May 26, 2004, 09:00 PM
A few weeks ago a posted a topic asking for firearms purchase advice:
I ended up getting a Spingfield Loaded Stainless 1911 (in .45 ACP). It seemed to have the normal teething problems that a 1911 has. It had a few FTE and a few failure to feed problems in the first 200 rounds (Remington UMC ammo). All ammo was FMJ. But all other functoning seemed proper. However, on it's 2nd trip to the range, it had the same problem: another 200 rounds (this time PMC ammo) and more random FTE and failure to feed problems. I had the a buddy try the gun who is a very good shooter, and he had the same problem, so I don't think that I was limp wristing. He was using the same ammo in his Sig 220 and didn't have any problems. So, I took it home and cleaned it. I went back again. 250 rounds later and I still had the same problem. I'm very discouraged. I primarilly bought this handgun to be a home defense weapon. Right now, I don't trust this gun and honestly, I'm a little disappointed and frustrated with my purchase. :banghead:

I really wanted out of the box reliability in a weapon but the history and legend of the 1911 seemed to sway me more in my decision. Right now I feel like I made the wrong purchase. Every time I walk past the Sig 220 or 226 and the glock 17 that I was considering, I feel like they are laughing at me. I feel like a "traitor" admitting this about the 1911 and would never put them down (I don't get into flaming an individual's personal choice or favorite weapon, especially 1911's), but at the same time I am very underwhelmed by the Springfield. I do not trust it right now as a functional tool for defense. I know that I will take a loss if I sell the gun, but I'm wondering if one's faith in the functionality of a handgun is worth the price to be paid if it ever truly needs to be used defending oneself. :confused: What I'm really asking is, should I trade it? Any advice from all the trade-in gurus??? Or... 1911Tuner could sell me his Springfield...;)

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May 26, 2004, 09:07 PM
I've got a springfield loaded 1911 and after approx. 700 rounds I have had zero problems. I've put about 300 thru it now without cleaning and still zero problems. I read occaisonally of people having some out of the box problems with them but it seems pretty rare. Sounds like you got a gun made on a friday lol. I'm pretty new to 1911's myself so I can't really help you with the issue, but I bet 1911tuner can :D

May 26, 2004, 09:14 PM
Have you tried calling Springfield customer service?

May 26, 2004, 09:26 PM
First thing I'd do is try a variety of magazines. I recommend Wilson 47D's.

May 26, 2004, 09:56 PM
Actually, I did buy the Wilson magazines. I bought them with the gun. Sorry, I forgot to mention that. They didn't help..... :( I haven't called Springfield yet. I'm kind of leery of doing that. I really don't know what they'll do except tell me to send the gun to them.

May 26, 2004, 11:14 PM
I was just wondering.... Has anyone else had a 1911 that had problems w/ it when they bought it that was able to be fixed? How has it been since the repair? Do you still have faith in the gun? Were you glad that you kept it? On the flip side, has anyone had a negative experience even after the attempt to fix the problems?

In regards to selling, has anyone ever sold their 1911 and regretted it or were you glad to see it go/replaced?

May 26, 2004, 11:59 PM
Since you are having FTE then there's no need to look at the mags. Your extractor is probably the culprit and needs tuning.

George Hill
May 27, 2004, 12:08 AM
Call Springfield. They will tell you to send it back. They will give you a shipping account number to use and the RMA number... it wont cost you a dime.
Springfield will sent it back to your door. Again, no cost to you.

When the gun returns - it will be BLESSED. It will not only run, but it will run better than you would expect from a box stock gun... A step up you might say.

May 27, 2004, 12:09 AM
Majic said:

Since you are having FTE then there's no need to look at the mags. Your extractor is probably the culprit and needs tuning.

Replacement, more likely. Going on what I've seen with the GI Mil-Spec that I just got through with, and from what I've heard from several others,
Springfield's extractors still won't hold tension for more than 2 or 3 hundred rounds. Toss it, get a Brown Hardcore. May require tuning.

That'll solve your extraction/ejection problems...Describe your feeding problems in detail.

Yes! They can be fixed and run like a greyhound forever more. Most
functional problems with a 1911 are simple, assuming that the gun isn't badly out of spec. Good magazines...A good extractor...and good ammo usually "cures" about 98% of'em. And yes! The Wilson magazines might be part of the problem. Seen that happen more than once.

Standin' by...


May 27, 2004, 12:10 AM
I started a thread addressing duty pistol reliability at another site a while back as I have seen a LOT of this over the years. You are not alone. I am among the perplexed, and I have been at this a long, long time. The consensus from my thread was that the reliability we were used to many years ago is just not there as a general rule. I basically started out with GI 1911s and can only recall one failure in those early years--a FTF which, as nearly as I could establish, was simply a bad primer.

I carried a LW Commander for work for a time which was also reliable, but was required by my agency to go to to a wheelgun and spent many years as an LEO and instructor with a .357 (which I still carry in retirement). Some years back I pulled the Commander, which had by then cracked the frame, out of mothballs, found a new Colt frame, and sent it off to a renowned smith for assembly into a totally reliable gun. Upshot was that it never made the grade and would only feed hardball--and not always that.

My GI based 1911s have always been more reliable than newer ones as a rule. About a year ago I bought a stainless SA Mil-Spec ; promptly returned it to SA for a better barrel as the leade was extremely rough. To their credit, they paid shipping both ways, replaced the barrel, and the gun is percolating pretty well now. I had some failures to feed with Shooting Star magazines, and dug out some old GI magazines--end of that problem.

I could cite other things, but as things stand reliability and quality seem to be sometime things these days. I have seen Rugers, Glocks, and SIGs choke, and oftentimes the exact cause is hard to pin down.

Semiautos have their place--but if it isn't 100% reliable with a proper cartridge, it isn't worth a pitcher of warm spit. Personally I want a gun that is monotonously reliable and accurate, and for my money that is more easily attainable with a good wheelgun than anything else.

Maybe Toyota will get into the gun business someday.

