Call to 1911 Tuner and any other helpful souls.


The Red Hot Rider
July 14, 2012, 07:39 PM
Well, I have just about gotten totally out of the plastic pistol business. Today I traded lots of plastic stuff at a couple of local LGS's and walked out with a new Colt Government Model 1991 and a very lightly used Sig Sauer 1911. These additions go with three 1911's that I already have: a Smith and Wesson S&W1911, a Para LTC, and a Colt New Agent. The only plastic automatics I still have are a XD45, a FN45, and a LC9...outside of a few 22lr's.

I have always had a love affair with 1911's. I have decided that 1911's and quality wheelguns are the guns for me and my collection. The reasons are many and not really the topic of this discussion except for one. I WANT TO DEVOTE MY TIME AND ATTENTION TO LEARNING A FEW GUNS INSIDE-OUT, AND THE 1911 IS AT THE TOP OF THAT LIST.

I feel that, for me, I would be better off becoming a master of a few quality guns than a collector of every new gun that comes onto the market. I figured out that as long as I keep buying guns, the makers will keep cranking them out.

So, Mr. 1911 Tuner and anyone else who has knowledge of the venerable 1911, my question to you is: what sources can you direct me to in order to learn the COMPLETE break-down and workings of a 1911? I know the standard break-down for cleaning, but I want to be able to strip it down to its smallest parts, re-assemble it, and understand WHY and HOW the pistol operates. I want to quit playing the field and settle down with one girl, so to speak.

Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.

By the way, the Sig and the Colt shoot excellently. The Colt shot xtp hollowpoint reloads without a hiccup straight out of the box.


If you enjoyed reading about "Call to 1911 Tuner and any other helpful souls." here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
July 14, 2012, 07:48 PM
Jerry Kuhnhausen's two volumes on smithing the 1911 are generally considered, I believe, the benchmark for 1911 references. They're available for about $30 each from any gun source like Midway or Brownells.

In addition, two volumes by Walk Kuleck--The Owners Guide, and the Assembly Guide--are also nicely done, and in my view a little easier to use than Kuhnhausen's works. Kuleck's volumes are also about $30 each.

July 14, 2012, 10:13 PM
The Larry Vickers (there are others who teach similar courses) 1911 operators course as well as the others are something you might enjoy and learn from.

July 14, 2012, 11:03 PM
Jerry Kuhnhausen's two books are more technical details on how to build one then how too detail strip.
He assumes you already know how to do that, or you wouldn't want to know how to build one.


If you memorize this, there will be no further questions.


July 14, 2012, 11:06 PM
The internet can be a helpful tool too. I got my start on an old Colt 70 series. Sitter there with the parts and studying the wear surfaces can give you a good idea of how the many parts interact. Detail stripping and reassembly are actually pretty easy once you do it a few times.

Start with a field strip- a few tips: take the receiver, slowly let the hammer up before driving out the pin at the base of the grip. After the pin is out the mainspring housing will slide out. Then cock the hammer and "giggle" the thumb safety while pulling slightly until it pops out (be ware that the plunger tube spring likes to jet out once the safety starts pulling away from the receiver) once the thumb safety is removed the grip safety will fall out. Then push out the hammer and sear pins- the sear, disconnector, and hammer will fall out.
Next, push the magazine release about half way while lightly turning the lock with a small flat head until the lock allows the mag button to come out the other side. Then the Trigger will slide out from the rear of the frame.

as for the slide, it can also be a little tricky at first, a third hand could be handy but it is not all that necessary. you will figure out proper finger position for control over time but the basic instruction is to push the firing pin from the rear so that the firing pin stop can clear it and slide out underneath. once removed the firing pin and firing pin spring will remove from the rear. Now remove the extractor, some remove more easily than others, if it sticks, make sure the extractor claw is not caught near the breechface, give the claw a nudge into the hole.

If you have an 80 series pistol the dissasembly becomes more difficult, I strongly suggest you start with a pistol as close to a 70 series government (no frills pistol) to start learning with.

Good luck and enjoy :)

The Red Hot Rider
July 15, 2012, 12:15 AM
Much appreciated information, fellow forum friends. Please keep it coming.

July 15, 2012, 03:03 AM
Avoid Dremels and YouNoob videos, they are, for the most part, dangerous. Use your cellphone or a camera to note part orientation.

Never point spring-loaded parts at your face. Never point spring-loaded parts toward anything that may swallow them, examples include carpet, workbench, front yard, back yard, kitchen sink. Point them into your hand or a shoebox or they will be lost forever.

JK's Vol. I & II are excellent reference for further study of what you have, giving specific notes on measurements you can use to verify whether or not a given 1911 was built correctly.

Patrick Gookin
July 15, 2012, 05:31 AM
I'm just starting to learn as well. The only advice I haven't read on this thread so far is that if the part you're trying to remove isn't coming out easily, don't force it. The only thing I have to "force" out of my 1911 is the pin holding the mainspring housing in place. Just lightly tap it out. Like cyclopsshooter said, whenever you remove the mainspring housing, DO NOT have the hammer cocked. When the hammer is cocked, the mainspring housing is under 23 +- pounds of pressure and will come flying off with a vengeance if improperly removed.

Also, you don't need to really torque down your grips. You only need to screw in your grips enough so that they aren't loose and they don't fall off. If you torque them down with too much pressure, a screw might stick to its grip screw bushing. Then every time you try to remove your grips, the bushing comes out with it and it gets very annoying.

