A Very Overlooked Part

FPS

Most 1911 shooters realize the importance of a properly fit and tuned extractor, but it is my impression that plenty do not appreciate the need for an equally well fit Firing Pin Stop.

The Firing Pin Stop’s name gives away its main purpose, keeping the firing pin and spring inside the slide where it belongs. The next purpose of the stop is its role in properly positioning the extractor and holding it in place during firing.

You can have the greatest extractor ever made, dressed and tuned by John Moses Browning himself, and if the extractor is loosely retained by a drop-in FPS, the extraction and ejection will be erratic.

Considering that the 1911 is a Controlled Round Feed design, the extractor is heavily involved in both the feeding and emptying of each round.

An over-sized firing pin stop is fit by dressing down the sides until it barely slides into place in the rear of the slide. The extractor will be locked into place and the consistency of feeding, extraction and ejection will be greatly improved.

EGW, Harrison and Wilson Combat are 3 brands that I have used. I prefer the Harrison stop over all others. I’ll go as far as saying no other sub 25 dollar part will do more to improve the functionality of your 1911 pistol.

 

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Magazine U-P-G-R-A-Y-E-D-D

Spelled thusly for a double dose of pimpadelic wisdom.
 
For years I’ve had various 45 8 round magazines I used only for training, practice and matches. They worked OK with 230 gr. ball ammo, for a little while. When one would act up it got dropped into a spare parts box and I’d plan to deal with them later. This box recently became full and I decided to rehab some of the magazines. My usual assumption was that the puny spring weakened, but there have been some feed lip cracks.
 
Cracked feed lips or baseplates meant the mag got tossed. I wasn’t interested in saving springs or followers because I’ve grown sour on the entire concept of flush fit, 8-round 45 magazines.
magz
A pile of Shooting Star and Colt magazines, newly improved with either Tripp Super-7 kits or GI followers and Wolff springs. Not shown are some Wilson 47Ds that received Checkmate followers and Wolff springs.
No more girly-man springs or tilt prone followers. No more stuffing 20 pounds of ‘taters in a 10 pound sack.
The Shooting Star + Tripp combo recently tested beautifully, feeding 230 gr. Gold Dots (a tricky bullet profile for 1911s) in a 40+ year old Colt.

1911 45 Magazines: 7 or 8 rounds

IMG-0298

The 2 leftmost springs and followers are brand new Wilson 8 round sets intended for their 47D magazines. The 2 on the right are Wolff 7 round springs with a Pachmayr (L) and Colt (R) follower. 

When discussing the original length magazines for the 1911, if the intended use is self defense with appropriate JHP ammunition, I strongly prefer the original 7 round capacity. My reasons are illustrated in the photo above.

The desire to carry more rounds in a 1911 is understandable. With the traditional or flush fitting magazines, extra rounds are accommodated only by using smaller, weaker springs and shorter followers.

For range use, this may be fine. For defensive use with JHP ammunition, I’ll take reliability over the extra round.

IMG-0299

The proper way to carry 8 45 acp rounds in a magazine IMHO is with a modern, extended tube magazine like the Certac (Checkmate) shown on the left. These magazines utilize the extra length to fit a beefier spring and follower package.  The standard length magazine on the right is also a Checkmate.

The traditionalist in me prefers the looks of a 1911 loaded with a flush fitting magazine. The extended body magazines stick out farther and do not conceal as easily, but they are very reliable (in my experience) and the baseplate design makes them much easier to strip out of the magwell if needed.

They also should be more tolerant of being dropped, as the welded baseplates on the traditional magazines have cracked and broken off on plenty of match or other high volume shooters.

Is the 1911 right for me?

A more accurate title for this post might be “What kind of person does well with 1911s?”

More than many other designs, the 1911 requires some mechanical aptitude from its owner. Ideally, the enthusiastic user will become their own armorer. I don’t write this because the 1911 has a bad design. I write it because the 1911 was designed to be built with more craftsmanship and fitting than is economically feasible in 2017.

An enthusiast for this design will be happy to learn the tuning tweaks.  In my recent experience with Colt 1911s over the last few years, they have all run fairly well right out the box. I still dress the hook and add tension to the extractor until a loaded 230 gr. cartridge is held against the breech face as I wobble the slide. Once this is accomplished, (30 minutes of effort) the guns run beautifully.

The following are a few things I’ll pass along to any 1911 enthusiasts reading this:

A Glock is designed to run with only 6 drops of oil. A 1911 has a good deal more bearing surface and swept area so it needs extra lubrication. The AR community likes to say “ARs run wet” – the same can be said for 1911s. Long slide to frame interfaces, multiple locking lugs, ignition sets that rotate rather than slide forward are all aspects that are going to need more lube than a more modern polymer framed design.

Good magazines are critical for any semi-auto firearm. There are probably dozens of magazine manufacturers that sell 1911 magazines. It shouldn’t be surprising that not all of the magazines available are good.

Avoid “Gun Show” magazines. They are garbage.

Jason Burton of Heirloom Precision regards the 7 round Wilson 47 as a gold standard of 1911 magazines. I won’t argue with him. A 7 round magazine usually has a much beefier spring than an 8 round flush fit magazine and will be more reliable over the long run.

I’ve had good luck with the following 8 round extended tube magazines:

  • Chip McCormick Power Mag
  • Wilson Combat ETM
  • Checkmate
  • Tripp Cobramags

The 230 gr. 45 acp cartridge is tougher on magazines than smaller rounds. The ammo stack is heavier and the next round in the stack travels farther before banging into the feed lips. Magazines wear out. Learn to examine them and marking the magazines will help you determine which ones may need new springs or which ones just need to get trashed.

Be honest and be willing to part with a magazine that is past its prime. Think of magazines (and recoil springs) as consumable items, similar to tires on a car.

Buy the Kuhnhausen manuals. Volume One will get you started.

I’ll wrap this post up by saying that there are more 1911 manufacturers now than I even have a desire to remember. Each maker will have differing parts quality and geometry. Tolerances can vary wildly as well. They are not all created equal.

In summary then, learn about the 1911 (this should be fun to you), get books, tools, take classes, enjoy the history, admire the simplicity and durability. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. Move onto another design.

 

Introduction:46 Years of interest in the 1911

At the tender age of 6, I watched a man shooting rats at the town dump using a 1911. I immediately lost interest in the .22 rifles that were being used by others. (The dump allowed patrons to shoot rats when the garbage piles were burned. It was a different time.)

.45 man allowed me to keep a few of his fired cases. You can think of these as the brass seeds of my fascination with John Moses Browning’s finest pistol.

I’ve owned 1911s for nearly 30 years. In this time I’ve competed with, collected, carried, studied, amateur gunsmithed (successfully) and trained with, what many think is the finest close quarters combat pistol yet devised.

Other handguns have my admiration and respect but the 1911 and its variants holds a special place in my heart.

This site will be a place for me to elaborate. Thank you for visiting.