Making a 1911 more reliable.


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.45Ruger
April 16, 2003, 10:51 PM
I have a Springfield Mil Spec with a 3 in. barrel. I have approx. 700 rounds through this gun. The problem is that about one round out of every two or three magazines will fail to clear the chamber after I fire. This causes a real pain in the butt. I have read that having a "throat job" done can help in Mil Spec's. What is a throat job? Any other suggstions on what to do.

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New_comer
April 16, 2003, 10:59 PM
WHAT'S THIS???!!!

A 1911 not as reliable as a USP?? Need a throat job???

Sorry, .45Ruger... just can't help it after all this bruhaha in another thread ;)

FLAME SUIT ON!!! :neener: :evil: :p :cool:

Kruzr
April 16, 2003, 11:39 PM
Throating a 1911 means widening, radiusing, and polishing the "throat" (opening) of the chamber and the ramp to help with feeding problems. It sounds like you're having ejection problems. You may want to check your extractor tension.

For checking your extractor, see here:

http://www.m1911.org/technic2.htm

George Hill
April 16, 2003, 11:42 PM
Give her a good detailed cleaning, fresh lube, and a different brand of ammo.

HKcenterMass
April 17, 2003, 12:05 AM
Hey .45ruger, I'd also say give it a detailed cleaning. A friend of mine has a mil spec, and its pretty reliable, its a little finicky with cheaper ammo, but with quality rounds, it rarely fails.

Tamara
April 17, 2003, 12:09 AM
3" ultra super micro compacts can be finicky. Try and stick with full juice 230gr ammo. Are the rounds "stovepiping"? (Getting caught halfway out of the ejection port) When it is working, does it just barely toss the brass out of the gun or does it fling it a good distance? How old is it? Is this the stock recoil spring? Do you lube the rails when you clean it?

blades67
April 17, 2003, 01:10 AM
It doesn't sound like it needs to have the barrel throated, the problem is with ejection, not feeding. I'd check the extractor and recoil spring as has been suggested, as well as the ejector, first.

Tacblack
April 17, 2003, 01:17 AM
This may be old news. But might help.

The local gun smith I know told me the compact and ultra-compact 1911's need to have the recoil springs replaced much more often then full size 1911's. The springs just don't last as long. I have heard this from a couple other smiths over the years.

ambidextrous1
April 17, 2003, 01:36 AM
Some good advice here, especially from Krusr and (as always) from Tamara.
I bought a Springfield Ultra-Compact (used) about 18 months ago,
and had some initial problems with the extractor. After shooting the 1911 for quite a few decades, I invested in the (relatively new) Weigand extractor tuning tool; it's great, and I wish it had been available in the '50s. I have put about 2000 rounds through the rig with NO stoppages (except a magazine not latched - operator goof).

The nice thing about the fixture is that you are able to describe the extractor adjustment in numbers, via a trigger pressure gauge, and not according to how it "feels".

Find the source - buy the gaude (it's a bit pricey). Let's face it, this isn't the last Gov't model you'll own; you can't stop at one 1911 any more than you can stop at one potato chip.

If you spread the cost of the gauge over 3 or 4 pistols, the cost per gun gets very low.


:D

Pendragon
April 17, 2003, 03:31 AM
My Colt Defender (3") never ran quite well enough to make me happy.

Have heard a few smiths say that the 1911 design just does not like barrels much shorter than 4"

Who knows?

Maybe if I was reloading at the time, I could have come up with a real good recipie for the gun.

Good luck.

stans
April 17, 2003, 06:14 AM
The shorter the slide assembly, the harder it is to make it reliable. Colt and the U.S. Army found that the standard straight barrel and bushing arrangement lost reliability if it was shorter than 4 1/4 inches. The cone barrel really helps out with barrels 4 inches or less. The problems are related to the shortened cycle distance of the slide and the increased angles the barrel has to the breach face at lock up and to the frame at the unlocked position. The cone barrel helps reduce the angles, but the slide still does not travel as far as it does on the Government model. Also, the short slide has a lot less mass than the Government or Commander models, so it tends to move really fast. Heavier springs are used to slow the slide, but there is a limit to how heavy a spring can be used. These springs really get a work out and lose tension quickly.

yucapote
April 17, 2003, 07:35 AM
Sometimes you need to change the ammo and the mags. I suggest that you do that first before sending the gun to a gunsmith. Also check the 1911 forum:

http://www.1911forum.com

Sarge
April 17, 2003, 07:56 AM
are usually best solved by trading it in, on a Sig P-220.

