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Thread: Maintenance of a 1911 pistol

  1. #11

    "We" (99% of military) are not allowed to take our personal weapons on a deployment. As far as travelling... We move as an unit in a chartered commercial airliner. I carry my pistol on board and place it in the pocket in front of me. Now, if I was traveling on a regular flight then all regulations regarding firearms would have to be followed.

    As to the better gun debate, I would purchase a Wilson Combat if I had the cash to spare on one just to have one. Maybe for a pro competitor it might make a difference but not for a guy like me.
    SGrid Vintage of 2003

  2. #12

    Is a more expensive 1911 more accurate?

    I just got back from up North. I went to the range several times, using several different types of handguns. I think I found out that I have been very wrong about things (and after reading the Wilson manual, and watching the Wilson video in how to maintain a 1911 properly, I think I found my answers (which are pretty much what Chuck already said up above!).

    History - the Colt I have is from around 1980. As I said earlier, I was never really happy with the (lack of) accuracy in my hands, but I assumed the problem was my hands, not the gun. I'll post photos later, but basically, at 15 yards my groupings were around 6 to 7 inches, which is pretty miserable. This is doing things just the way the various articles say to do so, shooting stance, etc. I know I need a LOT more practice, but I can do much better than this with a revolver! (Which reminds me, 20 years ago, everything back then was the same, and I was really bummed out about how I couldn't shoot the 1911.)

    A relative owns a Wilson Combat Classic 1911 and he let me shoot a full box of 50 rounds with it, as long as I cleaned it up afterwards. Wow. My groupings were now 2" until my hand started to get tired, and then they grew to 3".

    In the hands of an expert, I'm sure the Wilson will be MUCH, MUCH better than the best I was able to do. I'm not that good. ....but since both are 1911 handguns, it seems to me that I should be able to do things to the Colt to get it "better". (I bet if I sent it off to Wilson, with a huge $$$ check, I'd get it back just about as accurate as the Wilson, but that brings up a completely different question - will ask it later, not now.)

    So, if you guys agree that this at least means I can shoot better with a "better" gun, what things might I be able to do to the Colt to make it better?

    • Barrel bushing? Mine is very, very loose when I put it into the gun. My "gut feeling" is that this is probably the single thing that most needs to be corrected.
    • Trigger pull? I know if you get a lighter trigger pull, it makes it easier to not "jar" the gun as you pull the trigger, but I suspect this is a minor fix.

    I've found several discussions about this sort of thing on the internet, including

    The two comments on that website that I'm studying the most are:

    As for improving accuracy, the barrel lock up is where most of the mechanical accuracy is achieved in a 1911. A barrel that locks up into the same place every time is essential for accuracy. This means the lugs need to be well matched on the barrel and slide, and the bushing needs to tight enough to keep the barrel from budging when in battery, and make it return to the exact same location after the shot. Slide to frame fit makes up a small amount of mechanical accuracy. The rest is mostly the shooter, but a nice trigger helps the shooter do his part, so that is not something to be overlooked.


    Barrel & bushing fit = 60% improvement.
    Trigger job = 50% improvement.

    Slide to frame fit has little effect on accuracy, but if it is too tight it has an effect on reliability when full of dirt.

    Kuhnhausen's book has a chart showing the various percentages the different part fits contribute to mechanical accuracy (Repeatability).
    Rear barrel play = 20%
    Bushing fit = 20%
    Consistent vertical lock-up = 20%
    Frame/Slide play = 15%
    Headspace = 10%
    Match grade barrel = 10%
    Beyond reach = 5%

    Shooter assistance features:
    Trigger work = 50%
    Better sights = 25%
    Misc, Ammo, etc. = 25%

    So slide rattle does matter. But not much compared to several other things. The main influence a tight slide fit has on total accuracy is providing the consistent vertical lock-up. But if the gun can give consistent vertical lock-up, and the slide still rattles, it matters not at all.

    My targets, Colt on top, Wilson on bottom - all I'm interested in right now is the groupings, not the sight adjustments:

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  3. #13
    Very nice! Maybe try the cheapest possible (DIY) improvements. Change the bushing and install a one piece recoil guide rod (Wilson).
    SGrid Vintage of 2003

  4. #14
    Does "change the bushing" mean I need to order a new one and have it custom-fitted, or is this something that can be done by an individual? I do have tools, but I don't have anything like a machine shop, nor do I have the knowledge to do any heavy-duty machining. As I see it, the bushing should have next to no "play", and my bushing seems to just float around with room to wiggle it around. A guy at a local gun shop told me not to worry about this, but every place I read about high-end target guns, they talk about custom fitted bushings....

    (The more I read at the "Highroad" forum, the more I learn. The web address for the thread I created there is )

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by eltorito View Post
    Very nice! Maybe try the cheapest possible (DIY) improvements. Change the bushing and install a one piece recoil guide rod (Wilson).
    I got several more replies at the other forum, some of which repeat what I think you're telling me. Here's some of that information, mostly from a member named "1858"; he seems to understand this completely, and I've learned a lot more just from reading his post.... I still need to try and do these things.:

    " I read through your thread on the other site ... and looked at your Colt/Wilson targets. Based on those targets, your Colt isn't shooting well at all. If you have a caliper, measure the OD of the barrel at the muzzle and the ID of your barrel bushing. The ID of the bushing should be something like 0.002" to 0.003" larger than the OD of the muzzle. If your bushing is rattling around, it's probably a lot more than that.

    Installing a new bushing is simple enough. You can buy an oversized or standard barrel bushing for around $20 and fit it yourself. It's not particularly difficult to do. There's a good chance that the bushing will fit in the slide, and if you buy the standard version, it'll most likely fit over the barrel since a standard barrel is around 0.580" OD at the muzzle. This alone may cut your groups in half. Ed Brown gives about 0.004" of clearance with the standard bushing but if you want it tighter than that, buy the oversized version and ream it out to get to +0.002" or thereabouts. I like Ed Brown parts but there are many quality to bushings to choose from.

    Drop in bushing with 0.584" ID

    Oversized bushing with 0.574" ID

    Once you get the new bushing fitted, rack the slide (ride it forward), then push down on the barrel hood to see if there's any appreciable barrel movement. If there is, then you may need to send it away or fit a new barrel which is not a trivial job for a novice. An in spec slide and frame and a good drop in barrel can really help the novice with this upgrade, but try the bushing first and go shoot some groups. You may be happily surprised."

    I took the measurements and got:
    Bushing I.D. = 0.584"
    Barrel O.D. = 0.572"
    Clearance = 0.012"

    Slide I.D. = 0.705"
    Bushing O.D. = 0.690"
    Clearance = 0.015"

  6. #16 wont have any binding problems, lol. If I wasn't in a middle of a move, id mic my Kimber to see how much clearance I have.

  7. #17

    More detailed photos

    I was asked to post some detailed photos of my Colt, so here goes - there's 17 of them. Anyone not interested in a Colt 1911 can move on to someplace else on this forum that is probably more interesting.... :-)

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