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Discussion Starter #1
It seems my XSE has loosened up quite a bit with about 500 rounds through it. I keep it lubricated and clean it after each trip to the range. When new it was tight with no play in the slide at all. Now it rattles quite a bit with the hammer back. How much play in the slide is too much?
 

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I also have an XSE stainless and it has a little play in the slide. It's normal. I'm no expert and if anybody know's better please chime in. 1911's traditionally are supposed to have a little play in the slide. Enjoy your new 1911.
 

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Mine, too. NIB 1991A1 NRM after about 300-400 rds noticed some degree of looseness in the slide to frame fit especially when the hammer is cocked and no magazine.
 

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Slide tightness has damn little to do with anything that really matters.

1911 Accuracy is determined by the lockup of the barrel to the slide and slide stop pin and the fit of the barrel bushing. Slide play matters little if you are actually firing the gun by hand, as you line up the barrel with the sights. The alignment of the frame is of slight importance unless you are using a Ransom or other Mechanical rest that grips the frame only. Then a tight slide gun will appear to shoot better. But in practical use, you don't want a "National Match Tightened" 1911. Complete reliability with ADEQUATE accuracy for the job at hand is all you need. Most modern Colts will do two inches or better at 25 yards. That is surely "Minute of Cranium" or "Combat Accuracy", better than most shooters can hold.

Go to a Gun Show and get your hands on an original, fine condition ($4000+) 1911 (Not A1) and feel it. You will get almost no vertical play in the barrel breech area, and a thousanth or two at the barrel bushing. You will also feel a bit of play in the slide - and that is how John Moses Browning designed it. Tigher IS NOT BETTER, by itself unless you are into Competition Only, Rangebag Queens that you would not think of carrying.

Warmly,
Col. Colt
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Thanks for that info. But why would the gun start off tight and then loosen up considerably? Is it frame wear/slide wear? Does the slide spread apart from use? It seems to me that if the gun was made loose to increase reliability, then it would not be tight when new?

Also, if it continuesd to get looser - How loose is too loose?
 

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It is probably working its way in. Any high edges are being knocked down. I doubt it is an issue. You should be concerned if it starts to shoot bad.
 

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In many mechanical devices, they wear themselves "in" to a certain tolerance and then the wear mostly stops - kind of a self limiting thing.

I believe that 1911 slides are definitely affected this way. A friend's experience with an overtight older production Kimber bears this out. When he bought the gun it was standard Kimber "overtight". After 10,000 rounds of full load IPSC shooting it feels exactly like an average new Colt, or an original, low round count 1911 from around 1920. That leads me to believe that Colt is actually tolerancing their guns closer to John M. Brownings "Original Design Intent" and everyone else is going way overboard to impress the uninformed.

In other words, the gun wears in to were it wants to run, and, baring abuse, it wears a lot less from then on. Luckily, as already stated, slide to frame fit is a very small contributor to accuracy.

Warmly,
 

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What you get on a typical production 1911 is high and low spots on the rails of both slide and frame. When new, with high spots resting against high spots, the relationship is "tighter". With wear, the high spots are worn down, leaving a looser relationship.
A custom pistol can start with oversized rails, the custom smith hand laps (or wears) the mating surfaces to be both more uniform (reducing or eliminating highs & lows) and provide more surface to surface contact. The result there is a tight fit that stays tighter longer, since it takes longer to wear flat surfaces down by removing metal under continual use.
You can have a tight pistol that shoots loose groups, and you can have a loose pistol that shoots tight groups.
Some of us prefer a little honest Colt Rattle.
Denis
 

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I like the sloppy rattle. It assures me that the gun is not hanging up.

All of my 1911s wear in loose after several hundred rounds. I agree with the statement about high and low spots on the rails wearing down.

I have a Springfield Loaded which was so tight in the beginning that it was difficult to rack the slide without some Tetra Grease on the rails. After about 1000 rounds, it is much better.

My STI Trojan is also pretty tight. That is a range gun only.

My Colt 1991 ORM and NRM are comfortably loose for slide to frame movement. My 1927 Argentina Systema has teh same looseness.

The bushings are tight, though.
 

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That's how it got its nickname

That is why Bill Jordan called it the "Rattler" playing off Colt's snake-based model names. Unless you're shooting Bullseye reliability is much more important. For defensive purposes "Minute-of-Torso" is all you need at handgun ranges.
 

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lougotzz said:
It is probably working its way in. Any high edges are being knocked down. I doubt it is an issue. You should be concerned if it starts to shoot bad.

My 1991A1 shoots better now despite some degree of slide to frame looseness.
 

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My new stainless Colt Commander is tight. REALLY tight. I'm used to some play in the slide but this thing has nothing. Haven't shot it yet, but I'm sure it won't be long before I hear that familiar 1911 rattle. I like the rattle.

This is definitely the tightest 1911 I've held though.
 

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Slide Rattle

My SON used to freak out at a Gun Show when he'd look at early 1911's and they'd rattle. The Ole Timers got a kick out of seeing his face. Then one explained to him, the early 1911's were made for battle, and made to shoot in mud, sand, snow or what have ya. And stated that a Combat gun, over tight was not a great idea. Since then my son has come around a little about the fact, a 1911 needs some slop, if not, its over tight.
 

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+1 about being over tight and then "wearing in". My SA Longslide when new wouldn't shoot more than 3 rds in a row w/o jamming. My first 250 rds were almost "singleshot" I.E.- shoot, jam, drop slide, clear jam, re-insert mag, hand chamber rd, shoot, repeat above. Then at approx 250 rds It shot a whole mag w/o incident. It had a couple of malf's between there and 500 rds and has been reliable ever since.
When I took it home the first night and cleaned it, I had to use a nylon tipped hammer to "tap" the slide off the frame. Had to "tap the slide" back on the frame after initial cleaning. I could see "wear marks" after the first 500 rds and now has over 23,000 rds and they haven't changed since the initial 500. As stated earlier, if it starts to "shoot" bad, then be concerned. Tracy
 

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That's funny, TSP, that is exactly what I'm expecting when I take it to the range. A jam or two here and there because the pistol is so tight. Some pick up a really tight, no-play-in-the-slide 1911 and think "Great gun, it's going to be super accurate!" I look at one and think, "Great, now I'm going to have reliability problems till I break this thing in."
 
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