Originally Posted by dahermit
After doing some searches, it seems that I may have been in error about the exact nature of the recoil spring plug failure. However, it seems that it is the bushing that fails, allowing the plug and spring to go down range.
So yes, I would care to post a link:http://www.m1911.org/textfiles/1911acp.htm
The problem is, although I know the owner of M1911.ORG personally and I know he tries to screen the information he offers in the technical issues area to ensure accuracy, in a lengthy article with a lot of good information, it's always possible that there are errors. This is such a case.
Originally Posted by article
PROBLEM #3: THE BARREL BUSHING/RECOIL SPRING PLUG:
The barrel bushing/recoil spring plug is a high-stress area of the gun. Not only does the barrel whack around in the bushing every time you fire the piece, but the full force of the recoil spring also bears upon the bushing via the recoil spring plug. If the barrel bushing gives way, your recoil spring and recoil spring plug will depart the front of the gun at high speed. Effectively, the gun is disabled. Now, this doesn't happen very often, but I have had it happen to me while firing a Combat Commander. The bushing shattered, losing the semicircular piece that holds the recoil spring plug in the gun. My recoil system was somewhere down range, my gun out of action. I believe this occured because the slide of my gun came from the factory slightly shorter in front than it should have been. There was a fingernail-size gap between the barrel bushing's flange and the slide; you could move the bushing back and forth with your fingertips. This being the case, of course, the bushing took a hellacious pounding as it jacked itself back and forth every time the gun was fired, and finally it gave up the ghost. You should check your gun to ensure that the bushing fits snugly into the slide.
The exact same problem can occur from a different cause: The recoil spring plug may give way. This is common with hard use of the compact Officer's ACP guns. Most compact 1911s slavishly copy the Officer's ACP's recoil system, so this problem is not limited to Colts. On the Officer's ACP, the only thing holding the recoil spring plug in the gun is a tiny tab that hooks into a slot in the slide. If that small tab gives way (and it often does), your gun is hors de combat by virtue of a missing recoil system. I'm a big fan of the aftermarket recoil spring plugs for Officer's ACP-size guns that use a ring of metal at the rear of the plug to hold it inside the slide. There's no way such a part can come out of the gun.
Let's address the highlighted comments in the order in which they appear.
So the barrel bushing is subjected to the full force of the recoil spring every time you fire. So what? It is NOT a "high-stress" area. It's also subjected to exactly the same "full force" of the recoil spring every time you manually rack the slide. The recoil spring in a full-size 1911 produces 16 pounds of force when the slide is fully retracted. That's it ... that's ALL it can do. That will NOT fracture a barrel bushing. What DOES fracture barrel bushings is installing a replacement recoil spring that's too long for the gun. Now, when the slide retracts the spring compresses into a solid column of steel and, instead of the slide stopping when the dust cover impacts the flange of the spring guide, the full force of stopping the slide is transmitted to the barrel bushing. Yes, that will break something. That is not a flaw in the design of the 1911, that's a problem created by incompetent gunsmithing.
In a previous response to one of your posts I mentioned the issue of the tab on the recoil spring plug of the Officers ACP. But even this is not the major problem many claim it to be. First, the autor of this article is in error in claiming that most makers of Officers-size 1911s "slavishly" copy the Colt system. That's simply not the case. The only company I know of that did copy it was para-Ordnance with their esarly P12.45 pistols. But they went away from that style recoil assembly in the early to mid-2000s. Colt doesn't use it in their Defender and New Agent pistols. I don't think you'll find any current make of "compact" (meaning 3-1/2" or 3") 1911s that uses the recoil spring plug with the small retaining tab.
But even the original Officers ACP didn't fail regularly. I have a friend who has put well over 10,000 rounds of "robust" handloads through his Officers and the recoil spring plug is intact. In reality, what happens is the same thing that breaks bushings -- people replace the recoil spring with one that's too long, the spring "stacks," and the full impact of the slide stopping is then taken by the recoil spring rather than the slide. The gun wasn't designed to operate that way, so we shouldn't be surprised if it breaks.