Bill Wilson On the Compact 1911

I often hear comments like “I only trust a full-size 1911 because they are more reliable.” Well folks, I’m here to tell you this statement isn’t necessarily true. While it is true some ultra compact 1911s with barrel lengths under 3.5” often have reliability issues, there are other important factors involved such as spring weights, firing pin stop dimensions, ammunition selection and whether or not the pistol will push feed.

I began shooting 4” compact 1911s almost exclusively in the late 90s primarily due to my failing eyesight. It just became easier for me to get a good focus on the sights with them closer together. 100’s of thousands of rounds and several major IDPA match wins later, I can assure you a properly set-up and fed compact 1911 is every bit as reliable as any full size. As a final testament to my faith in a 4” compact, I carry one on my hip EVERY day, usually loaded with 160gr or 185gr Barnes TAC XP bullets.

The basic functional difference between a full-size (as John Browning designed it) 1911 pistol and a compact version with a 4.25” or shorter barrel is slide mass and speed. Basically anytime you reduce mass and propel it with the same energy you will get faster cycle speed. Why does this matter? The pistol needs a certain amount of time to eject a fired case, allow the magazine to lift, position the next round for proper feeding and chamber the round. When slide mass is reduced the slide cycle speed increases and there may not be time for this to all happen properly.

So we must slow the slide cycle speed down, which is accomplished by a combination of the following: a heavy hammer spring, a Square bottom firing pin stopAmmunition that generates less recoil impulse, and Proper recoil spring weight for the ammunition used.

It’s much easier to slow the slide down by making it harder for it to cock the hammer than it is to just add poundage to the recoil spring. What we’re doing here is increasing the force needed to cock the hammer with a heavier spring and reducing the slides ability to cock the hammer by lowering the leverage point on the hammer, thus slowing slide cycle speed.

At Wilson Combat we have also pioneered the use of modern flatwire recoil springs in Compact 1911 pistols. These springs will enhance your overall reliability since they hold their overall length and tension many times longer than standard round wire springs and the coils never go into bind.

After extensive testing we now put them in all our compact pistols.

This brings us to push feed. 1911 pistols are designed for controlled-round feeding, which means the cartridge is supposed to slide under the extractor hook as it feeds into the chamber. However, all 1911s don’t always do this, especially when slide speed is increased. This is really no big deal as long as the pistol is set up to push feed. This is simply the shaping of the front of the extractor hook so it can snap over the case rim without undue resistance. This is easy to check by putting a empty case in the chamber, slowly lowering the slide until the extractor contacts the case rim, then snapping the slide shut. You should be able to do this fairly easy with your thumb. If the slide won’t close or it takes both thumbs to close the pistol, it probably won’t push feed properly and the extractor needs adjusted.

All the mechanical changes are important, but the biggest factor is ammunition selection because it affects both slide cycle speed and the magazine’s ability to lift the cartridge into position for proper feeding. Ammunition loaded with 230gr bullets generate more recoil impulse (especially +P loads) than 185gr loads, and 7 rounds of 185gr ammunition weighs 315gr less than 7 rounds of 230gr ammunition, making the column of ammunition easier for the magazine spring to lift. I hope you see where I’m going here? With modern hollow point bullets we have LOTS of bullet choices of 200gr or less that have proven to be VERY effective in regards to terminal performance.

Here are my personal ammunition choices for compact 1911s:

 On The Range

 Defense

Handgun FAQ

Your new pistol is tightly fitted to very close tolerances to achieve maximum accuracy.

Even though a Wilson Combat pistol has been thoroughly tested by a professional test shooter with almost 100 rounds of our custom loaded ammunition, it will still require a thorough break-in to achieve reliable function across a broad spectrum of shooters and ammunition.

Load and unload your new magazines several times and keep them loaded for several days in advance of your first range day to allow the stiff springs to take an initial set.  This will make them easier to load and reduce pressure on the bottom of the slide that could cause a malfunction.

Ensure that your pistol is well lubricated with a light oil like Ultima Lube II Oil or Ultima Lube II Lite Oil during break in.

http://shopwilsoncombat.com/Ultima-Lube-II/products/432/

Shoot a minimum of 300- 500 rounds of full charge ammunition through your pistol prior to disassembly and cleaning for the first time.  Keep your custom pistol well lubricated throughout this break-in period. If you experience recurrent malfunctions, clean and lubricate your pistol during break in regardless of round count. Firearms will require fresh lubrication when new since most guns leave the shop with minimal lubricant added.

9mm pistols may require service ammunition for break in depending on the grip strength and stance of the shooter.

