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Old January 1, 2011, 09:40 AM   #1
Dashunde
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1911 - 9mm reliability vs 45acp?

I'll start with the conception (or misconception) that 1911's fall far short of being the most reliable 45ACP platform available, but how well does it do with 9mm, or 40S&W?
I decided awhile ago that I was going to move to HK for my 45 needs, but I like the 1911 very much and wonder if it is simply "better" in a different caliber?
Theres plenty of 9mm 1911's running around nowadays, are reliablity compliants as frequent with them as they are with 45ACP?
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Old January 1, 2011, 10:06 AM   #2
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I have a number of 1911s in 9mm, .38 Super, and .45ACP from several different manufacturers and I don't have reliablility issues with any of them. Proper cleaning, lubrication, and quality mags keep mine running 100%.
I carry a S&W 1911 9mm Pro Series on duty and it's never had any sort of stoppage or failure.
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Old January 1, 2011, 10:07 AM   #3
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Too general - some 45s are iffy based on tolerances, barrel length, ramp angle, ammo, etc. An old .45 full of "slop" will cycle just about anything but once you start tightening them up or running something other than ball ammo - there will be some issues.

Ask guys that have 3" barrel 1911 .45s if there are any inherent issues with reliability...

Frankly - a plain ole .45 is probably the most reliable out there. Now throw in some Gen 3 Glocks into the mix - and you will get a whole different level of reliability but then bring the shooter into the mix and you can get issues...

But back to your assertion... I think reliability first starts with shooter, then the pistol, then the ammo, then the caliber....

The Shooter: Proper grip, carefull cleaning, READS the manual twice before shooting, etc.

The pistol [the manufacturer]: Quality construction, smart design, great customer service, good magazine construction, etc.

The ammo: High quality, low quality, bullet type, type of primers/powder...

Then finally the caliber.

You would need to be specific on your assertion...

Which Gun manufacturer? THere are SO many 1911 platform manufacturers. And some of those 1911s aren't REALLY 1911s. Many would contend that there is only ONE 1911 .45....
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Old January 1, 2011, 10:52 AM   #4
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Personal opinion mode on for this one, there is no right or wrong answer.

1911's were designed with a 5" barrel shooting the .45ACP cartridge over a century ago. (late 1890's) It was adopted by the Army in 1911 and has been used in numerous conflicts and proven itself in combat.

That said, it was designed to shoot the .45ACP and it was designed over a century ago. Improvements have been made over this time, but the basic operation is essentially unchanged.

Firearm technology has advanced since that time, but not to the point where Mr. Browning's design is considered antique. He was a weapon design genius who was ahead of his time in a lot of respects.

Are there more reliable pistols out there? Sure, but people buy this because it is a classic design that has withstood the test of time.

It is my opinion that you are asking for issues when you stray from the 5" .45ACP combination. But I reserve the right to have others disagree.
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Old January 1, 2011, 12:20 PM   #5
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You will occasionally see someone ask or say something about the 9mm 1911 being more unreliable than in .45 acp. However, you'll find very little real data to support claims the 9mm is unreliable in a 1911 style pistol, especially in those of more recent manufacture, say within the last 10 years or so. As with all 1911s, those with shorter barrels (less than 4.25 inches) are not as forgiving as those with longer barrels.

Let me also dissuade you from the notion that 1911s in .45 acp are unreliable. As a whole, they are VERY reliable. Occasionally, they need a bit of tweaking and, rarely, there's a real lemon. For a first 1911, I would suggest you get one from a manufacturer with a stellar reputation for customer service -- RIA, Colt, S&W, Springfield, STI, and Dan Wesson are just a few.
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Old January 1, 2011, 01:18 PM   #6
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I have a pair of STI Ranger IIs. One is .45 and one is 9mm. Both are reliable, very well made and accurate. I have no other 9mm 1911s, but the one I have is very good.



