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What is wrong with the 1911 design?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by SuperNaut, Feb 4, 2008.

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  1. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Yeah, buddy! I know where there's one that'll cut a 10-shot group at 50 yards that you can hide with a quarter.
     
  2. SuperNaut

    SuperNaut Member

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    Sounds like it's not just engineering that requires a little compromise...
     
  3. Michael Zeleny

    Michael Zeleny member

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    The field of honor is a place for men to shoot at each other. If you are after that, I will gladly abide by the code duello. Otherwise, my bet calls for my terms.
     
  4. stevereno1

    stevereno1 Member

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    In my opinion, the 1911 has the following flaws. A weak, internal extractor, A two-piece feed ramp, the need for a barrel bushing, low capacity, and is too heavy.
     
  5. yhtomit

    yhtomit Member

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    M. Zeleny wrote;

    I've never fired a Sig 210, but would like to one day; at the moment at least, the 210 is the boutique product, while 1911-pattern guns are just about everywhere :)

    It establishes nothing deep about the world, but the few 1911s I've fired (rented or ranged-loaned) have all been very smooth running and accurate; I can't prove they haven't broken down the next day, of course.

    timothy
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2008
  6. Michael Zeleny

    Michael Zeleny member

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    The other side of this coin is the reputation for abysmal accuracy earned by WWII contract guns.

    Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft took the M1911 track record into account in designing the P210. The outcome was every part pre-fitted to tolerances that allowed drop-in fit without compromising accuracy or reliability. In military service, 10% of each production run was given a second accuracy test upon delivery. The inspectors took 10 guns and fired 8 rounds out of each of them from the same machine rest into the same target after first firing each of them at an individual target. At 50 meters, just over 55 yards, all 80 rounds were required to hit within a rectangle that measured 140mm tall by 100mm wide, approximately 5 1/2"x4". The typical 80-shot group fit within a circle less than 75mm in diameter, centered in the middle of the target. After this test, 5% of all guns were function fired with barrels and slides interchanged from one gun to another. There were no failures. Zero.

    Now for the tie-breaker. What accuracy requirement did our government impose on its WWII M1911A1 contractors?
     
  7. outerlimit

    outerlimit Member

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    I think I had, a long time ago, but thank you for reminding me about it. I will look into this further.

    Yea, I'm not crazy about part of the feed ramp being part of the frame either.
     
  8. the naked prophet

    the naked prophet Member

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    Well that's good to know. It's still an extra small part which is unnecessary to the operation of a locked-breech gun (as evidenced by the Hi-Power) which adds expense by both manufacturing and QC.


    That's what I meant. Thanks for the clarification.


    I'm not as familiar with the 1911 as I am with a Hi-Power, but I know that overpowered ammo (9mm subgun-only ammo) used to cause rounded locking lugs in that design, which was remedied by a more powerful hammer spring (which I thought was called the mainspring - but maybe I mistakenly indicated the recoil spring). I got that info from a reliable historical source.


    What I meant is that subsequent pistol designs did not require a plunger tube. The Hi-Power did not require a plunger tube for either the slide stop or the safety. Just one more unnecessary part, from a design perspective. This is less important than other considerations, but the original poster asked "what's wrong" and if I was to redesign the pistol, I would leave that part off. In this thread, I'm posting everything that I can think of that's not ideal on the pistol. When we get to the "what's wrong with the Glock design" I'll chip in there too.



    My wife's Colt 1911 was the first one I tried to disassemble. Took me forever. If there had been a disassembly notch on the slide like on the Hi-Power, I would not have had a problem. As it is, trying to disassemble starting with the spring cap requires a screwdriver, so I'm not including that as part of the field strip (because it requires tools). Unless you know a trick how to remove the spring cap without a screwdriver? Then there's trying to line up the swinging link with the hole in the frame, that always gives me problems. Now, I can disassemble my Hi-Power really fast, and my Glock faster. I suppose with practice I could disassemble the 1911 faster, but you could say that of any difficult task :neener:



    I still haven't gotten my wife's Colt extractor working right, and I shouldn't have to pay a gunsmith $60 to do that. I've got all the books and have bookmarked all the tutorials online. I admit I don't have practice... but I haven't had to tune the extractor on my Hi-Power, because it was designed to be robust - to operate successfully within a larger range of conditions.


    I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to say that a 1911, or any gun in particular, was that picky. I was just trying to define the word "robust" because people are not familiar with the engineering definition of the word. Was not trying to start rumors.


    My wife's Colt 1911 has one Colt magazine and three Wilson stainless 7 round magazines. Original Colt extractor. Only ever used factory brass-cased ammo (Winchester, Blazer Brass, Remington, etc.). I admit that I haven't been able to tune the extractor yet... but I haven't had to tune the extractor on my Hi-Power (or my Glock, or M&P, or ...).

