AR15.Com Archives
 Tight Vs Loose 1911 debate
Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 1:21:56 AM
Can anyone point me to articles/comments by reputable smiths/notables/people familiar with the gospel of JMB on this debate?

I'm starting to get the impression that it comes down to preference-
as the "if you shake it and it sounds like a baby's rattle, you're good to go" guns run reliably, as do the nun-tight SA Pro and Les Baer etcs

I know this one can get as heated as 9mm vs 45, but lets just try to keep this topic civil guys!
















45 FTW.
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918v  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 1:41:09 AM
Bullseye gun builders will tell you that tight is right.
DernHumpus  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 2:28:38 AM
Just from my logic, it seems that loose would be more reliable, and tight would be more accurate.
SGB  [Moderator]
1/2/2009 4:14:20 AM
Originally Posted By DernHumpus:
Just from my logic, it seems that loose would be more reliable, and tight would be more accurate.


Why? Isn't loose going to allow more debris in and wouldn't tight tend to keep more debris out.


Properly built/properly maintained/quality magazines and properly lubricated this is the holy grail of reliability. IMHFO of course.
M1A4ME  [Member]
1/2/2009 7:25:24 AM
The WW2 era .45's we had in the arms room while I was in the Army would rattle like a can of bolts when you shook them hard. They would also, in the hands of someone who could shoot, hit the man sized silhouettes every time at 50 meters. I don't know why they had us fire at 50 meters during the try outs as practice and the matches were all 25 meter shooting.
Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 8:58:03 AM
Originally Posted By M1A4ME:
The WW2 era .45's we had in the arms room while I was in the Army would rattle like a can of bolts when you shook them hard. They would also, in the hands of someone who could shoot, hit the man sized silhouettes every time at 50 meters. I don't know why they had us fire at 50 meters during the try outs as practice and the matches were all 25 meter shooting.


I wonder if the guns were that loose brand new

It's also been said that the tolerances were left a little loose on the blueprint side, to give more "Wiggleroom" (For lack of a better word) when the factory workers were putting the guns together. That this was done for manufacturing reasons, not reliability ones.

B44T  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 9:35:00 AM
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
Originally Posted By M1A4ME:
The WW2 era .45's we had in the arms room while I was in the Army would rattle like a can of bolts when you shook them hard. They would also, in the hands of someone who could shoot, hit the man sized silhouettes every time at 50 meters. I don't know why they had us fire at 50 meters during the try outs as practice and the matches were all 25 meter shooting.


I wonder if the guns were that loose brand new

It's also been said that the tolerances were left a little loose on the blueprint side, to give more "Wiggleroom" (For lack of a better word) when the factory workers were putting the guns together. That this was done for manufacturing reasons, not reliability ones.



Let me go check,<<<< Shake,raattlle, rattle>. Yup loose as a goose, much like the 48 I had in my arms room "back in the day"
Seneca-Cayuga  [Member]
1/2/2009 10:17:57 AM
My Kimber and SA do not rattle and are reliable and accurate as well. Have not had any issues with either.
chumpmiester  [Member]
1/2/2009 10:22:48 AM
Originally Posted By M1A4ME:
The WW2 era .45's we had in the arms room while I was in the Army would rattle like a can of bolts when you shook them hard. They would also, in the hands of someone who could shoot, hit the man sized silhouettes every time at 50 meters. I don't know why they had us fire at 50 meters during the try outs as practice and the matches were all 25 meter shooting.


