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Old October 5, 2008, 05:54 PM   #1
govmule84
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Springfield: Possibly not junk.

Howdy, all.

In college, I traded all my guns (a cool 870 with an 18" barrel, extended mag, and wood furniture, a Ruger Mark III, and a 6" Taurus .357) for a Springer Mil-Spec. There is no need to tell me how bad this trade was, but I did need a carry gun, and the Springer fit the bill nicely.

Well, it shot like crap, brand new out of the box. I couldn't get a 5" group at 7 yards. I talked to the owner of the shop, and he said the .45 cartridge was too powerful for me to handle. Now, without sounding picky, I am a big boy - 6 foot, 250. I LIKE shooting .44 mag, and .357. I shoot my pt-22 and Beretta Jetfire, with two inch barrels, more accurately than this.

Later, I moved to another state. I asked the guy who owned our range to shoot with my gun. He did, and he grouped awfully, but said military spec guns shot like crap, and it was as good as I could ask for.

I later decided to start 'amateur gunsmithing'. I figured the 1911 was a great platform to learn on, and I had one I didn't care about - I found other guns to carry, because that Springer don't hit the broad side of a barn.

So, I disabled the ILS lock on the Springfield, slicked up the internals, learned how to detail strip it, installed a new mainspring housing and spring, etc. Minor stuff. And I was learning about accurizing...I measured the ID of the barrel bushing, and the OD of the barrel, and it was about .001 difference, and then I was reading about how to fit a match barrel. And evidently, proper fit of the slide to frame is essential.

I found a guy who has a Springer that looks just like mine. Is this type of fit bad? I can actually see daylight through this (pay attention to the left side of the fitment). Does this need to go back to Springfield?
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Old October 5, 2008, 07:45 PM   #2
govmule84
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...Anybody? Am I alarmed over nothing, or is this why my ten yard groups look like shotgun patterns?
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Old October 5, 2008, 07:58 PM   #3
MrNiceGuy
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holy crap

that's WAY too much gap

my norinco 1911 looks like a freakin sti compared to that thing


i'd give springfield a call and tell them the same story
as long as none of the smithing you did affected that gap, they really need to correct that for you.
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Old October 5, 2008, 08:05 PM   #4
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Okey dokey. I suspected that was the problem. Looks like I might be getting better at this here gunsmithin'. (Lol...I'm just barely now competent to identify factory 'oops'es...I now officially know just enough to get into trouble.)

How do I ship this darn thing legally?

Oh, and I didn't do anything but the mainspring housing, with a lighter spring, (I wanted that silly internal lock gone, and I put a spring in while I was in there...19lbs, so I stayed pretty conservative.) and I also slicked up the internals...just light polishing on non-critical surfaces with 000 steel wool. I knew enough not to touch the sear....I cleaned up the hammer hooks and the sear spring some, w/o changing any angles. But I didn't touch the slide.
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Old October 6, 2008, 11:53 AM   #5
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Gun Shipping

Springfield will tell you where and how to ship the gun. IIRC, you ship directly to the address they provide via UPS or FedEx so it's trackable. They will return ship directly to you.
But then again, things do change. Call them to get the exact policy and procedure.
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Old October 6, 2008, 01:21 PM   #6
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Maybe I am missing something, but it looks to me like the slide just isn't going all the way forward. Seeing light between the slide and frame, especially along the side of the ejector, is normal. The 1911 was designed to be a loose fitting military tool that could function with mud and sand in it. Those of us who don't intend to fight WWI over again don't really need that trench proofing, which is one reason we go ahead and tighten the things up.

What I see in the photo is the slide is not going all the way forward in battery and in a stock factory gun that usually means the barrel link is too short. You can buy sets of links with different distances between the holes and pick out the right one. But first, do a test. Drift the link pin out and remove the link and reassemble the gun without the link. Stick a 7/16" wood dowel into the barrel and push the back of the barrel up into the locking lugs of the slide and see how far the recoil spring pushes it forward when it is up there?

