On Warranties and DIY Repairs

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Below is an email a reader sent to me (reproduced with his permission) …

A while back I purchased a new agent. The firearm would not feed a mag without jamming. The gun shop told me it needs a break in period so I shot about a 1000 rounds with the gun jamming on every mag. I tried different magazines and the gun jammed on all of them. I tried different recoil springs and still the gun jammed on all mags. I tried all top brands of ammo and still produced jams. I talked to the gun shop and it was suggested the feed ramp needs to be smoothed out with jeweler’s rogue which I did. Still the gun jams. So I finally decided to send the gun into Colt customer service. It takes 3 different phone calls for them to email me the prepaid FedEx shipping label. I finally mail the gun off on Aug 30 2012. The gun arrives at Colt a few days later. I wait a month and call to check up on the gun. I am told Colt is behind and nothing has been done. I wait roughly another month (Oct 24 2012) and I am told I now have an invoice. The invoice is to replace the barrel and frame which will cost around 800 dollars and that my warranty is void. Their reasoning is that work has been done on the gun which results in my warranty being void. To me this solution is ridiculous and unacceptable on many levels.

  1. Why would I repair the gun for 800 instead of buying a new one (At this point, I am thinking Glock for 600 bucks. I have personal experience with several that out of the box have never jammed)

  2. Why should the warranty be voided? Colt produced a gun that jammed constantly and it made it pass its quality inspection. It was purchased and then I spent extra money trying various solutions that the gun store suggested. If the gun would have worked like it should out of the box then no modifications would have been needed.

So far Colt has not offered me any other solution besides stating my warranty is void. At this point in time I would like as many people as possible to know what kind of company and customer service you get by buying colt. Please do not get caught up in the Colt B.S. of Colt being the American gun and its American history. An American company would not treat its customers like this.

I sympathise the reader because if a gun I purchase does not work I immediately try fix the problem. I am capable of doing many gunsmithing tasks myself. On the other hand I sympathise with Colt because they have no way of knowing if the work done on the gun was done to fix a pre-existing problem or was the cause of the problem. They cannot be expected to fix botched DIY gunsmithing.

If you have a problem with a new gun, the best thing is to immediately send it back to the manufacturer for repair.

Colt New Agent



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Brian

    I have never heard of a Colt New Agent that worked out of the box. Perhaps he should have checked the reputation of the gun before plunking down so much cash.

    • 2Wheels

      I have, because I happen to own a New Agent that worked out of the box…

  • Sean

    I would file a small claims case against Colt in those circumstances. For the cost of the gun, and the cost of the ammo used in the break in period.

  • Reverend Clint

    seems like he could send an affidavit from the gunsmith stating there was a problem before the owner worked on it

    • Phil White

      Reverend,

      In a fair world that should do it but I’m sure that Colt won’t budge on this. I haven’t read the warranty paperwork on these but almost all companies state that a gun worked on by the owner voids the warranty. If you change sights fine no problem with that but anything to do the actual operation of the gun will void it every time.
      Having said that I’m just as guilty because if I do have a problem for the most part I fix it if I’m 100% sure I know what the problem is and I have the ability to fix it.

    • Zermoid

      I was gonna say the same thing, ya beat me to it!

  • Scrimshaw

    Actually he should be pushing the gun store to reimburse him, as they are the ones that told him what to do and thus voiding the warranty. The liability rests with them. As was said, Colt has no idea what was wrong with the pistol initially. He SHOULD have sent it back immediately, but since the gun store encouraged him to basically void the warranty they should be reimbursing the repair cost.

    • Trev

      The gun store gave him bad advice, they did not force his hand. The guy needs to own up to listening to bad advice and making the wrong decision.

      • Scrimshaw

        Any retail outlet offering bad advice on products they sell is responsible for that advice. If he didn’t know any better (and hopefully now he will), he would take their advice for what many novice purchasers would assume it is: PROFESSIONAL advice. You or I may realize that after the problem was encountered, we should contact the manufacturer’s customer support and say “Hey, I’m having a jamming issue, what should I do to correct it?” and either save the email or record the date and time of the call and the name of the CSR on the other end for reference if the problem doesn’t get solved. But many people will assume that the gun store employees know what they’re talking about. The correct advice of the employee would be to contact Colt or refer them to a gunsmith (in house or otherwise).