All the 1911s that I carried in the Army sounded like they would fall apart when shaken. I never had any problems qualifying with an old 'battle rattle 45'. In fact I scrounged up an old 1911 instead of carrying a M9 during Desert Storm (my unit gave us 60 gunners the option of having a sidearm). I have shot both loose and tight pistols and as long as the barrel/bushing fit is good haven't really noticed much of a difference.
jtb0311  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 11:53:17 AM
I have a Kimber that is tight, accurate, and reliable. I don't think there's that much of a debate - a pistol doesn't have to be reliable OR accurate, it can be both.
JCG4  [Member]
1/2/2009 12:13:26 PM
You might be able to find some articles on M1911.org in the technical section. From my own experience a 1911 is reliable both loose and tight. I own a Kimber that is over 5 years old and is still tight. I own an S.A. G.I. that has custom work done and the slide to frame fit is standard "G.I. loose". Both are equally reliable.

I might prefer a 1911 on the loose side and here is why. I was shooting my Custom G.I. using Winchester FMJ (White box). For whatever reason the primer casing actually came out of the shell after being struck. This little piece locked up my gun. Without being able to tap, shake and rattle this piece would have taken much longer to remove (I could not open the slide). On the other side, would this have been an issue if I had been shooting with better ammo?

As SGB stated above; to paraphrase, quality parts and proper TLC equal a happy and reliable 1911. A tighter 1911 feels more solid and gives the perception to the shooter of a more accurate 1911. Yes, slide to frame fit do play a Small part in overall accuracy. Even a Les Baer "Loosens" up over time. The final lapping/fitting takes place during the initial break-in of the gun. Too tight of a gun has a higher chance of locking up on you, i.e. if you're LE or Military and your gun is getting banged up during entry or transfer, Mr. Murphy can aid in locking up your tight gun. Too loose of a gun and it can beat itself up leading to peening and overall excessive wear and tear. It boils down to personal preference and the type of duties You and Your gun are going to perform.
ronin275  [Member]
1/2/2009 3:08:29 PM
Well said. When in the Army the standard issue 1911a1s all rattled. They all shot well. I could and still can do 50 meter X ring with a Army issue 1911a1. Its all about sight picture, grip, trigger control, breathing. 99.9999% of all pistols are able to shoot better than the person shooting the pistol. Tight or loose. The National Match 1911a1s we had were tight when we got them but always ended up with the rattle after thousands of rounds fired through them every year. Personnel preference. I have eicht 1911's in various types. Some rattle and some don't. I shoot great with all of them. Practice practice practice...............
RLTW
Joe_Sakic  [Member]
1/2/2009 3:30:09 PM
I've read over and over - it's not how loose the frame to slide fit is, but, how loose/tight is the barrel lock-up to the slide that affects accuracy. I have a Wilson CQB that has very minimal movement in the slide to frame fit - however, the barrel lock-up is tight like a vault.

I actually sent in my CQB to W.C. fearing something was not right with fit of the slide/frame. Craig Gholson (no longer there) called me up and said that it was perfectly normal and advised me of the aforementioned details. He had Ron Phillips strip down and inspect everything (he's the one who built my pistol).

This was my 1st 1911 purchased back in 2002 brand new. I noticed the slide/frame fit loosened up a bit after the recommended 500 round break-in. That's when I called to inquire about it - they paid for shipping both ways and performed the detail strip down to put my mind at ease. Now some 2,000+ rounds later, the slide/frame fit has not changed and the barrel lock-up is still tight like a virgin

BTW, this pistol shoots terrific and instills a tremendous amount of confidence in my pistol shooting abilities - dead on POA/POI.

my $0.02

Sakic #19
beltfed74  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 5:05:10 PM
Ive had tight 1911's that would feed anything and loose ones that would choke on everything.
Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 5:17:55 PM
Is there such a thing as 'too' tight' or 'too loose'?
waafist  [Member]
1/2/2009 5:30:40 PM
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
Is there such a thing as 'too' tight' or 'too loose'?


I've been wondering this too. I have a Sistema that has quite a bit of rattle to it, and I've been mulling over getting it looked at by a smith. I haven't measured it, but I'd guess around 1/32" of play, maybe a little less. It goes bang everytime, but it's due for a new barrel.
satellite  [Member]
1/2/2009 5:52:48 PM
I'm waiting for someone to say a rattling 1911 is intimidating to intruders, much like racking a shotgun.


