Delta Elite question


April 4, 2003, 11:14 AM
Folks, I recently picked up a stainless Colt Delta Elite 10mm. Some folks have suggested replacing Colt's silly 2-spring recoil system with a 20 lb variable rate spring. Where have you found this spring? I've checked Wolff's site, but couldn't find anything that said it was variable rate. Also, anyone have a source for 10mm magazines?

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April 4, 2003, 12:40 PM
The two spring works fine. Why do you call it silly? You can get a 20 # spring at most any gun show for about $3.95 if you know better than the engineers at Colt.

April 4, 2003, 12:45 PM
BigG: I've seen posts from more than a few well known gunsmiths who say that 1) the 10mm is oversprung as is, and 2) that they find it works better with a 20 lb variable rate spring. I suspect that the 20 lb spring that you are speaking of is not a variable rate spring, but a fixed rate spring.

April 4, 2003, 01:04 PM
Okay, lets try it this way ...

As far as 10mm mags go, check Brownell's. They sell 9-rd CMCs, 9- & 8-rd Metalforms, and they used to sell the 8-rd factory Colts. But they may be out now.

As far as the factory "recoil system" for the DE, more than a few knowledgable people have labelled it "goofy" and prone to breakage (at least that little plastic thingy).

The consensus seems to be:

1) install a steel FLGR in place of the plastic;

2) replace the double recoil springs (which offered an alleged but doubtful 23lbs of resistance) with a single spring from Wolff's.

Here's where opinion is divided:

Some advocate a 20 or 22lb variable recoil spring.

Others recommend a standard spring ranging from 22-26lbs, depending on what types of 10mm loads you'll be shooting.

When in doubt, I personally tend to favor a stronger spring, BUT I would agree that 26lbs is WAY oversprung unless you're shooting exclusively nuclear level handloads with the 200 & 220gn bullets.

For the hot but-less-than-nuclear loads (i.e., original strength 10mm), I'd go with a 24lb spring and a buff.

For most medium 10mm loads, or especially the milder .40Swishy-Walker level stuff, 20-22lb is sufficient, even w/o a buff.

As always, YMMV. Many happy DE owners frequent this board, so I'm sure you'll receive a range of suggestions.

HTH. :)

April 4, 2003, 01:45 PM
Speaking from my experience with a slightly used stainless DE, bought years ago, seemed to have been fired very little, maybe 50 rounds, here is what I found. The stock dual spring must be 23 pounds compressed, a Wolff 22 pound spring makes slide retraction slightly easier than the factory set up. The polymer guide rod will get beaten into submission in a few hundred rounds of full power ammo. I found that 16 to 18 pound springs work well with FBI ammo and a 22 pound spring works well with full power ammo. I did set up my DE with a steel full length guide rod and a CP products buffer. A better solution to controlling the DE timing might be EGW's square bottom firing pin stop and a 20 pound spring with a buffer.

Sean Smith
April 4, 2003, 02:06 PM
1. Look under standard Colt 1911 recoil springs on Wolff's web site, not under "Delta Elite." They have both fixed-rate and variable-rate springs listed.
2. The double spring setup was stupid. For one thing, the plastic plug broke. A guy on Glock Talk recently had one break the first time he shot it! For another, the more complex double-spring setup didn't do anything that a varialbe-rate spring doesn't do. More complex, more breakages, no functional advantage... yeah, I'll consider myself ahead of Colt's engineers on this point. :D
3. On spring weight. Scared by rumors of Delta frame cracks (caused by a frame design defect that Colt fixed early on), people have tended to go to super-heavy springs (24+ pounds). That's what I used in my Delta at first. However, after talking to several pistolsmiths, I dialed the spring weight back to a 20 lb varialbe-rate spring with a buffer. Their take on it was that heavier springs just beat the gun up more as the slide slams forward... heavier springs aren't a free ride. I found that the Delta is actually alot nicer to shoot with a 20 lb variable than with a 24 lb fixed-rate spring. The heavier spring causes the gun to flip more in your hand, instead of recoiling straight back, and then jerk downwards when the slide slams home with excessive force.

24 lb fixed-rate springs were conventional wisdom. My experience, and the experience of the 'smiths I've talked to, says that the conventional wisdom may be mistaken. Don Williams (The Action Works), Bob Hunter (Hunter Customs), and Dane Burns (Burns Custom Pistols) have all suggested springs on the lighter side of the 10mm argument....

There are better tricks to save your 10mm a beating than rock-crusher springs, like replacing the firing pin stop with an EGW unit to delay unlocking...

