Im just wondering, why do i hear people bashing on the 1911's reliability? Is it from the high end owners with super tight guns that have to be broken in first? I have a Gi ww2 model, base as you can get, and its been dead reliable. over 2000 rounds without a malfunction. And im just wondering why people say 1911's are unreliable.
Some 1911s out of the box need work to function with all different hollow points.Ball ammo in any 1911 should not be a problem.Its original designed mags suck,I use wilson 47Ds no problems and a great mag.Yes super tight slide to frame fit guns likwe wilson can at first have malfunctions cause its brand new and needs to be broken in.In my experience tight slide to frame fit is not as necessary as the barrel to bushing barrel to breach face lock up.I increased the accuracy of my colt by putting in a drop in match grade from wilson.Idealy I should have a match grade fit to the pistol itself but like I said barrel to bushing fit.Then I added a group gripper to tighten things up a little more.I like tolerances looser in slide to frame.Even though options toi customize and make more reliable is endless the biggest problems with 1911s are the mags.I got a new auto-ordnance milspec out of the box and used the Wilson mags...no problems or malfunctions in 800 rounds of ball and ate 230 grain hydroshocks with no problems.I can under stand people having unreliable 1911s but I would want to know maker,selkf build or self replaced parts,mags and ammo used.Different kinds of hollow points can give problems with a stock 1911 as they were designed with just ball ammo in mind.The federal hydrocks bullet design has the same lines as ball and feeds good in a stock 1911 right off.Once a weapon is broken in and it has a couple thosand rounds through it it should be fine to be trusted especialy in the case of the super tight high end models.Changing to good quality mags a must.Just remeber it has been around 93 years and outsells practically every other semi-auto out there ,Thats a testament of its reliabilty.Shooting the pistol limp wristed will also cause malfunctions or stove pipes.A 1911 is tough god SOCCOM has a model used by Recon Marines..if it sucked they and a lot of swat teams wouldnt be carrying it.
"Contrary to popular belief hardball is the hardest ammunition to get to feed reliably. Good quality hardball will fall within the following specifications:
1.250" - 1.260" overall length (1.255" seems to be optimum).
.468" - .470" taper crimp at the case mouth (.468" is optimum).
800 - 850 FPS muzzle velocity
Tight bullet to case fit so overall length will not change after feeding into chamber."
Bill Wilson, Wilson Combat
1) Many companies that build 1911s have deviated from Colt's original specs.
2) Many companies use cheap parts to build the guns.
3) Many companies hire cheap part installers where experienced gunsmiths would ideally be employed.
4) Many gun enthusiasts that aren't up to speed on all things 1911, don't realize that $1000 isn't much money. You should expect a good frame and slide-anything else is a bonus.
5) There are several manufacturer's fighting for their piece of the 1911 pie; there is a price to pay.
6) Although every internet expert and e-commando believes the 1911 is easily tuned and customized, they fail to acknowledge the fact that it is much easier to screw up a perfectly good working 1911.
Here's a plug for you Damian (and Yost-Bonitz)) and only because I genuinely feel it to be true. If someone asked me what the two least expensive best 1911s were I would point them to the ADCO/RRA 1911 and the Yost-Bonitz 1* Enhanced built on a SA mil-spec.
I keep most of My Colts very close to stock anymore, and I don't seem to have a problem with any of them. They are more accurate then I am and I will be the first to admit it too. I keep seeing makers make the slide to frame so tight that they tend to bind when they hit the disco. Not to mention a idiotic maker that electropencils the bottom of the slide right where the disco hits and either chews up the disco or causes drag and slows the slide down. A quick swipe of the file fixes that. Tight and FIT are two seperate things and makers can't seem to figure out the difference. Or they do know it but want to keep the price down. I have around 25 or 30 Colt 1911s and my 3 SAs needed more work then all the others put together. BUT they were tight.............After setting extractors and ejectors, and polishing the rails and such they work fine, but they were NOT reliable out of the box in any sense of the word. I would bet cheapass extractors are a major cause of problems and I'd replace that and set it correctly before anything else.
