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  #1  
Old 08-07-2013, 10:06 AM
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Default 1911 Reliability: Myths vs Facts

As those who own one can attest a properly built 1911 is not only accurate but a dead on reliable weapon as well. But as we all know there is a ton of FUD out there and some of it comes from manufacturers looking for excuses for the performance of their not quite finished products while pushing final fitting and repair costs off on the buyer. This article addresses some of that FUD and introduces a bit of real world 1911 wisdom.

http://modernserviceweapons.com/?p=4101
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“This new factory gun is too tight, it needs to be broken in.” – Wow, if I had a dollar for every time I heard this one. No it doesn’t, especially if we are talking about mass produced factory guns with drop in fit barrels. Most of the time, this really just means that the gun was not built correctly and you are completing some of the final fitting by firing. Overly tight slide/frame/barrel fit, improper chamber finish, rough breech faces, etc. are better addressed on the bench than wasting precious time and expensive ammunition at the range. Break in will not fix many common deficiencies either, so don’t hope for the break in fairy to make a bad extractor or feedway suddenly become right.
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  #2  
Old 08-07-2013, 10:26 AM
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The tighter the fit, the better the potential for accuracy. The more accurate, the less potential for reliability.

That's just how it is. Manufacturers like Wilson seek to find a balance.


-Freq
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  #3  
Old 08-07-2013, 10:29 AM
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I have only ever owned sub-1K priced 1911's from S&W and Springfield and they run fine with no modifications.
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Old 08-07-2013, 10:34 AM
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Own a RIA. Not 1 issue yet.
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Old 08-07-2013, 10:42 AM
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I had three or four FTRTB with my Sig 1911 the first 300 rounds, but out of the box it was tight as hell, now after 600 rounds through her, no problems whatsoever, runs smoothly like butter with no failures any more.
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Old 08-07-2013, 11:18 AM
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Most new 1911s will run fine when standing still, slow shooting for accuracy and general plinking. The problems really start to show when aggressive firearm manipulation starts, speed reloads, shooting while moving and in odd angles. I own Kimbers and Springers that have all proven their reliability in aggressive shooting. Ammo also comes into play, especially if you are a reloader. In these times its not always easy to find your proven components. Forcing us to try new loads and specs. Crap mags are crap mags in a good gun or bad gun. Start with quality mags and stay with them.
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Old 08-07-2013, 11:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stormvet View Post
Most new 1911s will run fine when standing still, slow shooting for accuracy and general plinking. The problems really start to show when aggressive firearm manipulation starts, speed reloads, shooting while moving and in odd angles. I own Kimbers and Springers that have all proven their reliability in aggressive shooting. Ammo also comes into play, especially if you are a reloader. In these times its not always easy to find your proven components. Forcing us to try new loads and specs. Crap mags are crap mags in a good gun or bad gun. Start with quality mags and stay with them.
^^^^Agreed


Also my .02

If anyone else has had the pleasure of getting a brand new Les Baer, Jardine, or similar. The Baers are known for being incredibly tight fitted, and that you need at least 500 rds. before you can think it will be reliable. While true, the P2 with 1.5" guarantee was stiff as a board out of the box, it never failed at all in the first 1000 rounds. If something was made correctly, it will work.

A massive amount of failures with a new pistol is not "break-in-able" its just broken.
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Old 08-07-2013, 11:59 AM
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Robert, I'm going to steal that line. "It's not break-in-able, its just broken", very true. While I can live with a malfunction every once in a while with a new 1911 while your ammo does the final fitting that should of been done at the factory. If its every third or fourth mag you have a problem that more shooting will not take care of.
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  #9  
Old 08-07-2013, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by stormvet View Post
Most new 1911s will run fine when standing still, slow shooting for accuracy and general plinking. The problems really start to show when aggressive firearm manipulation starts, speed reloads, shooting while moving and in odd angles. I own Kimbers and Springers that have all proven their reliability in aggressive shooting. Ammo also comes into play, especially if you are a reloader. In these times its not always easy to find your proven components. Forcing us to try new loads and specs. Crap mags are crap mags in a good gun or bad gun. Start with quality mags and stay with them.
I don't know if I should consider myself lucky, but this hasn't been my experience with the 3 Colt 1911's that I have. All of them have been 100% reliable out of the box and accurate as well. The only mods have been changing the sights.
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  #10  
Old 08-07-2013, 12:25 PM
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I saw that article on a 1911 forum as well.


Good points but I have to disagree running a machine or gun allowing metals to rub together does wear off small imperfections and tighter spots than others.

But I agree a 191- with the price tags they come will SHOULD run out of the box. No reason not to being were basically only paying that much for "perfection" and attention to detail and a show piece
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  #11  
Old 08-07-2013, 1:06 PM
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While I"ll cut the pistol some slack for the first 100 rounds to allow the barrel to fully seat itself in place on a very tight true match quality 1911, I have zero tolerance for anything beyond that in any 1911. My Springfield Pro is bank-vault tight in lockup (yes Les Baer tight) yet has never malfunctioned.

Most 1911 failures during the so called 500 round "break-in" can be attributed to improper lube application, improper extractor tension, reloaded ammo or unreliable magazines. When the pistol starts getting looser/worn in there is enough left over recoil spring energy when returning the slide to battery that it can offset some of those deficiencies although they still exist.
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  #12  
Old 08-07-2013, 1:09 PM
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That is a very good article by Hilton.

While it is sometimes hard to get new owners of 1911s to even run through a 200 round reliability check, it really isn't much of a test.

I recommend taking a 2-3 day class of 1000-1200 rounds to see how that model holds up. It isn't just the number of rounds, but that number of rounds running through the gun in a condensed period of time combined with real speed handling. It will not only show any flaws in its operations, but will also point out it's sharp edges

I've had 1911s go through this with flying colors, but none of them were < $1500 models
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  #13  
Old 08-07-2013, 2:23 PM
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I saw a program on Les Baers and the head shop guy said they are so tight they DO need a bit of time to wear in. Especially if you're trying to break em down So.....
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Old 08-07-2013, 2:46 PM
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To me 1911's are race cars.
I take them out to the track IE compete with them.
When they work there is nothing better or faster.
If one breaks it goes to the gunsmith.
If you really shoot your guns you will wear parts out and break parts this will happen with any gun.
But I do not use them as daily drivers.
Glock = honda or daily driver.
Yes I have top end 1911's. STI/SVI and Jardines.
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  #15  
Old 08-07-2013, 2:55 PM
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My used Springfield Champion (which I think retailed for $900–$1,100) was no gem out of the box. Most notably, the trigger was sloppy, and the extractor was loose. No amount of break-in would have fixed those problems.



I spent a few hundred dollars bringing the gun up to my specifications. Not all of the work was strictly necessary, of course, and to be fair, only the extractor caused any reliability problems.
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  #16  
Old 08-07-2013, 3:51 PM
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The problem with 1911s is that there are so many different magazine makers, you have to rule out a bad magazine before diagnosing the gun. It could be that all your mags won't work with your gun.
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Old 08-07-2013, 3:54 PM
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"Glock reliability" I believe has to do with the fact that one company makes all the parts (or specs and builds with all the parts), and they make (or spec'out and qa) the magazines. 1911's are a mishmash. I'm sure when only Colt, Singer, Remington Rand were making them in the WWII era, they were way more reliable ... and probably less bullseye-accurate, but GIs need reliable above 1.5" grouping ability.
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Old 08-07-2013, 4:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lead Waster View Post
"In the WWII era, they were way more reliable ... and probably less bullseye-accurate, but GIs need reliable above 1.5" grouping ability.
That's about it right there.

You cant have accuracy tight and mid reliable it just doesnt work mechanically. People just can't admit or understand to raise their tight fit for accuracy they ruin the reliability when another element it thrown in.

How I explain it to many people is think of a small rock.

A car tire roles right over it being bigger (Car tire being loose tolerances)

A skateboard wheel locks up because smaller (Tight tolerances)

It's the same principle. It's basic mechanics. Also small imperfections in design (burrs or misalignment) are no issue with looser fitting parts being they have room to pass those gaps. Guns with tight metal to metal full contact with no gap will snag or creat friction screwing up function.

