Tuning external extractor on a Firestar? - Pistolsmith

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Old 06-17-2002, 11:37 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Midland, Texas
Posts: 4
I own a Star M-43 Firestar 9mm that I bought used some years ago. I noticed that the firing pin indentions in the spent primers were being smeared to one side as though the firing pin was still protruding from the breech face as the barrel was ramping down.

This was about the time there were articles in the gun mags concerning similar smeared primer indentions found in guns chambered for the then new 40 S&W. It was speculated at the time that manufacturers still had not perfected the timing for the 40 caliber.

I wrote to the NRA technical staff and asked their opinion of the cause of the smeared indentions in my Firestar. I received a very nice reply that stated the most probable cause was a weak recoil spring.

I only recently got around to ordering a new Wolfe recoil spring which also included a new firing pin spring. I have shot one box of UMC 115 gr ball with the new springs installed. The primer indentions are now perfectly round with no sign of smearing. Great, one problem solved.

But out of that one box, I had 3 failures to eject, with the spent case left 3/4 out of the chamber and the next live round jammed up against the bottom of it. The extractor is being pulled out of the extractor groove of the empty case. The question is why?

The pistol has failed to eject in the past so I was hoping the new recoil spring might slow the slide cycle down and allow the ejector to stay with the cases better, but evidently not.

I'm familiar with fitting the internal extractor in a 1911 style pistol. The rim of the case is held by tension against the rim slot cut in the extractor. The hook of the extractor does not touch the case in the extractor cut, but only the rear face of the hook contacts the front face of the case rim during the extraction cycle.

The Star external extractor is just the opposite. The rim of the case has major clearance with the cut in the extractor. The case is held by the tension of the tip of the extractor hook against the bottom of the extractor cut in the case. Are all external extractors designed to apply tension to the case in this fashion? I've never found anything written on how to properly fit or tune an external extractor for maximum reliablility. The extractor spring tension is more than sufficient to securly hold a live round against the breech face.

The extractor tip is very long and it would take major surgery to remove and reshape the tip to allow the case to be held only by the rim as would be correct for the 1911.

It might be dificult to find a replacement extractor, though I haven't research it yet. So I'm interested in any information you guys might have on the correct tuning of an external extractor and a possible source for a new extractor to fit the Firestar 9mm. I'm sure someone has had a pistol with an external extractor that failed to extract and found a cure.

Thanks, Charlie
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Old 10-23-2002, 03:53 PM   #2
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Idaho
Posts: 27
I have a .40 S&W Firestar that has recently developed the same jamming problem you mention. My thinking is that the ejector is wobbling a bit front-to-rear and screwing up the timing. My ejector has a small divot in the upper corner which I believe is from the factory, but it's possible it has been damaged and should have a square shoulder.

My guess is that the slide is too slow or the ejector walks back a bit and starts spinning the case out too late and the next round feeds underneath.

I'll post it here if I find an answer.

>> I discovered that my ejector had broken off, but I finally found a parts source.
Old 11-06-2002, 10:32 AM   #3
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Idaho
Posts: 27
Mike, at this number, bought out the Star inventory from Interarms when Star closed up shop in the US. He apparently has many parts and was a Star armorer at Interarms.

M&M Parts

703 739 2150.
Old 11-06-2002, 11:15 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 1,559
For starters, I would look at a couple of things:
1. Make sure the hook is still in good shape and not chipped or rounded-off.
2. Make sure the edge of the hook is making contact with the cartridge and not the front or any other part of the extractor.
3. Check that the hook is engaging the cartridge rim at a positive angle, not parallal or a negative engagement angle.

BTW, the firing pin spring is probably what helped your primer smearing problem. The stronger spring probably retracts the firing pin sooner.

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