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Old 06-20-2018, 02:40 PM
Kenneth07ex Kenneth07ex is offline
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Default 5906 failure to extract issue

I've been having a failure to extract problem with my 5906. Just picked this thing up from an online auction, so its history, and round count is unknown. After reading about possible solutions, some of which seemed to be beyond what I felt comfortable attempting. I thought it would be best to send it back to Smith & Wesson for them to take a look. Hopefully it'll be covered under warranty, but if not maybe I won't get dinged too badly. Either way I'm really looking forward to getting this thing back in the lineup.
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Old 06-20-2018, 03:26 PM
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This model, with fixed sights, was our department issue for a long time. As I recall, S&W recognized there was a problem with the extractor spring's tension and their solution was to retrofit a "nested" extractor spring. It was a simple fix and it worked.
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Old 06-20-2018, 04:37 PM
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This model, with fixed sights, was our department issue for a long time. As I recall, S&W recognized there was a problem with the extractor spring's tension and their solution was to retrofit a "nested" extractor spring. It was a simple fix and it worked.
Just for the sake of conversational trivia ...

We also carried early 3rd gen 59XX/69XX series pistols, and I was an armorer for them for some years.

It wasn't said to us that there was a particular problem with the extractor springs in those older guns. It was more a combination of the older guns, made using some early hand-controlled machining operations with a more generous tolerance spec range, and having to replace an occasional worn out or a "light" extractor spring.

The "repair" extractor spring kit (now long "obsolete") included a standard size spring and an older thin "inner" spring, making it a "nested" set of springs. Together, they could bump up the tension into the proper range for a particular gun.

We were told the reason for the nested springs was that the bottom surface of an occasional older extractor spring hole, in some particular slide, might not have been machined fully flat due to early machining methods.

The nested springs repair kit (part #19134) was their original attempt to let armorers find the right spring tension when replacing an extractor spring that was too light or worn out, but couldn't do it with a single spring because the standard single spring was too light, or an optional heavier spring might not fully fit down inside the hole and let you pin the extractor back in place.

We were also told that if using the nested springs, we might find that the standard spring rate range would be too light for an occasional older 59XX gun, and we might have to use a spring tension that was a pound or 2 above the upper end of the standard range. This was stressed that it had to be carefully done, because it involved a delicate balance of having enough tension to to prevent failures-to-extract, but not too much that it resulted in failures-to-feed. I remember being told that while the force dial gauge and bar/flag gauges (to fit the extractor) were necessary bench checks, the final real test for repair occurred down range, on the firing line. The gun had to function with whatever duty ammunition you might be using.

A Wagner Force Dial Gauge was sold to armorers to use to check extractor spring tension, of the appropriate lighter calibration and with the proper extension to hold an extractor hook. Not a cheap tool, at about $150 plus shipping.

We replaced quite a few worn or light extractor springs with the nested kits before they were made obsolete, and it did, indeed, require bumping up the tension above the normally listed spring rates (in the armorer manuals) in at least one of them, as I recall, in order to get normal function. My own issued 5903 got one of the nested kits, and afterward it ran just fine for several years and several thousand rounds, later being issued to another user (until eventually replaced by the new TSW's).

I talked to one of the factory repair techs about this issue one time, and he said that at the factory they might sometimes use a hand-powered ball end mill to square any unevenly machined extractor spring holes in one of those older slides, so they could use the standard extractor spring and get it to fit and sit flat. That wasn't taught to armorers, though.

They eventually came up with a newer replacement extractor spring repair kit for the older 3rd gen 59XX guns, and made the nested spring set "obsolete". The new set contained 2 different springs (different rates, and also painted different colors), and 1 of them would usually let armorers replace an older or lighter spring and obtain a tension within the standard recommended range. It worked when I tried it a couple times, as I recall.

Now, S&W offered a range of different extractor springs for their different 3rd gen guns for armorers to use, which varied a bit by model/caliber.

