Reader Dyspeptic Gunsmith can always be counted on to provide well-reasoned, thoughtful input around these here parts. And some of his retorts are gems worthy of posts in and of themselves for all the world to see. Here’s one he cracked off yesterday in response to Tim Lau’s disparagement of the venerable JMB design:

“Those of us who’ve been around the 1911 platform know it is a finicky gun that requires a dedicated end user and strict maintenance schedule if it is to be relied upon. Many 1911 style guns on the market won’t even work well out of the box. ”

These are the sorts of times when I get really uncharitable towards kids and their historical ignorance. Your teachers didn’t teach you jack in your precious public schools, did they? The 1911 was subject to an acceptance test before being accepted as the US Army’s new sidearm that went something like this: . . .

– total rounds to be fired: 6,000.
- 100 rounds would be fired, then the pistols in the competition would be allowed to cool for 5 minutes.
- every 1,000 rounds, the guns would be cleaned and oiled.

The 1911 was the only pistol out of the half-dozen pistols at the Army’s acceptance test in 1907-1911 that completed the course of fire, and it did so with no malfunctions.

After the 6,000 rounds had been fired, it was then subjected to deformed cartridges, bullets seated too deeply (which will result in elevated pressures, etc). It passed those tests as well.

In short, the US Army qualified the 1911 from a field of many candidate pistols.
The tests began in the 1906-1907 timeframe, and here’s the report of same. After 1907, only the Savage and the Browning design were continuing on to further trials. Here’s a little history on the Savage.

The Army didn’t decide on the 1911 the way they decide on some weapons today – i.e., by going with whichever defense contractor has bought up the required number of Congressmen with drugs, cash and whores. No, the 1911 was accepted in an era where weapons were actually tested. The 1911 was subject to a (for the day) rather rigorous test, and it passed.

The 1911 was designed to be field stripped without tools, and detailed stripped without tools. All you needed to detail-strip an issue 1911 was the rim of a .45 ACP case to take the grip panel screws off.

Modern variants of the 1911 are what have gained the reputation for being “finicky.” They start with such “improvements” as allen-head grip screws. Why? No clue why. These yahoos think the allen-head screws “look cool.” They don’t hold the grip panel on the frame any better.

Then they start tightening the fit and lock-up, supposedly to improve accuracy. Then we get into all manner of nonsense about the metal in the firing pin, the guide rod, the feed ramp on the barrel, the hammer, the springs the shape of the grip safety, ambi safeties, changes to the barrel bushing… on and on and on and on. After the design has been subjected to no small amount of untested stupidity, the 1911 critics come along and pronounce the original design “unreliable” and “out of date.”

Right. I’ll take that under advisement, Junior.

Here’s my favorite problem induced by gun owners (it’s my favorite because it’s so easy to solve as a gunsmith): Far too many people go out and buy a $1K (or higher priced) pistol…. and then feed it ammo with cheap, piece-of-shit magazines. In all box magazine fed semi-autos, I have found that that #1 or #2 cause of failure to feed in all semi-autos I’ve examined have been issues with the magazines. This isn’t particular to the 1911. It’s all detachable magazine-fed semi-autos. The feed lips on magazines controls the attitude of the cartridge as it is stripped off the magazine. Bad cartridge presentation means that things go downhill from there. If you want a reliable pistol, don’t cheap out on the magazines. If you have good magazines, don’t drop them on the ground carelessly.

Lastly, the 1911 was designed to feed military ball ammunition. Once your bullet shape starts deviating too far from ball ammo, you might see issues in feeding.

One thing I can (and do) with my 1911′s that I don’t do with my Glocks (or other combat tupperware pistols) is feed them cast lead reloads. My 1911′s will eat cast lead bullets all day long. Why use cast bullets? Because I can buy them so much more cheaply than jacketed bullets, and if I’m shooting outdoors, why worry about lead splatter in the air? Glock advises owners against using lead, and I’ve seen enough Glock “kabooms” to warrant caution, so I don’t do it.

158 Responses to The 1911 Is Finicky? I Got Your ‘Finicky’ Right Here

  1. I love a good “FOAD internet ninja’s in your mommy’s basement, go drink some more of that Glock Kool-Aid out of your black rectangular Tupperware sippy cup” post once in a while!

        • I built 5 of em just so I could build one of my own, but that was after building a few dozen for the US Army (as a lowly Non Compensated Officer)

      • One just needs to attend a GSSF match and you’ll see failures. No guns are infallible but Glock fans just seem to have an extremely short memory and a long list of excuses.

        • I’m not saying Glocks are perfect. At the end of the day, 1911’s and Glock owners both have their worshippers. I like 1911s – particularly the new USMC iteration. I’m merely saying I’d put my money on the Glock reliability with JHP’s over that of most 1911s I’ve encountered. With cast ammo, I wouldn’t take that bet. Since I don’t have 20,000 rounds of discretionary ammo, that probably won’t ever happen.

          I also have to state that I have great respect for the original 1911 design spec to go 6,000 rounds, although a cleaning every 1,000 rounds definitely makes that task simpler. Glocks have obviously been torture tested as well. To each their own, except CA in their “wisdom” forbids non-LEOs from purchasing Gen 4 pistols.

        • Heck, I’d put my Gen 4 Glock 23 against any of Dyspeptic’s 1911’s, so long as my 23 gets fed brass cased ammo between 155 and 180 grains, and the bullets are not cast lead.

        • Off the shelf (ie, without me playing gunsmith) and being fed JHP’s, I would take a Glock over a 1911’s as well.

          Both of them being fed 230gr ball ammo? I don’t see any difference between the two.

        • “At the end of the day, 1911′s and Glock owners both have their worshippers.”

          I worship no Glock owners.

        • Dyspeptic,

          You definitely know your stuff. I was even pondering an endurance test, although lots of those have been done already. I would have responded sooner, but I tried to help a lady in a disabled car. Turns out that she was nuts and had recently stolen the auto.

      • If I NEEDED to carry a gun all day everyday I would by an M&P. just as reliable as the glock. But a little more attractive.

        Every craftsman needs a reliable tool. Especially when his life hangs in the balance. Whatever does the job the best. though I carry a 1911, I would not if my I had a higher risk level like you. I can just afford a little flash because of my low risk.

    • Me too ! The 1911 is the most copied firearm design on the planet and if it was crap why are special units still using it over 100 years after it was brought into service. Sometimes the tupperware kids need a good spanking.

  2. I just picked up a brand new $400 GI model 1911 in 38 Super. 150 rounds through it, with $20 Metalform magazines, not one failure. No failures to eject. No Failures to feed. No failures to fire. Half of those round were fired stock. Half with a drop in (after about 10 minutes using a dremel) compensator. All 150 shots were in the 0 or -1 rings of a IDPA target. Doesn’t seem too finicky to me so far.

    • Wait! I do remember one! A Springfield I had wouldn’t feed 185 gr wadcutters at first. Five minutes with a Dremel solved that problem. I have had problems with other guns. Kahr,Keltec, and Smith and Wesson guns I have owned all gave me issues. For the record, Smith customer service was fabulous. Kahr, not so much.

      • Wad, semi-wads, and truncated conical semi-wads have been an issue in many semi-autos for a long time. That outside edge of the wadcutter profile can snag on any little imperfection in the feed path.

  3. I have to admit my Army-issued 1911 rattled a bit like Don Knotts in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” but assuming I was probably somewhere between it’s 15th-20th “owner”, it never missed a beat.

