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Thread: Maintenance of a 1911 pistol

  1. #1

    Maintenance of a 1911 pistol

    One of the problems nowadays is that if you ask 50 people the same question, you'll quite likely get 50 different answers. I guess I'll start at the beginning, and hope that a general idea of what to do comes out of this discussion. There always are many ways to do something, and I'd like to get a procedure that works for most people most of the time, and which everyone here can agree on as a valid method for maintaining a 1911 semi-automatic handgun.

    A relative of mine bought a '45 Colt Combat Commander perhaps 25 years ago. I'm not sure of the exact date. He kept it for many years, then sold it to me, and I had it for probably fifteen years or so. Then I sold it back to him, thinking I'd never get around to using it again. Well, that idea didn't work (I did miss it) and when he thought of selling it, I bought it back. So, it's mine all over again. Anyway, way back when I was reasonably familiar with how to use it, how to clean it, and so on. I was familiar with the gun, and doing my own reloading. Everything seemed so easy. Apparently over the past 15 years I forgot almost everything about how to care for the gun. So, I'm relearning, at a local outdoor range in central Florida.

    My main concern right now is how to maintain the gun. My memory of what to do sort of faded away. When I had it in my hands ready to disassemble it, I found myself wondering what to do next. So, the two of us went through the dis-assembly procedure together several times, and now I merely look incompetent, rather than looking completely lost. I'm sure that given time, my fingers will once again remember how to do things.

    I've been comparing what I am non doing with what is shown in the following two videos on field-stripping and re-assembling a 1911 handgun:

    Video, Part I

    Video, Part II

    Here are a few questions that maybe someone can help me with. First, the video suggests using a 'solvent' is hard on the gun surfaces, and unless the gun is really dirty, you should use something more mild. Is this true? I always thought Hoppe's was good to use on any gun surface, at any time?

    Second, my relative uses a special grease from Wilson to lubricate the slides. These videos show the use of Remington gun oil. Is one preferable to the other? (I suspect the oil will get to ALL the places it needs to go, so that seems like the better choice to me...)

    Last, in these videos the firing pin and extractor are not removed for basic cleaning. Should we do this every time we take the gun apart, or should this be done more sparingly? If so, how often?

    If there is a better video to be using as a reference, please suggest it. Of the ones I've seen so far, this one seemed the most professional to me, but I'm sure there are dozens or hundreds of other videos about this...

  2. #2
    Hoppes 9 is ok for the surface.

    What I use to lube mine is Wilson Ultima lube on the slide and on everything else. I usually put a small film on the outside of the barrel, guide rod, barrel bushing, barrel link and pin and anywhere else there is metal to metal contact.

    I don't think there is really a wrong way to lube a 1911. Keep it clean and lubricated and should be fine. Some guys make their own lube concoction and others may use all liquid based lube such as FP10, weapons shield, break free, etc.

    Google "1911 lube"...tons of info on the subject.

  3. #3
    Thanks, Chuck. I did go to that website - wow... I clicked on their link for detailed information, and got to With all those complicated terms, and the way they explain things, I ended up feeling like I was listening to a "snake oil" salesman of years before, trying to sound so scientific without really saying anything.... If you're using their products, that says more to me than all those complicated words and terms that they use - to me, I contrast it with the simplicity of

    I spent a few hours last night looking into this stuff (until I got sidetracked by going to youtube, which always takes me away from my original search). It's hard to tell what's good and what's not.... I did find this page accidentally: ....which seemed like a pretty good deal for the price.

    Another question, after reading far too much - when someone spends $2500 or $3000 for a Wilson 1911, other than the "name", what does the person get that he wouldn't on a less expensive model? I know they are more "pretty" (not sure what word to use here), but are they any more accurate? Assuming you've got a 1911, which ones to you prefer, and why?

  4. #4
    The only reason I am using Weapon Shield is because the guy sent me a free sample in a needle type tube. I'm sure if you email him, you can get the same. The oil is kinda on the thicker side and seems to work well. Supposedly, the guy that started weapon shield was in with the development of FP10. If you ask me, thick viscosity Mobil 1 will work just as well.

    Yeah, that kit you linked to looks to be OK.

    The Wilson, Les Baer and all others use custom machined parts that are basically all hand fitted for a tight perfect fit. All other parts are high quality as well. The less expensive 1911's are probably cast parts such as the slide and frame and are mass produced.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by ridgewaybodies View Post
    ......The Wilson, Les Baer and all others use custom machined parts that are basically all hand fitted for a tight perfect fit. All other parts are high quality as well. The less expensive 1911's are probably cast parts such as the slide and frame and are mass produced.
    Earlier today I was looking at 4 45's, a Wilson, a Dan Wesson, a Kimber, and my Colt. I know the Wilson is extremely expensive, and the owner told me it's capable of shooting tighter groups than the others. I don't know nearly enough about these things, but I keep wondering how much of this is the shooter, and how much of it is the gun?

