Losing Faith in the 1911. Help

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Even Hilton Yam one of best out there to work on 1911's says they are not for everyone. They do require more TLC and are more finicky as a whole than most of todays polymer guns. Out of the dozen or so I've owned over the years about half needed work to be reliable. As you know the 1911 is almost a religion to some folks. They don't deal with you saying things about their "sacred cow".
The guns were originally made by craftsmen sitting at a table hand fitting every part. And they were originally only made to shoot ball. Apparently they did not make the transition to mass production very easily. And if someone like S&W or SIG changes the basic design to make it easier to produce. And more reliable. And able to shoot JHP's right out of the box purists scream about J. Browning turning over in his grave.
Look even Mr. Browning in his original design did not use a grip safety. It was added becuase the U.S. Armed Forces at the time wanted a gun that if it slipped out of the hand of a hourse mounted soldier it wouldn't fire until he could retrieve it via his nice little cord hanging from his holster or belt. Been on a hrse lately with a 1911?Hell even the Texas Rangers who loved the 1911 pinned or tied the grip safety. And after W.W. I the army changed the design (1911A1) to make the gun better.
So can you trust a 1911 for self defense. Sure. But according to people that know keep up your maintenance. Test it with from anywhere from 500-1000 rounds before you're sure of it (many makers call it a break in). And find ammo it likes. I love the feel and shootability of the 1911. And it's a piece of American history. But most of my $500.00 plastic wonder guns in whatever caliber are far more reliable than the average 1911.
One more thing. Their are so many makers of 1911's, 1911 parts, and so on that use their own specs as opposed to the guns built by Remington, Colt,and so on built to the same specs in years gone by. Many are "frankenguns". Hell different lots of the same gun may contain parts from different makers. It all adds to the problems and confusion. Heck one company may make 3-4 different name brands on the same assembly line just stamped differently. The 1911 world can get very confusing.
I don't think anyone would discourage training for familiarity and proficiency. It's the specified need for a break-in period that some of us find unnecessary. That's the manufacturer finding a nice way to say, "We're not sure if this multi-thousand dollar thing we made actually works - why don't you go find out at additional expense to yourself?"
Agreed. A firearm should be 100% reliable and accurate OOB.
Look even Mr. Browning in his original design did not use a grip safety.

The grip safety wasn't Browning's idea. It was the US Army's, and it was there a full four years before the 1911 was adopted.

There's a mistaken notion that Browning had a free hand in the 1911's design. The pistol was essentially designed by a committee. All Browning did was give the paying customers what they asked for.

Model of 1907. Grip safety.


Model of 1909. Grip safety.


Model of 1910. Grip safety.


The guns were originally made by craftsmen sitting at a table hand fitting every part.

That's another myth, and meat for another thread.

There wasn't time for that sort of thing, and the US Army wanted its pistols in large numbers. Colt was never big enough to produce that many pistols in that manner.
I don't believe the 1911 would be in use for over 100 years if the design was unreliable. Lemons, parts failures and user error will occur for any gun model. My advice to the OP would be buy another 1911 NIB and use the advice given in this thread.
The manufacturer of the first new car I bought recommended a 500 mile break in period. It also recommended using quality fuel!
My first auto pistol was a Ruger P89. It has always run smoothly EXCEPT when I used cheap ammo. Now that is has several years' worth of 'break in' shots fired, it runs even smoother. Though Ruger didn't recommend a break in, firing it certainly has smoothed out it's function. I now own a Ruger SR1911. It has been flawless so far, but I feel it smoothing out. A gun, a car, anything should work when new, given the proper feed. And that is my my point. Garbage in, garbage out. You can't expect a motor vehicle to perform properly all of the time if you give it the wrong fuel. You can't expect a pistol to always perform properly if you give it junk ammo.
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Of the 5 1911s I own 4 45 acp and 1 in 9 mm only 1 has given me grief my new Ruger Cmdr. It seize up after 50 rounds, cleared the pistol used a few drops of some 5W20 re assemble and it ran fine for the next hundred rounds and with factory, S&W, Tripp and Wilson magazines.
OP, I've been in your shoes with the 1911. I love the look and feel of them and shoot them well. My first forays into the platform were similar to yours. My mentality was identical to yours.

My thinking was "If I spend 600.00 on something, it needs to work." I didn't want to fool/fiddle/futz around with it, just wanted it to work. First time, every time, all the time.

I would strongly advise you to try and figure out where/what the issue is. For me, I had issues with both Colt and Springfield. The one that ran right out of the box was the Rock Island Armory. I wish now that I'd taken the time with the first two since the issues were fairly minor and easily fixed.

To me, the fact that you keep coming back to the 1911 platform tells me that the plastic guns won't do it for you. Don't get me wrong, I've owned many a polymer gun and they've served me well for years. For whatever reason though, they just didn't have that same appeal. I suspect it's the same with you given what you said in your original post.

