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    Contributing Member eb in oregon's Avatar
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    M1 Carbine gas piston

    I'm well aware this topic has been beat up, tossed about, argued about, and discussed numerous times, but it bears mention again.

    I've owned and shot M1icon Carbines for over 45 years. My first rifle purchase after finishing my first tour in the Army in 1974 was a Plainfield carbine. It was identical to the military carbine except for a birch stock with a plastic butt plate and it worked flawlessly. Until it was stolen during a home robbery when we were at work over 30 years ago. However before it was stolen I'd experienced gas pistol/cylinder problems from shooting quantities of lead bullets in it. One day it just quit working.

    I found the gas piston stuck in the extended position and it wouldn't budge. Disassembling the piston (I've a set of armorer's wrenches and tools) I found the gas cylinder packed with lead. It took some careful work to carve it out without scratching the bore. Once that was done it worked like gang busters again, up until it was stolen.

    But then last year I was shooting with my older brother and he was shooting his M1 carbine and it was having functioning problems. I brought the carbine home, disassembled it, and found the gas piston stuck in the extended position. The gas cylinder was full of bits of lead, thus rendering the piston's function inoperative. I cleaned it and reassembled it and test fired it. It worked like gang busters.



    So, the other day I was cleaning another Plainfield I'd acquired a few years back after firing it after it had been sitting for a couple of years. The piston was stuck and refused to budge after removing the piston nut. Not wanting to damage anything I cruised the internet for an hour or so looking up the subject. One guys post said "If it works don't mess with it." So I put it back together and fired three rounds. It worked perfectly. So I took it apart again to find the piston still stuck. This really bugged me so I took the nut back out, reassembled it, and fired one round with a magazine with a bolt stop follower. The gas piston was found inside the stock, no damage anywhere.

    I found a "coin" of lead at the bottom of the gas cylinder, along with some nasty carbon. So I carefully carved it out and cleaned the gas cylinder removing all lead and carbon. What was happening is that when firing the piston would do it's job but when pushed back in by the slide it would stick to the lead thus capturing the piston. While it worked before the question is "for how long?" Having lead and carbon in the gas assembly is a bad thing. It gums up the works, has nowhere to go, and will stay within the gas cylinder until it is cleaned out as described.

    So, I've had three carbines I've worked on for the same issue, which is the heart of the M1 Carbines function. The very first time I encountered the problem I stopped using lead bullets in my carbine. The Plainfield I now have I've shot nothing but jacketed bullets through it, so whoever owned it before me shot a bunch of lead bullets through it. My brother had shot lead bullets in his, bullets I'd given him. While many people shoot lead in their M1 Carbines I'm convinced it's not the best thing to do as it blows small bits of lead into the gas cylinder and eventually they will have this problem. I myself don't want to make disassembly of the gas assembly a part of normal maintenance so I'll stick with jacked bullets.

    This is only for informational purposes, I'll not tell anyone what they can or can't shoot in their firearm, but it is information that could save heartache for others in the future.
    Last edited by eb in oregon; 09-15-2021 at 12:10 PM.
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    Really Senior Member jimb16's Avatar
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    For what its worth....I've had literally dozens of carbines. I shot lead rounds in every one of them including a registered M2. Out of all of them, I had lead in the gas cylinder in exactly one. When the gas port was drilled, they left a tiny burr on the mouth of it. It didn't seem to effect any jacketed rounds, but boy did it shave lead. None of the others ever exhibited any build up of lead in the gas cylinder. That one was a Saginaw SG. I guess it depends on how carefully the gas port was drilled.
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    Nothing better than a informative post Thank You Eb.

    Too bad the Thief got away with your Plainfield 'After' you had it fine tuned.
    On your test fire, I'd of had to of spun the nut on a couple of threads, just to knock down the chances of any damage from the flying piston.

    I've always wondered about the effect of a heated up barrel and some of the soft cast lead bullets.
    Anyone else ever wonder if there is enough heat to partially melt some of that lead and it ending up in the gas cylinder?
    Ordnance called for FMJ Ball.

