My Personal Path Away From The 1911

It has been noted more than once that lately there seem to have been many MSW articles recommending against the use of the 1911 as a service pistol.  This is not really a new trend, and even since the days of the 10-8 Forums we have always cautioned folks that the 1911 is not for the casual user.

Starting with IPSC back in the 80′s, I traveled a long road of being a devoted user of the 1911 in both competition and duty applications, a builder of custom 1911s, and a designer of 1911 components.  The last 15 years or so had seen the 1911 absolutely dominate my existence, and everything I did seemed to revolve around the gun.  With all this devotion to the 1911, it is even more telling then why I went away from it.

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Making the Compact 1911 Reliable

Earlier today (at the time I wrote this), 1911 guru Bill Wilson posted an excellent article on his blog on the secrets to making a short format 1911 pistol work reliably. Bill explains, “the basic functional difference between a full size (as John Browning designed it) 1911 pistol and a compact version with a 4.25″ or shorter barrel is slide mass and speed.” The point of the article was that these guns can indeed be made to run reliably if you know what you’re doing. The key lies in controlling spring weights, slide speed (hammer spring and firing pin stop geometry), a carefully tuned extractor, and careful ammunition selection. Follow the right formula, keep up on your preventative maintenance, and you can have a reliable compact 1911 (assuming it was set up correctly to begin with.)

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Thumb Safeties on Pistols: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

The question is not meant to have a definitive answer. The answer will depend on your own use and experience. I wish only to offer some thoughts on the matter. The arguments on the thumbs down side usually lean towards users not wanting to have any obstacles to overcome when they need to fire in whatever high stress scenario they can imagine. The arguments on the thumbs up side tend to lean towards the user desiring some additional layer of protection from an unauthorized user being able to fire, and either thwarting their attempt completely or merely giving the owner time to react to the attempt. Being that this article is being presented on Modern Service Weapons, my thoughts are geared towards those who use pistols as just that, service weapons. Continue reading

The XYZ5000 Strikes Again (or How I Learned To Pick A Different Gun)

Folks tend to get very emotionally involved and ego invested in their choice of firearm, and it gets very difficult to reason with them objectively.  I have certainly been there myself, and my own road to discovery was long and rocky.

Let’s play a little game and remove the emotional attachment of a particular weapon system, and just outline a few things for consideration.  What if someone told you any of these items about their awesome XYZ5000 blaster? Continue reading

1911 Maintenance: The Plunger Tube

One of the potential weak points on a 1911 pistol is the plunger tube. Shortfalls in either materials or workmanship (usually workmanship) can lead to the plunger tube becoming loose in the frame, or even completely falling out of the frame. The latter tends not to happen, since the grip panel will usually hold it in place.   Continue reading

Colt 1911 Dual Recoil Spring Test – Part 2

Some time ago Hilton contacted me to conduct an evaluation on Colt’s new Dual Recoil Spring Assembly for the 1911 pistol. For those of you who haven’t kept up with the various articles on this, Colt developed the dual recoil spring assembly at the request of the Marine Corps for the new M45 1911 Pistol. The reasoning behind the new spring is to extend service life to 8000 rounds between changes.

Springfield 1911/Colt M45 Dual Recoil Spring Assembly

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1911 Malfunctions

At the request of fellow MSW contributor Doug, I am updating an old 10-8 Forums thread regarding malfunctions in 1911s.  If you are a 1911 shooter, it is absolutely critical that you understand the types of malfunctions that you will get, as none of them will go away with hope, good intentions, more cleaning, or more lube.  Remember that we are discussing malfunctions or stoppages, and the more specific one can be, the more intelligent the analysis that can follow. Merely indicating that “the gun had a jam” offers no information at all.  Continue reading

Colt XSE “Alice” 1911 Build: The Last In Line?

