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Old January 31, 2013, 01:03 PM   #1
Blue
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Low Cost Improve Reliability for 1911 Colt Commander

Are there some first steps I can take on a low budget to improve the reliability of my Colt Commander (45 ACP). Jams at least once every two clips. This weapon is in new condition and has not been modified.
I would like to start off with some things I can possibly do myself.
Thanks
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Old January 31, 2013, 01:15 PM   #2
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How new is the gun? How many rounds through it? What type of ammo causes the jam?

You could try shooting a few hundred rounds of ball ammo through the gun to see if performance improves. Also, if the jams are occurring with hollow point ammunition you may need to experiment with brands to see if another might work better.

You might also consider an aftermarket magazine from someone like Chip McCormick or Wilson.
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Old January 31, 2013, 01:15 PM   #3
springer99
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I think we'd need more details to help you much but to start things off I'd suggest-
1 - clean it well and lube it well(not too important what you use though, there's no magic lube)

2 - try different magazines.

report back with details.
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Old January 31, 2013, 01:56 PM   #4
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+1 on telling us the type of ammo. If you haven't done it yet get a box of 230 grain fmj round nose and see if it works.

Also what kind of jam? Is the fired case being ejected or is the fired case jamming the works?

+1 on cleaning too and maybe magazine change. Lots of problems are due to the magazines.

Good luck, a genuine Colt Commander should be a joy to own.
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Old January 31, 2013, 01:59 PM   #5
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1911 reliability issues tend to be generated mostly by 4 items:
  • Magazine quality and type... as already stated. (Although, Colt magazines are pretty darn good)
  • Ammunition... as already stated.
  • Extractor state of tune.
  • Using a really weak hold on the gun and/or really terrible "follow thru". How to test? Hand the gun to a "known talented shooter", range officer type guy and see if they have issues.
  • Using the term "clip" instead of "magazine" can cause a gun to jam from embarrassment.
Once you know that these items are the best they can be... other, far more rare items can cause FTF, FTE etc etc.

Try what has already been suggested first... if that don't fix it, look up testing the 1911 extractor function" and "tuning the 1911 extractor" and DIY, or better still, have it checked and tuned by a 1911 gunsmith.

Better yet... new gun? CALL COLT!

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Old January 31, 2013, 02:17 PM   #6
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"Jam" narrows it down to about a dozen possibilities!
None of my Colts has been very ammo- or mag-sensitive; (assuming the ammo is to spec, and the mags are also as-new).
If the gun is reasonably clean and well-lubricated, I'd suspect extractor tension; too much can cause feed failures, while too little will result in poor extraction/ejection.
So, what sort of "jam" is it?
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Old January 31, 2013, 02:18 PM   #7
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Buy a 45 acp revolver:-)
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Old January 31, 2013, 03:44 PM   #8
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All of my 1911 .45s are more reliable than my .45 revolver. I'm getting the latter fixed, and that's a good idea for any gun that isn't running right.
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Old January 31, 2013, 03:57 PM   #9
Fishbed77
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Quote:
Are there some first steps I can take on a low budget to improve the reliability of my Colt Commander (45 ACP). Jams at least once every two clips. This weapon is in new condition and has not been modified.
Send it back to Colt. They will take care of you.

Go over to the 1911 forum:

http://forums.1911forum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=26

Make a post in the Colt forum or send a private message to Brent (Username BJT72). He works with Colt's Custom Shop and is excellent at responding to customer service issues.
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Old January 31, 2013, 04:23 PM   #10
jrothWA
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Are the jams with...

HP ammo?

Is the barrel a stock Colt?

If yes to both, MOST likely its' the narrow feed ramp for FMJ ammo, that the wide open nose of the HP are catching the junction of the barrel edge and where the feed ramp transitions into the chamber.

ARE you using commercial ammo or reloads, you might has a "short cycling" situation, where the slide in not moving far back to allow the feeding cartridge to present at proper height for slide to pick-up. (sit low and impact feed ramp low).

Most likely, need to relieve that edge. This is a standard fix.

Second, might be the magazines if not stock Colt (from factory), if aftermarket or surplus, obtain Colt factory for some range time to eliminate this as a cause.

does a empty case slide up the slide's breech face, might have a "burr" around the Firing pin hole or need a slight bevel on the extractor lower corner.

There are numerous books on the 1911, get one to know and how what to do to correct.

Last edited by jrothWA; January 31, 2013 at 04:25 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old February 1, 2013, 07:01 AM   #11
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1) What type of failure is occuring

2) What magazines are you using?

3) What ammunition are you using.
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Old February 1, 2013, 08:20 AM   #12
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Pic are worth 1000 words....

Take a pic of the gun when it is jammed. This will help people determine what type of failure you are experiencing. IMHO most of the time problems with 1911 come down to a a few things in this order:
  1. Magazines are the #1 source of feeding issues!
  2. Extractor tension can cause FTF.
  3. Bubba the gunsmith improving on JMB design
  4. Hollow point or Waddcutter ammo... a good 1911 with good mags should never choke on 230gr FMJ
  5. Out of spec pistol.....
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Old February 1, 2013, 08:55 AM   #13
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More information on Colt Commander with issues

Thanks for all the replies. It has been awhile since I have posted and I had forgotten that I should be more careful with my choice of words. Point made!

