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Colt Rant

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by 1911Tuner, Aug 12, 2004.

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  1. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Colt gets the Fickle Finger Award this month. C'mon guys. Ya had to know I'd get around to'em sooner or later. :D

    I've got a stainless XSE Commander that I bought from a neighbor who
    fell on hard times, and had shot the gun very little. Although I didn't
    care for some of the features, the price was right...so I bought it.

    I had to recut the "Dimple" throat to get it to feed something besides ball...but that's not really a biggie...and I did my usual attention to detail
    to insure that the gun was reliable...which it is. I ran 500 rounds through the gun, cleaned it up, and laid it aside for 2 years.

    Last week, during my MIM to Real Steel upgrade on the trigger group,
    I noticed something that could have proven to be a major problem had I
    carried the gun, and it was with the Series 80 safety system. The system
    is, IMHO, the best of the lot in additional drop-safe mechanisms, and I've
    only seen/heard of this particular problem in about 1% of the Series 80 Colts...but one in a hundred is one too many if the pistol fails to function
    in an emergency. (By the way...The system isn't Colt's idea. They
    "borrowed" it from Walther. Have a look at a P-38 and see what you think.)

    I noticed a rough, burred area on the slide plunger. Not bad, but enough that I knew that the levers weren't lifting the plunger high enough to let the firing pin get clear of it...and could have either kept the firing pin from hitting the primer...kept the firing pin from rebounding and caused a
    failure to feed on the next round...and maybe could have broken the
    firing pin from unlocking the barrel with the pin still held against the
    primer.

    A quick-check revealed that the plunger lever didn't stand high enough
    off the top of the frame. .060 to .075 inch is good for correct timing of the plunger when the slack is taken out of the trigger...and .090 to .110 inch
    with the trigger fully rearward. The height is adjustable by using different
    plunger levers, but I didn't have any except the #1s...but I did notice that the
    trigger stirrup sat just a little below flush in the frame, so I picked through
    my spares until I found one that was to spec and installed it in the gun.
    (It 's a long nylon Colt trigger out of an old 1991a1)

    With the trigger in place, the lever just barely made it to the low-end of spec...about .061 inch off the frame with the slack out...and .093 with the trigger pulled. I chucked the plunger in a lathe and used a fine file to smooth out the burred area, and bevel it just a bit so it didn't need to
    lift as high in the slide to clear the firing pin. The plunger now releases the
    firing pin just before the hammer breaks. Acceptable, but it's not really
    confidence-inspiring. I'll give Colt a call today to see if I can get a #2 lever.
    Meanwhile...the gun is a range toy until I'm satisfied with it.

    My rant: It takes about 15 seconds to insure that the timing is right on that plunger lever...and the tolerance...a full 64th of an inch...is a football field.
    Why didn't somebody catch it? This is one of those "Blind Faith" things that can get somebody killed on the street. Unacceptable!

    Check your plunger for a burr at the bottom edge of the curve. If it's damaged...even slightly...you may want to get it squared away before carrying the gun.

    Cheers all!

    Tuner
     
  2. denfoote

    denfoote Member

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    Your rant exemplifies the reason why I own a Springfield and not a Colt!!!!
     
  3. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Springer, Not Colt

    denfoote said:

    Your rant exemplifies the reason why I own a Springfield and not a Colt
    ______________________

    Sadly, mistrust of the Series 80 system is one of the big reasons that
    Springfield is chosen over Colt for people who understand the issues.
    The Series system is actually very good, when correctly timed. I have
    4 Series 80 pistols, and this is the first time that I've seen this problem in
    MY guns...and only in one other Colt that I've had apart for somebody else...and I tear down a lotta Colts for cleaning and inspection for other people.

    A quick check can verify the timing...and it's a quick-fix when a problem is found. Aggravating...just like the strut issue on a Springfield...but not
    complicated or expensive to correct.

    Anybody else had this problem with Series 80s? Sing out!
     
  4. 45auto

    45auto Member

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    Tuner, question if I may:

    Is the "higher" plunger lever actually have a higher lever or does it engage the other lever, "bird's head" sooner, thereby lifting the lever sooner and higher? If that made sense :)

    I have found "ridges, wear so to speak" on the both levers and the trigger stirrup. No function issues, but I did clean them up.

    Perhaps it's best just to replace these parts every 20,000 or so??

    It would be nice if the "levers" were "engaged" during the takeup of the trigger instead of after, at least in mine.

    Enough rambling on my part, I do like the series 80 a lot to be honest.
     
