PDA

View Full Version : Question for Colt 1911 owners


fullspeed1
08-04-2011, 12:24 PM
Hey guys, Looking to see everyone's opinion on a brand new series 80 Colt with the 100 year roll mark that I shot today. I was wondering if the tolerances were typically on the looser side, As there was quite a bit play with the frame and slide. The pistol literally sounded like a spray can when you would shake it. Granted it functioned perfectly, And I am sure with the time the grit in the trigger and mag release with hopefully work itself smooth. Is this the standard for Colt? It is my first experience with another 1911 besides my Kimber Custom II and several other of my friends Kimber's.

DArBad
08-04-2011, 12:39 PM
Hi Fullspeed,

i've had 3 Colts 1991s, 2 blued & 1 stainless. Also had 1 Colt Double Eagle Mk IIs. The 3 Colt 1991s were bought from different years: 2000, 2004, 2007. The DE was first bought by my brother-in-law around 1988-89 and was GIVEN to me around 2007.

The 3 1991s I had were plaqued with: loose frame/slide fit, uneven spring tunnels, MSHs sticking below the frame, hammer leanings (to the left), firing pin stops that were also leaning, loose and floppy triggers, mushy thumb safeties. The SS had deep gouges inside the mag tunnel. The first blued 1991 I had, developed serious barrel peening as early as 140-150 rnds. In short, their quality, or lack thereof is really horrendous. Price then was equaly not reflective of their supposed craftsmanship---again, if there is any.

The DE, while target accurate, had its own list of issues.

You may ask, why I didn't inspect the guns before buying???? Simple, when I wanted the Colts, there were none to be found in my area, its only by internet order (from Clute, Texas) that I was able to purchase them, I was still uneducated as to what issues to look for on Colts. In my naive mind, the Colts were THE 1911s and therefore their quality is at the top of the food chain.

Now i know better.----Just one man's experience. Don't mean to offend those who are die-hard Colt lovers, as I used to be one myself.

doubleactiononly
08-04-2011, 12:53 PM
Yes, this is normal for a Colt; in fact it's done on purpose.

Colt makes their 1911's closer to the original 1911 spec than anyone else. Part of that spec is making the gun with somewhat loose tolerances. For the most part though, this has practically no effect on accuracy while greatly increasing reliability. I have a Gold Cup that rattles a fair bit but I would put its accuracy up against any production 1911 any day.

Accuracy is mainly a function of barrel/bushing fit. The fit of slide to rails just doesn't have a huge effect, although it looks way cooler. Instead a tight fit also makes the gun much harder to make reliable, hence the 500 round breakin period for Les Baer 1911s

fullspeed1
08-04-2011, 1:03 PM
I figured the looser tolerances were purposeful, Considering I am a Glock owner as well, And they are pretty loose themselves. Obviously for reliability. Being a Kimber owner, The guns side by side were nearly a night and day difference. Despite all the bashing about Kimber's, My Custom II has been 100% for nearly 1600rds now, And it actually feels like a much more expensive gun the hand. I guess its all relative to what people think a 1911 should feel like, Or the tighter tolerances are just an evolution of that platform.

jonzer77
08-04-2011, 1:38 PM
Colts are made to be milspec and have the loose tolerances to help with reliability. They are made to run right from the box whereas a lot of the tight fit frame 1911's have a break in period. You got lucky with yours if it didn't have any malfunctions during that period because a lot of guns that are that tight have to break in. The tight slide doesn't affect accuracy all that much to where the average shooter will be able to notice. The real accuracy of the gun comes from the barrel locking consistently back up in the exact same position in relation to the sights. The frame and slide can rattle andit wont make a difference. I have 4 colts and they all feel the same way, three series 80's and a 70 series ranging from 2007-2011. Like you said, glocks are made that way on purpose so if any debris gets in there it gets pushed right out, same with colts.

Where is redcliff for additional input lol?

RealBarber
08-04-2011, 1:46 PM
the loose tolerances are normal, and all the Colts ive seen in recent years have been well made

im picking up my second O1991 this year on monday, both with 100 Years of Service rollmarks, i loved the first so much i had to get a twin, especially since ive been unable to locate a new XSE, ill try to get that before the end of the year

jww
08-04-2011, 1:53 PM
I bought my first 1911 last week and finally took it out last weekend. It's a 1991 Commander and it felt very loose to me but shot very well. I put 150 rounds through with zero failures.

I had the same concern as you but after reading endless posts it seems this is the norm.

fullspeed1
08-04-2011, 3:27 PM
jww, it was just a question, definitely not a concern. It was a purchase made by a friend of mine, And I was considering adding one to the collection.

jww
08-04-2011, 3:45 PM
Question/Concern- same thing to me

Either way it's a great gun. I'm pretty happy with it and hope you will be the same if you decide to add it to your collection.

I will add that a co-worker picked up his 100 year XSE Blued Government today and it is a lot tighter than my SS Commander. Not sure why there is such a difference.

jonzer77
08-04-2011, 4:01 PM
jww, it was just a question, definitely not a concern. It was a purchase made by a friend of mine, And I was considering adding one to the collection.

Mark,

Not sure what your budget is but Tracy Rifle and Pistol has a stainless series 70 in stock last I checked.

ojisan
08-04-2011, 4:16 PM
Where is redcliff for additional input lol?

He could be waiting for another extractor / feed jam thread.
:D

I expect he will be along soon and we can all learn something more.

Loose means nothing in a 1911.
One of the most accurate and reliable 1911s I ever shot was a standard WW2 production gun.
Bone dry and dust balls inside, it ate everything and put them all into one hole at about 20 yards.

Paradiddle
08-04-2011, 4:45 PM
My Colts are also loose in the slide department. Get a trigger job and you'll be very pleased with the accuracy.

Mine all shoot very well - the two with factory triggers are much harder to group well due to the heavy trigger. The one that Hoag customized for me is a peach - it will put all of them into one ragged hole. He did a lot of work to it, but the barrel and bushing are stock.

I'd rather have a little noise when I shake it and have it run all the time, then have it be too tight and picky with ammo.

Jeff

redcliff
08-04-2011, 6:40 PM
First, I'll just say that as much as I love all 1911's, I have a special fondness for Colt's. Theres something about that silly prancing pony on the slide that just appeals to me and makes me smile when I hold one. Probably because when I started shooting 1911's they were often referred to as Colt 45's since Colt was the only commercial producer of 1911's and they seem like "real" 1911's to me. Colt's of the pre-80 series variety are my favorite platforms for building into custom 1911's. I do find it interesting that we generally put a premium on Series 70's Colt Gold Cup's and Govt. Models, when we really should be looking for pre-70 series models of these since they actually had a barrel bushing fit to the pistol instead of the labor-saving collet bushing. Of course Commander's never had the collet bushing so pre-80's Commanders are like pre 70 series Gold Cups and Govt. Models in that regard.

Obviouisly, there are good Colt's and bad Colt's, just like most other production 1911's. Colt is somewhat infamous for slightly off-center machining of the frames and spring tunnel and resultant slide rub. And while many Colts don't exhibit this problem, a pretty substantial number do, which is why it's highly recommended to carefully inspect before you buy. The good part is it's primarily aesthetic and can often be corrected with a little judicial file work on the inside of the tunnnel if caught early.. the bad new is that it exists at all. Other problems like leaning hammers, poorly fit mainspring housing and sloppy firing pin stops are rarer but occasionally encounterred. While most errors can be corrected some problems are harder to fix than others.

Colt's from the 50's and 60's are generally very good, the 70's saw more problems creep in, the 80's and 90's and early 2000's had more than their fair share of problems, but slowly, with the purchase of new cnc machinery Colt's quality is on an upswing but still not quite as consistently good as it should be imho.

Now, on to accuracy. As previously noted, most but not all Colt's are looser than we're used to with modern 1911's. However, as previously mentioned by the other knowledgeable posters above it doesn't have as significant factor on accuracy as might be presumed. Whats much more important is that the slide and barrel return to the same spot each shot. Our sights are on top of the slide so the bullet will go where we put the sights if the barel repeats its lock-up in the slide consistently. Jerry Kuunhausen, the master guru gunsmith of 1911's estimated achieving mechanical accuracy in 1911's was based upon the following:

remove frame-slide play 15%
match grade barrel 10%
fit accuracy bushing 20%
headspace 10%
eliminate rear barrel sideplay 20%
consistent vertical lockup 20%
unobtainable 5%

Does loose slide to frame fit hurt accuracy..yes a little, but its only one piece of the puzzle. All the other factors combine to have a much larger impact on accuracy, and thats only mechanical accuracy we're discussing, not counting things that help the shooter be more accurate like good trigger jobs and good sights. Virtually all the 1911's I shoot have had trigger jobs performed on them by professionals. My local pistolsmith does 3 or 4 1911 trigger jobs a month. And he's been doing them for over 30 years. So I personally don't try to outdo him (I couldnt if I tried), he's done over 1,500 1911 trigger jobs in his career and can nail the desired pull weight within a couple ounces on his first try and produce a trigger like snapping icilcles.

Does loose slide to frame fit help reliability? I used to think so, but now I don't know. My Springfield Pro is the tightest, hardest to rack 1911 I've ever owned or shot and its never had a malfunction from round 1. I have reliable loose 1911's and reliable extremely tight 1911's but my reliable extremely tight 1911's cost a lot more than my reliable loose 1911's. Reliability seems to be more a function of proper assembly and fitting of the components (especially extractor fitting) and proper lubrication, proper maintenance, good magazines and good ammunition than any other factor. And to Colt's credit, they generally do a good job of fitting their components to each particular pistol's manufacturing variances resulting in a pistol that is usually reliable out of the box.

PRCABR4Christ
08-04-2011, 8:39 PM
As has been said previously, Colts do rattle, they are made to much looser tolerances than a Les Baer or Wilson...not that Wilsons and Baers aren't reliable, it's just that Colt's are Mil-Spec.

The looser tolerances help greatly with reliability, although they may suffer from slightly less accuracy than a Wilson, they are "combat accurate", as a fighting pistol should be, and can be more than "combat accurate" with a proficient shooter, but most 1911 shooters will never equal the accuracy that can be obtained with a production gun

DArBad
08-05-2011, 11:14 AM
Don't mean this to disparage anyone in particular, but just saying.

There was a time in the scheme of things that loose equates reliability, tightness equals accuracy at the expense of reliabilty.

This is no longer the case. With what the manufacturers had learned, with CNC/CAD-CAM machines, with todays newer manufacturing techniques, one can buy a RELATIVELY tighter gun yet reliable, one that does not rattle like a childs toy rattler, one that gives buyers a sense of high craftsmanship level.

And most buyers it seems, if sales record are an indication, wants reliablity, accuracy, and tightness. These things are achievable in an affordable production gun as proven by Kimber, Smith&Wesson, Dan Wesson, some models of Springfields, etc.

Malmon
08-05-2011, 11:39 AM
All the colt 1911's that I have owned and still own, I am currently down to 2, would rattle like a a spray can. So if the question is if this is standard? I would say it is.

CC Gunsmithing
08-05-2011, 11:49 AM
A bit of trivia, if no one has posted it yet... The 1911 was also known as the "rattler" because it would rattle when the slide was racked and locked open...

macey109
08-05-2011, 11:53 AM
Not true.... Shoot a new Dan wesson and it will take at least 500 rounds to break in. You will have failures. after it is broken in you will have none. A colt 1911 will be fine out of the box but will not group tighter than the dw. colt still manufactures to the same standards that it did years and years ago.

Good luck with a Kimber. They should spend a little less on marketing and a little more in R and D.


For all I have 2 dw 1911s and many colts of varying ages.

fullspeed1
08-05-2011, 1:18 PM
Not true.... Shoot a new Dan wesson and it will take at least 500 rounds to break in. You will have failures. after it is broken in you will have none. A colt 1911 will be fine out of the box but will not group tighter than the dw. colt still manufactures to the same standards that it did years and years ago.

Good luck with a Kimber. They should spend a little less on marketing and a little more in R and D.


For all I have 2 dw 1911s and many colts of varying ages.

My Kimber has been 100% from round 1. Feels and shoots a hell of a lot better out of the box than that series 80 I handled, And it cost less. But, Thats my experience....

fullspeed1
08-05-2011, 1:22 PM
A bit of trivia, if no one has posted it yet... The 1911 was also known as the "rattler" because it would rattle when the slide was racked and locked open...

It's funny that you mention that, I had a family friend pick up my Kimber and he was surprised that it didnt rattle and how solid it felt. He was issued a 1911 in Vietnam, And said they were all loose.

JTROKS
08-05-2011, 1:55 PM
For the money they command for their 1911s it should have tighter tolerances and refined contact points. Maybe it cost too much for the prancing poney roll mark.

spammusubiboy
08-05-2011, 1:56 PM
Funny how people think loose guns are more reliable than tight ones. The least reliable 1911 I own is a series 70 Colt with a match grade bushing (no collet). With that being said, it's still only had about 10 failures for some reason or other (including a broken extractor at ~8k...but minor barring that) and is currently hovering around 16k down the barrel. It's still plenty reliable IMO but I don't think looseness come into account for reliabilty OR lack of.

Colt's are nice and a piece of history every serious 1911 fan should have but a Colt definitely wouldn't be my first choice in a 1911. There IS one heck of a feeling in owning the original though. Very cool guns any way you look at em!

jonzer77
08-05-2011, 3:16 PM
I love the fact that you said least reliable with 10 failures out of 16k rounds. That is still pretty damn good. :)

DArBad
08-05-2011, 3:32 PM
My Kimber has been 100% from round 1. Feels and shoots a hell of a lot better out of the box than that series 80 I handled, And it cost less. But, Thats my experience....

My experience too. There was no need for the proverbial " break-in " period.And that's using the cheap factory magazine the
gun came in with, some cheap Shooting Star generic magazines, and some left over cheap Springfield and Colts mags that I
have. Also used nothing but cheap Walmart bought Winchester white box ammos.

In short, i've used nothing but CHEAP things, and still she rewarded me with STELLAR reliability and the TIGHTNESS in a 1911
that I crave.

trashman
08-05-2011, 3:49 PM
I was wondering if the tolerances were typically on the looser side, As there was quite a bit play with the frame and slide. The pistol literally sounded like a spray can when you would shake it.

I have (last time I checked, anyway) three Colts: a 1970's Series 70; a 1980's era .38 Super (Series 80) and a recent production Series 80.

The slide to frame fit is looser on all three than on my 90's era Springfield "loaded" model. The finishing is nicer in some aspects, and worse in others. (And my recent-production Springfield 9mm 1911 is much less finished and has some irritating cosmetic issues that still irk me given the near-$800 price tag).

Ultimately though, everybody's already hit the nail on the head - the 1911's of yesteryear (made with no MIM, only forger frames, and tool steel parts) rattle like the ****ty Plymouth Champ I drove when I was 17.

The important fit is the barrel-to-bushing fit (and the barrel lug to slide lug fit).

--Neill

spammusubiboy
08-05-2011, 5:16 PM
I love the fact that you said least reliable with 10 failures out of 16k rounds. That is still pretty damn good. :)

Part of why I love 1911's :D. The Colt is no slouch. It's also capable of putting 48 rounds through a fist sized hole at 25 yards. At least that's what it did off a rest with 185gr Federal Classic HP's. While a Baer or any of the other high end 1911's will make a nice silver dollar sized hole at that distance doing the same thing....the much cheaper Colt is still headshot capable at that distance: which for all practical purposes is all you'd ever need IMO.

The fit and finish, while nothing to write home about: is ok. About on par with a decently fit SA Milspec. It's definitely a good gun to build off but I just shoot it as is. I have other guns that are customized and loaded with features.

aklon
08-05-2011, 7:00 PM
Accuracy is mainly a function of barrel/bushing fit. The fit of slide to rails just doesn't have a huge effect, although it looks way cooler. Instead a tight fit also makes the gun much harder to make reliable, hence the 500 round breakin period for Les Baer 1911s

I own both a Colt Gold Cup (Mark IV, Series '70) and a Baer TRS. There is much truth in what you say, but with the Colts being "loose" to begin with, you can do things to improve the accuracy even more.

JTROKS
08-05-2011, 8:19 PM
I don't know why most folks think that having a close tolerance slide to frame fit will cause jams. The rails are polished that when you rack the slide back and guide it into battery, it feels like it's on ball bearings. The way I see it the smaller the gap the better in keeping crud from entering.

PRCABR4Christ
08-05-2011, 9:56 PM
I don't know why most folks think that having a close tolerance slide to frame fit will cause jams. The rails are polished that when you rack the slide back and guide it into battery, it feels like it's on ball bearings. The way I see it the smaller the gap the better in keeping crud from entering.

Another reason that they had loose tolerances originally, the crud would just fall out, or worst case scenario, you could just "hose" it out...remember it was a military issued service pistol, and had to function, back then they didn't have CNC's, and if you broke something you had to use a surplus part that may not have fit as good as todays standards...

I still think Colts reign supreme as far as production guns go, I do however wish they would bring back the royal blue high polish finish :D

rogervzv
08-06-2011, 6:52 AM
Yes, this is normal for a Colt; in fact it's done on purpose.

Colt makes their 1911's closer to the original 1911 spec than anyone else. Part of that spec is making the gun with somewhat loose tolerances. For the most part though, this has practically no effect on accuracy while greatly increasing reliability. I have a Gold Cup that rattles a fair bit but I would put its accuracy up against any production 1911 any day.

Accuracy is mainly a function of barrel/bushing fit. The fit of slide to rails just doesn't have a huge effect, although it looks way cooler. Instead a tight fit also makes the gun much harder to make reliable, hence the 500 round breakin period for Les Baer 1911s

Yes, that about sums it up. My Series 70 Gold Cup slide is on the loose side. It is a dead-on shooter though.

GM4spd
08-06-2011, 7:03 AM
Yes,I bet it rattled almost 100 years ago!:D Barely has an idiot scratch even
though the original finish is slightly weathered! It has the original barrel that has a perfect bore--in an era of corrosive ammo. Pete


http://www.fototime.com/DBFE9FC741BD727/standard.jpg

JTROKS
08-06-2011, 7:33 AM
Another reason that they had loose tolerances originally, the crud would just fall out, or worst case scenario, you could just "hose" it out...remember it was a military issued service pistol, and had to function, back then they didn't have CNC's, and if you broke something you had to use a surplus part that may not have fit as good as todays standards...

I still think Colts reign supreme as far as production guns go, I do however wish they would bring back the royal blue high polish finish :D

CNC sure is a superb tool! It still boils down to the assembly line on how they fit all the parts. I do own a Colt 1911 and it does rattle, but it's reliable and the accuracy is very acceptable for a defensive handgun. For many years I learned the heart of the a 1911's accuracy is in a properly fitted match barrel and consistent ammunition. I'm not sure if Colt hand fits their barrels once they have a slide and frame that seems to fit. What I do notice with Kimber, Sig and SA with their barrel fit weren't seen in Colts during the mid 90s and the other other mentioned manufacturers listened to consumers and offered models with features only seen from Colt custom shop. Maybe Colt is refining their 1911 line slowly, just look at the beavertail that comes with new Colt 1911s. It looks like they are spending some machining time to actually have a decent looking fit instead of using a drop fit beavertail that they had for a little while. I believe Colt can afford to make their slide to frame fit a little tighter to give it that solid feel.

http://www.ellettbrothers.com/Attachments/attachments/Ellett_Brothers/images/medium/0214347.jpg

pdaddy
08-13-2011, 8:40 PM
First, I'll just say that as much as I love all 1911's, I have a special fondness for Colt's. Theres something about that silly prancing pony on the slide that just appeals to me and makes me smile when I hold one. Probably because when I started shooting 1911's they were often referred to as Colt 45's since Colt was the only commercial producer of 1911's and they seem like "real" 1911's to me. Colt's of the pre-80 series variety are my favorite platforms for building into custom 1911's. I do find it interesting that we generally put a premium on Series 70's Colt Gold Cup's and Govt. Models, when we really should be looking for pre-70 series models of these since they actually had a barrel bushing fit to the pistol instead of the labor-saving collet bushing. Of course Commander's never had the collet bushing so pre-80's Commanders are like pre 70 series Gold Cups and Govt. Models in that regard.

Obviouisly, there are good Colt's and bad Colt's, just like most other production 1911's. Colt is somewhat infamous for slightly off-center machining of the frames and spring tunnel and resultant slide rub. And while many Colts don't exhibit this problem, a pretty substantial number do, which is why it's highly recommended to carefully inspect before you buy. The good part is it's primarily aesthetic and can often be corrected with a little judicial file work on the inside of the tunnnel if caught early.. the bad new is that it exists at all. Other problems like leaning hammers, poorly fit mainspring housing and sloppy firing pin stops are rarer but occasionally encounterred. While most errors can be corrected some problems are harder to fix than others.

Colt's from the 50's and 60's are generally very good, the 70's saw more problems creep in, the 80's and 90's and early 2000's had more than their fair share of problems, but slowly, with the purchase of new cnc machinery Colt's quality is on an upswing but still not quite as consistently good as it should be imho.

Now, on to accuracy. As previously noted, most but not all Colt's are looser than we're used to with modern 1911's. However, as previously mentioned by the other knowledgeable posters above it doesn't have as significant factor on accuracy as might be presumed. Whats much more important is that the slide and barrel return to the same spot each shot. Our sights are on top of the slide so the bullet will go where we put the sights if the barel repeats its lock-up in the slide consistently. Jerry Kuunhausen, the master guru gunsmith of 1911's estimated achieving mechanical accuracy in 1911's was based upon the following:

remove frame-slide play 15%
match grade barrel 10%
fit accuracy bushing 20%
headspace 10%
eliminate rear barrel sideplay 20%
consistent vertical lockup 20%
unobtainable 5%

Does loose slide to frame fit hurt accuracy..yes a little, but its only one piece of the puzzle. All the other factors combine to have a much larger impact on accuracy, and thats only mechanical accuracy we're discussing, not counting things that help the shooter be more accurate like good trigger jobs and good sights. Virtually all the 1911's I shoot have had trigger jobs performed on them by professionals. My local pistolsmith does 3 or 4 1911 trigger jobs a month. And he's been doing them for over 30 years. So I personally don't try to outdo him (I couldnt if I tried), he's done over 1,500 1911 trigger jobs in his career and can nail the desired pull weight within a couple ounces on his first try and produce a trigger like snapping icilcles.

Does loose slide to frame fit help reliability? I used to think so, but now I don't know. My Springfield Pro is the tightest, hardest to rack 1911 I've ever owned or shot and its never had a malfunction from round 1. I have reliable loose 1911's and reliable extremely tight 1911's but my reliable extremely tight 1911's cost a lot more than my reliable loose 1911's. Reliability seems to be more a function of proper assembly and fitting of the components (especially extractor fitting) and proper lubrication, proper maintenance, good magazines and good ammunition than any other factor. And to Colt's credit, they generally do a good job of fitting their components to each particular pistol's manufacturing variances resulting in a pistol that is usually reliable out of the box.

...can't believe I read this long post, but I have to tell you it is very well explained and written by someone who obviously know what they are talking about. Thank you Sir for sharing your knowledge on our beloved 1911s and Colts. I will be looking forward to reading your other posts.

ZX-10R
08-13-2011, 9:30 PM
I just shook my Colt XSE with 100 Year roll mark that I picked up on Thursday and yeah it rattles. I knew that from the get go. If I hold the beaver tail it does not. When I shoot it, it groups better than my M&P 45 and that is very good. It's a Colt and the other Colts I have handled...All rattled. I am good with it. Plus it's a Colt and that is something. I do like Kimbers as well and yes they do not rattle as much or not as pronounced.