Saturday, August 25, 2012
Much is said about the old 1911 adage, "everything you need and nothing you don't", or words to that effect. It is generally held that your basic 1911 mods must include reliability, sights you can see, and a good clean breaking trigger. I will certainly not tell you anything different, but we can take a little bit closer look at the basic mods and some other easy fixes that will make your 1911 a better tool. Keep in mind that this article is not a "how to" guide, but rather a resource to allow you to better communicate with your gunsmith and to be a smarter end user.
The 1911's main areas of weakness are the feedway and extractor. To do its job properly, the extractor needs to have correct claw geometry and proper tension. Toward this end, the extractor must also be consistently located in the slide, which is a product of the fit of the firing pin stop. A loose firing pin stop will allow the extractor to rotate or "clock" and not get a consistent grip on the case rim. A good 1911 smith can assess your factory firing pin stop and extractor, and either adjust or replace as needed.
The 1911 is also famous for feedway stoppages, and care needs to be taken to get this area properly set up. The chamber of the barrel should be reamed to SAAMI specifications, with a proper leade (the transition from the chamber to the rifling) cut and the interior surface as smooth as possible. The mouth of the chamber should be cut to allow feeding of hollow point ammunition. Unless you are rebuilding an old Colt, all the modern 1911 barrels are already cut this way, and it is not an area that typically needs much attention beyond some polishing and edge breaking. The feed ramp should be polished and cut to the proper dimensions. Many factory feed ramp jobs are cut too shallow as measured from top to bottom, and others are rough or covered with the paint finish that is on the rest of the gun. Contrary to popular belief, it is not critical to have the feed ramp and barrel throat mirror polished. Smooth with the proper geometry is the key.
There are a number of other areas that should be smoothed out, polished, or clearance cut to promote better functioning. Each smith will have a different approach, and each gun may need something different depending on how well they did their work at the factory.
A clean breaking trigger of 4-5.5 pounds is well suited for duty or defensive work. Many factory 1911s now come with long aluminum triggers with overtravel stops and decent trigger jobs, so you may not need much here. A trigger job can be performed on the factory components, but many of the MIM factory hammers and sears do not hold a trigger job as long as machined bar stock components. If you spend the money on a trigger job, you may as well upgrade the hammer and sear to better preserve your investment.
After reliability and a clean trigger, the next most important part of the shooter experience is the sighting system. You have to look at the sights every time you shoot the gun (that’s the idea, anyway...), and lousy sights will ruin your day. Most modern 1911s have dovetail cuts in the slide, which make it easy to drift out and replace the factory sights. You should try various sighting systems before purchasing one, to ensure that you know what you want.
Some other easy changes to improve your 1911 experience are grips and the mainspring housing. These two parts, both easily switched out by the end user, can do much to fit your 1911 to your hand. The other area that I typically address up front is dehorning of certain critical components. The gun is no fun to shoot if it cuts you every time you touch it. A stainless gun makes this process easy, but a carbon steel gun would need refinishing. Since we are just doing the bare bones basics, I would limit this initial dehorning effort to small parts like the safety and slide stop, which are easily refinished.
The 1911 has a few more screws and pins than modern designs, and it is helpful to ensure that critical items are secured when setting up a new gun. Every screw on the 1911 needs to be secured with Loctite or else you will end up chasing them at the most inopportune time. Blue Loctite 242 is recommended for the grip screws and sight set screws. Green Loctite 290, a thin wicking compound with similar shear strength to 242, is recommended for securing the grip screw bushings, front sight and roll pin (if present), and the plunger tube.
You can do a lot of good work with basic setup such as the pictured pistol, without having to get really carried away with modifications.
Posted by Hilton at 10:51 AM
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Felt a bit uninspired with PT today, so I came up with a new circuit.
3 Rounds for time:
100 rope jumps
20 box jumps, 24" box
20 kettlebell swings, flip & catch, 30lbs
20 wall ball shots, 10' target, 20lb ball
20 1 handed kettlebell swings, twist & pass to other hand, 20lbs
10 shots on 1" circle @ 4 yards with SIRT, 2 hands
10 shots on 1" circle @ 4 yards with SIRT, strong hand only
10 shots on 1" circle @ 4 yards with SIRT, support hand only
Any misses or bad shots with SIRT (like a jerk and hold where the laser traces a long squiggle rather than a blip) must be made up. This got a bit harder by the third round.
Post your times to the comments!
Posted by Hilton at 1:09 PM