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Old June 13, 2007, 07:43 PM   #1
oldcars
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"light wieght" 1911's durability?

I am thinking about a WWII style springfield champion with the aluminum light wieght frame but in the past I have heard that aluminum framed 1911's are not durable in the long run. Is this just an "old wifes tale" or realy a problem? I am hoping to use it as an occasional cary piece and plan on shooting my mild 230g lrn reloads for fun. I love the look and feel of the 1911 but I have only owned one before, a Colt series 80 9mm commander, and it was a worn out dud. I would like to give 1911's another try and I can't afford to spend a bunch of money on one right now so the springfield looks like the one. any insight?
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Old June 13, 2007, 07:57 PM   #2
enikkor
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Should be no problem

If the pistol is normally used, not abused. I have an alloyed framed pistol
but not l911, a Sig Sauer, and it is one of the most durable and reliable
pistol around.
Perhaps, it is just me but for my 1911's pistols, I prefer all steel, stainless
steel, or blued. The weight and trigger makes a good combination.
Just me!
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Old June 13, 2007, 07:59 PM   #3
sdj
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light-weight nineteen elevens

I have been showing my SW1911Sc no special treatment, and it has been holding up fine. Few thousand rounds through it. Granted, it is not 10 years old, but who has that kind of time for field testing before a purchase!

Carpe diem.
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Old June 13, 2007, 09:53 PM   #4
KyJim
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I know Kimber says they've tested their alloy frames to 20,000 rounds with no noticeable wear. I have seen posts on the Internet talk about getting 100,000 to 150,000 rounds from steel 1911s and sometimes "only" 20,000 or so for alloy 1911s. If you shot 100 rounds per month with this particular weapon, it would take 200 months or more than 16 years to wear one out (assuming 20,000 round limit).

Now weigh that against lugging an extra 10 to 15 ounces around all day with an all-steel pistol. I've chosen to carry an alloy framed 1911. I practice with both it and my all-steel 1911s. If I wear one out in 15 years or so, it is worth the trade off to me.
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Old June 14, 2007, 12:06 AM   #5
oldbillthundercheif
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I have one of the cheapest of the cheap aluminum-frame SA 1911A1s and it is a peach. After 10 years of fairly vigorous use it needs a new barrel, but any pistol would.

Some people say that some types of ammo (Rem Golden Sabre, mostly) will beat up aluminum frame 1911s with their sharp and chunky frontal profile. My pistol probably has 750-1200 rounds of RemGSs through it with no sign of trouble. The folks who say such things seem to know what they are talking about but it does not matter any more to me. I carried it with GSs for 7-8 years before finding that the pistol reliably shoots 200gr XTPs as well as Federal Gold Medal. I switched because of accuracy, not fear of a mangled pistol.

When I get a new barrel fitted I'll do the whole "find the best carry ammo" procedure again and if it likes GSs more than the XTPs, I'll switch back.

Don't sweat durability, though. Just keep fresh springs in it and it will reward you with lots of bangs with little or no hassle.
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Old June 14, 2007, 01:28 AM   #6
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In absolute terms Steel will always beat alunimum, it will wear longer, it does not make sand paper (alunimum oxide) when it corrodes(which it does easily) and in engineering terms Steel has the advantage of being much less prone to metal fatique, and easier to make quality repairs in via tig welding or other methods.

That being said in relative terms the Alunimum guns out there 1911 or otherwise hold up rather well, in other words tens of thousands of rounds and hard use, though personally I still go Steel most of the time.
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Old June 14, 2007, 09:10 AM   #7
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I’ve had my Kimber CDP (aluminum frame) in 3” for over 4 years now and have shot well over 5,000 rounds through it. It is my primary carry gun. I use to carry a Kimber ULE Eclipse in 3” (all steel) before I purchased the CDP. The difference in weight is very noticeable and makes so you don’t even realize you are carrying. The only advice is to stay away from +P ammo in your aluminum or alloy frame 1911.
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Old June 14, 2007, 09:34 AM   #8
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Anybody have any knowledge to offer regarding aluminum vs scandium alloy?
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Old June 14, 2007, 10:32 AM   #9
M1911
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Scandium is lighter than aluminum and more efficient at transferring dollars from your wallet to S&W's bottom line. Either will work.

For shooting, I prefer steel 1911s. For carry, I prefer my AL-framed Kimber Compact. Realize, however, that the lighter guns do have significantly more recoil.
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Old June 14, 2007, 02:33 PM   #10
W Turner
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I have carried and shot a SA Lightweight Loaded model (5" gun) for over two years and two thousand rounds. No noticeable signs of wear other than the idiot mark I put on it.....

I figure is mine lasts "only" 10,000 rounds, it was worth the weight savings over a steel framed model.

The biggest point of wear on an alloy framed 1911 is the feed ramp due to aggressive JHP's eating up the softer alloy on their way up to the chamber. Springfield uses ramped barrels in all of their alloy guns to allow for this. This is one of the reasons I don't really worry about mine. The only modification I plan to make to mine is to swap out the factory firing pin stop for a fitted flat bottomed one. This helps delay unlocking a little and saves some wear on the frame. Not really necessary, but it will give me more piece of mind.

BTW- I shot a 5" steel gun back to back with my alloy and the difference in recoil, split times, etc. was negligible and I am far from the Leatham/Langdon/Miculek class of shooters.


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Old June 14, 2007, 03:25 PM   #11
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Remember, Springfield has the lifetime warranty.