There were a mix of Standard, Lighter, Extra light & Heavier than standard for the different 9/.40 guns. The spring rate range recommendations varied by model and caliber, including by whether it was a 39 series or a 59/69 series, and in the 59/69 series by whether it was an old or new bolt face design (round or straight cut bolt face). There was some cross-use of springs among the 9/.40 models (not counting the nested repair set), and then later there was even at least one (as I recall running across) spring made for a specific .40 production model which wasn't on the "list" of standard & optional springs for other models. The .45/10 guns had 3 springs, Standard, Heavy & Extra-Heavy.

OP, I'd also recommend sending the gun back to the factory, or, if the factory either won't do it, or wants too much, maybe try calling that guy in Texas who used to be a longtime factory authorized repair center. I never had to use him, being an armorer, but I think this link is him. You'd have to call. LSG, Mfg|Gun Parts|Warranty|Gunsmithing
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Old 06-20-2018, 05:27 PM
Kenneth07ex Kenneth07ex is offline
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Thanks Fastbolt! I'd read about this spring replacement procedure. That's the main reason I sent it back to Smith for repair. I might've found someone local but the factory seemed the best place to start. I did think about the old factory service center, but with shipping, it gets more expensive. So I decided to let the factory have a go at it. That was a very informative post that you made. Having just acquired this model I'm interested in upgrades. Specifically I was under the impression that because of the weight, that the recoil was light. While it certainly isn't heavy, it does seem heavier than most of my other, more recent, though much lighter 9mms. They're all modern designs, using dual recoil springs, or flat spring. I wonder if my 5906 could benefit from these advances? Are they even available?
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Old 06-21-2018, 12:35 AM
HOUSTON RICK HOUSTON RICK is offline
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I have a 5903 that is getting sticky on the extraction. Probably the same problem. thanks!
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Old 06-21-2018, 02:04 AM
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Thanks Fastbolt! I'd read about this spring replacement procedure. That's the main reason I sent it back to Smith for repair. I might've found someone local but the factory seemed the best place to start. I did think about the old factory service center, but with shipping, it gets more expensive. So I decided to let the factory have a go at it. That was a very informative post that you made. Having just acquired this model I'm interested in upgrades. Specifically I was under the impression that because of the weight, that the recoil was light. While it certainly isn't heavy, it does seem heavier than most of my other, more recent, though much lighter 9mms. They're all modern designs, using dual recoil springs, or flat spring. I wonder if my 5906 could benefit from these advances? Are they even available?
De nada.

A couple things to consider when comparing metal guns to plastic guns ....

Plastic frames may absorb recoil forces and make them feel different due to flexing of the frame, rather than transferring more of it (felt recoil) to the shooter.

While heavy all-steel guns can help dampen the effects of some of the felt recoil to some degree due to their increased weight, once that weight (mass) is moving, it's still going to be pushing against the shooter's hand, and a heavier gun has more mass moving against your hand than a lighter gun. This can be very subjective, though, and felt recoil can be "felt" (perceived) a bit differently from one person the next.

For example, when we were first doing some T&E with some .40 & .45 TSW's, using equivalent aluminum-framed and steel-framed models, some of our experienced shooters (instructors) noticed a surprising thing. The 4563TSW (alloy frame) seemed to produce less felt recoil than the same size model with a steel frame (4566TSW). Ditto the 4003TSW and the 4006TSW.

All we could come up with to try and explain it was that some shooters felt the slighter heavier all-steel guns moving more against their hand ... or, at least longer, meaning the "dwell time" of the recoil pushing against their hands ... than the lighter alloy-frame models. The muzzle snap/whip was perceived to be similar, but the heavier all-steel guns had a little more mass to slow (once it had started moving). The lighter guns had more of a snap/short push, and the heavier guns had more of a snap/shove.