If the slide is still back of flush with the back of the frame, congratulations. You have extra meat on the link lugs of the barrel and it can be fit up nicely with some judicious filing and scraping. If, as is more common, the slide is then slightly forward of the back of the frame, then you've proved the link is too short and you need to get a link set (Brownells and others have them) and find the one with hole spacing that is the shortest one that lets the slide and barrel get to that natural stopping point. With that change you will need to double-check that the disconnector function is still good (it should be), and check that the back surfaces of the barrel link lugs don't stop against the back of their channel in the frame before the barrel is all the way back and down in its cradle in the frame.

If that last condition is not met, the barrel may drag on the slide during cycling, be unable to cycle, or the feed may go south. Check by assembling the barrel, link and slide stop pin in the frame and pulling the barrel back and making sure it gets all the way back in the cradle and doesn't rock up and down. Filing the back sides of the link lugs on the barrel will correct that problem. Also check that the bottom edge of the barrel doesn't overhang the feed ramp. If it does, it will have to be filed forward and re-contoured for reliable feeding.

The above actions are not as good as fitting oversize link lugs on a custom barrel because the lockup is now using the link to push the barrel up. That arrangement is less immune to tipping than properly fit link lugs riding the slide stop pin up into position.

Fitting the slide and frame is the least critical of the accurizing steps. Fitting the barrel does the lion's share of the improvement because it is the single step that does the most to get the lockup to fix the sight and barrel positions with respect to one another. It is usually credited with achieving 70-80% of the mechanical accuracy improvement possible. The bushing fit is usually credited with 15-20% of the improvement. Fitting the slide and frame only does the remaining 5-10%. It is critical only if you are using a frame-mounted sight system rather than the sights on the slide. It also matters if you want to group the gun off a mechanical rest, like a Ransom rest, that holds the gun by its frame. The reason a short link produces terrible accuracy is it lets the barrel stop sometimes left of the sight line and sometimes to the right, Sometimes tilted a little, sometimes not. The sights are thus not located in the same position with respect to the barrel for each shot. It has the same effect as having loose sights that change position from shot to shot.

If you are returning your gun to Springfield Armory, then I would put the original mainspring housing back on. They will put one on for you if you don't. A disabled safety device is not something their lawyers will want them to return to a customer.
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Old October 6, 2008, 02:46 PM   #7
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Do we know the slide-frame mismatch isn't just cosmetic?
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Old October 6, 2008, 02:55 PM   #8
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The crircal fit on a 1911 is in how the barrel locks up. If your pistol is not shooting well, it is likely not locking up well, and either needs the proper size link (as Unclenick is suggesting) or the entire barrel assembly needs to be properly fitted (bushing to barrel, bushing to slide, hood, locking lugs, barrel lug). Rather than just playing around with it and humoring yourself, why not take it to someone who knows what they are doing and let them fix it? You'll be happier in the long run.
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Old October 6, 2008, 10:15 PM   #9
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Springer's got it.
To be quite honest, mechanically, I don't think I know a good lockup from a bad one. I don't know that I wouldn't hamfist this job, and as the thing is covered under warranty, we'll see how it goes.

They assured me that my non-ILS housing would be returned as is, no hassle or issues.

I suspect, still, the slide to frame fit is not quite right...if you shake the pistol, it rattles. I understand it's a GI gun designed with liberal tolerances for reliability, but the groups are awful. Springfield told me today to expect three inch groups at twenty five yards. I can't get three inches at seven yards.

I'll keep you guys posted. Thanks for all the good info, Unclenick most especially.

EDIT: I forgot to mention...the first time I ever shot the gun, I noticed the nice, shiny barrel had marks on it where the slide rubbed it as I shot it. (The part you can see through the ejection port.) I dunno if that is normal, but I can't recall seeing it on anyone's 1911 but my own. Perhaps that will give some additional info for those more adept at troubleshooting these things than myself.
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Old October 7, 2008, 12:00 AM   #10
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+1 on unclenick's observations, but I'd just send it back rather than attempt to do the work yourself.

What year is your Mil-Spec from?

I have the impression that their build quality had really suffered a few years ago. A lot of people I've spoken to have a bad impression of them. But mine is a really well built, reliable, and accurate pistol.
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Old October 7, 2008, 09:58 PM   #11
govmule84
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I think it was built in '05
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Old October 8, 2008, 01:43 PM   #12
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I stand corrected by PM that Springfield Armory will not necessarily undo a replaced ILS housing. They must be about the only major manufacturer out there who doesn't automatically return a gun to factory spec on repair. I'm glad the lawyers don't have everyone by the short hairs.

