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Old September 12, 2013, 05:33 AM   #1
Doc Hoy
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1911 for home defense

I don't know if there is a question here but just wondering about your thoughts.

To start off with, I own 40 plus western style and Civil War era revolvers. I have about a thousand rounds of handloaded BPCR ammunition at any given time. Also six rifles from 1880 to 1900.

Why in the name of common sense would I go to a gunshow and buy a RIA 1911 GI?

One reason and one reason only....Nostalgia....

It is what I shot in the NAV and those were the best years of my life.

I did not buy it for home defense. I do not view my revolvers as home defense either. If I tried to fend off an intruder I would most likely:

1. Accidently shoot myself (humor intended)
2. Put a bunch of holes in my walls and just scare off the guy (Not a bad thing)
3. Shoot what turns out to be an unarmed kid

But

Lets say I wanted to use the 1911 for home defense. The Gunners Mates always said that keeping rounds in the clip weakens the spring.

Do I buy two additional clips and rotate the rounds every week? Just wondering.
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Old September 12, 2013, 05:53 AM   #2
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I have seen the spring wars go back and forth, and still don't understand if the fear of leaving springs loaded is hype or genuine. I don't know that I ever will.

That said, most of the reccomendations from those who espouse the "weakened spring" theory suggest downloading your mags for long term storage. 6 rounds (in an 8 round mag) in a 1911 plus one in the chamber beats most revolvers of similar caliber. Downloading every week might be over doing it, on the cautious side, but it might not. Like I said, I don't know.

Personally, I keep a shotgun as my go-to gun for home defense. The handgun may be the first thing I grab, but reaching my shotgun may be my top priority in assuming a safe position in my home.
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Old September 12, 2013, 05:57 AM   #3
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There's some debate on that issue. The bottom line is that leaving a magazine loaded will slightly degrade the strength of the mag spring but not nearly as much as actually using the mag. There are many stories of 1911 magazines functioning after years, even decades, of sitting in a box or drawer loaded. It's the spring working which wears it fastest. Rotating the mags in your scenario will likely weaken the springs faster because you are working the springs each time you load and unload the mags. If you're going to do this, I would recommend getting either a good seven round magazine or an extended (slightly) length mag with eight round capacity. The flush fit 8 round mag springs tend to be weaker and/or weaken more quickly than the others.

However, I would suggest you occasionally take your pistol out and shoot it, even if it's just a mag full. That way you get a little practice in and can change mags at that point. BTW, it is always a good idea to have some extra mags.

Added: I am not a defense "guru," so take this next part with that in mind. I will often leave a mag fully loaded in a 1911 and not shoot that particular gun for a couple of months or more. I have other handguns, including other 1911s that I might be shooting. I have never experienced problems with the mag springs when I then go out and shoot the stored pistol. I don't use the eight round mags for a full size 1911 intended for defense, only seven rounds.
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Old September 12, 2013, 06:20 AM   #4
Doc Hoy
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Jim and Kentucky...

As a matter of habit, I will load the magazine with five, no more, no less and I will likely not keep on in the chamber. Not disputing your advice in any way and no disrespect intended.

I will shoot it relatively often, hoping to go through about hundred rounds a month.

I am going to load my own rounds and have had some great advice over on the Semi Auto and Handloaders forums about bullets and load. I'll start with 200 gr Round nose (which I will caste from wheel weights at about BHN14) and Bullseye.

The advice not to down load it is a revelation. I need to get a coupla more clips and will likely use those clips enough that the springs will wear in from use and (as you say) not from having a loaded clip all the time.

Thanks greatly for the quick wink back.
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Old September 12, 2013, 07:58 AM   #5
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Doc, . . .

Just a small word of caution using Bullseye powder.

You will be using a very small amount of this powder, a very fast burning powder.

Secondly, . . . make sure you stay within the ranges given in your reloading manual. Going below or above the recommendations of the book is a serious breach of safety.

Set up your reloading process so that you totally minimize the opportunity to double charge your cases. Doing that with Bullseye is a recipe for serious disaster.

OR:

Pick another powder, . . . one that will significantly be more bulk in the case. This gives you a better shot at visuually seeing and recognizing a double charged case.

