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HELP - Are 1911s Really This Bad?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by 40SWHero51, Feb 11, 2012.

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  1. 40SWHero51

    40SWHero51 Well-Known Member


    I went to one of my local ranges today and fired a 1911 for the first time. I have always thought, as many of you think, that this is one of the best looking and best feeling guns in the world. It is THE quintessential firearm.

    However, upon my endeavor, I was surprisingly disappointed. The story goes like this:

    I rented the SW1911, of course SW as I am an M&P man, I was given choice between this and a Springfield. It was a 7+1 capacity, 4.25" barrel, standard 1911. No bells and whistles, looked and felt like a solid pistol. It fit my hand as it always had in the gun stores - perfectly.

    I placed my belongings on the bench area behind me, proceeded to Lane 2, and hoisted my target. While loading I noticed that the gun was very dirty, as most range guns are - it was covered in soot. No matter I thought - I continued until all 7 rounds were seated. I set the target out about 20 or so feet, inserted the mag, and released the slide.

    During the first 7 rounds the slide failed to completely cycle twice! I was forced to either push the slide forward or completely clear the round to properly complete the cycle. The trend continued with all 50 rounds. Every few shots or so the slide failed to come completely forward.

    The trigger felt fine, the recoil was mild, and it seemed accurate enough - but I was not pleased with the operation. The slide release is much farther away from my thumb than I am accustomed and the safety lever is boisterous and cumbersome.

    So, this is where I sit - how to handle being disappointed with an American legend.

    Please tell me the slide issue is due to lack of cleaning, please tell me that the "controls" don't feel the same way for every manufacturer, please tell me that THE gun is better than this.

    Should I give it another shot, should I try a Springfield or does it matter? Was this an S&W issue or was I just unlucky?
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  2. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

    Were you shooting factory loads? If so, what were they?
  3. 40SWHero51

    40SWHero51 Well-Known Member

    Yes - looked to be a local manufacturer, Atlanta Arms and Ammo - 230 gr. FMJ.
  4. jon_in_wv

    jon_in_wv Well-Known Member

    My experience with 1911s has lead me to believe that IF you are lucky the your 1911 will preform as well, and be as accurate as an M&P. It will probably cost about as much as the M&P, and a years worth of ammo.
    You will probably get 500 posts of guys defending the 1911, blaming the ammo, or a host of other excuses but the bottom line is that if you had rented a M&p 45 its not likely you would have started a thread similar to this. I'm just saying.
  5. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    Sounds like your intuition is correct.
    Filth made for a bad experience.

    1911s are usually very reliable guns.
    The above poster not withstanding.

    I wouldn't blame S&W for filthy pistols.
    I also don't think I'd go back to that place again.

    If they can't clean the gun, they probably aren't cleaning the rest of the range either.
    I'd be very concerned with how much lead you're breathing in.
  6. texgunner

    texgunner Well-Known Member

    That sounds like a very dirty pistol. Keep them clean and properly lubed they're usually a reliable pistol. You mentioned that it was "sooty," it was probably dry.
  7. walking arsenal

    walking arsenal Well-Known Member

    Yep. Usually are.

    My personal one saw three trips to the smiths and one to the factory before it began to run right and I bought it new!
  8. MyGreenGuns

    MyGreenGuns Well-Known Member

    Most range guns get abused and cleaned seldom. You might have had a poorly maintained gun.

    1911's I've shot:
    Llama 4" - Nothing special
    Charles Daly Commander 3" - Sold due to broken swing-link
    Springfield Mil-Spec - My fave, might buy one of these
    Kimber - Desert Warrior looks awesome, but didnt shoot that one

    The Springfield was the stiffest, but was new. The only one I ever had problems with was the Charles Daly. Should have kept it, I know how to fix it now.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  9. 40SWHero51

    40SWHero51 Well-Known Member

    Believe you me - plenty, the back of my throat was none too pleased. Not my normal range - bought a LivingSocial deal that could not be passed-up. In my opinion .45ACP is too expensive to target shoot, as the rental and ammo were on the house, I threw caution to the wind...
  10. Fishslayer

    Fishslayer Well-Known Member

    Just get the Glock fer pete's sake...
  11. allaroundhunter

    allaroundhunter Well-Known Member

    When properly maintained, they will be very reliable....

    When improperly maintained, they will be more reliable than the one that you shot.....