I was gonna keep my mouth shut, but just could not resist . . .
I've owned several 45's over the past 20 years -- maybe 20-22 total.
The most expensive one I ever purchased is a SA "Loaded" series, in stainless steel. Most have been "shooter grade" 45's -- Colt 1991 series, RIA, Springfield "Mil-Specs" etc, etc.
In the 20-some pistols that I've owned only TWO were not reliable "out of the box" : and early A-O (breech face was not milled correctly) and a P-O LDA (sent to P-O for repair two times). Both were sold off because I could not "trust them" if you know what I mean.
Currently I have the SA Loaded, a SA Mil-Spec Stainless 45, a SA "WII" model, and two Colt 1991's. All of these pistols have been thru several hundred rounds -- and a couple of them well into the thousands of rounds -- will little or no problems ( bad ammo or crappy mags).
All are 110% with "spec" ammo -- including my 200 SWC reloads -- and good, QUALITY mags.
If the "ballon goes up" I could grab any one of my 45's and feel confident.
To hear that so many 45's don't run almost sounds like it's shooter error -- they don't know the pistol, there're afraid of it, crappy ammo or crappy mags.
Just my 2 cents . . . . .
After 45 years with the 1911, and 35 gunsmithing here's what I've learned about why some 1911's aren't reliable:
As above, many makers who don't follow Colt/USGI standards and specs.
The old Colt's and GI guns were made by slavishly following Colt standards and specs. The guns always worked great.
New makers follow whatever standards and specs they feel like, and change for any reason or no reason.
The older guns were made of solid forged and milled steel.
Todays guns are often castings, with heavy use of MIM and stamped parts, with a good mix of aluminum and plastic thrown in.
The original Colt was "old technology" and newer makers are trying to build it with "new technology" often with mixed results.
Too many people insist on thinking that ANY ammo should work in ANY gun.
They decide they'll use a specific brand/type and resist trying something else even when the gun doesn't "like" the ammo.
Much of this is the fault of the "what's the BEST ammo" question.
In truth, most all American Premium defense ammo is pretty well equal in performance.
Pick one that's PROVEN to work in YOUR gun.
Too many people insist on spending big bucks on the gun, agonize over what's the best lube, spend big bucks on the "Right" holster, buy only the finest custom grips.....Then shoot Ivan's "$2.50 per 100 rounds" of the cheapest ammo possible.
After doing so, they then proceed to clean the gun with God knows what "expedient" chemicals and equipment.
For some reason, they seem to think that some home-made chemical concoction and a ball of steel wool is just as good as chemicals and equipment specifically developed for cleaning guns WITHOUT damaging them.
They never see the "Penny wise, Dollar foolish" part of having a gun costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and trying to save a few cents on cleaning gear.
To what end?
Playing with the springs.
This is my #ONE cause for problems.
John Browning, Colt, and the US government spent millions of dollars, and nearly 100 years developing the 1911 and refining it to near perfection.
For some reason yet unexplained, a new shooter with his first ever handgun seems to think he's qualified to decide that Browning and Colt were WRONG, and that a different spring will work better.
Some people have a problem and simply decide that instead of properly diagnosing and fixing the problem, they'll just replace the springs.
Sometimes this gets the gun working, but since the real problem wasn't fixed, the gun is unreliable.
This has reached the point where a customer with a 1911 that was leading up with cheap soft lead reloads actually asked me if a stronger recoil spring would "fix" that.
To paraphrase Congressman Fritz Hollings "There's too much of that springin' goin' on out there".
Alterations to the gun.
EVERYBODY thinks he's a pistolsmith. They have no problem taking a file, stone, or the dreaded Dremel to a perfectly reliable 1911, to "improve reliability".
What they usually do is Dis-improve reliability.
Too many people have a "I can do that" attitude and start altering parts with NO real understanding of how they function and interrelate with the gun as a whole.
After this many years I can tell MANY stories of some of the unbelievable things people have done to "improve" perfectly good guns.
