1911 Reliability


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JaxNovice
December 4, 2008, 02:17 PM
I have an Armscor 1911 that I really like. I want to make it my primary HD weapon and was going to approach a gunsmith to do some work. What are the things done to a 1911 that are exclusively geared towards reliability?

Thanks!

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rondog
December 4, 2008, 02:58 PM
Pretty much just keep mine clean and lubed, and they truck right along. You'll want to replace the recoil spring after awhile, couple thousand rounds or so, go with a replacement from Wolff. Make sure the magazines will drop free without binding. Maybe have the smiff look it over good for burrs and rough spots.

Other than that, they're pretty reliable just as they are, don't really need to be "fixed" to make them reliable. Some folks will have them tuned for accurizing or a lighter trigger, but that's not "needed".

JMHO.

Treo
December 4, 2008, 03:04 PM
I own a Rock Island Armory 1911 (essentially the same company) at it’s pretty reliable right out of the box. I think a question of unreliability on 1911s came from the companies that tried to overengineer the gun and make it a super precision target pistol. The regular milspec models tend to go boom every time you want them to

Olympus
December 4, 2008, 03:14 PM
I believe your main issue will come from using hollow point ammunition. 1911 pistols are designed to use round nose/ball ammo. If you plan on using that then I think your reliability issues are a "non-issue"! But if you plan on using hollow point ammunition, sometimes they have a tendency to fail to feed. If you're wanting to use a particular HP for HD then I'd recommend going to a range with a couple hundred rounds of the particular HP you plan on using and shoot it. See if you have any problems. Most of the time, a good polishing of the feed ramp will clear up these problems. If you have a dremel tool that will make quick work of it. I've also heard of people polishing the feed ramp with Mother's Chrome Polish. But just make sure there are no ridges or burrs on the ramp if you use that method. It won't take off any metal.

sm
December 4, 2008, 03:14 PM
I think a question of unreliability on 1911s came from the companies that tried to overengineer the gun and make it a super precision target pistol. The regular milspec models tend to go boom every time you want them to

Agree.

The original 1911 was designed to be a Combat pistol.
A tool unto itself, and so much more if one truly studies Browning's design.

Now, the Military folks , and others back in the day, that used this pistol and altered it, to make it more accurate it, knew the Combat aspect was compromised.
Combat pistol for Combat, and Target Gun for Target.

When aspect of any design, for anything is changed, it changes something else, and that in turn changes something else...Domino Effect.

i.e.
Put larger tires on your vehicle, and your speedometer is not going to be accurate, you have changed the engineered design of tire size to measuring speed.

Treo
December 4, 2008, 03:30 PM
I believe your main issue will come from using hollow point ammunition. 1911 pistols are designed to use round nose/ball ammo.

I think that modern 1911 pistols have taken this into account I don’t think you’ll find too many modern pistols that have a problem W/ JHPs. I know my RIA eats them like( very exspensive) candy

JaxNovice
December 4, 2008, 03:32 PM
I think a question of unreliability on 1911s came from the companies that tried to overengineer the gun and make it a super precision target pistol. The regular milspec models tend to go boom every time you want them to

I agree with that completely. My Armscor is having a few issues and I really want it to work.

That being said, what would you all think is the most reliable 1911 out there? If I were to buy one, is there one that comes to mind? The only fluff items I would ask for is a beavertail, NS, and an extended safety. Any thoughts?

schmeky
December 4, 2008, 03:57 PM
My Kimber and mildly customized Norinco 1911's are some of the most reliable guns I own. With Chip McCormick mags, sometimes I think my Norinco would feed rocks.

A good 1911 is as reliable as anything out there, has been for nearly 100 years. People tend to "improve" 1911's, nearly everyone is trying to make one to cash in on the demand, so QC/QA is a mixed bag, and there must be 50 million cheap flimsy mags floating around.

The RIA are good because they closely follow the Mil-spec version of the 1911.

JaxNovice
December 4, 2008, 04:00 PM
Any thoughts on the Colt XSE?

S&W620
December 4, 2008, 04:25 PM
Colt XSE you ask?

Love mine. Even more than my old SA Loaded which was a pretty decent pistol. It was no Colt though.

