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Why do people say that 1911's are unreliable?I've never understood this i'am a young guy only 23 and have talked to people alot older then me and they've said that the 1911 saved thair lives many times in war conditions that dosen't sound like an unreliable weapon to me.haveing said this i believe the 1911 to be a very reliable weapon every 1911 i've ever shot has been stone reliable everytime.I can say that the reason people say 1911's are unreliable i feel is largely urban myth i mean evrytime i've heard of a 1911 jamming for example it's from user error not the design of this gun case in point they try craming jhp ammo into a milspec gun that was never designed to fire it or they use junk mags or both then they say"they are unreliable".Well let me ask you if you took a glock as good as they are i won 2 and put junk reloads or piece of junk plastic glock rip off magazines see how reliable they are?Now dont get me wrong i like my glocks and i woulden't trade them for anything but on the same note i'ad trust a 1911 everyday of the week.I'ad be greatful for any feedback on this please sound off thanks.
 

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The old military .45s were extremely reliable, allowing for the fact that each one was inspected by the government and also that they were only used with 230gr. ball ammo. Modern commercial 1911s are also extremely reliable, provided that:

1. They are made by a manufacturer with tight quality controls.

2. High-quality magazines are used.

3. The gun hasn't been butchered by incompetent modification/customization.

4. If the gun is an older one, necessary modifications have been made to allow use with JHP ammo.

When you hear of folks complaining about their 1911s, 99% of the time one of the above conditions has been compromised. The #1 problem is the second one, cheap magazines. Amazing, but if somebody's Glock jams with a USA-brand magazine the shooter immediately knows it's because of the cheap mag, yet when a $6 "gun show special" mag jams a 1911 it automatically must be the gun!


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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://usgi1911.tripod.com
 

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nrafan, have you ever taken a class where you shot 1000 rounds of ammo? From the classes I have been in or watched, Glock tend to perform better (especially when using actual Glock magazines and not after market 3rd party mags). 1911s tend to have more problems and in many cases, the best thing to do is NOT use the mags that came with the gun, but go with something like Wilson Combat mags.

You mention user error about such matters as putting jhp ammo in a mil spec gun. Sure enough, mil spec guns were not designed to handle jhp ammo. So you have to keep track of your gun and ammo to make sure you don't mismatch. With Glocks, there is no thinking. They feed just about everything of the proper caliber and keep going.

What I have found in the past is that many people who claim to have really reliable 1911s still have problems, but the problems are never claimed to be the gun itself. Problems are most often blamed on mags, ammo, or a specific part such as a spring, but not the gun. Well, it is all one package really. The magazine and ammo really are part of the gun because without those elements, the gun won't work as designed. Strangely, if the mag doesn't do right, then the gun doesn't do right, and then you have a reliability issue.

If I were asked which gun would work better, right out of the box, basic models of Springfield, Colt, Kimber, or Glock using only the parts that came with the guns, I would go with the Glock without question. Glocks seem to be less tempermental than 1911 designs and seem to be especially good for people who might not provide all of the loving care and attention that most firearms should receive.

I have to admit, however, that the one caliber of Glock that I have seen have problems (2 guns owned by different people), is the .45 ACP. I have to wonder if maybe the blunt-nose shape of the .45 acp is not as well suited for ramp feeding as the more pointy 9 mm rounds.
 

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Theres a big difference between a M1911A1 GI pistol and current commercial 1911 pistols. The dimensional tolerences are different for one. Plus, the GI guns were subject to strict QC, and in the commercial world 1911s (and the multitude of 1911 parts manufacturers) can be well made with good QC and terribly made with poor QC and everywhere in between. Add to this the shear numbers of this design made and currently in circulation, and the broad brush that "1911" includes, and it's easy to see why they would get the rep of being unreliable.
 

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Originally posted by BB:
Theres a big difference between a M1911A1 GI pistol and current commercial 1911 pistols. The dimensional tolerences are different for one. Plus, the GI guns were subject to strict QC, and in the commercial world 1911s (and the multitude of 1911 parts manufacturers) can be well made with good QC and terribly made with poor QC and everywhere in between. Add to this the shear numbers of this design made and currently in circulation, and the broad brush that "1911" includes, and it's easy to see why they would get the rep of being unreliable.
My point exactly. During Ithaca's first year of production they had a very high rate of rejected pistols. The government inspectors would reject the pistol if it failed their visual and gauged tests, and Ithaca would have to scrap it and start over. On a commercial gun, they often say "oh well, if the customer bitches we'll just have to fix it under warranty".