3" at 25 yards sounds like a reasonable expectation once they get the short link out (assuming I am right on that). Put up a picture to compare to the first one when it comes home! Maybe a group or two? One thing that is likely to happen is your repaired gun will be tested at the factory range to validate their accuracy claim, and if it doesn't make it, they will keep at it until it does. There is nothing like a little personal attention, sometimes.
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Old October 8, 2008, 03:09 PM   #13
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Why would the length of the link affect the location of the slide on the frame? Cutting the lower lugs for a different link could change it, but the link itself?
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Old October 8, 2008, 08:14 PM   #14
govmule84
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I'll try to get some pics up. I never ever took pics of the bad groups because I was ashamed of them. I even posted a thread at TFL asking if it was bad, and almost universally everyone told me I had to learn how to shoot a 1911. I suspect Springfield will prove me a slightly better shot...

I hope so, anyway. How embarrassing would it be for me to get my gun back with a target with a ragged hole and a note that said "No service necessary."?

Liam
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Old October 8, 2008, 09:58 PM   #15
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I've seen that happen. Get someone who knows how to shoot really well to shoot your gun before you change anything.
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Old October 9, 2008, 12:24 PM   #16
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RickB,

If the link is too short it forces the slidestop pin to bump into the knee of the link lug profile before the barrel is all the way forward. That prevents the slide, which is bearing on the back of the barrel extension (hood) from going further forward.

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Old October 26, 2008, 06:35 PM   #17
govmule84
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Followup

Springfield had my gone back to me in eleven days...that was kind of cool.

They refit the slide to the frame, and replaced the sear, sear spring, disconnector, barrel, and did a trigger job on it, all for free. I took it to the range, and it is now very, very accurate...more so than I am. I suppose now I just need to ba/uu/r, correct?
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Old October 26, 2008, 07:16 PM   #18
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Quote:
Springfield had my gone back to me in eleven days...that was kind of cool.
They refit the slide to the frame, and replaced the sear, sear spring, disconnector, barrel, and did a trigger job on it, all for free. I took it to the range, and it is now very, very accurate...more so than I am.
They're a good bunch of folks over here. Glad they hooked you up.

Quote:
suppose now I just need to ba/uu/r, correct?
What?
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Old October 27, 2008, 11:06 AM   #19
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Buy Ammo/Use Up/Repeat
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Old October 27, 2008, 08:22 PM   #20
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I'm sorry, I have to agree with MrNiceGuy. Unless that gap on the left is just shadow from taking the picture, that is one hell of a lot of horrendous slop. NO ONE can shoot a decent group with a slide THAT loose. That must be like .020" or .040". Now I know it's all about the barrel bushing, but if the slide has THAT much side to side slop, the whole slide can wiggle to one side or the other on recoiling before the locking lugs disengage.

The reason the bushing is the main issue and some slop is normally not a big deal on a delayed blowback is that the sights are on the slide, not the frame, so it makes a LOT more difference if the barrel doesn't match the sights than if the frame doesn't match the slide. But that looks REALLY loose!
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Old October 29, 2008, 09:17 PM   #21
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Looking at that photo I would say that the machining of the slide for the extractor is way out of spec but the gaps you're seeing from the rear of the slide really have very little to do with the mechanical accuracy of a 1911. I've seen plenty of govt. issue .45 pistols with more slop than that that will chew the center out of a target. The critical thing is the fit of the barrel to the slide when the gun is in battery. If the barrel and the slide lock together in battery and the sights are aligned on target it will shoot where it's looking. Tightening the slide/frame fit won't make much difference if the barrel is good and properly fitted. But what you have is substandard workmanship on the part of the manufacturer. If it won't shoot then there's other issues.
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Old November 1, 2008, 07:48 PM   #22
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Don't forget to thank Springfield for fixing that pistol for you. Gratitude is appropriate and will be appreciated.

And post up a pic of a fresh target with the center blown out.
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Old November 2, 2008, 09:03 AM   #23
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Post pic

could we have a post-op pic too? Glad you got it fixed gracefully!
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