Is it that hard to make reliable 1911's?


January 8, 2003, 07:42 PM
No flame intended, I've had two (1991A1's) and both worked fine.

Just seems a lot of post are:

"Which 1911 will be reliable out of the box?"

" Can I find a good reliable 1911 under $1000?"

"What pistolsmith should I send my new $1000 1911 to?"

When somebody buys a Sig, Beretta, Glock, HK etc it seems they are most interested in a new holster or carry ammo but every 1911 purchase is just assumed to be the begining of a long expensive process to actually make it work. Is it a design issue?, too steep a feed ramp? bushing system? Are there some inherent problems with the design?

What gives :confused:

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TFL Money Repellant
January 8, 2003, 07:48 PM
From the posts here, I get the impression that 1911's tend to be more finicky about ammo selection than other pistols.

Jim Watson
January 8, 2003, 07:53 PM
I see it as more like there is a greater variety of ammunition in .45ACP. Some of it is good in design and quality, some is not. There is probably more poor .45ACP handloaded than anything else.

January 8, 2003, 07:55 PM
Biggest problem with 1911-style bashers is that most've never owned one, probably never even fired one.

There used to be those on TFL who never even fired one but had enough negative opinions of them 'gleaned from the internet'. Some of them are probably afraid of condition one carry as well.

There is a reason why many serious gunshooters stick with 1911-style pistols. It is because they work. Some don't understand that.

As for reliability, ALL guns will sometimes have problems, ALL gun manufacturers will put out a few lemons.

January 8, 2003, 08:13 PM
What is a "serious gunshooter"?

It seems like the professional door-kickers that choose 1911s (HRT, SWAT, etc.) seem to buy the rumors too. They all buy custom 1911s with street values well over $1000.

If anyone can come up with a group that relies on stock basic 1911s, I'd be surprised.

I think the problem is that 90 years ago blueprints were just guides and machining a gun took a bit of art. Colt's glory years are up to WWII - retirement and worn machines played a big role in the drop in quality.

If you just plugged those original drawings into a CNC machine the gun would probably be a mess. Kimber, in particular, started over and made their own electronic blueprints.

Other than that, the 1911 is blessed with a so-so feed ramp arrangement, a lightly sprung sear and poor extractor. (Have you ever heard of "tuning" an extractor that uses a spring?)

In the end, the complex interactions of the 1911 mechanism yields a device much like computers in reliability (some great, some bad, some great gone bad). Most other modern arms run like refrigerators.

January 8, 2003, 09:12 PM
Well, my dad's 1911, worth no where near $1k, has been pretty reliable after a little initial tweaking and load work. Not only reliable, but accurate and easy to control. I don't forsee a 1911 in my future though, mostly because I have a Glock 17, 26, and a Walther P-990 (all 9mms). The modern guns work as well, are lighter, as accurate, and just as reliable.

January 8, 2003, 10:08 PM
Lets see now. Handy says that all the pro are using big money 1911's and not basic shooters. well I would suggest that the reason some of those guns are big money is that they are carrying the reputation of those pros.

The Springfield TRS and the Operator models are set at a certain price point.

Really everything done to these type of guns is cosmetic.

30LPI checkering,
Beavertail Grip Safety (arguably unnecessary)
Meltdown treatment etc.etc.etc.

None of these affect the function of the gun.

I would trust my Milspec as much as I trust my Les Baer. I just like all the custom features of the Les Baer better.

January 8, 2003, 10:19 PM
If I bought a NIB Colt 91A1. The pistol had reliability problems. Should that pistol go back to Colt? Or do I have to pay a gunsmith to make the pistol reliable? I'm trying to budget for a 1911 & can't figgure out a budget for gunsmith customizing charges. Some gunsmiths have reliabilty packages along w/ other carry packages. Are these for NIB 1911 pistols or older 1911 pistols bought used? Or are those gunsmith packages designed to seperate the new 1911 owner from his $?

January 8, 2003, 10:19 PM
Are you saying these weapons haven't received a "reliability package"? Come on.

Everyone talks about the inherent abilities of a basic 1911, but no institution trusts them. They all have the good trigger, low bore, good controllability. But the TRP is a grand because the FBI doesn't like skateboard tape!!!

I'm failing to be convinced.


