Feeding problems with reloads in a 1911


Old Grumpy
October 16, 2009, 01:37 PM
I've had some problems with feeding from my .45 reloads. I would like to use semi-wadcutters and I've read where many people have good luck with them. How important is seating depth and overall length for consistant feeding? I would expect some problems but I would also think there are steps I can take to reduce these problems. I've had a smith polish the feed ramp and have installed a Wilson recoil spring. The pistol works great with hard-ball, for which it was designed. I plan on shooting reloads at the range and using factory for protection. Can anyone pass along some tips and specifications?

Would anyone wish to recommend a good target bullet in the 200 to 230 grain range. Next question is are they available? Thanks

If you enjoyed reading about "Feeding problems with reloads in a 1911" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
October 16, 2009, 02:03 PM
Does the barrel feedlip sit flush or below with the frame feed ramp, whilst the slide is moving forward, and leave nothing for the bullet nose to catch on?
One of the main causes for SWC feeding issues in a 1911.

Another issue I found was the tapper crimp needed to go a fraction more, than just enough to remove casemouth flare, with reloaded SWC's. But not nocticeably more, as you don't want to be overcripping on an autoloader case.

October 16, 2009, 02:08 PM
1. If your 'smith polished the ramp, he may have also contoured it slightly to work with the semiwadcutter bullets. For that matter, unless your 1911 is of older manufacture, the ramp contour is probably already shaped to deal with LSWCs. It takes cartridge tweaking only to get the round working reliably.

2. If you select the bullet / supplier first, then you can use typical recipes--W231, AA#5, for your reloads--but you will have to experiment a bit. See reloading manuals--especially Lyman P&R, which will list cast bullet loads--as a place to start for recipes with particular bullet designs. Arguably, the long-term favorite for a 200-gr. LSWC bullet is the H&G 68 mold. Tweaking the LOA for reliable operation in your 1911 along with a good crmp is usually all that's needed.

Depending on the recipe power level--min or max or in-between--you may need to change recoil springs. For example, I run a load with about 5.1 grains of 231, and I put in a variable recoil spring for reliable operation without battering.

As for suppliers: this bullet design is so common you can find it at most cast bullet suppliers. See what Missouri Bullet has to offer. You will not need "hard cast" bullets--a BHN of 11 or so is fine.

If you search this forum, you will find many discussions about .45ACP LSWC reloading. Use the link at the top of the page.

Jim H.

October 16, 2009, 02:53 PM
If everything is mechanically correct in your gun, it will feed SWC's of a reasonable O.A.L., whether the "ramp" is polished or not. The bullet is suppossed to just "skip" off the "ramp", not ride up it.

Most 1911s feed SWCs fine. All mine do. Give it a try.

October 16, 2009, 03:09 PM
Like JFH siad, pick a bullet like the shape of the 200-gr. H&G 68 mold.

It has a bullet ogive that exactly matches the 230 grain FMJ-RN GI bullet.

As such, it hits the top of the chamber in the same place and pops over the hump like a GI FMJ-RN when it comes out of the magazine.

Shorter 200 SWC bullets, like the Lee mold design, do not.


October 16, 2009, 07:22 PM
I shoot .45 reloads in a Smith 4506, which feeds almost anything, and a Star PD, which can be a trifle persnickety.

Some things that work for me. I use a lead RN flat point at 200 gr. I get a good one from Friendswood Bullets on the 'net but I am sure there are others. These are medium hardness and I get no leading no matter what I load them to. Even the Star gobbles these right up and they make a nice hole in a paper target.

I have found it best to put a moderate crimp on the case mouth. The bullets I use have a small groove right ahead of the second band so I load to crimp there.

Got to at least make sure you have totally reversed any belling from the second die. Bullets I use have a bit of taper in the back and, with the harder lead, I have no shaving issues even with just a kiss of a bell.

Had good luck with harder lead SWCs also. I load the bullet down to where the second band just barely is covered and crimp there.

I'd suggest starting with small batches of the LSWCs and RNFPs. Load small batches, maybe just a mag full, at a time and play until you find what bullet, crimp and OAL work best in your gun. You should be able to quickly work out a cast bullet formula that you like. And every gun, even from the same manufacturer, has its own "sweet spot" with hand loads. Finding that perfect spot is why we handload in the first place. It is fun. Remember that factory ammo is a compromise that works pretty well in everybody's gun.

Next you get to spend endless hours obsessing over what powder and charge is the most accurate in you piece. Also great fun!


Steve C
October 16, 2009, 09:50 PM
Ignore any arbitrary OAL measurements and seat you .45 ACP LSWC bullets so the case mouth is a fraction below the bullet shouder, perhaps a finger nails thickness regardless of the bullets shape as shown below. This has worked the best for me with several different brands of SWC bullets. Sometimes the feeding problem is with the magazines. I've had some of the best results with 7 round mags by Colt or Mil surplus by checkmate. Most well used Chip McCormics work perfectly too.

October 16, 2009, 10:01 PM
1.240" coal

October 16, 2009, 10:30 PM
I see most of us focussed on the cartridge-building--but Steve C. did catch and mention possible magazine problems. If you haven't cleaned your magazines recently, do that--internally, too. Be sure the follower is clean--that can be a problem with lead bullets, re bullet lube. Check the feed lips for parallel. Put in new springs.

