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The truth about first time use and breaking in a 1911 handgun?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Lv4snobrdg, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. Lv4snobrdg

    Lv4snobrdg Well-Known Member

    I consistently see "500" rounds to break in. Mostly I see it on these boards and can't actually find where it says, from the manufacturer, a specific amount for my new firearm. Not that I don't trust people here, but I am convinced that 500 is excessive.

    So what is the truth?

    500 rounds would probably take 4-5 hours to load and fire on the range, since hurrying through this process can not possibly be part of the goal, this seems extreme:

    $12 per hour for range time: $60
    500 rds of manu ammo: $250
    Lots of targets: Priceless

    This is a pretty hefty tab for taking out my new Kimber SIS Custom for its break in.

    I have a Gun Digest book on the 1911 that suggests I only need to shoot up 200 at the range and provides a very precise routine for testing the functionality and ensure the weapon works as it should. i.e. loading a magazine to test for a run-away.

    This testing procedure does NOT exist in the manual and why would it? The manufacturer certainly doesn't want you to be aware that its even possible that this pistol could go full auto on you.

    Since my previous 1911's were used, by folks who have proven to me to know their business, my Custom TLE/RL the dude actually kissed it good bye, this is my first time taking one out of the box and to the range, so its a special moment for me and I really want to get it right.

    I fully intend to put my new pistol to the test and make it work for its TLC and hopefully for its place on my hip. If the feedback, and hopefully examples of experience, say to use up 500 then I will have to spend the money and make a weekend of it.

    How do you test your NEW 1911 for functionality?
    How do you test your NEW 1911 for reliability?
    I can take care of accuracy.

  2. Gunfighter123

    Gunfighter123 Well-Known Member

    I have MANY 1911s ----- what I can tell you is to LUBE THE HELLLL out of it first , take slide off and lube ALL bearing surfaces of the rails , the brl. hood , the outside end of brl. , and both inside and outside of brl. bushing or inside of slide where the "Bull/Cone" barrel mates.

    Take MORE then one mag ---- MANY malfunctions are mag related. As to how many rounds till a 1911 is "broken in" ??? Myself , any 1911 that I would trust my life to FIRST must have a min. of 200 rds. without a single jam etc.

    I have TIGHT fit custom 1911s from Jim Clark Sr. , Bill Wilson , Steve Nastoff etc --- they will ALL fire over 500 rds. without needing to be cleaned at all .
  3. skipsan

    skipsan Well-Known Member

    As above for the break-in. I think the Owners Manual for one of my 1911s recommended 500 rounds through the weapon out of the box without any field stripping or supplemental lube. The rest left the break-in up to the owner.

    For any 1911 pistol (new or used) I'm shooting for the first time:

    The first mag has one round to check proper function.

    The second, has two rounds to make sure the thing is going to go full auto.

    Assuming everything is OK, go for it.
  4. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    My Kimber ran fine from the first day. I ran one box of WWB through it, followed by 200 rds of hydra-shoks, no errors.
  5. CZ223

    CZ223 Well-Known Member

    Kimber is the only company

    that I know of who recomends a 500 round break in. In my opinion this is excessive for most handguns. In my humble opinion Kimber recomends this because it is hoping that it will cause some problems to dissapear on their own. They are probably also hoping that some owners of their guns, like me, will just have their guns fixed rather than sending them back to the factory. If your gun does not work right from the factory you should not have to waste $250 in ammo before they fix it. Kimbers are notorious for not having the extractors tuned properly which will cause failures to return to battery and for the slide to lock back with ammo in the mag. If this happens it will generally not go away on its own. I had my fixed by a friend and it now is very dependable.

    Just to clarify, I have three other 1911's, two Taurus PT1911's as well as a modified Spinger Mil-spec, all of which worked flawlessly right from the box. Both Taurus guns willoutshoot the Kimber and, sadly, the Springer as well. You do not always get what you pay for.
  6. beltjones

    beltjones Well-Known Member

    You're supposed to run a new Les Baer through 500 rounds of ammo without cleaning it, but lubing every hundred rounds or so. It's because new Baers are really, really tight, and running them this way is like the final slide/frame/barrel/bushing lapping. It's not expected that you'll run all 500 rounds the same day.

    It's also not expected that the gun will run any other way than perfectly.

    I think Kimbers have such a long recommended break in period just because, like was said above, they hope certain problems fix themselves.
  7. John Wayne

    John Wayne Well-Known Member

    Everyone has their opinion. In my experience, "break-in periods" are an excuse for a gun that doesn't function reliably, and probably will not without extensive work or trips back to the factory.