    I believe the Wilson has a lighter trigger pull, as it's designed specifically for competition. I assume that's something you can adjust on any gun - if so, it's the "setting" that might make the Wilson better, not the gun.

    Then there are the parts that are custom machined and hand fitted for a perfect fit. I'm guessing that the other three guns in my comparison have looser tolerances, but I don't know if that will have a negative effect on accuracy. The others are probably machined to certain tolerances, and while the Wilson may work more smoothly than the others, will this make it more accurate, or improve the grouping?

    There are SO many factors in how tight a group can be. It's like a fence, which is no stronger than its weakest link. The accuracy of any of these guns (and how tight a grouping it can shoot) depends first of all on the ability of the shooter. Second, how consistent is the ammunition? There's also the thing we're talking about, how well can the gun shoot?

    Suppose your ability to shoot a tight grouping at a given distance was a four inch grouping.

    If you used a gun that was capable of shooting a perfect grouping (all bullets going through the same hole) you would still be no better than your own ability.

    If you used a gun that was only capable of shooting an 8 inch grouping, you wouldn't be able to get the results your ability was capable of.

    Unless I'm missing something here, there is nothing to be gained by getting a gun far better than your own ability.
    Still, you need to get something that is somewhat better than your own ability, or you'll never notice any improvement in your shooting.

    (Does any of the above make sense? Are there any comparison tests, that show what different pistols from different manufacturers should be capable of?)

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    The Garden State
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Unless I'm missing something here, there is nothing to be gained by getting a gun far better than your own ability.
    Well there's always bragging rights.
    f/8 and be there!

  7. #7
    Well, look at it this way...

    If you get a high dollar Wilson Combat or build yourself a sweet race gun, at least you can eliminate the gun one of the accuracy variables. LOL

  8. #8
    Ha! Yeah, that's all true. <grin>.

    MK, I sort of got bummed out by "bragging rights". I know what you mean, but I'm tired of seeing people bringing the highest quality and most expensive r/c cars to the track, and get beaten by some young kid with a patched up antique. To me, the only "bragging rights" that count is where the bullets went. Still, despite that, I would love to buy a Colt Python, but it's unlikely to ever happen....... if I follow my own advice, instead of posting questions, I should be posting photos of my targets! :-)

    I had sort of a free day today, nothing much to do. I spent a few hours wandering around Youtube, just having fun watching lots of stuff. Almost all of it is pretty boring stuff, but I did find a Youtube video that I figure is a step above the others... I started looking for vids on the 1911, and some of these guys should be watching videos, not making them. They were more comedy than informative. Anyway, here is one I liked, that actually seemed to be created by good, competent people:

  9. #9
    hmmm.... All lies unless you post a pic of your 1911.

    I just purchased my first 1911. I got a Springfield Armory Target Loaded. I cant wait to shoot it. I will post a pic once it is in my hands (loving the 10 day wait in Cali)
    SGrid Vintage of 2003

  10. #10
    I'll try to take a photo of my Colt tomorrow; we're going back to the range tomorrow morning.

    Javier, do you take your personal weapons with you when you go overseas? Do you get hassled by the airlines?

    Also, when you say "loaded", what does that include that wouldn't normally come with the gun - is it specially "tuned" or something?

    I'd like an opinion from you guys on something we were debating earlier today. Let's say someone is an average shooter, capable of keeping all his shots from an ordinary 1911 handgun within a six or seven inch diameter grouping at 15 yards. Have him shoot two targets, one with a $500-$800 gun, and the other with a $2500 Wilson. Everything would be the same (bullets, sights, barrel length, and so on). My question is whether going from an ordinary gun to one that costs almost $3,000 will result in any noticeable improvement in accuracy.

    I don't know any of the real numbers, but I was thinking that if the Wilson could shoot all the shots into a one inch diameter grouping when held in a bench rest, and the other gun could perhaps shoot all the shots into a two inch diameter grouping, that's a one inch difference. If our shooter can only shoot well enough with the average gun to get a six inch diameter circle at 15 years, switching to the better gun might reduce the grouping diameter to five inches at most - and most likely wouldn't seem to make any difference at all.

    Does this make sense?

    (The answer to this for my friend might be how good do you have to be, before you can justify spending more money on a "better" gun.)

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