  4. The .pdf of the pistol trials doesn’t load. I downloaded it and tried to load it again and it said the file was damaged and could not be repaired.

  5. I just checked out this Tim Lau guy, LEO in the L.A. area, that’s right, in Kalifornia. Where we know the LEO can mistake two short hispanic women throwing newspapers for 250 Lb. black cop on a rampage. Lot’s of credibility there buddy.

  6. Was Dyspeptic’s response really a retort to Tim Lau? Dyspeptic agrees that modern 1911’s have strayed from the original design and that leads to reliability problems. Tim Lau talks about what is on the market, he didn’t disparage the original design.

    The original 1911 passed the test. That still gives us no information as to the relative reliability as compared to modern polymer guns.

    • +2

      Is anyone really impressed that the 1911 came in first in a three gun test performed 106 years ago? Who cares?

      And besides – must we really continue this nonsense about how the design was perfect in 1911, and any changes are the cause of all problem with all 1911s? Seriously? No none has been able to come up with ANY improvements in the design?

      Apparently the pistol works great, so long as 1) it is exactly as designed by JMB, 2) it uses “non-piece of shit magazines” – which are apparently not the magazines that come with $1000+ hanguns, 3) you feed it only hardball ammo (or cast lead), and 4) you stick with flathead screws for the grips.

      Okay, then…

    • I’ll quote him again, this time abbreviated to you can’t miss that to which I was responding:

      “Those of us who’ve been around the 1911 platform know it is a finicky gun…”

      The 1911 “platform” started in (drum roll please) 1911.

      • We don’t know of he was being loose with his terms or really meant platform. Since he didn’t live during 1911 I assume his experience is mostly with modern variants. He later uses the word market which implies what is made today.

      • Dyspeptic,

        I’ll quote him too so you can’t miss what I was responding: “Many 1911 style guns on the market won’t even work well out of the box.”

        This indicates to me that he’s talking about today’s iterations. Without knowing for sure I wouldn’t throw him under the bus.

        • Used guns are also “on the market.”

          Used 1911’s aren’t exactly rare, unless we’re talking of particular GI contract 1911’s, or something that was a special order commercial Colt. There are literally tons of 1911’s/1911A1’s from which to choose.

          Now, his being a government employee puts him into the class of gun buyer where they’re never happy with what they have, they always need something new, and always on the taxpayer’s dime. So of course, he’s looking for ways to dismiss anything that’s already tried and true. His job as a government employee is to lust after the new hotness.

  7. I agree. I’m not a big fan of the 1911, but not because of it’s reliability. When I was a kid if you saw a semi auto that wasn’t a .22 it was usually a surplus pistol. 1911’s, Browning hi powers, Walther P38’s and pp’s. I knew 1 cop that carried a Browning Hi Power cocked and locked as his duty sidearm. It was the long sight parkerized military model. Another cop carried a Walther P38 that was a trophy from ww2. They all used FMJ ammo.

    Along about 1970 people started to put hollowpoints in pistols and I believe this fact, along with corrupt gun magazine writers shilling for new guns is where we get the rumors of 1911 reliabilty issues.

    I can remember buying still wrapped in brown paper 1911 mags from a surplus store for 2 bucks each for my uncle’s 1911. GI flap holsters were also 2 bucks each. Course you could also buy Lee Enfiels jungle carbines from the same store for 40 bucks.

  8. I typed a longer response that vanished because I forgot to misspell c0cked. Really, a gun blog that censors c0cked.

    Anyway in my youth I knew a lot of people that used semi’s. Most were surplussed 1911’s, Browning Hi Powers and war trophys like the Walther P38 and PP. Some were even carried as duty guns by cops. They all used FMJ ammo until the start of the 70’s. I think the use of hollow point ammo in the older guns and shameless shilling by gun writers trying to sell newer guns caused the rumors of unreliability.

    When I was a kid you could go to surplus stores and buy, still paper wrapped, mags for the 1911 and flap holsters for 2 bucks each. Lee Endfield jungle carbines at the same store were 40 bucks each.

    • Geez, I miss those days…
      Mow a few lawns, make a few bucks, and go blow it at the army/navy surplus store.

      • Regular lawns 3 bucks, big lawns 5 bucks with a non gas powered push mower. That was when we lived in town. Also had the paper route. In our America then kids still had these jobs.

        When we lived in the country I got paid wages for hay and tobacco. Made better money in the country, but it was magnitudes harder work.

  9. I’m a young guy by most gun owner comparisons, but there is no finer pistol in my eyes than a 1911. I have a Kimber Custom II that has had several thousand rounds fed through it, using Wilson magazines, with zero failures. It is my very favorite gun. I call her Lucy, and only because Vera was taken.

    • My Custom II has also been very good. I’ve had one misfeed so far, and I narrowed it down to the only 8 round mag I have. If I download to 7 rounds, it feeds just fine. All of my other 7 round mags feed without issue.

      Now if you want to talk about a jam-o-matic – let me introduce you to my Zastava PAP rifle. That thing is damn picky about mags. Was Kalashnikov’s design the problem or were the Serbian changes to the design the problem? I’m betting on the latter.

  10. My Kimber Custom Shop CDP III, 45ACP (1911 design) eats anything I throw in it. Cheap assed mags I bought, Kimber custom mags, Chip McCormick 10 rounders, no difference in feeding, 100% feed. Had one stove pipe in the entire time and I think that was a fluke.

  11. Great article. I love my 1911’s. Of course mine are them new-fangled ones with the external extractors, but they’re still in the club.

  12. “…i.e., by going with whichever defense contractor has bought
    up the required number of Congressmen with drugs, cash and
    whores.”

    Dan for the win!

  13. Nice post, gunsmith!

    Hey TTAG… you guy’s doing a review on Chris Kyle’s last book, “AMERICAN GUN: A HISTORY OF THE US IN 10 FIREARMS”? It’s not historical grognard text, but fittingly, he devotes one of the chapters to the 1911 and discusses the selection process. Makes for a good, entertaining read.

    I think modern problems with the 1911 have nothing to do with Browning’s design and everything to do with manufacturers cutting corners to make a buck on the lucrative 1911 gun market. I think if JMB were still alive today, he’d be aghast how some folks have butchered his baby… along with impressed at how many modern pistols designs can trace their lineage to the 1911.

    • “I think modern problems with the 1911 have nothing to do with Browning’s design and everything to do with manufacturers cutting corners to make a buck on the lucrative 1911 gun market”

      Ive been saying this for years.

      Especially in the case of sub-combat 1911s being marketed as CCW guns. >:(

  14. I have a Kimber that had lots of feeding problems out of the box. Changed to McCormick mags, and that helped, but still had to send it back. The feed ramp was gunked up with Kimpro finish, and the chamber is so tight that once it heats up, nothing likes to feed. It won’t go more than a hundred rounds without misfeeds and a need for a good cleaning. Does not like anything but brass cased ammo. Wanted it for CCW, but can’t trust it that far.

  15. My Colt 1911 turns 100 years old this year based up serial numbers. I love it and still shoot it. It also has been fed cast semi-wadcutters with no issues.

  16. My early ’80’s MkIV S70 was accurate but not 100% reliable, so I changed out the bushing for a solid one out of my parts bin, and trashed a dozen of the paper-wrapped ’80’s mil-spec mags in favor of (are you sitting down?) the Kimber Tac-Mags. I have left FTF’s in the dust. Of course, I will use different springs for soft reloads vs. full-house loads, but I accept the limitations of physics on this particular planet.