We recommend that you keep your custom handgun well lubricated during every shooting session. Lubricate the barrel chamber area, bushing area and the slide rails with oil like our Ultima Lube oil or Universal.  

http://shopwilsoncombat.com/Ultima-Lube-II/products/432/

Quality ammunition is important when shooting a 1911-style pistol. We suggest quality, domestic brass cased factory new ammunition for best results. It is important to use ammunition that closely approximates the profile of 230 FMJ ammunition for best reliability.

Your Wilson Combat pistol is a precision-fitted firearm and deserves high quality ammunition. The 1911 handgun design requires ammunition to fall between a range of parameters for proper function.

For factory ammunition, only our line of custom ammunition is specifically designed for 1911 handguns and it will be the optimum ammunition for your pistol.

http://shopwilsoncombat.com/Wilson-Combat-Custom-Handgun-Ammunition/departments/134/

We do not recommend +P, 230 grain ammunition in any compact 1911 handguns.

We do not recommend Critical Defense/Duty ammunition or other ammunition with a soft polymer tip.

Wilson Combat and other manufacturers have observed significant pistol damage from using Non-Toxic, Lead-Free Frangible Training ammunition.  The high-pressure of this type of ammunition combined with lead-free primers can cause gas cutting and breech face damage and is not recommended for use.

We are believers in the value of reloading your own ammunition for practice and competition. For these venues we especially like hard cast H&G 68 200 grain bullets loaded at 875 fps with an OAL of 1.250″ and a taper crimp of .468″-470″.

We recommend that your reloaded ammunition generally meet the following standards:

-1.250″-1.260″ OAL

-.468″-.470″ taper crimp at the case mouth

-800-850 fps muzzle velocity

-Tight bullet to case fit that resists “push back” when feeding

It is advised to clean your handgun thoroughly as soon as operation becomes sluggish or impaired.  We offer a full line of cleaning products for your firearms.

A complete video archive is available on our youtube.

Read through our manual for helpful tips.

1911 Magazine FAQ

Our magazine tubes have a lifetime satisfaction policy. We will replace any tube that spreads, cracks or becomes unusable during normal use. Springs and followers are considered consumable and may require replacing if you experience failures to clock back or failures to feed on the last round. Plastic baseplates will break if you drop a loaded magazine on a hard surface. We recommend metal baseplates for hard use.

Because we use extra power springs for improved feeding and lockback, your unloaded magazine should not allow the slide to drop when empty by using the slide release.  When the magazine is loaded with ammunition it will be easy to drop the slide using the slide release.

It is not an important tactical feature for an empty magazine to allow the slide to drop over it. Flawless feeding and reliable lockback on empty are more important.

If your pistol is made on the high end of magazine catch/frame specifications a fully-loaded, new magazine may be difficult to seat. This can often be rectified by allowing the springs the break in by leaving the magazines loaded before your first time shooting them, or by repeatedly loading them by hand until the springs relax and take a set. Some pistols may even require a different magazine like our ETM model that has a longer tube and is generally easier to seat.

To accommodate the wide variety of bullet profiles your magazine has been designed with exacting tolerances. Occasionally the follower will catch on the magazine catch notch on the tube, if this happens simply push it back in the tube with your fingernail while loading. Eventually as your magazine is used this will lessen over time.

Even though we use the strongest magazine springs in the industry, some pistols have such excessive tolerances in the magazine well–slidestop internal lobe area that some magazines will not reliably lock back on empty even when new. This is a known problem with some Springfield Armory pistols. You may need to have a gunsmith replace, polish or fit your slide stop for proper function. This may also be an indication that your springs need replacing.

All of our magazines baseplates are sized for a very snug fit on the bottom of the tube and with the retention plate.  After installing a 1911 magazine baseplate you may need to rap the baseplate against your workbench to ensure that the baseplate is seated.

No, failure to extract and eject, especially on the last round, is typically a problem with the pistol’s extractor. A 1911 pistol with a loose extractor will drag the last empty case across the magazine lips on the way out of the pistol, potentially ruining the magazine in the process. This usually results in a failure to eject the last round.  Pistols with external extractors, clocking extractors or broken extractors can suffer from this.  Make sure your pistol’s extractor holds an empty case firm against the breechface before you blame your magazine.  If your pistol has a failure to feed the last round it may indicate you need new springs or a magazine with heavier springs like our HD/+P magazines.

Yes and No.  In a pinch you can use full-size magazines in a compact frame, but it is not recommended for carry or service use since the longer magazines can over-insert into the frame on a reload, causing malfunctions and damage to your pistol. You will be better served using appropriate magazines for your pistol.

