Getting a 1911 ready for Duty

I had a message about getting a Springfield 1911 ready for duty use.   The fellow was concerned about having to replace parts, which is a common misconception.  You only have to replace a part if it breaks, and you don’t know if a part is going to.  Preemptive replacing of all the small bits when there is no reason to is wasteful.  A Springfield is a great gun for the basis of a solid duty gun.   The gun is pretty dang good out of the box and I wouldn’t say that it needed much.  But it does need some work.

First, if the gun has it, I’d get rid of the full length guide rod and put in a regular short GI type guide rod and spring cap.  The FLGR adds in more friction, more spots for binding and more friction while it unnecessarily complicates things for no tangible benefit.  Get rid of it.

The rails need to be smoothed out.  Frame and Slide.  These need to be polished.  You can do this yourself with some polishing compound and some elbow grease.  Under the slide, where the hammer drags across it… that needs to be polished as well.  Don’t get too carried away, just make sure it’s smooth.  Sometimes this area isn’t and that’s adding drag where you don’t want it.   I’ve seen some 1911′s where you could pull the slide back a bit and the hammer would allow the slide to stick there.  Let’s take that sticky spot away.

I’d replace the factory Springs with a Wolff spring that’s 2 pounds heavier.  Duty ammo is a touch hotter, so that extra grunt is going to help buffer slide battering, but more importantly the extra push in the slide is going to help chamber a round that might not otherwise want to feed all the way in.  The most common jam in my pistol classes with 1911′s when they get hot and dirty is a failure to feed.   Usually the slide stops about a quarter inch short of home and a tap with the palm of the hand to the back of the slide usually does the trick.  A spring that is a little stronger reduces that type of jam.  Some guys think that they have to ream out the chamber and throat… when really all they need is a smoother action and a stronger spring.   Now, sometimes you do need to have a chamber and throat job.  But most of the time, you don’t.  And most of the time those guys that think they do are running Handloads and blame the gun.  Sure “Factory” runs fine, but with your absolutely flawless handloads – must be something wrong with the gun… they made the chamber too tight.  Uh huh.

Run Factory Ammunition.

Lubrication is critical.  This is why Crusader made Slipstream Weapon Lubricant.   Clean your 1911 with MPRO-7 Cleaner completely.  Get some Slipstream and soak that 1911 in it… apply it generously to all the moving parts and friction bearing surfaces and work that in.  Cycle it by hand a hundred times.  Then strip it, do it again.   Now, get out to the range and go shoot it.  A lot.  Then clean it and Slipstream it again.   The Nano Lube that makes Slipstream black… those particles… will get into the metal, imbed in the surface and will seriously slick that gun up.  This is beyond what your favorite oil can do.  I’ve a Springer GI – nothing fancy.  But it’s slicker than a Nighthawk Custom and it’s never jammed on me… Since I Slipstreamed it.   500 rounds in a single day?  No problem.  No failures.

Smooth, Simple, Slick, and Strong… that’s what the 1911 needs to run flawlessly.

That and Factory ammo.   Speaking off ammo.  We all know the 1911 was designed to run Ball Ammo.  Modern Hollowpoints sometimes don’t run in 1911 without a little work.  Typically those rounds being 230 grains.  I’ve seen many times, and once even in my own Springfield… where a 230 grain JHP round failed to feed.  But the same load using a 185 grain ran flawlessly.  These were Hydrashocks in my gun, but I’ve seen the same thing with others JHP’s.  Going down to 200 or 185′s generally let finicky 1911′s run perfectly.  I happen to prefer Medium to Light bullets for caliber in handguns.  In my experience most guns seem to shoot better than using that rather than heavy for caliber loads, such as 230′s in .45 or 180′s for .40.   But that’s just me.

4 thoughts on “Getting a 1911 ready for Duty”

  1. Springfield’s run great right out of the box! A few years back I had Karl Sokol at Chestnut Mountain Sports update a Springfield Government size that had been my range 1911A1 for five years. Barsto barrel and tritium night sights were the only big changes. I had new Wolff springs that I put in myself. It is now a tack driver that reliably feeds anything that I shoot. Only thing I kick myself over is that I did not have that Idiot Locking System abomination removed from the grip.

    I paid under $ 600 new and with the CMS tune up, I would not trade this for one of those $ 2000+ fancy pants yuppie 1911A1′s.

  2. For duty use I would suppose you have to keep the dept. chiefs happy and you have to leave the ILS as is. If you go to a stronger recoil spring and have feed problems you might need to smooth up the breach face just a little,just knock off high spots, or put in stronger magazine springs because the slide is going forward a bit faster and the round needs to get ride up into position a bit faster. Some of the lower price non famous brand name ammo burns a bit dirty, and it can jam up a tight chambered 1911 before you get 50 rounds through it. This happened to me with a Dan Wesson pistol pre slipstream days at a pistol range that required me to use their cheap crap.

  3. well, me thinking out loud I would say spend a little money on a reliable gun out of the box if you are staking your life on it. Don’t get the cheapest model 1911 just to save a few dollars and then try and upgrade it. First off it will typically void the warranty and second finding someone competant enough to do the work is a job in itself and will more than likely cost MORE than if you bought it the way you want it from the factory. Full length guide rods are still personal preference as some will say that JMB was smart enough to know what he was doing whioe others say that Gkock, H&K, CZ, etc. run just fine with a FLGR. I would recommend putting a few hndred rounds through your new gun and then take her apart and look for wear patterns as they will be your guide as to where any high or rough spots are. I recommend against any chamber modifications as they can lead to an out of spec part and then cause bigger problems. If the frame to slide fit is a bit rough, put some lapping compound on the rails and then hand cycle it a few dozen times and then give it another look…just be careful with the stuff and don’t over-do it. Slipstream…if you aren’t using the system yet then I highly suggest you get with the program and order the kit. Bottom line is don’t cheap out on a gun that is supposed to be keeping you alive as well as the support equipment (ammo, lube, cleanning supplies, etc.)

  4. i hear a lot about different 1911′s, but nothing about the auto ordinance basic govement model. i have one of the first ones they came out with in the 80′s. i had to replace the sights, and i had the ejection port relieved aside from that it is a really nice gun. i have put who knows how many thousands of rounds through it. when using ball ammo it is highly reliable. why dosn’t any one else talk about these?

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