Tuning a 1911


May 27, 2011, 04:11 PM
So, I've got a RIA 1911A1, and I use mainly 230gr FMJ with the stock recoil and mainspring (plus a shok-buf) for target shooting.
But, I bought a box of 185-gr 1148fps +p hollow-points, (I removed the hammer and fed them through to make sure it'll cycle them, no problems), as a JIC-overkill load and I'm wondering if I'm getting the right springs to keep the lockup timed right?
I've got an 18.5# recoil spring and the shok buf in there right now, and I'm thinking about getting a separate mainspring housing to put a 25# spring in.
Think that'll work?

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May 27, 2011, 04:52 PM
Try it!

Not sure what you mean by "lock-up timed right"

I'd run this by the guys in the gunsmithing sub-forum, if I were you. There's a huge thread there on tuning 1911s.

May 27, 2011, 05:07 PM
Standard is 16 lb recoil spring and no shock buff.

May 27, 2011, 05:16 PM

Shok-buffs take up 1/8" of slide travel that can be better used for more reliable functioning. They also prevent the slide from coming back far enough to release the slide stop by itself when you slingshot load it.

As stated a 16 pound recoil spring is standard and intended to work fine with 230 hardball.

An 18 1/2 might be a good idea for +P loads if the gun still functions properly.

I wouldn't mess with the mainspring.

My logic is, I would never modify a gun to work with only one specific +P load.
What happens if you run out of them in the middle of your gunfight and have to go back to standard ammo?

I'm also not convinced a 1911 needs to launch light bullets at 1,148 FPS.
Thats what a .40 S&W or 9mm is for!


May 27, 2011, 05:17 PM
The recoil spring's primary function is returning the gun to battery. It has nothing to do with "lockup" or timing of any kind.

You should be fine with the standard springs.

May 27, 2011, 05:35 PM
+1 on shock buffs being bad news. They don't really protect the frame that much and just seem to cause trouble. I've had guns that they work just fine in and I've had issues with others. Eventually I just threw all the shock buffs away and never looked back.

*After* your gun unlocks, the heavier recoil spring will slow the slide down a bit as it travels to the rear and stops to pick up a new round. That might help a bit with battering the gun but it will also speed up and apply more force to grabbing the round and slamming the slide back into lockup. An 18lb spring is pretty cheap if you want to try one out but if you are on a budget and don't want to fool with it then the 16lb one should be just fine.

If the gun starts to show signs of serious wear after a few thousands rounds, its' likely to be an issue that would crop up regardless of standard vs. +P and 16lbs vs. 18lbs... After a few tens of thousands of rounds standard vs. +P *might* begin to make a difference but that is beyond my experience as I've never fired that many +P rounds...

May 27, 2011, 07:10 PM
Personally, I change out the recoil spring to 18.5 on my 1911s as a habit. Never mess with the mainspring, though. I tried a shockbuf once in a Colt, and the space it took up actually prevented me from being able to lock the slide open. Never used one of those again...

May 27, 2011, 09:36 PM
Next time simply remove the firing pin to feed test. Split the difference with a 200 gr. bullet and load it yourself to a more sensible velocity, say 900 fps.

If reliability of the pistol is in question because of the ammo used the best component to swap out (and the easiest) is the ammo itself.

May 27, 2011, 11:47 PM
Only sure way to check if ammo going to feed is fire it. You can't cycle the slide as fast as it will travel being shot.

Remove the got your money buffer Its not needed. 16lb spring will handle +P
What brand ammo you getting 1100+ FPS +P
If you planning on using them for SD best test at least 100 for reliability. In 45 about any 230gr HP will work no need for the kight stuff in a 5" I run the 185 in my 3" 1911 not my 5"

The Lone Haranguer
May 28, 2011, 04:20 AM
How about actually shooting it to see if it needs anything? Who knows, it might surprise you and be fine as is.

May 28, 2011, 05:56 AM
Now that's waaaay too simple. Wish I had said that. ;-)

May 28, 2011, 06:36 AM

>> You can't cycle the slide as fast as it will travel being shot. <<

Sure you can. Probably faster if you try hard. What you don't get from hand-cycling is the same recoil dynamics and the slide rebounding...bouncing...off the frame.

LH had it right. Shoot it to see how it does. No sense in fixin' that which ain't broke.

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