Magazine Sizes offered

We have 2 basic sizes of 1911 magazines– Full size and Compact.

Full Size: http://shopwilsoncombat.com/Full-Size-1911/departments/2/

Compact: http://shopwilsoncombat.com/Compact-Officers-1911/departments/3/

Spreadsheet of magazine compatibility by brand: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/16394686/magazine-spreadsheet.xlsx

Full size is the traditional USGI 1911 frame size.  Most 1911 pistols are “full size.” Full-size grips have a measurement of 3.0625″ of center-to-center between the grip screws.

Compact denotes a smaller frame similar in size to Wilson Compact, Colt Officers ACP or Kimber Compact/Ultra Series. Compact grips have a measurement of 2.6875″ center to center.

This includes all of our models listed here:

http://wilsoncombat.com/new/custom-gun-models.asp

Finish/Wear FAQ

In a nutshell, all firearms finishes– even Armor-Tuff– will show wear over time. Metal-on-metal contact will eventually cause wear to moving parts and ejected brass will leave impact marks on the ejection port area. This is common and expected.  Brass marks can be influenced by shooter, ammunition choice, recoil spring weight and lubrication. Most brass marks can be removed with copper solvent on a patch.  Our finishes are designed to prevent corrosion, add lubrication, and reduce the firearm’s visual signature, but will show wear from metal-on-metal contact as soon as you use the firearm.

EDC X9 INFORMATION

Yes, the EDC X9 magazine was co-developed with Mec-Gar of Italy and is proprietary to the EDC X9. This magazine will not fit or function in any other handgun. It is extremely feed reliable, holds 15 rounds, is numbered and black fluoropolymer coated. A 10-round magazine will be available soon. We hope to have various base pad options available after launch.

Yes, the EDC X9 front sight is proprietary and is designed to be user replaceable.  We will offer a variety of front sights for customers to choose from after launch.

The EDC X9 will typically function with any quality 9mm Luger (9×19 Para) ammunition with a power factor (bullet weight X velocity) greater than 125,000. This includes most bulk loaded ammunition through +P rated ammunition.  We do not recommend the use of +P+ ammunition or any other ammunition outside of SAAMI specifications. The EDC X9 is 100% feed reliable with a wide variety of hollow point ammunition.

Even though the EDC X9’s X-Frame reduced rail design and Enhanced Reliability System is not as lubrication dependent as a typical 1911-style pistol, we still recommend lubrication of internal metal-metal contact surfaces. Proper lubrication of barrel locking surfaces and slide rails will enhance overall reliability and extend the service life of the pistol.

The flatwire recoil spring lifespan of the X9 will exceed 10,000 rounds in our testing.  The extractor spring has a similar service life.  To retain drop safety we suggest changing the firing pin spring every 5000 rounds.  The sear spring and magazine catch spring should never require replacement. The use of a SHOK-BUFF recoil buffer is recommended, but optional.

The EDC X9 has many parts in common with the 1911. The recoil spring, guide rod, spring plug, firing pin, firing pin stop, hammer, sear, disconnector, magazine catch spring, magazine catch lock and plunger spring will interchange with standard Wilson Combat 1911 parts. We plan to have a selection of EDC X9 specific replacement parts available for purchase after launch.

The EDC X9 will fit in most leather or kydex holsters designed for a 4” “compact” or 4.25” “Commander” 1911. The magazines will fit in pouches designed for the Beretta 90 series or Walther PPQ. The optional rail frame will handle most compact or full size handgun weapon lights on the market.

The grips of the EDC X9 are proprietary and a joint venture with VZ grips.  They are aggressively textured G-10 material and available in various colors.  If you find the grips too coarse for your hands you can lightly polish the grips to your preferred feel with 320 or similar grit sandpaper.

The EDC X9 and its parts have been 100% designed and the major parts are manufactured by Wilson Combat in our Berryville, AR facility.  The frame is machined from billet 7075-T6 aluminum, the slide and barrel are 416R stainless steel. The G-10 grips are made by VZ grips.

Every Day Carry Extra Capacity 9mm.

The EDC X9 has vetted reliability.  

The EDC X9 has been extensively tested by a cadre of test shooters across the country.  These shooters contributed to the testing and evaluation phase of the EDC X9 and shot thousands and thousands of rounds through prototype guns to thoroughly vet the design.  Internal testing proved that the EDC X9 was extremely feed reliable with durability that meets or exceeds most modern service pistols. The 15 round Mec-Gar magazine is extremely reliable and designed for service use.  We have had no magazine related failures in our testing.

