The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > The Harley Nolden Memorial Institute for Firearms Research

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 16, 2017, 01:37 PM   #1
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 16,598
Service life of the 1911

Does anyone know what the original required service life of the 1911 was? And where I can find that information??

My (admittedly faulty) memory says 5,000 rnds, but I cannot seem to find that number quoted anywhere I've looked. (which probably means I just haven't looked in the right spot..)

any help, and especially a source would be useful.

Thanks.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old April 16, 2017, 02:38 PM   #2
ShootistPRS
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 3, 2017
Posts: 903
The military trials were 6000 rounds but that was far from the "expected life" of the pistol as it was no more than a function and accuracy test to meet the specifications set forth in the contract.

In my short search I could not find the contract requirements for the 1911.
ShootistPRS is offline  
Old April 16, 2017, 02:46 PM   #3
SHR970
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 24, 2011
Posts: 1,132
I've come up with the same info as ShooterPRS.

6k torture test no official service life requirement.
SHR970 is offline  
Old April 16, 2017, 04:43 PM   #4
Gunplummer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 11, 2010
Location: South East Pa.
Posts: 3,317
I doubt they had one. I remember seeing an official "Estimated" service life of M-60 receivers. Some of the heavier stuff had log books for round life on the barrels and tubes. How would you keep track of the amount of rounds expended?
Gunplummer is online now  
Old April 16, 2017, 07:49 PM   #5
Minorcan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 15, 2015
Posts: 259
I would say properly cared for a lifetime. <y Uncles from WWII is still going and is used regularly. Has to have tens of thousands of rounds through it.
Minorcan is offline  
Old April 16, 2017, 08:18 PM   #6
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 16,598
Quote:
Some of the heavier stuff had log books for round life on the barrels and tubes. How would you keep track of the amount of rounds expended?
yeah, been there done that, signed off borescope and pullover gauge results for 81mm & 4.2" mortars in their logbooks. Worked with the guys who did the tank & arty 105s and 155s too.

No, we never tried to keep track of rounds fired in small arms, we had erosion gauges for checking serviceability.

No, what I'm looking for is if there was any kind of spec or requirement "gun must last XXXX rounds without major failure" type thing.

There may never have been one, I realize.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old April 16, 2017, 08:27 PM   #7
Gunplummer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 11, 2010
Location: South East Pa.
Posts: 3,317
It was kind of a new deal when the Army adopted them. It may never have occurred to them.
Gunplummer is online now  
Old April 16, 2017, 09:16 PM   #8
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 23,836
I don't think there is any such "spec" today. There are all kinds of MTBF requirements and the like, but there are too many variables for anyone to say "receiver must last x rounds" about any gun.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old April 17, 2017, 12:26 PM   #9
T. O'Heir
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2002
Location: Canada
Posts: 7,633
Lotta discussion on other forums since at least 2008 on the same subject.
5,000 would be decidedly light. Except that pistols were carried far more than fired. Even in war time.
Any "gun must last..." Requirement would be more for a new design, now. Parts would have that kind of spec.
That 6,000 round test was in 1910 with JM standing there. Supposedly when the pistol got too hot they dunked it in water and kept shooting.
__________________
Spelling and grammar count!
T. O'Heir is offline  
Old May 10, 2017, 10:05 AM   #10
Slamfire
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2007
Posts: 4,930
The question of what is a reasonable lifetime is a very important issue. The buyer wants an MTBF of 1,000,000 years with an infinite lifetime, for $20.00. Thirty bucks if the gun is shiny. The manufacturer has very different expectations. Now any darn fool can build a twenty or thirty pound single shot firearm that never breaks, the real art is making one as light as possible.

From what I have read, the early M1911's had to pass a 6,000 round endurance test. To pass a 6,000 round endurance test, obviously the pistol has to be built so all pass this test, which means the pistol will function longer on the average. These numbers probably came from the experience of the military and estimates of a reasonable number of rounds per year. It could have come from the Arsenals and Shooting Teams, where round counts, pistols rebuilt, etc, were considered. I believe a case can be made that the firearm should last as long as the barrel, as barrels typically wear out first. So with the soft steels of the day, after 5000 or 6000 rounds the barrels would be shot out, the pistol send back to Depot for overhaul. Once at Depot any part could be replaced if need be.