Obviously, this varied among shooters, but it was interesting that it was something a few of us noticed. (And we were a group of shooters who had previously carried .357 & .44 Magnum revolvers in earlier years, so it's not like we weren't familiar with recoil.)

While S&W engineers "upgraded" the ejectors and guide rods for that last several years of 3rd gen production, the only guns that got dual/nested recoil springs were the shorter barreled (faster cycling) compacts, such as the 4513TSW, the 4013TSW and the short-lived 4040PD. They all used the same set of inner/outer nested springs, BTW. (The inner spring was much shorter and had a smaller coil diameter, so it could slip inside the much longer outer spring.)

Hopefully your early production 5906 will be given a quick inspection by the tech to whom the gun is given, looking for anything else that might require basic maintenance attention. The early ejectors had short tips and a sharp angle behind the tip on the bottom. The revised ejectors had longer tips, for faster ejection (especially with the increased slide velocities resulting from some of the hotter loads, like when +P and +P+ LE loads were introduced in the 9mm guns), and the angled corner was replaced with a curve, eliminating a potential stress riser (which might lend itself to a broken tip after enough time and extended use).

These are pretty simple and basic repairs for a factory tech (or factory trained armorer or gunsmith familiar with S&W pistols).

Let us know when you hear from the company, or you get your gun back. Last I heard, 3rd gen repairs were shipped from Springfield to the Houlton (Maine) plant, where the 3rd gen production had ended up before they finally ceased production of them).

Although I certainly dabbled in changing recoil springs rate as a younger shooter and armorer, especially as a longtime 1911 guy, I don't like to dabble with factory recoil springs when using factory ammo anymore. You start changing spring rates, you start having an effect on the operation of the gun, which can also mean accelerating wear patterns, or changing operating speeds (which may affect feeding timing), and it might even risk damaging the gun (such as if the wrong length spring is used when experimenting).

There's been some unhappy shooters who used a recoil spring that was too long in their 1911, and when the spring stacked (fully compressed) prematurely before the slide had traveled its intended distance, the slide could eventually (or quickly, suddenly) crack at the rear of the slide's spring box (recoil spring tunnel, well, etc). If you're a competition shooter who needs a lighter spring in order to shoot reduced power bunny-fart loads, and you know what you're doing, that's one thing. Back when the 4506 was in production, and the engineers realized some competition shooters liked using the 5" gun for competition, the factory produced a "wadcutter" recoil spring for sale, for use with the lighter powered target wadcutters.
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Old 06-21-2018, 07:09 AM
stansdds stansdds is offline
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Common things that will cause these pistols to fail to extract:
Underpowered ammo/too heavy recoil spring.
Chipped/broken extractor hook.
Weak extractor spring.
Gummy oil and powder residue build up in the extractor channel.
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Old 06-21-2018, 05:59 PM
Kenneth07ex Kenneth07ex is offline
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Common things that will cause these pistols to fail to extract:
Underpowered ammo/too heavy recoil spring.
Chipped/broken extractor hook.
Weak extractor spring.
Gummy oil and powder residue build up in the extractor channel.
Yes, I thought along similar lines. I checked all of the things that I could. Tried several different brands of ammo. Gave it a complete cleaning etc...The mags are new, and there's no difference in failures between the two. So I checked the rims with a caliper. The failure rate was higher on the smaller rimmed cases. As would be expected, especially with a spring, or worn extractor. What led me to really suspect the spring, was how easy it was to push the extractor in with my thumbnail.
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Old 06-21-2018, 06:54 PM
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Yes, I thought along similar lines. I checked all of the things that I could. Tried several different brands of ammo. Gave it a complete cleaning etc...The mags are new, and there's no difference in failures between the two. So I checked the rims with a caliper. The failure rate was higher on the smaller rimmed cases. As would be expected, especially with a spring, or worn extractor. What led me to really suspect the spring, was how easy it was to push the extractor in with my thumbnail.
Ammo case rim dimensions can easily be involved (and I've been told by the factory that an occasional batch of ammo by one or another of the major makers has sometimes revealed a tolerance variance at one or the other end of the industry standard).

