1911 Reliability/Accuracy Tuning


February 14, 2009, 01:06 PM
i just got a Springfield GI a couple days ago and plan on carrying it. Im going to send it off to Gemini Customs and I was wondering if there were a good combination of accuracy work and reliability tuning.

Tightening the tolerances decreases the reliability a great deal but increases accuracy; i want a good balance of both. I cant really get a good idea as to the accuracy on the pistol as of current because the GI blade sights are horrendous! When i do manage to line up multiple shots though the groupings seem pretty tight. (to be honest, the 1911 is a completely different beast than the Sig 225 im used to shooting, so i cant truly comment until ive really gotten used to it)

I took it to the range and put 100 rounds of Winchester 230 grain ball through it and had 3 FTF of the first 3 magazines, but after the gun warmed up it ran flawlessly.

Obviously im going to get a throated barrel and have the feed ramp polished (and DEFINITELY a few Wilson Mags...) ETC. But what can i do along the lines of accuracy that wont interfere with the reliability tuning im going to get? Obviously some nice sights and a 4lb trigger job, but what about a match barrel or tightening the slide to frame fit?

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February 14, 2009, 01:23 PM
Tightening the tolerances decreases the reliability a great deal but increases accuracy
That's not true. I'm not a machinist, so if I'm incorrect maybe someone with more experience can set me straight, but I believe: "Tolerance" refers to the margin of error allowed on the particular dimensions of a part, based off the blueprints. "Clearance" refers to the amount of space between moving parts, and is accounted for in the blueprints, and taken in consideration when tolerances are set.

You want the pistol to adhere to the correct tolerances, to ensure proper clearance. If a pistol is too tight, then it means too little clearance because the tolerances were either not tight enough, or were not adhered to by the builder.

As for improving accuracy, the barrel lock up is where most of the mechanical accuracy is achieved in a 1911. A barrel that locks up into the same place every time is essential for accuracy. This means the lugs need to be well matched on the barrel and slide, and the bushing needs to tight enough to keep the barrel from budging when in battery, and make it return to the exact same location after the shot. Slide to frame fit makes up a small amount of mechanical accuracy.
The rest is mostly the shooter, but a nice trigger helps the shooter do his part, so that is not something to be overlooked.


February 14, 2009, 01:34 PM
Barrel & bushing fit = 60% improvement.
Trigger job = 50% improvement.

Slide to frame fit has little effect on accuracy, but if it is too tight it has an effect on reliability when full of dirt.

Kuhnhausen's book has a chart showing the various percentages the different part fits contribute to mechanical accuracy (Repeatability).

Rear barrel play = 20%
Bushing fit = 20%
Consistent vertical lock-up = 20%
Frame/Slide play = 15%
Headspace = 10%
Match grade barrel = 10%
Beyond reach = 5%

Shooter assistance features:
Trigger work = 50%
Better sights = 25%
Misc, Ammo, etc. = 25%

So slide rattle does matter.
But not much compared to several other things.

The main influence a tight slide fit has on total accuracy is providing the consistent vertical lock-up.

But if the gun can give consistent vertical lock-up, and the slide still rattles, it matters not at all.


February 14, 2009, 01:34 PM
as ole "Albert" once said "things are relative" in an everyday CCW pistol,a target grade pistol is accurate and reliable.if you stomping around the muck and dirt of the woods,a target grade pistol,may have some reliability problems(tight tolerances don't like dirt/mud/leaves/ect.).thats why Mr. Brownings mod of 1911 45ACP goes bang where ever it is,not many tight tolerances.also,some target grade pistols may have cloth snagging sharp sights that would hinder use. jwr

dave from mesa
February 14, 2009, 02:18 PM
Don't know of Gemini Customs but I'll bet you they have a package that will fit you're needs.