Something to note, the early M1911's were made of plain carbon steels and were not even heat treated. Gunsmiths state that the parts are dead soft. By the time WW2 rolls around, from what I have heard, slides and frames are still plain carbon steels but case hardened for wear. They will last a bit longer.

I got to shoot with the All Guard, they are using WW2 era frames, maybe other parts, in their Bullseye Pistols. I talked with the Armorer and forgot all the details other than these slides and frames have to be refitted in time spans equal to years. He had wear criteria and I forgot what it was, I think it was frame rail thickness. Frame rails are peened, then the slide and frame are assembled with a hammer and grinding compound in the slide rails. The slide is beat back and forth till experience says, the fit is just right. Not too tight and not loose at all.



I also talked to the AMU shooters. I asked about pistol durability, etc. Seems their frames and slides were made by Caspian Arms. No one on the firing line knew how old they were other than these things had been around before anyone joined the team. Some guys thought they might have been made in the 1970s or 80's. I talked to the gunsmith David Sams about these pistols, he claims he helped set them up in the middle 1990's.



I asked the AMU shooters how many rounds they shoot through the things, well the AMU shooter said about 5,000 to 7,000 rounds. I asked, "per year"?, no, "per month!"

BONG!

AMU shooters wore out triggers, sears, in time periods close to a year, if my recollection was right. Barrels took several years. Springs were replaced frequently. No one had ever seen a frame or slide crack or break, and none had every required refitting, within the experience (around six years max) of the shooters on the line. That is just exceptional.

There are a number of differences between vintage M1911's and these modern era pistols. The first is alloy steels. Alloy steels are so superior to the plain carbon steels that were in exclusive use up through WW2 in firearms. When arms manufacturer's used nickel steel, such as Winchester, they bragged about it. After WW2, even though that was vacuum tube era, everyone knew and understood that the material properties of alloys were so superior that only legacy designs and lazy firearms manufacturers used plain carbon steels in structural elements. Something else changed in firearms manufacturing in the 1990's, and that was the semi conductor revolution. CNC machining has produced the tightest factory pistols that have ever been made. Pick up a Kimber, a Range Master, or a Les Baer. They don't rattle. The old Colt series 70's and 80's rattled when new. The combination of better steels, cleaner steels, and better machining have extended the lifetime of firearms, given the same loads.

Barrels are still going to be a limiting element, they do wear internally. I have no idea of the fatigue life of a barrel, they are a pressure vessel, I expect at some point they will rupture. A low pressure cartridge such as a 45 ACP I expect the barrel will never fatigue rupture before the rifling is worn smooth. However, I am aware of a shooter who had a vintage 30-06 barrel rebored to 35 Whelen. The rifle barrel had gone through its normal service life, was old steel, and yet the barrel was enlarged internally, making it weaker, and installed on the action. The shooter fired a couple of factory 35 Whelen rounds, the barrel burst, and the owner is mad at the barrel maker. The barrel maker blaims the owner and ammunition, the owner blaims the barrel maker.

The owner should have had enough sense to have a new barrel installed, but the barrel maker is the one who is assumed to know better. He has the product liability. Manufacturer's are assumed to be expert in these things. Anyone reboring old barrels is taking a risk. You don't know the quality of the old steel, you don't know what loads were fired down the things. The owner might have been an Ackleyite, one of those worship able types that believe that firearms don't have structural limits because P.O. Ackley said so. Ackley said no one knew what loads firearms were designed to, therefore it was fine and dandy to fire his non pressure tested loads, which actually are around 80,000, to 90,000 psia, down firearms that were designed for 50,000 psia.
__________________
If I'm not shooting, I'm reloading.
Slamfire is offline  
Old May 10, 2017, 01:03 PM   #11
Gunplummer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 11, 2010
Location: South East Pa.
Posts: 3,317
I constantly came across model 1911 pistols in units in Europe. I have never seen a case hardened frame or slide on either either the 1911 or 1911A-1. I worked on a couple Officer models too. Other than the special compact features and bluing, I saw no difference. One of the worst rumor mills is the military, so I have my doubts. The only cracks I can remember on a frame were at the pin hole for the link, and they were barely noticeable. When you think of the constant slamming on the gun, it was a darn good design.
Gunplummer is online now  
Old May 10, 2017, 05:29 PM   #12
Slamfire
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2007
Posts: 4,930
Quote:
I have never seen a case hardened frame or slide on either either the 1911 or 1911A-1.
What were you looking for? Case colors like that used by Trunbull?