I doubt age matters. The smith will want to throw out most of the small parts either way. At least an older gun will have no plastic and MIM parts.

My 1911's reliability package consists of only loading it at the range. I trust other guns with my life.

January 8, 2003, 10:30 PM

I just looked at the Springfield website. The TRP is not the same as the FBI gun. It has all the "features" of the FBI TRP-Pro model, without all the expensive custom gunsmithing. If they have the same features, compare the selling price and you'll notice that a TON of work went into the Pro. The FBI would not have accepted the standard TRP.

January 8, 2003, 10:31 PM
The problem isn't the design, its the execution. JMB would probably freak if he saw the kinds of parts that modern manufacturers use.

January 8, 2003, 10:35 PM
Some of the worst 1911s were the old Thompsons. All the parts were old fashioned steel.

Old Fuff
January 8, 2003, 11:10 PM
I bought my first Government Model in 1947. It was an unaltered World War Two Ithaca that was brand new in the box. Shot hardball in it because there wasn’t anything else too shoot. It never jammed. Two years later I traded it for a new Colt commercial model of the same kind. It didn’t jam either starting with round one.

If you leave off the gadgets and tight-chambered match barrels and use whatever ammunition it most favors (usually hardball), and the extractor is correctly fitted the old shellshucker is usually very reliable. During the several wars and “police actions” in which it was used the model 1911/1911A1 was generally reputed to be the most reliable military handgun available. The problems didn’t start until people started working them over and using ammunition that was far from standard. The “KISS” principal applies to pistols as well as most everything else. Owners of Glock’s, SIG-Sauer’s, Beretta’s, Heckler & Koch, etc. seldom work over their handguns like some Government Model owners do – and big surprise … their guns work, at least most of the time.

January 8, 2003, 11:16 PM
I bought a $900 Springfield v16. Had to send it back so they could correct a failure to extract issue. Failed about once every other mag.

After getting it back from the Springfield shop, its worked perfectly since. Never did ask what they did to it. Could speculate though...


January 8, 2003, 11:42 PM
Pick up any good book on gunsmithing or customizing a 1911 and you'll see all of the factors that have to work just right for a 1911 to work. No flames, please. The 1911 is a great gun with a proven history, but it's not the simplist of designs to carry out well and make reliable. Browning improved things a bit by ditching the link on the 1911 barrel when he designed the Hi-Power. Things were further simplified when somebody came up with the design utilized by Sigs, Glocks, etc... whereby the barrel shroud locks up with the ejection port rather than lugs on top of the barrel locking up with ribs on the underside of the slide.

January 8, 2003, 11:54 PM
The only reason Colt 1911s give functioning problems IMO is that they were designed to use 230 gr. hardball. They weren't designed to use flying ashtrays or SWCs.

With the proper internal work, the 1911 will feed anything.

January 9, 2003, 12:03 AM
For what it's worth, I have an S.A. MilSpec that has been nothing but flawless from day one. I don't have much experience with other 1911's, but all I do know is that my particular "budget model" MilSpec has not hinted at being the least bit tempermental. As I said, I'm no expert on 1911's, but I have a certain feeling that a lot of reliability problems come from people upgrading, modifying and just plain tinkering some of these guns to death. They are fun to tinker with, but endless modifications reach a point of diminishing returns, and can probably make the gun a little testy. Just my .02

January 9, 2003, 12:07 AM
Fed it nothing but 230gr hardball. No hiccups to date. Mind you, this is a Chinese reverse-engineered copy of leftover WWII USGI 1911's. Says something about the design.

You wanna feed flying ashtrays into the chamber, John Moses would probably agree, you gotta do some work.

Lots of guns are out there that have unique feeding problems, and unique solutions. Take a look inside a S&W Model 52 sometime. It feeds .38 Special flush-seated wadcutters, not too different from empty .38 Special brass. Tell me somebody didn't stay up at nights trying to get that to work in a magazine-fed autoloader. :scrutiny:

January 9, 2003, 12:22 AM
Is it that hard to make reliable 1911's?