Ken Rainey
December 4, 2008, 05:58 PM
JaxNovice, if you're having reliability issues, I suggest that you go to the "Gunsmithing and repairs" forum and read the threads by 1911Tuner....payng particular attention on how to tune your extractor and using proper magazines..those are usually the things that cause functioning issues. Don't polish anything with a dremel! The feed ramp doesn't have to look like a mirror for it to function, just be smooth..and a little slip of the dremel can ruin a pistol's frame or barrel. Start by checking your extractor for proper tension and make sure it's not clocking and go from there...;)

The Lone Haranguer
December 4, 2008, 06:48 PM
If the pistol is reliable, it needs no additional work. If it is unreliable, it needs to be repaired as it is not performing as designed.

JoeSlomo
December 4, 2008, 06:51 PM
That being said, what would you all think is the most reliable 1911 out there?

It's not a question of the platform itself, it is a question of how closely a company sticks to the proper "specs", and the quality control involved to make sure each gun is up to par, followed by testing by the owner to identify any shortcomings.

Reliability comes from properly fitted, quality parts, good mags, good ammo, and proper maintenance / lube imo.

While there are advocates of ramp polishing and other such reliability work, I haven't had any of that done to any of my guns and they run fine.

Ken Rainey
December 4, 2008, 08:39 PM
From JoeSlomo: Reliability comes from properly fitted, quality parts, good mags, good ammo, and proper maintenance / lube imo.

+1 That's IT !! :D

crashbuell
December 5, 2008, 03:05 PM
I have a mil-spec Springfield 1911 and I use Chip McCormick and Wilson Combat mags in mine. I also feed it an exclusive diet of 230 gr fmj. Using those, for me, is just for my piece of mind. They feed every time, and if they were good enough for us during WWII, then they are good enough for my purposes too. It isn't my carry gun, just a range/HD gun. It sits in my closet until I need it. My carry piece is a High Standard Crusader 1911 in 3.5". It has the polished feed ramp and throated barrell, so it eats whatever I feed it. You can get into one for about $450.

Steve C
December 5, 2008, 03:21 PM
First thing to do is to shoot the gun and see how reliable it is. No use wasting money on Gunsmith work if the gun is reliable to begin with.

Use FMJ ammo of good quality and it should gun 100%. If you want to use it for SD then try some JHP ammo. Remington ammo will feed in just about any gun.

Magazines are one of the week point of any semi auto so if you buy spare magazines get good quality ones. and try them out.

JaxNovice
December 6, 2008, 10:24 AM
Are Novak mags any good?

Ken Rainey
December 6, 2008, 12:38 PM
Haven't seen a Novak....you'll get a lot of different opinions on magazines but the basic 7 rd mag with a dimpled follower such as made by Metalform for Colt is the standard, get one with an extra power spring and it's arguably the best...you can order straight from Metalform. Some swear by Wilson Combat, some by Chip McCormick Power mags, etc...it's just that the 8 rd mags won't last as long or be as reliable as a 7 rd mag will all else being equal...I've taken CMC Power mags and put in dimpled followers to make them a 7 rd mag with an extra power spring! But again, 1911Tuner has threads concerning proper magazines...check'em out...;)

JaxNovice
December 6, 2008, 12:46 PM
Ken, Is it a general rule that 8 round mags are not as reliable as 7?

JoeSlomo
December 6, 2008, 03:42 PM
Ken, Is it a general rule that 8 round mags are not as reliable as 7?

That depends on your definition of "reliable".

I use the CMC powermag 8 rounders exclusively for IDPA / USPSA and have put over 4k rounds through my guns with zero stoppages. That meets my definition of reliable.

JEL
December 6, 2008, 04:01 PM
Any thoughts on the Colt XSE?

I have a MKIV 70 Series Colt Gov. and it's been my most reliable gun, never malfunctioned in any way and more accurate than I am.

A buddy of mine has an XSE which is a 80 series and same story; never malfunctioned and extremely accurate.

rondog
December 6, 2008, 05:26 PM
Are Novak mags any good?

