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1911 Lovers-some questions from someone who want's to join you

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by orangeninja, Sep 27, 2004.

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  1. orangeninja

    orangeninja Member

    Dec 4, 2003
    1. Okay...so let me get this straight...a full size 5 inch barrel 1911 is reliable but the compacts and micro say...Springfield GI Micro would not be correct?

    2. Carrying a pistol this size, how do you keep your pants up with a 35 oz. pistol?

    3. Does the length of the barrel prohibit IWB carry, in other words, can you actually sit down with this thing behind your hip or does the barrel extend beyond your butt?

    4. Springfield Mil-Specs....can you add a highride beaver tail to it without cutting the frame?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Snowshoe

    Snowshoe Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Lithia Springs,Ga
    I can only give my my opinion.

    I have never had a problem with a 5" model IWB. I will admit that the commander I had built makes sitting a little easier.

    The answer to the weight issue is use a good belt and holster. I use a Don Hume IWB. After a little while I forget I have it on.

    To install a high ride beavertail in the Mil-Spec the frame would have to be cut. Now, there are some drop in beavertails, I personally didn't like the way they looked.

    And lastly, I can't comment on how reliable a compact version would be as I found them to short in the grip for me to shoot comfortably.

  3. cerberus

    cerberus member

    Mar 29, 2004
    Kimber Country
    First things first

    Many 3&4 inch 1911s have no problems right from the get go some do. Just like some full sized 1911s have problems. Lots of the smaller 1911 problems are caused by using flat of almost flat nosed Ammo. The smaller 1911s are really more pickey about the Ammo. being used. You have to remember the 1911 was designed to fire 230gr FMJ Ball Ammo. This is not to imply that they can't fire other types of Ammo. Just how they really were first designed.

    Now about the carry of a full sized 1911. First it's all about a good holster and a real good supporting belt. Full sized steel framed 1911s have a greater weight then the smaller alloy framed 1911 this causes the smaller guns to be a better choice from a comfort stand point. But this is a matter of what some feel their level of comfort is.:rolleyes:
  4. shep854

    shep854 Member

    Apr 29, 2004
    Birmingham AL
    OK; I'll go first.

    (1) Since the 1911 was originally designed with the five-inch barrel, everything was optimized for that. As 1911Tuner can tell you 'til your eyes cross, changing one thing (such as barrel length) forces changes everywhere else. That said, there a lot of totally reliable Commander-type pistols out there. My early Mk IV Commander (late '80s) has been one of those.

    (2)Use a good belt, pulled snug. With a good carry rig, it's not very noticable.

    (3) The barrel length is not a problem for IWB. when worn just behind the hipbone, the barrel will lay along your leg, and the holster & trousers will pull it close. The grip is the biggest problem, since it can stick behind and you must be careful not to bump it against things behind you. If you want to carry in a shoulder rig that carries the gun horizontally, a longer barrel could poke behind you, if you are average size or smaller.

    (4) Ask Tuner.
  5. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Following World War Two, Colt did a lot of experimenting with a pistol shorter then the standard Government Model because the Army was interested in the possibilities. They never bought anything, but Colt brought out the gun as the (lightweight) Commander. The Commander’s slide and barrel were ¾†shorter then the regular Government Model, and experience has shown that it is generally as reliable as its big brother.

    The problem when you get down to barrel lengths between 3 and 4 inches is that a considerable amount of slide weight and mass has been removed, which effects the timing or speed that the slide cycles. The recoil spring tunnel is also shortened, which requires some fiddling with the recoil spring or springs as the case may be. While these guns can and do work, many are fussy feeders, and more prone to jamming then the longer guns. Thus a good one is very good, but a bad one could get you killed. As a consequence when I carry a big-bore handgun shorter then a Commander it will be a revolver, not an automatic. Others of course can make their own choice.
  6. SouthpawShootr

    SouthpawShootr Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    Chesapeake, VA
    1- Not necessarily. 3 inchers tend to be more finicky about ammo and, when you do get one that doesn't want to function reliably, you'll need a good smith.

    2- A good belt. NOT what Wal-Mart calls a belt. Look at some of the Galco offerings for examples. Try to look at them in person. Another alternative is suspenders. :neener:

    3- a 5 inch barrel isn't always easy to carry, but if you have good equipment, it will make all the difference in the world. Bare minimum would be any of the IWB offerings from Don Hume. Better would be Milt Sparks among others.

    4- Wilson makes a drop-in beavertail that requires no modification to the frame. I have them on 3 of my 1911s. On 2 guns, installation took a slight amount of fitting (part to gun not vice versa); the last one simply dropped in and functioned perfectly. I also have a Wilson beavertail custom installed on a government model. The one on the government model is better, but I paid a smith a little over $100 to install it (this was years ago and I'm sure it's more expensive now).
  7. garrettwc

    garrettwc Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    1. That is generally true, although there are some exceptions. As has mentioned, the extremely shortened action is more sensitive to timing issues. Also, 45ACP ammo drops off drastically in velocity in the shorter barreled guns. This will often take the ammo out of its operating range.

    2. A good belt is essential. You should get a belt that is designed for carrying a gun, and matched to the holster you are choosing. It is a "carry system" and should be thought of that way.

