1911 Auto Shock Buffs............?


January 30, 2012, 02:54 PM
Was just wondering what the professionals here think about these Shock Buffs.
Poly fiber washers that install behind the recoil spring and guide rod.....supposed to protect the frame......

So, what say you as I was considdering a purchase.......my concern is, could these jam during the normal function of the gun and are they really necessary ?


If you enjoyed reading about "1911 Auto Shock Buffs............?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
January 30, 2012, 03:26 PM
IMO: An Ingenious Solution to a Non-Existent Problem.

The problem they do create is, there is not enough room inside the gun for one of them.
So, you shorten slide travel 1/8", which may effect reliable ejection unless you have an extended ejector..

1/8" less full side travel is also enough to keep the slide stop from releasing by itself like it is supposed too when you sling-shot the slide to reload.


January 30, 2012, 03:35 PM
I put one in a commander on time that was working just fine. I tried it because ....well ......who knows.....

It never ran right again 'till I took it out.

January 30, 2012, 03:40 PM
They are less usefull than a full length guide rod. At least a full length guide rod want cause reliability problems, like some recoil buffers.

I heard it said once that both improve feeding and excraction. They feed manufactures with money extracted from your pockets. They are both marketing tools and nothing less, IMO.

January 30, 2012, 04:14 PM
FACT - The problem they do solve is wear and tear on the frame of the gun. You may either not shoot that much, or choose to not concern yourself about wear.

As stated many 1911's cannot run properly with them. That is an indication of a 1911 that is NOT built to spec.

Colts run the buffers just fine. So will any other 1911 that is truly built to Spec. My Kimbers do not run Buffers properly. My government size or full sized Colts and Springfields run them just fine.

Now understand we are talking about 1911's, not deviants. Any 1911 with a barrel shorter than 5 inches is a deviant, including my own Commanders and EMP's which run fine. Of course I do not put the number of rounds through the short barreled guns than my Government models regardless of marque. The Commanders and EMPs are for carry not high round counts. My short barreled guns will usually get less than a couple thousand rounds a year.

As the ol' Swede used to recommend, "Carry a Commander, shoot a Government model." (By the way, back then Commander meant a LtWgt model. Combat Commander was the all steel model. That is not necessarily true any more.) This is what I practice these days. Today I generally shoot a Springfield Professional when shooting a 1911 for competition and such, and carry a Colt 21st Century LtWgt Commander with some additional custom work. The Springer runs a buffer too, the Commander does not.

Some folks will warn of dire problems when an overused buffer breaks up and jams your gun. If you are one of those folks that do not maintain your weapons properly and do not clean them when used, you are right.

Maintain your weapons properly and the buffer is not an issue. I have run them for about 30 years in my full size Colts and never had a problem. I do know that one of the custom batch of guns the Marine Corps requested Spec'd Buffers in them. In the article I read the question of buffers causing the weapons to fail was brought up. The response was, to paraphrase, "We Marines maintain our weapons well enough that it is not an issue."


The beauty is that if they start to wear, and you have no others, TAKE THE BUFFER OUT. DUH! No harm no foul.

Go figure.


PS: Some times one must be smart enough to ask the question, then decide on the answer. Not the other way around. -- F

January 30, 2012, 06:29 PM
I run them on an aluminum framed lightweight Gov't model (Harrison Custom Springfield) when shooting full power loads. John advised me as such. Saves wear an tear on the frame. Gun runs like a champ with them.

Don't use them on anything else.

January 30, 2012, 08:04 PM

Here goes...

FACT - The problem they do solve is wear and tear on the frame of the gun. You may either not shoot that much, or choose to not concern yourself about wear.

Back in the early 60s, my sainted old pappy and salty old uncle used to hit the shows and buy up worn surplus 1911s. Stacked up on the tables like cordwood, they couldn't give'em away. The rough ones could be bought for 20 bucks. Next table had all the parts. 2 dollars a dozen for sears and disconnects. 3 bucks for a new barrel. 10cents a pop for recoil springs. Surplus hardball ammo could be bought in bulk so cheap that it wasn't worth the trouble to pick up the brass.

Note that these frames were soft. No heat-treating was done. The WW1-era pistols averaged about 24 Rockwell C. The WW2s, around 26.

The only spring that was available ran to about 14 pounds fully compressed, and around 13.75 as installed in the gun, compressed to its limit. Shock buffs were 15 years in the future.