By the way, I don't buy into the 1911s being unreliable stuff. 6 out of 7 of mine are perfect. That's about the same percentage as my non-1911 semiautos. Way better than my luck with .380 pocket pistols. Just buy from manufacturers with good reputations and research your purchases. Don't swap parts around if you don't know what you're doing. Even my three 3" 1911s are reliable.
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Old January 1, 2011, 01:30 PM   #7
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The 1911 - in any caliber - is only unreliable if the owner doesn't take care of the gun --- a 1911 needs to be cleaned and lubed properly / springs changed as recommended. It isn't any different for a gun made in 9mm or .45acp.

I have three 1911's chambered in 9mm - and after they were broken in properly, all three are very good guns. All of my 1911's, with one exception being a 4" gun, are 5" guns...and I think 5" guns do tend to me easier to keep tuned properly.
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Old January 1, 2011, 01:52 PM   #8
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Pick your caliber - in the original full-size 5" configuration, or even the 4.25" Commander size, there is no difference in reliability. Colt has been making the 1911 in .38 Super since 1929 and in 9mm since the late 1940s.

Last edited by gc70; January 1, 2011 at 02:59 PM.
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Old January 2, 2011, 05:50 AM   #9
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I just shot my new Kimber Stainless Pro Carry II a few days ago. The short stubby HPs had a few nose down FTF. The WWB 124gr. ball fed perfect and was smooth. They had a longer bullet and rounded nose. They were 100% ok.

I called Kimber Customer Service and they suggested staying with a longer bullet profile. The 9mm case is .754 and the 45 ACP is .898 so that's .154shorter. The longer bullet will make up for that distance, so it makes sense.

Kimber suggested the longer rounded ogive of the Rem. Golden Saber, Fed.124gr. Hydrashock, and the Hornady 115 XTP.

One poster on a different site to Tripp Research Magazines that have a stronger spring and lifted the cartriges up faster and solved his feeding problems. You could get a stronger spring from Wolfe and accomplish the same thing for less money.
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Old January 2, 2011, 08:22 AM   #10
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The tighter and more precise and well crafted the 1911 is, the more reliable. They have to be made by someone who knows what they are doing. More slop means more slop and more margine for error-less reliability. A loose 1911 will also sacrifice some accuracy. I have 1911s in 9mm, .38super, and .45, all are 100% reliable except for the only loose fitting gun I have (an RIA in 9mm, it has slop and won't feed JHP).

On the other hand, the gun was designed from the ground up for the .45, so I believe it is more reliable with that. Also, thinking in terms of the Kriss Super V, bigger parts (in this case a bigger bullet) mean that tolerances are able to have larger ratios. Technically, the .45 should be most reliable in a 1911.
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Old January 2, 2011, 10:15 AM   #11
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It comes down to energy and magazines.

A 9mm 1911 is being asked to use less energy to cycle the action than the .45 the gun was originally designed for. While it's certainly not impossible to make one run 100% (my Spartan did from the factory), it is less forgiving of minor problems like overly-tight extractors or slightly rough feed ramps; there's simply less energy, and correspondingly less recoil spring, to overcome them.

Another issue with 9mm 1911s is the availability of good magazines. Unlike a .45 magazine, which essentially just has to hold and release the round at the correct point, a 9mm magazine must make up for unused space in the magwell, because the 9mm is shorter than the .45. Some do it with spacers in front, some in back, some with crimping along the front side instead of the spacers.

These all add variables to a 9mm 1911 that a .45 doesn't have. Look at all the discussions of which .45 1911 magazines are best, and now consider the discussion you could have if there were actually three or more completely different types of magazines involved. That's where a 9mm 1911 is.

Can they work? Absolutely. Are they as easy to get running 100%, or as tolerant of problems, as a .45? For the reasons stated above, I don't believe so.


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Old January 2, 2011, 10:26 AM   #12
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I disagree that a tighter 1911 will be more reliable. I think it can be more accurate, reliable? I doubt it.

