It’s time for me to eat a little crow. Last week Brandon over at Monderno mentioned that Rob Pincus was having some failure to feed issues with his XDs 9mm, and I came out and said that mine had did it once, but after I ran a few rounds through the pistol, it never did it again.
Guess what? It happened again.
Here’s what happened: when loading the pistol, I inserted the magazine and pulled the slide rear. I’m pretty good about not riding the slide forward, or short stroking it, and I let it go. The slide traveled forward about 3/8″ then stopped. You can see in the below picture that the slide is not locked to the rear, but it has slid forward, and is being held open by the round that is jammed inside.
The slide was stuck. I tried giving it a tap on the rear with my palm, and it would not go into battery.
When I looked in the breech, I could see that the round was caught up either on the bottom of the feed ramp, or on the ramped part of the locking block below the feed ramp.
In the next picture below, I’ve pulled the slide rear and locked it. You can see how far the round traveled forward before it jammed the slide open. You can also see my tactical toes…
So, what’s the problem here?
Today I did some detective work. I shucked the 7 rounds of Hornady TAP FTP out of the magazine and loaded it with 5 A-Zoom snap caps. I proceeded to rack the slide, chambering and unchambering the snap-caps a whole bunch of times, and not once did the pistol jam. I even tried applying pressure on the top round (with a small piece of wood so I didn’t smash my finger…), pushing it toward the bottom of the feed ramp, and I still couldn’t make it jam.
I noticed that the Hornady rounds were quite a bit shorter than the snap caps were, and I think this is actually the issue. To confirm, I scrounged up 7 rounds of Federal HST 124gr +p, loaded them into the magazine, and chambered and unchambered them over 100 times. Not once did they jam.
The Federal HST rounds (left) are a good bit longer than the Hornady TAP FTP rounds (right). I turned my garage upside down looking for my calipers so I could give you an exact OAL for each of these rounds, but they are still missing…
Being that the HST’s are longer, this allows the bullet to contact the feed ramp and start traveling up toward the chamber before the case rim passes the bottom of the feed ramp/locking block. I also suspect that bullet profile may be playing into this a little bit. The more rounded shape of the HST closely mimics the shape of ball ammo which has been 100% in this pistol.
Here’s where this all gets even more interesting: I’ve fired exactly 50 rounds of the Hornady TAP FTP through this pistol, and all of them have fed, and fired just fine while on the range, the feeding issue only occurred when loading the pistol at home.
I think Springfield Armory tried to mitigate this issue by relieving a small portion of the locking block under the feed ramp, but when you add the short cartridge to this small pistol it becomes a perfect storm, and things don’t work quite as nicely as we would like them to.
If you are having this issue, I’d recommend trying a cartridge with a little longer overall length. I’m also going to attempt to rule out the bullet profile, as I really like how the Hornady projectile performs. I suspect that the 135gr Hornady Critical Defense cartridge should be a little longer, and it may mitigate the issue completely.