May 27, 2004, 12:25 AM
Cheer up, your problem is probably very simple. First thing I would do is check your extractor, it probably doesn't have enough tension on it. Dissemble your pistol, and remove the extractor, if it slides right out it is a sure sign there isn't enough tension on it. You should need to push it slightly sideways to get it to slide out. If you don't have enough tension you can fix this yourself by bending your extractor just a little ( a little goes a long ways ). I am not a big Springer fan so somebody who owns one needs to tell me what they are made from, if it is MIM adjust it, then work on replacing it. If its tool steel adjustment is all thats required. Remember the extractor on original 1911's was made from spring steel ( hence tension). I don't think anybody makes a 1911 with spring steel extractors anymore, but it is my first choice for replacement parts when required ( my oldest 1911 is a 1913 and it still doesn't "need" a new extractor ). Cylinder and Slide makes a springsteel extractor, Wilson Combat, and Brown also make good toolsteel parts.

Definately tweak before replacing, and I would check before sending it in for warranty, my feeling is why send my gun away for a couple of weeks at least for something I can remedy in about 5 min. Here is a link with good information:

Your feeding problem is something else, some 1911's need a 100-200 rounds to get over this ( none of my new Colts though ). First put the factory stock magazines back in and give them a try, replacing your mags right off might not have been a good thing. While your checking your extractor check out your feed ramp ensure it has no burrs, or obvious defects like the mill operator was drunk or smoking crack ( it happens just check it ). This shouldn't be a problem and if it is send it back for warranty. I actually go through a complete cleaning, take down and inspection on my new 1911's ( or new to me for that matter ) before I fire a shot, and both the extractor and the feed ramp ( and about a dozen other QA checks ) have been sized up before I take it to the range.

OK all of the feedramp inspections look OK, what next.....Mags and ammo two biggest issues with any auto pistol. Some brands of 1911's are notoriously fussy on mags, good choices in mags are: Wilson 47D, Metalform and Chip McCormick's.

Ammo: Work on getting your pistol to reliably work before getting exotic, use FMJ round nosed ammo until you get this sorted out, once you got it working then start using different ammo. Ok brand names, there are personal choices, lies, damned lies, and gospel all mixed into this subject. Most shooters are looking for cheap, reasonable quality, available, and clean ammo. Remington UMC and PMC are not my first choice of ammo on any day. Both are real dirty ammo so I don't like them much as they leave my guns filthy. I have shot a fair amount of PMC but mostly in my Glock 9mm's which are not fussy, but I know its not very good ammo. I have had good luck with Winchester White box, Fiocchi ( one of my favorite cheap ammo's), Federal American Eagle, MagTech and occasionally Blazer. I usually shoot Fiocchi and buy it on sale it works for me, Followed by American Eagle and Win White box. I would get a box of all three and try them all, keep track of your ammo and mags try different brands ammo in different brand mags.

If after you tried some of these simple fixes and your still having problems there are some other serious stuff that are warranty related. Don't bugger up your extractor adjusting it, if the link I gave you above looks greek, opt for the Warranty Work. I have heard that springer is a little slow but does good warranty work.

Your problem is pretty common on a lot of the new 1911 pistols, across many of the brands, most times it is very simple to resolve. Remember Labor is very expensive today and 1911's can't be put together by monkey's they need a certain amount of fitting ( particularly the extractor) and most of the companies today are trying to build the super spec part that can be thrown in a 1911 and it will work. Sometimes it does, many times it doesn't and it slips right through QA, and customers like you feel the pain. The only real answer is throw more labor at the guns and charge more, but that isn't a very satisfactory answer either. Me I have had a lot of 1911's, and have learned to check things closely before I buy, and do some smithing on my own, I haven't needed to have anything fixed in around 15 years on my 1911's ( but I putz around continually with them for non functional issues ), once you get yours sorted out you should see years of good service, your just being annoyed right now.

Hope this helps, a good source of 1911 information is the 1911 forum, there is a wealth of information posted, definately worth your time if you have a 1911.

Old Fuff
May 27, 2004, 12:40 AM
As Tuner knows, most of the older Colt commercial and USGI guns didn't have these problems. Recently Tuner tested a MIL-Spec Springfield and it worked like a champ - after he replaced some parts and did some tuning and adjustments.

Of course there are some (usually expensive) exceptions to the rule, but it seems that a reliable out-of-the-box .45 is getting to be scarce, if not rare.

As Tuner pointed out the extractor is likely trash, and the slide stop may be too. You can return it to the maker, but what ever they put into it will be that same that it has now. This is a sorry situation for which I have no good answer. The best I can advise is to have a qualified gunsmith replace the same parts, and make the same modifications that Tuner did. In the long run you will win and overcome this. But for the moment you have a right to be totally disgusted.

May 27, 2004, 12:57 AM
Thanks for all of the responses. I know that it may seem crazy, but would it be worth it to "step down" to a Springfield Mil-Spec? If it's more likely to be a better defense gun, that's what I want!

I'm definitely a tinkerer, but I'm a little hesitant to try and fix my 1911 myself. But if sending it back to Springfield is just going to result in a temporary fix (the tension on the extractor will fall out of spec again, or replacing the sucky part with the exact same new sucky part, etc.), I might as well pay to get a gunsmith to fix it or sell it/ trade it for something else.

Not to go on a rant here, but if this whole, sad, production line 1911 thing is industry-wide, why doesn't someone step up and make an affordable 1911 the way that they should be made? I mean come on! Just put the parts in there that should be in there!! Make it the right way!!! It's a big deal for me if I'm putting out all this $$$ to get a tool that I might possibly have to stake my life on. To me, maybe I'm to demanding, this is just unacceptable. And in regards to Old Fluff's comment's, I guess they just don't make 'em like they use to make 'em ......... end of rant.

May 27, 2004, 04:13 AM
why doesn't someone step up and make an affordable 1911 the way that they should be made? Norinco does, but they can't be imported anymore. :(
If you're looking for a reliable defense piece, you should get a Glock, Sig, or HK. Or a good revolver.

cracked butt
May 27, 2004, 04:32 AM
Sorry to hear you have problems with yours, must be some kind of fluke- I would send it back and have Springfield make it right.