May God bless,
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Old September 12, 2013, 08:20 AM   #6
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If you're only planning on keeping five rounds in the mag, in Condition 3, I'd just keep a revolver handy for HD instead of the 1911. It brings nothing to the table for you.
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Old September 12, 2013, 08:44 AM   #7
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Dwight and Revoltella

D55,

Thanks for the cautionary advice. I will heed it carefully.

Revoltella,

Only problem with my revolvers is that they are all single action revolvers.

I understand that I have to rack the slide for the first shot. But trying to cock a revolver for every shot might create a minor disadvantage.

I must hasten to add that it is very unlikely I will ever need to protect myself from a home invader. For this reason every consideration is worth reviewing.
I do thank you for your advice and clearly acknowledge that it comes from far better experience than mine.
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Old September 12, 2013, 10:59 AM   #8
jrothWA
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Bought first house in 1979,..

located my M39-2 with three mags loaded.
They stayed that way till 2005, when they were fired at the range.
NO stuttering. etc. no reloaded and back on HD status.

Quality mags will noty have a problem, sub-standard will.
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Old September 12, 2013, 11:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Hoy
...I'll start with 200 gr Round nose (which I will caste from wheel weights at about BHN14)...
For self defense you'll be better off with quality jacketed hollow point bullets, as long as the gun is reliable with them. Terminal performance will be superior, and that is why JHPs are the current "gold standard" with law enforcement agencies for "social" use.
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Old September 12, 2013, 01:49 PM   #10
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I would also recommend hollow points.

Everything I know about springs (not much) would suggest that springs are much more weakened by unloading and reloading than they are by keeping loaded.

I think a 1911 is a fine home defense gun. Easy to operate, small, able to use it one handed, fairly large caliber. If you're going to go empty chamber, I do recommend leaving the safety off. I keep my handgun on double action with a full 16 + 1 magazine. No external safeties. Just pick up the gun and the first long trigger pull sets it off. With a 1911, I would recommend carrying with a round in the chamber and safety on, but that's all personal preference.

Were there any questions you had that weren't answered?
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Old September 12, 2013, 02:08 PM   #11
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warning shots, magazines, home defense....

1st off, Id sit down & really decide if you can use a firearm to defend yourself or if you honestly say you apply lethal force in a home defense event.
Guns are not toys, props, fashion accessories or political statements.
They are lethal weapons that can injury or kill.
Id also advise against "warning shots". Your actions in a lethal force event could be viewed as reckless or irresponsible if your "warning shot" seriously injured a by-stander or neighbor.
A woman in the Jacksonville FL was convicted in a recent court case partly because she fired a "warning" to scare off her alleged attacker(her husband in a domestic dispute). The State Atty's Office put criminal charges on her.
Id add that you can buy a 1911a1 .45acp & use it for personal defense if you feel qualified to carry it. For basic home protection & security, I'd look at a stainless .357magnum DA or DA only revolver like a GP100 4" barrel, a SP101, a 686+ 7rd, a Bulldog .44spl, or maybe a Ruger LCR.

As for pistol magazines, you can fully load them. Just check them often & keep them clean.

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Old September 12, 2013, 02:16 PM   #12
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Thanks guys....

Read this whole post before forming an opinion.

Let me start by saying that I disagree with this philosophy but I once had a guy tell me his first round for home defense was birdshot followed immediately by hollow points. He used a .357 revolver. As I say, the first round up was birdshot. The other five rounds were business rounds.

I am thinking the philosophy is flawed. My thought is that if I shoot someone, I would rather not have them around to tell their side of the story, or to come around with a lawyer.

I hope that does not sound too fool-hearty. I know nothing about home defense, as you can tell from my questions. My exposure to law enforcement is one course in Criminology which I teach for my university, and being arrested an awful lot for speeding in my younger days.

Do I have this wrong?
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Old September 12, 2013, 02:26 PM   #13
ClydeFrog
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Yes...

Yes...
You have it wrong.
Please do not load or use any firearms for home defense/security.
It sounds like you do not have a firm grasp on use of force standards or your area's gun laws.

There are many, many people who are now in jail or prison because they thought they had a "good plan" or they did what was "right".