    When not maintained at all......well, you saw how that worked out

    And all of them have roughly the same style of safety, but while style varies slightly, location does not. Slide lock will be in the same place for each. Just like any other gun, the design might not fit you well.....disappointing, but there is not a single gun that fits everyone (not even a Glock, I know someone reading this is thinking it...)
  12. dcarch

    dcarch Well-Known Member

    I have a Kimber Custom II that just passed 800 rounds. Zero failures of any sort thus far.
  13. CmdrSlander

    CmdrSlander Well-Known Member

    No, 101 years of service! And counting! Its like asking "Are Metallic Cartridges Really this Bad?"
  14. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    I've carried over a dozen different handguns. I currently carry a full-size 1911, and I don't see myself ever changing.

    Rental guns and range supplied ammo aren't usually a good combination.
  15. psyshack

    psyshack Well-Known Member

    Just another over rated dirty 1911. They are not good runners until they rattle like ball bearings in a coffee can as a combat weapon when you shake them. Tight and right! they can be nail drives. Try to run them like a Glock or M&P in a dust, sand storm or drag them through a mud hole and they fail. I honestly feel sorry for the poor man or men that had to carry my now rattling always works Colt from Korean war. It had to be darn near worn out before it was as good as a modern combat weapon.
  16. Bovice

    Bovice Well-Known Member

    Most people I hear speaking of 1911s have had to tune them before they run with the consistency of modern combat pistols. This is both from the forums and in person. The problem is so many different manufacturers making "almost the same" parts and trying to intermingle them, and you get what is known as tolerance stack-up. If you get a 1911 that runs right out of the box, that is awesome. If you got one out of the box and had to tinker with it to make it work, you don't have a leg to stand on in this debate. I have no doubts that a tuned 1911 will be a reliable gun, but most shooters are looking for the tuned-and-tinkered performance from a factory new 1911 (since they heard that 1911s were the best) and are surprised when it isn't so.
  17. bigfatdave

    bigfatdave Well-Known Member

    Well, actually, the smif uses an external extractor claw rather than an internal, as the original design calls for ... and 4.25" is commander length, not "standard"
    So, no, you didn't have a "standard" unit, and you had an obviously poorly maintained unit, and you were shooting Ronnie Reloader's "range specials", and I'm guessing that you're not experienced enough to do anything beyond basic troubleshooting (which most people who haven't been tinkering with the internals of a 1911-derived pistol don't have, I'm not trying to be insulting here) ... and what magazine were you using? Was it a factory-supplied Smif mag or a Wilson? Chip McCormick? Metalform? ProMag? MecGar? Colt? Kimber? Were the feedlips in good shape? Which style were they?

    A reasonably-designed 1911-style pistol will be very reliable. There is a current trend of slapping on "custon" and "accuracy" features to what is essentially a combat pistol. Trying to wring out more accuracy or make the gun look like it has "better fit and finish" can cause issues as tolerances get tighter and crud doesn't blow out as fast as it is generated. Add in a complete lack of lubrication, who knows how many bits of brass/carbon/lead/copper built up in the action, and the junk ammo, and of course you get lousy reliability.

    These overengineered pistols are where the "unreliable 1911" rumor starts. Some guy decides that the more expensive pistol must be the better one, and they buy it expecting it to run like a top on Ronnie Reloader's ammo or cheap junk. Then when it malfunctions or breaks a part due to being built too damn tight or being fed junk ammo, or trying to feed it from crap magazines ... so they sell it off without trying to do any troubleshooting and forever proclaim that all 1911s are like their 1911 to whoever will listen.
  18. JDGray

    JDGray Well-Known Member

    I had a S&W SC Commander, and the recoil spring on it was a beast compared to all the other 1911s I've owned. The spring, and being dirty, could very well slow the slide down to the point of getting failed extraction. Weak ammo would be my first guess however.
  19. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

    I agree with the rest of your post, but I'd not blame Atlanta Arms & Ammo, nor call them "Ronnie Reloader's range specials" - that is, unless you think the match ammo used by STI, Team Glock, The AMU, and The Marine Service Pistol Teams to be something made by "Ronnie Reloader" - http://www.atlantaarmsandammo.com/MATCH_AMMO/match_ammo.html. AAA's reloads aren't match grade, but they're higher quality than alot of new ammo made by big names. Cough-WWB-cough.
  20. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Sadly, it seems that some of'em are that bad. It wasn't always so, but with the present day clone wars...and with many of the people who crank'em out seeming to approach blueprint specs as suggestions...it's hardly surprising.
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