This is a carryover from the thread :
".22's To Avoid" from another section of this forum.
"The Phoenix Arms .22 semi-auto pistol, which looks good and fits my hand well, and only sells for $125 brand new, is not reliable. And it has some really weird controls and safety features that have never been seen on any other handgun (and I hope they are never used again on any future guns, either).
(P.S. The Phoenix Arms Rangemaster is accurate. It's just not reliable.)
I agree that it looks good, it's accurate, inexpensive, fits the hand well, and the safety features are strange, unnatural and cumbersome. Take down and reassembly can be a real PITA too.
Out-of-the-box, the reliability isn't great, however there are some simple modifications that can be made to make this a much better performer.
I bought one of these on a whim about 10 years ago at a gun show. I wasn't worried about voiding the warranty because it was so inexpensive, I just wanted to make it work better, which I succeded at.
I first dissembled the gun and studied the mechanism to determine how everything interacted. The safety interlocks were the first area to be addressed.
I don't know who designed this ridiculous system, but he should be shot !
With the safety ON, you cannot pull the trigger, cock or lower the hammer or retract the slide. This is mostly normal but it gets strange when you take the safety OFF. In the "FIRE" position the magazine release is locked-out and the mag can't be removed (?). So you must put it back on SAFE first, but when the mag is removed, the safety is now locked on "SAFE" and the slide can't be retracted to empty the chamber (?) You can lock the slide open with the safety on and remove the magazine, but once the mag is removed you can't close the slide again until you reinsert the magazine (?)
This retarded system makes it very confusing and requires several extra steps, in a specific sequence, to unload the gun and make it safe, especially if you still have ammo in the magazine.
The mods I performed make this gun work in a normal fashion that's familiar to users of other semi-auto pistols.
The first thing was to remove the left side grip panel and the safety lever, then file off the lower left corner where it slips in under the mag release button. Now the magazine can be removed regardless of what position the safety is in. The next modification was to bend the magazine/safety interlock up and out of the way, so as not to block movement of the safety from SAFE to FIRE when the mag is removed. The slide can now be retracted with the magazine removed to enable clearing of the chamber, now the safety works the same way it does on any other pistol.
These modifications can be performed in about 15 minutes with a file and a small screwdriver.
DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a gunsmith or a Lawyer. If you choose to do this modification, you do so at your own risk. However, anyone with even the slightest background in mechanical engineering can study this simple mechanism and reach the same conclusion I did.