I got my loaded model in Feb, I've put probably 600-700 rds through it so far without a hiccup- I never expected it to perform this well, but I would bet that it still has its first ftf or fte long before my Beretta 92 does. There might be an easy fix to your pistol.

May 27, 2004, 04:37 AM
I paid around $520 for a Kimber BP Ten II and I'm having problems as well. Mine have all been FTF problems and I've heard everything from the mags, to using liquid graphite. Frankly I feel like selling the damned thing and buying a Sig. I guess you do have to pay out the a$$ to get a reliable 1911.

May 27, 2004, 10:43 AM
Sorry to hear about your teething problems with your pistol. You can try fixing it yourself, or send it back to SA. Don't give up on this pistol. I have the same model (PX9151L) and it has been flawless from day 1. I'm sure once SA tunes the extractor you will love yours as much as I love mine.

May 27, 2004, 11:11 AM
I guess we do hear more about 1911's needing tweaking than other guns out of the box. I have two, both Springfields, a full-size Loaded Stainless and a two-tone Micro-compact. No problems with either save for one (failure of the slide to fully close) which happened somwhere within the first 60-70 rounds on the full size. Completely reliable since then and well within what you could call a 'break-in' period.

May 27, 2004, 11:14 AM
I just got a GI mil-spec -- turned out to be a lemon. Sent it to Springfield two weeks ago or so, and still waiting on it to get back.

I'm not too terribly concerned though.. all companies put out a lemon now and again, and so far Springfield's customer service seems top notch. Now, if I hadn't already been through a Kimber Classic I and a GI Remington Rand, I might be more inclined to be concerned about the 1911 platform. But well.. I've had other 1911s that worked fine, I know lots of folks with 1911s of all sorts of makes of modern vintage -- including Springfield -- and problems seem minimal and easily corrected as a rule.

Guns are machines. Factory tooling setups are machines.
Machines break. Tooling wears out.

Another vote for just sending your pistol in to be corrected. :)

Old Fuff
May 27, 2004, 11:25 AM
>> Not to go on a rant here, but if this whole, sad, production line 1911 thing is industry-wide, why doesn't someone step up and make an affordable 1911 the way that they should be made? I mean come on! Just put the parts in there that should be in there!! Make it the right way!!! <<

Some guns are built like Swiss watches with finely machined parts. Others are made with investment castings (Ruger) and or CNC machined slides, “plastic” polymer frames and punch-press stampings (Glock). Many more fall between these descriptions.

So is the “Swiss watch” gun better and more reliable? Not necessarily, if (and this is the important “if”) the newer models are designed to use more modern manufacturing processes in the first place. They cost less to build, and the important bottom-line is that they usually work, and work well.

That said, there is a certain pride of ownership in owning a fine watch (or gun) as compared to a plastic cased/battery powered one bought for $25.00 or less at Wally-World.

Because of it’s history, reputation, mystique and perceived advantages many people understandably would like to own some version of John Browning’s most illustrious service pistol – the model 1911 Government Model. At the same time they’d like to buy it for prices that are competitive with other pistols that do not entail the high production costs that are necessary if the older gun is built in the same way it originally was.

Older Colt’s and USGI guns were made out of high-carbon steel parts. The main ones – frame, slide and barrel – were made from machined forgings. Some lockwork parts were made from forgings, others from bar-stock. All were fully machined and usually heat-treated. The only parts that were punch-press stamped were the main spring strut, firing pin stop (in some cases only) and trigger components, although prior to World War Two even the trigger was made from a solid piece of machined steel, not a bow and fingerpiece that were stamped and then brazed together. Absolutely no parts were made from investment casting or by metal injected molding.

Now by today’s standards all of this is extremely expensive. It is in fact the most costly way to make a gun. But when John Browning designed it, a forged-steel, fully machined and hand fitted pistol could be produced that was affordable. So he designed the gun to be made the way guns were made at Colt in 1911, not 2004.

Gun manufacturers are in business to sell guns. If they don’t they won’t be in business for long. Those that make the 1911 and clones are trying to keep their costs down, especially on lower cost models. To do so some have tried to employ alternative methods to replace machined steel parts. Sometimes this has been successful, and sometimes not. They have also tried to eliminate much of the hand-fitting that went into the original guns, and this has been a major contributor toward reliability issues with some currently produced guns. These manufacturers speculate that some of their products won’t work, but that some will. For them it is cheaper to fix the bad ones rather then assume the expense of making all of the guns right in the first place. This is not reassuring to someone who might have to defend their life with the gun, but it is still a fact of life in today’s marketplace.

No manufacturer can produce a precision “Swiss watch” and sell it for the same price as a $25.00 Wally-World special. The same applies to 1911 style pistols – If such pistols are made exactly the same way as the original ones. Does this mean that ownership of such guns must be limited to those with a big bank account? Not necessarily. There is no reason that a less expensive, single-stack, single action pistol can’t be made for competitive prices that is just as reliable as the 1911. For examples look at a Ballester-Molina or Star B-series guns. But market studies have shown that you, the gun buyer don’t want a substitute, you want the real thing, for the kind of money you’re willing or able to spend, and unfortunately that isn’t likely to happen.

May 27, 2004, 12:27 PM
I really, really appreciate all of the advice and help. But, I still don't know what I should do. Finances are really tight for me right now, so getting the gun fixed by Springfield would probably be the cheapest alternative. I have about $700 in the gun. I'd probably only be able to get $450 on a trade in.
One more technical question. In response to 1911Tuner's question: The failures to feed are mostly just feed ramp stoppages or the bullet isn't feeding all the way into the barrel throat. Just a little tap on the slide helps them along. Could the lubricant I'm using be the problem? I'm using Hoppes lubricant (in the orange bottle). Do stainless guns need a different lube? It seems to be working fine.