    I understand that the 1911 design was nothing short of revolutionary. It's service life of nearly 100 years and continuing popularity is a testament to its success. BUT it does require hand fitting. That doesn't make it a bad pistol, just expensive to make consistently reliable. I do consider the necessity for hand-fitted parts to be a design flaw in the 1911, just as it is in the Chauchat :evil:. That it has lasted this long with such a good reputation, even gaining legendary status, with such a shared flaw, is a testament to the quality of the design in general.

    I was asked what's wrong with the design, and I pointed out what, from my engineering perspective, was wrong with the design. It's still an excellent design overall. I would love to see a 1911 updated with the things I've pointed out.




    trbon8r:

    See the engineering definition of robustness. The ability of a gun to be more tolerant of poor manufacturing (and dirty conditions, and poor ammo, etc...) is kind of the definition of robustness. The more robust design will be able to function with parts which are more easy to manufacture, and don't require such strict QC. That means cheaper machine tools that don't need to be replaced as often, cheaper forming processes, fewer rejected parts, and less time and money spent on QC. See my example in the previous point about the extractor. There are several more critical dimensions on the 1911 extractor than on the Glock extractor - and each one of those dimensions requires tighter tolerances than on the Glock.
     
  9. theCZ

    theCZ Member

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    I'll tell you what is wrong with the 1911:

    They're too dang expensive!

    I'll take my cheap CZ75 with a more combat proven 9mm round.
     
  10. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Do...WHAT??? (Fallin' on the floor, laughin'.)

    You musta been shootin' some that were so worn out, you could shake'em hard and field-strip'em.

    Yeah...I thought so. A controlled test under near laboratory conditions really doesn't prove anything. If you want to prove the utility of the piece...ya gotta git down in the mud and the blood and the beer with it. Guess you're not willing.

    I wonder how the top competitors manage, what with all those sub-standard ergonomics and gee-gaws and such.

    Well...That's sorta the point, Michael. The ability to quickly repair pretty much whatever can go wrong without the need for a skilled armorer and a machine shop.
     
  11. trbon8r

    trbon8r Member

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    I only know one definition of the word robust, and that is from Websters. I guess we don't get the "Engineering Dictionary" in this part of the world. The definition I know doesn't say anything about one design being better than another because one can be pounded out over the fire with a rock, and the other needs machinery to produce.

    Robust simply means "capable of performing without failure under a wide range of conditions". Sounds like a 1911 to me. I haven't heard any 1911 fans here make the claim that the 1911 platform when made properly is cheap or easy to produce. I have only heard people say that when the 1911 is made with even the slightest degree of care, they will work just fine.
     
  12. trbon8r

    trbon8r Member

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    Of course the Swiss wouldn't understand the need for this feature considering all they do is fire a few rounds at the range and go home for some Bratwurst or Fondue. At Belleau Wood or Normandy these things 1911Tuner speaks of do matter. ;)
     
  13. Michael Zeleny

    Michael Zeleny member

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    To amplify my point, the reputation for abysmal accuracy was well earned by every milspec M1911. As discussed before, on 19 May 1942, SIG tested five contemporaneous service handguns for accuracy in preparation for the development of their candidate for the next Swiss service sidearm, eventually adopted as the Pistole 49 and designated commercially as the P210. This is what they got in 8 shots fired at 50 meters:

    Walther P38:
    12.0cm from rest/14.5 cm offhand
    Radom ViS35:
    18.5cm from rest/17.0 cm offhand
    Colt M1911:
    30.0cm from rest/42.0 cm offhand
    9mm Luger 06/29:
    5.5cm from rest/11.5 cm offhand
    7.65 Luger 06/29:
    5.8cm from rest/9.0 cm offhand

    The test Colt was a 1919 commercial Government Model, SN C113936.

    Source: E. Armbruster, W. Kessler, Begegnungen mit einer Legende: SIG SP 47/8 - P 210, Kessler Waffen AG, 2007, p. 15.
    I am willing to abide by the engineering protocol. No objective measurement ever came from wallowing in the mud and the blood and the beer.
     
  14. Michael Zeleny

    Michael Zeleny member

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    Not in engineering, it doesn't.
     
  15. Michael Zeleny

    Michael Zeleny member

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    I for one am very fond of firing a few rounds at the range and going home for some Bratwurst or Fondue. At the same time, I have no beef with men who choose their sidearm based on fantasy role-playing at Belleau Wood or Normandy. BUCH04.jpg
     
  16. trbon8r

    trbon8r Member

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    No fantasy here, only the cold hard reality of a challenge issued, but sadly rejected by the recipient.