If the frame does go out, they'll replace it.
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Old June 15, 2007, 09:52 AM   #12
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From what I have heard on the lightweight aka aloy frames is some wear on the feed ramp due to some ammo's. I know many who have carried the aloy frame guns for many years. I retail the 1911 and have for many, many years and most of my clients who shoot a lot opt for steel and those who carry a lot opt for aloy of some kind. Mostly due to convenience and need were the issues not so much on frame wear.

Round count has been in the multiple tens of thousands.

My duty gun was a SIG P226 which is an aloy with 9mm and I finally over 16 years changed the barrel with no issue with frame wear, do not think it did not look worn with 16 years of in and out of a holster and just under 40K rounds over that time frame.

I have changed to the full size full stainless P226 in 9mm and talk about a stable shooter with the additional weight and lightrail.

Point being the lighter guns carry better and the heavy guns are easier to shoot.

Part of the trade off or you get what you pay for. i.e. lighter weight ease of carry and a bit harder to shoot a lot. Heavier gun, harder to carry easier to shoot more.

Hope this helps.
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Old June 15, 2007, 10:19 AM   #13
Jim Watson
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"Scandium is lighter than aluminum and more efficient at transferring dollars from your wallet to S&W's bottom line."

Ectually, old chap, there is very little Scandium in the Aluminum alloy that S&W uses, just enough to refine the grain and increase the tensile strength a good deal. I wish somebody would do one of those gun and ammo company sponsored gunzine torture tests and try to shoot one to death.

I also think it would be interesting to put a lot of mileage on an aluminum Springfield until it gave out and see what they would say on their lifetime guarantee.

I don't believe you can put the P226 in the same category as a lightweight 1911 variant. The Sig-Sauers were designed as aluminum guns, the Commander and its descendants were adapted from a steel frame design.
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Old June 15, 2007, 10:25 AM   #14
Tamara
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An alloy 1911 will fail sooner than a steel one.

Most owners will not shoot theirs enough to find this out.

That pinch of Sc pixie dust that S&W is adding to their alloy frames is a good idea; I, too would like to see one tested to destruction.
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Old June 15, 2007, 10:49 AM   #15
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Jim's point on the SIG being designed as an aluminum gun is very, very valid. As with the 1911 in the original design it was steel and any change to gun requires modifications or "engineering." Guess it all depends if the "engineering" was enough. I have heard on some of the aluminum guns using a full ramped barrel.

As for the SIG 220 in .45acp although being designed as an aluminum gun there was no reported issue when the gun issued to the Texas Highway Patrol and the Arizona Highway Patrol.

Again, just some thoughts.
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Old June 16, 2007, 12:41 AM   #16
oldcars
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Well, I took the plunge!! I bought a Springfield GI champion lightweight, just bought it about 5:30 this evening but hopefully I will have some time to shoot it this week, I am leaving in the morning to do some varmint hunting for a few days, but I think I might take it along, new toy !!!!!
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Old June 16, 2007, 06:26 AM   #17
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inquiring brain

What wears a barrel out after "ten years"?

I mean, I got over 40K through a 9x19 Nowlin tube that's about 12 yrs old, and over tenK through a BarSto 45 tube, and some other stuff (but, oddly, no worn-out barrels)?
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Old June 16, 2007, 09:39 AM   #18
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Congrats oldcars. Let us know how it works, and of course PICS!
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Old June 16, 2007, 02:00 PM   #19
oldbillthundercheif
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Hell, I don't know how many rounds it has through it, but I shot 2-3 boxes a few times a week for a full decade. The rifling is degraded through the first 1/2 of the tube... bad enough to easily notice. The barrel is not stamped with a maker so it may be SA or Brazilian made.

I never considered it a target pistol so I can't give you precise numbers on the degredation of accuracy. It went from "minute of beer-can" to "minute of paper plate" at 25-50 yards over the years. The bushing is still tight and everything looks and measures-out kosher except the bore.

I'm glad to hear your BarSto is holding up better than my el-cheapo 1911 barrel of indeterminate manufacture, but that's not really surprising, is it?

Edit: OK, I ran the numbers. The most it could have through it is 156,000 rounds. The least it could have through it is 104,000 rounds. I suspect the real number is somewhere between the two calculations.
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Old June 17, 2007, 09:19 AM   #20
WESHOOT2
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Thank you for a polite answer to a polite inquiry

100K explains it.

I expect the BarSto to last that long; the 9x19 Nowlin occasionally get subjected to Major Nine....

(and I got this SA 1911 in 9x19 w/factory tube; curious as to its longevity).
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Old June 17, 2007, 09:35 AM   #21
orionengnr
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Just a few points:
I've had several steel and several alloy 1911s. I honestly don't think the recoil is noteworthy, but the weight certainly is.

I have a Kimber Ultra Carry (no ramped barrel, bought used). Someone (prior owner or 'smith) had sanded the ramp to ensure proper feeding. However, this sanding removed the hard anodizing, and subsequently the feed ramp was damaged by either mag followers and/or HP ammo.

I read this thread
http://forums.1911forum.com/showthre...ht=ramp+insert
and after talking with Chuck, sent the frame in to Rogers Precision. While he had it, I asked him to Dura-Coat the frame black.

It was back in short order, looks great and works perfectly. Chuck does absolutely beautiful work.

A set of rosewood grips later, it is my poor man's Ultra CDP clone.

BTW, later Kimber Ultra Carry models have a ramped barrel.
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Old June 17, 2007, 09:39 AM   #22
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one other thought

To paraphrase: "If one can afford enough ammo to 'wear it out' one can certainly afford enough money to get it fixed".

Yeah, what he said...
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