January 9, 2003, 07:34 AM
On the contrary, by the sheer number of concerns shared about this pistol make, I'd have to say yes. :(

January 9, 2003, 08:24 AM
Weepin Jesus on the cross......
A major organization who carried stock 1911's? Try the US military for one. The fact that arsenal rebuilt 1911's carried this country for over 70 years for starters. My Remington issue 45 had a Drake replacement barrel and the typical thumbnail thick sights perfect for a young man's eyes-in comparison, the trio of 1911's I have now are Cadillac's. I have one which I have tricked out, and the other two are bone stock and are for carry. The tinkerer's special has seen its share of drop in parts only, and when I find a new doo-dad I think I might want to hang on it and it doesn't work, I put the factory original back on and keep moving. Amazing how that works. These pistols are all Colts with manufacturing dates from 1988 to 2000. No problems. Why all the whining:confused:

Sean Smith
January 9, 2003, 09:04 AM
Is it that hard to make reliable 1911's?

No. The idea that you need to drop $1,000+ to get a reliable 1911 is, frankly, idiotic. If your gun doesn't work, send it back and it will be fixed under warranty. Or pay a pistolsmith $80-100 to fix it.

January 9, 2003, 10:29 AM
U.S. Military using old, beat up, well worn 1911s that could definitely be called basic but what about....

LAPD SWAT going with Kimber. The gun they chose is basically just a KIMBER Custom II with night sights and grip checkering in front. I mean it is not a Springfield Mil Spec but it is a far cry from a Les Baer or Wilson.

FWIW, I have a new Rollmark 1991A1 that has been flawless from the box with both 7 and 8 round Colt magazines. I was very very pleasantly surprised.


January 9, 2003, 10:37 AM
It's mostly an urban legend abetted by the internet.


January 9, 2003, 11:11 AM
Had a S.A. Mil-Spec. Was reliable after I replaced the followers in the magazines. Sold it; dumb move. I plan to purchase another this year, and maybe a TRP-Professional someday.

Couldn't imagine carrying a $2000 gun however!

Master Blaster
January 9, 2003, 11:43 AM
I have 5 1911's

4 full size one compact.

They range from a 1978 colt govt model

to a springfield milspec made in 2002 they are all 100% with factory full power ammo, They are all 99% with my lead low powered target reloads and a 16lb spring in 100 rounds with no cleaning.
In the first 50 rounds they are all 100%

Oddly my gold cup 1999, and my officers ACP 1995, are 100%

GC=1000 target rounds all reloads.

OACP= 1500 rounds ,1000 target reloads, 500 factory full power.

I have only replaced the grips on them.

There are alot of cheap crappy magazines out there, and I would blame these for the problems others seem to have.

I doubt age matters. The smith will want to throw out most of the small parts either way. At least an older gun will have no plastic and MIM parts.

I love this on a 1911 which uses some mim the parts need to be replaced because they will break.

On an HK or a glock which are made of 100% mim, folded sheet metal, and plastic, (the barrel and slide are forged) these parts are indestructible.

January 9, 2003, 12:03 PM
I suppose that depends on what you mean by "reliable". If you mean it will feed, fire, and extract hardball without any difficulty, then probably not. My Dan Wesson works perfectly with hardball (except from a 10rd mag I have). If you mean it will feed, fire, and extract hollow points, flat points, or semi-wadcutters, then maybe it takes a bit more work.

I think the biggest difficulty with making a "cheap" 1911 work well with ball ammo is bad extractors. Done right there's nothing really wrong with an internal extractor. But in a modern mass-production no-hand-finishing world, I'd prefer a pivoting extractor myself.

January 9, 2003, 12:09 PM
Master Blaster,

I have three HKs a Glock and a Sig full of stampings. Metal stampings seem to be an exceptional way of creating strong, thin and dense steel parts. By weight, sheet stampings are the strongest gun parts. SO WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Also, I know of no MIM parts used in either. If HK does use MIM, they must have a better process than Kimber, since the Kimber parts are widely know the fracture.

And I was talking about gunsmiths, anyhow. A gunsmith is not likely to use a MIM part as the basis for modification or attempt to checker a plastic mainspring housing. If you take my comment in context as an answer to a gunsmithing question it makes perfect sense. Please do not misquote me to start a fire on an unrelated subject.

