1911 Spring Questions


November 26, 2007, 10:10 AM
I have a 1911 clone (S.A.M.) which is frequently going to slide lock before the mag is empty with a 200gr slug traveling at an average 850fps. I think it is due to a weak reciol spring as it has not been changed for about 3 years/2000 rounds and I bought it used so I don't know if it was the correct spring in the first place. It is a full size 1911 so what wieght spring should I use? Also what is the lightest hammer spring I could use and still get reliable ignition with CCI primers?

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Jim Watson
November 26, 2007, 10:49 AM
Standard recoil spring weight for a 1911 is 16 lbs.
Standard mainspring weight for a 1911 is 23 lbs. I have never had a misfire out of a 19 lb spring.

Premature slide lock may be due to the bullet nose bumping the slide stop stud. If shooting jacketed or plated bullets, look at the slide stop tip for copper marks. Or take the slide off, put the slide stop back in the frame, and insert a loaded magazine to look for interference between bullets and slide stop.

November 26, 2007, 11:06 AM
Jim has the correct answer.

A weak recoil spring will not cause premature slide lock operation.
If anything, it makes it less likely because the sharper recoil drives the slide-lock down due to inertia, not up.

If by chance your 200 grain load is a truncated-cone or very wide JHP bullet, they are hitting the slide stop as they come up in the magazine.

It can be cured by slightly beveling the side of the slide stop where you see the brass tracks on it, and then highly polishing it.

You may then need to adjust all your magazine follower tabs slightly by bending them over closer to the side of the mag body to insure proper slide lock on an empty magazine.


November 26, 2007, 11:27 AM
Recoil spring in the 1911 has always bothered me on my Springfield 1911. If I use American Eagle brand ammo the weapons fires and cycles round after round for the entire box. But, should I try any "Practice Ammo" like Lawman, you can count on a stovepipe at least once out of the 7. I have never replaced the spring, and don't have a clue how to measure the pressure, or is it just cheaper to replace?


November 26, 2007, 11:38 AM
You could try a standard 16 pound spring and see if it helps.

But it may not be a spring problem causing the stove-pipes with only one brand of ammo.

Could also be an extractor tuning issue because of a differance in case rims.


Jim Watson
November 26, 2007, 12:51 PM
Our local gunsmith did a lot of ramp polishing, extractor tweaking and head scratching after the shop got in a shipment of Lawman in lieu of the usual Remington or Winchester hardball. All the problems went away when the Lawman did. That was some strange ammunition; nothing to see, but it would not run reliably.

November 27, 2007, 11:02 AM
Too weak of a recoil spring won’t necessarily hurt the slide stops function; however, an excessively worn magazine spring will. Try a new and/or different mag and see if that cures your problem. Also, having someone pick out a spring for you would be like having them set the mirrors and seat in your car for you. We are all different and that’s not to mention the different loads we shoot. I would suggest getting one of the spring assortment packs from Brownells and try them all out. Once you know what weight spring likes you, your pistol and your ammunition, you can put together a spring test fixture like the one in the first photo if you like, and accurately measure what its doing over time. If that seems like too much trouble, or your pistol has a recoil master spring system in it, you can just place the hook of the scale in the firing pin hole and measure directly, pull just enough to come off the slide stop, leave an empty mag in so the slide won’t try to come all the way back forward. I prefer a lighter recoil spring used in conjunction with a heavier mainspring. The mainspring along with how the firing pin stop is tuned, slow the slides reward travel, then the lighter recoil spring is just enough to reliably strip the next round off the magazine and feed it into the chamber without the extra inertia of slamming shut that a heavier spring would provide. For me that gives the least amount of sight movement from shot to shot.

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