        Not everyone who owns guns is an expert and while they may competently know how to use their weapon and even possibly modify parts if they’re mechanically inclined, that doesn’t mean that they would ignore the advice of someone who deals with guns for a living. The gun store is at least partially negligent here, and I can’t fault the manufacturer for charging them after the weapon has had at least 1000 rounds through it (no small amount by any stretch) and after he has personally altered the firearm. Colt had no record of the malfunctions, he never spoke to them, and they don’t know what he did to the weapon that may have caused the malfunction.

  • Casey

    I had a buddy that had a colt SXC that he also have problems with. No matter what ammo he ran through it, it would always rape the top of the slide and take off the finish. I think the THIRD time he got it back from colt they finally fixed the problem. Pretty sad when it took them the 4th time to get a firearm right.

  • Fredrik

    This is why it is good to get in writing, what kind of repairs that have been done to correct a specific problem. I dont know who the consumer laws look like in the USA but you have the right to demand this in Sweden.

    But I think even with documented and certified repairs I wouldn’t be too sure a Swedish company would repair it on warranty, they stress quite strongly to first of all contact the producer or their representative to get the correct advice already from the beginning.

  • Trev

    Gun owner refuses to take advantage of Colt’s great warranty, is unable to fix it, then expects colt to foot the bill for his screw up?

    Accept responsibility and cut your losses.

    Changing a spring is one thing, Colt would never cancel your warranty for that. Hacking, polishing, drilling, grinding hammering ect. is a risk you assume.

    While the gun store should not have been stupid and sent it back right away, it’s not the stores fault the owner followed their idiotic advice.

    • Zermoid

      Actually, I think it IS the store’s fault the gun owner followed their idiotic advise!

      Steve,
      Could you find out the store’s name so we all know who to avoid??

  • Russ

    Thanks for the warning, I’m now avoiding Colt products.

  • Nathaniel

    Perhaps people shouldn’t be so entitled as to go out, void their warranty, and then demand that it be honored.

    There are gunsmiths that work for Colt who will not void your warranty, so there’s no excuse for this kind of crap.

    • Zermoid

      Altho I’m sure we didn’t get all the details. If all he did was use jewelers rouge, and even a dremel cloth polishing wheel, there’s no way an average guy could do any real harm to a gun. now if you get in there with grinders, cratex wheels, and files you CAN destroy a gun in quick order!

      If polishing was all he did I think Colt SHOULD honor it’s warranty.

  • Mr. Fahrenheit

    Items that I’m sure require a break-in period:
    Holsters, shoes, jeans, pillows, chairs, saddles, and girl-friends.

    Items that I’m not quite sure require a break-in period:
    Automotive transmissions, brakes, and engines.

    Items that I’m most definitely sure do not require a break-in period:
    Firearms and automatic watches.
    (If they don’t function correctly out of the box…they ain’t going to get any better.)

    • Bryan S.

      New and rebuilt engines certainly have a break in period…

  • Martin

    1000 rounds to beak in a gun, that has a barrel with a what… 10 000 rounds life expectancy?

  • Nmate

    When are people going to learn that little 1911s by and large don’t work? You can get the 5″ guns to work very well, I believe you can get the 4.25″ guns to do the same. I’ve never seen a 1911 smaller than a Commander that worked well.

    Want a sub-compact semi-auto? Get a Glock 26.

    • Pancho

      I worked in a gun shop for 6 years and sold lots of 3 inch 1911’s. you wouldn’t believe how many would come back after a few weeks and complain about “jamming”. Many times we would grab a few rounds and take it on to our shooting range. Most, if not all the time they ran fine to the customers shock and amazement. Customers don’t take it so well when you tell them they are limp wristing.

