The USGI 1911/1911A1 pistols were assembled to more relaxed tolerances than most of today's "factory customs", but they were not sloppy when new. I have a couple of like-new pistols that are easily as tight as any brand-new Colt. The reputation for "sloppy" pistols came from the fact that the military continued to use pistols last made in 1945, so that by the time of Vietnam many of them were pretty well-worn or else had been rebuilt at least once. By the early 1980's it was pretty sad, as most of them were long past their sell-by date and badly in need of replacing.
As for reliability, USGI pistols ony had to feed one load- 230gr FMJ, aka "ball" ammo. Each one was test-fired by factory workers and also inspected by the Ordnance Department, and rejected if something was amiss. Furthermore there were no cheap cast or MIM parts, everything was forged or barstock steel (except for the stamped trigger in later guns), and the parts weren't fitted so ridiculously tight that crap in the action would cause them to choke. Today's guns are often inspected only at random, sometimes not even test-fired, and corner-cutting is done at every opportunity in both quality of the components as well as how they're fitted. Some of them are even too tight in the wrong areas thanks to the inability to fit them properly like a good gunsmith would do.
By the way some USGI pistols, particularly Remington Rand's, were manufactured and assembled almost entirely by women. I would think knowing that their sons, husbands, or boyfriends were dying in some stinking, un-named corner of the world gave them added incentive to do a good job every day they were on the line.
Last edited by dsk; July 25, 2012 at 12:42 AM.