Old Fuff
February 14, 2009, 03:24 PM
Obviously im going to get a throated barrel and have the feed ramp polished

I suspect that if you look the barrel is throated already... :scrutiny:

The 1911 pistol was originally designed to be a weapon, and history has proven it to be an excellent one, in its original form.

In post #2 Jason_G did a great job of pointing out the difference between "clearences," and "tolerances." Before, during and shortly after World War Two the Army went to great lengths to institute "calculated clearences" to insure battlefield reliability and interchangability of parts, regardless of whatever contractor made them.

During the 1960's the Army assigned Springfield Armory (the government arsenal, not the company with the same name) the task of developing a bullseye match pistol based on the 1911A1 platform. A number of changes were made in service pistol crearences to enhance accuracy. Of course these changes affected reliability, but that was of little importance in a target gun. It should also be noted that these guns were individually "bench made," by skilled armorers. It was never intended that these match pistols would be used as service pistols, yet today most 1911 style pistols are made to match standards using match gun technology.

Today's gun buyers want target-pistol accuracy on one hand, and service pistol reliability on the other. They often expect to get both in pistols that are assembled with a minimum of handwork. They seldom get both in the same gun.

It may be noticed that there are frequent complaints about reliability of current or recently produced pistols, while none, or next to none, show up concerning those that were made before 1965. There is a good and obvious reason for this.

The accuracy standard for USGI service pistols was 3 inches @ 25 yards, and this was more then good enough for the intended purpose. They also worked, "out of the box," and other then test firing, Uncle Sam never shot a round to break a service pistol in.

Before you do anything you need to decide if you want a pistol to carry, a target gun, or a big-boy toy. It is foolish to spend a lot of money going in the wrong direction.

February 14, 2009, 05:45 PM
You should have just bought a high end 1911. You're going to spend enough money on what you have, to get what you want, to have a bought a high end gun, and you still won't have a high end 1911.

February 15, 2009, 01:41 PM
Good stuff guys, thanks.

How then, Old Fuff, do i get it close to its "original form"? Obviously ive already had 3 failures...

And i don't really target accuracy... if fact i doubt i need any real accuracy work outside of getting used to the platform and DEFINITELY new sights (it was just a thought... i wasn't sure if there was a way to get accuracy AND reliability tuning without canceling each other). Then i can really determine if i need any work.

Ill just stick with a nice reliability tuning package then and not worry about "fixing what isn't broken" with the accuracy.

And how do i tell if the barrel is throated? I thought it wasn't because the original GI didn't have a throated barrel (as far as i know... im far from an expert) and the Springfield GI is supposed to be an accurate recreation of the original...

Jim Watson
February 15, 2009, 06:08 PM
Old Fuff is right as to the real military issue guns versus ultra tight 50 yard slowfire target pistols, but your imported copy did not pass US Army inspection and is nowhere in compliance with the true "mil spec" no matter what the advertising says.

I will wager that a good shop like Gemini will be able to improve BOTH accuracy and reliability versus a factory clone. Jeff Cooper referred to the work performed as a "half accuracy job."

February 15, 2009, 10:10 PM
i think the purists here will be happy to know that ive changed my mind and am only going to have 1 thing done;

Adjusting the extractor.

If that and new Wilson Mags dont make it go boom 99% of the time, ill look further into it. I guess messing with the ejection port is unnecessary if someone can tune the extractor to throw them at 2 o'clock and the trigger feels fine to me. I guess ill have to see how i feel after 500 rounds or so.

February 15, 2009, 10:28 PM
N/M. Deleted.


February 16, 2009, 08:57 AM
SRDEDOS: You can get a rear/front sight set from Brownells for only a few bucks and have a local smith install them for another few. Tremendous improvement; unless you already have good eyesight, in which case you may find the small mil sights to your likening. Nothing wrong with these sights, its just that many of us have ageing eyes. :)

2nd 41
February 16, 2009, 09:38 AM
Would you consider using SA custom shop. They did an trigger job ($80) on my "Loaded" and it is a shooter. Let them take care of the FTF issues under warranty. Their customer service is awesome.

