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Thread: How to get a Reliable Hard Use 1911?

  1. #21
    Site Supporter psalms144.1's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    Bloomington, IN
    So, the real question is, are you asking the right question?

    You want a 1911, so I'm assuming you're looking for precision and accuracy as your primary goal. That means a gun built to the tightest possible standards to eek out every little fraction of an inch of mechanical accuracy. Tight tolerances are less forgiving of abuse - specifically for things like the 2,000 round challenge run as intended with NO cleaning or lubrication during the challenge.

    This is like asking for a humble, friendly supermodel who doesn't mind you leaving her at home every weekend while you go out hunting, shooting and fishing.

    In my experience, Springfield guns are too tight for their own good. My RO is about 1,500 rounds into the challenge right now, but when I first received it, I literally had to use a cheater tube over the bushing wrench to disassemble it. That's excessive. My experience with Colts from the late 1980s until about 2000 was that not a single one of them ran worth a shit, so I basically quit buying Colts altogether.

    On the other hand, I've got a pair of DWs, a 9mm Guardian and a .45 ACP CCO, and both run like raped apes. They're WAY more accurate than I am, and I can't get either of them to bobble no matter what I feed them. Both have gone through multiple range trips with 200+ rounds per trip with no maintenance, lube, or malfunctions, so, frankly, I'm perfectly OK with that. I don't give a shit if they'd go 2,000 rounds - because in the real world, through multiple deployments in multiple conflicts, I've NEVER had to run ANY firearm through multiple thousands of rounds with no maintenance or lube.

    Quit worrying about a specific number or "challenge," and worry about what you shoot well that will get you through you're most stringent shooting need. For me, the worst abuse I've EVER given any pistol was shooting about 1,000 rounds per day for multiple days in training. But, I still had time to field strip, wipe the rails, relube, and pull a snake through the bore even on those days...

  2. #22
    Based on your criteria a 5-inch gun is the only option.

    Understand whichever route you go The gun may need two to three trips back to the smith or manufacturer to be tweaked.

    If reliability is that important then think in terms of three one for carry one for practice and one for backup. You said money is no object.

    Quality magazines and quality ammunition will go a long ways to keep a gun reliable. Nothing like seeing some dude with a nighthawk custom buying remand 45 to shoot at the range.

    All that being said no gun is "stone cold" reliable if run hard and or not maintained and/or depending on the conditions it is used in.

    If I were going that route I would have two build on aluminum frames and one built on a steel frame.

    The best 1911 will only run as good as an out of the box modern polymer 45. (In aggregate for those of you with a 1911 that's been flawless for 300 rounds or so in every combat condition you could conceive).

    Be sure and report back on what you chose. Good luck!

  3. #23
    Tagged for interest

    and I would be interested in doing the 2K test with my piece but that means, I would have to remove this from duty use, since I would not be allowed to clean/lube.

    I have access to both Speer Lawman 230 and Federal 230.

    While I have a variety of lubes, I have not kept up with what holds up well and does not creep away. When I inspect my gun daily before going to work, I look at the thumb safety notch cut out and can see the frame rail. If I see the glistening of lube, I am ok.

    Roughly about once a month, I field strip and re lube.

    my duty piece, is a used 2008 purchase Springfield Armory MC Operator. It was sent to SACS in 2009 for some upgrades (mainly WCBP and 10-8) and they only things factory are the barrel, slide, frame, grip safety, disconnector and ejector. I have been to a couple of schools where I fired just under 1K with no issues. I could feel the slide travel starting to become erratic toward the end that the second time I did a class like that, I would do a quick clean and lube every night.

    It did fail Hilton's extractor test (2012 Armorer's Class) and Hilton filed on my extractor.

    I have roughly 14K on it right now and the slide to frame fit has a bit of up and down play (nothing that I am worried about). Through its history with me, it did have spell of unexplained "tie ups" where the round would start up the feed ramp (only after a mag change), the nose would hit the top of the chamber and the slide would be locked against the round. No free movement of the slide and the magazine would not come out easily. I experienced the last of this at a LE comp roughly 2013ish. Also, since it would have in competition, I was frantic is trying to get it running again, I could never ID if a mag was also the culprit.