I carried a GI 1911 when in the service and it was extremely loose fitting. Look at the AK as an example, not a single tight tolerance there and it runs in anything. I think a tight fitting 1911 will be more susceptible to dirt and will foul much easier thus necessitating better and more frequent cleanings. I don't have a GI issued 1911 at the moment, but I am guessing most, if not all, have some slop in the fit to allow for operation in adverse environments and when dirty.
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Old January 2, 2011, 10:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
The tighter and more precise and well crafted the 1911 is, the more reliable.
Not true. They might be more accurate but not more reliable. Many people believe that the most reliable 1911s are the "bit loose" GI guns. When people took the 1911 platform and tightened it up to get accuracy and race guns they took away the loose fit in order to gain accuracy. Those accuracy gains where at the cost of reliability. Now that is not to say you cannot have a reliable tight 1911. I have a few.

To the OP 9mm 1911s that are commander size or govt sized have good reliability records. All 1911s can be mag sensitive. I recommend shooting nato or +p ammo for some of the reasons DT pointed out. The 9mm round as DT pointed out is being asked to "do more" with less in terms of slide velocity etc but IMHO they can be just a reliable as a 1911 in 45.
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Old January 2, 2011, 01:14 PM   #14
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This may be nit-picky or I may be mistaken, but I thought the basic 1911 platform was not developed for the .45 acp but instead the .38 acp, and designated as the models of 1902 and 1903. Two years later, that platform was modified to accpept the .45 acp and designated the model 1905. A gip safety and loaded chamber indicator was added for army trials in 1907. With some other changes that model became the 1911. So it seems to me that if you want to be true to the original design and chambering, then you would purchase a 1911 chambered for the .38 super. If you insist on being more nostalgic, then change the recoil spring to use the lighter 38 acp's. Just don't forget to change it back if you use .38 supers again.

I have a colt gold cup, a springer 1911 in .45 acp, and a springer in .38 super with a ramped wilson barrel. All three function flawlessly. When people mention the unreliability of the 1911 (or the wrist numbing recoil), I always wonder if they're talking about a different pistol than I've known and used.

Last edited by hammie; January 2, 2011 at 01:38 PM.
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Old January 2, 2011, 01:24 PM   #15
WC145
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Quote:
A 9mm 1911 is being asked to use less energy to cycle the action than the .45 the gun was originally designed for. While it's certainly not impossible to make one run 100% (my Spartan did from the factory), it is less forgiving of minor problems like overly-tight extractors or slightly rough feed ramps; there's simply less energy, and correspondingly less recoil spring, to overcome them.

Another issue with 9mm 1911s is the availability of good magazines. Unlike a .45 magazine, which essentially just has to hold and release the round at the correct point, a 9mm magazine must make up for unused space in the magwell, because the 9mm is shorter than the .45. Some do it with spacers in front, some in back, some with crimping along the front side instead of the spacers.

These all add variables to a 9mm 1911 that a .45 doesn't have. Look at all the discussions of which .45 1911 magazines are best, and now consider the discussion you could have if there were actually three or more completely different types of magazines involved. That's where a 9mm 1911 is.

Can they work? Absolutely. Are they as easy to get running 100%, or as tolerant of problems, as a .45? For the reasons stated above, I don't believe so.
Certainly there's no questioning the physics you're talking about but it's not like 9mm 1911s are a new concept. They've been around for 60 or so years now and the bugs were worked out long ago. That goes for mags as well.
In this day and age there is no reason a new gun, even a 1911, should require attention to run 100%, regardless of caliber. My S&W 9mm 1911 has been perfect from day one using Wilson and Metalform mags. I expect nothing less from all of my 1911s and and it's not up to me as the buyer to tweak the gun so it runs.
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Old January 2, 2011, 02:30 PM   #16
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Wilson Combat's new 10round 9mm mags - are running in all of my 1911's in 9mm - with no issues whatsoever.... Its a great mag...
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Old January 2, 2011, 08:51 PM   #17
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My 9mm 1911 was very problematic when new. Tried a bunch of different mags. Finally took it to my local smith. The extractor was out of spec. The locator pad, the bump in back of the hook, was not filed down enough, so the hook didn't get enough of the cartridge rim.

Problem fixed. Runs like a top. I can run very light reloads with a reduced recoil spring for games, and switch out the recoil spring for full power loads.

Wilson 10 round mags are 100% reliable.

