Quantcast

Auto Ordnance 1911

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Stophel, Jul 27, 2020.

  1. Stophel

    Stophel Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Messages:
    698
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Well, I went and got this while the gettin' was still good. I considered buying one some time ago, but no one actually had one on hand for me to even look at. Well, now they did. And I brought it home.

    101_3275_800x600.JPG
    101_3278_800x600.JPG

    Now, I always know something will have to be changed. If not for mechanical function, at least changed to suit me. I know, for example, that I will HAVE to have a long trigger. I also expected to require a Smith and Alexander arched checkered mainspring housing, though I may be able to make due with the one that is on it. It is not as slick as other plain grooved arched housings in my hand.

    Anyway, first impressions. Overall, the gun is pretty well fitted and finished. No ugly mill marks or casting marks. I'm assuming that the frame and slide are investment cast (? MIM??). However it is done, everything is very smooth and precise. Slide to frame fit is quite close, and the barrel bushing fit seems quite good too. Operation is nice. The only unattractive MIM marks are a parting line across the center of the magazine catch, and the checkering on the catch button is "inside out"... which looks kinda weird if you're really looking close, but it's not a big deal. It's also not a big deal to file off the parting line, and file in serrations in place of the waffled button (or just replace the catch for a few dollars)...or just let it be, because it's purely cosmetic. Otherwise, everything is pretty smooth, except for the mainspring housing, which has a different finish, and doesn't quite fit up with the bottom corners of the frame. But it functions fine.

    Ejection... well, the empties come back towards my face, which apparently is not uncommon for the short original equipment ejectors. I fixed up a buddy of mine's older Springfield GI model with the small port and short ejector, and it dribbled empties out pretty anemically right towards your face. An extended ejector, filed to shape, and not quite so radical as is on many guns now, did the trick for his gun, and made it throw the empties with a bit more authority and over the right shoulder, and I'll do the same for this one. Can't get too carried away with ejectors with the original size port, or the empty will hit the inside of the slide.

    Now.... the weirdness... When I got it, the hammer at rest was not all the way down, depressing the firing pin, and laying against the pin stop as it should. It was up a little, with some back and forth wiggle.... what the? I wondered if the hammer strut was too short, or the pin in the MS housing was drilled off and the mainspring cap was held down too far... I looked and thought, and figured, and wondered, and finally I looked at the firing pin spring. Holy crap! What a monster! This thing looks like the mainspring on a .22 revolver! I kid you not. I cannot fathom why such a beast was put in this gun (drop test liability???). I did not even try to fire the gun with this mainspring... I mean... firing pin spring. (seriously.. I think it is as strong as the mainspring!) I have a hard time believing that you'd even be able to indent the primer with this thing working against you. Now, I happened to have a brand new Wolff firing pin spring, so I put it in, and now it all acts as it should. Cheap easy fix for that.

    Here's the firing pin and spring from my old Springfield. The spring is maybe compressed some (the new Wolff was extended a bit longer).... but next to this is the incredible beast that was in the gun. Much longer, and much heavier gauge wire!

    101_3280_800x600.JPG

    Shot one magazine full of FMJ and it all worked perfectly. The feed ramp is nice and slick, and I don't foresee any problems with hollowpoints, but you never know til you try. Trigger pull is awful, thanks to the series 80 arrangement, which I will most likely just ditch, rather than bother to smooth all that up. My measely seven shots grouped pretty good for not trying very hard, but shot low... which I attribute mostly to cranking down on the awful trigger. I expect it to shoot well, once sights and trigger are worked out. I don't see the need to fool with much else as far as that goes.

    Sights are not too bad, just black, and I can't see all black sights too well. Especially roaming around in the woods. I will end up putting in an old Millett "longhorn" white outline rear, and a white dot front painted fluorescent orange, which I have one of my other guns (which I had to do a lot more work to, by the way), and it is just about perfect.