Those two would rebuild the pistols and we shot the noodles out of'em...wear'em out and rebuild'em again. Some frames saw two or three slides before the rails wore so bad that they couldn't be rebuilt again.

There was no peening of the impact abutments. There was no horrid destruction that we hear so much talk about. I still have two of those pistols. I shot'em well into the 80s. An Ithaca and a 1918 "Black Army" Colt. I rebuilt both for the last time and put'em up for posterity and as a reminder of happier days. I rarely shoot either one any more, but the frames are just fine.

Yes. There are cracks in the usual places at the front of the rails and the dust cover. They cracked many years and tens of thousands of rounds ago. They're self-limiting and don't affect the function of the gun. They go to a point and stop.

But...Somebody said that a shock buffer and/or a heavy-duty spring will save frames. The Kool-Aid was sweet and abundant...and everybody cried: "Verily! I must save my frame!"

...and much money has been made with shock buffs that cost a nickel to make and sell for a dollar. A stroke of genius. Wish I'd thought of it.

Marketing 101:

Convince the customer that he needs it, and then sell it to him.

Jim K
January 30, 2012, 11:37 PM
Not only are buffers not needed, they can actually cause malfunctions, something the folks who sell them choose not to mention.

In the 1911, the slide does not directly impact the frame (something the buffer buffs also don't tell you), it impacts the recoil spring guide.

Now steel is very elastic as shown by those little ball bearings mounted on a frame that seem to bounce forever. When the slide impacts the spring guide, it transfers a good part of its remaining energy to the guide and to the frame. When the slide comes to a rest, the frame returns the stored energy to the slide, giving it an extra boost ("bounce")in feeding a round and returning to battery. This is more than would result solely from the reassertion of the recoil spring, and can make the difference between properly feeding a round and a stoppage.

This can actually be observed or captured on camera. Watch from the side as someone releases the slide by using the slide stop, and note the speed of the slide. Then have someone fire the gun and watch again. The slide moves forward faster when the gun is fired than when the slide is just released. That extra speed comes from the bounce given the slide by the energy stored in the frame. When a buffer is installed, it absorbs that energy (that is its job) and the slide will move forward with only the energy from the recoil spring. If anything is marginal, that might not be enough.


January 31, 2012, 07:50 PM
I've got a steel buffer that was in an accurized 1911 Colt GM. It replaces the recoil spring guide and has an inner spring that cushions the slide while providing additional power to strip rounds. And, yes it works. I shot that pistol thousands of rounds with no ill effects and it was used when I bought it. I cannot find it right now as I had the presence of mind to take it out of the pistol prior to selling it. One day when I find it I will google it to see if they are still made.

One neat thing about it was you could shoot 185 swc or +P's without having to change anything.

January 31, 2012, 07:59 PM
I don't think they are still made.

We made them ourselves at AMU in the late 60's.

I still have one in my NM Colt.


Jim Watson
January 31, 2012, 08:23 PM
I have used buffers in my IDPA CDP (.45 ACP) guns for some time with no problems.

But my ESPs (9mms) are a different story. The Springfield based Mixmaster A is subject to premature slide locks with anything but their Front Ramp 9 shot magazine. Ten would be much nicer but they weren't dependable. Even my Colt 1991A1 will experience premature slide lockulation every once in a while. The slide stop studs are trimmed as far as I dared to avoid bullet nose bump-up.

I approached FLG with detent dimples, notches, bevels etc dancing in my mind.
He looked things over and spotted the buffers. Just to make me feel better about the aluminum framed Mixmaster A, he sanded its buffer down to about half thickness. It will now release the slide stop upon yanking the slide and has not yet malfed again.
The steel framed Colt will get either a thin buffer or none at all.

February 1, 2012, 07:30 AM
One of the drawbacks of the shock buff is that they reduce slide travel and runup to the magazine...which means that the slide has less time to develop the speed and momentum that the gun was designed to operate with. Not as much potential for problems in 5-inch guns, but Commanders have precious little to spare.

I have a 1943 GI Colt that is dead reliable with any reasonable bullet shape, including hollowpoints and the H&G #68 design lead SWC. Stick a shock buff in it and it goes into spastic fits. Take it out, and it returns to being "Old Faithful." Oh, I suppose I could massage the gun to run with buffs, but there's really no point.

February 1, 2012, 11:06 AM
Thanks so much for this valuable information.........just teriffic.

If you enjoyed reading about "1911 Auto Shock Buffs............?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!