    • W

      absolutely right. There is a reason why craftsmen like Wilson dont manufacture them: they cannot get them to run worth a damn.

      Everybody has a story about how their 3″ 1911 “works really well and they have thousands of rounds through them”. Bullshit. Every person I know that has praised these guns has not even shot them enough to know they dont work.

      • W

        THAT is not what I meant to say. came out totally wrong.

        Wilson makes the Sentinel series, which are 3.5″. They were also a pain in the ass to get the wrinkles ironed out of them.

        (seriously, i shouldnt post under the influence of insomnia)

    • Andy from West Haven

      A close friend of mine bought one of the original Colt Defender’s when they first came out. I go shooting with him all the time. I’ve never seen it malf.

      I also know someone with a Detonics Combat Master. Reliable as anything else out there.

      Yes, it’s tougher to get stubby 1911’s to work. But when you get there you get there.

      That said I’d rather have a Commander or larger. If I want a stubby .45 I’ll get an XDs.

    • Josh

      This guy is right. 1911s are just not that great under 5 inches. Look at what Wilson Combat had to do to get there subcompact to run right.

  • http://facebook.com/gelgoog Anthoni814

    I would not have bought 1000 round of 45 to “break in” a gun. If it was still acting up after the first 2 boxes, I would have called the manufacturer. That being said, Colt is being a turd by charging him 800 to fix it. I bought a very used Springfield GI 1911. It had some bad scratches on the frame from the slide release/takedown pin. Eventually the plunger came un-staked. I called them up, they fixed the gun for free and re-parkerized the entire gun for $80. A company should stand by their customers and products. What’s worst, shelling out the money to fix the barrel or losing repeat business because this guy tells everyone he knows about his experience with the company?

    • Zermoid

      I too have a Springfield GI 1911A1, well, it was before I modded it anyway, I was wondering about if they did re-parkerizing as it’s getting pretty holster worn over the years. Thanks for the info!

  • gunslinger

    how much can you claim in “small claims” the gun, ammo, new springs, new mags and gunsmithing may exceed that amount.

    but the fact remains, both the GSO and the buyer should have went to colt directly and asked what to do. i’m sure “reversable” modifications may be a first step (new spring, different componets) but hacking/slashing/filing/miling etc the gun is a bit different

    hope the guy gets everythign sorted out.

  • newcastleadam

    Could you change the email’s first sentence from: “A while back I purchased a new agent” to “A while back I purchased a [Colt] [N]ew [A]gent”? I’m not familiar with the model, and I kept trying to figure out if the emailer got funding for a new agent position who then had an issue with a duty firearm.

  • Bill

    Colt has been a second rate manufacturer of consumer products since the early 90’s. Why fanboys still pay the premium for a gun that is way worse than any Taurus has been beyond me for years. Their AR’s are no better. BTW if a gun is not 100% reliable after 2 boxes (100 rds) it never will be. It is then time for a warranty claim. There is however no shortage of morons out there that feel that since they have or can get tools they should use them even if they really have no idea what they are doing.

    I’m not a gunsmith but I talked to one one time.

    • Zermoid

      Sadly, I am not a professional gunsmith either, but have talked to several who knew even less about guns than I do.

      Ask questions and find a Gunsmith that is respected by people who DO know alot about guns. Counter guys at gun stores often are not your best source of firearm info…….

  • alannon

    I had much the same experience with Ruger on my early-model mkIII. It won’t feed the first couple rounds of ound-nose hollow-point for shit. (Look up “ruger mkiii smiley” on google.) The slightly spitzered HP they say not to use? Feeds fine. I even sent a video of the gun failing to feed, pictures of it failing, tested clean and dirty, wet and dry, and every time I sent it in it came back “Tested X rounds, various types, no failures.”, where X is usually less than a full magazine. At this point I’ve spent nearly the cost of the gun shipping it to someone who doesn’t even given a shit about their product actually working.

