1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Is it that hard to make reliable 1911's?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Blueduck, Jan 8, 2003.

  1. Blueduck

    Blueduck Well-Known Member

    No flame intended, I've had two (1991A1's) and both worked fine.

    Just seems a lot of post are:

    "Which 1911 will be reliable out of the box?"

    " Can I find a good reliable 1911 under $1000?"

    "What pistolsmith should I send my new $1000 1911 to?"

    When somebody buys a Sig, Beretta, Glock, HK etc it seems they are most interested in a new holster or carry ammo but every 1911 purchase is just assumed to be the begining of a long expensive process to actually make it work. Is it a design issue?, too steep a feed ramp? bushing system? Are there some inherent problems with the design?

    What gives :confused:
  2. From the posts here, I get the impression that 1911's tend to be more finicky about ammo selection than other pistols.
  3. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    I see it as more like there is a greater variety of ammunition in .45ACP. Some of it is good in design and quality, some is not. There is probably more poor .45ACP handloaded than anything else.
  4. CWL

    CWL Well-Known Member

    Biggest problem with 1911-style bashers is that most've never owned one, probably never even fired one.

    There used to be those on TFL who never even fired one but had enough negative opinions of them 'gleaned from the internet'. Some of them are probably afraid of condition one carry as well.

    There is a reason why many serious gunshooters stick with 1911-style pistols. It is because they work. Some don't understand that.

    As for reliability, ALL guns will sometimes have problems, ALL gun manufacturers will put out a few lemons.
  5. Handy

    Handy Guest

    What is a "serious gunshooter"?

    It seems like the professional door-kickers that choose 1911s (HRT, SWAT, etc.) seem to buy the rumors too. They all buy custom 1911s with street values well over $1000.

    If anyone can come up with a group that relies on stock basic 1911s, I'd be surprised.

    I think the problem is that 90 years ago blueprints were just guides and machining a gun took a bit of art. Colt's glory years are up to WWII - retirement and worn machines played a big role in the drop in quality.

    If you just plugged those original drawings into a CNC machine the gun would probably be a mess. Kimber, in particular, started over and made their own electronic blueprints.

    Other than that, the 1911 is blessed with a so-so feed ramp arrangement, a lightly sprung sear and poor extractor. (Have you ever heard of "tuning" an extractor that uses a spring?)

    In the end, the complex interactions of the 1911 mechanism yields a device much like computers in reliability (some great, some bad, some great gone bad). Most other modern arms run like refrigerators.
  6. wanderinwalker

    wanderinwalker Well-Known Member

    Well, my dad's 1911, worth no where near $1k, has been pretty reliable after a little initial tweaking and load work. Not only reliable, but accurate and easy to control. I don't forsee a 1911 in my future though, mostly because I have a Glock 17, 26, and a Walther P-990 (all 9mms). The modern guns work as well, are lighter, as accurate, and just as reliable.
  7. Orion

    Orion Well-Known Member

    Lets see now. Handy says that all the pro are using big money 1911's and not basic shooters. well I would suggest that the reason some of those guns are big money is that they are carrying the reputation of those pros.

    The Springfield TRS and the Operator models are set at a certain price point.

    Really everything done to these type of guns is cosmetic.

    30LPI checkering,
    Beavertail Grip Safety (arguably unnecessary)
    Meltdown treatment etc.etc.etc.

    None of these affect the function of the gun.

    I would trust my Milspec as much as I trust my Les Baer. I just like all the custom features of the Les Baer better.
  8. sonoranjack

    sonoranjack member

    If I bought a NIB Colt 91A1. The pistol had reliability problems. Should that pistol go back to Colt? Or do I have to pay a gunsmith to make the pistol reliable? I'm trying to budget for a 1911 & can't figgure out a budget for gunsmith customizing charges. Some gunsmiths have reliabilty packages along w/ other carry packages. Are these for NIB 1911 pistols or older 1911 pistols bought used? Or are those gunsmith packages designed to seperate the new 1911 owner from his $?
  9. Handy

    Handy Guest

    Are you saying these weapons haven't received a "reliability package"? Come on.

    Everyone talks about the inherent abilities of a basic 1911, but no institution trusts them. They all have the good trigger, low bore, good controllability. But the TRP is a grand because the FBI doesn't like skateboard tape!!!