A dirty chamber can't be ignored, either.

Interestingly enough, we were told that during production of the 5906TSW as a LE duty weapon, there was a change made to the chamber walls. I don't have my notes here (and I'm not even sure in which of the sets of notes it might have been jotted), but I thought I recalled it being a 1 degree straighter chamber wall. Supposedly the engineers decided that the minor adjustment made it less likely for ammo variances to potentially create a sticky case with that change. If memory serves, that revision was included in the change of the 9mm caliber marking on the barrel hood being 9MM, in large numbers/letters, versus the previous much smaller font 9mm Parabellum marking. Trivia.

This makes sense when I remember how the former head armorer might sometimes get out one of his finishing chamber reamers to carefully take down a high spot in the chamber of one of the older 3rd gen guns. That typically resolved an occasional sticky extraction issues that might occur in some particular early production 3rd gen, but when he was teaching me to do it he strongly cautioned that over zealousness in using the reamer could damage a chamber and ruin a barrel.

Funny you should mention the "thumb nail check".

After I'd been a 3rd gen armorer for a while (a couple classes under my belt), I found I was able use a "thumb nail press check" to guess almost within half a pound of the actual tension. When someone might bring me one of the aging 3rd gen's out on the firing line, reporting a failure-to-extract, and the extractor hook looked good, I did this thumb nail out of the range. I surprised some of the other armorers by being able to often guess the spring tension within half-to-one-pound of the actual tension, just by pushing on the extractor tail a couple times.

One of the times it even surprised me was when one of the guys reported some consistent failures-to-extract with one of our fairly new 4006TSW's (maybe a year old). When he brought me the gun out on the firing line, I did the thumb nail press check as a habit, while ,inspecting the gun before taking it back to the bench, not really expecting to find the tension on the new gun to be out-of-spec.

But my thumb nail told me it was too light. It felt almost a pound or two too light.

When I took the gun back to the bench and got out the dial gauge, the measurements I got showed the tension between 3-3 1/2 lbs, and the normal range was supposed to be 5-8lbs.

The spring looked undamaged, and was the right color (unpainted for the standard spring for that model). Thinking it might still be the spring, even though I didn't see anything obviously wrong by eye, I got out another standard spring and installed it. The same below normal tension. Well, hell.

I checked the spring list for that model and tried the other 2 extractor springs available for the 4006TSW, and found that the heaviest of them put the tension well within the normal spec range. Range testing of the gun, including in the issued shooter's hands, showed that the gun ran perfectly as desired (and intended). Weird. Must've just been one of those slides where the CNC machine made the extractor spring well just a little off on the "generous" end of the depth tolerance. (It also served as an example of why the TSW models usually came with 2 or 3 springs listed in the parts list for that model, with the standard spring being listed first, but others listed in case needed needed by an armorer to put a gun within normal spec.)
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Old 06-21-2018, 07:46 PM
Kenneth07ex Kenneth07ex is offline
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@Fastbolt, I don't pretend to have any special experience, or knowledge about the thumbnail test. But by coincidence, it was an old post by you, on this forum, that gave me the idea. I do have several different 9mm pistols. They're all about the same on the thumbnail press. And I suspect that's because of the 9mm case size, weight, etc. Is all the same for each gun. So it makes sense that they'd be extremely similar. But this one was a much easier press. That along with the scuffs on the brass, suggested to me that the extractor, and or spring was the culprit. But it was definitely your description of the process of replacing that spring that helped me decide to send it in. Also the ability of the factory to spec all the parts involved and evaluate the whole thing played a large part.
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Old 07-28-2018, 04:55 PM
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Just an update here. S&W sent me a letter with the estimate.$45.00 for parts, $81.00 for labor, $13.00 shipping. Grand total $139.00!

