Saturday, January 22, 2011


So there are folks down on the 1911.  I don't understand why. 

Their biggest complaint is that "they don't run."  Granted.  I believe people when they say they experienced lots of jams with the pistol.  Generally the cause of this jam is a munged up pistol done in by an amateur home gunsmith, or a cheap 1911 I'd never rely on except as a butterknife, or from hollow point ammo in an older 1911 that wasn't built with a barrel and ramp with hollow points in mind.

If people had been routinely took a Dremel tool to the ramp of their Glock, in some misplaced self confidence, and had been for decades, you'd think Glocks jammed a lot is my guess.

Ok, adjusting and allowing for all that in the experiment... I still believe people when they say their 1911 jammed a bunch.   At least in comparison to the 'plastic' pistols.  Why?

Obviously, I don't know.  I'm still quite the n00b.  But I do have theories.  There is more handwork in the older design compared to modern pistols, and that can lead to variance between pistols.  You rarely hear of a lemon S&W M&P, Springfield XD, or what have you, but I'd think that lemon frequency would be greater in Brownings pistol variants because the design necessitates more 100 year old skilled fabrication work. 

Is that what accounts for the jammin rep? Human error?

Also:  I need to get rich and buy and fire 500 hydra-shok hollow points through my 1911 just to see if I can experience the problems others have claimed.

[Update:  Inspired by the comment...  I wonder what MBtGE would experience if he ran nothing but quality $25 aftermarket magazines through his currently 1 in a 100 jamming $300 RIA Filipino 1911...]


Anonymous said...

IMHO most "jams" in the 1911 platform are related to bad and/or cheap magazines. Too many folks buy an expensive pistol and want to use cheap magazines (clips for the uneducated).

A good colt or wilson mag will clear up most issues that and replacing the magazine spring..

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Ooo, forgot about that magazine issue. And I heard word a month ago that Glock actually had bad magazines initially, causing problems. But that's back in the murky mists of time, and was corrected.

Agreed, I may never get much jamming because I use Chip McCormicks exclusively.

Kansas Scout said...

I am glad to hear you say this. It seems that recently a number of voices have become insistent that the 1911 is not all that good after all.
Like you, I am not an uber expert on them but the conventional wisdom is that generally speaking, they will all shoot ball ammo fine. It's when you get to certain HP's that problems arise it seems.
I carry mine with hardball and am supremely confident that it will do the job. I am not laying awake at night worrying about over penetration because if I ever have to shoot, you know there will be some misses and no HP is gonna help that round stop its appointment with destiny as it lands where the gun was pointed when it went off.
I use Wilson mags too. My kimber mag has always worked too.
I think a certain amount of this chatter against the 1911 is about selling new models and designs.
Being out of work I have decided that I really don't need that newest XD or Glock or M&P although I would like one. My Kimber Custom 1 and my S&W 5904 serve me just fine thank you.
If I was starting over I might well get one of the three aforementioned pistols instead of the Kimber. But I have the Kimber and it's staying here.
I love shooting a true single action auto.
My 1911 Kimber actually carries concealed pretty well right now, given that it's winter.
I do wish I had a lightweight Commander. If I were to buy one I would probably go Colt.

JB Miller said...

I just ordered 3 of these new mags to try in my RIA 1911.

I will let you know how they work!

Richard said...

Not just bad mags, but also overloaded mags. The only way I can get a feed malfunction out of my Baer is to use:

* 8-round McCormick mags stuffed to the gills, with
* conical hollow points (that suffer excessive setback! Oh joy!)
* metal leaf followers.

Change any of those — use better round-nosed hollow points to support the cartridge, use 7-round mags or under-load the 8 rounder, or use mags with a full plastic follower — and no problem.

If I didn't have so many mags and a variety of cartridges, I'd never have seen this, and I have never had a problem with my Baer mags, or with any other ammunition. But think of the poor schmuck that uses only 8-rd McCormick's and conical hollowpoints in his new Kimber…

"It's a jam-o-magic!". Just goes to show you can't trust anything you read on the web.

Jeffersonian said...

if he ran nothing but quality $25 aftermarket magazines through his currently 1 in a 100 jamming $300 RIA Filipino 1911...

That's exactly what I've been doing with my S.A.M. Elite.

It's worked pretty well so far.

Gunnutmegger said...

The original design was made to feed roundnose jacketed ammo. That's why the 1911 has issues with reliability.

The commander/officer size 1911s (also a deviation from the original design) are more unreliable.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

2011 hollow points are not the same as 1965 hollow points, gunnutmegger.

Kansas Scout said...

Gunnutmegger is a good example of an online "expert" who makes sweeping assertions of dubious value. I say this after visiting his site just before writing this.

Name dropping of big name gun writers and trainers can also be a risky proposition. Not all these fellows have the best record on veracity when you look deeper.

Gunnutmegger made the statement "Commanders are more unreliable".
Really? I think that's news to a lot of people.

Richard said...

I remain convinced that much of the "shorter 1911s are unreliable" verbiage derives from old-school chopped Government models, which I have read were indeed less reliable. I reckon you'd have much the same issue if you took a full-size HK USP and chopped an inch off the slide and barrel, but you don't hear anyone saying the USP Compact doesn't run as well as the USP.

Real Commander and Officer models were designed to function at their size, and are typically as reliable as any other gun when run with half-way decent magazines.

Typically the firing pin stop radius will be different, spring weights will change, and I would imagine that the barrel link pin and locking lugs wouldn't be an exact match to a Government gun. In a pivoting-barrel design like the 1911, the dimensions of the barrel, slide, and link all need to cooperate to ensure function.