    After discussion with Hilton, I had the original design (gen 1) 10-8 slide stop and he suggested I try the gen 2 version. Oddly, I also discovered unusual heavy wear on my 10-8 magazine catch (where it catches the magazine notch). Almost a gouging of the locking shelf. I replaced both the slide stop and mag catch with fresh 10-8s and have not experienced that issue again. I was lead to believe that my issue may have been tolerance stacking.

    I would like to think my current carry is reliable, but I have never subject it to a test of this nature. I would fresh spring it, heavy lube and let the test begin.

    Maybe Decemberish to start this test?? (Why so long... I need to bring out my LTT and become one with it before I carry on duty)

    This picture came with an odd discovery (more that once) where I would find my thumb safety "off" in my heavily worn duty holster. I could not duplicate the mishap and was scratching my head on why it would be found "clicked off" in my duty holster. I replaced the plunger tube spring (the original was 3/16" short) and I heat and re-molded the duty holster around the thumb safety lever (ejection side) to prevent movement. Hell, I even tightened the screw on the WCBP hammer pin which is part of the safety system. Seems to be working!!

    Last edited by SW CQB 45; 07-01-2020 at 09:35 AM.
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  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by GlorifiedMailman View Post
    Thanks. I've never heard of Mars Armament. I'll look into them. Anyone know if they have any government contracts or anything?
    And on another note, I see Cylinder and Slide (Bill Laughridge's company, a pistolsmith who DocGKR recommends) has a custom Springfield 1911 in stock. I wonder if that would meet DocGKR's recommendations for a hard-use 1911 and if it would be suitable for hard use right out of the box?
    Steve is a one man shop, I doubt he has govt contracts but I won't speak for him.

    I've handled and shot the C&S Trident. I wasn't impressed at that price point and that special coating wasn't doing anything, IMO.
    Doesn't read posts longer than two paragraphs.

  5. #25
    Site Supporter farscott's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    Dunedin, FL, USA
    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    Agree on Sams claim to fame. I have a strong feeling he knows how to make one run and run albeit my sample size is tiny. Kevin B is expecting a TRP back from him with the full treatment in a few months. Can't wait for that one! Dave S is of the opinion that it is the precise fitting of premium "hard use" components that deliver a long term reliable and persistently accurate pistol. And for myself, having glimpsed this promised land, I only want both reliability and precision. It's hard to give up the accuracy once it's been tasted.

    Scoring something nice second hand sounds pretty solid.
    My Sams 9x19 1911 is very reliable with the right magazines. It is insanely accurate. I also would not describe it as a hard use pistol due to the presence of a FLGR, the BoMar adjustable rear sight, and a thin front sight. I love the sight picture, but I have destroyed more than one set of BoMar sights on a carry pistol (the Colt shown below back in the day). I finally had John Harrison replace the BoMar with his fixed "Extreme Service" sight cut for the BoMar. In fact, that sight was one of his prototype sights.

    Another good secondhand choice would be a Custom Carry from SACS, especially as the pistols are covered under warranty for the life of the pistol. SACS knows how to make a pistol run. I really like my Custom Carry; I like it more than the better known "Professional".
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  6. #26
    Member wvincent's Avatar
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    Mar 2013
    The 605
    Quote Originally Posted by theJanitor View Post
    There are a couple of THUGS on the board. Iím on the list for one for one soon. My best friend has two, and they define a working, hard use pistol

    Iíve got a couple that would have easily passed 2000 rounds if I was counting. I would guess my Yost-Bonitz and my Frank Glenn builds colts are better than my glocks
    Sorry man, I think I'm in your build spot right now!! I'll send pics when it's done!

    Just kidding, I'm still waiting on the email from Sara
    Last edited by wvincent; 07-01-2020 at 10:53 AM.
    "And for a regular dude Iím maybe okay...but what I learned is if thereís a door, Iím going out it not in it"-Duke
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  7. #27
    I owned (and foolishly sold) a Dan Wesson CBOB that never jammed once in appx 6000 rounds. Work by Severns Custom was pretty minimal: trigger job, "reliability package" (which was reaming the chamber and a few minor polishes/tweaks) and Hard Hat finish. I'd have put it up against any Glock. I did clean it every couple hundred rounds though.