Trunbull does apply these case colors to M1911's but it is primarily decorative.

http://www.turnbullmfg.com/gun-categ...ll-model-1911/

The beautiful case colors found on vintage or replica firearms is a form of case hardening. I think it was originally unintended, but after carbon diffusion into a low carbon steel surface, in contact with bone and leather, beautiful colors resulted. These colors are also delicate and will wipe off. If the colors are gone that does not mean the surface was not case hardened. I don't know why it is now a specialty treatment, but the bone and leather processes were replaced by salt nitrate baths and methane gas at high temperature.

Take a look at the huge parts being carburized or "case hardened" by this firm.

Carburizing

http://www.metlabheattreat.com/carburizing.html

Wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carburizing

Carburizing,[1] carburising (chiefly British English), or carburization is a heat treatment process in which iron or steel absorbs carbon while the metal is heated in the presence of a carbon-bearing material, such as charcoal or carbon monoxide. The intent is to make the metal harder. Depending on the amount of time and temperature, the affected area can vary in carbon content. Longer carburizing times and higher temperatures typically increase the depth of carbon diffusion. When the iron or steel is cooled rapidly by quenching, the higher carbon content on the outer surface becomes hard due to the transformation from austenite to martensite, while the core remains soft and tough as a ferritic and/or pearlite microstructure.[2]

This manufacturing process can be characterized by the following key points: It is applied to low-carbon workpieces; workpieces are in contact with a high-carbon gas, liquid or solid; it produces a hard workpiece surface; workpiece cores largely retain their toughness and ductility; and it produces case hardness depths of up to 0.25 inches (6.4 mm). In some cases it serves as a remedy for undesired decarburization that happened earlier in a manufacturing process.


I am of the opinion that WW2 era M1911 frames and slides were case hardened, or carburized, using modern processes that did not leave a decorative surface finish. I know my Garand parts were carburized. You can test the part with a file. If the file does not bite on the surface, but get below the surface, the metal is soft, that part was case hardened or carburized.
__________________
If I'm not shooting, I'm reloading.
Slamfire is offline  
Old May 12, 2017, 12:51 AM   #13
Gunplummer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 11, 2010
Location: South East Pa.
Posts: 3,317
A Garand is a long way from a 1911. I have done both color case and used Kasenite on small parts. Some of the small parts were case hardened on the .45, but not the frame. I am not a heat treater, that is it's own business, but I have had to dabble in it because I am in the machining business. If you knew anything about case hardening, you should be able to pick it up and "Feel" if it was cased. Even high carbon steels feel different once you bump them up to 50 RC. If anything, 1911's were probably 4100 series steel with a mild HT. Plain carbon steel 1214-1040 would probably have galling problems once you got a little grit in there.
Gunplummer is online now  
Old May 14, 2017, 08:37 PM   #14
Dfariswheel
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 4, 2001
Posts: 7,004
I don't know what, if any service life was mandated for the 1911, but I'd imagine there was a minimum number of rounds.
Since the adoption of the Beretta M9 the contracts for service pistols do specify a minimum service life.
The new Modular Service Pistol has a mandated service life of at least 25,000 rounds.

Some USGI 1911 and 1911-A1 pistols were seldom ever fired, being used as guard pistols or shipboard armament, others were made before WWI and were still in use in 1985 and even after, and were fired unknown thousands of rounds over the years and after who knows how many rebuilds and repairs.

Top shooter Ross Seyfried said he was putting 100,000 rounds a year through his Government Model when he was practicing for matches.
Dfariswheel is offline  
Old May 14, 2017, 10:25 PM   #15
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 20,511
Interesting comment by Les Baer in an interview he did with Patrick Sweeney for an article entitled Compact Powerhouse, A Modern Look for the November 2017 issue of G&A. He was asked why one of his current offerings (1911 pistol) is available only with a steel frame.

He responded with a statement about aluminum (alloy) framed 1911 pistols. "I'm not happy with the durability of an alloy-framed pistol. They don't hold up when you go past a couple hundred thousand rounds."

