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Old July 11, 2018, 04:10 PM   #1
nanney1
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Is the 1911 for tinkerers?

Is the 1911 for the mechanically inclined who like to work on things, build things, customize things, and make them better?

I mean, the takedown for a basic field strip is a bit more involved than a newer semi pistol. But, not terribly hard.

And there's the notion of adjusting the 1911 to get it running just right or to feed different types of ammo without fail. Maybe as little as polishing the feed ramp or potentially much more involved workings and changes.

Does anyone really buy a 1911, and just shoot it, clean it with a basic field strip, and not tinker with it? Or is that not a realistic view of 1911 ownership?
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Old July 11, 2018, 04:15 PM   #2
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Does anyone really buy a 1911, and just shoot it, clean it with a basic field strip, and not tinker with it?
That is exactly what I do with mine. Pretty much what I do with all of my guns.
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Old July 11, 2018, 04:28 PM   #3
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I don't tinker with mine. I have had to tinker with some before but that was because they weren't running right, but once issues have been corrected, just load, shoot and clean.
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Old July 11, 2018, 04:38 PM   #4
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I don't tinker with mine because Iv already tinkered and its ran flawlessly for the last 1500 rounds but the 1911 is probably one of the best semi auto pistols to tinker with! You could probably pick up somebody's headache for cheap and that could give you loads to tinker on.
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Old July 11, 2018, 05:56 PM   #5
nanney1
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I don't tinker with mine because Iv already tinkered and its ran flawlessly for the last 1500 rounds but the 1911 is probably one of the best semi auto pistols to tinker with! You could probably pick up somebody's headache for cheap and that could give you loads to tinker on.
Well, that's why I asked. i don't like to tinker or troubleshoot. I like to shoot, clean, and shoot again.
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Old July 11, 2018, 06:07 PM   #6
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A 1911 made from a reputable maker will run fine out of the box, no tinkering required. You get what you pay for with 1911s just like with any other pistol.
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Old July 11, 2018, 06:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by nanney1 View Post
Is the 1911 for the mechanically inclined who like to work on things, build things, customize things, and make them better?

...

Does anyone really buy a 1911, and just shoot it, clean it with a basic field strip, and not tinker with it? Or is that not a realistic view of 1911 ownership?
Me. That's pretty much what I did with my Rock Island GI. OK, swapped the grips for something prettier, and put on a different slide release because the first on had a problem. Other than that, "just shoot it".
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Old July 11, 2018, 06:29 PM   #8
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I definitely tinker, but only after buying a few books on the topic.

As a handloader, I "tinker" with my ammo, too.
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Old July 11, 2018, 06:50 PM   #9
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I’m not mechanically inclined and I asked the same question a few years ago. My first 1911 was a Colt Lightweight Commander. It ran well for a while, but after about 3,000 rounds I started having malfunctions. Turns out the problem was magazine related. I decided that I loved the 1911, but didn’t enjoy spending weeks trying to get it to run reliably. My solution was to buy a semicustom. My thinking was that if I did have a problem with such a pistol, the maker would make it right. Turns out that my Ed Brown has run malfunction free now for over 9,000 rounds. Now I’m not saying it’s impossible to purchase a production 1911 and have a similar experience. My advice is to buy a 1911 made by a manufacturer with a strong warranty and one that will make it right with you if you do have any problems. I don’t own a Springfield Armory 1911, but I understand they have a reputation for standing behind their products if you have a reliability problem. 1911’s are wonderful weapons, everyone should own at least one.
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Old July 11, 2018, 07:01 PM   #10
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Changing out grips would be o.k. And even dealing with some failures while running some break-in rounds. But, I don't want to be a shadetree gunsmith.
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Old July 11, 2018, 10:45 PM   #11
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Any respectable manufacturer should be relatively problem free. I'm not sure what other guns your looking at that never have had any issues...

With a 1911 there is a huge aftermarket support and any part can be purchased and changed out with at most a moderate amount of work. You can tinker with them but that doesn't mean that you have to.
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Old July 11, 2018, 10:56 PM   #12
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I mean, the takedown for a basic field strip is a bit more involved than a newer semi pistol.
Yes, and it takes more physical work to start, drive and shift a Ford Model T than it does a Ford Focus.

When you have 50-80 years or a century or more to study what was made and how it works, if you don't come up with a better, easier, simpler system, you aren't much of a designer.

The really amazing thing is that new designs with the advantage of all those years of "advancement" aren't much more (if any) better than what was created by Browning and adopted in 1911.