  8. #28
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    Jan 2012
    While I did, as stated previously, put a 1911 through the 2K challenge and it passed, I don't really consider it a meaningful test for the 1911 in general because generally speaking they are dependent on proper lubrication to keep them running.

    So if someone wants to do it, that's fine -- but if the gun starts malfunctioning when it gets dry that doesn't really mean all that much. In my experience 1911s will run dirty but not dry. I don't clean my guns very often, but I do keep them lubed.

  9. #29
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    Nov 2013
    Is your marine armorer friend a gunsmith or is he just an armorer. There is a world of difference. Especially for a military armorer. Even then, some gunsmiths have trouble getting it right in a 1911.

    A formula for success, base off of my experience:

    -Government model gun with proper barrel fit (with a chamber that is finish reamed) that shows no springing, lug bump or link riding

    -In .45acp with an 18lb recoil spring and a 23lb mainspring.

    -Extractor shaped so that the tensioning wall is the ONLY part touching the shell casing and that is correctly set for tension and deflection.

    -Quality magazines (7 round standard tube, 8 round extended tube).

    -Quality ammunition. Don't feed your gun reman or poor quality reloads that fail a case gauge.

    -Use lube as needed. Don't use grease or anything that's going to thicken in cold weather. Clean it as needed.

    (As an aside, I don't do the 2,000 round test for a few reasons. One, I'll never run that much ammo through any gun without cleaning. And two, although it's certainly possible for the guns to do it, the combination of lube and burnt carbon will become a lapping compound and can loosen the tight fit that seperates an accurate 1911 from a REALLY accurate 1911.)

    -If it fails the 10-8 extractor test, take it back to the bench and figure out why.

    If you can't do these things yourself and if your armorer friend can't address them, then your guns probably aren't set up correctly.

    In my experience, Springfield and RRA did these things decently except the springs and the extractor tension

    My Colt 9mm Commander had almost nothing correct and I basically had to rebuild the gun from aftermarket parts. My Kimber 5" 9mm was better, but the barrel fit was incomplete and the extractor geometry was fucked up. Some mild tuning got it to be more reliable than the Colt, though the barrel fit is not great and it is not as accurate since the Colt got rebarreled with a match grade barrel.

    I have two 5" .45 guns that I built from bare slides/frames. My first 1911 was a Caspian frame and slide and was my first foray into the design. It took many malfunctions, several trips back to my bench and much seeking of qualified advice to find what made it work. It's had 30,000 rounds through it by now and has easily gone the last 20,000 of them without malfunction. The other was a frame and slide from Palmetto State. It is yet to malfunction, as it became my brother's 1911 and he doesn't shoot as much as I do.

    Tl;Dr there is a reason people pay lots of money to gunsmiths or semi custom shops to get their 1911s running. Because if you don't know how to set up your gun and have no time to learn, you need to know someone who does, and probably you'll need to pay them for it.

    This is why people like Glocks and why other people like 1911s. Some guys treat their gun like a classic car, and other guys treat theirs like a Honda Civic.

    Start with Dan Wesson and up.

    Sent from my moto g(6) using Tapatalk

  10. #30
    Member Trooper224's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
    Everyone has given advice on brands. Most of it has been good advice, so I'll try a different tac. What's your personal knowledge of the 1911? I ask this because you've owned Colts and Springers you couldn't make run. In my experience they're both capable of meeting your criteria, I've had both pass Tods requirements with ease.

    Do you know how to tune and fit an extractor, fit an ejector or tighten a plunger tube? These aren't gunsmith duties necessarily, really more like basic maintenance. In my opinion and experience, these are things a 1911 runner needs to accomplish on their own if they're going to live with God's Gun. The old beast is a product of a different era and needs a bit of periodic tweaking to stay in the game. Depending on a gunsmith for everything other than cleaning is a frustrating proposition with the 1911.
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