The other side of the coin is that he must be happy with the steel-framed pistols and how they hold up "past a couple hundred thousand rounds".
__________________
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Old May 16, 2017, 10:04 PM   #16
Slamfire
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2007
Posts: 4,930
Quote:
If you knew anything about case hardening, you should be able to pick it up and "Feel" if it was cased. Even high carbon steels feel different once you bump them up to 50 RC. If anything, 1911's were probably 4100 series steel with a mild HT. Plain carbon steel 1214-1040 would probably have galling problems once you got a little grit in there.
Well I was right and I was wrong.

Clawson, “Colt .45 Service Pistol”, has a footnote on the early Colts, on page 92, which states that Colts after 31,000 were made of Class C steel, which I assume meant frames and slides. With the exception of the first 31,000 M1911’s, all of the WW1 era Colts were made of Class C steel. Clawson is not clear on this, but the first 31,000 M1911’s could have been made of Colt No1 steel. Metallurgy was in a very primitive state, Springfield Armory was classifying steels as A, B, C.

This is the composition of Class A steel:

Early Nomenclature: Class A steel
later WD 1350
Carbon per cent: 0.45-0.55
Silicon 0.05-0.10
Manganese per cent: 1.0-1.30
Max Ph per cent: 0.50
Max Su per cent : 0.50


Early Nomenclature: Class C steel
later WD 1325
Carbon per cent: 0.20-0.30
Manganese per cent: 1.0-1.30
Silicon 0.05-0.10
Max Ph per cent: 0.50
Max Su per cent : 0.50

On page 344, Clawson provides the steels used in 1911A1 models, which were the WW2 era production.

Receivers
WDX1335
WDX1330
WD1035

Slide:
WD1050
WD1050 Modified.

The receiver does not have a heat treatment. For the slide, the front of the slide is heat treated and oil quenched. There is nothing describing a case hardening. I am surprised by this. Maybe these parts were not carburized due to warpage concerns. Same issue for the lack of a heat treatment on the frame. The grip safety was carburized, and that is the only part Clawson describes being carburized.

These steels are plain carbon steels. The manganese helps in impact resistance. Currently these steels are so cheap and low grade they are used for rail road ties, rebar. Unless someone can find in the original drawing package call outs for alloy steels, I am going to say that none of the military M1911's were made of alloy steels, especially advanced 4100 steels.

Currently 4140 is commonly used in many commercial firearms, but we actually don't know what is used unless the manufacturer reveals this information or someone conducts a metallurgical test of an existing specimen. I am curious to know what current Colt M1911's are made from, and also what the competition used.
__________________
If I'm not shooting, I'm reloading.
Slamfire is offline  
Old May 16, 2017, 10:35 PM   #17
Jim Watson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 13,743
Have you seen
http://forum.m1911.org/temp/1911manufacture.pdf

The bill of materials gives the 1942 barrel as 4150, other parts different levels of carbon steel. The muzzle end of the slide was being hardened at the time.
Jim Watson is offline  
Old May 17, 2017, 02:30 AM   #18
Gunplummer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 11, 2010
Location: South East Pa.
Posts: 3,317
That sounds about right, they are pretty soft and the slide stakes harder than the receiver. The difference between the slide and frame may be why it does not gall. Slide-1050 hot rolled but not annealed. Has to be somewhat harder than the frame. 1050 would easily case harden, but all the thin areas would get brittle. You would not even have to carborize. I used to HT 1040 by throwing it in salt slush.
Gunplummer is online now  
Old May 17, 2017, 06:19 AM   #19
Slamfire
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2007
Posts: 4,930
Quote:
The bill of materials gives the 1942 barrel as 4150, other parts different levels of carbon steel. The muzzle end of the slide was being hardened at the time.
That is a great reference, thanks for the link!

Something is a little off, the barrel is stated to be 4150 at the start by in the text, it is stated to be SAE 1350. Based on Clawson, I would go with the SAE 1350.

Anyone notice the "Combat crouch" of the GI's in the picture? I have seen a number of period pictures of FBI, Cops, etc, where they are shooting from this position. The shooting community is very resistant to new ideas, and as you can see, the shooter's left hands are all in the air. It took Bill Weaver and Jeff Cooper decades to get shooters to put that left hand on the pistol.
__________________
If I'm not shooting, I'm reloading.

