FTF (Failure to Feed) & FTE (Failure to Extract) Troubleshooting Guide

By Randy Adams

There are many things that can cause everyone’s favorite old warhorse to spit and sputter sometimes. And I am gonna’ try to go over a few possible causes. I’ve only been on the forum for a short time but this seems to be one of the more frequent posts. I am a working gunsmith located in Kentucky I’ve been building custom 1911’s for the better part of 7yrs. I have a website Fireblade Systems. I look forward to helping people realize their dream that is a custom 1911. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. Well enough of that. On with the FTF & FTE.

Failure to Feed (FTF)

Are you using factory loads or reloads?
Is the shell casing damaged? (dents, dings, rough spots)
If using lead bullets are they deformed? out of spec? rough casting?
Bullet length?
Primer seated?
Case diameter in spec?
Are you using hollow points in an un-throated barrel?
Is it the correct caliber ammo? (hard to believe but it happens)

Spring underpowered, rusted, broken?
Magazine dirty?
Follower damaged? broken, bent, cracked?
Feed lips bent?
Are the magazines fully seated?

Breech face rough, pitted, burred, out of spec?
Burr on the slide rails? (This is sometimes hard to diagnose especially with the slide assembled. Disassemble the slide install it on the frame and slowly work it back and forth. Do you feel a rough spot? If so stone or file the rough spot just enough to smooth up.)
Extractor tension too tight? (not allowing the round to snap in place and seat itself)
Is the recoil spring correct weight for the ammo you are shooting? Is it weak?
Broken? Binding?

Barrel & Frame
Do you have the required 1/32 gap between the feed ramp and the barrel ramp?
Is the feed ramp rough?
Is the chamber dirty? Rusted? Pitted?
Has the contour of the feed ramped been changed? (Excessive polishing)

Failure to Extract (FTE)

Extractor tension weak?
Extractor claw broken? Rounded off?
Is the chamber tight? pitted? rusted?
Is the ejector damaged? too short or broken?
Is the ejector too long?
Has the extractor been properly tuned?

A lot of the things mentioned in the FTF section apply to the failures to extract and eject. This is not everything that can cause these problems but it is somewhere to start. If you find the problem but are unaware of the solution you can drop me an email or do a search on the forum for a more specific problem.

Randy Adams
Fireblade Systems

Specializing in Custom 1911s, Tactical Shotguns and Performance Glocks

Comments, suggestions, contributions? Let me know