    Over many years, I have also changed out the slide stop for wear, and added Hogues and replaced worn parts, and have still spent less than your entry-level KimberWilsonBaerBrown. It’s not a tack-driver; it’s a 1911. But, that extra $2K or so I saved bought a lot of ammo (at old prices and with reloading).

    YMMV

  17. My SW1911 has been nearly flawless since I’ve owned it. Never had any major issues. A couple FTF within the first few hundred rounds but haven’t seen an single failure with it since. My TA E Series on the other hand? What a freaking nightmare that one has been. It’s on its third trip back to S&W for ejection issues. The first time I had to send it in it required work on the feed ramp as it wouldn’t even feed Winchester white box, needed a new extractor pin because the roll pin was sliding down towards the frame, the thumb safety was super mushy, the barrel and bushing needed better fitting. The slide to frame fit was too tight. They fixed everything except the ejection issues. After two prior trips back it still jams the last round into the magazine feed lips. Its ruined my CMC Service mags and Wilson 47D’s. From the moment I got it home from the shop I could tell something was off with this one. Even the CNC machine work on the frame was crappy. The trigger guard is misshaped and has a nasty bur on it. The edges weren’t rounded etc.

    It’s taking longer than usual to get it back this time. Here’s hoping their building me a brand new one.

    This isn’t mine but its the same problem I keep having. Very disappointing.

    http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=5&f=49&t=84628

  18. If you have to use the discarded shell of a .45ACP round to detail strip the thing…I’m pretty sure you’re using a tool…..

    Don’t get me wrong, I love 1911s. I’ll be glad to own several someday.

    And they’ll live in my safe.

    My Glock will continue to be at my side, though.

    • As a member of Pedantics Anonymous, I recognize a brother. Would you prefer he said “a specialized tool?” The rim of a .45 round is not a tool for the purposes of “tool-less disassembly” because if you have a .45 pistol, it’s almost impossible that you won’t also have a .45 round. However it’s very likely you won’t have a screwdriver, especially an allen or torx one. Conversely, if you don’t have a .45 round, why do you give a damn about fixing your .45 pistol?

      • hahah thought that as well. Without ammo, youre cleaning a complicated and unreliable hammer. Sadly, I do not own a 1911 yet but hope to fix that soon.

  19. Wilson Combat CQB Elite owner here (with WC mags). I have put 3,404 rounds through it (I keep track for maintenance), and I have had zero problems. I will admit I am fastidious about cleaning. But, this baby will eat any ammo from +P ammo from top tier manufacturers to rounds loaded by a semi-qualified loader such as myself.

    Sure, it takes a little more time to tear down for cleaning as compared to your polymer guns, but my life is not so busy than I cannot spare an extra five minutes to clean a gun whose history can be traced back through every US conflict since World War I. Feel free to enjoy the guns you prefer, but for me, it will always my 1911. I love ’em!!

  20. I’ve carried various 1911’s for years. Shot competitively, had customs built, built my own customs, etc. But I have to admit, there is a Glock 36 on my side. Not that I don’t trust my 1911(s), but simply because I’ve gotten lazy in my old age. I don’t want to have to clean the lint/dust/crap out of a 1911 on an almost daily basis. I’ve decided for me personally, the new fangled-plastic-ninja-polymer is my best choice. I shoot my carry gun at least once a week, and that is straight out of my carry holster – prior to cleaning. I’ve never had a failure with my 1911 that was the gun’s fault, but seeing all the dirt and crap that builds up started to worry me and started the “what if” scenarios. I don’t worry about it with the Glock – even though it’s about as ugly as a pistol can get, and takes a lot of practice to know that there is no safety for my grubby thumb to rest, I know it will perform. YMMV…

    • Ditto. And mostly for the reason that if, God forbid, I’m ever involved in a DGU, I don’t worry about the LEO’s taking one of my “nice” guns as evidence in any investigation.

      A G36 is an utterly unremarkable piece, available at a bazillion gun shops for six pictures of Ben Franklin. But it does work, it works well enough to be a credible defensive firearm and the materials and finish prevent it from being at risk from sweat and water.

  21. Say, my father purchased an inexpensive 1911 clone made in a foreign country. We put about 50 rounds of full metal jacket ball ammo through it without any trouble. Then we took it out to shoot it again (with more full metal jacket ball ammo) and now it fails to go into battery about every third shot. Any ideas?

    For reference it is clean and oiled properly and I don’t believe either of us were limp wristing. (Is limp wristing even an issue with the 1911 design?)

    • “Limp wristing” is an issue with recoil-operated semi-autos in inverse proportion to the mass of the gun itself (ie the lighter the gun, the more issues you can expect from “limp wristing”)

      Failure to go into battery: I’d check the barrel/slide interfaces. It sounds simple and trite, but that’s how lots of stuff goes in gunsmithing: Looking for little, seemingly trivial details. Look for burrs, nicks in the slide rails, the frame rails, the barrel bushing.

      Make sure your recoil spring is of the correct length when out of the gun. Compare it to a new spring, side-by-side. If your spring has lost, oh, 1/2″ or more of length when sitting side-by-side on a tabletop with a new spring from the same manufacture… you probably need a new spring.

  22. My first handgun was a cheap Philippines made Blue Thunder in .45. Since then I’ve owned Springfield, Auto Ordenance, Colt, and Ruger model 1911s. They all worked as well as the Beretta, S&W, and Glock pistols that I’ve owned. I’d trust my life to any of them even with the cheap factory magazines. but i have personally had great luck with the Mec-Gar magazines. I’m sure the Wilson & Chip mags are great but I’ve had no experience with them. I love my two pound hunk of steel, when I’ve shot all nine rounds I can still use it as a club in close.

  23. I was selected for my battalion’s pistol team in 1969 while in Germany in the Army. They issued me a 1911,I believe made by Ithaca. It rattled when you shook it. The battalion commander was a freak about doing well in the Europe-wipe competiton held in Kaiserslautern once a year.

    They gave us pistol team dudes lots of time off from regular duty and case upon case of ammo to practice with. I have no idea how many rounds I fired through that gun with not one problem ever. I’m sure it was a WWII gun and man would it run.

  24. The 92F is a better gun then the 1911.

    One its cheaper.And the Beretta mags included will,omigosh,actually work properly in the gun.

    I can lube it once a month and call it done.

    It shoots a round working class people can afford to shoot.

    There’s only one part I need to maintain,and when it breaks the gun won’t go full auto like a hammer following 1911.

    Its designed to be carried with a round in the chamber ready to fire,unlike the 1911 which was carried hammer down w/ a loaded or empty chamber in the military.The thumb safety was intended to lock the gun long enough for a cavalryman to dismount and properly de-cock the weapon.Thanks to Jeff Cooper people no longer do this.

    Yours,an Air Force vet who sold his 1911 and carries his 92FS.

  25. “it is a finicky gun that requires a dedicated end user and strict maintenance schedule if it is to be relied upon.” – That sounds about how many folks would describe the AR-15 and if people are willing to give their AR’s the TLC required to keep them running properly, what is the problem with a 1911?

    • that doesnt sound like AR15s at all.

      Believe it or not, they are just as reliable as any other rifle of its class.

      • Army tests have clearly shown otherwise. You may argue whether AR is “reliable enough” for the field, but by now it is conclusively shown that there are more reliable guns out there.