I forgot to mention that the #2 reason for complaints stems from folks trying to turn $hit into gold. If you buy a cheapo imported clone and it fails to work, maybe it IS the gun!


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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://usgi1911.tripod.com
 

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It's interesting to me when I hear people talk about 1911's. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the different manufacturers of 1911's, one company may make an excellent product while another company markets an expensive doorstop. But when people talk about them they view them collectively, especially when it comes to reliability.

On the other hand, you could chop off 19 of my digits and I would still have enough remaining to count the number of companies that manufacture Glocks. They make a good product and have good QC set up. If 30 other companies manufactured Glocks (of differing quality and prices) then maybe people would view them in the same light as the 1911. For example, I don't hear of many people building up Llama raceguns for competition (I know it's a different beast but is still grouped with the other 1911's).

I'm hoping this can get my point across, as I re-read it and it makes sense to me although might seem a little fuzzy.

Thanks

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IMHO, the biggest problems with 1911s are out of spec reloads (maybe the biggest problem), cheap ammo, lousy mags, out of tension extractors and faulty slide stops. The last two are gun-related QC problems and could be easily cured if manufacturers went to external extractors and paid more attention to the quality of their slide stops.

DSK is right. Another big problem with 1911s is trying to make the gun "better" yourself or by using an incompetent gunsmith. I've been guilty on both counts and can verify that by a stack of check stubs.
 

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Another point is that ammo manufacturers have improved overall during the years, and generally have been able to produce hollowpoint ammo with a ball ogive that has given much better performance in less than perfectly throated weapons.
 

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Wingshooter, those are my thoughts too. If there were 40-11 different companies making Glock clones, all back engineered from an original or another clone, would the shooting world say Glocks were unreliable? If there were the same number of companies making magazines and parts for the Glock clones that were of not quite spec. would Glocks be called unreliable?

The problem, as I see it, is that "1911" covers a huge number of pistols of various degrees of workmanship and quality control. To state that 1911s are unreliable takes in the poorly made ones or the ones that have been butchered and does not consider the ones that feed, fire and eject everything that goes into their magazines. We hear about the clunks more than we hear about the ones that just work.



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A lot of the 1911s manufactured before this rather recent time of factory enhanced 1911s were made to military specifications to feed ball ammo. These barrels generally did not reliable feed the SWC or hollowpoint bullets. The average gun buyer does not know or take this into consideration and when it jams all the time on these types of bullets you start to hear how unreliable they are.

Do manufacturors actually tune the extractors for proper tension on each pistol or are they just slapped into the pistols? I think the 1911 is a lot less forgiving in this area than some other pistols. Even if the extractor tension is correct and you drop a round directly into the chamber and drop the slide on it, you will stand a good chance of changing the extractor tension as the hook of the extractor flexes over the rim of the cartridge and possibly bends the extractor some. I know they now sell a spring loaded version.

The feed lip design on the magazines for the 1911 vary quite a bit too. I would find one that works in my pistol and stick with it.
 

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The 1911 type guns are popular (in my opinion)because they lend themselves to modifications.You can dress them up,break them down and rebuild them to suit your current ideas and tastes.The 1911 I carried in the service was a loose fitting, poor shooting,rattle trap,but it did fire when called upon to do so.Today ,with so many 1911 models around, new and old,and so many at home "ARMORERS" I would think the DNF (does not fire)ratio would be much higher.When your life may depend on your handgun, SELECT THE GUN YOURSELF. The guy that recommends a gun of his choice may be working for the local undertaker..
 

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All good points.

It could also be because those that say the 1911 is unreliable were weaned on remote controls, fast food, and automatic transmissions. They were born into a throwaway society that does not tolerate anything less than instant results that meet their expectations, usually born of TV commercial-style idealism, every time.

IOW, it must work the way they expect it to work, the first time and every time, or it goes back to the store for a refund or exchange.

They don't try to modify anything because they don't know how, and don't want to, anyway. After all, there's that new toy that just came out that they just have to have. Now.

Pardon the rant. It's been a MONDAY!