    Seems to me like if a gun legitimately did require a break-in, the factory would create simulated wear equivalent to whatever magical number of rounds is required before shipping it off. It's not an issue of manufacturing costs either, because I've heard people argue that $2,650 1911s need it as well as $265 Kel-Tecs.

    I've owned/shot several guns that have the reputation for needing break-in periods. All have had problems after the "break in." (I have also had guns that were supposed to require a "break-in," but functioned flawlessly even before it was complete)

    A Kahr PM40, range rental (fair amount of use, still FTE problems)

    A Kahr CW9, borrowed from a friend (over 200 rounds, more FTE problems)

    A Kel-Tec PF9 (the crud in the gun probably weighed more than the components it was made out of, but it ran 100%)

    A Kimber 1911 Gov't range rental (FTE, FTF)

    A Para-Ordnance 9mm 1911 range rental (FTE, doublefeed)

    A Kel-Tec P3AT (FTE, doublefeed) *edit: personal gun, ran 200+ rounds through it, paying out the ass for .380 ammo, and still had problems. Sent it back to the factory, ran a box through it when I got it back and nothing had changed. Sold it and bought a S&W 442 the same day--didn't have time or money to invest in breaking in another unproven gun.

    Also had a Taurus PT-140 Mil Pro that shot great, while the seemingly infallible revolver, a Taurus 94, would not work at all.
  8. LawofThirds

    LawofThirds Well-Known Member

    I had no failures in the first 1000 rounds in my Kimber that could not be directly traced to cheap, badly sprung magazines. A couple 47D's later and I never had a problem no matter what I fed it.

    I have noticed most firearms have an improvement in trigger pull within the first 300 rounds.
  9. jahwarrior

    jahwarrior Well-Known Member

    i'm not sure if i believe in "breaking in" a gun. with modern manufacturing technology, and skilled custom makers, a gun in the 21st century should function out of the box. i've yet to own a gun that needed breaking in to work properly. if it doesn't work the first time, the company didn't make it right.

    as for precleaning and lube, most guns come with some kind of lubrication. excessive dirt isn't good, but neither is excessive oiling; that can contribute to build up in the moving parts quickly.

    you shoot as much as you're comfortable doing. i can go through 100 rounds in about 10-15 minutes, and i can shoot 500 rounds in one session. the most i ever shot in one day was about 600 rounds. i just got tired after that.
  10. NJGunOwner81

    NJGunOwner81 Well-Known Member

    My Kimber & Break-In

    Hey Lv4,

    Since we are both Kimber owners let me tell you about mine a little! I bought a brand new Kimber Stainless II - Government Size. My Kimber has functioned FLAWLESSLY since the day I first picked it up!

    Is it possible that I have just been extremely lucky with my gun? Sure! Is it possible that others here who have problems with their Kimbers were just unlucky enough to get that one pistol that is a hair off in some respect that causes problems? Sure! Anything is possible and there will always be that one slightly off item that just is messed up. Hey, you could go into an electronic store buy a brand new TV, get it home and it doesn't work ... it happens ... doesn't mean that the manufacturer makes all TVs like crap and none of them work!

    But let me tell you this much ... From round 1 to whatever I am at now there has NEVER been any FTFs, jams, misfires ... NO PROBLEMS AT ALL WITH MY KIMBER! I know people have bashed Kimber's magazines saying that they are cheap and are of poorer quality than let's say a KimPro Tac magazine, which may be true but the original mags have yet to cause any kind of problem with my gun!

    The only thing I did when I first got my gun was to clean and lube it before I took it and fired it. When I picked it up it was a little dry and a little dirty but my cleaning and lube tactics weren't altered because it was new and haven't changed because the gun is "broken in".

    I would say that the only thing Kimbers MIGHT have a problem with ... and I HAVE NO FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE WITH THIS ONE ... is Reloads. I've read on a few boards of people using reloads in their gun and having jams and FTFs. Doesn't apply to me as I don't reload nor do I have any plans to start at this point and I always buy new ammo.

    My view ... have fun with your gun! Enjoy it! You bought a great gun from a manufacturer who is a leader in the 1911 field! Just treat it right ... keep her clean and oiled up and I don't think you'll have an issue!

    Honestly I think the whole "Break In" thing was started by gun makers so that every person who bought the gun didn't attribute every problem with a defect. You buy a new gun ... you're not used to it so maybe you limp wrist it a little or maybe you didn't clean it as well as you should have the first time ... whatever, and that's why it misfired or failed to feed. I think the 500 rounds is YOUR break in period to the gun!