    I finally started modifying the gun myself, and have gotten to where it will correctly feed the first couple of rounds about half the time. Nothing structural; modified the magazine feed lips, removed the mkIII bushing and magazine safety and replaced with a mkII-style bushing, modified the magazine followers, smoothed the feed ramp. (Newer guns don’t do this, so it seems obvious to me it’s a known–and fixed–problem Ruger just doesn’t want to fess up.)

    Given my experience, I can understand the guy’s frustration.

  • nobody

    I really wouldn’t consider polishing the feed ramp something that would void the warranty unless you majorly screwed it up, I think Colt is just looking for a reason to rip him off considering the frame is bad and there is nothing in the post about him messing with the frame. Also I think it is bullshit that they want $100 less than the gun is actually worth to fix their screw up, as I highly doubt the parts and labor cost that much (otherwise they would most likely be losing money on each gun made).

  • kimberwarrior45

    Only polished feed ramp and the barrel and frame needs replaced? There is some part of the story that seems to be missing.

    • Zermoid

      Exactly, either we don’t have the whole story or Colt is being a douche.

  • DOOM

    limp wristing is an idea invented by gun manufactures so they do not have to fix problems with their own products.. My family including grandparents to grandkids have shot 9mm and 45 compact glocks, and 9mm and 45 s&w MP with out a single jam or malfunction and they each run around 550 instead of close to a grand.. im sure one of the grandkids or grandparents shoot “limpwristed”… if the gun is sensitive to “limpwristing” then is should be labeled “inferior product” to consumers

    • KC

      I strongly disagree. You see these kinds of issues with very high recoil (smaller mass, higher caliber) guns. Some guns can and are very intelligently designed to combat these problems.

      I have a Kel Tec P40 that has issues that I could document with proper grip. It famously has issues with limp wristing and slide slams. I once spent range trip shooting a box of 50 rounds and 0 problems where my friend who had issues with his grip would have 10 malfunctions out of his box of 50. Same gun, same magazines, same ammo.

      There are a lot of other factors that come into play long before limp wristing and one should have reservations about using a firearm in a serious self defense role if a gun has these kinds of issues.

    • mp

      I have a WW2 era Mauser HSc. Using a firm grip it never fails. A loose grip sometimes causes a jam. On a newer more high powered pistol, I don’t know if it’s an excuse.

  • Tony

    Sorry to hear the news.
    If a gun requires hundres of rounds to break in, it is not fitted right from the beginning.

  • TheIrateBlackGuy

    Hey man, I’ve got some experience with short barreled 1911’s. does the recoil assembly have a buffer plate towards the muzzle of the gun? If so this part may be the reason your gun is jamming. Inspect the buffer plate for signs of damage and replace if ANY wear is found. Or try swapping the entire recoil assembly out with a kimber assembly. Hope this helps.

  • Rick

    Only .45 ever seen right out of the box that didn’t jam was a Springfield Armory. Colt is famous for not working. They should stick to single-action sixguns.

    • Zermoid

      I bought my Springfield used, it had some ejection problems, which might be why an otherwise new looking 45 was up for sale used. The extractor was REALLY loose, tightened it up to where it would hold a round on the breechface and no problems since.

      I think someone was dropping a round in the chamber and slamming the slide closed on it instead of feeding it from the mag, or it had a crappy loose extractor from the factory. Either way it saved me about $250 off of new price AND I got a Wilson Combat mag in the deal too!
      Win-win as far as I’m concerned!

      (BTW, the factory Springfield mag is crap until you rebend the lips)

  • Rob in Katy

    Bought a demo springer micro-compact, had some issues with feeding. call them up, they had a box to me the next day. i included a note that I would like to get cost on swapping the ambi safety to a right hand only. they never called back, the back returned about a week later. they had polished it. test fired it, tweeked the front sight. installed the right handed safety – $0.00

    • Zermoid

      Seems the morale of most of this blog post is buy Springfield Armory if you want a 45, Colt forgot how to make them at some point……..

      • Rob in Katy

        I have an old 88’ish Springer factory comp and it has never failed to run anything though it. I have a newer Springfield PRO and it has never jammed or failed to feed/eject. Would still like to try one of the XD’s on for size.

