Kahr P45 recoil spring wearing out after 850 rounds
I'll start with the letter I sent Kahr on my problem:
I bought a Kahr P45 in August 2006. I realize it's well out of the warranty but I
wanted to relate what I think is a design issue.
After about 850 rounds of midrange loads (standard commercial), and my 200gr flat point
reloads (actually a bit lighter than commercial) I started getting periodic failures to
extract. They became more prevalent as time went on, and when I tried my carry
load - commercial Hornady XTP 200gr hollow points, the FTEs became an every-shot thing.
The cases were being left about halfway out of the chamber. It appeared that extraction
had been premature before the case had unsealed, and the extractor had stripped over the
I suspected a worn recoil spring, contacted Kahr, and was sent a new spring under warranty.
The new spring was a full 1/4" or more longer than the old one. No question it had lost
Sure enough, my P45 functioned perfectly until today when I started getting an occasional
FTE with standard loads - about 8 out of 100 or so. This time the case made it completely
out of the chamber, but was stuck partially into the rear back of the magazine lips, angled
up at 45 degrees or so. The slide had to be pushed very firmly to its extreme rear before
the case could be pivoted out. Almost as if the weak spring allowed the action to function
rapidly enough for the slide to catch the case on the way back into battery.
I figure it's been about 900 rounds or so, although I haven't kept an exact count.
I've ordered a couple of recoil springs, as well as an extractor and two striker springs just
for good measure.
The spring failure may be due to taking a set over time, or incorrect alloy mix.
It appears that the spring must be replaced every 800 rounds or so to prevent FTEs - not good
in a defensive handgun. The P45 is my every day carry piece and is excellent in all respects
except this rather serious situation.
Do you know about this problem? Have you gotten any other similar complaints? Any plans to
employ a better quality recoil spring?
A possible solution might be a concentric recoil spring arrangement like the Para-Ordnance
P10 and others.
NOTE: Hornady XTP 200gr is my carry ammo and usually functions perfectly.
Has anyone else here experienced this? If so, how often do you replace your spring to
ensure reliability? I'm guessing it needs to be done every 800 rounds or so, unless
and until Kahr does something about it. I'll repost and give their response if/when
I get one.
FYI, my practice loads are Starline brass, Ranier Ballistics 200gr copper-coated flat
points ahead of 5.3gr of Bullseye and Winchester primers. These have somewhat less
recoil and velocity than than the Hornady XTPs. I do NOT use "hot loads" in the P45 - it's
necessarily a lightly-constructed handgun and IMHOP is simply not meant for maximum
loads. Reloading data given for informational purposes only - your mileage may vary.
One of the many reasons I wouldn't own one.........I hear alot of that.......it doesn't do this, it does that, but other than that, it's a great firearm...it's like saying.....my transmission fell out, my steering wheel broke, my tire fell off, but, other than that, it's a great car......
Initially, the Lotus 49 sheared cam timing teeth, bent radius rod brackets, the Cosworth engine had breathing problems, and the
original gearbox tended to self destruct from torsional stress.
Clark also won the first race the car appeared in (Zandvoort '67), and it went on to become one of the most successful designs
in motor racing history.
Successful engineering means identifying the cause of a given failure, and redesigning the culprit if possible until success is
obtained. No one ever got anywhere by abandoning a good design for want of solutions to a minimal number of faults.
For me, the P45 was flawless in both cases until the recoil springs wore out. It fits my hand, fits my small frame in a
comfortable carry, and I shoot well and naturally with it. Everyone is different, but in my case it's worth pursuing a solution
to the spring fault.
So I'm looking for constructive comments from people who have had the same problem.
Mark, I have absolutely no experience with any Kahr pistol. However, I have years and years of experience with the 1911, and with a couple of Officers'-Model-size, 1911 shorties. Based upon that experience, I offer you the following observations:
Originally Posted by Mark087
All of the recoil springs in all of my pistols have lost about 1/4" of length during service, with no effect upon the performance of the guns. It is normal for a coil spring to "take a set" at a length slightly shorter than that of when it was new.
That said, many shortie semi-autos are spring sensitive, and some makers tell you to replace the recoil spring every 500 rounds...or every 750 rounds, or every 1,000 rounds, or whatever. If your pistol requires recoil-spring replacement every 500 rounds, I suggest that it's a relatively inexpensive "cost of doing business" with your otherwise-satisfactory defensive weapon.
Still, I must note that two of my full-size 1911 pistols, used for more than 20 years in practical-shooting competition, have never needed new recoil springs. They are still chugging along satisfactorily with the original springs. Neither pistol bobbles its ejections. (The shorties don't get used that much.)
Just for the heck of it, I also offer that sometimes extraction problems have their origin in shooter technique.
If your pistol's recoil spring does indeed begin to weaken at, say, 500 rounds, could it also be that you are yourself tiring out at that point, and are gripping the pistol in a grasp that's a little weaker than that of your early-in-the-day technique? That might cause extraction problems too.
It is at least worth checking-out.
But, all-in-all, I don't think that having to change the recoil spring every so often, in a gotta-be-reliable, save-your-life gun, is a particularly terrible flaw, as long as you know the interval well.
Yes, it's inelegant, as engineering goes, but it isn't terrible. And, as I understand it, Kahrs aren't the only ones with this, um, flaw.