Your specific problem, however, is almost certainly related to the extractor and perhaps the ejector. The 1911 forum board referenced above is an excellent source of information on proper extractor tension, and if you take a look at the various Commander-Oficer ACP ejectors available at www.brownells.com you'll begin to see what's needed to start the case outta the chamber a tad earlier, to accomodate the little short-stroke guns.

Time and experience have taught me that the 4 1/4" genu-wine Colt Commander, particularly the 1991-A1 series, are about as little "1911" as you can get by with and still keep the reliability that made the design famous.

Good luck-

Ramshackle
April 17, 2003, 08:02 AM
I agree with Yucapote, I'd so do some home brewed testing before I sent it off to Springfied or a smith. First, make sure you don't have a shok-buff installed (they don't work with short barrel guns). Second, a lot of factory extractors are junk (MIM) and don't hold tensionl. Try re-bending the extractor (it can be done by feel without the Weigand tool). 90% of FTE's are due to improperly tensioned extractors.

Third, I'd try some different mags (Wilson if you can borrow one) since Springfield mags aren't the greatest quality. Fourth, I'd use full power loads (the stiffer recoil spring on a 3" gun needs more oomph). Fifth, I'd replace the recoil spring (on a 3" gun they last 1/2 as long as a gov't). Last, make sure you're holding the gun tight (not limp-wristing). Short-barreled 1911s are more prone to limp-wristing malfunctions since the slide travel is much shorter.

Part of the fun (and necessary skill) is the ability to troubleshoot 1911s. They're great guns (almost the only ones I own) but they require owners to be savvy about how they work.

Sean Smith
April 17, 2003, 09:19 AM
Shortening the barrel below, say, 4", introduces all kinds of problems....

The slide velocity naturally tends to go up as the slide mass goes down. This requies that you use heavier recoil springs, or your reliability craps out. But you have less space to put the springs under the short barrel, so you have to use shorter ones (fewer coils), which wear out faster. In the meantime, heavier springs beat your gun up more than light ones, all else being equal, and make the gun more prone to limp-wristing. And you had better be using the strongest springs in your magazines that you can, and take a pass on the +1 1911 magazines. Use full power ammo or the thing won't cycle... etc., etc.

Some of the super-tiny 1911s work fine. Everything just has to be completely squared away on them. Otherwise, they are alot more prone to crapping out than a 5" or even 4" gun.

Schmit
April 17, 2003, 10:20 AM
.45Ruger,

I just picked up a Springfield Dwarf Govt Model (Micro-Compact).
During the first 100 rounds I had a few failure to extract. The problem got worse as I ran more ammo through it (and I was shooting nickle plated 230 +P loads) to the point of 4 out of 6 wouldn't extract. I switched to Winchester White Box... these worked a little better with about 2-3 out of 6 failing to extract.

I pulled the extractor and took a look at it. You may want to do the same... check the cut on the extractor where it is suppose to engage the rim of the cartridge. Mine was not a straight mill, it was radiused at the bottom. This caused a smaller contact area and the extractor would slip off the rim.

I replaced it with a Ed Brown Extractor... Problem solved.

I also checked 5 other Micro-Compacts and each of them had the same type of extractor radius. Not sure if it is the design or if Springfield got a load of out of spec extractors.

Climb14er
April 17, 2003, 11:01 AM
I had a three inch Kimber Ultra Carry CDP II and while it was very accurate and a pleasure to shoot and carry, the reliability was just not there.

This was after it came back from Kimber with new MIM extractor.

If you are set on carrying/shooting the three inch, best recommendation I can offer is to buy a top notch extractor, milled steel, from Cylinder and Slide or from Ed Brown. Then learn how to adjust the extractor the proper way.

Hope it works out for you.