R.H. Lee
May 27, 2004, 12:40 PM
I would definitely send it back to Springfield. I know that is somewhat of a PITA, but the results will be worth it.

I have had bad experiences with NIB quality firearms (Smith & Colt) also.
No one is exempt. I have a Springfield Stainless Milspec I bought 3 months ago. It has worked flawlessly. This is the norm. Your experience is an anomaly. Your pistol is not 'jinxed', it is just out of adjustment. Let Springfield make it right. :)

May 27, 2004, 04:17 PM
I now have a poll up about this:

May 27, 2004, 04:22 PM
1911s can be finicky. That is why there is a whole industry built around aftermarket parts. If you really want to make it dependable, then you need someone like 1911Tuner to play with it.

If you want dependable every hour every day, then get a Glock. With the 21 (.45 ACP) it holds 13+1. And it has an accessory rail for the light :)

May 27, 2004, 05:02 PM

1911s can be finicky. That is why there is a whole industry built around aftermarket parts.

Nahh...I think they've gotten finicky BECAUSE of all the aftermarket parts and the tinkerin' that's done to'em...:p

Seriously...If everything's in-spec, they're wicked reliable. Problem is,
ya never get to practice malfunction drills with'em.:cool:



May 27, 2004, 05:17 PM
Call Springfield. They will tell you to send it back. They will give you a shipping account number to use and the RMA number... it wont cost you a dime.
Springfield will sent it back to your door. Again, no cost to you.

When the gun returns - it will be BLESSED. It will not only run, but it will run better than you would expect from a box stock gun... A step up you might say.

far Springfield's customer service seems top notch.

Not in my experience (

Maybe they've changed. They needed to.

May 27, 2004, 05:40 PM
Like George pointed out above, sometimes getting a bad Springfield is actually a blessing rather than a curse. The gun will get "special attention" from some pretty competent gunsmiths.

Old Fuff
May 27, 2004, 08:13 PM

I understand what you’re saying about money being tight. That something we’ve all experienced at one time or another. At this point I wouldn’t consider taking a loss by trading the gun, and I wouldn’t be in a hurry to send it back to Springfield.

The first thing you need too do is get some “dummy” rounds. If you handload, or know a handloader making dummies is easy. Simply seat a bullet into an empty, unprimed case. Or if this won’t work for some reason, order some from Brownells (

Do not; under any circumstances do your experimenting with loaded ammunition. One slip, especially with a partially assembled gun could spell big trouble.

It is important to know **exactly** how far the cartridge chambers before it stops and you have to give the slide that “little extra push.” It is also important to know if the pistol will or won’t go into battery when you insert the (dummy loaded) magazine and release the slide with the slidestop. At this point I strongly suspect the cartridge rim is binding in the extractor, but we shall see. As Tuner has pointed out, making corrections is often easy, but defining what’s causing the problem sometimes isn’t.

May 27, 2004, 08:32 PM
I will try that Old Fluff, thanks for the wise advice.

May 27, 2004, 08:42 PM
Dang! Ol' Fuff's good ain't he? :cool: Got a way with words too. I
think he oughta be a writer! Betcha he'd be a good'un.




Old Fuff
May 27, 2004, 09:25 PM
>> I think he oughta be a writer! Betcha he'd be a good'un. <<

I doubt it. My editors used to claim they bought white-out in 55 gallon drums ....

George Hill
May 28, 2004, 12:37 AM
I was just thinking of some of the coolest cars and bikes out there...
Well cars mainly...
The coolest cars ever are from mid 60's up to and ending in 1974. I'm thinking about the GTO's and the Mustangs (BEFORE 1974!). The "Old Iron" as it's called now. Very cool cars.
I remember watching guys fiddle and futz around under the hood CONSTANTLY. If the light was red, the hood was up... adjusting the carbs and the mix and the idle and this and that... constantly.
With bikes, it's the same... I'm thinking of the rockets from Italy costing 14 grand or more, the Ducks. These bikes are not known to be daily drivers. They are well known for the frequent adjustments and tuning that they require to stay at peak performance (or even to keep running).
If you want an every day car or bike - get a Honda. Even the Honda sport bikes are pretty much Wrench Free machines.
This is part of the price for having a Hot Rod... you have to get greasy once in awhile. Same thing with pistols... If you want a Hot Rod Handgun, get a 1911... if you want an every day, never have to open it, boring gun... well there are the Glocks, that's about as Honda as you can get. All the Glocks look alike, all the Honda cars look alike.... If that's what you want, fine.
But it's kinda annoying to listen to the guy with a 442 Cutlass complain that he has a rough idle or something.
A 1911 that needs an extractor tuned? Come on now - it's part of the package. You have a hot rod - you have to tune it up - you have to make it your own with some sort of customization. At least put some fuzzy dice on the mirror. Have some FUN with it!
I'm looking for a used bike of a specific make and model... it's known to be a reliable do everything bike capable of everything and long range riding and all of that... I'm looking at some aftermarket items right off the bat... Jet kit, seat, pipe, front brake, brake line. I'm going to have a lot of fun with it when I get it.

May 28, 2004, 09:07 AM
A 1911 that needs an extractor tuned? Come on now - it's part of the package.

I don't really buy into this, maybe for an expensive custom, super accurate "race gun" but not for a mass market 1911!

But the sad reality is that modern management methods have made real QA/QC non-existent.

Adjusting a 1911 extractor is pretty simple, great instructions are posted on this board by 1911Tuner.

Stem bind, or undersized chambers IMHO are factory defects that should not escape decent QA/QC and should be returned for repair. If enough come back management might decide some better QA/QC is "cost-effective". OTOH testing enough to verify the extractor is "right" for a wide variety of ammo would mean we could only buy used guns from the factory.


Old Fuff
May 28, 2004, 10:33 AM
I believe that when a manufacturer sells a firearm where there is a reasonable expectation that it may be used as a weapon, that manufacturer has a responsibility to make sure that the product is well made using quality materials, and that they are correct for the application. In addition, that there will be sufficient inspections and trained and qualified workers to insure the product is reliable.