    I think I will eventually end up with a pretty nice gun. No, obviously, it is not perfect out of the box (frankly, I don't expect it anymore), but fixes are fairly simple, at least for me to do. If you're looking at one of these, expect to do some work to it, but I don't think anything major will be required. At least you'll end up with a .45 that looks the way it should! No slanted slide serrations (I have always HATED them), no beavertail this, no skeletonized that, no slots cut in the slide, no fish scales or hexagonal shapes or any of the other things that people seem to think they need these days!
     
  2. Steve in Allentown

    Steve in Allentown Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Messages:
    263
    Location:
    Allentown, PA
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
  3. highlander 5

    highlander 5 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Messages:
    2,557
    Location:
    lynn,ma
    Replace the firing pin with one made of titanium and an extra power Wolff firing pin string. The heavy fp spring is to pass drop tests for Ma and Ca.
     
    Ks5shooter likes this.
  4. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2019
    Messages:
    1,905
    Location:
    Libby Mt
    Thanks for the review, hopefully the upgrades you intend will fit without too much filling and messing around.
    J
     
  5. AlexanderA
    • Contributing Member

    AlexanderA Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    7,540
    Location:
    Virginia
    The Auto Ordnance (aka Thompson / Kahr) is the closest thing to a WW2 M1911A1 that is currently available at a reasonable price. The only problem, if you are cloning a GI .45, is that the Auto Ordnance has a Series 80 firing pin block. Those parts, including the firing pin, FP spring, extractor, and FP stop, can be removed and replaced with the equivalent GI parts. If you do this, you have to put in a frame spacer that is made for this purpose.
    I think the heavy FP spring has more to do with the Series 80 FP block.
     
    qwert65, HPCadm17 and bannockburn like this.
  6. JTQ

    JTQ Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    Messages:
    8,345
    Location:
    NW Florida
    Unrelated.

    The heavy firing pin spring is, as mentioned above, used with the lightweight firing pins, to provide some drop safety-ness for 1911's without a firing pin safety.

    Guns with a firing pin safety don't have that problem, they are drop safe.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
    L-2 likes this.
  7. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    Messages:
    9,839
    Location:
    DFW (formerly Brazos County), Texas
    I like mine
    p6Y817n6raXl76eU8w50dXTs9aW0efLQTt7S33epds3R0kGlxbEFNcFVZbmRLKk0MUf1kYv=w1062-h797-no?authuser=0.jpg
    uIqnt4vJscM1ddrxVXO_YufyuD7u9RDpEfbuAOG9Z0paoHcor77vH3dxRtQNCOqUsi_JdY_=w1062-h797-no?authuser=0.jpg
    It does want to fling empties straight back through the not-lowered ejection port.
    MSH fits me just right, too.
    My only potential change would be some legit "double diamond" grips.
     
  8. Stophel

    Stophel Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Messages:
    698
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I didn't even try to fire it with the incredibly heavy firing pin spring... though at some point I will put it back in and see if it will even set off with it. I cannot overemphasize how HEAVY the spring is. It is actually heavier than the mainspring, since it pushes the hammer back.... It has to be some drop test BS. It functions fine with a regular spring, with and without the series 80 block in place.

    Even without the block, the trigger pull is absolutely atrocious. It's all sear/hammer relationship, and I'll get to stoning that properly here in the next few days. I may even leave the firing pin block, IF I can get it smooth enough without too much trouble.

    This one ejects exactly like my friend's early 2000's I think (straight slide serrations) Springfield Armory "made in Brazil", 1911. Pretty anemic ejection, I guess since the ejector is so short, that the case doesn't even begin to hit it until the slide is nearly all the way back, and it's rearward speed pretty well depleted. I put an extended ejector in his, filed it so that it was only slightly "extended", and I THINK I left it square on the front, not slanted one way or the other. It now throws out empties with more vigor over the shooter's right shoulder (a whole lot better than on top of your head, in your face, or down your shirt!). I've ordered one to put in this gun. I wonder if this weak ejection is caused by too-strong recoil springs? I mean, the short, slant-back ejector worked 100 years ago. Why not now?

    I'm keeping the GI type mainspring housing. I did have to de-horn the bottom corners of the frame on either side of it, because I don't like sharp corners jabbing me in the hand! (I have a Remington 1911 that has similar sharp corners, but not nearly as bad... I still haven't gotten around to smoothing that off yet.)