BTW, I purchased a Dan Wesson five inch government, carbon blued steel with external extractor and have had ZERO problems feeding and ejecting.

Mute
April 17, 2003, 11:30 AM
Oh jeez...here we go again. The USP and Sig supporters can speak when those two company produce their own .45's with 3" barrels that run reliably.

Another problem might be the amount of travel the slide has. Even from the factory, sometimes the recoil spring might be just a tad too long to allow the slide the full travel it needs to run reliably. You might want to check that as well. Good luck.

Tamara
April 17, 2003, 11:55 AM
As it happens, a modified-browning type of action (linkless and locking up on the barrel hood) is somewhat more amenable to being radically shortened than the original 1911 setup. Heck, on a straight up 1911, you have to ditch either the bushing or one locking lug if you want to go shorter than 4".

bountyhunter
April 17, 2003, 01:20 PM
"I pulled the extractor and took a look at it. You may want to do the same... check the cut on the extractor where it is suppose to engage the rim of the cartridge. Mine was not a straight mill, it was radiused at the bottom. .......I also checked 5 other Micro-Compacts and each of them had the same type of extractor radius. Not sure if it is the design or if Springfield got a load of out of spec extractors."

I believe you will find that the "radiusing" of the lower edge of the vertical face is actually per JMB's original design. The spec drawings in Kuhnhausen's 1911 manual show it as well. The vertical face lower edge is radiused downward, and the lower front edge is as well to allow the round to feed up and in.

Interestingly, I recently got a new extractor for my 1911 that was "straight cut" with no radiusing and it wouldn't even feed ammo. The slide would jam right where the round was trying to get under the extractor hook, even though the tension was corrrect. I radiused it per spec and the problem went away.

Mute
April 17, 2003, 02:15 PM
Mute,

As it happens, a modified-browning type of action (linkless and locking up on the barrel hood) is somewhat more amenable to being radically shortened than the original 1911 setup. Heck, on a straight up 1911, you have to ditch either the bushing or one locking lug if you want to go shorter than 4".

Yes that's true. But HK and Sig has not made one yet. Until they do and we've seen it in action, it's all academic.

Tamara
April 17, 2003, 04:29 PM
SIG and Glock both make pistols that, while not 3" (and I haven't actually measured a Springie Micro, so who knows how much of that bbl length is ad hype?) are definitely in the "close enough for government work" category. Nobody complains about the reliability of their sub-4" guns. Call me a heretic, but I just happen to believe that a 1911 works best in the original 5" length (and with its slimness making it so suitable for toting IWB, why chop the barrel? Anybody want to take my customized V10 as a trade for a full size Kimber CDP? ;) ).

Mute
April 17, 2003, 04:42 PM
Can't disagree with you Tamara. I personally don't believe in anything smaller than Commander length 1911s. No question that newer designs should be better in the shorter barrel lengths. I personally believe that the .45acp cartridge doesn't translate well to the smaller platforms. However, like I said, close enough, isn't. When someone drops a .45acp onto a platform that's the same size as the midget 1911s and do it reliably across the board, I'll give credit where credit is due.

Is a small miracle that many of the Defenders, Ultras and Micros out there work reasonably well at all. Why would anyone chop up a good 1911? Beats me. I guess it's that Mt. Everest thing. Just to do it.

Sean Smith
April 17, 2003, 04:56 PM
Hey, why did my post get censored? I don't think "c-r-a-p-p-i-n-g out" is an obscenity in Standard American English... :rolleyes:

care-less
April 17, 2003, 05:18 PM
A throat job will have no effect on the type of jam you are describing. A throat job only allows your pistol to more reliably feed different bullet profiles. What you are describing is an extractor problem; ie failure to eject. Check your extractor tension. You should be able to slip a round up under the estractor, and it should hold it in place (level), with the extractor tension alone. If it does not, remove the extractor, and bend it ever so slightly to put more tension on the case. If you are unfamiliar with what I am saying, take it to a gun smith. Best of luck.:) PS, tamara is correct. the 1911 is most reliable in it's original design platform 5in. barrel. The more you shorten barrel and slide, the harder they are to time.

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