And when this isn’t the case they will say so, and advertise that the product is intended for purposes other then self defense (as a target pistol for example).

Anyway, that’s the way it used too be …

In the present instance, the extractor is indeed “part of the package” and a buyer should be able to assume that it is made from the right material, correctly fabricated and properly adjusted when the gun is assembled. Further, that it is checked during a final inspection process to be sure that it’s right.

A Browning 1911 pattern pistol is a relatively simple piece of machinery, and unlike a sport car shouldn’t require constant tinkering or adjustment to make it work. It served as a military sidearm under all kinds of conditions for over 70 years, and is still doing so in limited numbers. During that time it earned a solid reputation for reliability and to my knowledge never required any kind of “break in” before it worked correctly. It was expected to function “out of the box” and did. If today’s makers are not delivering an equivalent product it is not the gun’s fault.

May 28, 2004, 10:43 AM
One of the IPSC guys at the range I go to bought a Springfield 'Loaded' 1911 a while back and it was, and still is giving him trouble after two trips to SA. When he first got it, it wouldn't finish a whole mag, regardless of ammo used. He sent it back SA, got it back, and then it would go about 25 rounds between FTEs. Sent it back to SA, got it back, and now it works for about 200 rounds, then it needs a full cleaning, otherwise it starts FTEing like crazy. The range owner has the same gun, and they swapped barrels on a hunch and it fixed it totally. Ran like a champ. So there is something obviously not kosher with that barrel. With two trips back to SA's gunsmiths, that should have been fixed, no excuses.

May 28, 2004, 10:45 AM
Wally said:

I don't really buy into this, maybe for an expensive custom, super accurate "race gun" but not for a mass market 1911!

Close, Wally...Kudos!

The plain truth is...There are a couple of things that will cause a 1911-pattern pistol to require frequent extractor tune-ups. The main one is
the material that it's made of. If the thing is made of good spring-tempered
steel, it'll likely wear the gun out before it needs anything except periodic

The other thing is...Does the pistol feed the way it's supposed to? The
1911...and most other autopistols are "Controlled Feed" designs...even
the ones with external extractors. That is...the extractor hook is NOT
supposed to climb over the rim. We all understand that we're not
supposed to drop a round in the chamber and let the slide fly. It
causes the extractor to lose tension quickly or to fail outright. Okay, so we never do that, and we STILL have extractor problem...even with a good
extractor. Whazzup widdat?:confused:

The magazines that we use is whazzup widdat. We love the flush-fit,
8-round magazines from various sources...Trouble is, that they necessarily
have springs and followers that are shortened to make room for that extra round. Just as important is that they have followers that are smooth-topped. That dimple keeps the last round from getting ahead of feeding position, and getting knocked into the chamber ahead of the extractor.
When that happens, the hook is forced to climb the rim. Bad JuJu. Then
when the hook doesn't climb the rim, and the slide fails to return to battery...we stuff in a heavy recoil spring that will force it to...and when it works, we think that all is well...until the extractor fails...and we run around screamin' about the "Finicky, Unreliable 1911." :rolleyes:

I have a 1942 GI Colt that I bought as a basket case back around
1977...for 70 bucks. It had the original extractor in it, and though the gun was a rattletrap, the extractor was fine. I rebuilt the gun and shot it nearly apart...welded the rails up, refit the slide, and installed a new barrel...and shot it until the slide broke two years ago. Though the gun had been rebuilt twice that I know of...the one thing that I never touched was the extractor.

When I retro-fitted an Essex slide to the gun, I had to tweak the extractor
a little to get it workin' with the new slide. By my best estimate, the gun has seen nearly 40,000 rounds since that day...and the extractor hasn't
failed to perform. The tension is still good, and the pistol rarely ever stops. I've fired as high as 3500 rounds through it between cleanings,
and it just doesn't stop. Not with top-grade ammo, and not with my funky,
nasty cast bullet reloads that are in brass that's so worn out that you can barely read the headstamps on most of it.

I use 7-round magazines with a dimple on the flat followers...Wolff 11-pound mag springs...a 16-pound recoil spring that I change every time I detail strip the gun for cleaning at 2500 rounds...and a 23-pound mainspring. During the 27 years that I've owned the gun, I can count the number of malfunctions that it's produced on my fingers and have a few digits left over. Besides the slide, the only part that has broken was the slidestop that finally gave up last summer. The lug that contacts the follower to lock the slide popped, and I knew it the first time that the gun failed to lock the slide on empty. It was just that reliable.

Old Fuff, Jim Keenan, HD and I have been screaming about these things
since we've been on the forums. When you deviate from the original
specs in any way, and your pistol chokes...stop and listen carefully. That
chuckle that you hear is the ghost of ol' John Moses Browning.:p

Ask yourself if you think that the Army would have accepted a design to give to the lads to carry into the killing fields if that design was finicky and required constant attention. Remember how long it took'em to can the French Chau Chaut LMG when it wouldn't work in the trenches? 'Bout the
third jam, and it was tossed in the mud while the crew pulled their pistols.



May 28, 2004, 11:33 AM
A standing ovation for the last three posts.

May 28, 2004, 12:01 PM
The way I see it, a gun like the Colt Browning autoloader was designed when machinery was expensive and labor cheap. A guy could sit there all day filing away for $0.35.

OTOH, Guns like Glocks and Sigs were designed to take advantage of modern materials and manufacturing methods. The machines are still expensive but labor is very high.

The shysters building the Colt clones have had to cut corners and introduce cheap manufacturing processes to a gun that was never designed to accomodate them. Something has to give.

A Glock or SIG is nonpareil for a up to date pistol. A 1911A1 clone is in 95% of cases a gaudy cheap toy. To get worth taking home you have to go ^ $kilobuck unless you buy Colt. If you buy a boutique like Clark, Baer, etc. Go way above a kilobuck to get what you're paying for. JMTC

May 28, 2004, 12:21 PM
Unfortunately, even when you spend rediculous amounts of money on these so called 'super' 1911s, results can be mixed. Another fellow at my range bought a Les Baer not too long ago, as he has far more money than sense, and felt he needed another 1911 to go along with the 8 he already has. It's first day at the range, with between 8 and 10 mags through it, it chunked an extractor. Complete loss of the hook. An $1800 pistol that needed a repair after ~80 rounds. Not good math in my book.