CF
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Old September 12, 2013, 02:44 PM   #14
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In my humble opinion, i'd day to research your state's laws on use of deadly force ASAP. Technically it is allowed in my state (Texas) for situations where i personally would not be comfortable killing a man. There was a 911 recording released a few years back where a man shot and killed two BGs after they had broken into his neighbors house and were attempting to flee. He shot one guy in the back as he was running away and still was not arrested or charged. Personally I would find it difficult to live with myself after killing a man who was running away....

As to the magazine issue, it's been raging long before now and will probably continue after we're gone. All i know is having as many rounds available when i need them is more important than having to replace springs occasionally. Just check them periodically.
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Old September 12, 2013, 02:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Posted by Doc Hoy: I once had a guy tell me his first round for home defense was birdshot followed immediately by hollow points. He used a .357 revolver. As I say, the first round up was birdshot. The other five rounds were business rounds.

I am thinking the philosophy is flawed.
It is. Birdshot in a revolver is not a good idea for self defense.

Quote:
My thought is that if I shoot someone, I would rather not have them around to tell their side of the story, or to come around with a lawyer.
...

Do I have this wrong?
Completely. First, you do not want to kill anyone. Second, if you shoot someone with a handgun, the person has a very good chance of survival. Third, forensic evidence will tell the story whether the person shot does or not. Fourth, regarding civil liability, the decedent's survivors will be more than happy to engage lawyers.

On the other points:

I agree with the use of JHP bullets.

There is no cogent reason to use hand loads or defense. For practice, yes.

Dwight's recommendation to choose a propellant that cannot be double charged is such a good one that it bears repeating.

No warning shots--period.

Yes, you do want additional magazines, but not because of spring fatigue.

I recommend keeping a round in the chamber and the safety on. You won't mind the occasional burble chambering a round at the range, but when your life is at stake and you are under stress, that's a poor time for a fumble.

The 1911 is a perfectly good defensive pistol. It is reliable and safe, and the sound level of a .45 ACP is somewhat lower than that of many other rounds.

For heaven's sake, become aware of the use of force laws as soon as possible, preferably before you ever face the need for firing a gun at anyone.

By the way, the laws regarding the use of deadly force apply equally whether you are using a hand gun, a shot gun, a Louisville Slugger, a ball peen hammer, a steak knife, or a Cross Pen.

Good luck!

Last edited by OldMarksman; September 12, 2013 at 02:57 PM.
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Old September 12, 2013, 02:53 PM   #16
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Quote:
Posted by meadams314: There was a 911 recording released a few years back where a man shot and killed two BGs after they had broken into his neighbors house and were attempting to flee. He shot one guy in the back as he was running away and still was not arrested or charged.
A little off topic---

However, lest anyone draw the wrong conclusion, while there was an entry wound in the back of one of the dead men, a police officer who witnessed the shooting in the Joe Horn case testified that Horn fired in self defense after the fleeing burlgars turned to attack him.

There is a time lag between a defender's decision to fire and the actual shot, and it is not uncommon for an attacker to turn quickly enough during that interval to suffer an entry wound in the back.

That can prove problematical, but it does happen.
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Old September 12, 2013, 02:58 PM   #17
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All good stuff guys

And taken in the right spirit.
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Old September 12, 2013, 03:42 PM   #18
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Set up your reloading process so that you totally minimize the opportunity to double charge your cases. Doing that with Bullseye is a recipe for serious disaster.
Yes. I was lucky in that my pet load was a .45 ACP case just about half-full of Bullseye, had a high-intensity lamp shining down on station 3 and visually checked every cartridge this way. It was just part of the stroking process and didn't cost me any time. Any double-charge would be obvious, but none ever happened with Dillon's excellent powder bar. I still weighed about every 20th or so, which did take time, but I'm a stickler for accuracy.
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Old September 13, 2013, 10:48 AM   #19
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Hoy
...I know nothing about home defense, as you can tell from my questions...
It would probably be helpful to you to get a good grounding in the basics of the laws relating to the use of force in self defense.

Good, general overviews of the topic can be found at UseofForce.us and in this booklet by Marty Hayes at the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network.

But let's look now at a brief summary --
  1. Our society takes a dim view of the threat or use of force and/or intentionally hurting or killing another human. In every State the threat or use of force and/or intentionally hurting or killing another human is prima facie (on its face) a crime of one sort or another.