    I really don't shoot lead, not even the FMJ's with the small diameter lead tip. Then again I don't hunt with a carbine. But I do keep a few mags loaded with FMJ LHP tipped that cycled dependably if needed for home defense.

    I can say I was warned by Bruce McAskill to watch out for shavings from Plated FMJ's..... and I have found numerous copper flecks the size of large metal flake when having to service Carbines that have shot many of the Plated rds.
    This summer I had a helper and serviced our Rifle Clubs Carbines. We ran in to about 12 ~ that had to have been using corrosive ammo. We found a few crates of the Frenchicon head stamped ammo stored with them. A story in it's self, but don't shoot corrosive, if you seen the gas system afterward without being cleaned you'd know why.

    I posted about a year ago asking about the lead bullets with that washed coating on them. At the time tossing around the idea of buying some to try.
    Then got back to thinking about the heated up barrels after burning/melting a hole in a Caldwell sand bag rest that I'd set the barrel on after numerous mag drops while going down range to see and set targets.

    Someone posted a bore scope picture of their Carbine barrel that showed a burr inside the barrel from the gas hole being drilled that was catching lead. The burr was just past the gas hole, maybe deflecting some fine shavings in to the cylinder? I don't recall if they were having any issues or just caught it playing with their new bore scope. Or if they had reamed a bigger hole or if it was the original hole.
    I've used lead removing solvents on some other arms with good luck. I believe Kerosene 'May" be the main ingredient but would have to double check.

    Eb the OP,
    Made a good point above in that he had the proper tools. Don't attempt pulling the gas piston and nut without the correct wrench. Often you'll need to chase the threads because of disturbed staking.

    Stay Safe All,

    ---------- Post added at 10:17 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:13 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by jimb16 View Post
    When the gas port was drilled, they left a tiny burr on the mouth of it.
    Jim,
    I was just typing about seeing a bore scope picture with a burr on the down barrel side of the gas hole that was doing just as you said... Shaving a little lead.
    Maybe blowing it in during the back flush?
    Charlie-Painter777

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    I bought an Underwood 2-3 years ago that had a loose piston nut - was unscrewed about 1/2 way. I've had several of my other carbines apart, but this Underwood is the only one I've ever found to have lead built up inside - just like it was plated with it. I removed it carefully just like Eb described and checked for burrs in the barrel too, but looked fine to me. - Bob

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    Senior Member flydthecat's Avatar
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    Not only lead fouling, but underpowered ammo (commercial or reloads) can foul a gas system. One might have the urge to shoot what barely works to prevent beating-up a gun, but underpowered low-pressure loads leave unburned powder and carbon residue that can gum-up the gas system. The propellant burns cleaner under higher pressure. I have one carbine toy that I play with for the specific purpose of testing reloads. Usually, after a couple hundred rounds the orifice requires cleaning. Shoot the good stuff, it’ll run better longer 😁.
    Last edited by flydthecat; 09-16-2021 at 06:46 AM.

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    I shot almost exclusively lead gas check bullets and usually 2400 powder. I think gas checks keep the lead from melting or shaving as I never had issues and had about 25 different carbines including one M2...an Inland.
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member eb in oregon's Avatar
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by painter777 View Post
    On your test fire, I'd of had to of spun the nut on a couple of threads, just to knock down the chances of any damage from the flying piston.
    Actually, in my opinion, the gas piston can do little damage from "flying" around. By the time it's through it's stroke the bullet has already left the barrel, it will impact the slide like it always does, and it will either bounce into the barrels channel or possibly back into the gas block. As the bolt was held to the rear by the magazine I carefully removed the magazine and gently let the slide go forward and then took the rifle apart. The piston was pinched between the slide and gas block. No marks or other damage was noted and after throughly cleaning the gas cylinder, nut, and piston it went back together with no issues.