February 16, 2009, 11:16 AM
Good suggestion!

I suppose instead of spending money i could send it back. duh :o

February 16, 2009, 12:17 PM
If it runs flawlessly, why get reliability tuning?
I'd get a trigger job, sights, and that's about it. It sounds like it is plenty accurate enough for CCW, and as you shoot it more and get used to it you'll probably shoot even better with it.

I have a SA GI that I haven't done anything to other than change grips, and I don't hesitate to carry it when I'm in the mood. I shoot it better than any of my Glocks (even with the small GI sights), it's never malfunctioned, and anything I'd do to it would just be for looks or comfort.

February 16, 2009, 12:27 PM
I wouldn't rule out getting a beavertail grip safety installed. Feels much better when shooting.:) I also wouldn't rule out getting the ejection port lowered and flared. I've heard plenty of stories where the casings either get stuck or at least beat to hell. (that's important if you reload) A good trigger job (4.5lbs) sure does make her a joy to shoot too. If you wanna keep the GI as is, go ahead, but I haven't looked back after I did the mods on mine. Truly love this gun!

February 16, 2009, 12:28 PM
It doesnt run flawlessly cold... which i imagine is how one CC's a gun :D

I had 3 failure to feeds and that was with 230 grain ball.

February 16, 2009, 03:58 PM
I had 3 failure to feeds and that was with 230 grain ball.
That also depends on what brand of ammo All ball isn't the same Clean and lub try differebt brand
On a Springer I would toss the factory extractor and get a good Wilson or Ed brown .Springfields are not the best in that area. Will loose tension quickly. Its One of main complaints you see about springfields If you not bother by the GI tang Then leave beaver tail off its not really needed Pistol was used for years in military and civ with out the ugly beavertail. Neither of my Gov has it and I really don't miss it

February 16, 2009, 04:22 PM
By fitting a new barrel bushing to my Springfield loaded, my offhand shooting was greatly improved. For $30, you can have EGW fit a bushing for you, mine only needed a little massaging, to fit the barrel through. Still 100% reliable, after the mod. The flyer was caused by me thinking to much:D

February 16, 2009, 07:14 PM

Im actually probably going to have all the small parts replaced as ive heard bad things about Springfield's factory small parts. They have a forged frame and slide so you figure they have to cut costs somewhere :D

Im going to order a few different brands of ammo online this weekend and see what kind of results i get.

Ill definitely look into a match bushing for sure :cool:

February 16, 2009, 09:00 PM
Im actually probably going to have all the small parts replaced as ive heard bad things about Springfield's factory small parts. They have a forged frame and slide so you figure they have to cut costs somewhere

Im going to order a few different brands of ammo online this weekend and see what kind of results i get.

Ill definitely look into a match bushing for sure
If you're looking at gutting that pistol and paying a good (not bubba down the corner) gunsmith to work his/her magic on it, I suspect you are going to have more money into that pistol than what you could have paid for a NIB gun with the same work already done on it. I'm not saying don't do it, but I would check on the prices and make sure this isn't the case first. If it is, then you might consider selling it and just buying what you really want. Check on it.


February 16, 2009, 09:24 PM
I think replacing all the small parts is just Paranoia on my part and im going to wait and see how its performing after 500 rounds before i decide what to do.

Even a NIB pistol might not work like i want it to and have to be sent off. I really like mine but feel it just needs some minor tweaks to work reliably. The rest is purely optional and unnecessary. Besides, i would still feel more comfortable having someone at a custom shop fitting my barrel and bushing for the extra money than trusting it was done right at the factory, even with nicer 1911's, but thats just me (unless it were a custom shop gun)

And let me clarify something i wasnt aware of earlier;
I wasn't having Failure to feed issues... it appears im having failure to chamber issues so im going to replace the recoil spring with an 18.5lb one and hold it a bit more firmly.

