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1911 questions

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by bwells, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. bwells

    bwells Longview Member

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    I finally got a chance to go out shooting last Friday, and I'm having issues with my 1911. I tried shooting Magtech 230gr., HSM 230gr., and even a dozen Fed. Hydra Shok's, in two different mags (the one it came with, and a Chip McCormick). The first mag (HSM's with the Chip McCormick) ran just fine. But after that, my gun was jamming almost every other round. The rounds were getting caught on the feed ramp. The HSM's were burning pretty dirty, but would that be enough to cause these jams?

    Every time it jammed, I only had to pull the slide back and let go, and the round would chamber just fine. I bought this gun used a couple years ago, and I have no idea about the round count or anything else about it, other than it's a series 80 1991. I think I may try putting in a new recoil spring and trying a different mag. Any other ideas?
     
  2. .45's and .38's

    .45's and .38's Happy Valley OR Well-Known Member

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    Polish the feed ramp. Hollowpoints jam on unpolished ramps.
     
  3. bwells

    bwells Longview Member

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    It's not just hollowpoints, it's also every type of ball ammo I've tried.
     
  4. NoAim

    NoAim Hillsboro, OR Active Member

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    Possible problems:

    - The extractor tension is too tight
    - Mag feed lip issues
    - Mag spring tension is too light
    - Limping
    - Riding the safety with thumb tight against the slide and slowing it down
     
  5. magnum

    magnum Springfield American....'nuff said

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    also check your mag springs. If you leave your mags loaded for extended periods of time, it will weaken the spring causing jams. Try using a new mag or replacing your mag springs with new ones. Wolf springs are better than oem and they don't cost as much as a new complete mag.
     
  6. bwells

    bwells Longview Member

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    Thanks for the input guys. The Chip McCormick mag was brand new, but I think I'll try a new spring in it anyway. I don't think it's an issue with the feed lips, because I've had the same issue with six different mags (3 different brands) with different feed lip profiles. My buddy shot it too, and he had the same problem. I don't think I'm riding the safety with my thumb, because I'm a lefty and my safety's a righty. I think I'll order a new recoil spring when I order the mag springs, because they're cheap. If those don't work, I try polishing the feed ramp.
     
  7. AndyH

    AndyH Keizer, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Upgrade to a wolf 18.5 lb main spring.
     
  8. reloadem

    reloadem Monroe, OR Member

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    When is the last time it was cleaned and lubed?
     
  9. bwells

    bwells Longview Member

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    Cleaned and lubed about two weeks ago, but hadn't been shot between cleaning and shooting last Friday.
     
  10. Oro

    Oro Western WA Active Member

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    I would get a box of WWB 230gr. ball and lubricate the gun very "wet." Shoot it with both the stock magazine and the CMC and see if you still have problems. The Colt 80/1991 is a very reliable gun and should not really be giving you problems. Extractors in them are of an excellent grade of spring steel and are usually in spec. Colt barrels/ramps are of high quality and in my experience don't often need any "polishing" or alteration to work reliably with a wide range of ammunition.

    Is it one of the 90's vintage parkerized ones that say "1991" or what is called 'new roll mark' that is blued and doesn't say "1991" on it?

    Good magazine springs should not wear out from compression. Cheap ones will, but there should be no reason to change the spring in a CMC magazine or an OEM Colt (I am assuming that is the other one you have - has a pony on the bottom? Very Good magazines - among the best).

    Also, changing to a weaker mainspring as suggested should only serve to compound any existing problems you have. It is best to sort things out with stock ammo/springs/etc. before you go altering the specs. But this raises the issue that you may not have stock springs in it if you bought it used and it was altered by the previous owner. I might be tempted to get a stock recoil spring for it and make sure it is indeed a standard 16lb unit. If it was altered with a stiffer one that could be the cause of your problems, among several other things.
     
  11. bwells

    bwells Longview Member

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    Yes, it's one of the parkerized models with the "1991" on the left side of the slide. Since springs are relatively cheap and I know nothing about the ones in the gun, I ordered new ones tonight, a 16 pound and 18.5 pound recoil spring, as well as a 7 round and an 8 round Wolff mag spring. I've got a box of WWB 230gr. that I'll try once the new springs get here. I'm pretty sure the mag that it came with is not the original, the only thing on the base is an ASSY # and a MFR. #.

    Hopefully I can find a combination that will be reliable.

    I've put about 150 rounds through it, most of those being in the last two weeks or so. I've never gone more than about two mags without jamming. But I can finally hit a two liter bottle at 20 yards reliably. I'm happy, considering this is my first & only handgun for now.

    DSC00952.jpg

    DSC00951.jpg
     
  12. colt1911

    colt1911 Kent, WA New Member

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    I would bet that a new spring will solve your problem. I've seen it before....
     
  13. dario541

    dario541 medford, or 97504 Member

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    It is probably a minor problem because that is one of the finest handguns in the world - in my humble opinion!
     
  14. Oro

    Oro Western WA Active Member

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    That's a bad sign. Those are usually the el-cheapo Chinese fakes that are built to look like the Vietnam era mil-spec contract magazines. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, but either way they never last very long.