  5. 1911WB

    1911WB Member

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    Colts

    Rant on oh great Tuner! I would never consider a series 80 Colt for defense. That's why I have a series 70 & an SA. I keep my series 80 .38 Super only as a target shooter. Did you finally decide that the hammer strut problems on SA's are most likely due to the silly ILS system? If so, I am OK since I changed out the ILS "guts" on my GI. :cool:
     
  6. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Two Questions

    .45 Auto...

    The frame levers should be engaged during the take-up, before the sear trips. The plunger lever...the top one...should stand above the frame
    from .060-.075 inch...and .090-.110 inch at full trigger travel.

    The #2 lever will rise higher above the frame due to the slightly different
    geometryand dimension where the trigger lever contacts it. There's no difference in the lower levers except in the dimensional tolerances. Tge difference is all in the upper lever.

    Changing those parts at regular intervals might not be a bad idea. The alternative is to remove the parts and use the frame blank for range sessions to forestall wear on'em. It's a little aggravating to detail-strip the gun twice per session...but it's a good way to learn to strip and reassemble the Series 80 Colts in a hurry.
    ______________________

    WB...Still not sure on the strut issue. My gut feelin' is that it's a
    combination of poor materials, the heavy mainspring, and the altered
    geometry within the housing itself all playing a role in the snapped struts.
    If I'm right, the stronger Colt strut will fare much better and last much longer within the ILS system, but it will also likely fail sooner than it would in a standard mainspring housing. This may make changing the strut at regular intervals a good idea. Still haven't had time to put that theory to a test, but it's probably best to err on the side of caution if you retain the ILS system. I'd venture a guess that installing a new strut and hammer pin every 5 years or 20,000 rounds would be a good baseline...Less often if you don't keep the gun in Condition One continually.

    Clearing tha gun and lowering the hammer 3-4 times a week overnight would probably reduce the need for frequent change. Colt struts are
    cheap insurance against breakage...Changing it out every 5 years wouldn't
    exactly break the bank.

    Luck!

    Tuner
     
  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Seems as if I have mentioned this condition before ...:rolleyes:

    I have seen three cases of "battered plunger syndrome," caused by the levers not lifting the block high enough, and two that didn't work because of a backlash screw in an aftermarket trigger (one isn't cool or tactical if the trigger doesn't have holes in the fingerpiece and a screw in the face of it).

    I never thought to check the length of the trigger bow. Now I've learned to take NOTHING for granted.

    Yes, Tuner - Colt probably got the idea from Walther, but in that model the lever unlocks the firing pin well before the hammer's released, and there is only one lever involved. Last but not least, the feature was part of the original design, not a later atempt to cobble something up to make the legal department and Brady Bunch feel warm and fuzzy. :fire: :banghead:

    Colt, like most of the other gunmakers, are having trouble getting the kind of help that "do it right," and keeping them when they do. Also many assembly workers do their thing on a "piecework plan" where the more you make the more you earn.

    For the reasons stated above, and more - I don't own a Series 80 gun, and likely won't. What I've seen have been on pistols belonging to others. Same can be said about a Springer, but if that should change the mainspring housing will get pitched so fast it woun't be able to find it's own shadow. :what:

    It is indeed a sad day when a customer is expected to de-bug and correct a recent purchase. But that's apparently how it is. :barf: :barf: :mad:
     
  8. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Blasphemy!

    :eek: Repent, sinner! :eek:

    Ok, :p I haven't had any fails to go bang in about a dozen of those defective Series 80 triggers. Glad you were able to spot the trouble with yours, bud. BTW, you never said it failed to go off during your 500 round shakedown. :confused: I think you are a little bit like one of my brothers, who can't stand to leave something alone but always tries to "improve" it. ;)
     
  9. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    1911Tuner,

    That's why I keep my plungers where I can easily examine them: In a clear plastic baggie, rather than in the slide, where they're harder to see. :D :p


    (Although, truth be told, I don't think I've ever had someone drag in a Series 80 with a non-functioning firing pin safety in the last ten years. Then again, nobody's ever brought in a busted Springer hammer strut, either. "Can happen" and "will happen" are, thankfully, two different things.)
     
  10. NavajoNPaleFace

    NavajoNPaleFace Member

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    One of my 1911s is the Series 70 Colt.

    Are there any issues with THAT gun that we owners should know about?
     
  11. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Many Many Comments

    Fuff...yep. I've noticed it before, but this is the first time that
    I've seen a short trigger bow contribute to it...In all fairness, I've seen the overtravel screw cause the problem several times, but considered that to be problem with the Crank on the Bench Syndrome. Pull the screw out and stick it in File Thirteen.
    __________________________

    Tamara said:

    That's why I keep my plungers where I can easily examine them: In a clear plastic baggie, rather than in the slide, where they're harder to see.