But guys can't admit their tight as a ticks a** 1911 built for accuracy can't rule the world. You can't have everything by optimizing for one thing you give up another.
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  #19  
Old 08-07-2013, 4:41 PM
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I still think the SA PRO is the best out of the box 1911 on the marked.
Followed by Cylinder and Slides Trident model for a full custom.
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Old 08-07-2013, 5:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CK_32 View Post
That's about it right there.

You can have accuracy tight and mid reliable it just dont work mechanically. People just can't admit or understand to raise their tight fit for accuracy they ruin the reliability when another element it thrown in.

How I explain it to many people is think of a small rock.

A car tire roles right over it being bigger (Car tire being loose tolerances)

A skateboard wheel locks up smaller (Tight tolerances)

It's the same principle. It's basic mechanics. Also small imperfections in design (burrs or misalignment) are no issue with looser fitting parts being they have room to pass those gaps. Guns with tight metal to metal full contsct with no gap will snag or creat friction screwing up function.

But guys can't admit their tight as a ti**s *** 1911 built for accuracy can't rule the world. You can't have everything by optimizing for one thing you give up another you can't have it all.
Well said, now I can save my breath. However, if you're going towards the "looser" end for reliability, there are many better options out there.
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Old 08-07-2013, 5:40 PM
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I'm surprised you even got what I was trying to say auto spell jacked that up so bad lol
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Old 08-07-2013, 5:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nokarma View Post
To me 1911's are race cars.
I take them out to the track IE compete with them.
When they work there is nothing better or faster.
If one breaks it goes to the gunsmith.
If you really shoot your guns you will wear parts out and break parts this will happen with any gun.
But I do not use them as daily drivers.
Glock = honda or daily driver.
Yes I have top end 1911's. STI/SVI and Jardines.
Agree 100%. I like 1911's but they are not daily drivers like you put it. Run 10,000 rounds through a 1911 and I highly doubt it will still be running. They are great when clean a lubed, but burn off that lube and replace it with black gunk and after 500-1000 rounds its a jam-o-matic. The parts inside are dainty and fragile so 10,000 rounds is a lifetime for a 1911. For a Glock, M&P, Sig, that is just a warm up.

1911's are beautiful pistols but I'd never take one to battle and don't give me that "it was good enough for WW2" crap. Had our grandfathers had the choice of a 1911 or a glock you can bet we would not be talking about 1911's today.
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Old 08-07-2013, 5:43 PM
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The ONLY 1911 I ever owned that never had a mulfunction with ANY ammo ( I only shoot quality ball and top of the line JHP's) is my Colt Combat Commander form Colt's Custom Shop and my Bob Chow pre series 70 Colt .

All others ( and I onwed about 25-30) had issues.

In reliability department 1911 is no match for a Beretta 92 or a Glock 9mm, but it is still my favorite gun to shoot .
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Old 08-07-2013, 5:43 PM
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I would rather throw my 1911 than shoot a glock.
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Old 08-07-2013, 5:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ap3572001 View Post
The ONLY 1911 I ever owned that never had a mulfunction with ANY ammo ( I only shoot quality ball and top of the line JHP's) is my Colt Combat Commander form Colt's Custom Shop and my Bob Chow pre series 70 Colt .

All others ( and I onwed about 25-30) had issues.

In reliability department 1911 is no match for a Beretta 92 or a Glock 9mm, but it is still my favorite gun to shoot .
I dont doubt it being ever Colt I've ever shot or handled wobbled or rattled like a MF when I checked barrel and lug fit and slide to frame fit.
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Old 08-07-2013, 5:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freq18Hz View Post
The tighter the fit, the better the potential for accuracy. The more accurate, the less potential for reliability.

That's just how it is. Manufacturers like Wilson seek to find a balance.


-Freq
As long as you are getting a surprise break when you press the trigger, the only thing that matters for accuracy is the barrel lockup into the slide.....