  • John Doe

    There haven’t been any good guns from Colt in quite awhile.

  • Curzen

    polishing the ramp on a aluminum alloy frame gun is a bad, bad idea. If you home-gunsmith your pistol, suck it up and realize that the manufacturer will make you pay for any damage you did by that. Hindsight 20/20, you should have sent the gun in when you first had problems, not listen to some random store employee.

    • Zermoid

      Of course, the other side of that coin is it’s stupid design to have the feed ramp made out of aluminum in the first place when a 10 cent steel insert cast into the frame would eliminate the known problems with aluminum ramps from the start.

      So I’d say it’s still a factory defect.

      • W

        im with zermoid. Ill add that any gun that leaves the factory without little refinements like this needs to address some quality control issues. It always blows my mind away when I hear of people “sending their pistol back to polish the feed ramp”.

  • Neez

    First of all, no gun should need a 1000 round break in period. Secondly colt legally can not void your warranty unless they can prove the work you did is what specifically caused the problem. The burden of proof is on them, not you. They can’t blanketly say if you do any work, you void the total warranty of the product. They can only void the warranty of the affected parts. For example, you get trigger work done and your slide cracks. Your slide cracking has nothing to do with the trigger assembly, it’s a defective part.

    Colt should at least offer to look at it and determine the problem. My guess is it has nothing to do with the feedramps. More than likely one of their parts is out of spec. If you go into the 1911 forums and post up your exact issue, they can help you pinpoint the part a little better.

    • Scrimshaw

      Their warranty is limited and says it’s void if the firearm is altered. His firearm was altered. He could probably win that in court, but would it be worth that expense? Besides, his argument would be that he altered it to fix it, but when he has a lifetime warranty for factory defects (which this was) why would he even want to do that? At best they’d replace the gun, but it’d take a while and it might cost him more in legal fees and the like than the gun was worth.

  • Sparky

    Me too. Bought one in 2008 after reading this: http://xavierthoughts.blogspot.com/2008/01/colt-new-agent-range-report.html. Tried my damndest (limp wrist, angled, reloads) but I’ve never had a malfunction of any kind.

  • cm smith

    Another possibility: The pistol was not really new, had been bollixed previously and was knowingly – or somehow unwittingly – resold as new by the gun store.

    • Zermoid

      How incompetent would a gunshop have to be to ‘accidentally’ sell a used gun as new?

      Dishonesty is much more likely.

      And if either is suspected I’d never set foot inside the place again.

  • HEP-T

    I bought my Colt Gov series 70 back in 1976 it too jammed right out of the box but after about 200 rounds fired it began to operate quite smoothly and has to this day.
    The only mod is a Pachmayr rubber wrap around grip.
    I assume this is a failure to feed jam resulting in either a semi loaded round or a stove pipe?
    or a jam caused by a semi ejected empty case?
    The semi ejected case would be the extractor/ejector and a small burr could cause that.
    I’ve owned only one short barrel 1911A1 it was a 9mm commander and that was the best most accurate pistol I have ever owned. It never jammed.