    I wish I could find a black (NON plastic) long trigger. Everything is silver. So I ordered a Cylinder and Slide trigger just like I have on one of my other guns. It'll just have to be silver. Since King's quit making parts years ago, steel triggers are essentially non-existent anymore... well, except for the CHEAPO junk from Masen.

    I need to knock the sharp edges off the grip safety tang, and I'll also file the rear corners of the frame rails just a bit to even the frame up with the rear of the slide. I'll have to try to rust blue those little places to get some kind of satin black finish... we'll see how well I do.

    I'm finally gonna use some Faux Stag handles (I think they're Ajax) that I've had for a while. Nice and THICK, none of that paper thin ____. Oh, what a difference the big thick grip makes for my large hand! And they look pretty good on the dead flat black gun.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
    Demi-human likes this.
  9. Stophel

    Stophel Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Messages:
    698
    Location:
    Kentucky
    According to an American Rifleman article:

    "Ejection problems may also be caused by a too-strong recoil spring, easily diagnosed when cases barely dribble out of the ejection port instead of landing together about 7 to 9 feet to the right rear of the gun...."

    My thinking is that possibly this is the general problem. Since everyone today thinks they need heavier springs for everything (SO many people now buy a pistol, and immediately change the springs, even if the gun worked fine as it was.... I guess it makes people think they're really doing something...), I would be willing to bet that the manufacturers are using heavier springs because of public demand..

    Ok, so I have some standard 1911 springs. I got one out, I'm fairly certain it's a Wolff spring (I know it is unused). It, and another brand new no-name-brand spring I have are both about a half inch shorter than the Auto Ordnance spring. So, I put it in and shot a couple of magazines. A definite difference. Probably over half of my empties ejected at least closer to the way they should, landing a couple feet to the right of my feet, and not going in my face or down my shirt. The rest were obviously pinging the slide on the way out, believe it or not, leaving a small dent in the case mouths (and a brass mark right at the bottom edge of the ejection port), and they weren't quite flinging out like they should... one actually bounced to the left. SO, hopefully with the proper spring, and a "Commander length" ejector, I'll be able to get the empties to pop out with proper force, and in the right direction!
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
  10. Steve in Allentown

    Steve in Allentown Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Messages:
    263
    Location:
    Allentown, PA
    If it were mine, I'd drop in a Wolff 14lb recoil spring and a Wolff 23lb mainspring so I'd know for certain what weight springs were in the pistol. Manufacturers do not necessarily use factory standard springs.

    Another reason manufacturers may use 18lb recoil springs is to overcome frame feed ramps that are not machined to spec and poorly fit extractors. The 18lb spring pounds the cartridges hard enough to overcome some manufacturing flaws. A 5" .45 1911 should easily feed using recoil springs as light as 9 or 10lbs. I use 14lb recoil springs for standard pressure factory ammo.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  11. Stophel

    Stophel Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Messages:
    698
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Ok. I think I have the gun about where I want it.

    Ejection was really bothering me. Oh, it "worked", but I don't like having to dodge my own shots. Empties in the face and down your shirt is somewhat distracting. I did all the studying I could, and a lot of figuring and watching what was going on. I ended up with an extended ejector (from Klonimus), and filed the front end to about the same angle as the original. It is also angled inward to help keep the empties going as vertical as possible. I could watch the empty cases, as I worked them manually, start going the perfect direction when they first hit the ejector, then as they rode up the ejector, would roll over and down towards the ejection port... and hit it, of course. I did about all I could with the ejector, and decided I had to lower the ejection port. Which I really didn't want to do, but I couldn't stand it otherwise. So, I cut it down. Not a whole lot, and not quite as much as Colt did with the Commander (they've been lowering them since 1950, so at least it still fits the "classic look"! :D ). The extractor didn't look bad except for a couple of places. The front end was still kinda square, and I think it should round over a bit more to clear the cartridge groove. Also, the bottom corner of the hook was square. This is the "ejection" part of the extractor, and it needs to be beveled/rounded over here just a little bit. I rounded it off some and put it back in and watched the difference it made. It allows the rim of the cartridge to roll off better and stay more vertical. With the extractor hook square, it hangs onto the rim too long, and forces the empty to pull sideways. Finally, I think I have it. Most empties seem to not contact the slide at all. No dings, no brass marks in the slide. Occasionally (I think mostly the last shot), one will touch the bottom of the ejection port slightly, but it hits the bevel, and slips right on out, with only a very small ding in the case mouth. I suppose I can live with that. :D (I'm of the belief that if the case is hitting anything on the way out, it's doing it wrong. No matter how well it works, it's not working right!)

