1911 Reliability Secrets

1911 Reliability Secrets

1911 Reliability Secrets



I was surfing the web and found an interesting 1911 link “1911 Reliability Secrets“. I thought it interesting and informative enough to share.


Below is an excerpt from the site

The Barrel

Most barrels of modern manufacture (since the middle 1980s) come already “throated,” or widened, in the ramp area. This is the best type of barrel to start with. Earlier barrels have a narrow feed ramp which is designed to feed hardball ammo only. These barrels are best throated first by a competent gunsmith who really understands the 1911 design. Although proper throating is not beyond the realm of a competent amateur with a Dremel tool, the possibility of ruining an otherwise good barrel demands that this task be left to the professional. However, once the barrel is properly throated, or if you have one that has come from the factory already throated, there are still some things you can do to the barrel to enhance reliability.

First, note the transition area between the barrel feed ramp and the inside of the chamber. If this area is sharp, it must be lightly curved, or rounded, so that the round will feed smoothly over that “ledge.” This can be accomplished with a file or a Dremel tool. Take it easy here – the object is not to extend the ramp into the chamber area, but simply to lightly round off that sharp edge. Then the filing or grinding marks can be smoothed and polished with successively finer grades of sandpaper, finishing off with crocus cloth and a polishing compound such as “Flitz” on a cleaning patch or a Dremel polishing tip.

Next, note the hood of the barrel. In earlier barrels, the part of the hood that contacts the slide was perfectly flat, perpendicular to the axis of the barrel. Later barrels have a proper 45-degree bevel on the lower half of this hood contact area. The purpose of this bevel is to eliminate a “catch point” for semiwadcutter bullets which would prevent proper chambering. If that bevel exists on your barrel, all you will need to do is polish the bevel, using the same technique mentioned before, using successively finer grades of sandpaper and/or the polishing head of your Dremel tool with a polishing compound. If the bevel does not exist, it is an easy task with a Dremel tool to grind the bevel. Take care to maintain a 45-degree inward angle, following the curve of the barrel hood, and to take off no more than 50% of the surface area of the hood where it contacts the barrel. Then finish by polishing this bevel area.

Now look at the area where the hood mates up with the chamber area of the barrel. There should be no sharp edges here. If there are, take a small rat-tail or half-round file and lightly round those sharp edges. Then polish the filed area.

Now place the barrel into its slot in the frame and push it back and down until the link support legs contact the back of the slot in the frame. The barrel should rest on the curved support surfaces of the frame. Note the gap between the bottom edge of the feed ramp in the barrel and the forward edge of the feed ramp in the frame. This gap should be at least 1/32nd of an inch, and could be as much as 1/16th of an inch. If there is a smaller gap than this, (or no gap at all), the chambering cartridge can and probably will hang up on the lower lip of the barrel’s ramp. That gap is absolutely crucial to smooth chambering. If the gap is not at least 1/32nd of an inch, the solution is to file the bottom of the barrel feed ramp back until that gap is achieved. Then the ramp is re-shaped carefully with files or a Dremel grinder so that the barrel feed ramp is once again close to the bottom of the barrel. Be careful – do not extend the ramp much, if at all, deeper into the chamber, and keep the same upward angle as before. In the 1911 design, the ramped barrel leaves a portion of the case unsupported, and if the ramp is too deep, it increases the possibility of a case blowout. This could have serious consequences for the pistol and for you!

The next step is to bring the ramp area of the barrel to a mirror polish. This can be accomplished by hand, using finer and finer grades of sandpaper, crocus cloth, and then finishing with Flitz. Again, the objective is simply to polish, not deepen the ramp into the chamber area.

When a round is fed into the chamber from the magazine, it comes up the frame and barrel ramps, and then deflects off the roof of the chamber of the barrel, straightening itself out for the final direct push into the chamber. For this reason, it is advantageous that the inside of the chamber be very smooth so as to allow little or no friction as the nose of the bullet deflects downward. Here again, the answer is polishing. You do not want to widen the chamber out of spec, but you do want to take off any roughness. The felt polishing head of the Dremel and some Flitz polishing compound is perfect for this task, or you can do the same thing with a tight-fitting cleaning patch and Flitz, pushing it in and out of the chamber area. Do not ride up over the headspace ledge in the chamber; this should remain clearly defined and relatively sharp. Look at your work with a magnifying glass, and stop when you have a smooth chamber surface.