Don't beliebe in Break-In? Do you knowwhat NEW stands for ?

You also didn't mention what kind of magazines you are or have used

Never Ever Worked. Mechanical devices shot once at the facctory
need bedding in, it's working steel.

$ 3K and up to ensure Reliability is just trolling chum imho

My Colt Commander 1991 Series has never had an FTF/FTE
The FUll Size S&W 1911 had a few FTF's in the first 1000 rds
but has settled down, needs cleaning more often than the CMDR

Hell even the Texas Rangers who loved the 1911 pinned or tied the grip safety.

I know quite a few Rangers, and have trained and trained with them. So, trust me when I say that no Ranger has a pinned or tied safety.
I hear from some that in order to get an absolutely reliable 1911 you have to spend upwards in the $3k range from a custom maker. Is this true? Or am I just unlucky?

I'd really like to be convinced in favor of the 1911. However, I don't want to trust a pistol that's finicky and has to be sent to the gunsmith in order to get working reliably. I also don't trust lemons, even after they're fixed. It's just me, whether I'm too picky or not is up to you.
All I can say is that my "cheapo" American-made Auto-Ordnance Model 1911A1 just keeps on rollin'. And, to my eye, it sure looks more 1911A1-like than any of the tarted-up 1911 "variants".
1911Tuner - thanks for the pics of the '07, '09 and '10 Models
you can see the 1911 shape evolve.

Been off Forum since May seems - my computers/software are moee
unreliable than my firearms

Just got a New Combat Commander 1991 series - 300 rds of various
230 gr. FMJ and 50 or so rounds of 5 different
HDSD stuff with the stock mags and Wilson Combat ETMs. no FTF/FTEs
and shoots great - consistent ejections direction wise

About 10 years ago, give or take, I met a guy on this very forum who was losing faith in the 1911. He had a dozen or so...from various manufacturers...and his feeling was that he couldn't completely trust any of them. They'd all fallen short. High end and low-end guns. None met the "flawless" standard that he was seeking. The bulk of his woes were failure to feed and/or go to/return to battery. Some of the issues were consistent and chronic. Others were those maddening one in a hundred teasers.

He lived in another state, but was within driving distance...and he was desperate enough to make the trip 2-3 times a year, and brought a few of his pistols each time.

When at last, they were all tended to, he thanked me for what he called: The gift of reliability" and his faith in the 1911 was restored.

I only did any actual work on two of his guns...if I don't count the nightmare that I dubbed "The Norinco from Hell"...and none of the work was very involved beyond knocking off a wart here and a minor extractor adjustment there. Simple stuff. Kitchen table tinkerer stuff.

So, how did I effect such miracles on so many pistols, you might wonder?


After examining the others and not finding anything obviously wrong...we'd head to the range with a couple dozen of my magazines and 500 rounds of his ammunition. When the slide locked open on his last pistol on his last round...without a single failure...he was more than a little mystified, but pretty well satisfied that his tribulations were over.

Even so, he'd go home and continue with his proofing. His e-mail reports were universally: "All rounds went downrange SIR!"

He hasn't reported a single failure on any of his pistols from that day to this. He did drop a few bucks on good magazines, but he was able to amortize some of the costs by selling the ones that were at the root of his troubles.

Then, there was that Norinco. I could almost write a book on that thing. It was awful. I never want to see another one of those. It was like the Chinese took everything wrong that could be done and did it all to that one pistol. It was an oddity, because nearly every stock Norinco I've ever handled has run like a top, with few exceptions...and with the ones that didn't...it was usually somethin' simple.

He still lurks here some. Anyone who'd like to verify all of this can contact him via PM under the username 19112XS.
1911Tuner - thanks for the pics of the '07, '09 and '10 Models
you can see the 1911 shape evolve.

Glad to do it. Those pictures have been rather revealing, and have settled a few arguments. A few of the 1905s were fitted with a tacked-on grip safety for evaluation, and it was incorporated into the 1907.

The 1907 was little more than a beefed-up 1905. It retained the same double linked barrel...one fore and one aft...and the rear slide dismount. Like the 1905, it didn't hold up well to the stresses imposed on it by the .45 Auto cartridge.

The 1909 was a complete redesign and what was to become the 1911 starts to emerge. Here, we see the single link, tilting barrel, and front slide dismount.