    So, extractor and ejector work. And the aforementioned change in recoil spring and firing pin spring. I have removed the series 80 plunger and levers. A filler plate is in place. I stoned the sear and the hammer notch (they weren't too bad, but kinda rough.) I had a nice brand new stone with a sharp corner that worked well for this. Pull was still L O N G, and a bit gritty, because the sharp point of the sear would get up into the corner of the hammer notch (it is impossible to make a truly sharp inside corner), so I quickly stoned the "relief angle" on the sear nose. I didn't stone off much, not nearly as much as the competition shooters do, but it was enough to get rid of that gritty corner. I now have a very nice pull of about 5 pounds. Which is just right.

    I put a Cylinder and Slide long trigger in, because I need a long trigger (I wish it was black, but oh well). It fit right in nicely, without filing the top or bottom of the trigger shoe. I also changed the grip safety for a Remington part, because it has nice rounded edges on the tang already. I brazed on bits of steel on the inside and filed to fit so that it would stop its forward movement a hair earlier so it wouldn't sink into the frame. All entirely unnecessary for function, but necessary for me. ;)

    The faux stag handles are from Sid Ryan, who sells on ebay. He makes these and many others. These panels are THICK, which is wonderful for my big hands. It makes a huge difference in how the gun handles for me.

    So far, I have not shot it to really see how well it shoots (though it seems to do quite well, even though I was paying more attention to where my brass was going than to where the bullets were going). I can handle the "small" sights, but I can't handle the black front sight. I simply can't see it hardly at all. I don't want to just paint it. I may end up with a white dot (painted fluorescent orange), or I may try a brass sight or something.

    101_3294_800x600.JPG
    101_3296_800x600.JPG
    101_3298_800x600.JPG

    And the holster I very hurriedly made for it. With my patented "mag catch guard", which makes it impossible to press the magazine catch button, and spit the mag out... which can definitely happen with most normal holsters. And yes, that's a 30 year old Pachmayr magazine. ;)
     
  12. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2015
    Messages:
    4,184
    Run a Colt w Galco Concealable or Fobus paddle. Never had a mag release issue.

    Nice lookin rig and leather ya got.
     
    Stophel likes this.
  13. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2015
    Messages:
    4,184
    My first 1911 was an Auto Ordinance "Pit Bull".
    It shot very well. Until the barrel bushing cracked.
    Got a new one and it too cracked.
    Bummer, must have been a bad batch.

    Dumped it where I got it, and picked up a Springfield Champion.
    It ran flawless, but would shoot two diff groups. Guess the bbl hood needed welded up for better fit.

    Traded that one where I got it and bought a Colt Commander. Best one of the bunch. Flawless, accurate and w spooky good trigger.

    Even my Colt hating buds want to buy it (not kidding).

    HOWEVER..............I wish that shorty Auto Ordinance didn't have the possible design flaw or bad batch of bushings.
    It was cool, and shot well when things didn't break.

    Suspect something w the design back then.

    Your full sizer ought to be fine.
    Classic looks, if you can handle the old school sights I'd leave it as a "time piece" and shoot the crap out of it.
    There's just something cool about a "stock" 1911.

    Buddy has a beater WW2 that rattles bad. We tried to shoot a pop can at 200 yards with it. Group was measured in yards LOL
    Never hit it. Scared it a few times. We had a BLAST. One of my more fun range days :)

    A guy could end up with quite a few 1911's if not careful.........
     