May 28, 2004, 12:25 PM
Howdy Garrum, and welcome in.

You said:

It's first day at the range, with between 8 and 10 mags through it, it chunked an extractor.

Lemme take a WAG here. He was using 8-round magazines...:p

May 28, 2004, 12:26 PM
I don't know about the "real" custom built™ 1911A1 clones, but the garden variety Baers and Wilsons that I've checked are an inflated version of the standard Kimbers, etc. Need to go more like $3,000 to get a maybe for sure handmade one by someone who knows what he's doing, I think. YMMV

May 28, 2004, 12:37 PM
Honestly, I don't know if they were flush fit 8 rounders with big bumper pads, or plain longish 8 rounders, or even 7 rounders with big bumper pads. The guy is irritating to talk to. He brings new meaning to 1911 snob, so I didn't hang around and get too many details. I just noticed that his piece had stopped going boom, and that he was looking into it like there was a problem. I asked what had happened, and after he stripped it down, he said it was a broken extractor. I pretty much left it at that and went back to making noise with my "Plastic POS" as he had called it. You are probably right that it was flush 8 rounders that caused it, but for $1800, the thing ought to work with marshmallows as mag springs, and Wolf ammo as it's main diet.

And if it takes going into the $3000 range for a reliable 1911, I'd just as soon put another $1000 with it and get a custom gas gun ( that would probably outlast me even if I fired 10,000 rounds a month.

May 28, 2004, 12:53 PM
Hmm...Big bumper pads...Sounds like McM Shooting Stars. Yep. Those things are double whammied. Slick follower and mushy spring too.
Good that you had the last laugh. We get a few of those around here too.
Love it when one of'em is cussin' and fightin' with a "Jammin' Jenny"
while my old Frankengun beater is runnin' rings around'em after they've made a snotty remark about my old ugly pistols.:cool:

Had one down there on a Thursday that hooted at me over one of my a fairly friendly way on account of he was with a friend of
mine as a guest...but you could tell he was lookin' down the end of
his nose...When his pistol started to choke and puke, Jim told him
to walk over and ask me what was wrong. He had all the latest stuff...expensive "gunfightin" magazines...the works. I listened to his
explanation of what the gun was doin'...handed him the worst-lookin'
magazine that I had, and told him to go shoot. Nary a hiccup the rest
of the mornin'.:cool: He was kinda mystified...



W Turner
May 28, 2004, 03:03 PM
All this reminds me of a range trip I made a few months back. I ran into this guy who was nice encough, but he fancied himself a 'smith. Now I am NOT a 1911 (or heck any other kind of) 'smith, but even I know that when you start screwin' around with the original design of anything, expect some problems.

Well anyway he starts showin' off this stainless Colt gov't model he has "built" himself. While I am on rounds 200-207-ish on my GI-style RIA 1911 I start hearing BANG.........$#%@......TapRack.....$%#^ get the idea. One of the "improvements" he had made was to add a FLGR and a recoil buffer (:confused: ). I keep shooting and when I am finished, I start walkin' back to the covered bench to see him foolin' around with it again. Looks like he has the entire Brownell's catalog strewn all over two picnic tables. Stand around talking to a few guys and watchin him fuss with it. Finally he gets done, reassembles his pistol and goes to the firing line for app. 200 rapid fire rounds of sewing machine reliability. He holsters and comes walkin' up to the rest of us, looks us right in the eye all mysitified like and says..............

" Can you believe the factory plug and spring worked better than that old school FLGR and buffer?"

I managed to keep my mouth shut, but one of the other guys standin' around popped back right with " Yep, amazin' how much better something works when you use the parts it was designed to work with huh?"

Problem is that I just know the next time I see him he will every single fad "improvement" in that poor gun all over again.

Sigh...........better his money than mine I guess.


May 28, 2004, 06:22 PM
I just read the first five posts or so but here are my findings...

With 1911s (compared to Glocks, SIGs and Berettas etc...) a bit of tuning and/or replacing parts is almost a given... or at least should be given strong consideration. Get yourself three good mags, a good extractor and if you have a smith install and tune the extractor, have him polish the barrel throat and ramp. Good mags, a spec extractor and slick surfaces go a long way to making a 1911 work properly.

And I must say that while we expect a gun to feed ball ammo, I've never been a fan of either of the ammos you listed. I have more faith in the consistancy of Winchester White Box and S&B myself.

It's a learning process... it does kinda suck to have a negative experience right off and it may take time to regain faith in the gun, but it is worth it... There is light at the end of the tunnel. Just might take some more effort to get there than with a G17 or a G19. I've probably owned 15 Springfields and I'd say that on about half of them, I replaced their extractors... I rarely if ever used any of their factory mags. I like McCormick PowerMags with Metal Form rounded followers. Very few problems. Their good guns, they - like most 1911 builders - cut corners that shouldn't be cut and that leads to folks having problems that rarely happen with Glocks or SIGs out of the box.

May 28, 2004, 06:49 PM
Great Thread! Great Replies!
Hey, it is a given as to MY feelings and thoughts on this subject.

Just remember tho', this design is a proven well thought out design. It was originally designed to be taken apart - without tools- in the combat enviroment. Mud, sand, ice , snow...taken apart and inspected and maintained.

I think we broke some stuff that was already fixed right from the get-go with progress. :D

May 28, 2004, 08:46 PM
Wow! :what: This is why I love this message board. Such well informed responses. I really appreciate all of the responses and will take all of the info into consideration. Thanks! :D

May 28, 2004, 09:32 PM
Oh well, someone always has to be contrary in their experience, but I've been using the 8-round mags ever since the "Devel" conversion kits with the "shooting star follower" came out in the mid 80's. Only have had one broken extractor about eight years ago and that was after many many 1000's of rounds in a ~15 year old gun I used to shoot IPSC with. Replaced it with a gun show milspec and its been running fine ever since with no adjustments to the replacement extractor.

