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I have been doing research toward making my first pistol purchase. I have rented and shot several pistols.
I have also read magazines, books and web forums as well as spoken to gunsmiths and local shooting enthusiast.
I am still unable to find the last set of data I have been hoping to find…long term reliability reports.

When I went to buy a used car, I narrow my decision to one or two models and then research the strengths and weaknesses of those specific cars. If I want a Corvette, I can find out what problems are most common for certain model years and what recalls have been posted so I know what to expect and how to shop. Does this kind of documentation exist for firearms? Murphy says if something can go wrong it will and at the worst possible time… I would like to make an informed decision and be prepared. I hear people talk about “out of the box” readiness. That implies that some guns need trigger adjustment, others need much more. If I decide to by a Kimber, Colt or whatever - I want to know if I should be prepared to pay more for minor adjustments or need to replace the slide because it is likely to bust after a few thousand rounds!!!!

Can anyone recommend a reliable source where I can acquire this information?
 

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Well, the 1911 has been around since 1911. That ought to tell you something about its design! I'm not going to start slamming one mfgr.'s product here or praising anothers. Well, maybe. GET A COLT! hehehehe I couldn't resist. Anyhow, go to the mfgr forums at the bottom of the main page and read what complaints owners have for their own guns. I have a Colt and a Kimber. Only about 450 rds through the Colt and only 50 or so through the Kimber. Both are built with attention to detail, fit and finish. I've heard a lot about MIM parts in the Kimbers, but I've yet to shoot mine enough to determine if they need replacing. My Colt has been running great since I brought it home. I could go on forever here, so please go to the mfgrs forums.
 

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It sounds to me like you are going about everything very well. You mention narrowing the selection. Perhaps it's a good idea to narrow to the type and caliber you want. Do you want a semi-auto or a revolver, a larger bore or a small bore. On this forum you'll probably find that most prefer a large bore semi-auto, in the 1911 pattern

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Three Blocks Long and Two Lanes Wide...
 

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Most of the info you will get here is rather biased. If you have access to usenet (which you can easily get through groups.google.com) lurk in rec.guns for a while.

But the short answer is No, there is no Consumer Reports - style long term reliability data source I am aware of. You will have to settle for anecdotal data.
 

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As a general rule long term reliability in any decent 1911 should not be an issue, provided it is mainted reasonably well (take care of your pistol and it will take care of you) The design has been proven over many, many years of service in both military and civilian applications.

There is always the possibility of getting a pistol with a manufacturing defect that could affect long term reliabilty, but that is not a common occurence. There are parts you should replace as maintenance items, recoil and firing pin springs being some of the most often replaced bits.

Now, if you were thinking about an aluminum framed 1911, that is a slightly different story. Aluminum has a definite fatigue life and is obviously softer than steel. The frame will be more prone to cracking ( a typical fatigue failure) as well as prone to wear on the rails.

As far as out of the box readiness goes, the vast majority of pistols work very well out of the box. However, people do build these things so there is the possibilty that your gun might not be perfect. If you want to buy a pistol to shoot a national level match, you might want to get a trigger job done, but for most people out of the box is just fine.

One last piece of advice, when looking around on these forums is to keep in mind that people are way more vocal with problems than they are with their satisfaction. So take complaints with a grain of salt. I have a Kimber as my first pistol and absolutely love it.
 

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I did the same thing you are doing now. The best place to go is to a shooting range that sells guns and talk to everyone there over several trips. You will run into bias everywhere, but a majority opinion will soon take hold. Bottom line; the 1911 design is tried and true. After all my research I got a Kimber Custom SS. It may not be what you want, but mine shoots really well. My dad, who is a much better shot than I am, shot a 3 inch group with it at 25 yards the first time he picked it up. I even shot a group at 12 yards with 3 of the 5 holes touching. Another good source for info: keep reading this forum. Some of these guys seem to know what they are talking about.
 

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"Longterm reliability reports" are going to be pretty tough to find on an individual type and manufacturer of gun.

Gun rags rarely do such longterm evaluations on enough of a sample to support or condemn a particular gun. They are naturally reluctant because nearly all of them receive much of their income from the manufacturers that advertise in their rags.

The best source is forums like this one. It just takes much time to read all the archives and analyse it.

Design has much to do with it though, and I agree that the Browning 1911 design is one of the best.
 

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SpringField Professional Series

The Gun the FBI Demanded and got... Read the tests the gun went thru.. most MNFG did not even try to send a gun to them because of the requirements.
Also for the money, A Dan Wesson Patriot with a Jarvis Match barrell is a winner at way under a thousand bucks...shoots under an inch... :p



September11 said:
Thanks to all of you who posted a reply...
Your input is appreciated.
 

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I've found (for a brand new gun) spend a little or alot more up front, and you will have yourself a tightly finished well put together piece with maybe aesthetic refinements. Spend a little less, and you may (I stress may) have yourself a gun that isn't as nicely finished, not as tight a frame to slide fit or barrel match, but is ready to be customized out the yin-yang. More $ up front = less upgrading...less $ up front = solid base to build on...mt 2 cents. Not rocket science...the manufacturers definitely know how to price these things.
 
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