        Also, “it’s reliable if you clean it often enough” is a roundabout, evasive way to say the same thing, because other rifles are reliable with a far less rigorous cleaning schedule.

        • BCM’s “Filthy 14”.

          “The Big M4 Myth: “Fouling caused by the direct impingement gas system makes the M4/M4A1 Carbine unreliable.” by Defense Review.

          Enough said.

          It is the Army’s fault that the M4 earned a reputation of unreliability to begin with, primarily by not emphasizing critical maintenance and training soldiers properly to recognize problems.

  26. The US Army? Aren’t they the ones still using the Beretta when Glocks/XDs/M&Ps are available? ‘Nuff said.

  27. No reason to bash anyones choice on what they like. In my experience 1911s tend to have alot more hangups than Glocks, still own both. The slug coming out of a 1911 hits just as hard as one from a G21. Make the first shot count.

  28. Further history:
    The 1911 was designed to replace the 45 Colt SAA and that was designed with the intent of dropping an opponents horse during cavalry engagements, a lesson learned in the Civil War (hence the 45ACP copies the ballistics of the revised 45 Colt)
    This is why the 1911 Colt was issued with a lanyard loop on the magazine as well as the pistol.

    • Bear; if you’d had my, 1st hand and extensive experience w/the 1911, in ALL climatic zones to include recovering 1911’s from rice paddies after 12 months under water, glued inside their leather holsters by slime and microbic action to the point it took 2 large men to pull the pistol free, 4 hours in boiling water and extensive cleaning to free the moving parts then function fire it the next morning on a standard US Army Qualification target at 25 yards getting 2 each 10X’s; your opinion might be different.

    • my 1943 Remington Rand is in excellent condition and I would pit it against ANY Les Baer, WIlson, Kimber, etc pistol out there. Bring your $1,000+ fancy 1911, all the ammo you got and meet me at the range. Looser buys the single malt afterwards.

    • That’s fine.

      Use what works for you. I’m not here to sell 1911’s. I have no pecuniary interest whether anyone uses a 1911 or something else. I always tell people to carry “what works for you.” That could be a revolver, that could be a Glock, that could be a Sig, whatever. Use what works for you. There’s nothing written in stone anywhere that “You should carry a 1911.” Or a .45 ACP. I’d rather have a little .22LR revolver with me than a .45 I left at home.

      I do have an issue with people peddling nonsense on stilts, however, and the idea that the 1911 is a “finicky platform” qualifies as such.

  29. I have discovered, to my regret, that the advice about mags and the 1911 are true. My first pistol was a 1911 and given my difficult financial state at the time, I bought really cheap extra mags that produced many ftf’s, failure to return to battery and several frozen slide incidents that took a very heavy TAP before you could rack and bang again. I eventually learned my lesson. But thank goodness I didn’t have to rely on it for self defense before that.

    • I’m still using WW2 GI mags (still have 2 wrapped in waxed cheese cloth and cosmoline. Back in the day we used to shoot bunnys w/1911s. I carried a pistol belt/holster and 6 GI 2 mag pouches. dang web gear is worth more than that old 1911 now, back then it cost about $3 for the whole rig!
      (dang whipper snappers!)

  30. The fact that the AR-15 and 1911 weapon archetypes not brand names needs notation. I mean Colt invented these things. Other companies obviously duplicate them. Averaging the reliability between the top ten people who fabricate 1911s for reliability and accuracy is silly. Because some work till Hell and back. I have one that does. Same token, you can buy a cheap foreign made 1911 and get junk.

    Glock is great. See how great it is when you start stamping them out in the Phillipines with another low budget manufacturer….wait not happening. Glock makes Glocks.

    1911 vs. Glock and plastic fantastics is Apples and Oranges. There are plastic guns that don’t work. But what plastic gun out today has an open use patent and still generates revenue for everyone who tries it? I can’t honestly think of one.

    Hence the comparison is completely skewed and there’s no level factors to test.

      • Yes, really.

        Colt the corporation, not Samuel Colt,

        John Browning created what would eventually be known as the 1911, true, but he was working for Colt at the time.

        Another thing which popped up in 1911 was the electric starter on automobiles, introduced by Cadillac – irrespective of the name of the engineer who actually designed the thing.

        Browning. Colt. Both are accurate.

        • Point. Somehow I missed that in the original comment. My oops.

          Then again, he was talking about how the 1911, AR-15 et cetera are families rather than specific brands any more. Armalite doesn’t make most of the AR-15s out there.

          Since the article concerns the 1911, “Colt invented these things” still works.

          Not a maroon.

      • My apologies. Occasionally, I screw up. I’d call it an honest mistake BUT I did say that, no retraction. Armalite did obviously make the AR-15, if only because…AR doesn’t stand for “Assault Rifle” and that conversation with my dad still is in progress…

        Digression finished, my point remains more to the body of the post, if you looked past what I said wrong. When you can start making Glocks custom, sell them as a product to make the sort of money Ed Brown, Dan Wilson or Les Baer make (and create the prestige associated with the brand names of) or start one from scratch yourself from the aftermarket with as much choice as you get with the 1911 and AR-15 aftermarket it will be a closer comparison.

        Ruger and Taurus, when they came out with their 1911s, got articles in firearms magazines; I was reading GunWorld when Taurus brought theirs out. When Smith and Wesson came out with the Sigma Series they got sued by Glock. The suit, as far as I know, was a wash and Glock lost because it Smith wasn’t technically infringing but the idea remains the same; this isn’t to be copied. Until any manufacturer can legally use the same patents and copyrights to fabricate the pistols you say 1911s fail to compare to then it isn’t an equal comparison.

  31. To the OP,…Really? The 1911 was originally tested and qualified with 21 rds. in 13 seconds, by average recruits….It passed. It was one of the most tested, abused, tortured platforms all prior to WWII… Gee, yes I celebrate diversity with a fine assortment of many calibers,…. somehow,….the 1911 platform stands the test of time. And yes, since I celebrate diversity, I also own a G21,….fantastic no muss no fuss pistol. but as Obi Wan Kenobi pointed out, “It is simply a more elegant weapon, from a bygone age.”

    OBTW, My S&W 1911, is not finicky at all…

  32. I own the exact model of Springfield in the picture. OD green and all. I love it except for the old style military sights. My eyes and those sights just don’t get along. Because of that, it is a range toy. Only work I have done is hand polish the feed ramp with a q-tip and car buffing compound. It has eaten everything I have fed it. No FTF’s, no stove pipes. That A1 round butt just fits my hand. It is a good gun. I carry an XD45.
    Oh, “GET OFF MY LAWN!”

  33. I’m still waiting to see a torture test where a glock takes a bullet or shrapnel strike to the side of the frame, as would be possible in a battle scenario gone really crappy and desparate for you.

  34. I always make it a point to carefully and deeply read all Dyspeptic Gunsmith’s comments. The man has knowledge and he has wisdom.

  35. I shudder to think of what happened to them when I was forced to turn in X-3910 and X-3959 for M9’s back in 80 mumblesomethingf. I can only hope some sharp-eyed remf figured out a way to keep them from the smelter.

  36. I had a 4inch gi springer. I never had any problems with it reliability wise, but every once in a while a casing would eject and hit me in the face. After it cut my foreheadand hit me 5-6 times in one range session, i was over it and traded it off. I love the 1911’s and I can’t wait to get another one but I think I want a mid to high grade one with better sights and a lowered ejection port. oh and make it the traditional 5 inch barrel.