    Me too... :cool: My 80s are range beaters. I do occasionally carry a
    Series 80 LW Commander with all parts installed...but it's been thoroughly
    checked out and given a clean bill. All others are pure JMB.

    And:

    Then again, nobody's ever brought in a busted Springer hammer strut, either. "Can happen" and "will happen" are, thankfully, two different things.)

    Thankfully, that's true. I just like to eliminate the chances inasmuch as possible. A good strut is about 4 bucks, and takes 10 minutes to switch out. Why NOT do it? A good extractor is 25 or 30 dollars, and is usually one of the first things that knowledgeable folks will upgrade. A busted strut and a busted extractor are both things that will get you dead.
    _______________________

    BigG said:

    BTW, you never said it failed to go off during your 500 round shakedown.

    True...but with use, as that burr gets burrier and burrier, that's subject to change. The concern isn't goin' bang...it's rather that the firing pin won't
    rebound, and will either tie up the gun as the next round tries to slide up
    the breechface, or feed and fire out of battery. Either one is bad JuJu...
    especially firing out of battery less than two feet from your nose.


    And:

    I think you are a little bit like one of my brothers, who can't stand to leave something alone but always tries to "improve" it.

    Only if it needs improvement, mah fren. Correcting something that's not right ain't tinkerin'. If MY life might hang in the balance, I want it to be right. Just because a pistol functions doesn't mean that it's functioning correctly. That...is the essence of fine-tunin'. :cool:


    Cheers all!
     
  12. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Fascinating reading Johnny ..... even to this relative 1911 greenhorn!

    Question tho ... and I daresay I should not have to ask it but - I have not yet really grasped the major differences/similarities between series 70 and 80 ...... but would like to feel better informed.

    Is it possible to summarize?
     
  13. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

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    Series 80 guns have three little parts that prevent the firing pin from going forward unless the trigger is pulled. Series 70s do not.

    Those three parts do not affect the accurqacy of the weapon, nor the trigger pull in a properly tuned gun, no4 the usability. They do however, provide a means by which guys on the internet can be gun snobs by owning series 70s and crowing that their guns are superior (without of course evidence that they are):what: :neener:

    Havent seen a colt that I can recall with plunger probs.....

    BTW, I have a series 70 (and a 90)

    WildamanofthepeopleAlaska
     
  14. Larry Ashcraft

    Larry Ashcraft Moderator Staff Member

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    First off, understand that my experience with my 1911's consists of shooting, field stripping and cleaning. Everything else is left to my capable 'smith "Roscoe".

    I bought a series 80 govt. model from a retired Marine firearms instructor because the price was right. He claimed it had about 700 rounds through it, but it looked like it had been disassembled at least that many times. The stock trigger was horrible, I'm guessing 10-12 lbs. Roscoe took the pistol and replaced the trigger, grip safety, hammer and a few other parts.

    About 100 rounds down the road, the thing started misfiring about every 5 rounds, so back to Roscoe it went. He brought it back and gave me this little part that I assume is your plunger. It was about 1/2" long and maybe .200" in diameter with a groove machined in it (I think). The shoulders on the groove were battered and that was causing the misfiring. Roscoe fixed it up.

    Now I've had at least 3000 rounds through the gun with no other problems. It's strictly a range and IPSC gun although I carry it on my own place for coyotes and such occasionally.
     
  15. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Series 70 vs 80: The ORIGINAL Series 70 was actually a cheapened version of the old standard Government Model. It's main distinguishing feature (other than a rougher finish and large slide markings) was a spring finger bushing with a corresponding enlarged OD on the bbl exterior towards the muzzle.

    The Series 80 is what Wildalaska said. IMHO, the Series 80 is actually a nicer pistol, better finished etc. than the OLD Series 70.

    Since Colt reissued the Series 70 it is probably as good as the Series 80 in terms of fit and finish. I don't know wheter the NEW Series 70 has the spring finger bushing or a solid bushing.

    This stuff is all my opinion, YMMV
     
  16. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    BigG,

    ....and heinous-looking grips, don't forget those. ;)
     
  17. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Thx for feedback Ken and others.:)
     
  18. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Member

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    Between legislation mandating "safer" products, increasing stockholder pressure for higher returns, revolving doors for CEO's, and the outsourcing of parts to third world countries, the quality of everything is going down IMO.
     
  19. Drjones

    Drjones member

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    *sigh*

    I've got two new Series 80 Colts on the way....one blued and one stainless....

    Can I just remove the Series 80 parts entirely?

    Will the gun effectively be as JMB designed it if I do so?

    Will removing the Ser. 80 parts cause any troubles whatsoever?