Misunderstanding gunsmith's terms:
My favorite is "polishing" feed ramps and parts.
When a gunsmith speaks of "Polishing" parts, we REALLY mean smoothing or deburring.
Bringing parts or feed ramps to a mirror shine contributes NOTHING.
What we want is a slick, smooth part or ramp that won't catch or drag working parts or bullets.
Too many people hear "polish" and think "Like a mirror".
In pursuit of the mirror shine they take too much metal off and alter dimensions.
All that's needed, is SMOOTH, not shiny.
Why do pistolsmith's polish parts to a mirror shine?
Because the customers demand it. Do a smoothing job on the feed ramp, and the customer thinks you either forgot to do it, or you're trying to rip him off.
If it's not mirror bright, it just wasn't done, was it?
The most reliable 1911's were the GI spec "loose as a goose" guns.
Looser fit, means less possibility of dirt, ammo problems, or lack of lube causing a stoppage.
The problem is, customers don't really know what they want.
They demand an accurate gun, and bitterly complain when it won't shoot tight groups.
The makers tighten up specs to improve accuracy, which degrades reliability.
The customers then bitterly complain that the gun jams.
Decide what you want.
Do you want a target pistol or a combat pistol?
A target pistol is built for maximum accuracy at ALL COST. Reliability is sacrificed for accuracy.
A combat pistol has to, AT BEST, hit a man in the chest at 50 yards. You aren't going to be able to pick which eye you hit in a real gunfight, and ALL that counts is that the gun go "BANG" when you need it.
One trainer says that a real combat pistol needs accuracy of "About 6 inches at 6 feet".
A 1911 that attempts to compromise between good accuracy and good reliability is often neither.
We all have an urge to make a personal weapon "Ours" by making it unlike all the other guns out there.
To this end, people are guilty of adding parts and accessories that not only don't add any real functionality, they often degrade it.
Before adding ANYTHING to a real defense gun, do a "real world" cost-benefit analysis: "If I add this, what EXACTLY do I gain, other than appearance"? "What do I loose in real functionality and simplicity"?
In other words, do you want a Hollywood Range Toy, or do you want a People Shooter?
The very latest "Oh, COOL. Current Fad addition".
In the 60's EVERY "with it" 1911 owner just HAD to have S&W sights complete with a front sight so long and big it looked like a fin off a 50's car, and the most radical hooked trigger guard possible.
Today, it's odd-ball sights, radically up-curved grip safeties, guide rods, and titanium parts.
The 1911 works best when it meets the following standards:
Simple Is Better.
K.I.S.S.=Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Less Is More.
Most of the current fads will pass, just like the ones that were popular years ago, and will be replaced by new fads. Most of which add NOTHING to reliability, and usually put it at risk.
Failure to break in:
Too many people take a new 1911 out of the box, fire 20 rounds through it and have problems.
Enraged at getting a lemon, they bitterly complain, and often dump the gun.
Break the gun in. A typical 1911 is starting to break in after about 200 rounds.
Failure to verify reliability:
MOST people buy a new gun, and never give it a reliability verification.
To verify the reliability of a defense gun:
Thoroughly clean and properly lube the gun .
Take GOOD magazines, (also cleaned) and your chosen defense ammo to the range.
Shoot 100 to 200 rounds, whichever you feel comfortable with in ONE session. If you can't shoot it all in one session don't clean, disassemble or do ANYTHING to the gun.
If the gun will shoot the entire 100 to 200 rounds with NO=ZERO stoppages, THAT gun is reliable with THAT ammo, and THOSE magazines.
Change ANYTHING and the entire package needs to be re-verified.
Bottom Line: If you want a reliable 1911, buy the closest thing to an original Colt-GI gun, from a top maker.
KEEP it as close to unaltered as you can.
If you want something that looks nice or Cool, buy another gun to use as a toy.
DON'T screw with it. If it isn't working let a REAL pro fix it so it does.
Don't change ANYTHING unless there's a verified need to do so.
Good post dfariswheel. Your help on the shotgun boards has been invaluable in the past and now 1911s.