  37. Hmmm… Tats about the same response I give young know-it-alls who bash the Mosin as “turkeys even when they were new.” we’ll stated, sir.

    One quibble, though: the TT-33 falls under the umbrella of “all automatic pistols,” but doesn’t give a whit about magazine deformation as the feed lips are machined into the frame. You pretty much have to take a hammer to a magazine in order to cause sufficient distortion to result in feeding problems.

    Cheers.

    Edit: Get the hell outta my field!

  38. ‘total rounds to be fired: 6,000.
- 100 rounds would be fired, then the pistols in the competition would be allowed to cool for 5 minutes.
- every 1,000 rounds, the guns would be cleaned and oiled.”

    While nothing to impress anyone by modern standards, back in its day, this was a very detailed torture test for a handgun.

    Handguns during 1911 were complex, delicate, and unreliable. Semi-autos just started entering the market. The 1911 was undoubtedly state of the art for its day.

    I wish companies would stick to the original design and stop trying to turn them into super match guns. Leave super match accuracy to the boys that know how to do it and produce GI spec guns with more loose tolerances (f^cking kimber).

    Yes, it irritates me when glock fans throw away the baby with the bath water, just as much as it does when someone thinks just because it says Springfield on it, they think their gun is somehow as good as a Springfield Professional. Its not. Try taking it out and actually shooting it sometime.

    Last but not least, the 1911 is a experts gun. If you dont want to spend the time taking a armorers course, learning the ins and outs of the entire design, and troubleshooting which mags and ammunition work the most optimal in it, then dont bother. you will waste your money and your time.

    If you like doing those things as a hobby, then f^ck it, buy one. Enjoy yourself.

  39. If your 1911 was hand built by John Moses himself, then yes, it’s probably superbly reliable. If it came right out of the box from some contemporary gun manufacturer, good luck.

  40. At minimum, 60 rounds per week coming up on two years this month in my Smith & Wesson 1911 with factory mags plus some Chip McCormicks. Not a single malfunction, reloads or factory.

  41. If 1911 pistols are so great, why were 4 out of 7 1911’s i have owned (with an additonal SA EMP) total duds that could not get through 5-40 rounds without jamming? Of the 1911’s I have owned, only my Colt XSE Stainless and Colt WW I repro worked out of the box. Three of seven required at least one trip to the factory for correction. Four were returned without solution. The EMP, while not technically a 1911, required two trips to the factory before it worked properly.

    If this gun is so great, why can’t I get a working Kimber or Springfield 1911 from the factory? How many thousands of dollars must I spend on these things to do the job any $500-800 pistol can do? Why can’t they get their guns right?

    I still like the gun, but spending range time testing, trips to FedEx, phone calls, and logging gets annoying. Stop running around claiming the 1911 is great. It is not when major manufacturers have trouble building them correctly. Your arguments that the specsarechanged by manufacturers is BS; they know what it takes to build a good 1911.

    • Given the number of 1911’s you’re claiming are duds that you own, and my (and many others’) experience with them, I’d have to say that either you’re a “lemon magnet,” or there is another reason.

      The common factor across all these pistols is you. If you were standing in my shop with your complaint, I’d start by going to the range with you, and observing what you’re doing when the malfunctions happen.

      • Nailed it. I’d also like to ask – from the time you bought those 1911s until the first shot at the range what did you do to the pistols?

      • ^^^This!^^^
        Every time I hear a complaint about a 1911 it comes from a “low-information shooter”. Go back to tuperware.

        • No, that’s not the case, and certainly not what I meant.

          One of the reasons why I’m agnostic about “this gun vs. that gun” is that all people are different. To me, what works for people is what they should buy.

          For example, the concept of a Glock in 10mm double-stack sounds really cool, right? The grip is too fat for me to hold authoritatively, so that pistol, while it works fantastically well for guys with bigger mitts, isn’t a gun that works for me. Is there something wrong with the gun? For me, yes. I get stovepipes, FTF’s and the whole lot – because I’m not able to grip the pistol properly. For guys with bigger mitts, it runs like a sewing machine. Is there something wrong with the design of the Glock? Clearly not. It works and works well… the 10mm double stacks just don’t work for me.

          Now, for some people, the grip angle on some semi-autos causes people discomfort. Some people who can drill out the center of a target with a steeper grip angle (eg, a Ruger MkII or Luger) might have trouble with a revolver, or a 1911. Or vise-versa. Some people prefer the grip angle on “Bisley” revolver over the SAA. Some people with revolvers need to completely discard the factory grips and get something custom – and then, watch out, they can shoot bullseyes so casually, it’s scary.

          What I would be observing with someone who reports failures across that many pistols of the same basic type would start with their stance and posture, and continue down to their hand on the gun. The gun can’t operate by itself, especially in recoil-operated semi-autos. You need to do your part, and if the grip angle is uncomfortable, or the shooter has a hand too small for the grip, or too big for the grip (I’ve met one guy who has such a big mitt that a 1911 literally seems to disappear in his mitt and rattle around in there – he needs much fatter grips to “fill his hand”), there could be operational problems that the manufacture cannot diagnose… because they’re not watching you on the range.

          Gun companies are always assuming that the gun fits you hunky-dory and everything is a-OK on your end. This is true in rifles, too, and horribly true about shotguns. Well, it’s a false assumption. Unless your dimensions are close to “average,” most factory guns don’t fit the shooter optimally.

          If you’re far outside the “average” (eg, you’re a gal who is 5’0″ and 100lbs or a guy who is 6’4″ and 220lbs), guess what? Factory guns don’t and won’t fit you. Now, these people might be able to shoot successfully, but it’s because they’ve adapted themselves to a gun that doesn’t fit them.

          My issue with gun manufactures that really lights me up is this habit to make “ladies’ guns” that are just their nominal product with pink grips. Nothing infuriates me more, because pink grips won’t do a thing to help that gun actually fit. We want ladies in the shooting sports… so here’s a really radical idea (I know, here I go, sounding like a loon!): How about we go back to basic gun fitting and make guns that fit women and girls?

          Hang on a sec… My head is spinning. That happens sometimes when I come up with a really radical idea. Wooo hoo… what a head rush. I’ve got to settle down here for a sec…

          How about making guns with different grips, grip angles, etc? How about making rifles and shotguns with stocks that have toe-out for ladies with larger bust sizes, so the recoil doesn’t leave them with a black and blue mark where I’m sure it really hurts? No, that would make sense. Instead, let’s put some pink plastic on it and call it ‘done’.

          Pffft.

          The poster’s complaint that pistols were sent back to him with no change was my clue that someone who knows the guts of 1911’s and the operational cycle of same needs to accompany this shooter to the range and carefully observe what is going on.

        • I ‘ll have to respectfully disagree with DG. If you know how to shoot, can shoot and know how the firearm functions you can shoot pretty much everything without malfunctions. Now, having a firearm fitted to your personal anatomy will most definitely enhance your shooting, but not the reliability of the firearm per se.

      • I wasn’t going to say ‘limp wristing’ because of it’s connotations out of context, but I don’t accept that the pistol is malfunctioning until it does it while I shoot it.

        I’ve had my very own pet 1911’s fail to cycle when others, particularly new shooters try them out. However I never look at the target when a new shooter is shooting, I look at them. Recoil anticipation, improper grip . . . it’s like saying a Ferrari doesn’t drive right when your teenager is behind the wheel. You do your part and the machine will respond.