I've noticed no difference in reliability with my Commander compared to my Government model, and there are plenty of satisfied users of even dinky 3" 1911s, whether they be Colt Defenders, Kimbers, STIs, or what have you.

I wouldn't pay too much attention to Gunnutmegger; his tables at that link include the Llama as a 1911, which is like saying the DB380 is a Glock. Additionally, those tables pretty much tell you "stay away from shitty guns", and "people write reviews when they're unhappy, not when they're satisfied". Real helpful.

Clint1911 said...


FYI, the pre-WWI Colt's (before they changed the tolerances for "drop-in" parts) can feed modern hollowpoints, at 100% reliability.

Check out for more info. (Hint: if the feed ramp is cut right it does NOT need to be mirror shiny)

BTW, funny how you criticize the design when your own info shows 100 out of 139 guns WORK. (For 71.9% pass rate, and remember the guns that "passed" where 100% reliable) That's close to being proof that the design is good, but the manufactures are sloppy.

And how can you write about "Truth" when you keep stating an opinion? Sure it is an opinion backed up by facts, but it is still an opinion.

JB Miller said...

I believe that the evidence is all very subjective.

Taken at the wide view, the evidence remains. For what ever reason, there are various reliability issues. But, they can be tuned out. Even if it's just decent mags, springs, hammers, rods, special ammo or trigger mods, etc.

1911s are not Glocks.

Kevin said...

The problem with 1911s are that every critic is smarter and more experienced than John Browning!

They were born with an instinctive knowledge of firearm design and manufacturing along with the expertise to do it right the first time, and when their so-called improvements on that "crude design" fail, well it just has to be the gun's fault, not the genius that modified it.

I wonder how many "close but no cigar" design modification moments that JMB experienced just on the 1911, before he finished the ultimate warrior's sidearm?

And therein lies the ultimate issue: it was designed as a secondary weapon for field use, not for bullseye competition; designed to use hardball, not lead or jhp or semiwadcutters It was designed to function without a full length guide rod, with a certain weight hammer, mainspring, and recoil spring. Deviate from the design and you introduce errors, or failure - especially when you think you are smarter than John Moses Browning!

Anonymous said...

People site John Browning like Jesus.

Ignore the evidence at your own peril.

A lot of 1911s jam. A lot of them need smithing. And they cost more than other more reliable designs.

It's why these blog threads always are so popular.

Ritchie said...

Mine runs pretty OK, with a frame from the 1917 SN block, and a slide from WWII. The hopeful G20 replacement, still working on that.

Huey said...

First off, love the 1911, I am selling mine shortly but that is purely for financial reasons. It is a good design given when it was created and the limitations of the day (you cannot mock up several different variable on a computer to see which one works like you can now with CAD type engineering programs). It has its limitations just like every other platform.

My thing is this, you are grouping an entire type of weapon together without considering how many different manufactures there are. Glocks all come from one location, yeah, they are assembled in Georgia but they are all made in the same factory in Austria. Quality is going to be pretty specific across the board on that account. How many factories make the 1911? I don't know, but lots to be sure. What Company A makes made have a much different tolerance and quality than what Company X makes. I own a Kimber, a lot of people claim they have issues yet mine has run very well save for a few initial break in FTF type problems.

Yeah, my personal CCW choice is a Glock for other reasons, but there will always be room in my safe (when finances allow) for a good 'ol 1911!!

Gunnutmegger said...


The reviews I tabulated are all current guns (1996 - present) that were shot with current ammo.


I tracked the reliability of 1911s of various sizes, and while all sizes of 1911s had reliability issues, the shorter guns were less reliable. These guns were reviewed in Gun Tests magazine and were shot by multiple shooters using an assortment of ammo.

While I appreciate the visit, if you had actually read the words I wrote, you would know that.


I tracked all 1911 pistols regardless of brand. Amongst the unreliable 1911s: Colt, Kimber, Springfield, and Wilson. There was also a Les Baer that took 2 grown men to pull back the slide. Are all of those brands "shitty"?


If the 1911 design is so great, why do so many "reputable" brands have problems?

And, what I have done is provide detailed information about actual guns that have been tested. My opinions are based on that.

To all,

The 1911 fans seem to be adamant about NOT providing any solid, verifiable information about their claims. While personal experience is nice, and reading stuff on the internet is fun, those aren't really valid objective datasets to draw conclusions from.

Example: I have had some people claim repeatedly that no 1911 ever needs tools to disassemble, despite being shown the owners manuals for Springfield and ParaOrd 1911s that specifies the need for tools.

I found 139 reviews of 1911s done by a neutral knowledgeable source, and the results showed the 1911 is problematic regardless of brand.

Please, share with me (and the other readers) your contrary data from a similarly respectable source.

I didn't decide to hate the 1911 and then go looking for reasons. I looked at the actual experiences with 1911s and what I found made me call it unreliable.

Hating the facts won't change them.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

139 reviews from Glock owners? Of course they're gonna pan the design.

Gunnutmegger said...

Actually, the editors of Gun Tests are unabashed 1911 fans. Which probably explains why they tested so many of them.

If you don't have a subscription, you are really missing out on some great info.

Ryan said...

I agree that 'custom' pistols made by basement 'gunsmiths' from all sorts of random parts and dirt cheap guns are a big part of it.

I however reject the premise that to be reliable a 1911 must be some super fancy $1500+ gun. My bone stock Springfield Mil Spec .45 will run all day long on anything I've put in it.