Blowing Large Holes in 22TCM9r Primers

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by Nooberino, Oct 4, 2020.

  1. Yes it's faulty, send it back

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  2. Yes it's faulty, but maybe it can be made to function well by modifying the firearm

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  3. It's not faulty, and something is out of spec with the slide

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  4. It's not faulty, and the conversion kit is to blame

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  1. Nooberino

    Nooberino

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    (This turned into a lengthy post, so I have highlighted the most important points in red)

    Hello all. I'm having quite the headache and I hope some here will be able to help troubleshoot.

    First, a bit of history on the gun in question: it's a Poly80 PF940C with a stock lower parts kit and a complete Rock Slide Auto G19 Gen 3 slide with glock parts pre installed. The gun required an unusually long break in; the first mag or two ran OK, but until it miraculously started running flawlessly at around 600 rounds, it would Fail to Feed (round would be half out of mag jammed against the feed ramp) nearly as often as it went bang, occasionally failing to eject as well. Not a limp wristing issue, mind you, and after enough rounds the gun had become perfectly reliable. The rounds in question were 9mm Fiocci 115 grain FMJ. They ran great, even with an Ebay muzzle brake (we found one that matches the shape of the RSU slide exactly)!

    For a while I have been fascinated by 22 TCM/22 TCM9r as an alternative to defensive 9mm loads. Before prices went insane over the summer, 22 TCM9r was around 30c a shot, or about double the price of target 9mm. However, defensive 9mm tends to run over a dollar a round, which of course discourages people from training with full power loads as they ought to. So for 1/3 of the price of defensive 9mm, you can get arguably better performance, with less recoil, plus training rounds and defensive rounds that are the same. Seemed pretty attractive. Once even the cheapest (quality wise) 9mm started creeping up past 50-60c each, 22 TCM9r seemed like a no brainer at 33c/round. The barrel/recoil spring conversion for gen 3 G19 runs well under $150 on eBay, so I figured, "why not?"

    If you're thinking by now, "okay, this is some guy from Armscor who's come to shill their exotic new whiz-bang caliber," don't you worry: what I'm going to tell you next will quell that suspicion!

    Now that the background is out of the way, here is the tale of the headache (sorry to build suspense, but I want to provide as much info as I can before I start asking for help). If you want to get right to the point, start here:

    After finally installing the new barrel and recoil spring, three test shots were fired and the gun cycled flawlessly. The potential fourth round was manually removed from the chamber. The giant fireballs this load produces are very exciting, so Billy across the street was called over to give it a try. He managed to fire one round, and got a click on the second. The click sounded very weak and dull compared to normal. The primer had a small, but not insignificant dent.

    After some manipulation of the slide and dry firing, the *click* started to sound correct, so we tried again. BANG, BANG, click. Another light strike. We took out the firing pin assembly and noticed that it had dirt and oil inside (it was over oiled, although it ran through 9mm just fine in this condition). It was disassembled and wiped down along with everything else (full upper detail strip minus channel sleeve) and reassembled to try again. BANG, click. Light strike. Rack and dryfire, reload and try again. BANG, *chnk*. Light strike. The click of the firing pin had gotten worse! Cock it again, *chnk*. Light strike.

    By now we started hunting for the shells that had fired and ejected to inspect them. The one shell casing we found had a hole in the primer! Not only a hole, but a fairly large, rectangular hole, similar in size and shape to the hole the firing sticks out of when it strikes the primer. Eventually we found one of the shells from the initial test fire, and it did not have a broken primer.

    By this point of the story, we were operating under the assumption that user error contributed to the malfunction. It's true that the inner workings of the slide were contaminated with oil due to over oiling, and this is known to cause issues. We decided to take the gun apart and more thoroughly clean out any oil with q tips. Reassembled once more, the gun was test fired once and malfunctioned with a light strike on the second shot. Racked again, met with a very dull *chnk*. No shell was recovered (but I now suspect the one that fired had a hole in the primer).

    Once more the slide was disassembled, and this time something new happened: the firing pin channel sleeve came out with the firing pin. It particularly, and to a lesser degree the other firing pin assembly components, smelled strongly of spent 22TCM9r. The shot cups were pressing against the firing pin channel sleeve, with enough friction to prevent the firing pin channel sleeve from meaning seated upon removal of the firing pin assembly. It was then that it dawned on us that if there is a hole in the primer, then certainly hot gas would vent into the firing pin channel. This was further confirmed when one of the firing pin spring cups snapped off 30% of its mass upon further disassembly.

    The half broken spring cup got completely lost when reassembly was attempted.