        It’s exactly like the accuracy question. One guy can’t hit a thing with his new pistol, then hands it off to someone else who can drive tacks with it. Perhaps it’s not the gun for him, and that’s fine. Perhaps he needs to train more, and that’s fine too. But don’t blame the gun.

      • Well he is also the common factor in the guns that ran well. You know our personal experience even if based on only a couple of examples goes a long way in shaping opinion. I had a Springfield Loaded for which hollow points jammed on the feed ramp. The shop gunsmith couldn’t fix it. I had a Les Baer Commanche that would often get 3-point jams. I called Les and he was less than helpful.

        The whole argument of whether or not it is finicky is impossible to win either way. It’s a subjective term and we are digitally assigning it a value of either finicky or not finicky.

        I love Dyspeptic’s posts and I think he is awesome. But, how much of his income comes from fixing peoples 1911s that don’t run? A gunsmith that doesn’t like 1911s is like a car mechanic that doesn’t like BMWs.

        • Hmmm. I think you’ve got to look around a bit more broadly to get your comparison correct.

          The BMW comparison is best with Merkel or Krieghoff, if you want an apples:apples comparison. Same obsessive Teutonic fascination with tight tolerances, luxurious detailing, high performance, etc.

          A gunsmith that works on 1911’s is, in the world of gunsmithing, is like the solid, reliable local mechanic that works on Olds and Caddies. They’re nice cars, but they’re not BMW levels of nice.

        • Dyspeptic,

          If I delve into the 1911 waters again, what make would you recommend that stays true to the original but won’t break the bank?

          Thanks,
          Jason

        • I’m loathe to give product recommendations. Every time I turn around, I see something more in the gun industry to complain about.

    • Ive owned and had friends own Kimber tactical pro II, Raptor, and Custom; new Colts; a couple of Springfields; Taurus, Rock Island, and R1 Remingtons.

      They all had one thing in common: they were generally unreliable. Lots of failure to feeds and incorrect extractor tension issues. Most of the problems were because of the magazines. I swear they must have forgot how to make good magazines. 🙁

      Once I was exposed to customs, then they started to run the way 1911s are supposed to run. and they are expensive as hell too!

      A lot of it is the marketing and the legacy behind 1911s. Its very unfortunate that people waste their money on one, when a 500 Glock or M&P will be more suitable for their intended purpose and their level of firearms expertise.

      To me they’re a hobby. nothing more. my SHTF or DGU weapon is my Glock 19.

  42. With practically every gun manufacturer producing a 1911 and every amateur gunsmith trying to modify their 1911, of course there will be problems. I bought a used Kimber, took it to the range, and it jammed 6 out of 100. I took it to a gunsmith who discovered that the non-stock extractor was not fitted correctly, which he fixed. For a few extra bucks, I had the gunsmith do throat job. Today, it fires everything I put through it with nearly zero jams. I conceal carry an XDS, but for open carry, I always carry the 1911. I used to be a Sig Sauer 226 fan, but once you have a well tuned 1911, it is hard to go back.

  43. I completely agree. In fact, my carry gun is a WWII era USGI Ithaca M1911A1. The only things I replaced were: The recoil spring, replaced with a modern 23lb. one, the trigger, replaced with a WWI USGI long trigger because my fingers are too long for the short one, and the grips, which were replaced with Pachmayr signature rubber grips. And a spare threaded barrel for suppressor use. Other than that, I carry it in its original state, with original salvaged WWII era mags. The only jams I’ve ever experienced were when attempting to use modern magazines. The pistol works perfectly with no lube and no regular cleaning. In fact, the original WWII mags will feed some flavours of JHP’s and SJHP’s, where the modern ones flat out won’t.

    • The biggest “mistake” I ever made was get very intimately familiar with a inherited Remington vintage 1911. I assumed (flat out wrongly) that modern 1911s were just as good if not better, and have gone through many thinking they were. Colt? sure. Modern Colts are just as good right?

      *chuckles

      WWII 1911s are incredible guns. I just wish manufacturers would fulfill the legacy the platform created.

      • The decline in quality of workmanship from Colt wasn’t evidenced in only their 1911. Their revolver workmanship fell off as well.

        Truth be told, Colt lived high on the hog for far too long catering to government contracts, especially the M-16 (and variants).

  44. I’ve owned two 1911s. Both Colts. Both expensive. Neither would reliably feed hardball, hollowpoint or cast lead round nose ammo. With Colt, military surplus or Wilson magazines.

    The only other gun I’ve owned that did that was a Walther PPK/S. And, like the Walther, I still like the “idea” of the 1911. It’s just that they never worked for me.

    In contrast, I’ve owned several 9mm and .45 Auto Glock, SIG-Sauer and Ruger pistols that, over the course of several years of frequent range time, could count the number of total failures among them on the fingers of both hands.

    Finicky? Hell, I’m the one that’s finicky. The 1911s that I’ve known were just plain lousy.

  45. I agree completely with the OP. Most malfunctions in my experience have been magazine related. And I own both 1911s and Glocks. And yes, I believe strongly that 1911s are not ideal for “low-information shooters”. If you’re in that category get tuperware.

    All the failures from the 1911s came from one I purchased in the early eighties – a Colt model 70. My gunsmith and I could never get it to run right and so I got rid of it. Never thought to replace the magazine and in retrospect that would have solved the problem – I was a “low-information shooter” at the time and I admit it. My two recent Dan Wesson 1911s are flawless, and one of them is an ECO with the “Oh no!” 3.5″ barrel. Modern 1911s are light years ahead of the originals in every respect. But, they need to run WET.

    My Glocks have all had failures. Being wiser these days I just changed the magazine springs to +10 percenters and solved those issues.

    I did have a non-magazine related issue with a .357 sig aftermarket barrel on a Glock. The failure was so bad I had to bring in the range master and the gunsmith to the line. Turns out the chamber had some kind of preservative on it that changed the sizing spec. The gunsmith cleaned it and no failures ever since. Very rare but it happens. Always clean everything before you first shoot.

    Semi-auto handgun functionality is all about “timing”. This timing is controlled by recoil and springs. If either recoil or springs are out of whack, that means gun out of whack.

  46. I recently had my venerable out-of the-box Colt 1991-A1 out on the range. Through 150 rnds there were two miss feeds that were eventually recreated and traced to a mil-surplus magazine of unknown origin. Eliminating it eliminated failures for the remainder of the firing session (It’s now designated for training to clear failures). Ammo included 230gr ball and 230/180gr hollow points. I’ve owned this pistol better than 15 years and don’t ever recall a failure to feed not caused by a magazine or a failure to extract for any reason. Failures to eject can likewise be traced to the last round from a questionable magazine.
    I suspect Dyspeptic Gunsmith is spot on in his assessment that bad engineering long after the design was codified, silly gimmicks that are supposed to improve this or that about the pistol or just plain lousy magazines are to blame for the perception of the 1911 being finicky, but I think he missed a couple of important points.
    All Glocks are made by Glock and supplied with Glock magazines and none is older than the early 1980’s. When you say ‘1911’ you might mean an original now more than 100 years old, a mil-surplus gun that has been unloved and fired 30,000 times, a cheap knock off from god knows where or a finely tuned target pistol unsuited for anything but the range. You might mean a Frankenstein piece in which the barrel, slide and receiver are mismatched from different makers, or a home build put together by someone who learned gunsmithing from you tube. As long as we stick to modern pistols from quality manufacturers, remain true to the JMB design and feed from quality magazines the failure rate is so low as to be a non issue in discussing the 1911.
    Back to the range: In another 300rns the Colt had not one malfunction with chip McCormick shooting star mags. It also printed 8rnd strings on IPSC type targets from a measured 60 yards (let the accusations begin, but it’s not the first time that pistol has done it).
    When one buys a Glock one knows what to expect in price, can purchase only a pistol made by Glock and will receive a serviceable handgun. With the 1911, as with anything, you get what you pay for. If you’re looking in the case and wondering why you ought to pay $750 to $1250 for a 1911 when there is one down the row for only $300, cheap out and take the no name pistol, pick up mags at the flea market and then wonder why it’s not accurate or reliable, stick with Glocks.