    Try the 16lb. spring and see what happens. Don't be shocked if it doesn't cure the problem. if it doesn't, try getting a pair of genuine Colt 7rd. magazines and try them. The spring may well take care of the problem; looks like that gun has seen some honest use so it may be time for a new recoil spring. That's a good gun as a first gun - you'll never regret it and it will serve you well - I sincerely believe of all the major 1911 makers, there's nothing I'd rather have than a Colt.

    Another inexpensive source of quality magazines is the sale at Metalform on their contract magazines (they supply Colt, SA, and some other reputable makers). Click on "quantity discount" here and you can get some nice pieces for $13 each.

    http://metalformcompany.thomasnet.com/item/pistol-magazines/0-45-caliber/45-293-5h?&seo=110

    Let us know what happens.
     
  15. bwells

    bwells Longview Member

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    When I bought the gun, I also ordered four of the cheapest mags I could find just so I'd have some extras. They were the mil-spec $7 mags from Cheaper Than Dirt. They look nearly identical to the one that came with the gun. The only difference is in the shape of the feed lips. The base plates are identical, except that they have different MFR. #'s.

    The new springs should be here Monday. If those don't work I may try a couple of those Metalforms. ****, once I get paid again I may try a couple of them anyway.

    Before I bought this gun I read a lot about the colts, and liked the idea of the added safety of the Series 80. I know lots of people aren't a fan of it, and some take out the extra parts, but I like it.
     
  16. Oro

    Oro Western WA Active Member

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    Yes, dimensionally they start out usually OK. The problems develop with use as the gauge and quality of steel are both inferior and the magazine twists and bends out of shape. They will work (usually) for light use and occasional shooting, but break down if carried (where they are stressed), left loaded, or shot frequently.

    Yeah, I was one of those people who "drank the kool-aid" that the 80 was bad. I avoided it for ages. Finally a year or two ago I wanted a nice Commander sized gun. I hunted high and low for a year or more for a good pre-80 one and no "deals" were to be found. I finally broke down and bought a near-new "NRM" 80 Commander (new roll mark - the post 2000 or so type that are blue and without the "1991" on the side, but otherwise the same). It is a great gun, and has one of the nicest triggers I've seen on a factory gun. Most of my guns are pre-80 type without the FPS, but I have learned and heard from others more knowledgeable that the 80 has no real downside.
     
  17. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    If you're still having problems, drop on by and I'll get ya fixed up...no charge.

    If there's any parts that need to be changed out, just the cost of those.

    1911's are about all I work on.
     
  18. bwells

    bwells Longview Member

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    Cool. Depending on where you're at I may take you up on that.

    I got my new springs in the mail today. I replaced the old recoil spring with a new Wolff 16 pound. The new spring is noticeably stronger, and about two inches longer, than the old one.

    The new spring came with a firing pin spring, but I'm not sure if I'm going to put it in or not. Why do they package them together? Do the need to be matched somehow?

    I haven't had a chance to shoot it yet, but I'm going to try and get out soon. All the places I shoot are out in the woods, and I normally don't go shooting during the hunting seasons.
     
  19. Oro

    Oro Western WA Active Member

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    Not "matched," - but rather the theory is that if you have worn out a recoil spring, you may have worn out a fp spring so might as well change it, and they are cheap. Like putting new air valves on a car rim when you change the tire. Just cheap preventative maintenance. A worn fp spring can result in an AD's since the 1911 design has an inertial fp.

    As an aside, the recoil spring and MAINSPRING are indeed "matched" to give proper cycling and timing. However, most people never change the mainspring because it's much more difficult to do for a novice. I would not worry about that but just see how she shoots now with standard loads and hopefully you won't have to take Wichaka up on his generous offer.

    Two inches longer AND stiffer? That implies the spring you have in the gun is very, very wrong. Spring length and linear stiffness influence what it's "rating" is - thus a short, stiff spring can be the same rating as a longer, more compressible one. If that one is longer and stiffer, it implies the one that came with your gun was way under 16lbs. It would make me think that if someone installed either an incorrect or massively light spring, they might have messed with the fp spring, too, and I'd change that as a safety measure and throw the old fp spring away so it doesn't get reused.

    Hmm, I just looked again at the photo to guess about the use/where on the gun, and one thing suddenly leaped out at me I can't believe I didn't notice before. It has an old-style (or perhaps borrowed from a Norinco as they used them, too) thumb safety. Either the gun had more work on it, or perhaps the receiver is not 1991. What are the marks and the s/n on the right side? (you can "xx" out the last digits if you are worried about posting them). Also, the frame wear does not appear to match the slide wear now that I look even harder. Lastly, are the MS housing and trigger black Delrin (hard plastic) or another steel? (The MS housing is the part inserted in the frame vertically below the pivoting grip safety).
     
  20. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    Am up the gorge, about 65 miles east of Vancouver.

    The thumb safety looks like pre-A1 model...very early style.

    Remember springs work both ways. If you install a stronger spring, you'll get more cushion coming back, but more jolt at the end of its run when it goes back into battery.

    The original design called for a 13.8lb recoil spring....and they should work fine with a 10lb spring. If they don't work with that, and you have to install a stronger spring to get it to work properly, it means there's something wrong...and you're masking the problem with the stronger spring.

    So in essence, a 16lb recoil spring is really over springing the gun.

    I know most semi-custom makers use 18lb springs. But they are there for reliability so they make sure they will plow thru whatever is in the way... but I don't recommend them. They can be hard on the slide stop pin, holes in the frame, and the barrels lower lugs.