    Hope my little rant helps! Take Care & Be Safe!

    Last edited: Mar 4, 2010
  11. GojuBrian

    GojuBrian Well-Known Member

    My kimber pro carry 2 manual says 400-500rd break in period.

    I have run 400rds through it on two seperate range trips, hollowpoints and fmj's. It had a ftf issue once on hollowpoints and once on fmj's. The second trip I had wilson 47d's and no problem whatsoever.

    DRYHUMOR Well-Known Member

    The tighter the pistol, the more break in required. Not certain if 500 rds is the "magic" number however.

    You'd be surprized how a few ounces of upward pressure can lock a slide down solid. Ideally, every 1911 should be cleaned prior to operating. There is still production residue in the nooks and crannies, whether it is bits of metal, milling oils, grease, etc.
  13. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Well-Known Member

    And I am sure this is to ensure that any pistol coming back to them actually has problems. My opnion is that most Kimbers are just fine and anyone who complains about them is not shooting them right. (limp wristing and such)
  14. mcdonl

    mcdonl Well-Known Member

    Ooops... I repeated what earl said....

    Is it possible that part of the break in period is actually learning how to shoot the gun, avoid limp wristing and other human factors that can lead to FTE's?
  15. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

    Any properly fitted and assembled firearm should not require a break-in to fix problems. Allow parts to mate, yes. Ensure reliability, absolutely.

    Touched a nerve, eh?
  16. Comanche180

    Comanche180 Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I buy into the "break-in" of new guns, but then I rarely have bought a new gun (Buckmark, XD9SC, Tomcat, RIA 1911). The Buckmark and XD were fine from the start and never burped. The Tomcat cracked after 200 rounds and that was not a break-in issue. The RIA got its initial shoot when I qualified at my club's indoor range and it did just fine and has kept on trucking since. I clean them, lube them and shoot them. A friend had a brand new SS Walther that had to go back for a ramp polishing.

    500 rounds, it's not like you are breaking in a new engine! You are doing someone's work for them. All you are doing is wearing in some sliding parts. For the kind of money you are paying for Kimbers and the like, they should come to you ready to go.
  17. atomd

    atomd Well-Known Member

    I don't think it has anything to do with the shooter's technique at all. They're just hoping the smaller issues fix themselves. Something like a tiny burr or something else not machined/fit 100% right or another issue due to inferior manufacturing might work itself out after a number of rounds. If I buy a gun and it has problems, it's tough for me to trust it later down the road. If I bought a $1200 1911 and it had a bunch of failures in the first 500 rounds, I wouldn't be too happy about it.
  18. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

    Limp-wristing has nothing to do with the current rash of problems Kimber is experiencing. They have apparently forgotten how to properly tension an extractor and cast a batch of out of spec slide stops. Rather than pull the lot, they wait for the customer to call and they'll send a new one. Both problems are simple fixes, which makes me wonder why they are not corrected before leaving the factory.

    Maybe the cracked frames on alloy versions were caused by limp-wristing.
  19. mcdonl

    mcdonl Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I was grasping at straws hoping that such a grossly overpriced gun could not possible leave the factory with problems. I could never afford to hold a Kimber let along buy one. I guess I am not missing much.
  20. Lv4snobrdg

    Lv4snobrdg Well-Known Member

    to me it would seem that a "break in" is more about taking it easy on a piece of equipment. Such as when I purchased a Honda CBRF4i all those years ago. The manual stated that you should not exceed 70MPH or 8kRPM for the first 500 miles, and to have it serviced (oil change, chain tension, shocks adjustment, valves, etc) at 500 miles.

    There is that 500 number again, I wonder if its a coincidence?

    The thought that Kimber cust sup suggests running 500 rds through it to "iron" out any wrinkles is rather unacceptable and I am fully aware that I have accepted this by purchasing this brand. Les and Wilson are notorious for tight guns and again if one has to run $300 of ammo/fuel through it then perhaps its too tight?

    I have been a mechanic for a LONG time and you don't install tight rings and say "oh they will wear to proper tolerance in a couple hundred miles" you do it right the first time, even if they will wear down where does that removed material go? Probably to a bearing...more problems.

    I have already thoroughly inspected the weapon for unfinished edges and tested the slide lock through dry cycling. I have several chip mc's and wilson mags. Several types/brands of ammo.

    I am figuring that there is not much I can learn from 500 rds that I can't learn from 200. so after 200 I am going john woo on this MF'r and feeding some speed to this hog.

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