Monday, August 11, 2014

I really wish...

...people would stop spreading bad or out-of-context advice that they read somewhere on the internet.

Sumdood on an internet forum solemnly informed me that "1911s need to be timed."

Now, timing is a thing in 1911s, as it is in all self-loading pistols, and if you're building a gun from scratch or installing an oversize gunsmith-fit barrel in a 1911 (or any pistol) you'll need to ensure it is timed correctly to avoid early unlocking and other ills. But if you buy a Colt, the only time you need to worry about is range time. And if you shoot all the rifling out of the barrel... good for you! ...you can just get another Colt barrel and drop it in the gun and go on your merry way.

This idea that the first thing you need to do when you buy a 1911 is whip out the Dremel and Arkansas stones has killed more innocent guns than I care to think about. I realize that there's a huge industry devoted to separating 1911 shooters from their money by convincing them that they need to be bending extractors and buying special snake oil to lube their guns, but it does a disservice to novices who read that stuff and think that you gotta wave a chicken foot over the thing to make it run.

Don't buy a junky one, don't buy crappy magazines, and go shoot your gun. (Heck, even most of the junky ones work okay.)

Anyway, sorry this post is all rambly and half-formed because I gotta get on the road. Here's a picture from the other day:
Setting the spark gap, as you should do between every magazine.


36 comments:

Firehand said...

Son wanted a 1911, but wanted one he could mess with without screwing with a major investment(Kimber, etc.), so he did some research, and bought a Rock Island.

He's fiddled with grips, and sights, and other things, but the action itself is box-stock, and it hasn't missed a beat, ball and hollowpoints.

Doesn't have to be fancy, just solidly made.

Oldexan said...

I bought a Colt Defender a few years back and it ran FMJ with no problems but it would hang up with hollow points. I read about Wilson Combat magazines and ordered one and my problem was solved. I order two more and through my Colt magazines away so I would never be confused with the good ones and never looked back.

I read someplace that the factory Colt mags might have been outsourced and that might have been the problem but I don't care about that because my Defender never had any sort of hiccup again, problem solved without screwing with the gun.

mostly cajun said...

If only people could see (and handle) the racks of 1911's we used to train with at Fort Knox in the 70's.

Every one was a mixmaster. I saw slides and frames that would make collectors drool today.

Every one would rattle if given a good shake.

And the bottom line? Stick a GI magazine full of ball in one, and it would happily clean the silhouette range. Full-size silhouettes at 75 meters were almost a gimme if the shooter did his part.

Pampered? No. Reliable? Yes. Just like John Browning intended when he designed a military weapon.

MC

Shane W said...

Well piss....

*throws chicken foot in trash* ;)

og said...

Kinda like the discussion I had some years back about the "need" to "True up the upper on an AR for improved accuracy" No. if your receiver is out of true go get a good one and throw that piece of crap away.

Lantry said...

That dust on the inside of the frame means the condenser's probably bad. You might want to make sure you have enough resistance on the primary side of the coil too. Either one will burn up a set of points and wreck the timing real quick. :-)

Robin said...

I use about .032" for the spark gap in my three decade old Colt Government ... but I admit that the gas mileage is poor.

David said...

Sigh...

My $700 Ruger SR1911 runs so reliably it's almost boring. I use Wilson mags, either 47Ds or ETMs, and the only real work I had done was to swap out the grip safety.

The stock Ruger beavertail has a corner that dug into my thumb, so I had the smith at Gunsite install a Wilson. That was for comfort, not reliability!

I just maintain the mags and swap out the recoil spring every once in a while, and the gun shoots fine.

Paul said...

Picked up one made by Taurus. Gun shoots good but it doesn't like hollow points. Been trying different mag's but have not found the combination. Gun just sets in the safe waiting.

Mike Gallo said...

Dammit, Tam. Spark plug gap is only adjusted prior to firing pin retainer installation. You are thinking of valve lash which has to be checked after each magazine ONLY if you have replaced the hydraulic disconnector with a solid tappet.

Kristophr said...

The new 1911s with electronic ignition don't need to be timed.

ASM826 said...

It's not the guns, it's the Dremel tools that should be licensed.

D.W. Drang said...

Thank you.

Looking forward to buying an autographed copy of "Tam's Big Book of 1911 Myths and Lies."

Will said...

Is that rust, or just collected dirt on and inside that TRP?
I made the mistake of hiding a steel frame 1911 under a mattress, that was sitting on the carpeted floor. Later, I found rust under the grip panels. Pissed, I was.

I'm a little surprised to see un-beveled edges on that magwell.

That thing has seen a lot of rounds through it, judging by the slide stop frame wear marks.

mikee said...

Heh, we Glock owners need only a soldering iron to personally Bubba our handguns!

Mike_C said...

"buying special snake oil to lube their guns"
Regular snake oil is good enough for the likes of me. Same goes regarding regular (non virgin*) olive oil for eating purposes. I realize this makes me less of a food connoisseur than your cat, but there you have it. Sigh.

@Shane: throws chicken foot in trash
Don't waste it! I'm sure there's a hungry Cantonese fella out there who'd appreciate a delicious "phoenix claw" -- as they call them at dim sum places....

*Is there a specific term for "non-virgin olive oil" anyway? "Experienced olive oil" or, even better, "slutty olive oil"? The mind boggles. I blame the mild heat exhaustion I had the other day for all of the above. Or it was G.W. Bush's fault. Somehow.

Mike_C said...