But, my guess is that unless you have some off-brand mags of indifferent assembly, the issue for you will be mostly tweaking your crimp and LOA.

Jim H.

October 16, 2009, 11:44 PM
Most of the times these problems ARE from attempting to use GI or Colt magazines designed for ball rounds. They will not release the round soon enough. I don't think crimping will have much effect on feeding as long as the flare has been removed. Almost every 1911 will prefer a certain OAL over others. Another thing I have run into is the upper rear of the chamber needs to have a slight bevel at the opening for SWC rounds. If the edge is left square SWC rounds can hang up when they break over the ramp. Correct extractor tensioning and polishing helps also. But magazines are more often than not the culprit.

October 17, 2009, 07:10 PM
I am with steve.I have shot for 30yrs in comp and never had a problem.I have two AMTs and one FED ORD.all take my load 200 gr SWC.6 gr 700x.if the bullet is seated like steves it should hit the chamber on top and feed right in.I dont touch the barrels.polishing the ramp is one thing cutting in the chamber is not good.the only change I have is I roll crimp.my guns shoot as well as the best.and they cost under $200 for all.one is a longslide the other a hardballer.third is target alum frame.

October 17, 2009, 11:07 PM
Can't say this is your problem, but when I started with 45 ACP (wadcutters and otherwise), I was relying on the manuals' OAL. The published OAL is a maximum. Try going shorter, with a reduction in charge.

Although it's not often not necessary to trim brass for handgun cartridges, I have had to do it on occasion and it works well in making rounds chamber.

October 18, 2009, 06:29 PM
I have to actually measure the crimp. If I am much over .471 I get failure to come all the way to battery...the slide stops about 1/8 to 1/4" too soon.

With bad magazines in my Springfield mil spec the round stops on the ramp before it even leaves the magazine (usually after racking never in mid string) or it three-points.

My stock mags for the Springfield don't like SWCs or hornady hollow points. GI colt mags will feed nothing but hardball. The colt factory mags shoot the best.

Also it took about 300-400 rounds to become reliable.

Overall i would say if you are getting three point jams, adjust oal or try a new mag. If the slide doesn't close all the way measure the crimp.


October 19, 2009, 09:58 AM
Use your barrel (out of pistol) as a case gauge. Case head should be flush with the barrel hood and the loaded round should easily fall in and out of the barrel. Lots of variability in bullet designs so it's best to do this as opposed to taking published OAL's as gospel.

As RC said, there can be problems with some 200gr SWC designs like either of the Lee 200gr SWC's. All of my minor feeding problems went away when I went to the Lyman design which is a much, much closer copy of the HG 68.

As Drail mentioned, check your extractor tension. This was another area I had to address with both of my Springfield's besides bullet design. Both Springfield's ran 100% after lessening extractor tension and going with the Lyman bullet.

I no longer have the Springfields but shoot the Lyman 200 gr SWC in my D.W. CBOB. I've had one failure a few weeks ago out of 6,000 rounds and it was due to cold temps and a change in lube. My 9mm STI had two failures as the same match for the same reason. Neither pistol had ever malfunctioned before the lube change/cold weather. I went back to the lube I've used on both pistols before my "experiment" and they are once again shooting with no problems.

My CBOB functions 100% with the Lyman 200gr SWC loads (3.8 Clays or 5.0gr of W231 loaded to a COAL of 1.245) with my 2 Springfield 7 round factory mags, my D.W. factory supplied mags and all of the Metalform mags with the hybrid feed lips.

October 19, 2009, 10:26 AM
My recommendation would be to try the Checkmate 7 round hybrid feed lip mags; this will probably work and most probably solve most feeding issues for most folks if the ammo and gun is reasonably close to being spec. There are issues with OAL but as noted above the real issue is the "length to ogive"; the more closely this approximates spec ball the easier the feeding process. SWC have a totally different profile thus the difficulty sometimes.
With respect to feed ramp polishing: the short answer is don't unless you really know what you are doing. Most frame ramps need nothing or need lengthening not polishing to resolve feed issues: check the sticky by Chuck Rogers here:http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=189756 and other screwups/solutions here by 1911Tuner: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=185506, http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=185769.
I've found spec guns with Checkmate GI profile mags will feed just about anything even without barrel ramping. For target SWC loads the Checkmate hybrids seem to be the gas.
Hope this helps

October 19, 2009, 11:32 AM
Yep. If it won't feed with those Checkmate mags, it isn't a mag problem.

October 19, 2009, 11:44 AM
Hope this Helps http://i338.photobucket.com/albums/n420/joe1944usa/45seatingpossibilitiesxn.jpg http://i338.photobucket.com/albums/n420/joe1944usa/th_45acp947inch_001.jpg (http://i338.photobucket.com/albums/n420/joe1944usa/45acp947inch_001.jpg)

Old Grumpy
October 19, 2009, 01:30 PM
I would like to thank everyone who has offered advise and tips. My pistol is a Cold LW Commander manufactured in 1976, I've had a Kart Match Grade barrel and bushing installed. The extractor and all of the springs have been replaced with Wilson Combat units. I use the Colt factory mag as well as Wilson Combat mags.

There is quite a bit of information here and I can see it will require me to spend hours and hours at the reloading bench and range. At least that is the story I'm going to tell my Bride. (And I'm sticking to it.)

If you enjoyed reading about "Feeding problems with reloads in a 1911" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!