View Full Version : Full length recoil spring guides/Shock buffs- -Questions

Jim V
February 4, 1999, 05:52 PM
I have not been on this board for very long so I don't know if this has been covered in the past or not.

Has there been any testing conducted to evaluate any benefits of either the use of full length recoil spring guides and/or shock buffs? I know that I can get, "I shot XXXXXX number of rounds out of my Wizzbang #6 using shock buffs (full length recoil spring guides) and had no problems." however those type replies do not answer the questions.

I can name several pro pistol shooters that WILL NOT use either one and I can name just as many that will use one or the other and just as many that swear by using both.

[This message has been edited by Jim V (edited 02-04-99).]

[This message has been edited by Jim V (edited 02-04-99).]

February 4, 1999, 08:01 PM
First, I am not a gunsmith, I am an armorer.

I do use full length recoil spring guides in my competition guns. Some of these guns may also use shok buffs. The full length guides do contribute to accuracy in some guns.

My carry guns do not use full length recoil spring guide rods, unless factory equiped with same. I do use shok buffs ( proper size for gun length ) and with proper springs in my carry guns.

I have seen shok buffs start to come apart in both 1911s and Stars, and cause stoppages. They MUST be changed often, but do help save alloy receivers. Full length guide rods make disassembly much more difficult, and sometimes come apart by themselves.

I want to be able to disassembly a carry gun with no tools. It is almost impossible to accomplish this with a 1911 that has a full length guide rod. GLV

Walt Welch
February 4, 1999, 08:12 PM
Jim; I know of no testing of the items you mentioned. Most gunsmiths and shooters fall into two catagories.

First; 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' These guys leave shock buffs and full length recoil guides out of their guns, and I am unaware of any of them experiencing decreased durability.

Second; 'Well, it will probably help the reliability and longevity of my pistol'
These guys use full length recoil guides and shock buffs.

I tend to favor the second view; while it is true that nothing is 'wrong' with the pistol, using full length recoil spring guides and shock buffs are the equivalent of preventive medicine. The shock buff, if ignored for long periods, may tear, especially if it is the soft type made by Wilson. This tear may or may not cause a malfunction.

I take the slide off my pistol after each shooting session. I check the shock buff, and replace it with a new one if needed. The hard ones, by the way, from Red Bluff and Dillon, last much longer. I believe that the buff is cushioning the receiver from the slide impact significantly; if not, why do the buffs wear?

I think having the spring being in place around a solid rod makes sense as well. Recoil springs I have removed from regular guide rod length have had a spiral overall shape the length of the spring. Laid on a table, there are humps and dips. I believe this suggests that spring compression is somewhat non linear with a regular length guide rod.

One other thing, I suggest matching the recoil spring to the loads being used. I use a 10 lb. spring in my 1911 set up for 8,000 cup loads, and a 22 lb. spring in my hardball guns. Remember that the standard 16 1/2 lb. spring has to be a compromise. Colt knows that some shooters will think the pistol faulty if it won't shoot target and full power or even +P loads, all with the same recoil spring. Hope this helps. Walt

February 5, 1999, 12:39 AM
I don't use full length spring guides. As GLV stated they make taking the gun apart much more difficult. I have never seen any evidence that they improve accuracy, my guns shoot just fine without them.

I am a firm believer in shok-buffs. Put one in your gun and look at it after shooting. There can be no doubt its taking some of the beating that the frame would have. I check them after every range session and replace them frequently. Shok-buffs are cheap, guns arn't.

Jim V
February 5, 1999, 06:47 AM
Thank you for the replies. A little of my back ground, I have carried and shot a 1911 type pistol for more than 30 years, Commanders, Combat Commanders, 1911A1's.

I use 18 1/2# recoil springs in all my full sized 1911's. Does it matter if the pistol still functions without a full length recoil spring guide and the springs get lumpy or do the springs last longer with a FLG?

I have tried shock-buffs in the past and have had brand new ones go to pieces during a shooting session. And the buff was from a name maker of the things. I have experienced frame cracking where the shock buff appeared to exert side pressure on the frame, this has happened on both a Commander and a Goverment Model.

Walt Welch
February 5, 1999, 07:47 PM
I need some education. Posters above have stated it is very difficult to field strip a 1911 with a full length guide rod. I didn't recall any difficulties with my 1911 so equipped, so scurried to the gun safe to check it out.

If you are taking the gun apart the GI way (remove mag, clear chamber, depress recoil spring plug, rotate bbl. bushing....etc.) there is absolutely NO difference. My drop in Wilson full length guide rod actually stops just short of the bbl. bushing, and the recoil spring plug is hollow, and there is a ridge which protrudes beyond the end of the full length guide rod, and mates with the bottom of the bbl. bushing. This recoil spring plug can be depressed just like a GI plug, and the bbl. bushing then rotated.

The only way that I could see the full length recoil spring guide could cause problems is if you are using the archaic 'Bullseye' method of dissassembly (which, I being archaic, use in my pistols with std. length recoil spring guides; I just find it easier, and don't have to worry about the recoil spring plug being placed into low earth orbit).

This involved removing mag, clearing chamber, then retracting slide so that the slide stop aligned with the proper notch in the slide. The entire slide assembly was then slid off the receiver, and the recoil spring and regular length recoil spring guide could be removed. This allowed the bbl. and bbl. bushing to be manipulated without the pressure of the recoil spring affecting this manipulation. This allegedly helped preserve the tight fit of the bbl. to its' bushing.

Is this what you guys are doing, or am I missing something here? Thanks, Walt

PS; under the 'most embarrasing moments' list, I recently purchased a 1972 Gold Cup. I was field stripping it, to examine the inner workings, but could NOT get the darn bbl. bushing to rotate. I had been using the GI method. Suddenly a light went on, and I remembered about the collet spring bbl. bushing of that era. The only way I got the thing apart was using the Bullseye method; that collet bushing is impossible to rotate while fighting recoil spring pressure.

Luckily, I was able to field strip and reassemble the GC, and the only face saving aspect of the event was that the gunsmith was having one devil of a time replacing the recoil spring assembly in a Glock at the same time I was cursing that collet bushing.
Oh, well, so it goes. Walt

Patrick Graham
February 6, 1999, 08:03 PM
I've got a Kings full length recoil spring guide on my Colt/Essex home made 1911. I have to remove the recoil spring guide with an allen wrench before I can rotate the barrel bushing. From you description is sounds like I'm going to buy a Wilson recoil spring guide for my next 45 build.
Patrick Graham
[email protected]

Walt Welch
February 7, 1999, 02:24 AM
Patrick; SERIOUSLY? An allen wrench? You do not have a comp. on your gun, do you? I never imagined that such poor engineering was to be encountered. Live and learn, I guess. Walt

February 7, 1999, 10:31 AM
Is your Wilson unit the Dwyer? That's what I have in both my 1911's and I really like them. I've recommended them to several people.

February 8, 1999, 07:33 PM
Walt, the difference is that I won't carry a gun that I cannot disassembly with nothing but my two hands. I find that full length guide rods tend to make disassembly slower and less sure. GLV