Today I am selling the last of my custom 1911s.  You may be surprised to know that I don’t even own one of my own builds, they have all had to go to help fund new projects.  This stainless Colt XSE was completed in the spring of last year, and is the last 1911 build to have come off my bench.  Many fans have mourned that this is the end of an era, and while I am reluctant to use “never,” I have no plans to build any more 1911s in the near future.  That can change, but for the time being I need a break from 1911s as they have ruled my entire existence for far too long. Continue reading

First Impressions: Wilson ETM 45 HD/+P Magazine

Wilson Combat has been innovating the 1911 world for decades, and hasn’t stopped yet. They continue to make some of the best high end 1911 pistols on the market, and they’ve been making 1911 magazines since before many of our readers were born. Recently, they’ve been changing the 1911 market by introducing flat wire spring technology in their 1911 recoil springs, which reportedly increase the maintenance cycle by up to 10 times. So if they work so well in recoil springs, why not put them in a magazine?

A common complaint regarding many 8-round magazines is the limited spring life. Use them heavily or leave them loaded for a long time and they quickly lose lift, resulting in malfunctions. The new ETM HD magazine addresses this with a longer tube to fit a longer spring, and a flat wire spring that is advertised to provide 25% more lift than standard springs. Like all their products, the magazine is guaranteed for life by Wilson Combat. Continue reading

Duty Heavyweight: Old School 10-8 Nighthawk

Tim recently shared this photo of his duty gun, an extremely worn and reworked specimen of the Nighthawk 10-8 model with the now defunct Dawson Rail.  His light setup is the old Surefire Military Light with the optional high intensity 120 lumen lamp installed.

After the tinge of nostalgia passed, I ran to the safe to weigh a similarly equipped pistol.  The above pictured setup weighs 51 oz unloaded, no magazine.  Ouch.  That is a lot of metal to hump all day for 9 rounds and 120 lumens for 30 minutes run time.  The light alone weighs 8.4 ounces.  If this setup were updated to an X300, it would only pare it down to 4.1 ounces, for a roughly 47 ounce setup.  My back hurts just thinking about it.

COLT M45 1911 Dual Recoil Spring Test Part 1

Springfield 1911/Colt M45 Dual Recoil Spring Assembly

A short time ago Hilton contacted me about evaluating the Colt M45 1911 Dual Recoil Spring Assembly. As you may know from earlier articles, Colt developed the Dual Recoil Spring assembly for use in the M45 at the request of the Marine Corps. The system is designed to prolong spring life between changes and increase the round count between them.

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1911 as a Modern Service Weapon

Recently, I got a call from an officer from a neighboring PD asking if I could take a look at his 1911. You know, because it wasn’t working. I asked him a few questions, and it turns out this particular example was a Colt Rail Gun, but really it could be any permutation of a 1911 Government Model that populate the local gun shops. He said the pistol was giving him fits, he had lost confidence in it, and asked if I could take a look at it.

Of all the 1911 pistols out on the market, Colt probably does the best job putting out guns that generally work out of the box, as seen in my article: Colt Reliability Out of the Box. But they aren’t perfect. So I asked this officer (over the phone), what is it doing? He said it was having feeding issues and also “jamming a lot.” I told him that doesn’t really tell me anything. His response, “Well, I’m not a gun guy.” Continue reading

The 1911 Stake On Front Sight

Every now and then it comes up that someone asks about replacement 1911 front sights in tritium or other options.  There are relatively few aftermarket options for stake on front sights, as it is an absolutely archaic attachment method which should be abandoned by anyone willing to spend money to upgrade their 1911.   Continue reading

S&A Mag Wells and Magazine Trapping

10-8 modified TRP Operator. Photo by Triple Bravo.

A recent inquiry from a customer prompted today’s post, which concerns the internet fable of how the Smith & Alexander magazine well is not “tactical” because when you drop or impact the gun you can pinch the horseshoe section of the well together and thereby pinch the magazine in place inside the gun. Continue reading

Photos of the Day: Old School Blaster by Hilton

I set the time machine back about 10 years to revisit with the very first full house custom 1911 that Hilton built for me. I carried it on duty for a few years before retiring it to range duty. Before its retirement, it got shot quite a bit. Over 20,000 rounds through it, including a fairly steady diet of my agency’s then-issue Winchester 230gr Ranger +P (RA45TP) round. Eventually it was too much for the Kart barrel, which cracked from the barrel lugs to about halfway down the barrel.

The pistol went back to Hilton, who tightened the slide to frame fit, and fit up a rare National Match barrel and bushing set produced on contract by Israeli Military Industries. These barrels look and shoot great. The pistol also wears a prototype rear sight that later became the production 10-8 sight. Continue reading