Convincing 1911 Pistols To Function

Common reliability checks and corrections for this classic pistol.

by RK Campbell

Despite the modern trend to highly reliable and well designed 1911 type handguns, we still see the occasional problem in feed reliability. Some of the problem comes with the current crop of foreign produced budget pistols. They are minimal handguns at best but everyone has to start somewhere. These pistols are affordable and give many shooters on a tight budget a taste of the 1911’s good handling. There are also budget grade domestic products that are not sterling examples of the gunmaker’s art. Some of these pistols are reliable only with full metal jacketed round nose ammunition. I have examined a few that would not feed round nose hard cast 230 grain lead bullets. As for hollow point ammunition, anything other than the CorBon PowRBall is out of the question. Many of these pistols are purchased for personal defense and the user just doesn’t understand why it will not feed anything stuffed in the magazine. There is also the question of poorly made ammunition from south of the border or the Pacific Rim. All this makes for poor utility and customer dissatisfaction.

Some trade up to a better pistol but others come to us for the tried and true feed ramp polish. Looking at the whole picture, ensuring reliability may be a complex issue. It isn’t as simple as a feed ramp polish as the magazines, barrel hood and the ramp itself are all part of the issue. And it isn’t just the foreign produced pistols. The Auto Ordnance GI pistol is recommended for ball ammunition only but anyone who shoots enough needs to handload, and the most popular accuracy load for .45 ACP handloaders is a cast 200 grain semi wadcutter bullet. I have worked the Auto Ordnance and older Colt pistols to ensure reliability. Convincing these bullets to feed properly isn’t an insurmountable problem. Sometimes a minimum of work gets the ball rolling. Why not go ahead and get it all done at once? Basic magazine modification, ramp polish and barrel hood polish may be done profitably with a high assurance the pistol will feed reliably when you are done. You may as well go ahead with the job and cover all of your bases, including checking the extractor of these sometimes problematical inexpensive or well worn handguns.

Read more in our June 2015 issue.

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