    Thanks!

    DrconcernedJones
     
  20. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    DrJones,

    You can, but since you live in California, I'm not sure that you may. (The Series 80 bits are what allow the Colt to pass the Drop Test.) Dunno how CADOJ looks on removing features after the gun is imported.

    I took mine out on my Series 80 Enhanced and my Delta Elite and filled the holes with the shim kit available from Brownell's. The effect on the trigger pull is unnoticeable except when dryfiring, but I always figgered that fewer bits are better bits, especially when they're moving bits. :)

    Unless they actually cause you problems, which I can purt' near guarantee they won't, leave 'em in and don't worry about it. I just yanked mine so I can be all gun snobby and all.
     
  21. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Member

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    FWIW, I removed the ILS on my Springfield when I changed the MSH. :eek:
    I have no idea whether CADOJ would approve or not. It's my pistol, I'll do what I want with it.
     
  22. Drjones

    Drjones member

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    Thanks, Tam. :)

    Of course I'm aware of the potential legal concerns.

    However, since it is only a drop-safe and not something like the thumb or grip safety, I can't see it being a HUGE deal. At least, I hope!

    Do they inspect firearms used in shootings that closely anyway?

    Say I did shoot someone in SD and it was a CLEAN shoot: would they strip my gun to make sure it had all the bits from the factory? :confused:


    Anyhow, what "holes" are you talking about? I think I've read that, if one removes the Ser. 80 junk, there are some holes in the slide/frame, is that what you are talking about?

    Thanks!
     
  23. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    70/80

    BigG pretty well nailed the question. The original pistols are technically
    pre-Series 70s..or simply 1911s and 1911-A1s...but I ain't gonna get picky.

    The Series 80 pistols have FOUR additional parts. Two levers in the frame, and a plunger and spring in the slide. It's actually a pretty ingenious
    (re)design, and when timed right, works very well. As stated...I've seen very few Series 80s that were wrong. I shot two of mine for years and thousands of rounds before I removed the parts with zero trouble, and
    would feel perfectly comfortable carrying one of them with all parts installed. When something does go wrong with the system, it's pretty easy to fix.

    There are other subtle differences in some of the parts. The firing pin and extractor are different, and the firing pin stop and grip safety are too. All
    else is standard. The Series 80 parts mentioned above can be used in a 70 or pre-70 pistol...Springfield included...without modification, but 70 and pre-70 parts can't be used in Series 80 pistols unless all Series 80 safety
    parts are removed.

    To answer Drjones...yes. The parts can be completely removed,
    but a shim or frame blank is required to take up the space left by the
    two levers. The part is $4.25 from Browells, and is easy to install.
    The slide will have a hole on the underside where the plunger used to be, but it won't cause a problem as long as the firing pin and spring are kept clean...which is a good idea anyway. At that point, Series 70 or 80
    firing pins, extractors, grip safeties, and firing pin stops may be used in the gun interchangeably...and it will be, for the most part, as JMB intended. The Series 80 firing pins are a shade lighter than the 70 firing pins, which is a bonus IMO. The function of the gun won't be compromised in any way
    with the removal of the parts.


    On a final note, most Series 80 pistols that I've seen have much shorter, lighter firing pin springs than spec, and should be replaced with standard
    springs if the safety parts are removed. The only added safety accomplished by the Series 80 system is in making it more drop safe. It's
    incorrectly assumed that the Series 80 pistols are "safer" to carry in Condition One than a 70 or pre-70 but it's a myth perpetrated by those who don't understand the 1911 design. Assuming that the pistol and all its parts are sound and in good shape, the older design is no less safe in
    Condition One than a Series 80.

    Hope this helps!

    Tuner
     
  24. saltydog452

    saltydog452 Member

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    A Series 80 happy camper...

    As my hero Al Borland says to Tim 'The Tool Man' Taylor, "I don't think so Tim".

    I don't know the specific causes of my problem with the Series 80, only that it didn't work. Sometimes the pistol would go 'bang' like its supposed to. Other times it would just 'snap' and leave a small dimple on the primer.

    Whatever the cause, even new Series 80 parts didn't rectify the problem.

    I did like Tamara and put both sets of Series 80 parts in a baggie. My friendly neighborhood gun mechanic installed Series 70 stuff back in the pistol.

    In all fairness, Colt was experiencing both labor and management problems then. In an effort to boost short term sales, maybe Quality Control standards were relaxed. I dunno. Maybe the QC guy at the time was simply asleep at the wheel.

    For whatever reason (s), the Series 80 isn't real high on my list of favorite developments.

    salty.
     
  25. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Further thx for the 70/80 illumination ... :)
     
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