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Thread: The Art and Science of Keeping Your 1911 Running

  1. #11
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    Section 1
    Don't buy a crap gun from a fly by night manufacturer and expect it to be awesome. I guess this would fit in all the sections.

    Use quality ammo and quality magazines. Wilson Combat 47 7-round mags are a gold standard. Others will probably work fine, for example Colt 45 mags normally work just fine.

    The 5" Government Model is still probably the most reliable of 1911 pistols given that the gun is made by a quality manufacturer. But really, Commander size guns should run great too.

    Colt's dual recoil spring setup really does work nicely for their .45ACP pistols.

    If you own one of these you are probably not a "communist faggot". Mods, strike this line if it's offensive.


    Section 2
    If you assume the cool looking 9mm 1911 sitting on the dealer shelf will work 100% out of the box you might be disappointed. Or you might not. Buy it and find out. But only if you've learned a thing or two about these guns.

    Don't worry about lightweight alloy frames wearing out shooting 9mm. It will be fine.

    If you have a 5" gun you probably need a 11# recoil spring. If it's a Commander then probably a 12-13# spring. Colt likes to over spring their 9mm guns a bit, Springfield Armory likes to under spring theirs. Colt's dual recoil spring setup is overkill for 9mm guns.

    Your ejector may very well be contacted/pressured by the top round in an inserted magazine. To check, remove the slide from the pistol and insert a loaded mag. Observe the clearance between the top round and the ejector. If there is contact/pressure there it might make sense to relieve that part of the ejector or install a different one. Get the right kind if you do because not all ejectors are the same.

    It might take some time, effort, and cost to determine what combination of magazines and ammunition work best in your 9mm 1911. Federal 124gr FMJ and HST rounds work best for me, but perhaps not for you.

    Wilson Combat ETM magazines generally work pretty well in 9mm 1911s. That doesn't mean they will work best for everyone, or that other magazines won't work as good in your gun. Metalform, Tripp, Brownells, Ed Brown, or others might be just the thing for you.


    Section All
    Your 1911 will run dirty. It might not run very well if it is dry. Keep the gun lubed properly. If you want to do the 2,000 round challenge with your gun, fine. I've done it. But understand why it choked if it gets bone dry inside.

    Learn how the gun works, including the extractor, ejector, sear, sear spring, disconnect, and safeties.

    Learn how to test and tune an extractor.

    Learn how to tell if the ejector needs to be replaced or possibly reshaped a bit.

    Learn what the firing pin stop is and how it relates to the workings of your pistol, and why the one you have is probably just fine but you might get even better results with a different one. But don't even think about replacing it unless you really know why.

    Learn how the safeties interact with other systems including the trigger and sear. Also learn how to fix them if they don't work 100% correctly or as nicely as you would like.

    Learn what parts need replacement at what intervals. Especially the recoil spring and firing pin spring. Other things can wear out, but not with the same frequency.

    Learn how to remove and reinstall the main spring housing and why a rubber band is handy in the cases where you don't intend to remove the sear spring.

    Don't screw with the feed ramp unless you know what the hell you are doing.

    Did I mention buy quality mags and ammo? If you are one of those people who buys cheap crappy mags and ammo because you don't think you should have to pay more to get the good stuff because the gun should be exactly like a Glock, just stop it. In fact sell your 1911 to someone who has a clue.

    Buy some stuff. Like a tool to help remove the main spring housing retainer pin. And a good plastic gunsmith block. And good flat head screwdrivers. And some appropriate files and stones. Maybe a brass hammer and some punches.

    Don't be a cheap bastard and expect to have a satisfactory 1911 owner experience. You might, but you sure as heck might not.

    There are other things I'm forgetting, but that's a start.
    Last edited by Robinson; 05-09-2019 at 05:02 PM.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave T View Post

    I cleaned them every time I shot them, and lubricated them generously.

    Dave
    good advice right there.

  3. #13
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    Great start guys!

    Section 1:

    Recoil Spring weight -

    Government Model with a "GI guide rod" use a 16-pound spring stock.

    These typically work well for all standard pressure 230-grain "hardball" and JHP .45 ACP loads and will handle a moderate diet of +P loads. If you're shooting a lot of +P loads, move up to a 18.5-pound spring, but you might experience malfunctions if you run an 18-pound spring and light-to-medium .45 loads. Given that .45 standard pressure JHPs work fine from a 5" barrel performance wise, there isn't much need. If you run lighter 185-200 grain loads you may be able to use a 14-15 pound spring. I haven't ever really done this, so please look to see if someone else has.