This Colt Commander came to me supposedly in New Condition as part of a matched set of two. I was told it was purchased new sometime around mid 1980s. There were no signs that it had ever been fired.
Came with two Colt Magazines which showed no signs of use.

Decided to check it out at the range so I bought three boxes of White Box Winchester 230gr FMJ.

Field Stripped and did visual inspection. Light lubed and re-assembled.

Loaded both magazines with 7 cartridges.

Began slow fire cycling. First failure to load live round at last round left in magazine.
Cleared weapon, ejected magazine, inserted this one round back in magazine, inserted magazine, released slide, weapon fired no problem.

Load other magazine. Weapon fired flawlessly full 7 rounds.

Reloaded first magazine with 7 rounds, resumed firing, no problem.

Second magazine (have numbered them) faiiled to load on fourth cycle.

Fired the rest of the 3 boxes of FMJ with 3 more failure to load incidents.

Hope this gives a bit more information.

Thanks, again for the help
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Old February 1, 2013, 09:22 AM   #14
TacticalDefense1911
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As WVSig said, almost all failures in a 1911 can be attributed to the magazines or the extractor tension. Here is a good test that many use to see if your extractor is tensioned properly http://modernserviceweapons.com/?p=131

Also, I would buy some quality aftermarket magazines from either Chip McCormack, Tripp Research or Wilson Combat. Most factory magazines are junk even though 7-round mags generally have fewer issues then 8-round magazines.

Start here; if you still have issues then you will need to dig deeper, but these usually solve most issues.
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Old February 1, 2013, 10:21 AM   #15
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It sounds like you're the beta tester for that particular Commander..............

FWIW, although I've never had a mis-feed with my .45 LWC (bought new in the late 70's), many seem to need either a "break-in" to smooth microscopic rough edges from manufacturing/stacked tolerances, or minor "tweaking".

Once sorted out, though, I prefer a Commander to all other 1911's, and an LWC (LightWeightCommander) most of all.


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Old February 1, 2013, 10:32 AM   #16
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"Using the term "clip" instead of "magazine" can cause a gun to jam from embarrassment."

Agree 100%
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Old February 1, 2013, 10:37 AM   #17
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Quote:
"Using the term "clip" instead of "magazine" can cause a gun to jam from embarrassment."

Agree 100%
I think I figured out his problem: he tried to load a clip into the magazine well. That will cause problems every time!
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Old February 1, 2013, 10:55 AM   #18
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Send the pistol to the Colt Custom Shop for their reliability package.
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Old February 1, 2013, 11:24 AM   #19
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1. Check ejector. If it's solid, flush with the frame and don't have a chipped or peened front edge, it's probably OK.

2. Check extractor for proper tension and hook configuration. If in doubt, replace it with an Ed Brown unit.
A good summary here: http://www.m1911.org/technic2.htm

*

3. I also like to fit an oversize firing pin stop plate, to prevent the extractor from rotating during function.

4. Eliminate magazine as source of problem. I've become so impressed with the Chip McCormick Power Mag that I now use them to the exclusion of everything else; but if all else is well, your Wilson should run just fine.

FWIW I have found the genuine 4 1/4" Commanders to be every bit as reliable as the fullsize guns, when set up properly.

* Photo credited to 1911 Tuner who, with any luck, will chime in here directly.
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Old February 1, 2013, 12:09 PM   #20
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Like many have already said, try some Wilson Combat magazines and top quality 230 grain FMJ. I'd be surprised if that doesn't fix it.
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Old February 1, 2013, 01:10 PM   #21
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Any Colt should feed 230gr ball from a factory 7rd mag! I have an early-80s Lightweight, and it's never failed to feed anything.
This "failure to load"; how close to being loaded is it? The round is still in the mag, stubbed against the frame feed ramp? Nose-high against the top of the chamber? 1/4" away from being fully chambered?
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Old February 1, 2013, 05:18 PM   #22
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Mags, Ammo, Recoil Spring

I don't know of anything you could do by youself. But if I were you I would get better quality mags first. Then try different kinds of ammo to see what cycles best. If all else fails, buy a new recoil spring. Recoil springs need to be changed from time to time to help function properly.
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Old February 1, 2013, 06:02 PM   #23
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In addition to the suggestions already made I would try
1. Ye Old Standby of breaking it in through range sessions.
2. Working the action manually,i.e. pull the slide back, then let it go forward on its own.
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Old February 2, 2013, 10:34 AM   #24
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Don't spend any money till you've run a few boxes of assorted ball first. Put a dab of grease on the rails.
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Old February 2, 2013, 12:10 PM   #25
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Try in the following order;

1.) Proper lubrication
2.) Change magazine
3.) Try different ammo
4.) Recoil Spring (this is probably the reason, given it's age.)
5.) Replace all springs
6.) Gunsmith
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