"buying special snake oil to lube their guns"
Regular snake oil is good enough for the likes of me. Same goes regarding regular (non virgin*) olive oil for eating purposes. I realize this makes me less of a food connoisseur than your cat, but there you have it. Sigh.

@Shane: throws chicken foot in trash
Don't waste it! I'm sure there's a hungry Cantonese fella out there who'd appreciate a delicious "phoenix claw" -- as they call them at dim sum places....

*Is there a specific term for "non-virgin olive oil" anyway? "Experienced olive oil" or, even better, "slutty olive oil"? The mind boggles. I blame the mild heat exhaustion I had the other day for all of the above. Or it was G.W. Bush's fault. Somehow.

Sport Pilot said...

I've had positive & negative experiences with Colt & clone 1911 pistols. I'll say the same of different gunsmiths & the work I've had done with 1911 pistols.

Don M said...

Had a 9mm Commander in Missouri during the Nixon Administration, a .45 Commander in Germany during the Carter Administration, and a .45 1991 in the GHW Bush Administration.

Never had a malfunction. Only malfunction I ever had with worn out Government 1911s in the Army was when the magazine was empty.

Two divorces, and I have a SW 625. I shoot a lot less, sadly. I check for high primers for each box of ammunition, and haven't found one yet. The clips seem to all be identical so far. They all work well.

I did malfunction drills, but only got to practice them for real when I loaded magazines short and mixed them so I wouldn't know how many were in the mag I had loaded.

I find Tam to be a breath of fresh air. More shooting would be fun, when I retire.

Noakes said...

You mean you don't account for the atoms you lose from the internals every time you use the gun? One needs an electron microscope to fit the bushing anyways.

Tom said...

I've been a pistol owner most of my life and shot dang near everything EXCEPT...you guessed it, a 1911. (Para-Ord LDA doesn't really count t me btw.) Dunno how that came to be, it just did.

So I'd like to buy a 1911 someday, of course. For some odd reason I really like the Colt Series 70 Gold Cup, beautiful pistol, great reputation, getting more and more collectible, and...well that's the problem. Dang things run 1500 on up now. Shooter wise I think the Springfield Range Officer looks like a good gun for the money, and then there's the RIA tactical. Just as you said though, I don't want to fall into that snake oil trap and fiddle with every little thing just because you can. Maybe a good trigger job because I have to admit one reason I like that Series 70 Colt Gold Cup is its distinctive trigger. Now why is it I've NEVER seen that same trigger assembly in ANY other 1911? Hmm?

The more I think about 1911's, the more my mind boggles. Thankfully perhaps, I'm going to get an FNX-45 first anyway.

Tom

Bubblehead Les. said...

Why is it than every few years, someone decides to rehash old Gun Arguments that were settled decades ago?

I mean, yeah Jeff Cooper said one should do some slight mods to bring up Ol' Slabsides into the '70s, and there was the Racegun Craze in the '80s, but since then?

I know! Let's write up something on "How to Modernize a Mauser 98 for the 21st. Century!"

Sheesh.

Comrade Misfit said...

It has been an entertaining thread to read, though....

Angus McThag said...

So I shouldn't buy the shot timer?

Or did I take that out of context? ;)

Matthew said...

What tool do you use to adjust the spark gap on a 1911?

Bram said...

Are people getting the 1911 and M2 confused? Both are old, and the M2 does need headspace and timing aligned occasionally (but not by this radio operator).

waepnedmann said...

Too bad "Empress of Snark" is not an elected office.

Sigivald said...

Heck, even most of the junky ones work okay

Yup, my early-90s-vintage Norinco has always just worked with hardball.

(It's rather more finicky with non-hardball profiles, but as a 1911A1, that's By Design.)

Angus McThag said...

@Mostly Cajun

I _DID_ see the racks of 1911's you're talking about. They were still there in 1987! And I used them for OSUT.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to buying an autographed copy of "Tam's Big Book of 1911 Myths and Lies."

Please do. I will buy that book yesterday. It has taken me 4 years or so to unlearn a few things about guns. That is why I read this blog and some others in the sidebar. My thanks for previous articles eliminating a lot of ignorance on my part.
Jesse in South Texas.

Ken said...

Shouldn't there be a timing light in that picture somewheres?

Mike said...

Make sure to put it on the analyzer when you're done and make sure the dwell is still within spec...

Just My 2¢ said...

Sigivald said...
"Yup, my early-90s-vintage Norinco has always just worked with hardball."
+1. Those were real keepers.

Tam,
I've decided that all of those low cost 1911s probably work fine for their buyers. When you don't keep track of "failures to..." and memories of the malfs just float out from between your ears on the breeze, it's easy to love your toy.

God bless idiots with Dremel tools.

NotClauswitz said...

Sheesh, Dumbass thread-troll - that's like saying M1 Garands need to be timed.

Reno Sepulveda said...

That's a great picture

No Mas said...

O'tay, a little ground truth: I shoot Wild Bunch, which is SASS with 1911s, kinda - sorta. It's relatively new, so we were getting a lot of SASS shooters pulling out their 1911s from the nightstand and giving it a try.

Oh. My. Derp.

All sorts of '11s, with all sorts failures: FTF, FTE, double feeds, mag jams, ammo fizzles, dropped mags, light primer strikes, slide freezes, and just plain no-workies. We could usually coax them back to life with a good cleaning, some lube, and sometimes a fresh mag. Best quote: "Hmmm, worked fine when I put it in my nightstand - 30 years ago."

These were Self Defense Guns.

Mein Derp!