January 9, 2003, 12:16 PM
FWIW, the newer Colts seem to have no trouble feeding much of anything. I made up a dummy to test feeding with a Speer flying ashtray, which seems to be the one which will tie up a 1911 if anything will, or the 155 grain LSWC's, and it is a good test of the mechanism. All 3 of my colts with stock magazines eat both like candy. Also, my oldest 1911 has some mim parts and they have functioned as well or better than some of these so called "tuned" parts. I think some of the stuff out there is for weight reduction-of my wallet. It still runs the original stock extractor, and has yet to fail me in nearly 100,000 rounds, original barrel, pin and link as well. For a thousand dollars, I'd be happy to get two 1991A1's especially with the new roll mark:D instead of one fancy too tight item that I'd be afraid of fingerprints on. But, thats me, and there is something to be said for pride of ownership.

January 9, 2003, 12:58 PM
Of course you see 1911s malfunction, there are probably more of them out there than anything else. In varying degrees of condition, from dozens of manufacturers for the last 100 years.

I have seen Glocks, Sigs, Berettas, CZs, and Rugers jam too. All mechanical items can break or fail. If you shoot enough you will see everything malfunction or break. If you haven't then you don't shoot enough. ;)

1911s are not more unreliable than anything else. In fact they are very reliable guns. I have a Springfield that will function with just about anything except for 1 particular brand of ammunition that has a narrow tapered rim. And it will occasionally choke on one of my handloads that is to far out of spec. Whoop de do. It had some problems from the factory, I sent it back under warranty and it came back fine. Total cost to fix it? 0. They even reimbursed my shipping.

This is my main carry gun, and my main IDPA gun. I did a little test to see just how dirty I could get it before it would start to malfunction. It went 800 rounds of lead 200 gr. semi wadcutters over a period of several days and 2 matches. At the end it was too gunked up with lead to close the slide fully. I finished the steel match I was in by pulling the slide off, running a rag around inside of it and squirting on some CLP.

I've got a Kimber that hasn't malfunctioned yet. The original owner said that he had some malfunctions in the first hundred rounds. No great test yet though as I have less that 2000 rounds through it since I have bought it. Once again the vast majority have been lead SWC. (not known for being the worlds best feeding bullet).

There are horror stories about breaking 1911s, just like there are horror stories for every other brand.

Why do people shell out $60-$100 to a smith to have a reliability package done? Because if you are already taking the time and expense to get your gun customized then you might as well have him polish the internals and check the extractor while he is at it. You are already dropping a bunch of money on it anyway to make it to your specs.

As for pretty much stock guns in use, as was pointed out above the LAPD gun is pretty much a basic Kimber with checkering. I've handled one of these, it isn't anything special. Just a basic 1911.

The army was using worn out 1911s in combat forever. No complaints there.

The FBI gun costs more because they can spend our tax money on it.

January 9, 2003, 01:52 PM
Another thing to think about is that I would assume most armorers have at least a passing interest in firearms and more likely than not are probably gun nuts.

So lets say that your boss tells you to choose a 1911 style format and you have X amount of money to buy enough for use, parts etc.

IF you have somebody like the FBI throwing a relatively large figure your way, why not get an uber pistol that you probably cannot afford yourself. I mean that way your department gets a first rate, reliable, accurate pistol and you and the other gun nuts get to play with a toy that you didn't have to pick the tab up for.

Just a thought. No basis in fact, just a thought.

January 9, 2003, 01:59 PM
Okay, same situation, but your boss has limited you to $700 retail dollars and you must a buy the most accurate, reliable .45 caliber pistols availbable for that sum. All he cares about is putting big bullets on target, every time. Is it going to be a 1911?

Will you send men into harms way with a Kimber or a Sig?

January 9, 2003, 02:15 PM
If its going to be something you are going to stake you life on, I would suggest it be something you are very familiar with and trust, regardless of what it is.
If my boss hands me $700 with the same orders, I will pocket said money and you bet I will show with MY 1911's because they has proved their reliability to me. If forced to purchase for the department/company, its gonna be a Colt 1991A1 with a set of Pachmyer wrap arounds and some suitable ammo if he won't let me load my own.

January 9, 2003, 02:30 PM
Ok if it were me I can honestly say I would send my men into battle with the best .45 I can think of.........that would however be the SIG.

I think the 1911 is a fine firearm and a design masterpiece. I am just more comfortable with a SIG double action that was made with specialty ammunition (hollow points etc.) in mind.