"Get out of my house, I'm armed"
"So I am I, give me your money!"

*rattle, rattle*


"Oh, Fuck this!"
JMAKSIG  [Member]
1/2/2009 7:08:53 PM
From my limited experience with 1911's, the "MARACCA's"(loose or low $ 1911's are constantly called rattle traps) or "LOOSER" 1911's have been more reliable ten fold. We're talking NO FTF, NO FTE, ANY AMMO(Six or Seven brands of hollow points ALWAYS go bang). Not exactly sure why a good percentage of the higher end one's need the milk bottle warmed to run right?

As for accuracy. . . . I think the tighter one's shine @ 25 yds and further. I honestly don't think a Wilson CQB vs a Taurus PT-1911 @ 7 yds, the Wilson would bury the Taurus(Just an example). I don't see how. Again, 25 yds plus, maybe a little more accuracy tightness. Just my opinion now.
satellite  [Member]
1/2/2009 7:36:25 PM
Quick question though on this.... how are we defining a "loose" 1911.... like, any rattle to the slide whatsoever, or side-to-side movement... I've never handled a Nighthawk/Wilson/Brown caliber 1911 so I'm not sure just how much tighter they are than the stock Colts I own.
SignManIam  [Member]
1/2/2009 7:49:58 PM
Originally Posted By JMAKSIG:
From my limited experience with 1911's, the "MARACCA's"(loose or low $ 1911's are constantly called rattle traps) or "LOOSER" 1911's have been more reliable ten fold. We're talking NO FTF, NO FTE, ANY AMMO(Six or Seven brands of hollow points ALWAYS go bang). Not exactly sure why a good percentage of the higher end one's need the milk bottle warmed to run right?

As for accuracy. . . . I think the tighter one's shine @ 25 yds and further. I honestly don't think a Wilson CQB vs a Taurus PT-1911 @ 7 yds, the Wilson would bury the Taurus(Just an example). I don't see how. Again, 25 yds plus, maybe a little more accuracy tightness. Just my opinion now.


This is kinda like a woman, everyone enjoy's a loose one
But a tight one can be fun to!
CFII  [Industry Partner]
1/2/2009 9:19:32 PM
For arguments sake, wouldn't a tightly fitted, if not "over tightened" 1911 use too much energy from the action to merely unlock and reciprocate, and not leave alot of oomph left over to strip the next round and ram it home with authority? Hence some people using 18+ lb recoil springs? Where as a loose pistol will use less energy to function, and have more left over to strip a round off of the magazine and ram it home, even if dirty as hell?

My most reliable 1911, read 3k rounds +, zero malfunctions ever, has a decent slide frame fit, a perfectly fitted barrel, and a finger tight bushing.
Apple_Juice  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 9:36:08 PM
I think the question is too loose vs. too tight.
In my limited experience:
Springfield - loosest one that i own but shoots reliably with variety of ammo
Wilson Protector - in my opine too tight in that you are limited ammo(Wilson shop recommended S&B factory or specific handload) you stray from that it's hit or miss. Once you get the right load though it's hard to beat. I was in a Hackathorn class and there were 2-3 guys running Wilsons that had a number of feed issues maybe not broken in.
Kimber Eclipes II - just the right balance more accurate than I can shoot without being restricted in ammo.
Series 80 Gold Cup - I liked it as well as the Kimber but the Kimber had more features.
Cylinder & Slide Series 70 Gold Cup - just picked it up today and hope to try it out this weekend.
Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 10:05:25 PM
Originally Posted By CFII:
For arguments sake, wouldn't a tightly fitted, if not "over tightened" 1911 use too much energy from the action to merely unlock and reciprocate, and not leave alot of oomph left over to strip the next round and ram it home with authority? Hence some people using 18+ lb recoil springs? Where as a loose pistol will use less energy to function, and have more left over to strip a round off of the magazine and ram it home, even if dirty as hell?

