Tell me about replacement springs


May 21, 2003, 12:20 AM
I have often read about people here and other forums talking about replacing or swapping recoil springs and mag springs in their pistols.

I understand about the mags springs and recoil springs being replaced if worn out. However, I do not understand the benefit that will come from using a different weight spring for certain applications. For example what weight spring would one use on a 1911 style officer sized pistol? 12lb? 7lb? 21lb? I have no idea what weight comes from the factory and what changing the weight does. Please enlighten me.

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May 21, 2003, 12:35 AM

One function of the recoil spring is to protect your frame. So you want a recoil spring that is heavy enough to prevent the rearward motion of the slide from battering the frame. But at the same time, you have to have a spring that is not too heavy to allow reliable function. Some people find that using a slightly heavier spring than normal will still allow the gun to function fine, but also give the frame more protection. This would also help function to some extent since the slide is returning to battery with more force. Another reason you might change recoil springs is if you are using a load that is not "normal" in other words, very heavy or very light loads. For example there are people who are shooting ".45 Super" loads out of certain .45 ACP pistols and are using heavier recoil springs. I have loaded powder puff loads for my 9mm Browning High Power and reduced the weight of the recoil spring so that the gun would still function.
The best way to see what recoil spring you need is to actually try them to see if the gun functions. Wolff Gunsprings makes this task a lot easier for some models of handguns by offering a recoil calibration pack. It contains a variety of springs which you can try. Once you find the appropriate spring, you can then buy a spring in that weight to use in your gun and then return the calibration spring to the set to maintain the complete set.

Mike Irwin
May 21, 2003, 12:35 AM
Different weight recoil springs in semi-autos, especially 1911s, take into account the differing uses to which the guns are put.

A very light spring like a 12-pounder is often referred to as a wadcutter or target spring. It's main use is for shooting lightly loaded wadcutter ammo through pistols set up for bullseye pistol shooting.

In these situations a lighter spring promotes reliability.

The heavier the spring, generally the more powerful the main use loads are going to be.

May 21, 2003, 12:40 AM
Function and durability is enhanced if the spring rates are appropriate for the usual load fired. Cut down 1911's like an officer's model can be very finicky about the spring rates. The Wolf spring website shows the stock spring rate for most pistols. If you are shooting ball equivalent ammo or only occasional +p stuff, the stock spring rate is probably best. If you have run 3-5K rounds thru you maybe should consider a fresh recoil and firing pin spring. Magazine springs can weaken over the years also.

Looks like a few beat me to it!

May 21, 2003, 12:42 AM
Well, in my case, I have a couple of reasons to change springs.

1. My Beretta Vertec came with a 20 lb hammer spring. I was barely strong enough to pull the trigger in DA! A switch to a 16 lb spring and it is MUCH improved! - I still get a nice deep dent in the primer - no misfires.

2. I tend to "experiment" with recoil springs. I like it when I know the stronger springs keep the slide from really crashing into the slide stop HARD. (I make sure it is reliable though.)

I am sure you are about to get alot more reasons...


May 21, 2003, 12:48 AM
Thank you very much people. Very good responses and in a short amount of time. I appreciate it. I think for mow that my stock springs will do but more info is always good.

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