    1. However, for hundreds of years our law has recognized that there are some circumstances in which such an intentional act of violence against another human might be legally justified.

    2. Exactly what would be necessary to establish that violence against someone else was justified will depend on (1) the applicable law where the event takes place; and (2) exactly what happened and how it happened, which will have to be judged on the basis of evidence gathered after the fact.

    3. Someone who initiated a conflict will almost never be able to legally justify an act of violence against another.

    4. If you threaten physical harm to another person, if you use force against another person, if you intentionally hurt another person, if you intentionally kill another person, you will have performed an act that is a crime of one sort or another.

      1. You may try to avoid criminal liability by claiming that your act was legally justified.

      2. If you claim justification, you will be admitting the elements of the crime, i. e., that you intentionally performed the act.

      3. You will then have to establish your justification and be able to articulate why you did what you did, and why a reasonable person would have determined the otherwise criminal act was justified.

  2. The amount of force an actor my justifiably use in self defense will depend on the level of the threat.

    1. Under the laws of most States, lethal force may be justified when a reasonable person in like circumstance would conclude that a use of lethal force is necessary to prevent the otherwise unavoidable, imminent death or grave bodily injury to an innocent. And to establish that, the actor claiming justified use of lethal force would need to show that the person against whom the lethal force was used reasonably had --

      1. Ability, i. e., the power to deliver force sufficient to cause death or grave bodily harm;

      2. Opportunity, i. e., the assailant was capable of immediately deploying such force; and

      3. put an innocent in Jeopardy, i. e., the assailant was acting in such a manner that a reasonable and prudent person would conclude that he had the intent to kill or cripple.

    2. "Ability" doesn't necessarily require a weapon. Disparity of force, e. g., a large, young, strong person attacking a small, old, frail person, or force of numbers, could show "Ability."

    3. "Opportunity" could be established by showing proximity, lack of barriers or the like.

    4. "Jeopardy" (intent) could be inferred from overt acts (e. g., violent approach) and/or statements of intent.

    5. And unless the standard justifying the use of lethal force is met, use of some lesser level of violence might be legally justified to prevent a harmful or offensive, unconsented to contact by another person.

  3. If you have thus used violence against another person, your actions will be investigated as a crime, because on the surface that's what it is.

    1. Sometimes there will be sufficient evidence concerning what happened and how it happened readily apparent to the police for the police and/or prosecutor to quickly conclude that your actions were justified. If that's the case, you will be quickly exonerated of criminal responsibility, although in many States you might have to still deal with a civil suit.

    2. If the evidence is not clear, you may well be arrested and perhaps even charged with a criminal offense. If that happens you will need to affirmatively assert that you were defending yourself and put forth evidence that you at least prima facie satisfied the applicable standard justifying your act of violence.

    3. Of course, if your use of force against another human took place in or immediately around your home, your justification for your use of violence could be more readily apparent or easier to establish -- maybe.

      1. Again, it still depends on what happened and how it happened. For example, was the person you shot a stranger, an acquaintance, a friend, a business associate or relative? Did the person you shot forcibly break into your home or was he invited? Was the contact tumultuous from the beginning, or did things begin peaceably and turn violent, how and why?

      2. In the case of a stranger forcibly breaking into your home, your justification for the use of lethal force would probably be obvious. The laws of most States provide some useful protections for someone attacked in his home, which protections make it easier and a more certain matter for your acts to be found justified.

      3. It could however be another matter to establish your justification if you have to use force against someone you invited into your home in a social context which later turns violent.

      4. It could also be another matter if you left the safety of your house to confront someone on your property.
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Old September 13, 2013, 12:50 PM   #20
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Doc, I think you stumbled into the church forum, awful lot of preachin goin on. If you fear for your life you should probably defend yourself and worry about the state laws later. Like you, I don't keep anything loaded in my house..hate to find a dead grandkid because I wasn't paying attention.