February 16, 2009, 09:26 PM
Put some King Hardball sights on and shoot and shoot and shoot.

When the gun has a couple of thousand rounds through it, you will know exactly what needs help.

When you can shoot more accurately than the gun. find someone to fit a barrel bushing to it.

I have a Les Baer that really doesn't shoot any better than an an old colt Gov Model. Someone finally explained (I did not want to hear this), It ain't the bow, it ain't the arrow, its the indian holding the bow and shooting the arrow.


February 16, 2009, 09:27 PM
GREAT advice :D

February 16, 2009, 09:54 PM
I'll start off by saying I really like Springfields. I own three. Two of which are 1911's. One is a Mil-Spec, and it's been a great gun. The main differences in it and the GI is the sights, flared ejection port, polished feed ramp, and slanted slide grooves. I've looked into getting a few things done to it, but from what I've found schmecky's right. You'll spend as much, if not more than the cost of a higher end 1911. As far as mags go, I don't think Springfield's are all that bad. I've got 2 eight rounders I use in my Mil-Spec and Loaded Champion. I've never had any issue in either gun.

February 16, 2009, 10:52 PM
I can vouch for some of what the other guys are saying. You can almost pay as much for a total rebuilding of your GI springer. I know because I did it to mine. In the end, I probably paid about $1600 (including the gun) in both parts and labor. I still love my gun though. It was my first 1911 and I wouldn't part with it for a Les baer or Ed Brown or even a Wilson. In fact, several guys who own the higher end 1911's can't tell the difference in the function of my gun to theirs after all the mods my smithie did to it. (My smithie is very good) The advantage to buying this gun and upgrading is that you can do it over time and not have to drop 2k-3k on a gun in one time. It's up to you though. I liked doing all the mods because I learned alot about the 1911 platform as I purchased parts and figured out how it worked.

February 16, 2009, 11:41 PM
Thats my other thing... ive got a basic 1911; i can go anywhere with it. And i will come out even in the end because i would have paid just as much on a baer... but you cant "un-customize" a custom shop gun. you can customize a stock gun.

February 17, 2009, 12:34 AM
There is something to be said for making it your own. It's like a classic muscle car. Unfortunately both require large sums of money. For now, I prefer to have two pretty nice guns as aposed to one bad a$$ gun that I can't really shoot any better than the cheaper versions.

February 17, 2009, 02:36 AM
well put :)

February 17, 2009, 05:55 PM
but you cant "un-customize" a custom shop gun.
:confused:Why would you have to "un-customize" a custom gun? The essence of a custom gun is that it is made to your specs in the first place.

I'm not saying that you should go buy a Baer, Wilson, Nighthawk, or Brown. I'm just saying for the money you are about to sink into revamping a bare bones 1911 (I'm not knocking them, but this one is obviously not what you really want), you could easily buy a top end production gun. You may not want to go that route, and that's just fine, but you might want to consider it. Go at least shoot some top quality production pistols and then decide. You may end up saving yourself a pile of cash and headaches.


February 17, 2009, 05:59 PM
^^ Im with you on this one. Id rather have a Baer than a Springer G.I. customized to the level of a Baer, or any other semi custom builder. Thats just me though

February 18, 2009, 09:27 AM
I wasn't having Failure to feed issues... it appears im having failure to chamber issues so im going to replace the recoil spring with an 18.5lb one and hold it a bit more firmly.

Whoa wait. You've only put 100 rounds through it, and had 3 failure to feeds early on, and you're already going to replace the recoil spring, and send it off for reliability tuning?

I would take three steps way way back and hold up on all that. The gun probably needs to be broken in since it was new. You've only shot 100 rds through it. I would not even consider trying to diagnose what 3 FTF's mean out of 100 in a new gun. I would shoot at least 300 or more and see if the problem repeats itself before trying to run something like that down. I would not go replacing springs or sending it off for a smith to monkey with based on 3 FTF's from a new pistol earl in the first 100 rounds. It could have been an ammo problem, a mag problem, a lube problem, or just it being tight and needing to wear in just a bit.

