.I've owned and carried a S+W M+P 9c for a few years now. It's a wonderful carry pistol with some well thought out features. Controls are minimal, with no external safeties to deal with. The sights are decent, accuracy is exceptional, and the magazine capacity is sufficient. It's a joy to shoot, pointing naturally, with a decent trigger right from the factory.
All this is good..... but there is a fly in the ointment. The 9c has one flaw, and it's not insignificant.
After owning, shooting, and carrying the pistol for some months it began doing something disconcerting. The magazine would release and drop at times when I hadn't planned on doing so. Sometimes in the holster, and sometimes when I brushed the release while shooting the pistol. I discussed the issue back then, in a number of posts linked together.
At the time, I shipped the pistol back to Smith and Wesson for an updated magazine catch. Given the minuscule engagement of the catch to the magazine, it needed to be perfect. The one my pistol came with had taken some wear from normal use, and that contributing to the problem.
Smith and Wesson returned my pistol with a new catch installed. It appeared to be exactly the same, except it was coated with something slick to reduce wear. I've been using the pistol ever since with no problems, and have fired thousands of rounds through it. It's been a daily carry for CCW purposes, and the magazine catch issue has not reared it's ugly head..... till now.
I noticed a few times lately the magazine had released during normal handling. That's just not something I'm willing to tolerate in a defensive carry pistol. There's been no sign that Smith and Wesson has done anything new with the issue, so I've been left to my own resources. That is a sure recipe for disaster.
Here, in a series of photos and descriptions, I'll journal what I've done to my 9c to solve the problem. As in everything, your mileage may vary. I'm certain Smith and Wesson would frown on every single thing I've done here, and thats their prerogative. Of the other hand, this is my weapon and my responsibility, and I'm perfectly willing to rely on myself to fix a problem the manufacturer can't seem to.
Should someone else try to modify their own 9c as I have done? That's up to them, but I would encourage second thoughts first. Even the smallest mistake here might render the pistol useless or undependable. Most people would be better shipping their pistol back to S+W if they have this problem.
The magazine catch button on the 9c is pronounced, and protrudes past the body line of the pistol. While this makes it easy to operate for people with small hands, it also makes it possible to activate unintentionally by brushing the pistol with hand or holster.
The magazine has holes on either side to accommodate the ambidextrous latch mechanism. The problem is not in the magazine.... this arrangement is universally used in other firearms without problem.
Looking inside the magazine well to view the latch in operation, we find the latch itself and it's torsion bar spring which is permanently installed in the polymer molded frame. The latch can be easily removed and reversed for left handed shooters.
Tearing down a magazine and inserting the empty body into the well, we can see the magazine catch just barely engages the hole in the magazine body.
Measured with a vernier caliper, it amounts to about .020" of engagement, which is too close for comfort.
I chose to attack this problem in three ways at the same time. Each modification being small, but adding up to a magazine catch which works better than the factory allowed.
This is the magazine latch removed from the pistol. The limiting factor for it's ability to engage the magazine is how far it can protrude into the magazine well. This is determined by the lip in the plastic body just outboard of the metal catch itself. This lip seats on the frame, and limits the travel of the magazine catch into the well.
Using a razer knife and large lit magnifier, I trimmed back the lip about .020" all the way around the magazine catch, as shown. Dressed with a fine square file after being trimmed, it allowed the catch to seat that much deeper into the frame.
Taking care of the catch so it could engage deeper, I turned to the torsion bar spring. It seemed weak, again making the catch easier to operate for people with small hands. I have large hands and can deal with more tension on the latch, so wished to have a firmer spring.
The torsion bar spring is not replaceable, so I chose to strengthen what was there. Cutting the plastic body from a Q-tip to length, I carefully installed the plastic tube onto the torsion bar. There, it shimmed the bar tighter, and acted as a spring itself when it came up against the frame on activation.
The tiniest drop of 241 Loctite on the bar keeps it in place.
Here, the latch mechanism is fully assembled and the empty magazine body once again installed, we can see the latch engagement is considerably deeper. In fact, it's just about doubled. In addition, it requires a firmer activation of the latch to drop the magazine.
The last step was to carefully reduce the outside dimension of the latch button so it would be less likely to inadvertently drop the magazine.
With a fine file and emery cloth I removed some material from the button surface.
Adding up the three modifications, I have a great deal more confidence in the magazine catch on my S+W 9c. It feels firmer and less likely to drop the magazine by mistake.
Any pistol shooter can drop a magazine from their weapon, and training is the best cure for that. Starting with a pistol that doesn't do so by itself... that is a good first step.
Several weeks of carry and several hundred rounds later, the modifications seem to be working perfectly. The plastic tube has not slipped at all, and the magazine is firmly retained yet easy to remove.
Quotes of the day - War?
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