The 1910...only 8 were produced...was a prototype 1911. It had a redesigned grip safety tang that expedited one-handed decocking. Submitted for testing, the Army Ordnance Board requested the "Manual Slide-Locking Safety" aka "Thumb safety" and six of the original eight pistols were retrofitted and resubmitted...accepted...and the rest you know.
Bought my Mil-spec in 2001. Been working on it ever since. Started with a quality extractor, sear, springs, and firing pin. Rebuilt the thumb safety earlier this week, Wilson parts and will replace loose Plunger tube when part arrives. This is my HD pistol and I trust it to work at any time. I carry a Glock for ccw. Nothing wrong with a 1911, just not for everyone.
I own a Turkish Tisas 1911 I got for $400 a few years ago. I have shot hundreds of rounds through it with zero problems. I also own a High Power and a Makarov (and a few more automatics) that I have had zero problems with in 20 years or more.

But I still prefer to carry a recover.

If I am carrying and someone attacks me, I will only have a moment or two to save myself. If I squeeze the trigger on an automatic and there is a dud round in the chamber, I am probably done for. There is a VERY good chance I will not have time to clear it. If I am carrying one of my revolvers, I just pull the trigger again.

I am not a law enforcement officer or a soldier. If I go to a bad part of town at night, there is a VERY realistic chance someone may attempt to mug or carjack me. On the other hand, it seems extremely unlikely that I will be involved in an extended gunfight, so I am fine with having only five or six rounds.

It's a tradeoff. You can either have the slight improvement in theoretical reliability, or the larger ammunition capacity. To me it's a personal and situational question with no absolute right or wrong answer.

I am sort of on the OP's side regarding dependability. If I have any sort of problems with a firearm, I will try to fix it or get it fixed. However, it would take a whole lot of flawless functioning over a long period of time before I would depend on it for self defense. I have plenty of others to use instead.
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1911 magazines, all you need to know is this.
Wilson Combat
Chip McCormick
After reading the posts on this thread I shot one of my S.A. 1911's last weekend. I have not touched the gun in at least five years and I had some new eight round Shooting Star magazines to test so I loaded the magazines, grabbed the gun off of the shelf and proceeded to shoot 50 rounds flawlessly through it without brothering to lube or oil it.

In fairness to the O.P. I went through my records for my three 1911's I have. I had issues with all three of them when they were new. Two of them had junk magazines that the factory replaced free of charge and they have functioned perfectly since (Isn't that what 1911Tuner said)?

The other gun functioned fine but the plunger tube was loose and I had a gunsmith restake it. I should also mention that all of the guns are between 20 - 30 years old.

I'll let the readers draw there own conclusions but to grab a gun off the shelf that has not been touched in at least 5 years, load it and shoot it without brothering to reoil or lube without any malfunctions of any kind makes it a reliable keeper for me.
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I have faith in the original design and quality standards, but I have none for the execution of some of them. I've had a Para-Ordnance, a 1990s-production Colt and a SIG and none of them were worth a crap.
Or sell the 1911 and buy a plastic gun that will NEVER fail, ever...

/sarcasm off
Right, I've had two Glocks and neither worked right, one even after going back to the factory.

Funny if the 1911 is so bad why it was used from WWI-Vietnam.
My 1911s just run and run and run. Am I just lucky?

Yes, you are. I've had quite a few production guns and only two ran out of the box. I wasted thousands of dollars trying to get them to run. I could have purchased a few heavily gunsmithed gun.

The OP is now on his third 1911, bringing the total amount spent $2,500 or so on guns only (add in the accessories and it's probably another $1,000+). He could have an Ed Brown or some other very nice 1911.
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Let's think for a few minutes...

75 years as the standard service sidearm to the U.S. military. Is still in service with the Marine Corp MARSOC and some other special forces units.

Additional decades of service with the military and police of other nations.

Used by many law enforcement agencies and lawmen in the U.S. and internationally since it's introduction.

For decades the dominant pistol at Camp Perry matches.

For many years the dominant gun at the Bianchi Cup, Steel Challenge and many international competitive shooting matches over the decades. Still more by more shooters than any other.

The pistol that was the foundation of all modern defensive pistol courses and matches, IDPA and IPSC.

One of the most widely produced and copied guns in world history. Widely sold and popular in the U.S. A gun that is ubiquitous.

So we are supposed to believe that it is unreliable and a anachronism? That we are lucky if we can find one that is reliable? On the face of it this is hogwash. It is akin to saying that motor vehicles are unreliable and we are lucky to get one that works.

If we believe for one minute that they are unreliable as a whole we have to believe that millions of folks have been lying to themselves and others about these guns. Because they have been and are still in the hands of hundreds of thousands of shooters and they work.

I know a man who can't drive worth a darn. He has no sense of where the vehicle ends and begins. He bumps into things constantly. He curses the Ford pickup he drives. It was dangerous he told me. He sold it and got a Honda Civic. Hasn't bumped into anything since.

Some 1911s are lemons and some folks just can't shoot them because they don't have the patience or have never been taught.

I'm half convinced that some fellas are paid to complain about them. They post a complaint and disappear.

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