As for it failing when it was "cold", being room temperature is not a reason for failure. If it didn't fail after several more mags, it's not because the gun had "warmed up", it was something else.

Personally, I would not send off any gun for any kind of tuning or accuracy work if I only had 100 rounds through it. I don't think I'd be able to get a good gauge of what it's doing and what it needed if anything at that point. That's just me. Good luck.

February 18, 2009, 09:47 AM
The great thing about the 1911 is that you can do all those things to a basic gun. I started out with a Black Stainless Target Loaded, and found myself replacing the msh and the innards. I should have gone with the GI to do all that, but would still need to upgrade sights and put on the beaver tail.

I have a few nicer guns now.

I reload. I shoot more, and I shoot better ammo and easier ammo to shoot well. If you are going to shoot much you will spend way more on ammo than on your gun, even a top end one.

As far as carry reliability, I wouldn't carry any gun, Glock, Sig etc until it shot 500 trouble free rounds.

I can't un-customize my guns, but I have thought about spending $500 and getting a base model something for a knock around take in the dirt and rocks level 1911.

February 18, 2009, 10:04 AM
And i will come out even in the end because i would have paid just as much on a baer...

Let us know how much you get for that custom Springer if/when you decide to sell it down the road. I can pretty accurately predict what a used Baer will go for . . . .

February 18, 2009, 11:50 AM
A trap many new 1911s owners fall into is putting a bunch of money in an entry level gun - thinking they'll get it back on a sale or trade. I've seen folks throw $500 of parts and work into a $400 Rock Island and assume they then have a $900 gun - ain't so.

You are generally always better (and generally cheaper) to buy the gun with the features you want up front...

February 18, 2009, 12:10 PM

I was guilty of that, more than once.

February 18, 2009, 04:22 PM
Well, im going to listen to you all and leave this thing as stock as possible and just buy a Baer if i get the 1911 bug bad enough. I can easily see myself shooting competition in the mediate future.

I took it back to the range today and put 100 more rounds through it and honestly i dont even think im going to replace the sights! I do entirely too much research on the Internets and im fixing what aint broke.

I shot 1911Tuner a PM describing the issue i was having and it isn't FTF. The rounds have been hitting the slide lock lug when chambering and locking the slide back prematurely. I haven't had a single ftf or any other issue outside of this, so once i file down the lug i can then asses the reliability. I trust its 99% after this is rectified. This was just a new 1911 owner not knowing what in the hell he's talking about.

Im going to put some CT Laser grips on it and perhaps have the extractor tuned (the brass is hitting me in the face pretty regularly) but other than that, im good. After all, it is a carry Gun, and if i sink a grand into it and then have to use it, ill probably never see it again. :(

Id like to thank you all for talking some sense into me :D

February 18, 2009, 04:40 PM

If you get a chance, find someone with a "high-end" 1911. If at all possible, handle it, check it out, and preferrably, bust a few caps with it; you won't believe the difference. I was moderately shocked at the difference.

Then you'll see the light, but by all means keep the Springer, great guns.

February 18, 2009, 04:54 PM
dont tell me that schmeky... I want eat for months :evil:

February 18, 2009, 09:25 PM
Sr. Dedos Rapidos,

I'll add my 2 cents...

Before filing on it, or swapping things out etc. Get to know the gun. You've said that you know little about 1911s. Now is the time to learn. Avoid the urge to correct problems that you are not yet able to diagnose.

When you are at the range and you see someone with a 1911 ask them about it. Have them shoot yours and get an opinion.

You just got a new gun. Relax. Study it some and enjoy it.


February 18, 2009, 10:07 PM
I already want a wilson :(

I KNEW this would happen :evil:

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