    Commander guns with a "GI Guide Rod" use 20-pound spring for 230-grain standard pressure loads and a 17-pound spring with 185-200 grain loads. In my experience you can make a Commander "run in a pinch" using a 16-pound 5" spring, but don't expect it to go more than a hundred rounds. Commanders are a bit pickier in spring weight, but not overly so. Generally, anything in the 17-21 pound range will run.

    With 1911s, too heavy in the spring weight is usually preferable to too light. When it's too heavy, you will not get reliable lock-back on an empty magazine, which sucks. When it is too light, you'll get double-feeds or premature lock-back, which sucks way more.

    Recoil Spring Life -

    In Gov't and Commanders, average recoil spring life is ~2000 rounds for your standard round coil-spring. Flat wire springs get substantially more life from the spring (IIRC Wilson advises ~10,000 round life span), but they do require a specific guide rod to run.

    General Recoil Spring Advice -

    Like all things preventative maintenance is key. You can purchase "Recoil Spring Calibration Paks" from Wolff -

    Wolff Stock No. 13111 is the Government Model Pak with recoil spring weights in 16, 18.5, 20, 22, and 24 pounds along with extra power firing pin springs.
    Wolff Stock No. 13101 is the Commander Model Pak with recoil spring weights in 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26 pounds along with extra power firing pin springs.

    If you're experiencing premature or no slide lock issues, you can start here by adjusting the recoil spring weight. Start, of course, by using the standard. Once you figure out what works best with your gun (hint, probably 16 pound in a Government, and 18 or 20 in a Commander), order extras and keep them on hand. As a matter of habit, I simply replace my springs twice a year, as opposed to doing a round count. I have not run the flat-wire Wilsons and thus cannot comment on their reliability/tuning habits, etc.

    ___
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  4. #14
    Section 1:

    I've found that this 17.5# spring from Wolff feeds pretty much anything from 185 to 230gr defense ammo. https://www.midwayusa.com/product/34...911-government I don't like light springs.

    Wilson Combat doesn't have a true commander length flat-wire kit, as theirs are configured to 4". Nighthawk does, and I have the kit happily running in my Colt commander: https://www.nighthawkcustom.com/part...ommander-45acp


    I've yet to run a flat bottom firing pin stop, so no info there

    Section 2:

    My wilson EDC X9 which should share the same slide with the EDC9 comes with a 4" flat-wire spring/guide. Wilson's website says it has a life of 40K rounds, which doesn't seem possible, but that's what it says: https://shopwilsoncombat.com/Flat-Wi...oductinfo/784/



    Video References:









    Last edited by theJanitor; 05-09-2019 at 07:45 PM.

  5. #15
    Video Reference:


  6. #16
    Site Supporter entropy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info all.

  7. #17
    Hobbyist JAD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theJanitor View Post
    And avoid using thin grips, or grips that don't support the plunger tube. It's just added security. The rest of the pistol is very durable
    For me slim grips are essential to shootability. I have had two come loose over the years, both on steel frames incidentally. One was caught very early before it had an impact on performance, and that tube has now been replaced with a welded part by MARS. The second decided to torment me during a CCW "class" in 2008. It did not make the pistol a paperweight -- the slide just kept locking back -- and I finished the test without comment. It was staked by that evening; the pistol, which was well into the tens of thousands of rounds and maybe close to six figures, is now in service with a good friend who couldn't otherwise afford a pistol; I sold it to his wife for a Benjamin because she insisted on paying me.Name:  kimber small.jpg
Views: 1900
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  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by JAD View Post
    For me slim grips are essential to shootability. I have had two come loose over the years, both on steel frames incidentally. One was caught very early before it had an impact on performance, and that tube has now been replaced with a welded part by MARS. The second decided to torment me during a CCW "class" in 2008. It did not make the pistol a paperweight -- the slide just kept locking back -- and I finished the test without comment. It was staked by that evening; the pistol, which was well into the tens of thousands of rounds and maybe close to six figures, is now in service with a good friend who couldn't otherwise afford a pistol; I sold it to his wife for a Benjamin because she insisted on paying me.Name:  kimber small.jpg
Views: 1900
Size:  91.6 KB
    If you roll with slim grips or ones that don't support the tube, special care needs to be applied to the plunger tube (welding/staking/etc). Still, grips that do support the tube, remain an added layer of security. I'm fortunate that stock Colt grips suit me

  9. #19
    Section All:

    From a post by Bill Wilson, and the reason why I switched to 185gr ammo for my CCO. It was running great beforehand, but the ammo change, and the Nighthawk flatwire kit couldn't have hurt