My most reliable 1911, read 3k rounds +, zero malfunctions ever, has a decent slide frame fit, a perfectly fitted barrel, and a finger tight bushing.


Well if it takes more energy to unlock the slide, wouldn't it take also take some MORE energy to compress the heavier spring too?
CFII  [Industry Partner]
1/2/2009 10:09:09 PM
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
Originally Posted By CFII:
For arguments sake, wouldn't a tightly fitted, if not "over tightened" 1911 use too much energy from the action to merely unlock and reciprocate, and not leave alot of oomph left over to strip the next round and ram it home with authority? Hence some people using 18+ lb recoil springs? Where as a loose pistol will use less energy to function, and have more left over to strip a round off of the magazine and ram it home, even if dirty as hell?

My most reliable 1911, read 3k rounds +, zero malfunctions ever, has a decent slide frame fit, a perfectly fitted barrel, and a finger tight bushing.


Well if it takes more energy to unlock the slide, wouldn't it take also take some MORE energy to compress the heavier spring too?


Yea, it seems that it would. This is all just me thinking aloud...

ken_mays  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 10:40:01 PM
That's why some of the tighter 1911s use variable rate recoil springs. They exert less force when the slide's in battery. During recoil, it's one less thing for the slide to fight.
Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 10:54:26 PM
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
That's why some of the tighter 1911s use variable rate recoil springs. They exert less force when the slide's in battery. During recoil, it's one less thing for the slide to fight.


Dude that hamster is freakin me out
ken_mays  [Team Member]
1/2/2009 11:03:50 PM
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
That's why some of the tighter 1911s use variable rate recoil springs. They exert less force when the slide's in battery. During recoil, it's one less thing for the slide to fight.


Dude that hamster is freakin me out


Just for you:

Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/3/2009 12:56:42 AM
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
That's why some of the tighter 1911s use variable rate recoil springs. They exert less force when the slide's in battery. During recoil, it's one less thing for the slide to fight.


Dude that hamster is freakin me out


Just for you:

http://i241.photobucket.com/albums/ff35/kemays/deathhamster.jpg


Oh my god... that poor little guy
Honestly I can't help but feel bad for that cartoon hamster

WarDawg  [Member]
1/3/2009 7:09:44 AM
OK lets take this to the more extreme side of things. The pistol was built for combat/ Military. A nicely clean and lubed pistol at the range should shoot well and have no hang ups. Tight or loose. Now lightly wet it and throw it down in the sand. pick it up and shake it off fire some rounds. Give it realistic test of durability. Let it get a little funky and see if tight is better than loose. I say it would be the M16 vs the AK . Now I will not do that with mine. The Military tested them along time ago and I'm good with there results... WarDawg
ken_mays  [Team Member]
1/3/2009 12:03:21 PM
Originally Posted By WarDawg:
OK lets take this to the more extreme side of things. The pistol was built for combat/ Military. A nicely clean and lubed pistol at the range should shoot well and have no hang ups. Tight or loose. Now lightly wet it and throw it down in the sand. pick it up and shake it off fire some rounds. Give it realistic test of durability. Let it get a little funky and see if tight is better than loose. I say it would be the M16 vs the AK . Now I will not do that with mine. The Military tested them along time ago and I'm good with there results... WarDawg


I've done that with a custom 1911 with a hand-lapped frame and slide. Not necessarily the tightest gun I own, but far from a rattletrap. Buried it in wet sand, pulled it out and fired a few mags. The trigger got a bit heavier but it ran with no failures.

