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Thread: How does a 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol work

  1. #1

    How does a 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol work

    I found the following drawing of how the 1911 pistol works. Be sure to click the buttons at the left side and bottom, to change the colors, visibility, and function of the parts.

    Despite this excellent animation, while I understand more than I used to, there are still a lot of things I don't fully understand, but this certainly made everything a lot more clear.

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  2. #2
    You say you're not sure of a couple of things still - like what...?
    I love the simplicity of Browning's design, which, let's face it, hasn't really been improved in 100 years - it's impressive when you stop to consider that nearly all major firearms developments are as a result of this man's influence in one way or another...

  3. #3
    There are two areas where I need to understand a lot more.

    The first is just for general information - I don't have a clue what all those bits and pieces inside the gun handle are doing, or why. I'd like to understand this, but it's not very urgent.

    The second is which parts/functions are limiting the accuracy of my Colt. I know I can't turn it into a $4000 target gun by spending a few hundred dollars, but I believe there are a few simple things that I can do to improve the accuracy of my (well worn) gun. So far my list consists of a new barrel bushing. With all that slop, there's enough room to drive a freight train through it and still have room leftover. The second may be a "trigger job", but I'm not sure how necessary this is.

    I will be visiting a gunsmith later today, and get his advice on what is worn out, damaged, or simply "bad".

  4. #4
    Accuracy = a combination of ammunition, barrel and trigger pull on a pistol - everything else will be down to how you hold the weapon: you are the weak link in the pistol-shooting equation.

    When I was working in a tri-service unit (Defence Media Ops), I was amazed at how poor some non-infantry officers were at pistol shooting with their service sidearms (their supposed primary weapon) one Air Force officer was actually taking out branches on the trees above the Fig 11 target at 25m...!!!
    Bearing in mind these were bulk-purchased out of the box browning Hi-Powers made back in the 1960s (mine was the same age as me, but had only been fired a handful of times judging by the wear on the chamber...), I found it perfectly satisfactory despite the heavy trigger-pull and high-recoil (NATO 9mm is relatively 'hot') and was able to get a 200mm group at 25m without too much difficulty on a static range, both left and right-handed.

    A commercial pistol should be far better-made to begin with, with tighter tolerances and should be highly tuneable by any competent 'smith'. Though I would question why accuracy beyond 25m is even desirable in a standard .45 or 9mm pistol - time to pick up a rifle or call-in mortars if they're that far away...
    Specific target-shooting weapons are there for those wishing to compete, but a 'combat firearm' is designed for one thing only - to kill the other guy. As long as you can put enough rounds into the target at a reasonable distance (like within 25m), then "job done".
    Another reason for opting for .45ACP over 9mm in my opinion...
    The pistol is a 'last-resort' weapon - in combat the pistol comes out when the enemy is too close to reload your rifle without exposing yourself to incoming fire - in a civilian environment you draw a pistol when everything else has failed: negotiation, running-away etc (and I'm a big fan of the 'run-like-fuck' school of self-preservation by the way!). If I have to draw a pistol it's because I intend to fire it: either my life or the lives of others are in immediate danger and there is absolutely no other way to defuse the situation - if I haven't got the job done in under 3-4 rounds, then I'm pretty much shit out of luck.

  5. #5
    i read something a while back saying that most pistol gunfights were usually fought well within that 25 metre range & due to the frantic frenzy pretty much no shots ever land on target. i can only assume these were non firearms trained criminal gunfights but it seems generally accepted that pistols aren't considered very accurate. i also remember reading something about if you are ever confronted at gunpoint that running away is statistically a wise move as its hard to hit a moving target & not likely that if hit the shot would be lethal..

  6. #6
    I've gotten to dislike my (very old) Colt magazine over the years. It's really hard on my fingers when loading. I guess my fingers are more used to computer keys than hard work.

    The books and magazines all suggest getting a better magazine. So, I picked up a Wilson magazine from the shop at the range, around $40 or so. Maybe it would have been less by mail-order, but here it was, in my hands, and I didn't feel like waiting.

    There are two results to write about. First, as I expected (having used one before) that the Wilson magazine was much easier on my fingers. It loaded effortlessly. Next, an unexpected advantage - using the same ammunition I've been using, out of the 50 rounds I shot today, there were zero errors. Bullets loaded and were ejected perfectly. Nice. I never thought about how the magazine can have such an important effect on the functioning of the firearm.

  7. #7
    Just thinking out loud here....

    If I remember correctly, with a "match barrel" the total clearance at the end of the barrel between barrel/bushing/slide is .003"
    My gun has .025" total.

    Suppose my barrel was 4" long, one end is held tight against the slide, but the other end can wiggle around within a .025 range.
    40 inches away from my barrel, a bullet being fired would be somewhere within a .25 inch diameter circle.
    400 inches away from my barrel, a bullet being fired would be somewhere within a 2.5 inch diameter circle

    Just thinking.... 400 inches is roughly 30 feet, or 10 yards. So, if everything else, myself included, was perfect, my "groups" at 10 yards would be limited to around 2.5 inches.

    With the proper clearance of .003", that 2.5 inch grouping would be only .25 inches. I suspect a perfect '45 in a bench rest might approach this accuracy....

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