The locking lugs on the barrel need a bit of attention. The forward edge of each locking lug should be lightly “cut” or chamfered with the edge of a file. Just a little does it. Follow the curve around each lug. Polish these cuts with fine sandpaper. The objective here is to help the locking lugs cam up into their seats in the slide smoothly and easily.

This completes the necessary work on the barrel. The main objective is for the chambering cartridge to have a smooth, glass-like surface to work against wherever it contacts the barrel on its way in.

ADDED a NEW PAGE – How To Videos for the 1911 Pistol

While I still find printed material works best as a reference for the most minute details of working on a firearm I think it is also quite useful to have some video references. To that end I have started a page collecting the best 1911 DIY links on the internet. Vist the new page here.

Colt Crimson Trace New Agent 1911

Colt Crimson Trace New Agent 1911


Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC has teamed up with Crimson Trace Corporation for the first ever Lasergrips®, grip-integrated laser sight emblazoned with the Colt® logo, which is now standard on the Colt New Agent® pistol. This compact, lightweight Colt 1911 series pistol with wrap-around, front activation laser sight, gives shooters increased accuracy and confidence in their shot placement.

“The Colt New Agent is an excellent choice for a concealable pistol for personal protection,” said Joyce Rubino, Colt’s Vice President of Marketing, “With the addition of Crimson Trace® laser sights, New Agent shooters can be increasingly confident that their shots will hit the mark.”

The upgraded New Agent model 1911 weighs less than 24 ounces and measures 6.75 inches in length. While possessing the power and protection of a full sized pistol, this compact model is a great option for concealed carry. Colt’s New Agent offers a seven-round magazine capacity in .45 ACP and an eight-round magazine capacity in 9 mm Parabellum.

The carbon steel slide is finished in matte blue and the lightweight alloy frame is black anodized. The New Agent’s trigger is skeletonized aluminum with a 3-inch bushingless barrel.

The New Agent’s traditional double diamond grips have been replaced with black, wrap-around Crimson Trace grips made of a polymer and rubber combination. With the Crimson Trace laser sight and trench style sighting system in lieu of iron sights, the New Agent has a snagless draw, adding to the capability of this pistol.

Highly visible at self-defense distances, the red laser comes factory-zeroed at 50 feet. The unit may be fine tuned by the user for their choice of ammunition, via integral windage and elevation adjustments. When the pistol is held with a natural firing grip, the instinctive, front-activation laser is initiated.

“We’re thrilled to offer this quality Colt pistol paired with Crimson Trace’s popular laser sight to give shooters a product combination that will increase shot confidence,” said Rubino. Coltsmfg.com. Crimsontrace.com.

G&A Accuracy Test: Today’s Model 1911

Guns and Ammo just posted an interesting comparision of 1911 accuaracy. Below is the first page and here is a link to the 7 page article in it’s entirety. Enjoy


1911 Accuracy Results

Accuracy in a pistol can’t be judged easily; the uses to which it could be put create too many competing mandates that would be difficult to fulfill. This is particularly true of the 1911.What’s required for a Camp Perry-class .45 is unnecessary for a pistol used for duty, self-defense or a local combat match—where total reliability trumps knothole groups.

About the only sure thing one can say is that the 1911s of today are more accurate than those produced in the past. Stronger steels, tighter tolerances and better barrels have made purpose-driven target guns and the average shooter-grade 1911 superior to what our fathers and grandfathers shot. And that’s a good thing. Both the champion and the beginner will do better with a more accurate pistol. There’s really no downside to this; while newer guns are made to closer tolerances than their predecessors, average reliability hasn’t suffered appreciably due to the precision allowed by CNC machinery.

Exceptional accuracy—then and now—would be a machine-rested, 10-shot 2- or 2.5-inch group at 50 yards with either match target loads or carefully brewed reloads. Usually only accurized pistols will be capable of this. Excellent out-of-the box accuracy from a quality 1911 at 25 yards will run about two inches (sometimes under). Good 25-yard groups will run three inches and not much more.

Just changing ammo can have a dramatic effect. For instance, many .45s don’t like GI-issue ball. I’ve switched to commercial loads (Federal, Winchester or Remington) and watched groups shrink by half. It all depends on the pistol.