    Originally, we thought that user error, or a complication with the spring and barrel swap, was the cause of the troubles. But why would a barrel and recoil spring swap cause gaping holes to be punched in the primers? Could over oiling cause these symptoms? It seems unlikely. The gun ran fine on 115 grain 9mm FMJ. After having written it all down, the conclusion that leaps out at me is that the ammo is at fault (Armscor 22TCM9r, they only make one kind). Surely it stands to reason that if the same over-oiled firing pin never busted out 9mm primers, then it's the fault of the 22TCM9r ammo that its primers are being destroyed? Should we reach out to armscor?

    Assuming the ammo is manufactured correctly (or not), the preferred route is to get the gun running it properly. It seems to be that in its current configuration, the gun is semi-reliably blowing holes in the back of the primers, which causes hot gas to damage/foul up the firing pin channel sleeve and firing pin assembly. This did not occur when using 9mm. Would it be correct to assume that the only two possible remedies would be to either file down a spare firing pin until it stops blowing out primers, or experiment with lighter striker springs? Which would you recommend, or would you recommend reaching out to armscor, or another option?

    Thanks to all in advance who read and respond.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2020
  2. arnold ziffle

    arnold ziffle aka dingle

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    your problem is way over pressure. so much so i’m surprised you didn’t have more or a catastrophic failure. it’s probably a bad barrel. it could be the ammo but i’d bet on the barrel. i would send both to armscor and have them diagnose the problem. they would surely like to know if there is any problem with their ammo.
     

  3. arnold ziffle

    arnold ziffle aka dingle

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    your problem is way over pressure. so much so i’m surprised you didn’t have more or a catastrophic failure. it’s probably a bad barrel. it could be the ammo but i’d bet on the barrel. i would send both to armscor and have them diagnose the problem. they would surely like to know if there is any problem with their ammo.
     
  4. Nooberino

    Nooberino

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    What leads you to believe that it's the ammo and not some kind of tolerance issue causing the firing pin to strike too deeply? I know that primer holes tend to be caused by overpressured ammo, but usually that's in the context of hand loads. I just wouldn't expect factory ammo to do this... although as you said I suppose it is possible that an out of spec barrel could cause higher pressure in the chamber.

    I will add that the holes aren't like many of the pictures I've seen on the internet; rather than being ugly, burnt and misshapen, the holes are nearly perfect rectangles matching the cross section profile of the firing pin. And there's no visible bulging or other abnormalities with the spent shell, just a neat rectangular hole in the primer.
     
  5. BoDuke

    BoDuke

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    Hey man. This may be long, but I may be able to lend insight on this topic. So during this pandemic, I got into P80s. I built 2 at first, a fully functional G17 and G19. After those 2, I purchased a FDE P80 lower that I originally intended to build a G22. But after watching some you tube video's I got turned on to the 22 tcm, and more specifically the Armscor complete upper slide in 22 tcm9r. I posted for any feedback on it in a P80 forum, which surprisingly no one had experience with. There were some that posted negatively about the barrel swap conversion not working, but no one had anything to say about the complete upper. So I moved forward with the build after I found a used complete upper on Ebay. It was a pawn shop owner and the only thing he knew about it was that an acquaintance of his had it for a short time and that it worked when he had it. Standard salesman talk but nothing that kept me from getting it. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago: I get the slide in the mail. Upon initial inspection, the firing pin is stuck. I can't move it backwards. It's protruding out the front and the safety plunger is stuck as well. So I pop off the back plate. Extractor spring and bearing slide out OK. I lightly start tapping on the nose of the striker at the breach face with a brass punch and it comes out. Striker channel liner comes with it. It's all covered in sticky stuff. FYI, safety plunger pops out as well. I use brake cleaner on everything and it easily dissolves away all the sticky stuff. BTW, the sticky stuff is consistent with maple syrup. Not burned powder or powder residue. I have a spare brand new channel liner so I use it, and I don't replace any other part. While I have everything out, I polish everything with flitz. I would've done the flitz polishing anyways. I then clean, oil, and put it on a brand new P80 lower. I start racking the slide. It racks OK, but the trigger is really gritty. Which doesn't make sense to me because with everything polished including the entire trigger mechanism, it should be smoother (which from prior experience on the 2 previous P80 builds it was). But I continue over a 1 week'ish period of racking and dry firing 500-600 times. Over that course, the trigger really smoothed out. During the initial few hundred rounds though, I noticed that many times the trigger wouldn't reset. This was due to me not fully sling shotting the slide and it going back into full battery. So I would either have to bump the back of the slide or simply mashing on the trigger would get it to creep forward enough that the trigger would reset and fire again. Fast forward again to yesterday: went to a range and started putting live ammo down range. Shot 200 rounds, only had one issue: a light primer strike. Put that particular round back in and it fired the second go around. So here's my take away after reading about your problem. Whomever had this slide before me may have very well had the same problems you were having, hence the sticky stuff in my striker channel. And secondly, getting these slides (or even just the conversion bbls) into full battery may be an issue either due to the design of the bbl itself, or perhaps the recoil spring is too weak with a brand new set up. Nonetheless, at least for the batch of ammo I bought (I bought 400rds a few weeks ago), the ammo itself doesn't have any issues. So you may be able to eliminate that as the problem area.
     