Three of my five newest 45s have needed the extractors adjusted (Kimber Ultra Carry, Springfield Ultra Compact, and Para P10; Kimber TLE II has been perfect, out of the box, while the Kimber Ultra Ten II came with the "new improved" external extractor, time will tell), they worked fine for two or three boxes of ammo and then started having extraction failures. Been fine since I've made the adjustments. Seems pretty clear to me that current production internal extractors are usually not being done correctly at the factory -- hence the switch to external extractors or things like Para's "Rube Goldberg" PXT contraption.

I've lots of problems with the wide body SA and Kimber HiCap mags (that's a story for another time), but I seem to have finally found strong enough springs to get 6 out of 7 working.

I like FLGR, they don't seem to do any harm, doubt they do any real good either, but I find my fumble fingers really like the rod being in there when I reassemble the gun. That's why I have 'em. YMMV.

I bought the Kimber Ultra Ten II with the money I saved by shooting Wolf these past three years :-)


May 29, 2004, 12:31 AM
The previous good comments by Tuner & all are worth bookmarking! - to add my $.02, the newer Colt 1991A1's have barstock, not MIM extractors, and should be more reliable than many other new 1911's in the same price range. They still may need some attention to the extractor, assuming the piece is heat treated hard enough to retain tension.

I second the comment that PMC ammo is not real clean, which may account for some of your headaches. Still, though, if the gun works fine when clean and jams when a little too dirty it sounds to me that something is a little too tight, or too rough, somewhere. Me being stubborn and independent I'd probably figure out (or more likely, guess :D) what to polish/smooth out. You may want to send it to a good smith or back to SA.

Have the old style square front grip frame? Want custom work done? Maybe this a good excuse to send it back to SA for custom work, as well as fix the feeding.

May 29, 2004, 06:57 AM
Wally said:

Oh well, someone always has to be contrary in their experience, but I've been using the 8-round mags ever since the "Devel" conversion kits with the "shooting star follower" came out in the mid 80's.

But of course! There's always the exception. I've got an early 80s production Thompson Auto Ordnance that's actually quite good...better
in fit and finish than many Series 70 Colts that I've seen, and it's accurate and reliable...and dead stock except for the extractor and ejector.

There's a probably explanation for your magazines working well...and
the answer may lie in the pistol itself. One may be that you have good

Besides outright damage, and excluding junk, most magazine issues stem from timing...Timing of the cartridge getting to feeding position, and timing of the release as the slide strips it. Everything takes time...and even tiny
variations can make the difference between a reliable function and a headache.

Look to the recoil spring guide rod head for a possible answer. If one head
is .095 inch thick, and another is .085 inch thick...the one that is thinner will
provide more distaqnce for the slide to travel in BOTH directions before it
gets to the back of the upcoming round-in-waiting. In this example, ,020 inch more travel. That's not a lot, but I've seen it make a difference.

Years ago, I got curious about why, given two identical pistols, one would
run flawlessly with a given magazine/ammo combination, and the other wouldn't. I swapped recoil systems, and the functional reliability switched
pistols. One recoil spring or the other made no difference. The difference came with the guide rod. One head was .005 inch thinner than the other...and the thinner head made the difference. A total of .010 inch
travel...5 coming and 5 going, gave the magazine time to catch up.

Reliability sometimes comes from little things...It's where you find it. A half
coil off the recoil spring...a new mainspring...and .005 inch of slide travel..
less than the thickness of a sheet of typing paper...can make a difference.

Of course...some guys just lead charmed lives. Me? I always seem to get
the problem chillun...:D



May 29, 2004, 08:51 AM
Tuner said:

Years ago, I got curious about why, given two identical pistols, one would run flawlessly with a given magazine/ammo combination, and the other wouldn't. I swapped recoil systems, and the functional reliability switched pistols. One recoil spring or the other made no difference. The difference came with the guide rod. One head was .005 inch thinner than the other...and the thinner head made the difference. A total of .010 inch
travel...5 coming and 5 going, gave the magazine time to catch up.

Hmmm...Since my current "problem child" .40 Commander has a shok buff installed (by yours truly) maybe I'll remove it next trip to the range.:D

Great info, Tuner!

May 29, 2004, 08:53 AM
Never owned a 1911 but heard a lot about them. For CCW I have a Glock26 and always thought a 1911 would be ridiculously big/heavy. Just out of curiosity I handled a Kimber Ultra the other day and was REALLY surprised by the light weight and thin width.

I was seriously thinking about buying a Kimber or other 1911 for my cold weather CCW - UNTIL I read this thread! Thanks for saving me a lot of money and aggravation! I'll stick with my Glock. I can't throw history or beauty at a BG; I need the gun to go BANG! After I get a RELIABLE .45 for carry, I'll consider a 1911 for range/plinking; they are beautiful!


May 29, 2004, 08:56 AM
Dont feel bad, I had a Loaded that had a lot of issues and was much like yours. Mine was lucky if it fed hardball. I had to replace the extractor, switch out the full length guide rod for a standard government spring, guide and plug, had it throat and polished and filed the crap out of the safety so it wouldnt cut my hand, and it still was iffy as far as reliability. It did feed hardball at this point. I like the 1911's, and of them all, my Colts are the best and have been the most reliable. I also prefer a gun that is as close to stock or GI specs as possible, especially for a carry gun. A decent set of sights and a throat and polish is about all you need. I've only had one 1911 that had a trigger that HAD to be done, but for the most part, they are all pretty good for real life work. I also think its best if they rattle a little when you shake them. Springfield has gone downhill lately, at least in my experience. I have a couple of their 1911's from the 80's that seem to be pretty much GI spec in all respects, including the frame dimensions, that have always worked fine. Its the newer models that have been not so good for me. Dont give up on the 1911's, they are great guns when you get a good one, like anything else, very frustrating when you dont. Stay clear of the souped up ones and stay close to stock and I think you'll be better off. Spend the money you save on ammo and practice more. :)

May 29, 2004, 09:03 AM
Howdy tex,

Shock Buffs are one of those items that do soften the impact in a pistol, but
often bring on problems. Not always...but often enough. Some pistols will
run fine with a buffer...mostly 5-inch guns that have plenty of slide travel,
while an identical pistol will go into terminal spasms with a buff installed.
Mostly, shock buffs were designed to sell...and the marketing strategy
played on the fears of the guys who shot their pistols a lot....and suddenly
everybody had'em because they "needed" the gadgets. Sheer genius!