I used to tinker with 1911A1s, but as I aged, I finally grew to understand the ancient wisdom of "if it ain't broke, don't FIX it!!"
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Old July 11, 2018, 11:45 PM   #13
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I only change parts to make it look more like the original, no polishing or filing, I prefer to let the trigger get better with use

not from a trigger job, I use some special lube on the sear, hammer and it feels smooth enough

I usually put surplus grips on M1911A1's , I like the Vietnam surplus black plastic grips made of a very tough plastic similar to the material used on M16 bayonet grips
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Old July 12, 2018, 12:23 AM   #14
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The 1911 was a tinkerers paradise for me. Mines came in the form of the Colt Gold Cup series 70, three pieces all new using the collet bushing. Its probably the most user serviceable pistol ever made by having virtually all parts removable with a punch or something that can work as a punch.

I never had a reliability issue using name brand factory new ammo but my use of this ammo has been limited, probably less than 2K. The 45ACP is the reason why I got into reloading. Reloading caused the round count to skyrocket and this is when reliability issues became noticeable.

I've had stove pipes, cartridge not moving into the chamber and other issues I can't recall at this time. I've had some books (pre www, world wide web) but didn't do any good because I felt they were just minor tweaks and long term stability was questionable. So I compared my other 45autos to the 1911 in terms of physical mechanics and how they functioned during use, firing. My other 45autos use a Browning HP type of lock work compared to the swinging link of the 1911.

Using factory JSWC at the range I noticed the 1911 makes a two clunk sound as the pistol reloaded/cycled. The other 45autos made more of a single clunk sound. My thinking is the 1911 has a comparatively fast transition of the barrel tilting at the chamber/breach area because of the ramp being split between the barrel and frame. Because of the lesser ramp at end of the barrel at chamber entrance, I think this lighter weight contributes to a faster transition. So after much thought I decided to do the unthinkable or something that would be considered a no no. I removed a good deal of metal at the top of the ramp on the frame and the ramp of the barrel meeting this changed ramp on the frame was removed, about half of the barrel ramp was removed. I believe the bullet never sees/touches the lower part of the barrel ramp.

Next I modified the extractor so that it works as a control feed as well as snapping over the rim feed.

The 1911 now makes a single clunk sound and is substantially more reliable although at times my reloads will cause the slide not to fully close. These Colt's have a snug fit at the case mouth. Too lazy but eventually the chamber needs to be reamed.

Last edited by 745SW; July 12, 2018 at 12:29 AM.
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Old July 12, 2018, 12:51 AM   #15
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The only issues I've ever ran in to with any 1911 were magazine related.

It's my belief that pretty much any newly manufactured 1911 will run reliably out of the box. I would never go in to purchasing a newly manufactured 1911 with the expectation that I might have to tinker with it to get it to run right.

If I were to ever run in to one that didn't work out of the box... the first thing I would do is check the magazines. If that didn't solve the issue, I would be contacting the manufacture.
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Old July 12, 2018, 05:59 AM   #16
nanney1
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Originally Posted by mellow_c View Post
The only issues I've ever ran in to with any 1911 were magazine related.

It's my belief that pretty much any newly manufactured 1911 will run reliably out of the box. I would never go in to purchasing a newly manufactured 1911 with the expectation that I might have to tinker with it to get it to run right.

If I were to ever run in to one that didn't work out of the box... the first thing I would do is check the magazines. If that didn't solve the issue, I would be contacting the manufacture.
That seems reasonable.
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Old July 12, 2018, 07:06 AM   #17
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And there's the notion of adjusting the 1911 to get it running just right or to feed different types of ammo without fail. Maybe as little as polishing the feed ramp or potentially much more involved workings and changes.
A well-made 1911 runs just right out of the box. 90% of my experience with 1911s have been with Colts, and none of them have ever needed any tinkering.

The other 10% or so have been with S&W, Springfield Armory, and some other 1911s, and the results were... not so good.
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Old July 12, 2018, 07:07 AM   #18
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I'm speculating some here,But methinks the earlier 1911 smiths were the armorers who kept the war finish worn 1911's serviceable,and the folks who built match and competition pistols plus madesome accessories for them,such as "extended" parts.

A key thing to consider is these smiths were overcoming looseness or wear by methods of peening or welding or selective fit replacement parts.Peening isn't exactly adding metal,but it moves the metal in the desired direction.

The 1911 aftermarket parts industry contributed oversize parts that required fitting. I'm suggesting most of these efforts were around addition of metal to tigten what was rattling loose.

The tinkerer (which I suppose I am) must be aware that the starting point is a new,functional part that works. The process of tinkering ,instead of adding metal,is often about using stones or files or anything that can be spun in a Dremel tool to REMOVE metal from a functional part.