  14. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    22,978
    Stophel

    Sounds like you've got your Auto-Ordnance 1911 running just the way you want it to. Looks good with the faux stag grips too and you did a nice job with the holster! I have one of those Pachmayr magazines in my Colt Combat Commander. Bought it along with the grips (always liked the Pachmayrs with the Colt medallion on them), over 40 years ago and everything is still working just fine!
    P7kzXHg.jpg
     
  15. Nuclear

    Nuclear Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2009
    Messages:
    603
    Location:
    Arizona
    The brass hitting the ejection port and getting the case mouth dinged was so common with the 1911s that it led to the enlarged ejection port you see on modern guns. So nothing wrong with it doing that, just pissed off the reloaders because they had to fix the dings.
     
  16. barnetmill

    barnetmill Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2006
    Messages:
    1,011
    Could this influence the reliability with a harder primer.
     
  17. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Messages:
    7,982
    Location:
    Denham Springs LA
    Back in 1988 my first wife and I had just split up. Instead of paying off some of the bills she left me with I bought an Auto Ordnance 1911. I still have the gun today. It’s ugly but still shoots great.
    Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I was shooting Steel Challenge and IPSC and was putting about 300 ot 400 rounds a week through the gun.
    My older son loves to shoot it and will most likely end up with it.
    C398065A-423A-410C-9CF4-1C69AFA8DA7B.jpeg
     
    Stophel, Boarhunter and nofendertom like this.
  18. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2012
    Messages:
    9,768
    Location:
    SC (Home), VA (Work)
    A 1911 is a thing of beauty all it's own...and there's an additional beauty in the simplicity of what you have, without fancying it up.

    Nice pictures.
     
  19. Steve in Allentown

    Steve in Allentown Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Messages:
    263
    Location:
    Allentown, PA
    It is common for folks to replace these titanium firing pins with steel firing pins as well as replacing the extremely heavy mainspring (hammer spring) required to light primers when using the titanium firing pin with a standard 23lb mainspring. The titanium firing pins are not nearly as durable as the steel ones.
     
  20. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    Messages:
    9,839
    Location:
    DFW (formerly Brazos County), Texas
    My Norinco wore a set of Hogue grips just like those.
     
  21. Craig_VA
    • Contributing Member

    Craig_VA Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Messages:
    740
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Some years back I was open carrying a Colt National Match 1911 (gift from father in law) regularly in Virginia. I loved the gun and I shot the 1911 better than any other handgun at the range. Then I realized if I were ever to use it for SD, I would lose the gun to the justice system, at least temporarily. I bought the then-recently introduced Auto Ordinance 1911 at a Marine Corps Exchange for a very nice price as my carry gun. Now I use both at the range, and love them both. I consider the Auto Ordinance model as a back to the basics firearm.
     
    czhen and Stophel like this.
  22. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2012
    Messages:
    9,768
    Location:
    SC (Home), VA (Work)
    Coupla questions:

    Why would a person in Kentucky be concerned with passing anything required by Massachusetts or California?

    Why would anybody outside California/Massachusetts be concerned with passing a drop test in in those states, even if they move there, on a personally owned firearm that they're not selling or loaning to someone else?

    Not that I object to a person modifying a personal firearm however they wish, but why do so to make it compliant with states a person isn't even living in?
     
    Reloadron likes this.
  23. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    22,978
    Gunny
    After all it's been through I would be inclined to give your Auto Ordnance the benefit of the doubt and go with "cosmetically challenged" instead.
     
  24. Nature Boy
    • Contributing Member

    Nature Boy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2015
    Messages:
    5,647
    My only 1911 is a Thompson Auto Ordinance. I bought it used and well worn.

    A few years ago I decided to cerekote it and upgrade the sights. I undoubtedly spent more than it’s worth doing that. It’s an accurate shooter though

    7860CD96-6249-446B-B1D1-7580A3FB16D8.jpeg
     
  25. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    Messages:
    9,839
    Location:
    DFW (formerly Brazos County), Texas
    It's a manufacturing thing.
    Rather than make State-specific things, it can be more economical to make them to the lowest common denominator.
    Most autos are built to CA emissions standards for this reason.
    Items likely to pass between State in commerce get complicated, too.
     
    Coyote3855 likes this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice