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1911 spring rate.

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  • 1911 spring rate.

    I have been shooting 1911's for a long time.. from worn out surplus ones to brand new Kimbers and Colts. About 99% of the rounds I shoot are my reloads. I never gave it much thought tho on the recoil springs. some were of course new on the new guns and some were old as the hills.. from the 30's maybe. and now... the 'new' guns have 5-10k through em. I never even thought about the recoil springs but when the Kimber started failing to eject a lot I thought to try a new spring.. turns out I needed to adjust the extractor a bit but... I ended up with springs from 16-20 lbs (I bought a selection)

    I am more in the dark than ever. My loads are mid range or near factory so far as I can see... mostly cast 230 at around 850 and 200 swc at around 1,000 fps.. Mostly Accurate #5 powder. I tried several of the springs and they all seem to work about the same. How do you guys choose spring rate or even when to change em?

    Oh.. one other reason I tried the heavier springs was that I noticed some slight battering on the Kimber frame .. none on the Colts.

    lazs

  • #2
    Good Afternoon, lazs,

    You certainly have a lot of 1911 experience.

    A Wilson Combat tech and a Springfield Armory tech have told me to install new recoil springs every 5k rounds.

    Stock recoil springs are 16#. +P springs are 18. Wilson makes a 17# flat wire recoil that is allegedly good for 50k rounds.

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    • #3
      According to my Kuhnahausen 1911 shop manuals, the "stock" 5" 1911 spring is 16 pounds.

      Also, according to them, the 1911, good and tough as it is, is NOT sprung heavily enough for a steady day in day out regular diet of factory "full-power" ammo, the frame will batter against the slide, eventually, at some point, the frame cracks from the hammering.

      For these reasons, since I shoot "3/4-full" or higher loads for IDPA and somewhat often shoot my full-bark JHP loads (230gr JHP @ 1,044fps), I normally run 20 to 22 pound springs AND I use the thicker Shock Buffs bumpers on the guide rod to stop the battering.
      Closing on 2 decades of this now.

      After being run hard, the springs aren't straight anymore, several thousand rounds... they get replaced.

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      • #4
        Truthfully I have used #16 and #18 springs in full size 1911's, #22 and #24 in a RIA CS (officers size) and can't tell a bit of difference between em.
        I think they're all ok for full power loads regardless of weight as long as they are not wore out/need replaced.

        I shoot 230 grain LRN with 5.0 grains of W231 90% of the time BTW.
        Last edited by DarkShooter; 2 weeks ago.
        I play Choctaw bingo every Friday night.

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        • #5
          Second Damannoyeds input. I trained 1000 rnds a week for years with factory Walmart Winchesters. Great ammo, but beat the crap out of my machine. Was buying those little rubber bump stops in bulk and even tried using a piece of rubber fuel line (DONT DO THAT). Ill also add that factory ammo is designed to shoot out of ALL guns, incl revolvers and 2" bbls, so I would bet the ammo is charged to build peak pressure VERY quickly to facilitate dependable cycling and consistent velocity. At the end of the story I spent $100 on a little shock absorber that acts as a guide rod for your recoil spring (comes with a hollow retainer too), and also bought higher quality springs.

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          • #6
            thanks guys.. I do not claim to be a 1911 expert at all.. quite the contrary. I like em and load for em.. but nothing even close to 1k fps 230 loads! My 200 swc coated loads are there but that to me.. is a big difference. I use medium burn rate powder which is Accurate #5 and I also shoot a 1917 Smith 45 acp at even lower pressure. At one point I got as low as I could go with #5 and as high as I could go with 230 lead slugs and did not see any difference.. this was with a worn out Colt...

            if Wilson makes a spring that is 50k proof then that is a lifetime for me. I mean.. I mostly shoot revolvers in any case and with all the handguns it is seldom one gets more than a thousand or so rounds a year.

            lazs

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            • #7
              RC.. I tried the recoil buffers but they did not work for me.. couldn't even work the slide right. most factory stuff seems to be FMJ 230 or 230 HP stuff at around 875 fps.. mine might be a tad less.

              lazs

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              • #8
                Originally posted by lazs View Post
                thanks guys.. I do not claim to be a 1911 expert at all.. quite the contrary. I like em and load for em.. but nothing even close to 1k fps 230 loads! My 200 swc coated loads are there but that to me.. is a big difference. I use medium burn rate powder which is Accurate #5 and I also shoot a 1917 Smith 45 acp at even lower pressure. At one point I got as low as I could go with #5 and as high as I could go with 230 lead slugs and did not see any difference.. this was with a worn out Colt...

                if Wilson makes a spring that is 50k proof then that is a lifetime for me. I mean.. I mostly shoot revolvers in any case and with all the handguns it is seldom one gets more than a thousand or so rounds a year.

                lazs
                Merry Christmas, lazs,

                Many .45 Auto hand loaders try to wring out the last FPS outta a .45 Auto cartridge. I could understand that desire were they intending to use such loads as mean, wild critter defense. But for general bipedal self-defense, it's hard to beat the original .45 Auto loading. It has proved itself in combat and civilian law enforcement. Hence, for most applications, especially punching holes in paper, I prefer loading light. In fact, if I could find the mythical load that has just enough powder to cycle slides, I'd use it. I can see no benefit of creating added stress to my 1911 due to loading beyond what's necessary for target hole punching. Mileage does vary from shooter-to-shooter. Light loads are a lot more fun to shoot. And the stock 16# spring functions flawlessly with light loads. BTW, a Springfield Armory tech has told me that stock recoil springs will work just fine with moderate use of +P ammo.

                I have a couple boxes of LE ammo that were remnants of a former career. One box would last my lifetime since I'm pretty good at avoiding bad situations. But were I to carry a 1911 for bipedal self-defense, I'd use factory LE ammo. Many years ago, when I did carry a 1911 for bipedal self-defense, I used W-W 230 grain white box ammo, and never felt the least bit vulnerable.

                I wish you absolute success with you loading endeavors, and that you bring home a whole lotta competition trophies.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by lazs View Post
                  RC.. I tried the recoil buffers but they did not work for me.. couldn't even work the slide right. most factory stuff seems to be FMJ 230 or 230 HP stuff at around 875 fps.. mine might be a tad less.

                  lazs
                  Hmmmmmm.

                  All the ones I use slide onto the guide rod underneath of the recoil springt, so they don't actually ":do" anything except be a rubber (polyurethane) bumper when the slide hits full-rearward..

                  This CAN cause problems of weak ejection (or no-ejection) because it effectively stops the slide earlier in it's travel.
                  1911 ejectors AFAIK come in 3 lengths (of course,, short, medium, and long).
                  The buffers usually come in several thicknesses. If the ones you install are too thick, they can stop the slide before the short ejector sticks out.
                  I suppose if one is drastically too thick it could stop the slide before the lock could operate too........

                  Both mine have the med to long ejectors and both eject fine and both slide-lock fine with the thickest Buffs I can find.

                  I can't imagine how adding a piece of plastic basically horseshoe-shaped and .100" thick under the recoil spring adds up to "can't work the slide right".

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Factory recoil springs are 6 1/2" long. They should be measured every time you disassemble your pistol and replaced when they get under 6" long.
                    I like the concept of recoil buffers but find them a PITA to use. Springs heavier than 16# cause the 1911 slide to go forward with more power than the pistol is designed to tolerate. John Browning and the U.S. Army had this pistol figured out. When you deviate from that you had better be a real expert and also willing to replace parts as necessary including the frame.
                    NRA Endowment member
                    NRA Range Technical Team Advisor
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                    NRA certified pistol coach-Retired
                    NRA classified Master, F-Class mid-range
                    Velocity is like a new car, always losing value
                    BC is like diamonds, maintaining value forever

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                    • #11
                      Dam... yes.. by not working right I meant the slide did not go back all the way with normal hand pressure. Almost have to 'bump' it to eject the round in the chamber when clearing the gun.. in any case I find that..... annoying.. I used the wilson buffers. This was on a custom ll Kimber.

                      Ok.. .so why would one not use the longest ejector they make? I mean with the ejection ports we have now even my new Government 1991 Colt 80 series has a generous port.

                      I admit unashamedly to being a revolver guy. Some have upwards to 50k on em and can be 100 years old (my 1917 was made in 1918) but.. I do like 1911's and have a zillion empty cases so don't even bother to pick up brass... picking up brass is one of my pet peeves about semi autos.

                      Anyway.. here is an update. The Wilson combat flat spring and guide rod came yesterday. several days before I took the Kimber to the range with 230 ball and 7.8 grains of #5 and it was flawless... go figure.. No failures to eject with these sorta kinda medium loads but... I am going to install the Wilson kit.. never having to change or worry about the spring again appeals to me as a revolver guy.

                      lazs

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