That's good enough for me too.
Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/3/2009 7:04:05 PM
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
Originally Posted By WarDawg:
OK lets take this to the more extreme side of things. The pistol was built for combat/ Military. A nicely clean and lubed pistol at the range should shoot well and have no hang ups. Tight or loose. Now lightly wet it and throw it down in the sand. pick it up and shake it off fire some rounds. Give it realistic test of durability. Let it get a little funky and see if tight is better than loose. I say it would be the M16 vs the AK . Now I will not do that with mine. The Military tested them along time ago and I'm good with there results... WarDawg


I've done that with a custom 1911 with a hand-lapped frame and slide. Not necessarily the tightest gun I own, but far from a rattletrap. Buried it in wet sand, pulled it out and fired a few mags. The trigger got a bit heavier but it ran with no failures.

That's good enough for me too.


That poor hamster



But komrade! know that tight 1911s don't work in sand!!!!!!!!!! Only loose ones do!
RangerJoe11  [Member]
1/3/2009 7:23:04 PM
I havent had any problems with my Pro but it hasent been thrown around in dirt either.

It would be very interesting to hear what some of the guys who have used tight or loose 1911s in combat or long training classes have to say.

I know some custom makers say "we dont make em tight we make em right" but what the hell is right?

IMO it mainly boils down to finding a gun that runs and taking great care of it. You could have a loose or tight or right gun but if you dont take care of it its gonna shit on you when you need it.
ken_mays  [Team Member]
1/3/2009 11:00:30 PM
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
But komrade! know that tight 1911s don't work in sand!!!!!!!!!! Only loose ones do!


Guess it depends on the sand. Mine was fairly coarse stuff from a gravel pit. I don't have any Iraq-level of fine grit to try, but I don't doubt it would be a different story. I suppose I could try some flour sometime.
Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/4/2009 12:04:04 AM
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
But komrade! know that tight 1911s don't work in sand!!!!!!!!!! Only loose ones do!


Guess it depends on the sand. Mine was fairly coarse stuff from a gravel pit. I don't have any Iraq-level of fine grit to try, but I don't doubt it would be a different story. I suppose I could try some flour sometime.



I've heard the shit in Iraq is absolutely ridiculous! Though in your test I'd like to see it be more practical than other dust "tests" I've seen. I'd say drop it in the sand then pick it up, shake it once or twice then give it a go. Try to keep your test realistic. I mean it sure is impressive to see a pistol legitimately buried, and come out working - but IRL I wouldn't drop my rifle's backup- my 911- in shit and then try to cake it with the stuff, get it into the internals and then expect it to work flawlessly!
A more likely scenario- accidental drop, followed by- "SHIT!" pick it up, and then shake it off.
ken_mays  [Team Member]
1/4/2009 1:11:15 AM
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
But komrade! know that tight 1911s don't work in sand!!!!!!!!!! Only loose ones do!


Guess it depends on the sand. Mine was fairly coarse stuff from a gravel pit. I don't have any Iraq-level of fine grit to try, but I don't doubt it would be a different story. I suppose I could try some flour sometime.



I've heard the shit in Iraq is absolutely ridiculous! Though in your test I'd like to see it be more practical than other dust "tests" I've seen. I'd say drop it in the sand then pick it up, shake it once or twice then give it a go. Try to keep your test realistic. I mean it sure is impressive to see a pistol legitimately buried, and come out working - but IRL I wouldn't drop my rifle's backup- my 911- in shit and then try to cake it with the stuff, get it into the internals and then expect it to work flawlessly!
A more likely scenario- accidental drop, followed by- "SHIT!" pick it up, and then shake it off.


Well, I did accidentally drop my Wilson CQB in a mud puddle the first time I took it to the range. I pushed a patch through the barrel and continued shooting with no problems. I finally cleaned it all off a couple weeks ago.
Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/4/2009 1:26:15 AM
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
But komrade! know that tight 1911s don't work in sand!!!!!!!!!! Only loose ones do!


Guess it depends on the sand. Mine was fairly coarse stuff from a gravel pit. I don't have any Iraq-level of fine grit to try, but I don't doubt it would be a different story. I suppose I could try some flour sometime.



