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Do 7-rounders provide a "reliability" edge?

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For my carry Commander, I'm considering going to the Wilson 7-rounders vs. the 8-rounders. Many 1911 experts (Clint Smith, Baer, other gun writers, etc.) say essentially "Why tempt fate? Go with the 7-rounders." Any reason why they feel this way?

BTW, I know if I was so worried about 6-sigma, 110% reliability, I'd be packing a Gov't Model, not the Commander. I've already been through that raging debate....
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Hello Fremont,

I have seen quality, Colt 1911-types start having problems just as soon as the 8 round magazines were introduced into the equation.
I have never seen these particular guns jam previously.

The old saying "You don't get something for nothing" still holds true.

If you do a search on this subject here and at pistolsmith.com, you may find that almost everyone who has had a problem with a Wilson magazine, was using an 8 rounder!

I believe that Clint Smith has fired more rounds than most of us, and he has observed many of his students firing 1911-types.
With his experience, I think he knows what works.

But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself. Order 2 eight rounders and 2 seven rounders from Wilson. Shoot your gun using these 4 magazines, and note which magazine is in the gun when and if you have jams.

By the way, My Colt Combat Commander and Government Model are both 100% reliable with the 7 round Wilson magazines. I highly recommend the Wilson 7 rounders.

-Mk.IV
 

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Mark IV Series 80 is right, you don't get something for nothing. That being said, I have only seen 2 malfunctions due (from what I could tell) to the 8 round follower in a Wilson Combat mag and I have fired thousands and thousands of rounds through 8 round Wilson mags. Most people I know who carry the 1911 use the 8 round Wilson mag with out any problems. I personally prefer the 7 round Wilson mags and that is what I carry but I would have no problem using an 8 round Wilson Combat mag. I figure 1 round is no big deal, I can change a mag if I have to.
 

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I chose the 7 rounders, but only because they were on sale. Oh yea, and Dave Lauck reccomends them in his book. He seems a little opinionated and conservative when it comes to reliability, but he makes a hell of an argument for each and every choice on a 1911. I can respect that. Now if they were both the same price. . .hmmmmm! Probaby still the 7rnd, but not sure.

Now I just need to get the gun!
 

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I have around 20 8-rd Wilson mags that I use for competition and general range use. I have never been able to trace any malfunction back to the magazines. I have a number of guns that will not function reliably with 10-rd mags, from any manufacturer. I've heard from people with much greater experience than I that the 7-rd mags are more reliable than the 8; so I carry 7-rd mags. It also helps me avoid getting the magazines confused.

TB., NC
 

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Fremont (and everyone)

The answer to your question is YES, 7 round magazines are more reliable than 8 round magazines, though not for the reason you expect. Feeding reliabilty is not the issue, since improperly tuned magazines (7 and 8 round) will have feeding problems, just the same as properly tuned magazines will not have problems. The reliability issue is in properly seating the magazine in the pistol.

To fit 8 rounds in a magazine the follower must be changed to allow the rounds to sit lower against the follower and the spring must be changed to allow it to compress farther. In a lot of cases variations in the normal manufacture of a magazine, when 8 rounds are installed the spring is fully compressed. Therefore there is no give left in the spring for when it is installed in a pistol and the magazine release cannot catch the slot in the magazine, no matter how hard you slam it home. So when the shooter pulls the trigger, the round in the chamber fires but the slide can't pick up the next round because the magazine is too low in the mag well, or worse yet the magazine falls out of the pistol entirely.

This is why Clint Smith recommends 7 round magazines. Because he sees a lot of students who should be dealing with a gun fight trying to reseat a magazine and reload their chamber, or just reload their gun because their full magazine fell out of their pistol under recoil. Neither of these are a good thing.

So the answer to you question is Yes, 7 rounds are more reliable than 8. That either means a 7 round magazine if you are buying new, or 7 rounds in an 8 round magazine if you are loading what you have. I have several 8 round magazines and I only load them with 7.

I hope this helps,
Str8_Shot
 

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Another problem with 8 rd magazines is that they're a little hard on the magazine catch.
My old pet Colt Combat Commander worked just fine for over twenty years with 7 rd mags, but after I started using 8 rd magazines a couple of years ago, I had to replace two magazine catches; the original was badly worn and the second broke. I do a lot of dry fire training, and that includes magazine change and malfunction drills. I started loading my 8 rd magazines with only 7 rds, and the problem seems to have gone away. From now on, I'll only buy 7 rd magazines. If I need more ammunition, well, that's why I carry spare magazines.

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Roger Shambaugh
Ottawa, Kansas
 

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Just yesterday I had a failure to feed with my previously bombproof Valtro in competition. I was using a Wilson 8 rounder that has been working very smoothly until then. It was the second bullet in the mag.

For the record, the gun has about 2,000 rounds through it now and the FTF was during IDPA competition. Nosedive jam, 230 grain hardball reloaded ammo. As soon as I get within 50 miles from home, I'll check the ammo to make sure its not out of spec. That case was fired 3 times previously, so the case is close to the end of its life for my standards.

BTW, I had a fun IDPA match at the Whitetail Center in Tupelo, MS. The people here were very freindly, and laid back. The stages were well designed, and a had a bunch of fun, despite the sweltering heat.

My thanks to all who that ran the match, from the funny looking yankee in the Mickey Mouse shirt.

------------------
-Electric Armadillo-
 

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I have no empirical basis to say they are more reliable, but just to be sure I carry a Wilson 7 in the gun and use the 8's for spares (since in a real event I will probably run the gun dry and the 8's will be loaded with 7 as soon as I release the slide.)
 

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Only rarely have I had troubles with any round other than the last round in a magazine. It happens with both 7s and 8s. If the problem happens earlier, I have found that it is often a round that is out of spec somehow and not the magazine.

If you don't carry a spare mag with you, then go with an 8 round magazine. As noted above, if the last round does not feed, it don't matter - because you were out anyway, but if it does feed, that is one better than what you would have had.

Of the 8 round mags I have, my Wilsons are by and far the best.

As far as what John Browning designed, ain't none of us regularly shooting what John Browning had in mind when he submitted guns to the Military for testing that first started in 1906. No grip safety, no thumb safety, the slide lock was not above the trigger and did not secure the barrel lug but came out from under the grip panel. Seven shot magazines were not some magical number, but was the number of rounds that would fit inside a mag (with the spring and follower) in the grip with the grip being large enough for an adult hand. Spring tension has come a long way since then and the followers have been redesigned. We ain't shooting what Browning originally had in mind before the military decided to make it better.
 

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Str8_shot nailed it. Magazine seating and spring compression are the issues. It is common knowledge among Browning P35 circles that you only load 12 rounds in your 13 round magazine. I was reading something just the other day - I think it was in Gabe Suarez newsletter but it escapes me now - that recommended downloading any magazine whether it be a 1911 or an AR-15 by one. The reasons cited were the same as Str8 has brought up. They also added that the carrying the mags fully compressed like that for extended periods led to weakening of the spring which throws off the gun's cycle timing and/or premature failure of the spring. This seems like basic mechanics to me.

I have read the posts of people saying they have had little or no problems with 8 rounds squeezed in, but I respect the advice of someone like Clint Smith who sees 1,000s of rounds fired each year and knows what makes them break. You may not have a problem, but then again why add one more thing for Mr. Murphy to engage in shooter coitus.
 
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