    As for burrs in the barrel from drilling the gas port I'm skeptical. As a machinist for years I've dealt with plenty of burrs in metal from machining and it would take a heck of a burr to withstand hundreds of bullets being shot over it. The bullets themselves would (should) wipe that burr off pretty quickly, unless it is a very stout burr. Like I said I'm not about to tell people what they can and can't shoot, but I'd prefer to not take the chance. It doesn't save all that much money in the long run and buying bullets in bulk works for me.
    Last edited by eb in oregon; 09-16-2021 at 10:07 AM.
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    Really Senior Member jimb16's Avatar
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    The cast bullets that I've shot are straight clip on wheel weights. I cast the Lyman 130 gr plain base, 120 gr Lee RN with a gas check and the 115 gr Lee with a gas check. As far as the burrs go, please remember that drilling a hole at 90 degrees is a lot less likely to leave a burr than drilling at an angle. The gas port is drilled at an angle. Even so, it is the exception, not the rule when it comes to leaving a burr (maybe 1 out of 50). BTW Painter, pure soft lead melts at a higher temp than alloys. So alloys would be more likely to melt at shooting temps than pure lead! You would think that harder bullets would melt at a higher temp, but they don't!
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    Thx Jim,
    I always wondered about lead bullets and how well they held up to a very hot barrel.
    By saying Hot Barrel I mean Hot enough that the underside of the hand guard is smoking.
    Not being a lead shooter (thru the carbine) I really hadn't given any thought to the hardness factor vs melting point.
    We melted our share of wheel weights when I was much younger to mold our own fishing sinkers, dip, casting and seine net weights. And when he was sober helped Grandpa a little when he used lead on body work.

    Jim,
    While I have you.... What is that coating called they dip the lead bullets in?
    I've seen multiple colors. But just can't remember what you told me it was called.
    Do you think that coating and gas checks are the way to go for lead shooters?
    What would be the ideal Brinell hardness rating for carbine speeds? Does 18 sound right?

    ** I found the supplier I seen the coated bullets at in my bookmarks **
    Missouri Bullet Company Missouri Bullet Company.
    Here is their Lead Carbine RN 115 grn @ Brinell 18: Missouri Bullet Company
    Here are their coated ones RN 115 gr @ Brinell 18 with Hi-Tek 2-Extreme Coating: Missouri Bullet Company
    I'll try to read up on the coated ones to see what if any advantages they might have. I've recently been asked about them from a few but I'm not very well schooled about them.
    I was given a test packet of 9mm lead with the coating to try. One bullet tip he had squeezed nearly flat in a vice with no signs of flaking. Small problem for me to test because I don't own a 9mm.
    Might be hard to study up the lead vs coated lead in the next week+ with my just turned 6 Grandson visiting.

    In the mean time can anyone tell me about any advantages to the coated ones vs straight lead?

    Bore Scope Picture:
    I looked for awhile this morning for the post about the burr and picture by the guys bore scope with no luck.
    I wonder if they might have drilled the hole a bit larger causing their own problem.... but that's just speculation on my part.
    I've cleared a number of gas holes with just a drill bit by twisting it with just my fingers.

    I agree with Eb in oregon,
    Seems very unlikely a barrel with a small burr would have held up after so many shots. I'm not saying it's impossible but I'll take a Pro Machinists word for it, and call it unlikely or extremely rare. Just seems a FMJRN running @ 2100 fps wouldn't take long to clear it off.

    I'm just curious about lead vs the coated lead. Other than some Semi Jacketed Lead tipped Hollow points for home defense I don't plan to shoot lead. But I 'may' consider getting some made up for a shooter that swallows a M2 round to the case. A attempt to get a little more life out of it...

    Great Topic Rarely Discussed, IMO a 5 Star.

    Be Safe All
    Charlie-Painter777

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    Quote Originally Posted by painter777 View Post
    What is that coating called they dip the lead bullets in?
    Moly coated bullets? Used instead of lube.
    Regards, Jim

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