Would I feel bad about arming the troops with a nice Kimber, nope not at all. I just prefer the simplicity and safety of a double action external hammer decocker. Its just me really.

My personal experience with 1911s has been overwhelmingly positive. So this has nothing to do with me bowing to rumors and not having ever shot or owned a 1911. I just prefer double action, decockers for combat guns.

Just another faceless opinion nothing more nothing less. I do prefer the feel of the 1911 to just about every other semi auto out their with the possible exception of the SIG 225.

January 9, 2003, 02:35 PM
I guess I found a way to make 1911s more reliable. I shoot them just as they come from the box and have never had a problem after owning maybe 6-8 of them.

Walt Sherrill
January 9, 2003, 02:40 PM
I don't think its all that hard to have a reliable 1911. I don't think its all that hard to have an accurate 1911. Its just when you want both of those characteristics in a single gun, that it gets interesting.

The old, beat-all-to-hell .45s you had access to in the military were very reliable. They just weren't always accurate.

That's what all that high-dollar custom work is about: optimal function and optimal accuracy.

January 9, 2003, 02:46 PM
The "I want a reliable 1911 out of the box" fear comes not from the fact that 1911's are less reliable (they aren't), but because there's so many people who want to customize their guns that it has created an after-market industry around the 1911.

Then, the unknowing point and say "See, them guns just don't work right..."

That's just not the case. The 1911 has become to gun owners what the 60's Mustang is to car fans, a classic machine that many want to dress up and customize. They don't dress them up because they don't work, they dress them up because it's a favorite toy... and more power to them!

Doubtless, we could point to periods when certain manufacturers (Colt) were sending junk out the door, but these guns are not the norm. There is also the fact that the early stock guns wouldn't shoot hollowpoints reliably, but that's been addressed over the years as well.

Any 1911 you buy today (from a reputable manufacturer) will be "reliable out of the box". If you are unlucky enough to be the 1 in a 100 (or 200 or 300) who gets a gun with a problem, buy a new magazine since 90% of all semi-auto problems are due to a bad magazine. If that isn't it, send it back and make them fix it.

I wouldn't worry about it.


January 9, 2003, 04:42 PM
These discussions come up from time to time - everyone has their opinion on what is good, bad, and indifferent. It's all personal preference - the most important one being the person either buying or carrying a 1911.

1911's are fine guns - I have 3 Springfields. One Mil-Spec, One Full Size and One Compact. I bought the full size and the compact before Springfield had the "Loaded" models.

The full size would digest anything I fed it, still will. I have had problems with it - from the parts I decided to add or it screwed up because of the work I had someone do to it.

It's fully customized right now, as is the compact - both worked fine and I trusted them both before I started ripping out parts and replacing them. I trust the full size as of right now - since the compact locks to the rear with a full mag bacause of the length of the extend slide release (the one I decided I prefered), and the front sight wobbles back and forth - again a part I had someone else install.

Once the problems have been fixed and the compact runs 250 rounds of misc ammo through it - and it functions like it used to - I will start carrying it again. It wasn't the 1911 that failed - but the parts and the service I had done.

1911s can be used plain jane out of the box or they can customized until your heart's content - it's up to you.

Personal preference makes the world an interesting place - besides, if all we had was one type of handgun - we'd have nothing to talk about here.

Harold Mayo
January 9, 2003, 11:42 PM
I've always scratched my head at these 1911 reliability threads.

I have owned many 1911-style pistols, the vast majority being 5" guns although I have owned a couple of Commander-sized, a couple of Champion-sized and one Compact-sized one. I have NEVER had a reliability problem with any of them but the compact and that was cleared up with a trip back to the manufacturer.

I have shot a lot of pistols over the years and have been around a lot of shooting of pistols in that time, too. The 1911s and hi-powers have always been the MOST reliable guns that I have seen, stock or custom. The much-vaunted reliability of the Glocks, especially the 17, is in question in my mind because I have seen so many choke. The fixes were simple, but so are those on any handgun. I have even seen more problems out of the P7 series guns than 1911s and many claim that they are practically NOT ABLE to malfunction.

My experience is that they are all machines and machines will wear, break and mess up from time to time. They are designed to contain small explosions and continue working time and time again with small parts that have close tolerances. OF COURSE there will be some malfunctions!