I have a bunch of them, full-size and Officer's size, and they all work great in my RIA's and Colts both. Well, the Officer's size only work in my RIA Compact, but it loves 'em. Chip McCormick Shooting Stars too. The Compact will accept all my full-size mags too, but that's only for range use.

bgeddes
December 6, 2008, 11:29 PM
I have two Armscor/RIA 1911s. A full size and a compact. The only issue I've ever had with either is a $10 gun show mag. Lesson learned, good mags or nothing. I have used Novaks, Act-Mags and Kimbers with good results. My stock guns shoot fine even with JHPs.

Hanzerik
December 7, 2008, 01:29 AM
I have two Armscor/RIA 1911s. A full size and a compact. The only issue I've ever had with either is a $10 gun show mag. Lesson learned, good mags or nothing. I have used Novaks, Act-Mags and Kimbers with good results. My stock guns shoot fine even with JHPs.

Same here. I use Novaks and Colt Mags with my RIA Compact with no issues. Gun runs perfect with FMJ, JHP, and LSWC reloads. Has chambered and fired every round it has been fed.

Ken Rainey
December 7, 2008, 03:36 PM
Ahh, the magazines...you see, JMB put that dimple on the follower to hold that last rd in place and not let it get ahead of the extractor especially as the mag spring gets weaker....now, as you see, a lot of folk's pistols run fine with mags that don't use that dimpled follower but, when their springs weaken they may be feeding some of those rounds by being pushed by the extractor and causing the extractor to have to jump over the rim of the cartridge and not even know that this is happening...then one day the extractor has lost it's proper tension and the pistol starts to malfunction or worse, it breaks and there you are. If the pistol is just a range gun, this is of less concern than if it is for defensive use. Putting 8 rds in a space where 7 were designed to be means compromising somewhere and that can affect reliability.

Anyone ever find a live round laying on top of the mag or on the ground and the slide locked open when you thought you had one more round to fire?? That's caused by a weak mag spring that let the rd come out of the mag when the round before it was ejected...and if it's weak enough not to hold that last round in place, then the extractor has probably been pushed over the rim of some cartridges already....time for some new mag springs and to check that extractor.

I just prefer to have all of the designed advantages of the 1911 working in my favor if I'm gonna use the pistol for serious purposes and that means a 7 rd mag with a strong spring and a dimpled follower. Will other mags work?, it really depends on the pistol and ammo, but the standard for a reliable 1911 is the 7 rd mag with a dimpled follower and ball ammo ... deviate from there and you just have to see for yourself with your pistol. Some 1911 style pistols come with a 7 rd dimpled mag and the new pistol won't work with it, sometimes it's a bad mag but more often it's a bad extractor or the pistol just needs to be worked a little - sad, but now most of the factories think we should break in the pistols with a lot of rds before we deem there to be a problem. I just do a detailed inspection and smooth or tweak if need be (unless something major shows to be a potential problem) before an initial range session. A factory supplied 7 rd dimpled follower mag should function...now that I think about it, the only manufacturers I Know for a fact supplies this type mags with some of their pistols are Colt and Springfield Armory...Kimber's come with 7 or 8 rd mags but no dimple on the follower, I haven't seen their newest tactical mags that people report work well.

Anyway, when you find what mags work reliably with your pistol with the ammo you are gonna use, then clean and keep those mags for serious use and use another set of (preferably the same type) mags for the range.

Feeding problems will usually show up with either the first or the last rd of the mag. I do not keep my carry mag topped off for that extra little bit of reliability from not having a full mag pushing against the bottom of the slide possibly slowing it down just in case I was to have a weak hand grip on the pistol in a SHTF situation...plus you got somewhere to put that chamber rd if you have to clear your weapon for whatever reason.

Lots of different mags out there and there will be people who swear by all different ones and some that swear at them! .. :eek:

bpl
December 7, 2008, 09:06 PM
My Colt XSE came with 8 round mags, no apparent dimple that I can see. Any idea which of these Metalform mags have the dimple? http://metalformcompany.thomasnet.com/viewitems/pistol-magazines/0-45-caliber?&forward=1

Ken Rainey
December 8, 2008, 01:23 AM
The ones with the flat followers should have the dimple...but give'em a call and ask before ordering...tell'em you want the dimpled follower in a seven round mag with an extra power spring - your choice of ss or blue, removeable baseplate or welded.

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