One thing that isn't often considered is that the plastic buffers deaden
the rebound effect of the slide and frame impact...and instead of the
slide getting a kick-start back into battery, it starts from a dead standstill.
This can be a good thing, if the magazine needs a little more time to catch up...but it can cause a failure to return to battery occasionally if the
pistol's feeding cycle isn't optimized. It's a trade-off.

There are more points in the slide travel/timing thing that I'll probably
post later on. Just some points to consider when scratchin' your head and tryin' to figure out why two (outwardly) identical pistols are so different
when ya pull the trigger.



May 29, 2004, 09:34 AM
There's a probably explanation for your magazines working well...and the answer may lie in the pistol itself. One may be that you have good

It'll be intresting to see if the Factory Extractor in the Kimber TLE II holds up with 8-round mags that I use. All my other single stack 1911s have extractors made in the 80's or eariler. When I started having extraction problems with my Kimber Ultra Carry, I replaced the extractor with a spare gun show milspec I'd bought when the one in my Series 70 Colt broke (circa 1995) so its a somewhat new gun with an old extractor. It did need adjustment (was too tight to feed as it came) and has been 100% since.

Another thing is I try to insure that all mags function in all guns they fit in. I either fix the mag or junk it if I can't. I've no patience or organizational skill to keep this mag with that gun, believing they should be truely interchangable or they are defective. This may not be possible for a "race gun" but I don't have any of these.

The timing on my 8-rounders seems such that if I put a dummy round on top and push it so it touches the feed ramp and let the slide come forward slow enough I can see whats happening the rim is definitely behind the extractor when the feed lips release the cartridge.

I do wonder why the "shooting star" or other 8-round mags lack the little bump on the follower.

I'll measure the thickness of the FLGR vs the original plungers next time I take each down for cleaning. If they are uniformly thinner, maybe FLGR is a good thing to use for for 8-rnd mags. I rather quickly put one in my first 1911 (Series 70 Government Model) and have been adding them ever since if the gun doesn't come with one. Could be they are thinner since they are usually made to use with "shock buffers" something I quickly gave up on these when I discovered they introduce an extra failure mode where the rubber "cookie cuts" into the plunger tube and jams the gun open.

Except for when I shoot my carry piece, I just wipe the guns down and put them away until they start having problems so I can spend more time shooting and much less time cleaning. Usually its not a failure but a feeling during recoil that things aren't as smooth as they should be that makes me clean it when I get home.


May 29, 2004, 10:25 AM
wally said:

I do wonder why the "shooting star" or other 8-round mags lack the little bump on the follower.

Go back to the description of the short 8-round followers forward rock...
The dimple stops the round from moving forward under inertia by snagging
lightly on the rim. If the Devel split follower had the dimple, it would be more likely to rock forward and nose-dive the last round into the ramp.
Timing of a magazine also involves getting the round into feeding position early enough to meet the slide. Too slow, and you get bolt over base (rideover) feeds. That's determined by the spring and the slide speed...
which is why heavy recoil springs can bring on feeding issues.

Tip for Shooting Star magazines: To effectively turn a SS into a Powermag,
install the Wolff extra-power magazine spring. The Wolff mag springs are
different for 7 and 8-round capacity mags, so be sure and get the right one,
or you won't be able to get 8 rounds in it. The extra spring strength will
go a long way toward keeping that last round nailed to the feed lips and
prevent its riding forward of the optimum feeding position. Wolff mag
springs are money well-spent. I can't remember how many "bad" magazines that I've "fixed" with those springs.

I've also got a clear suspicion that Colt used some left-over GI spring steel extractors in their commercial pistols as late as the last of the pre-Series 70
pistols. It makes sense...They had a blue million in stock in anticipation the renewed military contract that never came after 1945. I never remember problems with Colt extractors until close to the middle of the
Series 70 run...about the time that quality started slipping away at Colt.
Possible that they sold a few off to other manufacturers during the rush
to jump on the 1911 bandwagon..and Colt already had the Series 80 redesign in the works. Wo knows?

Could be that you were one of the lucky ones on the GI extractors.

Later on!


May 29, 2004, 10:20 PM
I say have Springfield fix it. If they do a good job, you will most likely have a wonderful gun, and will like it a lot. It would be a shame to lose a great gun, because of some initial problems. Don't give up on it yet. You may be able to reach that reliability you are seeking.

Oh, and I shoot a revolver, and drive a Honda... :D

May 29, 2004, 10:59 PM
Well since you got it might as well get it fixed up.

First send it back and see what they do.

If it persists send it to a reliable smith.

May 30, 2004, 08:27 PM
It sad to say, but these days 1911 manufacturers look at the 1911 as a toy, not a true combat weapon. I was lucky to find a reliable Springfield WW2 Mil-Spec, and it shares time with a rebuilt original USGI Colt as my carry gun. The others, I simply don't trust.

May 31, 2004, 02:01 PM
I tend to like 1911's that are maybe a bit looser that some of the fancy stuff available from the super tuners... my pistols tend to work.... first ... and last shot and the thousands inbetween. I tend to run my 1911's oily and keep them clean... running a few thousand rounds through a 1911 gives all the parts a chance to get to know each other and get worn in.... I think folks expect things to work perfectly out of the box.... I can understand that desire... but the things you might learn finding out a bit about extractors or timing and springs is valuable to know.... .... the more I learn the fewer failures I have... funny how that works.

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