Mine's a Les Baer PII. I like the look of that S&W Pro.
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Old January 2, 2011, 11:32 PM   #18
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In general, 1911s are more reliable when chambered for cartridges with ~1.25" overall length, than when chambered for shorter rounds. A lot of guys are loading .40s as long as they can, and every new 9mm mag is the one that will finally bring reliability to 1911s so chambered.
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Old January 3, 2011, 12:24 AM   #19
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It does seem that the 10 round magazines are where the majority of 9mm 1911 problems arise. The 9 round mags seem far more sorted out.

Much like a 7 vs. 8 round magazine in .45-

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Old January 3, 2011, 05:50 AM   #20
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My S&W came with Wilson ETM 10rd mags, the work perfectly, a do 9rd Metalforms.
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Old January 3, 2011, 08:20 AM   #21
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I had issues with both my kimber 1911s. The 45 had double feed/fail to feed issues in the beginning but have disappeared with use. The 9mm had extraction issues (bad extractor). I have not seen issues with either since the first couple hundred rounds on the 45 and since the I have tuned the 9mm extractor.
From this limited experience given equally good parts, I have to say that 1911 9mm is more reliable than 1911 45. Again, very limited experience and really scientific.

Last edited by pilpens; January 3, 2011 at 08:31 AM.
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Old January 3, 2011, 10:39 AM   #22
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The 9mm in the picture above has been test fired with five different brands of factory ammo, both ball and hollow point plus I've tested it with my reloads.
It never bobbled one time, fed, fired and ejected just fine.
The gun was tested using both 9mm mags and 38 super mags, again all the mags worked without any issues.

I have a Colt MKIV 40 S&W caliber in my safe that feeds, fires, and ejects facotry ammo and reloaded ammo loaded to factory OAL, again no issues.

Stop and think about why the 1911 has gained a reputation for not being reliable, when in reality the 1911 is a very reliable gun.
At one time Colt pretty much had all the market on 1911 guns built for the general public, and they were building some pretty nice reliable 1911's.
Then Colt's machinery started loosing it's capabiltes of holding the tolerances they were designed for and some Colt's were manufactured with less then the optimum tolerances. Those Colts had reliabilty issues.
Then Colt got their machinery straightened out and the guns coming from Colt were fine. Keep in mind the 1911 was designed to feed and shoot 230 grain ball ammo. Then the ammo companies started producing wide mouth hollow point ammo and most Colt's with the shallow feed ramps had issues when trying to feed this ammo.

Now moving forward, the 1911 was growing in popularity, so a large section of the major manufactures decide to jump on the band wagon and get a piece of Colt's pie.
Most of these manufactures were not concerned with producing good quality 1911 guns, they were mass producing guns with cheap parts, and new designed parts trying to solve the reliabilty issues they created.
Stop and think about all the companies producing a 1911, I believe you will see what I'm refering to.

I can guarantee that you can take any semi auto pistol design out there and let every Tom, Dick and Harry that wants to start mass producing that design do so and it will not be long before that design starts gettin a reputation of being unreliable.

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Last edited by Hunter Customs; January 3, 2011 at 10:46 AM.
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Old January 3, 2011, 11:46 AM   #23
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Bob +10000000000

Well said!
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Old January 8, 2011, 07:43 AM   #24
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Bob makes an excellent point; the 1911 is a PLATFORM, not a brand. Saying a 1911 is unreliable (or reliable, for that matter), is like saying 'four door sedans are not reliable."

Too often we hear of people comparing a 1911 to a Glock, or an XD or such, when it should be comparing a Les Baer, or a Wilson, or an STI, to whatever.

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Old January 8, 2011, 08:42 AM   #25
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I actually prefer 9mm over .45 in the 1911, I do own one .45 and it's great but so are the 9's. For me it's a matter of practicality, since I do not reload the 9mm ammo is cheaper and offers good ammo for self defense. Both calibers have offered no reliability issues for me and continue to shoot well.

By the WC145, thanks to a post of yours months ago concerning the
SW 1911 9mm pro I have one on a plane heading to me as we speak. Yep I'm EXCITED!!
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