    Speaking of reality, you might want to put aside theory and stop staring at your diplomas long enough to take your P-210 through a fighting pistol class with a few impartial observers. Let us know how it fares against the other guys there with old slab sides. I get the feeling you won't like the answer.
     
  17. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Michael...Have you actually read up on this thing?

    When the AMU was gearing up, they selected their prospective match pistols from regular inventories and test-fired the guns from a machine rest. If a gun would stay inside 3 inches at 50 yards with match-grade ammo, it was deemed fit for compettion, and rebuilt for accuracy. If it shot into 3.1 inches, it was returned to yeoman service.

    Oh! That was low! *snicker* Go sit in the corner! *chuckle*

    Naked Prophet...

    Rounded locking lugs are caused by linkdown and barrel drop timing issues. The mainspring has nothing to do with it...nor the recoil spring...nor the ammunition. Your source is misinformed.

    Now...hold on! I thought we were fightin' over the plunger tube. Now we're talkin' about the Sig 210 again?

    Damn fine pistol...but it's kinda tough to repair these days. I understand why you won't abuse it, Michael. Me? I don't mind. If I break my pistol, I can fix it...and probably have it up and runnin' before you can get the repair order filled out on yours.

    So...I'll concede to your terms...but I want one option. When the guns get so hot they'll blister your fingers...I want'em to go into a 5-gallon bucket of water to cool. Shake'em off, and carry on. No cleaning or oiling. Shoot'em until one locks up and quits.
     
  18. SuperNaut

    SuperNaut Member

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    Sounds like a fun shoot! Except for the mechanical rest that is...
     
  19. Michael Zeleny

    Michael Zeleny member

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    I cited the AMU accuracy requirements in my P210 article. But this is scarcely the place to restrict our attention to bullseye target guns. Your silence about the accuracy requirements that U.S. government imposed on its WWII M1911A1 contractors for standard milspec issue sidearms speaks for itself.
     
  20. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    And you've still missed the point, I'm afraid.

    Old slabsides will tolerate the abuse of mud/blood/beer wallowing and keep running long after that 210 chokes and gives up. That's what determines the utility of the gun...not finely-fitted parts and bughole groups at 50 yards.

    The bottom line is just this:

    Will it function when it's not clean and oiled, or when it's been badly neglected? Will it retain the functional reliability to save your life at a range of 10 feet after it's been fished out of a lake...before you've had a chance to clean it and oil it?

    Can you disassemble the pistol completely, down to bare frame and slide...without tools...so that you can clean it and oil it after you fish it out of the lake?

    Can you repair the pistol quickly and simply...affecting most of those repairs without the need for special tools?

    Can you find parts to repair the pistol without having to pay duties and export taxes and scalper prices?

    If you can't do all of these things...then you don't have a weapon. You have an heirloom and a toy. A very nice toy...but still a toy.

    I just haven't gotten around to it. Gimme time.

    I've got a minty Remington Rand...used very, very little. It's a perfect example of WW2 production. Come and see it shoot, and tell me that its accuracy is...abysmal? (Do people really talk like that?)
     
  21. Michael Zeleny

    Michael Zeleny member

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    Since each of us can put together a zip gun that beats every service sidearm ever made in this regard, there has to be more to the military design brief.
    I have enough of these guns to last out the rest of my lifetime. They never needed a spare part other than the mag retainer clip damaged by bashing the butt against a hard place. Nowadays Nill mag floorplates protect me against this eventuality. I have everything required to fix a breakdown.

    To recap, we shoot for a combination of accuracy and reliability. Each party provides his ammo, for 5,000 rounds out of a machine rest at 50 yards, fired at an NRA bullseye target, with mutually agreed upon score penalties for failures to fire or cycle, and harsher penalties for field-replaceable part breakage. The loser pays for all testing expenses, including beer and skittles. I can host pretty much any time and expect to be free to travel in late summer. Los Angeles is better for optional entertainment, including pole dancing girls and Oriental massage with a happy ending.
    I get more palatable in person.
     
  22. SuperNaut

    SuperNaut Member

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    Do we have a duel? I want to go and film this thing.
     
  23. RancidSumo

    RancidSumo Member

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    Michael, you are awfully full of your self aren't you. Besides, how can a 210 be a better pistol then a 1911 when it uses such and inferior calliber. That automatically disqualifies it for the better gun. Also, you remind me of an ******* known as Awalkalongamingocreek who was here a while ago. Whenever 1911Tuner makes a comment on your challenge, you simply ignore him and keep on insisting that everything be done your way. I'd take a 1911 over a 210 any day.
     
  24. Michael Zeleny

    Michael Zeleny member

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    On the contrary, I make every effort to ejaculate with regularity that befits every red-blooded American male.
     
  25. RancidSumo

    RancidSumo Member

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    Classy as well I see.
     
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