In all honesty, I think that it is the operator and maintainer that makes the biggest difference, as well as magazine and ammunition selection. A dirty gun WILL eventually malfunction, improper shooting technique WILL result in malfunctions, bad magazines WILL cause malfunctions, and poor-quality ammo WILL mess up... NO MATTER what gun is used.

January 10, 2003, 12:08 AM
I don't know about other colts but my friend use to have a
Colt Government series 80 45 , and it performed very Reliable .
I shot it over a few months about 1K rounds , and never a single Jam or any problem . So i would possibly reccomend one of those
or also Para Ordnace 1911's are very good i've heard . But on the whole most of the 1911's i've shot have had Jamming problems
but mainly only inexpensive ones such as Auto Ordanance ,
and Norinco .

Jim Higginbotham
January 10, 2003, 12:11 AM
Nope. You may hear of these things more simply because there are more of them - the only guns that come close to being as prolific are the S&W M-10 and the Browning P-35. Mechanics probably work on more Fords and Chevy's also...big surprise.

Now to be sure, there are some pretty junky copies of 1911s out there and no doubt they do not work as well (neither do Lorchins and Davis' 9mms).

Bear in mind also that when the gun breaks that is a malfunction. I have seen every popular brand and model of handgun break, including 1911s and Glocks - but if you consider the per centage of guns used to guns broken the latter two seem less likely to break than any of the others. However I stress that with well made guns that is still a miniscule amount.

Food for thought,
Jim H.

January 10, 2003, 12:27 AM
With modern 1911s (throated barrels, wide ejection ports), ammo isn't really a problem. My Kimber shoots SWC reloads all day long.

For that matter, I also don't buy into the idea that MIM parts are, in and of themselves, evil. You can screw them up just like you can screw up any other steel. (On a similar note, if you really think your forged barrel and frame were "forged" like in ye olden times, think again.)

The Achilles' heel of 1911s is the internal extractor, plain and simple. It can be made of tool or spring steel and blessed by your favorite holy man; the fact is that they're not as good as external extractors. This is coming from someone whose only centerfire gun is a 1911.

Apart from the extractor issue, it seems like the big problem you get with 1911s today is just quick, out-the-door-fast assembly. That can happen with any gun, but I suppose it's harder to botch the assembly of a gun without a fitted bushing and link.

Guns jam. Especially autoloaders.

January 10, 2003, 12:43 AM

Jim H, I agree.
Couple of Mil-Spec's we use, one is a Colt , other is SA. Smoothed triggers about 4# all that has been done,combat accurate, honestly don't know how old. Don't know when last cleaned, I did put a little lube on the Colt last time out, shot in rain that morning, later that day sun came out got hot, wiped off inside of slide, lubed, ran fine.

have shot the high dollar race guns, accurate, but I prefer the simple like a Mil-Spec For CCW , run when dirty.

January 10, 2003, 02:17 AM
The problem isn't the design, its the execution. JMB would probably freak if he saw the kinds of parts that modern manufacturers use.

Bingo. You can't expect a weapon designed to function with tool-steel parts, fitted by experienced workers to work when assembled with MIM crap stuffed in by half-trained employees.

The original USGI guns did not malfunction. Nor did the older Colts. True, they were never set up for JHP's but a little modification to the feed ramp could fix that. New 1911s are such a QC crapshoot that you never know how the gun's going to behave until you try it out. The reason why SIGs work is because they'd never stand for that.

Reason #2 why many 1911s don't work: folks who take a gun that otherwise worked okay and screw with it.

January 10, 2003, 12:38 PM
You want a reliable 1911? Then get a gun made as close to what the US Army and John Moses Browning co-designed and shoot ball ammo. For me that means a current production Colt Government Model or a Springfield Mil-Spec.

Jim Higginbotham
January 10, 2003, 05:35 PM
I keep hearing folks say you have to shoot ball in a 1911. I have not found that to be the case. True enough, when someone brings out ammo that they just stick any old bullet in and pay no attention to the ogive there may be problems but Winchester, Remington and Federal make JHPs that feed fine in old G.I. guns (I use one for teaching a good bit). Actually I think a lot of problems occur when folks start modifying the feedway (expecially the frame) because they think they will have problems with JHPs. Many a 1911 has been ruined by following the advice found in hobby gunsmith books (usually the older ones I admit).