Or even using a slightly heavier mainspring...

Both of which are super-cheap changes to make that require no special skills at all. :D

Side note: the handload that I used in my old Delta to test it was 155gr @ around 1300 ft/sec. That's about 600 ft-lbs. Even 200gr @ 1200 ft/sec (Cor-Bon hunting ammo) loads were very nice to shoot with the FLGR/20lb variable/buff combo.

One thing to point out, too, is that the Delta is a pretty tolerant gun... mild (.40 S&W) loads worked fine even with the 24 lb fixed spring, and hot loads never caused problems with even 18 lb springs. :eek:

April 4, 2003, 02:09 PM
Any idea where I can find 20 lb variable spring? When I go to Wolff's web site (, it isn't clear whether these are standard rate or variable.

Ah, thanks Sean, you were posting at the same time I posted the above. Now I see it.

agtman: do you have any experience with those magazines? Are the 9 rounders reliable?

Sean Smith
April 4, 2003, 02:11 PM
Don't look under Delta Elite springs. Look under standard 1911 springs. They are there. You just use a standard 1911 guide rod and a standard 1911 spring in place of the stock setup.

They are clearly described as "conventional" or "variable power." The stock number for the variable power, 20 lb 1911 recoil spring is 42420.

April 4, 2003, 04:18 PM

Why do you prefer the variable spring? It seems like the standard would give more resistance to the unlocking of the pistol. Since the square firing pin stop and the mainspring will also be exerting more resistance during this phase of the pistol's operation, wouldn't you want more resistance from the recoil spring right then too?

What are your thoughts on running a 10mm with a GI type guide rod? I've never like the full length ones and someday I'd like to get back in the Delta game.


April 4, 2003, 06:56 PM

The 9-rd 10mm mags I've used were CMCs.

As long as the springs aren't weak and the double-lipped followers aren't out of spec, they'll work fine. :rolleyes:

Recently I've read that McCormick upped his QC and ran another batch of these 10mm mags. Supposedly they're problem-free. Being the skeptical sort, especially of the things I read on-line, I called CMC and talked to the head tech guy. He verified that they had indeed run another new "lot or so" of the 10mm mags. He acknowledged that in the past they'd received complaints of problems w/ feeding reliability. He said they now use Wolff springs in the 9rd mags, and they check the followers for proper fit.

OTOH, all the 8-rd Colt factory mags I've used worked fine. Very reliable. Any iffy springs are easily replaced w/ Wolff XP springs.

HTH. :)

April 4, 2003, 07:04 PM
My Delta Elite has a 22lb Wolff spring.
My Delta Gold Cup has the stock colt springs.
Both have shock buffs and both work perfectly, so I guess I don't have any useful input. :D

April 4, 2003, 09:28 PM
agtman: I've been very impressed with the 8-round Colt mags. But I haven't seen them around and another round would be nice. But, it sounds like the CMC 9 rounders aren't quite there. Kinda like my experience with Wilson's 8 round .45 mags. Oh well.

April 4, 2003, 09:50 PM
My CMC 9 rounders jam when loaded to 9 rounds, with 8 they are just fine.
My Colt mags work perfectly in both my Deltas.

Sean Smith
April 5, 2003, 01:35 PM
Why do you prefer the variable spring? It seems like the standard would give more resistance to the unlocking of the pistol.

Because the recoil spring doesn't influence unlocking of 1911-pattern pistols to any meaningful degree. Pistolsmith Ned Christiansen actually tested it. The difference in lock time between spring weights (including NO recoil spring at all :eek: ) was practically nil.

I've fired 1911's, even with my pin load, with no recoil spring, and there's not problem, no indication of unlocking too soon.

Oh yeah, regarding mags: Metalform's 8-rounders are virtually identical to the Colt 8-rounders, but are ALOT cheaper. I think that the only difference is that the bottom of the mag is removable on the Colt version, but welded on in the Metalform version.

No real reason to not use the short guide rod on the Delta (I've done it and it works fine). The full-length rod just subjectively smooths out the "feel" of the thing, and puts some extra weight under the muzzle. Can I prove that it is better than the short plug? No. But I know it isn't any worse, and figure that with a 10mm every little bit helps.

April 5, 2003, 04:44 PM

Well, since CMC just did another run of 9-rd 10mm mags - supposedly w/ better QC and Wolff springs - why not order 3 or 4 and try 'em out.

If they don't work, return them immediately for a full refund along with a pithy note describing the problem(s).


April 5, 2003, 08:51 PM
I have found this a good source for mags

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