I've heard the shit in Iraq is absolutely ridiculous! Though in your test I'd like to see it be more practical than other dust "tests" I've seen. I'd say drop it in the sand then pick it up, shake it once or twice then give it a go. Try to keep your test realistic. I mean it sure is impressive to see a pistol legitimately buried, and come out working - but IRL I wouldn't drop my rifle's backup- my 911- in shit and then try to cake it with the stuff, get it into the internals and then expect it to work flawlessly!
A more likely scenario- accidental drop, followed by- "SHIT!" pick it up, and then shake it off.


Well, I did accidentally drop my Wilson CQB in a mud puddle the first time I took it to the range. I pushed a patch through the barrel and continued shooting with no problems. I finally cleaned it all off a couple weeks ago.


Dude, that couldn't have happened, because, it just can't! Only plastic guns can handle such!! Never mind the fact that 1911s have been used by the US military since, well, 1911 . Never mind the fact that they've seen the trenches of WW1, beaches of Normandy, northern Africa, the jungles of Vietnam, etc.- You are mistaken komrade, your gun didn't work, it was just an illusion!


RangerJoe11  [Member]
1/4/2009 1:43:30 AM
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
But komrade! know that tight 1911s don't work in sand!!!!!!!!!! Only loose ones do!


Guess it depends on the sand. Mine was fairly coarse stuff from a gravel pit. I don't have any Iraq-level of fine grit to try, but I don't doubt it would be a different story. I suppose I could try some flour sometime.



I've heard the shit in Iraq is absolutely ridiculous! Though in your test I'd like to see it be more practical than other dust "tests" I've seen. I'd say drop it in the sand then pick it up, shake it once or twice then give it a go. Try to keep your test realistic. I mean it sure is impressive to see a pistol legitimately buried, and come out working - but IRL I wouldn't drop my rifle's backup- my 911- in shit and then try to cake it with the stuff, get it into the internals and then expect it to work flawlessly!
A more likely scenario- accidental drop, followed by- "SHIT!" pick it up, and then shake it off.



While I do agree some of those tests are a bit on the unrealistic side, sidearms can get pretty caked in shit without dropping them.

In the Dec issue of SWAT there is a picture of a guy with his pistol in his holster and it is covered in dirt, after a training excercise. Would be interesting to see if a tight or loose 1911 would do better. In this case I would guess the tight since there is no space for the dirt to enter. Picture at the bottom left
Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/4/2009 1:51:44 AM
Originally Posted By RangerJoe11:
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
Originally Posted By ken_mays:
Originally Posted By Foxnews_FTW:
But komrade! know that tight 1911s don't work in sand!!!!!!!!!! Only loose ones do!


Guess it depends on the sand. Mine was fairly coarse stuff from a gravel pit. I don't have any Iraq-level of fine grit to try, but I don't doubt it would be a different story. I suppose I could try some flour sometime.



I've heard the shit in Iraq is absolutely ridiculous! Though in your test I'd like to see it be more practical than other dust "tests" I've seen. I'd say drop it in the sand then pick it up, shake it once or twice then give it a go. Try to keep your test realistic. I mean it sure is impressive to see a pistol legitimately buried, and come out working - but IRL I wouldn't drop my rifle's backup- my 911- in shit and then try to cake it with the stuff, get it into the internals and then expect it to work flawlessly!
A more likely scenario- accidental drop, followed by- "SHIT!" pick it up, and then shake it off.



While I do agree some of those tests are a bit on the unrealistic side, sidearms can get pretty caked in shit without dropping them.

In the Dec issue of SWAT there is a picture of a guy with his pistol in his holster and it is covered in dirt, after a training excercise. Would be interesting to see if a tight or loose 1911 would do better. In this case I would guess the tight since there is no space for the dirt to enter. Picture at the bottom left


+1 on all that.
Foxnews_FTW  [Team Member]
1/14/2009 7:16:56 PM
bump
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