    3. I carry IWB 95% of the time. Again quality will pay dividends here. I have driven long distances in the car (2+ hrs) and been just fine.

    4. Wilson makes a drop in for the Springfield as does Smith & Alexander. I believe the Smith version gives a better fit for the Springfield radius. Hopefully Tuner will drop in with his experiences.
  8. Zardoz

    Zardoz Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    I've carried 4" compacts for years and they were totally reliable. I woried more about FPS and used 185 gr bullets in shorter guns.

    I've shot many 3" Kimbers that were reliable and accurate and think their shorties were set up the best. (pre II) However I liked the 4" barrel better for the slow 45acp.

    Alot of semi myths here, try the 1911 board for more detail and brands then weed it all out. Yes 1911's were designed for ball but that was then, you don't have to have a 5" because someone on the web says so. :cool:

    Also aloy 1911's are pretty damn light and they come in all sizes. Plus the 1911 is slimmer than most "modern" guns.
  9. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    May 22, 2003
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    1911 Lovers

    Howdy alduro, and welcome to "Leventh Heaven...:cool:

    A few myths are around about the reliability of the 1911 variants that are shorter than the original design. Some are based on fact, others on
    personal experience or opinion.

    Generally speaking, Commander-length is about as short as you can go
    and still have a good chance of functional reliability...straight out of the box.
    The Defender/Officer's Model class of pistols can be made reliable, but they can be a pain in the arse sometimes before they get there, and your chances of getting one that is good from Jump Street are less than with a
    longer slide. The farther from original design parameters you get, the more likely you are to have problems.

    Like Fuff pointed out, the problems are mostly related to the reduced slide mass and the heavy recoil springs that are used to try to make up for it.
    There is a point at which slide velocity gets so fast that other areas of the gun just can't keep up...and that's where most of the problems start.
    Timing. Timing.

    Ammunition sensitivity is noted, but not so much because of bullet shape
    or design...it's more closely related to the timing and the pressure curve of the powders that are used in some cartridges. The longer pistols can compensate for a pretty wide variation in ammunition...but the faster cycle of the chopped pistols just doesn't provide a lot of wiggle room.

    Light, high-velocity bullets particularly give problems...even though many people will opt for this ammo in order to compensate for the lost velocity
    in the shorter barrels...and this often tends to aggravate the functional
    issues. Simply put...the 1911, being recoil operated, requires a certain amount of bullet dwell time in the barrel in order to allow the slide to gain
    enough momentum to complete the recoil cycle. If the bullet exits before this momentum can be obtained, the slide short-cycles...even with the reduced slide mass/weight. An aggravating factor is the heavy recoil springs that are usually found in these pistols. If recoil spring rate is reduced without other changes to allow full cycle, the frame takes a beating, (if the pistol is shot very much) and the slide often can't build enough momentum on the return to battery to reliably chamber the next round. This often makes it necessary to tune the gun to a specific type of ammunition.

    Since the little guns first hit the public market, they've become popular with the people who want to carry a 1911, but don't want the weight and bulk of a full-sized gun. Thus it is that I've come to tinker with a lot of 'em...and have learned a few tricks that MOST of'em will readily respond to. Some of'em, however, have driven me nearly over the edge, and whenever I
    get one with functional problems, I tend to approach it as a law unto itself.

    The best advice that I can offer is to forget the +P screamers with 185-grain bullets and stick with 230-grain bullets in these pistols. While some seem to do fine with the high-performance ammo...most don't...at least not without keepin' a bottle of Excedrin and a few nerve pills handy. Bullet expansion is "iffy" at best, so accept up front that the chances are about 50/50 that the bullet won't expand to any useful degree. Even though some of these little blasters are amazingly accurate, it's not really a prime consideration. Stick with the ammo that the gun will run reliably with...and practice at the ranges that a defensive pistol will most likely be used.
    They're not target pistols, and were never intended to be. They were designed to be portable, last-ditch defensive tools for those sudden UTYAIA
    events, and most likely will be deployed at powder-burn ranges. It's easy to be obsessed with 25-yard accuracy so the lads at the local indoor range will be duly impressed...but that can drive you insane trying to find the most accurate ammunition AND life-saving reliability. When faced with the choice...ALWAYS opt for reliability. You can always get a target pistol for the range. You can't get an ambulance fast enough if your pistol jams
    when you need for it work right now.

    'Nuff said...


  10. Maxer51tx

    Maxer51tx Member

    Jun 8, 2004
    Regarding beavertails, you may not need one. Beveling the standard grip safety tang and the rear of the thumb lock can make it comfortable to shoot a couple of hundred rounds with no problem. Likewise, taking a bit off the hammer spur can eliminate hammer bite. You might try this before going the BT route.
  11. John Forsyth

    John Forsyth Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    1) I've seen some micros that run, but a lot more that did not. About the shortest slide I would go with is 4 inch. My 4.25 Commander is very reliable and it is my everyday carry. Tuner gives an excellent desertation as to why.

    2) A good holster and a better belt. Get a belt meant for carrying a gun. It is worth the money.

    3) No. I have carried a full size, all steel 1911 IWB all day with no problems. I just prefer a Commander size, it's easier to carry.

    4) Nope. If you want it fitted the way it is supposed to be, it will have to be cut. It's not a big deal.
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