Lastly, I learned how to strip a 1911 using a Series 80 1911 which has the firing pin block. Your 1991 should have the same block. Personally, I think it's easier to reassemble a Series 80 slide than a Series 70 slide. with a Series 70, I believe you have to hold the firing pin in while you install the firing pin stop, which seems to be a pain for me. In a series 80, if you hold the firing pin safety plunger down and then push the firing pin slightly below flush with the slide, then release the plunger, the plunger will hold the firing pin in place. Then you just push the firing pin stop into place, depress the plunger one last time, and everything is good. But then again, maybe I'm just more used to a Series 80.

July 15, 2012, 07:02 AM
Red...If you're within drivin' distance of Lexington-Southmont NC, I'll be glad to walk ya through it. Pre-80s are pretty simple. Series 80s are almost as simple to disassemble, but a little more persnickety to put back together because of the trigger bar lever. The slide requires a sequence for both operations, but still simple.

Basically, if you can put a model airplane together, you're overqualified.

The Red Hot Rider
July 15, 2012, 05:15 PM
Can any of you tell me the difference between the series 80's and other 1911's?

My new acquisition is a 1991 Colt Government model. Is it the same gun that GI's carried into battle? I was hoping it was, but I won't be heartbroken if not. It's gotta be pretty close..right? RIGHT??

Thanks for the great info so far, guys.

July 15, 2012, 05:22 PM
Sorry. The 01991 pistols are entry-level Government Models with the Series 80 passive firing pin safety. The good news is that the system is passive, and you'll never know it's there unless you know what to look for.

I think there's an old sticky that outlines the differences. I'll go find it and link ya to it.

July 15, 2012, 05:23 PM
I am not 1911 Tuner, and I know that they can get a bad rap on gun boards, but I found that the AGI DVD "1911 Auto" was actually pretty helpful it is a tech manual and covers detail stripping both series 70 and 80 1911 Autos.

July 15, 2012, 05:28 PM
Can't find it. Maybe it was a figment of my imagination. There's one on detail stripping both types though.

Basically, the difference is in the passive firing pin safety. The frame contains two levers that press upward on a spring-loaded plunger in the slide to allow the firing pin to move forward. The levers work when the trigger is pulled.

There are a few parts that are specific to the Series 80 pistols, and most of them will freely interchange with the Series 70s and pre-Series 70s...but not vice versa. Kinda pressed for time right now, but I'll come back and list'em. Or...If anybody else is of a mind to do it...carry on!

The Red Hot Rider
July 15, 2012, 10:20 PM
i look forward to learning more.

July 16, 2012, 05:15 AM
Learn to field strip and clean the gun and then shoot it. Repeat several times and enjoy a perfectly fine 1911.

Later on you can do like I did and replace the guide rod, hammer & sear, remove the series 80 parts, etc, etc, etc. If your experience is the same as mine you'll then go on to get the thing back as close to original as possible to restore reliable functioning. :)

One of the problems with 1911's is they are so easy to take apart that any goofball (me) with a kitchen table figures they can make 'em better.

July 16, 2012, 11:57 AM
As noted, there are a few parts that are specific to the Series 80. In addition to the two frame levers and the plunger.spring assembly in the slide...

Grip safety. Thinned to clear the frame levers.

Extractor. Clearanced to accept the plunger. The extractor also locks the plunger in place.

Firing pin stop. Cut on the right side to clear the levers.

Firing pin. Cut to allow the slide plunger to operate.

Hammer. The captive half-cock notch removed in favor of a simple quarter-cock shelf. The standard hammer will interchange, even with all other parts installed.

Additionally, the firing pin spring is shorter and softer than standard, but the Series 80 slide will accept the standard firing pin spring.

Note that the Series 80 parts listed will freely interchange in a pre-80 pistol, but not vice-versa unless the frame levers are removed and a frame blank installed, and the slide plunger and spring are removed.


I don't advise the removal of any factory-installed safety system.

All other parts will freely interchange, except the recoil systems and barrel bushings between Government Model and Commander. The Commander also has a different ejector design.

Triggers...Sears...disconnects...sear springs...mainspring housings...thumb safeties...mag catches...and plunger tubes will cross-interchange between the GM and Commander.

July 16, 2012, 01:18 PM
I've been into 1911's for many years but still consider myself a novice when it comes to hand fitting and tuning. But the thing I love about the 1911 is how easy and intuitive it is to do a detail strip. This includes the Series 80's as well.

When I got my first Colt in 1983 (series 80) I was determined, as you are, to know how it comes apart and how to put it back together again. One of my magazines had an article, much like the "how to" posted by RCmodel from I followed the instructions and now am quite proficient.

Just remember there is a big difference between detail stripping and fitting parts such as trigger, hammer and sear engagement etc. You must read more to understand these.


The Red Hot Rider
July 16, 2012, 04:27 PM
Oh, yeah...definitely. No desire (as of now) to change or modify anything. I only wanna understand at this point.

July 16, 2012, 04:38 PM
That is a very smart way to start!

July 17, 2012, 03:14 AM
'Grip screw torque' was mentioned a few posts back, thought I'd pass on a cheap and brilliant tip that I picked up here on THR. Go to your preferred hardware store and pick up #60 1/4" rubber gasket rings. They fit around the grip screws perfectly. They eliminate over-tightening which can be bad for your grips or bushings, and also prevent them from unscrewing themselves when not tight enough.

If you enjoyed reading about "Call to 1911 Tuner and any other helpful souls." here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!