I've owned 10 or so 1911s, currently 3 and shoot cast round nose exclusively, well almost. When in Vietnam I noted the arms room had a foot locker full of loaded 1911 magazines, altho if you only want to load 5 just in case it's alright with me. Bullseye is a peachy powder, and I like titegroup too.

geez, I'm startin to sound like a preacher myself. Finally I'd buy a box of hardball to keep in your magazine and I'd buy another magazine...and practice practice practice.
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Old September 13, 2013, 01:30 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salvadore
Doc, I think you stumbled into the church forum, awful lot of preachin goin on. If you fear for your life you should probably defend yourself and worry about the state laws later....
People have a choice. They can try to learn and understand the laws relating to the use of force to help them make the right decisions, or they can choose to remain ignorant and risk some serious consequences. If one chooses to remain ignorant, he doesn't have to visit here and ask questions.

Consider also that the consequences of violence can be serious even when even when your use of lethal force is ultimately found to be justified. Consider --
  • This couple, arrested in early April and finally exonerated under Missouri's Castle Doctrine in early June. And no doubt after incurring expenses for bail and a lawyer, as well as a couple of month's anxiety, before being cleared.

  • Larry Hickey, in gun friendly Arizona: He was arrested, spent 71 days in jail, went through two different trials ending in hung juries, was forced to move from his house, etc., before the DA decided it was a good shoot and dismissed the charges.

  • Mark Abshire in Oklahoma: Despite defending himself against multiple attackers on his own lawn in a fairly gun-friendly state with a "Stand Your Ground" law, he was arrested, went to jail, charged, lost his job and his house, and spent two and a half years in the legal meat-grinder before finally being acquitted.

  • Harold Fish, also in gun friendly Arizona: He was still convicted and sent to prison. He won his appeal, his conviction was overturned, and a new trial was ordered. The DA chose to dismiss the charges rather than retry Mr. Fish.

  • Gerald Ung: He was attacked by several men, and the attack was captured on video. He was nonetheless charged and brought to trial. He was ultimately acquitted.

  • Some good folks in clear jeopardy and with no way to preserve their lives except by the use of lethal force against other humans. Yet that happened under circumstances in which their justification for the use of lethal force was not immediately clear. While each was finally exonerated, it came at great emotional and financial cost. And perhaps there but for the grace of God will go one of us.

  • And note also that two of those cases arose in States with a Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground law in effect at the time.
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Old September 13, 2013, 02:45 PM   #22
Doc Hoy
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I asked for thoughts and I got them....and I am thankful for all of the answers.

I am somewhat familiar with the law in Virginia as regards self defense and protection of your life inside your home. I have also read a little bit of the case law. I know the things that must be part of a defense if I were to be charged with homicide

My question (3:16 yesterday) actually had more to do with the deliberate use of what might be considered a suboptimal round for the first shot in home defense. (Here I am referring to birdshot as suboptimal in comparison with hollow points) By the time one fires the first shot the consideration of the application of the law and its ramifications has already been decided (right or wrong) by the shooter.

The law was not really part of the question.

In fairness to the responders I sort of invited a measure of vitriol when I was using humor in the opening post of the thread.

I didn't mean to imply that I take firearms, lethal force, death or serious injury lightly although I do acknowledge that a casual reader of the post might infer that I do.
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Old September 13, 2013, 03:26 PM   #23
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My question (3:16 yesterday) actually had more to do with the deliberate use of what might be considered a suboptimal round for the first shot in home defense.
Why even consider a round that is less likely to be effective than a standard defensive round?
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Old September 13, 2013, 03:41 PM   #24
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I think it comes from:

1. A natural aversion from killing someone. If we could have phasers on stun, would you rather use that?

2. The mantra of why didn't you shoot him or her in the knee, wound them, etc. Another suggestion to disable rather than use lethal force.

I was taking my CHL test once and shot it well (yeah, right the TX test isn't William Tell level). Some guy tells me I should miss some shots because if I go to court, they would say I should have shot him in the knee. This guy knew because he was a 'sniper'.
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Old September 13, 2013, 04:19 PM   #25
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Yes, the "Spring Wars" go back and forth, only time we'll know for sure is through some sort of long term testing. IMHO buying quality magazines, making sure they work properly (Yes, I DID get some M1911 magazines of uncertain provenance and YES, several did NOT work properly.Found that out at the range,fortunately.) and perhaps looking at the springs, see if they seem robust enough,are bent properly,function with dummy rounds and with live ammo, you should be good to go. Jeff Cooper advocated "Cocked and Locked",make sure your safety engages and disengages smoothly and you are completely familiar with it.
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