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188 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This summer I bought a new Commander, all stainless, polished slide flats. I wanted a 1911 for carry and figured the short barrel and rust resistance would be a plus over my pre-Loaded Springfield Gov't. The SA also had some reliability problems (which I've since resolved).

I'd heard about Colt's improved QC of late on this forum and others, especially concerning reliability, and I wanted to see what they were up to these days. I also wanted it to say "Commander" on the side.

Anyway, it's not been a very happy experience. Here's a rundown on my first Colt:

Front sight dot fell out before I had even fired the gun. Dunno where it went to, but it's not an unheard of thing to happen and I planned on trying Ashley's anyway. Painted in a dot for the time being.

Razor sharp edges all over the slide. It's not functionally significant, but it really did a number on the new holster I bought...accelerated break-in, I think they call it.

Some sharp points are functionally significant: the bottom corner of the thumb safety digs into my hand, and on the right side, the grip safety recedes below the edge of the frame in one spot, right where the web of my hand sits. These areas become a noticeable problem after 50 or 75 rounds...not a carry issue, but definitely a practice issue.

The hammer sits all the way to the left when at rest. Not a problem yet (my new CZ is the same way) but not sure if it'll cause trouble later...?

The gun is plenty accurate, though. A comfortable amount of play in the slide to frame fit, tight barrel lock-up, thumb safety is very positive and smooth. The trigger pull is decent (though my SA is crisper).

The real problem is feeding. In the first 100 rds (with the factory mag) I had an odd stove pipe that I've never had before: an unfired round from the mag caught between the breechface and barrel, primer up. Switched to my Wilson mags, and things went ok for awhile. Happened upon a box of WinClean, I think...exposed lead at the nose(??)...the Commander didn't like this stuff at all: another primer-up stove pipe with an unfired round, and a few jams into the feed ramp/throat.

Several hundred rounds later, well past break in, a box of new feed-friendly Hydras failed to be feed friendly, so my dealer, an accomplished smith and Colt fan, throated the chamber for me for free. I wanted to get more trigger time, so I skipped the pricey premium JHP and shot ball for a few weeks with no problems. I started carrying the Colt stoked with Speer FMJ.

I decided to try Winchester's USA JHP...it's cheap enough to be readily function tested, and informal testing on PistolSmith.com seemed encouraging. I was carrying ball anyway, so why not. I also had the aforementioned Speer and a couple boxes of commercial reloads from Atlanta Arms.

All hell broke loose. Relentless failures to feed of the last round in the mag. The nose typically jammed into the top of the chamber, with the slide sometimes riding over the rim and jamming against the side of the case, and sometimes still being behind the rim. I used my 3 Wilson mags, plus a no-name mag and a new Wilson borrowed from my dealer. He shot the gun to make sure it wasn't me causing the jams, we tried +10% Wolff springs, more lube, less lube, RIG grease, cleaning, etc. It was suggested to try using a heavier recoil spring, but he didn't have any Commander springs in stock, and it should function with the factory spring anyway. We even got to the point of insanity where we put the Wilson springs in backwards to see what would happen...by then I only had about 30 rounds left, but...it seemed to work.

The only positive thing about the session was that none of the JHPs jammed into the ramp/throat.

These malfunctions came about suddenly, all in one range trip, with different mags, different ammo, different shooters...the works...and it's not a problem I've had in any other pistols, just the Colt. I'm going back (someday) with the Colt and my Springfield to see what happens. Even if it never happens again, I probably won't be comfortable using my Commander for anything but range work until I identify the cause of these failures. Function testing beyond 1000 rounds gets expensive, and if I haven't nailed the down the cause of the problem, it's still there, IMO, even it doesn't recur.

For now I've fallen back on my ultra-reliable P228, even though I shoot 1911s much better. The Sig is well-proven, and the Springfield testing was sidelined to put the Colt through it's paces.

Observations, comments, and suggestions would be appreciated.

[This message has been edited by boing (edited 10-08-2001).]

· Registered
188 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Support appreciated, and advice taken. I'll be calling Colt.

It occurred to me this evening that just counting the gun and all the ammo used so far, I've spent over one thousand dollars to end up with nothing, and that's not including targets, range fees, a damaged holster, etc...not to mention my time and frustration.

A thousand dollars, good grief. For that kind of money, I could've bought a Kimber or Springfield, function tested it, and been carrying it by now (assuming it actually worked). And it would've already come with all the "extras" I had planned for the Colt. Putting it into those terms, it really becomes a dismal ordeal.

However...Based on the opinions of people more knowledgeable and experienced than myself, I still believe that a Colt is, at it's core, the best value in basic production 1911s. Colt will get another chance from me, as is only fair, but it will take a serious commitment from them to keep me from defecting to, and recommending to others, another manufacturer.

PS- "boing" doesn't mean anything. It just amuses me.
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