Way too many uber expensive, pretty and unreliably TIGHT 1911's out there bought by guys looking for bragging rights at the range. Usually their shooting ability rarely approaches the accuracy of box stock entry level 1911's.

Love watching these "dudes" at the range. MONEY is no substitute for professional training, skill set/muscle memory and play ole trigger time...IMHO.
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Old 08-07-2013, 6:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronin2 View Post
As long as you are getting a surprise break when you press the trigger, the only thing that matters for accuracy is the barrel lockup into the slide.....

Way too many uber expensive, pretty and unreliably TIGHT 1911's out there bought by guys looking for bragging rights at the range. Usually their shooting ability rarely approaches the accuracy of box stock entry level 1911's.

Love watching these "dudes" at the range. MONEY is no substitute for professional training, skill set/muscle memory and play ole trigger time...IMHO.
Yep, and the $$$ that you need to spend to get the extra 1" accuracy from the bench is just not equitable.... and anyway you look at it, it's just more makeup on the dinosaur. For the prices paid for some of these overworked pieces of metal you can have a HK 45 + G21 + FNX 45.... and maybe have a little change left over.

Last edited by missiontrails; 08-07-2013 at 6:21 PM..
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Old 08-07-2013, 6:28 PM
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Quote:
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Agree 100%. I like 1911's but they are not daily drivers like you put it. Run 10,000 rounds through a 1911 and I highly doubt it will still be running. They are great when clean a lubed, but burn off that lube and replace it with black gunk and after 500-1000 rounds its a jam-o-matic. The parts inside are dainty and fragile so 10,000 rounds is a lifetime for a 1911. For a Glock, M&P, Sig, that is just a warm up.

1911's are beautiful pistols but I'd never take one to battle and don't give me that "it was good enough for WW2" crap. Had our grandfathers had the choice of a 1911 or a glock you can bet we would not be talking about 1911's today.
Lots of FUD here, but I'm sure you know all this from the many 1911s you have owned that crapped out at 10,000 rounds or less.
Look everyone knows that Glock, M&P, etc are likely to be more reliable with less cleaning. But to make a generalized across the board statement like you did is a rookie move. There are a crap load of 1911s with a lot more then 10,000 rounds fired still working great.
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Old 08-07-2013, 6:43 PM
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Why is Glock and 1911 even in the same sentence/paragraph? I hate it when people compare the two, makes me angry.

Different Platforms, Different Tools.
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Old 08-07-2013, 6:52 PM
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I don't see it that way. They are the same tool as far as I'm concerned. I daily drive and train with both.
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Old 08-07-2013, 6:55 PM
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Quote:
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Why is Glock and 1911 even in the same sentence/paragraph? I hate it when people compare the two, makes me angry.

Different Platforms, Different Tools.
Because they are both pistols? Lol


And because one is known as the most durable reliable pistol design while the other is known as the most accurate and hand crafted. And because either side can't admit one does another slightly better than the other and their pistol isn't the best at everything.
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Old 08-07-2013, 7:10 PM
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Old, worn out, bubba'd Auto Ordnance Corp. 1911 + New Colt barrel + trigger/sear + new extended controls + hand fitted & tuned by Randy Lee == 1911 goodness

I am so amazingly fortunate to have had Randy take on this project just as Apex was ramping up and getting super busy. Amazing trigger on a tack driver that now runs as reliably as my 1996 Toyota.

For home defense, it is a wonderful tool for the job.

If you prefer something else, more power to you. My 1911 & I will be hanging out together for now.