    I'm failing to be convinced.


    I doubt age matters. The smith will want to throw out most of the small parts either way. At least an older gun will have no plastic and MIM parts.

    My 1911's reliability package consists of only loading it at the range. I trust other guns with my life.
  10. Handy

    Handy Guest


    I just looked at the Springfield website. The TRP is not the same as the FBI gun. It has all the "features" of the FBI TRP-Pro model, without all the expensive custom gunsmithing. If they have the same features, compare the selling price and you'll notice that a TON of work went into the Pro. The FBI would not have accepted the standard TRP.
  11. Soap

    Soap Well-Known Member

    The problem isn't the design, its the execution. JMB would probably freak if he saw the kinds of parts that modern manufacturers use.
  12. Handy

    Handy Guest

    Some of the worst 1911s were the old Thompsons. All the parts were old fashioned steel.
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    I bought my first Government Model in 1947. It was an unaltered World War Two Ithaca that was brand new in the box. Shot hardball in it because there wasn’t anything else too shoot. It never jammed. Two years later I traded it for a new Colt commercial model of the same kind. It didn’t jam either starting with round one.

    If you leave off the gadgets and tight-chambered match barrels and use whatever ammunition it most favors (usually hardball), and the extractor is correctly fitted the old shellshucker is usually very reliable. During the several wars and “police actions†in which it was used the model 1911/1911A1 was generally reputed to be the most reliable military handgun available. The problems didn’t start until people started working them over and using ammunition that was far from standard. The “KISS†principal applies to pistols as well as most everything else. Owners of Glock’s, SIG-Sauer’s, Beretta’s, Heckler & Koch, etc. seldom work over their handguns like some Government Model owners do – and big surprise … their guns work, at least most of the time.
  14. Diesle

    Diesle Well-Known Member

    I bought a $900 Springfield v16. Had to send it back so they could correct a failure to extract issue. Failed about once every other mag.

    After getting it back from the Springfield shop, its worked perfectly since. Never did ask what they did to it. Could speculate though...

  15. Higgins

    Higgins Well-Known Member

    Pick up any good book on gunsmithing or customizing a 1911 and you'll see all of the factors that have to work just right for a 1911 to work. No flames, please. The 1911 is a great gun with a proven history, but it's not the simplist of designs to carry out well and make reliable. Browning improved things a bit by ditching the link on the 1911 barrel when he designed the Hi-Power. Things were further simplified when somebody came up with the design utilized by Sigs, Glocks, etc... whereby the barrel shroud locks up with the ejection port rather than lugs on top of the barrel locking up with ribs on the underside of the slide.
  16. JPM70535

    JPM70535 Well-Known Member

    The only reason Colt 1911s give functioning problems IMO is that they were designed to use 230 gr. hardball. They weren't designed to use flying ashtrays or SWCs.

    With the proper internal work, the 1911 will feed anything.

    HIPOWER Well-Known Member

    For what it's worth, I have an S.A. MilSpec that has been nothing but flawless from day one. I don't have much experience with other 1911's, but all I do know is that my particular "budget model" MilSpec has not hinted at being the least bit tempermental. As I said, I'm no expert on 1911's, but I have a certain feeling that a lot of reliability problems come from people upgrading, modifying and just plain tinkering some of these guns to death. They are fun to tinker with, but endless modifications reach a point of diminishing returns, and can probably make the gun a little testy. Just my .02
  18. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 Well-Known Member

    Left one of my Norinco's bone stock.

    Fed it nothing but 230gr hardball. No hiccups to date. Mind you, this is a Chinese reverse-engineered copy of leftover WWII USGI 1911's. Says something about the design.

    You wanna feed flying ashtrays into the chamber, John Moses would probably agree, you gotta do some work.

    Lots of guns are out there that have unique feeding problems, and unique solutions. Take a look inside a S&W Model 52 sometime. It feeds .38 Special flush-seated wadcutters, not too different from empty .38 Special brass. Tell me somebody didn't stay up at nights trying to get that to work in a magazine-fed autoloader. :scrutiny:
  19. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

    Is it that hard to make reliable 1911's?

  20. New_comer

    New_comer Well-Known Member

    On the contrary, by the sheer number of concerns shared about this pistol make, I'd have to say yes. :(

Share This Page