Should I polish the feed lips on my mags?

This is a discussion on Should I polish the feed lips on my mags? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I think I already know the answer to this but here goes... I have a couple of guns that generally feed OK but if they ...

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Thread: Should I polish the feed lips on my mags?

  1. #1
    Member Array John Wesley's Avatar
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    Should I polish the feed lips on my mags?

    I think I already know the answer to this but here goes...

    I have a couple of guns that generally feed OK but if they ever "jam" it is because the round barely doesn't make it into the chamber. Pushing the slide will usually finish chambering the round.

    One is fairly new and there are no "extra power" recoil springs available.

    I am thinking that if I polished the feed lips a little that it might offer less resistance to the rounds being chambered resulting in even more reliable feeding.

    (Both guns are broken in and are well cleaned and lubed.)

    What do you think?

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    I don't know the answer, but am interested in the opinions. You are asking about polishing the inside where the cartridges run against the metal?
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    I would not. The feed lips are not that thick to begin with. Perhaps you need to try a little break in , or polishing the feed ramp for better reliability.
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    My 2c ......... no to polish of lips but - do ensure max internal smoothness inside mag (no sticky lube either!) and external smoothness on follower. IMO if follower ''snags'' even a bit - the last round or two might not be fully presented.

    Other thing and .... great care with this - it can be beneficial to tweak feed lips fractionally to also better improve round presentation. The ''tip-up'' angle is critical and maybe a test using dummy rounds and slow feed thru observation might mean you can make the small changes ... but with care - a mag' can be ruined by over-judicious messing

    Final thing - some mag's and usually cheapo's - can have the engagement slot for mag release slightly off - and if this means mag not fully in and so right height at top - again problems are possible.
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    Depends on what the root-cause problem is, I think.

    I'm of the opinion that simply changing ammo will have a higher probability of success. You may well be trying to fit a "square peg into a round hole" with your current ammo, which might barely work but not quite well enough to bet your life on.

    Data point: In my earliest reviews of the CZ P01 during break-in, I reported an interesting issue with certain shorter rounds. CorBon JHP 9mm rounds were notably shorter than anything else, and they fed horribly. Most ammo was about the same length and fed markedly better. The Federal Hydrashok Tactical JHP 9mm fed very well, and it was a bit longer still. And the overall longest round I've found is the DoubleTap JHP 9mm round. It's also completely reliable. The nose-down situation with the ultra-short CorBons simply never happens with the DT's. On a couple of mags, I took some light emory paper and mildly polished the lips of a couple mags, but it didn't seem to make much difference. Swapping ammo was night and day. Another gun I used to have once had problems like this when the recoil spring wasn't fresh. So, I kept a supply of 10 on hand and swapped them out every 1500 rds or so. Keeping the feed ramp well-polished, well-lubed and using fresh recoil springs worked like magic, on that gun (a Browning BDM, 11yrs ago).
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    Good point Michael and one I forgot to mention.

    I did some comparisons a ways back on various 9mm SD ammo and apart from bullet profile subtleties, indeed OAL was quite variable too.
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    Member Array John Wesley's Avatar
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    I was talking about just the insides of the mag where the round is held. (Inside of the feed lips.)

    Once the slide stopped short of closing. It felt odd but before I looked at it the round slipped into the chamber and the slide completely closed. I was just thinking that a bit more velocity on the forward movement of the slide might help. (I didn't want to use oil or grease on it.)

    I have had to "form" the feed lips on cheap mags before to get them to feed properly but it looks like these mags are positioning the round properly.

    I have tried different brands and types of ammo. - doesn't seem to matter. Thanks! (Maybe dry lube on the feed lips???)

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    What specific gun and magazines are we speaking of? Perhaps someone with particular knowledge of that given gun would have more to go on, knowing specifics.

    I know that a frame, barrel, cycling time, magazine ... each of these is designed as a system. Fool with any one of them, and the system can become less stable. Sort of like a car's suspension, where the springs, shocks, geometry and unsprung weight operate as a system to get the job done. Tuning is often required with cars. I've found that tuning is generally required with a firearm, as well.

    In this case, assuming the basic gun/magazine is a known quality package, then something needs a little bit of adjustment (such as polishing or bending the magazine's feed lips, or altering the cycle timing, polishing of the ramp, etc).
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    Member Array John Wesley's Avatar
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    It doesn't happen often on either gun but the two guns are a Ruger 345 and a Glock 36. I am using factory mags in both. No single mag seems any more prone to this than the others.

    I do not believe it is limp-wristing as I tend to lock my elbow straight. etc.

    There's been some good advice in this thread though...

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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    You can check your mag lips by running your fingernail along the underside of the lip. If you feel a snag, a light application of Emery cloth will clear things up.

    Something else to try- use a felt bullt point with a Dremel, and some 600-800 lapping compound, and polish the feed ramps and chambersof your barrels. You won't change any significant dimensions unless you sit there a loooooonnnnggg time, with those grits, but, occassionally, a somewhat rough chamber will cause the hangups you describe.

    Do the above, and replace the mainsprings, maybe replace your mag springs, and I bet things will resolve. I've gotten a couple of short-lived factory springs, myself, this past year.

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    I have tried different brands and types of ammo. - doesn't seem to matter. Thanks! (Maybe dry lube on the feed lips???)
    Not sure dry lube would work. Nothing to keep it in place, it would just fall into the mag and feed through the system on any rounds it stuck to.
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    IMHO if you are feeding it top quality mags , and a reasonable round and it still has issues its time for a visit to a smith or warranty . Changes on feedlips are almost an ironclad contract for a miss feed . From the desctiption of your stoppage i will speculate its more to your clean/lube practice than mags . Try re cleaning the handgun with special attention to lubing the bearing surfaces well on re assembly .
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    added information

    Friction is the enemy of flawless feeding in any semi-auto firearm.
    So anything that "hangs up" during the feed cycle will eat up slide return energy that is needed in order to move the cartridge out of the magazine and up into the barrel chamber and also up into the extractor.

    While a small amount of roughness or nicks on the magazine lips may not seem like much of a problem - the detrimental effect of rough mag lips is GREATLY intensified in a full (or nearly full) magazine due to the incredible amount of upward spring pressure (on the top cartridge) in a fully stoked magazine.
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