I'm told polishing does "not remove metal"....well,yes it does. Especially if you actually measure .

It can matter if the tinkerer knows exactly how the gun works,what is helpful,exactly why metal is being removed,and how much. Most tinkerers do not add material,except with over size parts.
And usually,the original part was loose enough from the factory.

For some reason,the tinkerers goal is often "shiny" because ,heck,shiny has to be better,even at the cost of form and dimension.

Unless you know what you are doing and why,"If it ain't broke...."is a good rule.

Some of us have a problem with a spare slide or set of grip screws being a good reason to build another one. That generally involves buying a bunch of steel to add.

I've also been known to begin with an RIA or equivalent and replace the link,hammer,sear,disconnect,searspring,slide stop and a full pin kit from C+S,or EGW,or Brown,Wilson,etc.

I like having all those parts being same quality as a custom gun. I try not to take steel off them,and if I need to,for example I qualify my "tinkering" with a Marvel sear jig. If I want "shiny" I use a diamond plate dressed black Arkansas stone,not some rag fluff and buff on a rotary tool.

Last edited by HiBC; July 12, 2018 at 07:17 AM.
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Old July 12, 2018, 12:10 PM   #19
nanney1
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The only time I've shot a 1911 was at a S&W demo day at my local range. I ran two magazines through a Performance Center model. It was nice, felt good, and accurate. However the brass ejected vertically - almost straight up. About 1/3 hit on top of my head and about 1/3 on my shoulders. I thought that was strange.

They have a rental Springfield Range Officer that I may try out at some point.
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Old July 12, 2018, 12:37 PM   #20
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A properly built 1911-pattern pistol shouldn't require anything other than a light coat of lubrication, good magazines and ammo. If it won't run without tinkering, something is wrong.

I have a pair of Colt Competition models, one in 45 ACP and one in 38 Super. The 45 has impressed me with how well it runs. Out of the box it has fed hardball, hollow points, semi-wadcutters and plain lead round nose without any drama. It's run on fairly softly loaded 200gr SWC reloads as well as full power, factory 230gr defense ammo.

The only issues I've run into are intermittent failures to lock back with a couple of big-name aftermarket magazines. Not an issue at all related to the firearm, strictly the magazine followers not engaging the slide stop. Use different mags, the problem goes away. Let me say, I'm not about to start swapping parts to use 2 $35 magazines when the pistol just works with everything else!

(In my experience the first place to start with 1911 cycling issues are the magazines, then the ammo, then potential gun issues.)

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Old July 12, 2018, 12:47 PM   #21
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Depends on your budget. In the olden days, before milsurp prices went insane, lots of shooters would buy a milsurp 1911A1 just to 'soup up' because of the hordes of aftermarket stuff available. Lotta the time because they couldn't afford a pistol with all the bells and whistles.
Now there are commercial copies of the standard "government" model with the same crappy, wee, tiny, sights for those guys. Just costs more to do.
"...buy a 1911, and..." Only thing I did to my Series 70 was change the grips and sights plus do the trigger job.
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Old July 12, 2018, 12:49 PM   #22
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The 1911 platform has been around for a very long time and there are a LOT of after-market parts available. As such, it certainly does lend itself to tinkering. There are also a ton of parts available for Glock, but somehow I'd find it hard to believe that the same percentage of Glock owners tinker with theirs.

My Glock 43 has a Ghost Pro Connector, a Crimson Trace Light/Laser Combo, and a Tritium front sight. I may eventually swap the trigger out, but I'm pretty happy with my setup so far.

My Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special was pretty much perfect just how I got it (pre-owned).
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Old July 12, 2018, 01:13 PM   #23
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Define "tinkerer" ? Parts changing ? Bolt on/drop in vs fitted ?
I agree that a modest amount can be beneficial and thanks to JMB's "modular" design parts can be changed without too much hand fitting. 3 of my 4 M1911 platforms have flat mainspring housings, they fit me better.
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Old July 12, 2018, 01:38 PM   #24
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I bought my first new one in March 1974.

it is a Colt Government Model Series 70.

It is still as it came out of the box.

Its three brothers and sisters are the same.

I will not buy one that has been "modified" (aka Tinkered with).

I prolly don't know of the tinkerer's skill level and I won't pay the price for a possible bubba job.
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Old July 12, 2018, 01:52 PM   #25
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From the time that the 1911 was commonly available to the public, I guess in the mid twenties, there have been people who worked with their own, even the simplest things like opening the ramp or ejection port. replacing various other items was pretty simple as well.

The AR 15 shares the status of the 1911, the gun for home mechanics.

I guess that also makes it akin to the volkswagen.
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