Feed Problems with a Jennings .22

Discussion in '.22-Rimfire Forum' started by zachp, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. zachp

    zachp New Member

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    I recently bought a couple Jennings .22 auto pistols. One is fairly new with black grips, nothing fancy. The other you can tell is much older with wood grips. The wood gripped gun has a feeding problem for some reason. It does it with all different ammo and with both mags that came with the gun. Sometimes it will feed fine and other times it hangs up with FTE, and will also catch spent round as it feeds the new round. Is there anything that i can do besides get rid of it?

    BTW I have been a lurker for a few months but finally took the time to sign up! I have already learned a great deal here and cant wait for whats to learn from now on!
    Zach
  2. carver

    carver Moderator

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    First thing is to welcome you to the forum! Now, as to the pistols you have just bought. First thing is that they are cheap, as you know. Most gun smiths will not work on them. They were made to shoot for a while, then things go down hill real fast, as they wear out in a short time. If you knew anything about working on the guns yourself, you wouldn't be here asking questions. This may help you get started. http://stevespages.com/pdf/jennings_j22.pdf
  3. Frogtop

    Frogtop New Member

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    Welcome to the forum and my apologies for being so negative so soon. The best thing to do with the Jennings is get rid of them before you or someone else gets hurt. They literally fall apart after a few rounds of fire. Sorry but that's the way they are.
  4. zachp

    zachp New Member

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    Thanks for the welcomes and the quick replies. I knew they were cheap when I bought them, I was just hoping for a few more rounds through them before they went south. I may keep the black one for my gf to play with and get familiar with pistols. The big flea market is going on this weekend so I will more than likely just take it and pass it on.
  5. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

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    These pistols (Jennings model J-22) were designed by George Jenning's son, Bruce. They, are a mechanical engineering modification and improvement of the Italian Armi Galesi pocket pistols, which were derived from an early Walther .25 ACP design.

    They are the first really successful .22 LR pocket pistol that was scaled up from a .25 ACP design to handle the longer .22 LR cartridge. They are still being made by another firm as the "JA-22". Most of these pistols are of sound mechanical design, but are cheaply made with little attention to QC. Often they have some machined parts, like barrels and strikers, that usually are not of the quality that one would expect to find in a "well made" gun.

    Most if not all of their production frames and slides were made from the Zamak family of Zinc die cast alloys, which is an economical and suitable material for such purposes if the gun is not being designed for a long cycle service life. Slides and strikers on the the early production pistols had to be redesigned because the slides tended to close up head-space and became dangerous if shot much. { I know because I have experienced such, and had to obtain a redesigned slide and striker.} Replacement parts were furnished free if you complained when Jennings Firearms Inc. was in business; but I am unaware of any actual recall of the early J-22's.

    Your older J-22 with wood grips is suspect for the above described deficiency. J-22's with serial numbers lower than 72,000 are from my experiences potentially dangerous, and require a later model slide and striker to be fitted. J-22's with serial numbers above 90,000 should have the redesigned slide and striker.

    You can view the manual for the J-22 at Wikipedia. These pistols are not really reliable for self-defense (being defined as no more than 1 failure per 1000 cycles) function. You will be lucky to get one to go 50 shots without a malfunction, based on my considerable experiences with them. They require very stiff recoiling 40 grain ammo (like CCI Mini-Mag, today) and frequent cleaning and fresh lubrication (at least every 50 shots) for anything like reliable range function.

    At the time they were made Jennings recommended hard recoiling Remington 40 grain, best quality, HV plated bullet ammo or CCI stingers. My recent (last few years) experiences with Remington "Value Pack" plated bullet 22's have included higher than normal misfires due to defective priming and failures to feed caused by the HP bullets.

    Be safe, and good luck.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  6. 3/2 STA SS

    3/2 STA SS Active Member

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    Mine only functioned properly if it was a bit dirty. Clean it was a jam-o-matic. It was a fun little .22 for what I paid for it in 1986-$50.00 NIB.
  7. locknloadnow

    locknloadnow New Member

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    first try disassembling it, cleaning it really good, then oiling it. The first time mine acted up, that fixed it. If it still acts up, the gun needs a new SLIDE. Mine is at the point, it needs a new slide.

    The slides on J22's are soft aluminum alloy, eventually the bolt face of the slide gets worn and pounded in from the hardened barrel breach, and starts having feeding/extracting/ejecting problems. What happens is, the slide starts moving to far forward when closed, and the extractor is forced outward to the right, disengaging the case head rim.

    Then it doesn't extract. The force of firing may blow the empty shell out of the chamber and backward, but it sits inside the gun or stovepipes, and jams the gun, because it doesn't hit the ejector rod squarely.

    If you change the slide, change the extractor claw too. Save the old stuff for comparison.

    You can buy them at Numrich online. The slide is about $25, the extractor around $4.

    For $35 the J22 will be shooting again. But keep in mind, the slides on those guns are totally sacrificial, i.e. the more you should them, the faster the slide wears out and has to be replaced. The slide starts to bow on the right side, and the snout of the slide starts to bend upward slightly, as they get worn. That's how bad my J22 is now, after about 2000 rounds.

    if the slide was hardened steel, they'd last forever. But then they'd be a $300 gun, instead of the $75 gun they were new.

    They are worth fixing because for a short barrel 22, they are quite accurate, and a handy little pocket gun. Just don't carry one with a shell in the chamber. I carry one while fishing, loaded with shotshells, for snakes. It's like a little shotgun.