Today’s 1911s
I wanted to see what today’s guns could do. I was particularly interested in comparing Springfield’s bare-bones “GI .45” 1911A1 to my original WWII Colt. I was also curious about what types of groups a current duty-type pistol was capable of. I obtained guns from Colt, Springfield, S&W, STI and Kimber to augment others from my safe. I only wanted to use a small sampling of some of the mid-priced, stock pistols with the ammo I had on hand. No need to reinvent the wheel here; a full-on accuracy test of all the guns available with plenty of ammo would go way beyond what I was looking for.

I didn’t test all the ammo brands I had in every pistol, either. I used what I felt was appropriate to the pistol or what might prove interesting accuracy-wise. All firing was done at 20 and 25 yards, except for the McMillan-built STI and Hoag-accurized service pistol, which were shot at 50 yards (the STI was shot two-handed from a rest; the Colt had been machine-rested numerous times in the past). The majority of the shooting was done from a two-handed rest, but we also did some standing one- and two-handed firing.

A total of just under 500 rounds of .45 GI standard and match ball, commercial +P and standard 230-grain, 185-grain jacketed and HP match (as well as .38 Super +P 130-grain FMJ) was expended over three range sessions. Only two malfunctions occurred: one from my 1943 Colt 1911A1 and the other from the Springfield Armory GI. The old GI Colt continued to have issues with the SWC and JHP rounds, which was expected, but after the Springfield was lubricated properly, it didn’t have any more malfunctions.

I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of the Springfield. It reliably fed every type of bullet with no malfunctions, after being lubricated properly. Out of the box it had a clean-breaking 5.2-pound trigger and grouped to point of aim at 20 yards. It easily outshot the original Colt GI 1911A1, which has a pristine issue barrel. The Springfield GI gets my vote for the best value.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the 1911. I learned to shoot it very well only after years of training. The issue ones I played with in the Army during the 1970s rattled and couldn’t be counted on to hit a man-sized target much beyond 15-20 yards. The commercial guns I shot then weren’t much better.

Today’s average, store-bought guns represent a quantum leap in precision compared to what was available 30 years ago. With proper ammunition, the Kimbers, Colts, SIGs, Springfields and S&Ws will all shoot excellent groups at 20 and 25 yards with no tendency to throw a wild shot or two out of the group (something I found was common with older, non-accurized guns).

The newer fixed-sight guns also shoot to point of aim, which usually wasn’t true back in the day. What I also found surprising was that there was no clear-cut champion here; all these pistols performed well out of the box. The level of intrinsic accuracy was about the same—depending on ammo—across the board. I expected the custom McMillan STI race gun and the Hoag-accurized Colt service pistol to shoot superbly and they did. But the Kimber, SIG, Springfield and S&Ws also grouped tightly at the distances where they’d be used. You can argue whether one is “better” than another; but the 1911s built today are capable of out-of-the-box accuracy that wouldn’t have been possible a generation ago.

Below are my shooting results from the various 1911s listed in the chart above.


Colt Delta Elite 10mm Auto Chambered 1911 Pistol

Colt Delta Elite 10mm Auto Chambered 1911 Pistol

Stop the presses! I have been seeking a pistol chambered in 10mm auto for quite some time. Up until this point the GLOCK 20 was the front-runner on my wish list. Then as luck would have it I was catching up on some shooting magazines that had stacked up over the summer. In one of those magazines I stumbled across a review of the recently re-released COLT DELTA ELITE.

Apparently in about 2009 Colt took the discontinued DELTA ELITE back to the drawing board and redesigned some of the guns original design short comings.

Why 10mm? The 10mm is one of the flattest shooting calibers ever offered, it’s ballistics nearly match that of the venerable 41 magnum. Translated this equals accuracy and stopping power.

I plan on ordering one of these soon. Hopefully have it by Christmas or so. I think it would be a prime candidate for some upgrades as part of a project for this site. At this point I see the following work would be performed:

  • Replace the sights with Novak Carry Sights with Tritium Inserts
  • Replace stock beavertail grip safety with a upswept version
  • Ambidextrous Safety
  • New trigger
  • Possibly  upgrade the guide rod and recoil spring.
  • Novak 1913 Picatinney Light Rail.