Last edited by Slamfire; May 17, 2017 at 06:27 AM.
Slamfire is offline  
Old May 18, 2017, 11:48 AM   #20
HiBC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 13, 2006
Posts: 4,985
If you look at the Rockwell "C" specs of many modern,commercial frames and slides you will see they are called out in the vicinity of 24 "C"

4140 etc are alloy steels that will heat treat and harden,but not to the degree tool steels will.

When I was still working in manufacturing,I occasionally filled in in the heat treat room.I was never given the job of cycling parts through the ovens,but they did use an ancient,WW2 vintage induction hardener.
There was basic fixturing to locate a part so the hardening would be where desired There was a timer so the hardening would be to the correct degree.
So the operator held the part in the right place and stepped on the pedal.A portion of the part turned red,and you drop it in a bucket of water.
This spot hardening is fast and effective.
As I have done the process,I "have eyes" for it. I have looked at GI 1911 slides,the locking lug areas,and said to myself "Ah,induction"
But without carburization,these steels just don't get Rockwell 50 "C" hard.
If you quench harden a carbon steel part like a slide made of,say O-1 tool steel...You had better count on warpage,and if its only .030 over the length,you are lucky.
With something like a 4140 slide,it can be hardened to a modest "hard and tough" degree,where it is still quite machinable.The stock or the blanks or the forgings would be heat treated(or not) before machining.
You don't heat treat after the slide rails are machined.

The Garand receiver was mentioned. Those were typically 8620. Excellent stuff! Sort of like a 4140,with some hardening capability,good strength and toughness,but it is also excellent for gas nitride surface hardening,and it has something in it to prevent brittleness.
8620 can be purchased from McMaster Carr,and it is a great steel for gunsmithing parts.

I have found it common for Mauser 98's to be spot hardened. They may seem soft where you check them,but try the locking surface or cocking cam area.
IMO,it means something when my Starrett auto center punch bounces off without leaving a mark on these surfaces,but the punch will mark other areas of the receiver.
HiBC is offline  
Old May 18, 2017, 01:11 PM   #21
Gunplummer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 11, 2010
Location: South East Pa.
Posts: 3,317
8620 is not like 4140. You have to add carbon to the outside to case it. Mauser receivers (With one or two exceptions) are junk steel somewhere around 1018-1026. The whole thing is carborized and cased. If it is harder, it was recarborized at that spot. You can do the same "Spot hardening" by repeating with Kasenite.
If you take a Mauser or Mosin receiver and grind about .015 -.020 off at a spot, it will never get hard again at that spot with out adding carbon. You can heat it to any temperature you want, quench it in any media you want, and it will not get hard.

I would like to know what the MAS 49/56 receivers are made from. Anybody know?
Gunplummer is online now  
Old May 18, 2017, 01:47 PM   #22
HiBC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 13, 2006
Posts: 4,985
GP,no argument. 4140 has more carbon and can achieve higher hardness.It also has more tensile strength.

8620 has some nickel in it. It is regarded as a "case hardening" steel.
Here is some data

http://www.interlloy.com.au/our-prod...rdening-steel/
HiBC is offline  
Old May 20, 2017, 08:03 AM   #23
peggysue
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 20, 2014
Posts: 1,828
Longer than your life span.
peggysue is offline  
Old May 20, 2017, 10:40 AM   #24
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 16,598
Quote:
Longer than your life span.
Very true, for most of us. There are exceptions.

I recall an interview with one of the top speed shooters a couple decades ago, where he said he wore out 3-4 guns (1911A1s) a year in practice. Worn out frames to the point rebuilds weren't practical was implied, though not explicitly stated.

The interviewer asked him how much he shot for that to happen, and he replied.."about 80,000"
"Rounds?" the interviewer asked..

"No, dollars!" he answered.

(at the time, .45acp was around $100 a case)

That is certainly more than what I'll shoot in my remaining lifetime.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old May 22, 2017, 09:06 AM   #25
jmorris
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 22, 2006
Posts: 2,570
I have had failure of some 1911 parts in just a few thousand rounds. Two piece barrels, slide stops, and other bad parts.

That said I also have some I have used in competition for many years that have well over 100,000 rounds through them.

Not that amazing of a feat though, I have a Glock I can say the same thing about.

Properly maintained and fed they are simple machines and can last for many cycles. How many revolutions do you expect out of your engine? Lots of stuff going on in there, more parts to fail, etc.
jmorris is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:12 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.09935 seconds with 10 queries