    The previous warning about closing up headspace on a worn early slide, is CRITICAL. I have one that experienced that problem. I had 2 slam fires just chambering a round from a fresh clip, fortunately the gun was pointed in safe direction both times, by instinct and habit, and the bullets just went in the ground. I also had a few CHAIN FIRES i.e. 2 or 3 shots going off from one trigger pull, because the closing up of headspace causes the gun to slam-fire. To clarify, the bolt face begins to wear, and the flat distorted bolt face, fires a fresh round upon chambering it, without the firing pin.

    Another mistake made with these guns, is using a stronger slide spring. That makes the slide slam forward even harder, wearing it out sooner, and making the risk of a dangerous slam fire even more likely. Use the weakest slide spring you can, that will still make the gun function. A weaker slide spring, will allow shooting lower velocity ammo, and be easier on the relatively soft alloy slide.

    FWIW, my Jennings has s/n 500,xxx range and still had the defects, and slam fires/chain fires. A new slide will fix the problem, but being soft aluminum alloy, eventually the new slide will also wear. The new slide will just last longer than the old slide did pre-70,xxx serial number. I have heard stories of the old slides starting to malfunction after only 50 rounds, i.e. one box of ammo.

    A good approach for these guns would be, start with headspace on the high side- as the headspace closes up with slide/bolt face wear, rather than opening up like most other guns do.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  8. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    i agree with what's been said.

    I've had a couple and worked on a few more for friends. ( yeah.. we know they are/were cheap guns ).

    as with other cheap guns I've palyed with ( lorcin, haskel, bryco ).. they all benefitted from takedown and polish and fiel work on machiend parts, slides, feed ranp, springs.. etc. good cleanining and ball ammo.. no light loads. still get ftf and stovepipes or ejcection/feed jambs way to often to use it for more than a bench plinker on a rainy day.

    I had one in the glovebox for years as a snake gun using cci shotshells with i just resigned myself to feed manually, single shot..
  9. locknloadnow

    locknloadnow New Member

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    I have an old Haskell 45 ACP and it shoots rings around all my friend's Colt 1911's. But it's heavy as hell.
  10. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    back when fl got a cwp law, I went and got my range test. I showed up with one of those cheap haskel 45's another guy taking the range test with me had a nice custom 1911.. trigger work.. adjustale windage and elev sites.. scroll work all over.. gun must ahve been a few thou$$ back then.. and mine like 150$

    range officer inspected his gun.. made some nice comments about it being a piece of art.. yada, yada, yada.. then looked at mine.. and jst said.. 'hmm.. sturdy' :)

    after the range test.. I was givin my certificate and sent home.. the other guy had to stay untill he could get some shots on paper. so far hea had almost non staying on a silo target all day.

    IMHO.. it likely was more of the operator than the tool error.. but still.. I got a good laugh that my pawn shop 150$ gun with basic ramp milled sites was doing much better than the expensive yuppie model.. :)
  11. time2shoot

    time2shoot Active Member

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    If it was mine i would incase it in acrylic. and use it as a papper weight.
    had one when i was 19 by the 3rd clip the slide came flying off.
    Never again will i by a cheep gun.
  12. locknloadnow

    locknloadnow New Member

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    My observations exactly- amazing how accurate the Haskell is, it has so much meat in the slide and frame, it's inherently sturdy.
  13. locknloadnow

    locknloadnow New Member

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    once you take the slide off, and understand what's going on and why, it's actually pretty easy to fix. The slide and rails need to be greased, and the extractor to barrel, and headspace tuned up. Then it's no different than any other, just the lifespan of the parts is shorter.
  14. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    yup.. it's 'heft' and weight actually let you keep / put more shots on target with lower time between fireings, when doing rapid fire test.. the gun simply weighs a ton and don't recoil much.. thus less correction for followup shots needed.. :)
  15. hunter29180

    hunter29180 Active Member

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    had a jenning .22 like the wood grip one you mentioned, carried it for 2 years as a plink and snake gun. always jammed unless you used CCI hyper velocity in it, got so i could keep the shots inside a 8" paper plate at 30 feet. was deadly on a snake with birdshot, but jammed every shot..not enough uumph to the shotshell to cycle properly. wore that gun out with over 4000 rounds through it! then traded it for a Jennings .32 which I later sold for $50..hated that .32....
  16. Chadk

    Chadk New Member

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    i have one of these bought many years ago also. I small part was lost while field cleaning once. Is there anywhere I can send the gun to have the part replaced?
  17. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

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    the words "feeding problem" and ".22 (auto) " go together very well...

    .22 LR and similar just does not feed well compared to most other rounds.

    maybe upgrade to .22 mag, this thing has always intrigued me:

    http://keltecweapons.com/our-guns/pistols/pmr-30/

    But I'll bet it is finnicky as well
  18. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

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    Welcome to TFF, Chadk; post #16.

    Go back up this thread to post #2 and follow the link. There is an exploded drawing in thew manual.

    Numrich Gun Parts has parts.

    In consideration of the fact that there was a lawsuit verdict of over $30 Million, around 2003-04 concerning a Jennings designed pistol, where the gun-shop that sold the pistol got hit with $5 million of the verdict; few gunsmiths are willing to work on them. I will neither work on one or transfer ownership of one, unless someone in FL wants to give one to me in FL, when I am there.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  19. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    IF you can get the part.. you can likely install them.

    I've repaired many jennings and raven and similar guns on my bench with common tools... of course i've HAD to repair them or I couldn't use them after a few shots.. :)

    usually firing pin, springs and some hand fitting...
  20. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

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    I've had good luck with numrich, I would bet they have the part(s) you need.
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