    I often hear comments like “I only trust a full size 1911 because they are more reliable”. Well folks I’m here to tell you this statement isn’t necessarily true. While it is true some ultra compact 1911s with barrel lengths under 3.5” often have reliability issues, there are other important factors involved such as spring weights, firing pin stop dimensions, ammunition selection and whether or not the pistol will push feed.
    The basic functional difference between a full size (as John Browning designed it) 1911 pistol and a compact version with a 4.25” or shorter barrel is slide mass and speed. Basically anytime you reduce mass and propel it with the same energy you will get faster cycle speed. Why does this matter? The pistol needs a certain amount of time to eject a fired case, allow the magazine to lift, position the next round for proper feeding and chamber the round. When slide mass is reduced and therefore slide cycle speed increased there may not be time for this to all happen properly.
    So we must slow the slide cycle speed down and this is accomplished by a combination of the following:

    Heavy hammer spring
    Square bottom firing pin stop
    Ammunition that generates less recoil impulse
    Proper recoil spring weight for the ammunition used

    It’s much easier to slow the slide down by making it harder for it to cock the hammer than it is to just add poundage to the recoil spring. What we’re doing here is increasing the force needed to cock the hammer with a heavier spring and reducing the slides ability to cock the hammer by lowering the leverage point on the hammer, thus slowing slide cycle speed.

    All the mechanical changes are important, but the biggest factor is ammunition selection because it affects both slide cycle speed and the magazine’s ability to lift the cartridge into position for proper feeding. Ammunition loaded with 230gr bullets generate more recoil impulse (especially +P loads) than 185gr loads and 7 rounds of 185gr ammunition weighs 315gr less than 7 rounds of 230gr ammunition making the column of ammunition easier for the magazine spring to lift. I hope you see where I’m going here? With modern hollow point bullets we have LOTS of bullet choices of 200gr or less that have proven to be VERY effective in regards to terminal performance.

    Here are my personal ammunition choices for compact 1911s:
    200gr Lead Semi-Wadcutter (H&G #68 mold) loaded to 850fps
    200gr Hornady HAP loaded to 850fps
    160gr Barnes TAC TX loaded to 1050fps
    185gr Barnes TAC TX loaded to 950fps
    185gr Winchester Silvertip
    185gr Remington Golden Sabre
    200gr Hornady XTP

    The ammunition you DO NOT want to shoot in compact 1911s is 230gr +P loads!

    At Wilson Combat we have also pioneered the use of modern flatwire recoil springs in Compact 1911 pistols. These springs will enhance your overall reliability since they hold their overall length and tension many times longer than standard round wire springs since the coils never go into bind.
    After extensive testing we now put them in all our compact pistols.

    This brings us to push feed. 1911 pistols are designed for controlled round feeding which means the cartridge is supposed to slide under the extractor hook as it feeds into the chamber. However all 1911s don’t always do this, especially when slide speed is increased. This is really no big deal as long as the pistol is set-up to push feed. This is simply the shaping of the front of the extractor hook so it can snap over the case rim without undue resistance. This is easy to check by putting a empty case in the chamber, slowly lower the slide until the extractor contacts the case rim, then snapping the slide shut. You should be able to do this fairly easy with your thumb. If the slide won’t close or it takes both thumbs to close the pistol, it probably won’t push feed properly and the extractor needs adjusted.

    I began shooting 4” compact 1911s almost exclusively in the late 90s primarily due to my failing eyesight, it just became easier for me to get a good focus on the sights with them closer together. 100′s of thousands of rounds later and several major IDPA match wins I can assure you a properly set-up and fed compact 1911 is every bit as reliable as any full size. As a final testament to my faith in a 4” compact, I carry one on my hip EVERY day, usually loaded with 160gr or 185gr Barnes TAC XP bullets.
    Last edited by theJanitor; 05-10-2019 at 02:00 PM.

  10. #20
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    Section All:

    RE: Plunger Tubes in order of best to worst ways to go

    1) Integral
    2) Welded
    3) Staked + Silver Soldered
    4) Staked + Adhesive
    5) Staked
    6) Adhesive (<-don't go only this route).

    For those of you running option 4 (Staked + Adhesive) or thinking about it, Loctite has an adhesive retaining compound, Loctite 609, which is ideal for this type of situation. It's for cylindrical parts and has a shear strength in the neighborhood of 2300 psi once fully cured. It cures at room temp and takes ~1 hour to initial set and <24 hours for full cure.
    Last edited by RevolverRob; 05-10-2019 at 02:19 PM.
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

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