  47. Why all the recent hate on the 1911? My $700 Springfield was 100% reliable out of the box and continues to be so after many thousands of rounds. The only failure I have had was caused by a worn out magazine. It eats brass cased ball, aluminun cased ball, steek cased ball, 185 grain JHP, 230 grain JHP and any other round I have tried. The 1911s that give people problems are all high end match grade weapons that require lots of care. I am sure if Glock produced a high precision match grade version of the model 17 it was be as finicky as a $3000 Wilson Combat.

    • i dont get why you guys think wilsons are finicky.

      their precision hand fitting is what makes them extremely reliable.

      my wilson and springfield professional are the only 1911s i have ever shot that could clear 1000 rounds in a weekend without a single malfunction, or have a similar MRBF as my glock or HKs. I have yet to see a “gunshop” 1911 do this.

  48. I’ve just re-read what I’ve been posting and I’m not sure I dislike my apparent tone. I have owned several Glocks and consider them reliable, accurate pistols. They require little in the way of expertise to maintain and operate and don’t seem to have much in the way of idiosyncrasies. However for my hand they don’t point well, don’t feel natural and as a result I don’t shoot them as well as some other pistols. (I’ve also had an HK USP, so it’s not a double stack issue, I loved my USP). I’m not a Glock hater, or really even a 1911 fanatic, though I do like them (I carried a Berretta 92 for years, I’m polyamorous where pistols are concerned). However to my mind a Glock is like a no frills pickup truck. It’s tough and it gets the job done but it sort of ends there. There is nothing like the balance of the 92, the pointability of the 1911 nor the ability for tack driving follow ups at blinding speed of the USP. They are ‘good’ guns, just not standouts at much of anything in my experience.
    If we’re talking about a defensive pistol, you can’t go wrong with a Glock, but I just can’t wrap my mind around there being anything about them to love.
    But ahhh, the 1911. . . leave me now with the object of my affection!

  49. My Springer is only reliable with Metalform magazines, which is what they ship with. That kind of pisses me off but it is what it is.

    Because it’s a heavy low capacity beast it’s relegated to an occasional range toy and nothing more.

    I’ve owned about seven different semi-auto handguns over the years, from Sigs to HKs, 1911s to Glocks and FN Hi-Powers. I sold the Sig because it was a low cap P6 and the trigger sucked, got rid of the USP because I didn’t need a gun in .40, and I’ve held onto my Glocks, the 1911 (because it was my first gun), and the Hi-Power.

    The 1911 is my least favorite handgun that I own. If it didn’t have a certain sentimental appeal I would’ve sold it long ago.

    For a full-sized all metal handgun the Hi-Power reigns supreme. Once the mag disconnect is out it’s a way better gun than any 1911 that I’ve shot and it has none of its shortcomings. My MK III has as much ammo as my Glock 19 on board, it’s never hiccuped on anything I’ve fed it and it’s a complete joy to shoot.

    That being said, my go to handgun will always be my Glock. It just works. I don’t have to worry about safeties, mags ****ing up, the trigger’s about 4 lbs after years of use and I have double the capacity of a standard 1911. More is better in a gun fight, gentlemen.

  50. I run cast lead all day in my Glock 19. Of course, I drop in a Lone Wolf standard rifling barrel any time I want to do that. ($100) and then drop the original polygonally rifled barrel before I put the defensive loads back in (Hornady critical defense and Corbon Power Ball alternated)

  51. First pistol I ever fired was a 1911. My dad’s Colt with a single GI mag, and he gave me semi-wadcutters for it. The thing was a Smuckers factory.

    I think he did it intentionally so I’d take a greater interest in his collection of chrome Smith revolvers.

    Kind of worked, at that.

  52. So let me see here …

    It’s wrong to disparage currently-manufactured 1911 as being “finicky”, because:
    a) The 1911 was the best gun available, 100 years ago.
    b) It passed a “grueling” set of reliability tests – 100 years ago – complete with “letting the gun cool down” every 100 rounds … Laughable by today’s standards.
    c) Apparently, switching to allen-head grip-panel screws are one of the things that make modern 1911 handguns finicky.
    d) It’s picky about what magazines you use, but that’s not to be mistaken with “finicky”
    e) Both old and new designs have issues feeding modern HP defense/duty rounds, but that’s not to be considered “finicky” either, because it can reliably feed cast-lead bullets which hardly anyone uses.

    Thanks for the lesson in irrelevant arguments, gramps. I considered myself “schooled”. Pardon me if I am more prone to accept the advice of Paul Howe, Larry Vickers and others not afraid to call a spade a spade.

    • I’m just gonna argue points C & D.

      C. Perhaps the sentence order could have been better, but no rational person thinks that DP is saying that allen-head grip screws make the gun finicky. That was just an example of an unnecessary change that takes the gun in a direction away from its original design.

      D. Many guns are picky about the magazines you use, and nobody calls them finicky, so no, that doesn’t make the 1911 finicky. GLOCK-brand GLOCKS would probably be finicky with other magazines, too, but you can’t get them, because only GLOCK can make GLOCKazines for GLOCK-brand GLOCKS. My Sprinfield XD(M) doesn’t like ProMag magazines, but then, whose gun does? (How the hell do they stay in business, anyway?) I haven’t tried mags from anyone else, but I’m sure I can find some that it doesn’t like. I’ve never heard an XD(M) called finicky. So no, a simple magazine preference doesn’t meet the bar, in my opinion.

  53. And then there is this, from http://stevereichert.com/marsoc-m45-cqbp/:

    “In 2007 immediately following the formation of MARSOC I had my 1st MARSOC class on deck at a company I had recently formed (T1G). The class showed up with 37 MEUSOC 1911 pistols, some new some old. Of the 37 all but 5 were issued out to the students. The remaining were spares. During the 5 day course the 2112 was in the back of the truck 50% of the time repairing 1911’s. By the end of the week he had worked on all 37 pistols. Not all of them had the same failures, but they all went down during the week. The Marines were not rolling around in the mud, nor were they tossing their pistols in the dirt. They were simply running flat range drills! Over the next 4 years I would see 1st hand or hear similar stories from my staff anytime a unit brought 1911’s to training. … I love 1911’s on the range and I have a number built by Marine Corps 2112’s, and the gunsmiths who build the 1911’s for some of the top shooters in the world. It just wouldn’t be my choice for a pistol that could be forward deployed to any dump in the world. ”

    Pithy homespun stories of the awesomeness of yesteryear are charming as hell, but reality is a better teacher.

    • And yet, the USMC was able to pack around 1911’s in (hang on, lemme count here), WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and a bunch of other little dust-ups… and somehow those 1911’s worked.

      But these new-fangled ones didn’t. Oh, and we don’t win wars the way we used to any more.

      Yep, it was the 1911’s fault.