  • WPZ

    There are a few things in this thread that baffle.
    Limp wristing is real. We teach women’s intro classes with Ruger 22/45s and THEY can be limp-wristed, for heaven’s sake. A micro 1911 certainly can, too, and so can a micro Glock. My other partner was LEO/trainer and will tell you a G26 is absolutely subject to limp-wristing, from having trained scores of cops with them.
    I can’t say anything about the Colt service department directly, since I have no experience. I have spent time on 1911 and Colt forums and could say that the posters do seem to have seen a decline there in the last decade or so.
    Be that as it may, once the owner touched the ramp, Colt or any other manufacturer will replace the frame. There’s an office full of lawyers that’s going to insist on it. Right or wrong, that’s the 21st century for you.
    That first touch implies the possibility of many other touches that the repair tech might not see- they won’t let that possibility occur.
    The aluminum ramp issue should be a non-issue. There are uncountable thousands of alloy-framed and -ramped 1911s that work perfectly. I have some in my safe and belt. They work. The fact that you can’t touch the ramp might be special knowledge, but there are more than a few things that a manufacturer might tell you about guns that they missed.
    However, I’d bet the manual enclosed with that New Agent was plenty specific about not touching a thing in the event of trouble and the owner ignored that warning. It might be that the owner didn’t cause any new trouble, but the party’s already over once there’s been touching.
    I reject the notion that Colts are bad guns. I had a 1991 Government Model built in late ’08 that was utterly perfect, in operation, fit and finish, and accuracy. I sold it for another Colt but am after the guy to sell it back.
    Same goes for my Special Combat Government. Same for… on and on.
    And, for many a friends’ Colts as well. Our assistant instructor #1 is a manager at the fourth-largest retailer of guns in the country and he tells me Colts- and they sell a lot of them- come back no more often than any other 1911 (and much less than Kimbers!)
    Then, I could mention the Springer Trophy Match custom-shop .45 I had a few years ago. When it broke it’s link in two, across the middle, I finally gave up. It had already been back to Geneseo twice. Even when parts weren’t falling off, it was nothing special to shoot. I got a good buck from a Springer fanboy for it, and good riddance.
    Anecdotal? Sure. So is everything posted above.
    Now, to the specific issue of the New Agent malfunctioning. Colt’s guns are fine, but the magazines in recent years maybe aren’t as good as Wilson 47s. There’s not much wrong with a decent 1911 that can’t be fixed with 47s. If the shooter’s grip is good (and as a full-time instructor, I can say we see some pretty bad stuff on every range), then the 47 should get things in order. If not, then it’s time to put a stamp on it.

  • Carlos U.

    Glocks don’t need “break in” periods. ‘Nuff said.

    • Mike Knox

      ‘And the moon is made of cheese’..

    • Cameron

      Look, I like Glocks as much as the next guy, but Google “Gen 4 G19″

      They’re good pistols, but “Perfection”, ain’t.

      *braces for flood of down votes*

  • DOOM

    completely agree with the glocks dont need a break in period plus they go bang every time with no jams whether your shooting “limp wristed” or not… only problem i have with glock is they dont make a 1911

    • WPZ

      If you’re in the Chicago area some weeknight, stop by one of our Intro classes, especially the women’s ones. You can see our Glocks limp-wrist-jam any night. Even the 34.
      Along with the XDs and M&Ps.
      Our most jam-resistant 9mm that we use in the classes? An old Colt Government Model. A wreck of a Taurus 92 we have is close to equal.

      • Premek

        Are the big Glocks less susceptible to limp-wristing than small Glocks? I have 17 and 26 and had 19 – No one has ever limp-wristed the 26, but many women and some men had problems with the 17 and some even with the 19 (but less than with the 17). So it was my understanding, that the shorter barrel, giving more recoil, was more forgiving in this regard…

  • Mike Knox

    And people just whisk by the warranties, terms & conditions and stuff you have to look over before playing with the new toy..

  • Herb

    I often go for reliability over looks for firearms. No matter how “pretty” your gun looks it doesn’t mean a damn thing if it doesn’t fire. That’s why I go for Glocks and Aks. Abuse them all you like they still work. If you take care of them then they never fail.

    And it’s a known issue that when the Gen 4 Glocks came out they had an issue with the recoil spring, primarily in the 9mm. The spring was so beefy that the low grade 9mm ammo couldn’t push the spring back far enough to load the next round. It has since been fixed, but beware buying a used Gen4. I have a Gen4 G21 and I’ve never had a failure, I’ve shot over 2,000 rounds threw it. I’ve shot a desert eagle and it jammed twice out of 7 shots. I shot a 1911 (kimber I believe) and that too jammed twice out of 7-8 shots. Glocks are ugly, but like most European firearms they just work.

    Moral of the story? Research your firearms before you purchase and don’t get caught up in the looks. Reliability is all that matters, in my opinion. The only thing that I don’t care for in the Glocks is that there is no thumb safety. But with a good holster it doesn’t matter much.