Then I would suggest that you look for constructive comments from Kahr.....do you expect a forum member to redesign your firearm........I would suggest, that most on this forum would have either put up with the flaws, or gotten rid of it....I just read a constructive idea, replace your spring on a regular basis, or buy a better firearm..........." is excellent in all respects except this rather serious situation." Sounds to me, like you have lost confidence with this firearm, and I stand by my original statement. Is that constructive enough for ya.........
Steve - Your comments are pretty much in tune with what I've been thinking. I also have a couple of M1911s, one of which is a parked 1944 mil issue with (as far as I know) the original spring. Always works, every time. But my concern is 1/4"+ is a much smaller fraction of the total length of the 1911 spring than the Kahr spring. And there's been a definite correlation between the latter wearing out and FTEs.
Roger on the shooter technique. In this case, the FTEs started early in the session when I was still fresh. Didn't make that clear in my original post.
Roger also on the periodic recoil spring change as maintenance suggestion. Like an oil change. That's what was on my mind when I ordered a couple the other day. Since this is the only flaw I've been able to find in my carry gun so far, I figure the extra effort at vigilance is worth it. Count rounds, when I hit 700, change the $9 spring.
It'll be interesting to see how Kahr responds. It's very possible the current spring is a necessary compromise between spring force and hardness. If a spring is made too stiff, that may mean it's too brittle and the very last thing you want is for it to break - that can lock the piece up tight.
New recoil springs appear to have solved problem
Got the new recoil springs from Kahr yesterday, and thought at first they'd sent me the wrong ones.
They were over an inch longer than the ones I was replacing! Taking into account the 1/4" of
shrinkage I was seeing on the originals, that's still over 3/4" longer to start with.
The new springs had the same number of coils, but they were spread out over a longer length.
I miked the originals in several places and got .043" diameter. The new ones miked at .045".
.002" is a small difference, but over 22 coils it was enough to make the difference I felt.
I wondered how the heck I was gonna get the thing into the gun, and sure enough it was a real
pain. Literally. The muzzle end kept wanting to sproing out. Finally I found I could compress some
coils onto the chamber end of the guide rod at first so there weren't as many at the muzzle end.
Slide operation is noticeably tougher - a good thing, but would it shoot? Just went through 50
of my midrange reloads and a mag of my carry ammo - Hornady 200gr XTPs - with no burps
whatsoever. I limp-wristed a few on purpose with no burps.
Ran out of time so will continue later. But no further posts on my part about this will indicate
I'm satisfied. It's obvious that Kahr has gone to a completely different spring design, and for the
better. Unless you count what I'm now going to call "Kahr Recoil Spring Thumb".
Additional recoil spring testing - Good news/bad news
The good news is I ran another 50 rounds through without any FTEs or burps of any kind, including deliberate
limp-wristing to see if I could induce a failure. Even on my worst day I wouldn't hold the piece as loose as I
tried - and it cycled no problemo. Cartridges included a wide variety of mid-range loads - commercial
PMC FMJ, Federal FMJ, my flat point reloads, Mil Ball 230 FMJ, Hornady 200gr XTP JHP carry loads, etc.
The bad news (possibly) is when I stripped the piece for cleaning, the spring had shrunk back down to the
same length of the worn-out springs! This means the spring lost an inch in just 100 rounds. Maybe normal
and expected - I intend to find that out.
Since I had no failures, there is absolutely no question that my FTEs were again caused by a worn-out
recoil spring. I've been trying to get through to the Kahr tech people to ask some very pointed questions
about the spring redesign, whether they've tested one to failure, and what their results were.
So far, their line has been constantly busy. I emailed over a week ago - no response. I'll keep trying
until I get through and post what I find out here.
Loss of length—spring set—is not an issue, as long as the spring functions as it was intended to do.
All coil springs "take a set," some more than others.
The only criterion is: Does it do its job?
It's nice to see your issue resolved!
I was about to order a new Kahr recoil spring for my P45 from Midway, when I found a review from a purchaser that may be helpful. My P45 has been a great gun, my number one choice for CC, but it (also) has began to FTE on the last round in the magazine. The empty typically ends up in a stovepipe jam with the rim back in the magazine. I was convinced that this was probably a sign that the recoil spring was losing its tension and was letting the slide cycle too quickly. It has 900 to 1000 rds through it. The reviewer commented that he had gone through 2 or 3 replacement Kahr recoil springs, with the fix always being temporary. His long term fix was when he was given a Glock Model 22 recoil spring. He cut 2 coils off the spring and used it in his P45. Problem solved. His conclusion was that the Kahr recoil springs lost their tension, and pretty quickly. I changed my order to a couple of Wolff springs for the Glock 22. The Model 22 standard spring is 19 pounds. I ordered a 20 pound and a 22 pound spring, and will give them a try as soon as the weather moderates enough to do some shooting. I also ordered an extra spring for my son, who has the exact same problem with his P45. I contacted Kahr Customer Service via email weeks ago about the FTE issue, and am still waiting for a response. Disappointing. Love the pistol except for this problem.
Please post back about your results with the new spring. I obtained a P45 in a recent trade and the PO said he had about 400 rounds through it. I have put 150 through it myself and have not had a fte problem however today at the range, I had a light strike on one round of PMC ammo. I shot 50 PMC and 20 Federal AE through it today and that was the only problem. First time for that one. I'll be glad to know if your fix is successful as it appears this may be a somewhat common issue.
Have you considered Wolfe replacement springs when the time comes? I use them whenever I replace firearm springs and the improvement has been dramatic in some cases. Replacing recoil springs is part of normal upkeep in a semi-auto, says I...
Can't argue your logic. Wolff makes excellent springs.
Originally Posted by GaryO7
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