.
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Old 08-07-2013, 7:20 PM
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Quote:
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I don't see it that way. They are the same tool as far as I'm concerned. I daily drive and train with both.
Yep, it's like an old American car with a carburetor and a distributor that actually needs tune-ups vs. a fuel injected Honda Accord that has electronic ignition that requires basically nothing to run the way it did when it left the factory. Obviously that American car is gonna run like crap without tune-ups. There are also hot rod versions of the American car, but they are even more finicky with fuels used and tune-ups... The Accord is loaded with more plastic and modern materials, but it justs runs without problems. 1911's are not the future of handguns, they are just resurrected over and over again with more craftsmanship.
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Old 08-07-2013, 7:21 PM
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When does Glocks patents expire.
How many will clone like the 1911.
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Old 08-07-2013, 7:30 PM
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The Browning swinging link design of the 1911 is obviously brilliant, and works very well with the hardball ammo it was designed to fire. However, for defensive use, I prefer a more modern design of autoloading pistol which drops the barrel down further toward the magazine, enabling a straighter path from magazine to chamber with various hollowpoint designs.
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Old 08-07-2013, 7:41 PM
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Originally Posted by five.five-six View Post
I would rather throw my 1911 than shoot a glock.
I would say that's one of the most arrogant stupid statements I've ever read except for the fact that I agree with you!!!
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Old 08-07-2013, 7:48 PM
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Originally Posted by INFAMOUS762X39 View Post
Why is Glock and 1911 even in the same sentence/paragraph? I hate it when people compare the two, makes me angry.

Different Platforms, Different Tools.
They may be different "platforms" ... wait, no they aren't really. They are pistols, their job is to shoot bullets down range accurately and reliably. A different "platform" would be a semi auto vs a revolver vs a rifle vs a shotgun.

They are semi auto pistols. We can compare 1911s and Glock 21s. are you angry? Why? They are both sidearms designed to shoot .45 ACP ammo. For competition, range, self defense, duty ... what's the difference? Do they have different roles? They do based on their capabilities and qualities.

I love 1911s, you can't beat that trigger. Only a S&W Revolver in Single Action is comparable. Accurate and ... reliable. Beautiful gun. Fits perfectly in a one handed grip. heavy though. One of the first truly successful semi automatic designs

Then 70-80 years later, Glock hires a bunch of deisgners/engineers to look at pistol design AND modern duty needs, they create the Glock pistol and he markets them. yes, they stole some things from the 1911 that worked well.

So the improvements? A lighter pistol (let's look at the 21s) that carries 13 rounds instead of 7 (or 8). it fits horribly in a single handed grip (IMHO) but great in a two handed thumbs forward grip. He use a finish on the slide that is extremely tough (and extremely bad for the environment) and they don't look very sexy to most people.

But it's evolution. The pistol is lighter, carries more rounds and is very durable.


OK, now back to talking about 1911s...
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Old 08-07-2013, 7:50 PM
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Originally Posted by bubbapug1 View Post
I would say that's one of the most arrogant stupid statements I've ever read except for the fact that I agree with you!!!
LOL, I'm happy shooting either..both are great.
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Old 08-07-2013, 7:54 PM
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Originally Posted by 44fred View Post
When does Glocks patents expire.
How many will clone like the 1911.
XD, M&P, Sigmas ... etc, etc, etc, etc ... striker fired polymer framed guns are nothing new. Why don't people clone Glocks? What's the point, if you cloned it, people would just buy a Glock instead of your clone. They are not expensive guns. So other manufacturers make Glock-like products, but change the looks and ergos to make them Glocks but not Glocks.

Also, even when Colt had the 1911 patent, there were other manufacturers (out of wartime necessity)

Sort of like ... you can make a Scrabble-like game, but you can't implement it with the exact same board as Hasbro (or whever makes Scrabble)

1911s and AR-15s are like PCs, just buy the parts and put them together.
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Old 08-07-2013, 8:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Lead Waster View Post
LOL, I'm happy shooting either..both are great.
No there not, you can only like one. Then you most bash the other, because it is not your choice in a handgun. Everyone knows those elitist 1911 owners have it coming. And don't get me started on those annoying Glock fanboys all they do is Glock this and Glock that.

I own 9 Glocks and 7 1911s, I train with both and fire between 10,000 and 15,000 handgun rounds a year and you know what yes my Glocks are slightly more reliable then my 1911s. But it's not by any earth shattering amount only a little bit. And my 1911s are more accurate then my Glocks, but again it's not by a mile just a bit. As far as maintenance goes, I clean all my guns after I shoot them, replace the recoil and firing pin springs when their due. Not much to compare. But the Glocks are much easier to break down.
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