The other challenge relating to 1911 is that everyone with metal forming equipment thinks he can make magazines for it - and seemingly they make them out of reconstituted aluminum cans:rolleyes:

Use good mags and bullets that have a rounded ogive (even if it has a large cavity) and the proper overall cartridge length (which will vary depending on the diameter of the meplat).

Of course that is not to say that ball is so bad either.

Carry on,
Jim H.

January 10, 2003, 08:47 PM
Evidently it is not hard to make one. I shot a friend's Charles Daly and fed a continuous mixture of odds and ends 45 acp [about 100 rounds] that I had collected over the last several years. It fired every single round without a hitch!

Charles Daly, I will remember that name.

January 10, 2003, 09:41 PM
Reason #2 why many 1911s don't work: folks who take a gun that otherwise worked okay and screw with it.

This is so true it ain't funny! :o

With all due respect, I don't think the Achilles Heel of the 1911 type is the internal extractor, but rather the cheap magazines people try to get by with rather than a good factory part. I recommend Colt brand, myself. Never a bobble in quite a few years.

January 10, 2003, 10:01 PM

It had some problems from the factory, I sent it back under warranty and it came back fine.

This is exactly what happened with mine. They opened up the breech face a bit and polished the feed ramp very slightly. Normally guns are once a lemon, always a lemon. But with the Springfield all of the problems disappeared after I sent it back to the factory. I'm very pleased with its performance now.

January 10, 2003, 10:09 PM
Thanks for all the interesting input :)

but rather the cheap magazines people try to get by with rather than a good factory part. I recommend Colt brand, myself. Never a bobble in quite a few years.

Just part of the fun I experienced when I had my first 1991A1. One of the first post I made about it a guy suggested I ditch the Colt mags because they were junk :confused: Told him mine seemed to be working fine. General consensus was some other brand (Wilson??) was best and that the eight rounds mags functioned perfectly but the 7 rounds mags functioned better than that :scrutiny:

Any wonder I ended up with Glocks and S/W autos? :banghead:

January 13, 2003, 07:46 AM
FWIW, I have a half dozen Colt mfg. magazines which have stayed fully loaded for over 10 years which still function correctly. something I cannot say about Lone Star mags-they still feed correctly but do not always lock the slide back after the last round has been fired. I like the idea of 8 round capacity mags but I can live with function better. I have not tried Colts 8 round yet but plan on it soon. It's my understanding that Wilson makes a great 8 round capacity mag, and its price is little different than Colts. Any comments?

Sean Smith
January 13, 2003, 08:47 AM
Confusing magazine advice made you quite shooting 1911s?


Wilson makes the nicest magazines. But Colt magazines never gave me problems, either. A Kimber I bought a few years ago came with real junk magazines, however.

Robert Farrar
January 13, 2003, 09:04 AM
I have a '91-A1 purchased in October '94. So far so good. I had a
failure to feed in the first 50 rounds, and one just the other day. Both were w/ factory ball, the 2nd. was while shooting one handed. I believe that I "limp-wristed" it. It has been fed all manner of loads from ball to light SWC handloads, many brands of factory HP ammo; and it has digested them all. Seveal thosands of rounds later, I still trust it.


January 13, 2003, 09:24 AM
I think there are a few reasons why 1911's can be perceived to have reliability issues.

1) There are so many manufacturers at so many different price points in so very many calibers. Some are quality manufacturers and others are not, and price itself is not a very reliable indicator of which is which. With such a large number of manufacturers, quality and tolerance issues are inevitable. Any complex device requiring detailed manufacturing is subject to quality variations.

This has also been the case with other designs. When S&W more or less copied the Glock design to make the Sigma, the S&W-version had some teething pains. Is the Glock design poor? Is S&W not a quality manufacturer? Not in my opinion, but S&W learning curve to make a reliable Sigma was high.

There is no pistol design factory-chambered in as many calibers, and some of those calibers have not been chambered in enough 1911's to get all of the bugs resolved.

