these full power pistols becoming ever smaller lighter, with regard to them firing the same powerful 9 mm ammo as the heavier pistols. Might it be that they are unlocking slightly earlier under higher pressure than the heavier pistols, and while cartridge base force against the breech face is still extremely high, so brass is getting forcefully shaved by various parts of the pistol, including sharp edges of the firing pin hole, as the cartridge case head slides downward slightly, along the breech face during unlocking? I've never seen exactly this before, but I have never had a 9 mm para pistol this light and small, either. I thought about hand-turning a very small countersink cutter into the firing pin hole, removing just a couple thousandths, so it cannot plane brass, but I'm reluctant to try to "fix" a problem until I fully understand it. And any enlargement of the firing pin hole on a breech face, even a small amount, is not a good thing. It could end up creating more binding. It's so difficult to analyze things that happen in thousandths of a second.

With larger pistols, the slide and barrel mover rearward farther and longer, still locked together, and internal cartridge case pressure is lower, before the case begins to slide downward along the breech face as the barrel unlocks.
 
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