[This message has been edited by feedramp (edited 11-20-2001).]
 

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Originally posted by dsk:
If you buy a cheapo imported clone and it fails to work, maybe it IS the gun!
My Norinco has been the most reliable of 3 Colt Series 80's and one Argie. Ball, HP, Wilson mags, $6 gun show specials, it just doesn't seem to care. I've been forced to give it a little respect (grudgingly, because it seems a shame the Reds can clone a better gun than we can).



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Originally posted by Robb:
IOW, it must work the way they expect it to work, the first time and every time, or it goes back to the store for a refund or exchange.

Guess that describes me, because I don't pay $800+ for fixer-uppers, nor do I have time to mess with something that's billed as reliable and isn't. Far as I'm concerned, I got a lemon or was deliberately lied to.

They don't try to modify anything because they don't know how, and don't want to, anyway. After all, there's that new toy that just came out that they just have to have. Now.

Or, if you even polish the ramp the manufacturer denies any and all responsibility since you've "modified" the pistol, and then you're stuck with the hunk of junk. My experience.
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Others say he is a ****head.
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[This message has been edited by Villuj_idiot (edited 11-20-2001).]
 

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I have had 4 newer 1911. Colt 1991, 2 Springfield Loaded, 1 Kimber Pro carry. All of them have had some burps. I have had Glocks too. I would rather buy a 1911 and take it to a smith and have him look it over and do some tuning to get it reliable than shoot a Glock. Just my opinion. I think the 1911 manufacturers could do a better job but that is just the way it is... I guess.
 

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The 1911 design as mentioned includes a lot of poor quality guns that are lumped into the reliability pool. Also the desire for tight fitting guns has prompted many problems when tight tolerances that are not correct ones become the norm.
I have found that 1911's have more stovepipes and failures to feed than sigs or glocks or HK's . This is typically because of bad mags or extractors not set up correctly. Poor gun maintainance is also an issue. Half the people I know don't change oil on their cars or check it, they have 12 lbs of air in their tires and don't think about water levels in the battery till the car won't start. How do you think these people treat their guns??? Poorly is the answer, and with the 1911 poor treatment can make the gun a mess in a hurry. That is how 1911's get a bad rap.
 

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It would also offer that the obsessive search for accuracy has led to the low reliability reputation. There are 1911's that are extremely accurate and reliable. These are also very expensive guns as making the weapon possess both traits involves much work.

A cheaper way to accurize a pistol is to tighten the tolerances. Such tightening makes the gun more accurate but reduces reliability.

We need to realize that pistols whose intended use is personal defense do not need to be hyper-accruate. I could care less how well a pistol shoots off a bench rest - I've never heard of a gunfight with bench rests sitting about.

Most guns are capable of accuracy that is superior to the shooting ability of their owners. If you weapon can put rounds in a 3-4" group at 25 yards, then it is plenty accurate for self-defense.

I recently attended a GunSite pistol class and was the only non-1911 shooter. Every other gun was a 1911 ranging from dead stock Series 70 colts to Les Baer Thunder Ranch Specials.

From my admittedly limited observations, the best weapon was the basic GunSite custom pistol. It did not have the expensive custom barrel or hours of gunsmithing to tighten it up. The gun went "bang" every time and was accurate enough for its owner to shoot the final school drill perfectly.

As mentioned above, there is something about 1911's that encourages tinkering. A running joke with LE armorers is the rush of gun repairs in January. You see, everyone gets a Dremel tool for Xmas and instantly becomes an expert gunsmith. A few weeks later the guns need to be repaired by professionals.

If you buy a solid, basic 1911 and LEAVE IT ALONE, it will be very reliable.
 
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A dremmel is the enemy of the 1911. It is built to tolerance intended from manufacturer. And presents its problem as the only problem it can be. You just have to recognize it can only be that problem. And removing material only removes material which can't be added later. Not a smart move at all.
 

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I attended a shooting class with my out-of-the-box Springfield Armory basic model 1911. It went though the day of shooting with nary a problem. However, I did see a couple of racey type 1911s that were having problems towards the end of the day, possibly due to crud build-up. My gun still rattled when I shook it and kept shooting. Perhaps tight tolerances can be a problem when doing a lot of shooting without cleaning?

Besides, can you really call *anything* designed by John Browning unreliable if it hasn't been modified from his standards?
 
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