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  6. Nooberino

    Nooberino

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    I'm more and more convinced as time goes on that the problem is with the striker spring and it's relationship with the recoil spring. The recoil spring seems just barely strong enough and I'm hearing that it's very important to have balance between the two springs. I'm thinking maybe the tug of the striker spring when pulling the trigger may be pulling it just ever so slightly out of battery as you suggested.

    On a mostly unrelated note, I'm curious if the TCM22 6lb recoil spring paired with the 9mm barrel would allow 9mm shotshells to cycle?
     
  7. BoDuke

    BoDuke

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    So after posting, I did some experimenting my the gun. Specifically, I would rack it back (unloaded) and slowly guide the slide forward. It would smoothly make its way forward all the way until the slide/bbl locking process started. At this point it would stutter, but still go into full battery. I remember that this wasn't the case pre-200 live rounds and pre 500 dry racking rounds. At that time, it would actually stop and not go into full battery without a little bump, jiggle, or slight depress on the trigger. So I'm pretty sure the "out of battery" theory is the right one here. On your unrelated note, 6lbs is really light. It would cycle with 9mm but the recoil would be very violent. How did you know it was a 6lb spring? And is your spring un captured? Mine is uncaptured is why I'm asking. I'd like to switch to a captured glock 17 spring but don't know if they come that light.
     
  8. Nooberino

    Nooberino

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    The 22 TCM 9r recoil spring assembly is all one piece. I don't remember where I read it but I'm pretty sure the spring included with the 22 TCM 9r barrels is 6lb. 9mm shotshells won't cycle at all with the stock 9mm recoil spring, but I wonder if the 22 TCM spring might be too light for the shotshells.
     
  9. BoDuke

    BoDuke

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    I emailed Armscor and they're telling me its 11lbs. I ordered a g17 stainless guide rod and spring kit which includes 11, 13, and 15 lb springs. I'm going to try out the 11lb on the new guide rod (which will be captured now) and roll with it if works.
     
  10. Nooberino

    Nooberino

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    Well, the lightened striker spring pak came. Went straight for the lightest spring and the same thing happened. Produced a rectangular/tombstone shaped hole the same size and profile as the head of the firing pin on the primer... only this time the casing remained stuck in the chamber, while the slide was stuck on the back of the next round in the magazine.

    I'm starting to think that this guy was correct:
    At first I'd imagined that this wasn't the problem because the holes were the only sign of trouble (no visible deformation, primer not bulging etc), and because of things like the striker being stuck in the primer, but now I'm pretty much out of ideas.

    The only other thing I can think of is someone in a different thread said that a too light striker spring can cause ruptured primers due to the spring pressure being insufficient to counteract the pressure inside the casing, causing a weak spot which can fail critically. This sounds reasonable but frankly it's way over my head to know if it's true one way or the other, and also I don't think a heavier striker spring would do well with the lighter recoil spring as the stock striker spring already seems to want to pull the slide out of battery when the trigger is pulled.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2020
  11. Nooberino

    Nooberino

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    Wow, so I got a hold of Armscor and I am thunderstruck. Instead of a knowledgeable expert to guide me through any sort of troubleshooting process, I got some know nothing ESL phone guy defensively pulling from a CYA script, interrupting me, being completely unhelpful. He wouldn't even answer simple questions (like "can I submit pictures with the warranty form?") without talking past me with repeated lines such as "oh well it must be fitted by gunsmith" "maybe it is the ammo, maybe try a different lot number".

    I am so mad. The opportunity cost of sinking however many hundreds into the ammo, and then the gun being down for weeks waiting on the spring cups that were destroyed by Armscor's faulty ammo or barrel... now they expect us to further damage the slide and components by firing more ammo through the barrel, or either send the slide and barrel (or the whole thing) off to a gunsmith to waste how many more dollars and weeks of downtime? These pieces of garbage refuse to troubleshoot in any way whatsoever, basically telling me it's my problem, and it's my fault, and the only thing they'll do for me is direct me to the online warranty form for the ammo.

    I will add that when he first floated "maybe the ammo is bad, did you try another lot number?", I asked him if bad ammo was known to be a problem. He very nonchalantly indicated that bad ammo was certainly a known culprit for some kind of issues. Of course, he refused to elaborate or help narrow things down for me whatsoever beyond that, but the question of "is armscor ammo known to be unreliable/hazardous?" is a deafening YES!
     
  12. tall terry

    tall terry

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    have you ever considered the headspace may be incorrect..
    or, the fit of the problem barrel, within the constraints of the slide opening and lockup in the frame? you have 3 pieces which need to come together seamlessly arent, causing all the issues