2) The shorter barrel length 1911's are more difficult to make reliable due to the short slide length and decreased slide mass. Getting the whole spring rate and slide speed equation balanced is a trick. In addition, the barrel tilting angle changes with barrel length which adds another variable to the system. The 5" versions are more reliable than the 4.25" versions, and the 4.25" versions are more reliable than the shorter versions. This is also true of other designs. Shorter Glocks are not as reliable as full-size Glocks.

3) Magazines. The Achilles heel of every auto-pistol. Personally I have had very good experiences with Wilson-Rogers #47D and factory Colt magazines. I have seen a lot of junk magazines out there including "G.I." magazines which look like they were tossed in a tumbler with rocks.

4) Gunsmithing. A lot of people work on 1911's, and some of the work causes problems. This is compounded by the sheer number of after-market parts available. I once saw a 1911 go "full auto" after an errant trigger job. I have also seen hammers following slides. These are not the fault of the 1911 design or even the manufacturers (for the most part). Much of this happens after a 1911 has been sold.

5) The original design was made to feed ball ammo. As the ammo has become more complex, the 1911 has had to adapt to the ammo. There was a learning curve to do so. Some older pistol designs also had the same issue, such as the S&W 39. The difference is S&W has second-generation and third-generation pistols to distinguish improvements, and we still call all 1911's "1911's". I think the newer 1911's have proven to reliably feed many of the new ammo designs.

6) The extractor. Probably the weakest part of the design because it requires tension to be properly adjusted. I screwed up a few myself before I got Jack Weigand's tool. Having the right tool to do the job is important, and for too long, I did not have the right tool. I think the external pivoting extractors are an improvement on the original 1911 extractor, and I am putting my money where my mouth is with a Kimber U.S. Team Match II.

After trying a lot of pistol designs, I have settled on the 1911. Why? Because it works for me. Are there other designs that work? Absolutely. But not as well for my set of needs.

January 13, 2003, 09:50 AM
I just looked at the Springfield website. The TRP is not the same as the FBI gun. It has all the "features" of the FBI TRP-Pro model, without all the expensive custom gunsmithing. If they have the same features, compare the selling price and you'll notice that a TON of work went into the Pro. The FBI would not have accepted the standard TRP.

FWIW, there's also the fact that the TRP uses all in-house Springfield parts while the Pro uses S&A, Nowlin, Wilson, et cetera.

The FBI specified that in their RFP; they didn't just, for instance, say "The pistol must have a magwell like an S&A" but rather "The pistol must have an S&A magwell".

January 13, 2003, 10:55 AM
So are you saying the price difference only reflects the parts? Or has the Pro received a lot of "fitting"?

Maybe the problem with modern 1911s stem from the manufactorers trying to improve the accuracy AND match the reliability of the original US issue guns. It's hard to sell a pistol that shoots 4 or 5" groups for magazine reviewers, since other designs (Sig, etc.) are so accurate. I think JMB would be surprised at the accuracy people get, and expect, out of stock production guns.

Colt won the 1911 trial on reliability, not accuracy. No one ever claimed that stock 1911s were inherently accurate til quite recently. Tuned, yes. Stock, no.

January 13, 2003, 11:03 AM
Oh, there's a lot of hand-fitting there, too.

When you look at the accuracy and reliability requirements the Bureau gave, I don't doubt that there's also some guy with a bone through his nose waving a chicken foot over the finished pistols, as well... ;)

February 3, 2009, 11:41 PM
All I see is a lot of barking about the price of 1911's...

They are all steel (at least the best ones are), they are machined to close tolerances, they often do require some "fine tuning" even before they leave the factory...

That's why they cost so much...but after all that a few of them still ain't quite right, which is due to the fact that they are built in a hurry. That goes for all of them (Baer, Brown, Wilson, etc.) and even more so for the Kimbers and Springfields.

A properly tuned and well maintained 1911 will hold its own against ANY handgun...PERIOD.

That does not mean you have to constantly tune them either...get it working and run the hell out of it, simple as that.

I carry a $1700 Baer without a 2nd thought...that's what I bought it for...that, and Kimber left a REALLY bad taste in my mouth (4 different pistols...none of them ran)

Until recently (past few years), good magazines were what was hard to come by...and they were responsible for most of the 1911 fed problems. Now we have the Tripp Gen II CobraMags (the "new" best mag) along with the Wilsons that usually work too.

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