Only problem is...the factory is shutting down for a couple weeks for maintenance. Bummer. But I should have the little guy back in the line up soon.
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Old 07-31-2018, 12:12 PM
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Just an update here. S&W sent me a letter with the estimate.$45.00 for parts, $81.00 for labor, $13.00 shipping. Grand total $139.00!

Only problem is...the factory is shutting down for a couple weeks for maintenance. Bummer. But I should have the little guy back in the line up soon.
I don't know why S&W CS treats people differently.

I sent my 5906 in for the same issue and S&W covered everything including shipping both ways. The gun shoots flawlessly now with zero issues.

I also bought a 4506 a while back and the guy I got it from showed me his receipt from S&W for about $200. worth of what I would consider warranty items.
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Old 07-31-2018, 12:41 PM
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Well, now that the 3rd gen pistol line has been officially "obsolete" for a while, and 3rd gen pistol repair has been shifted to the Houlton plant (even before remaining LE production was discontinued), it's probably unsurprising that the company has been increasingly adhering to the existing official policy of only offering free "warranty" repairs to the original buyers (except for designated LE/Demo trade-ins, at times).

There's going to come a time when they completely stop making even limited orders of small batches of some repair parts from their vendors. I've already been told that some of the assemblies and parts needed for them simply aren't being re-ordered anymore.
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Old 07-31-2018, 01:58 PM
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I see Wolff offers extractor springs in 1/2 pound to 1 pound over stock , depending on model. Hopefully Wolff and other aftermarket business keep making springs and other common needed parts for the next 20 years. I keep extra recoil springs for my 4566 and 3913 and 5903SSV , as I shoot them the most . While the 4006 CHP not so much but I still really like it. That reminds me, off to order more recoil springs.
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Old 08-05-2018, 04:14 PM
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I see Wolff offers extractor springs in 1/2 pound to 1 pound over stock , depending on model. Hopefully Wolff and other aftermarket business keep making springs and other common needed parts for the next 20 years. I keep extra recoil springs for my 4566 and 3913 and 5903SSV , as I shoot them the most . While the 4006 CHP not so much but I still really like it. That reminds me, off to order more recoil springs.
Some years ago I tried one of the Wolff S&W extractor springs while repairing a 6906. The tension came very heavy. Heavier than the normal upper range recommended, using the force dial gauge sold to armorers. I used one of the factory springs, instead. (BTW, I've long been a user/fan of many of the recoil and magazine springs sold by the fine people at Wolff, depending on the make/model of different guns. I tend to prefer the factory recoil springs for 3rd gen models, though, as well as the ability to fine tune extractor tension using factory springs.)

A little while later I had occasion to ask someone at Wolff about how they'd developed their S&W metal pistol extractor spring ratings. I was told they used a different way to measure spring tension than S&W engineers, and they didn't offer a lot of different extractor springs.

Now, FWIW, S&W used to provide a wide range of extractor springs for armorer use. They basically offered "standard" springs, lighter-than-standard, extra-light, heavy and extra heavy springs. There was some overlap among some different calibers and models, too.

Then, as revisions were developed and made available (like in the TSW's), there came to be a list of standard production springs listed, as well as optional springs (which might be needed to create optimal functioning in any particular pistol). Every now and again a specific model, or a revision in some model's production run, might get its own specific extractor spring. (A couple of the double stack .40's come to mine.)

Bottom line? Even armorers approach replacing extractor springs with some recommended caution, and there's usually a reason the older guns (meaning the 3rd gen metal pistols) may require measuring the extractor spring tension and trying a different spring in order to get the tension range to fall within the recommended range.

Fortunately, the new guns, like the M&P's, benefit from more modern design, manufacturing and production improvements. They no longer require armorers to buy extractor bar gauges to fit M&P extractors (it was only required for the .40/.357 guns, initially), and armorers no longer have to worry about keeping a selection of so many springs on hand.
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