Dear TGR Gunsmith,
My grandson has a .22 Trailside competition pistol that is giving us trouble. It seems that every tenth shot or so results in nothing but a “click” instead of a shot going off. The round seems to be going into battery correctly but there is no visible “hit” on the rim of the cartridge. We have taken the gun apart and everything seems to be fine, we have also sent the gun back to the importer (Jerry’s) and they have recently replaced the entire slide for us due to a previous issue with the firing pin. They also did a trigger job on the gun while they had it. I complained to them since, they have taken the gun back and tested it and could find no issues, but this still keeps happening whenever my grandson or I shoot the pistol. We are frustrated and don’t want to have to deal with Jerry’s any longer, but don’t know what to do at this point. What could be causing this?
I have seen this type of thing before and I know it can be extremely frustrating, especially after having shipped the gun back and forth a number of times. There are a few possibilities that could be causing the issue with your Trailside, but the first thing worth mentioning is that these kind of high-end competition pistols are made to very strict tolerances. Part of what that means is that the breech end of the barrel and the match-grade chamber are cut to match one another exactly. That also means if the shape of the breech has changed–even a little–the gun may not always go into battery. (“In battery” is when the gun is “locked up”, with the slide forward, and barrel in proper firing position. Can be loaded or not.)
How can this happen? Well, if the gun is dry-fired excessively, the striker is releasing and could be slamming into the breech since there is nothing in between (like the rim of a cartridge). This could also result from excessive use of “floor sweep ammo”, aka; not the highest quality, that could me misfeeding–just a little–but enough so that the gun does not lock into battery, but still results in a “click” when the trigger is pulled. In these cases–high quality ammo and use of a dry-fire plug is highly recommended in these types of pistols.
What this all means is that by allowing the striker to hit the wall of the breech, it can place a burr or misshape the roundness of the breech and prevent the round from feeding all the way in. Match grade barrels are such that the bullet actually touches the rifling inside the barrel when properly fed. With a misshapen breech, this can occasionally cause the problem you are experiencing.