      • Actually, they weren’t often used, and didn’t work that well, compared to more reliable, modern options. Rifles, not handguns, are responsible for winning ground wars. As one chiding others for their lack of historical acumen … well, let’s just leave it there.

        We don’t win wars the way we used to, because we don’t FIGHT the way we used to, with the same goal of “break and kill everything until they beg you to stop”. Your apparent implication is that if we only (sigh, cue nostalgic music and old war footage) went back to the hardware of former wars (the 1911 being your favorite example), only then would we reclaim the glory of those halcyon days. That’s patently silly of course, especially since your last two examples were cases where we didn’t exactly “win”. Apparently the awesomeness of the 1911 stopped working at some time, or perhaps – more reasonably – it wasn’t a decisive factor in any of the cases you mentioned.

        This runs counter to the ego-invested position you’ve staked out, but logic is kind of “funny” like that.

        I have no ax to grind except that of good sense. Unfortunately, good sense is often lacking when someone falls in love, especially for the wrong reasons. At 53 years old, I understand the pull of nostalgia and a fondness for “simpler things”, but the iPhone in my pocket is clearly a superior device to a wired, rotary-dial phone on the wall. The fact that the old phone “worked just great!” is quite besides the point.

        At some point, the history of the 1911 must give way to the reality of its place in our current world.

        I’ll leave you with the words of Paul Howe, who I submit knows a thing or two about the subject:
        “In my day, after Somalia, we had an equipment meeting and wanted larger caliber rifles, enclosed firing pin pistols to address operational problems. Other folks wanted “square” triggers on their 1911’s so they could get a supposed consistent trigger pull. They were still in the weekend shooting game thought process and not what was practical or needed for combat. We did not want 1911’s because of the exposed firing pin issue and the fact that you had to strip the gun all the way down after getting dusted with one helicopter infil.”

      • It was not only the USMC who packed 1911 pistols in many of those wars, so it seems to be an odd way to phrase things. The pistol was widely fielded by other branches of the military as well, up until about 1990 when the roll-out of the M9 (begun in the 1980s) was in full swing. As such it’s a bit bizarre (and perhaps telling) that you’d invoke the old “iffn it wuz good enuf for the MARINES!” saw … but not surprising given the mostly emotional and unhistorical nature of your arguments.

        On that note, it should be considered that the 1911 (as is the case with most pistols) was rarely used in combat. It was a last ditch weapon at best. The notion that somehow the 1911 “won” those wars is silly on its face. Rifles win ground wars.

        Referring to newer 1911 pistols as “new fangled” certainly goes a long way towards establishing your “old codger stuck in the past” credentials. I thank you for your candor in this regard. There seems to be a consistent thread of “if only we went (sigh) back to the old ways …”

        On one point, you are correct. We do not fight wars the way we used to. That’s a problem of politics and attitude, not one of hardware awesomeness … or do you suggest we go back to biplanes and horseback as well? Certainly those worked well enough in their time, which seems to be your argument for almost everything.

        The summation of your case seems to be that “the 1911 is perfect!” (as long as we don’t count all those pesky cases where it isn’t) Sorry, that’s not reality. If we are talking about “the 1911”, we aren’t discussing some imaginary perfect gun of halcyon days past.

        • Does anyone realize that this was written by a blogger to counter the opinions of the guy who started 10-8 consulting…Yeah, those guys.

          Someone needs to let TTAG know to stop telling the watchmaker what time it is.

  54. If I could find a 1911 that was extremely ‘loose’ like the original ones, and was cheap, were then I would be interested in it.

    > They start with such “improvements” as allen-head grip screws. Why?

    I would guess because people are paranoid that while using a flat head screwdriver to remove the grip panels they risk slipping and then scratching their precious wall ornament/range toy.

    > One thing I can (and do) with my 1911′s that I don’t do with my Glocks (or other combat tupperware pistols) is feed them cast lead reloads. My 1911′s will eat cast lead bullets all day long

    This is due to the design of the barrel of the glock. Is uses polygonal rifling which tends to gather lead in it creating a potential problem with obstructions. Other ‘tupawear’ guns use conventional rifling and don’t have this problem. You can also buy aftermarket barrels for the glock if you want to shoot cast bullets.

    • I know what leads to the problems in the Glock. I am, however, loathe to spend an extra dime on a Glock (or any handgun like it).

  55. What a total load of crap. The 1911 is one of the most maintenance free handguns ever made. My Colt has performed flawlessly for the last 25 years.

  56. LOL

    Hey Zimmerman, get over yourself… in not so many words:

    http://modernserviceweapons.com/?p=3250

    He responded to you in kind.

    Frankly, nobody who read Tim’s blog post too it as sensitively as you did, IF you actually are aware of whom Tim Lau, Hilton Yam, 10-8 performance, and ModernServiceWeapons.com is run by.

    Guess you don’t know your 1911-world as you think you did, eh?

  57. Do you have proper ventilation when casting said lead rounds?

    Alas, after all these years, the damage is likely permanent.

    TTAG would do well to drop you from their contributors list. I may start reading this blog again if I hear thus. Likely not.

  58. Tell me again, grandpa, about that relic you used to carry while driving your model t ford. it only held 7 rounds? Guess there weren’t many bad guys back in your day.

  59. That was bloody awful. Your premise is 1911s were perfection until people starting changing things on them. Your rosy memories of other people’s anecdotal stories are not factual nor statistically based. Just because a 1911 was carried in battle does not mean the battle was won by 1911s nor does it mean by virtue of being carried in battle that the guns ran well nor are not relics that need hand fitting with fragile magazines and one of the worst feedway designs still in production.

  60. say what you will 1911 fanboys modern 1911 suck they are built to tightly and will not run worth a crap. there is a review on this very website of a brand new sig 1911 had nothing but failure to feed and fire all day long suck it. and if you can’t drop your precious 40.00 Wilson mags on the ground then you have a safe queen. I can buy 2 glock for your one 1911 and carry twice as much ammo, and it weighs half as much also it will feed any bullet I put in it. .

  61. Man, some people are borderline fanatical in this here argument. When I bought my wife’s Kimber Custom II, I had read about FTF, FTE and many other “issues” that presented when new because of the tight tolerances during the mfg process. I fired an old Army 1911 back when I was in service, and even though that thing rattled like a bag of rocks, it never failed once when I used it.

    As expected, when I got the Kimber on the range, she had her share of failures (feeding and ejecting only). As the round count increased, the number of malfunctions decreased. Now, I have about 750 rounds through it and the only time it has an issue is when I don’t lube it. But let’s be honest – a LOT of guns don’t act right when they are not lubed.

    Given the choice, I’d still pick the Kimber. That doesn’t mena I’d turn down a deal on an old Springer or Colt if one came up.

  62. Most of us do not operate at the same tempo as delta. Vickers and Paul never said that 1911s did not work. Howe said he wanted something for there operational requirements that was not a 1911. All trainers would rather people not show up with $300 1911s that are troublesome. They recommend Glocks to their students and since the students are running Glocks, so do they. Personally I have seen HK pistols shoot better and that is what I would use. However, I do not have a problem with a dirty external hammer pistol (firing pin? Paul did not say that) Oh, btw nice to see all the same dick heads from M4 carbine over here being assholes as usual.

  63. Who says you can’t use lead in Glocks? I just read my instruction manual for my Gen 4 Glock 26 and all it is says is not to use reloads or remanufactured ammunition.

    And I would guess a lot of that “don’t use reloads” is for liability reasons.

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