The EDC X9 includes the Wilson Combat ERS “Enhanced Reliability System” for 1911 style handguns.  

The “ERS” includes: Robust spring-loaded external extractor that improves extraction in all conditions with all types of ammunition; A match grade, fluted barrel with single lug geometry to reduce cycling friction, enhance slide velocity, and improve feed reliability; Removal of the frame rails around the mag opening to further reduce friction and promote function in adverse shooting environments; A low mass, Tri-Top slide profile for reduced muzzle flip and enhanced cycling; And a user-replaceable front sight and rugged new elevation adjustable Tactical Battlesight with click adjustments to easily adjust vertical point of impact.

The EDC X9 frame has two backstrap sizes available to customize the fit of the EDC X9 to your hand size.  You can customize your EDC X9 based on your personal glove size.

The sizing below is accurate for most hands.

For a generic fit, most shooters can use the small backstrap / medium trigger acceptably well.

Small: small backstrap / short trigger

Medium: small backstrap / medium trigger

Large: large backstrap / medium trigger

X-Large: large backstrap / long trigger

The EDC X9 has a 1911 Heritage.

The trigger pull and layout is all 1911. The trigger feel and precise action are everything you have been used to with a fine, custom 1911 with various trigger lengths to fit different shooters hand sizes.  The EDC X-9 is highly accurate and comparable to other Wilson Combat compact 1911 style handguns.  We guarantee 1.5” groups at 25 yards with match grade ammunition.

The EDC X9 has a small, compact design with 1911 style controls and features.  

The EDC X9 is smaller than comparable carry guns like the Glock 19, Commander, and Hi-Power with an extremely compact and ergonomic grip design.  No grip screws, bushings or two-piece frame allows minimum size and compact feel.  The unitized X-Frame is rigid, robust and purpose-built to deliver a reliable high capacity 1911 style solution.

EDC X9 Maintenance Video

Bill Wilson On the 9mm 1911

Previously there have been several legitimate reasons for the lack of popularity of 1911 pistols chambered in 9mm Luger. Primarily, poor functional reliability (mostly due to magazines and lack of proper extractors), poor accuracy and inadequate terminal performance of 9mm ammunition.

Well that’s all changed now and there are several reasons I personally see a dramatic revival in popularity of the 1911 9mm in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I still like my 1911 .45s as well as my Colt Pythons and always will, but due to the reasons listed below I find myself shooting them less and less as time goes by. For me at least, a 1911 9mm or a Beretta 92 9mm will pretty much do anything I need –self-defense or range– and these days either a 1911 ULC compact 9mm or a Wilson Combat customized Beretta 92 compact is my daily carry pistol. Which one I carry is dictated by whichever platform I’m shooting the most at any given time. I carry EVERY DAY, and as I write this my ULC compact 9mm is on my hip in a Lo-Profile II concealment holster.

Several manufacturers of 1911 pistols now know how to build reliable 9mm 1911s. With our local shooting group (we shoot a LOT) and classes, I rarely see a firearm-related function problem with 9mm 1911s, and certainly not as many as we do with .45s. My buddy Ken Hackathorn does a LOT of training these days and he tells me he observes the same thing.  Quality 1911 9mm pistols just work. I know at Wilson Combat® we have put much effort into quality components for 9mm and figuring out how to improve their function and accuracy.

There are at least three 9mm 1911 magazines on the market now that enhance functional reliability over traditional older designs. Wilson Combat® will be releasing an all new magazine in late August 2015 that will reset the standard for 1911 9mm magazines. As far as capacity goes, with modern self-defense loads, I like 11 rounds of 9mm a lot better than I like 9 rounds of .45!!!

Due to vastly improved bullet designs and propellants, the 9mm can now easily hold it’s own with .40 and .45 calibers in terms of downrange terminal effectiveness. The FBI’s recent announcement that they were switching back to 9mm obviously validates the terminal performance of the caliber. For hand-loaders, the latest Vihtivuori reloading guide lists 3N37 loads that will push a 115 gr. to 1305 fps and a 124 gr. to 1236 fps, and a serious self defense load with 3N38 that will push a 147 gr. to 1207 fps. That’s performance previously reserved for the .38 Super.

Let’s face it, if you want to be proficient with a handgun you have to shoot a substantial amount of ammo and it is expensive these days. At current street prices you can almost shoot 2 rounds of 9mm for the cost of 1 round of .45. Bottom line is 9mm ammunition is dramatically cheaper to buy or to hand-load than .45. Less cost means more shooting!

We do a lot of shooting here at the CWC Ranch between our local shooting group and the training classes we put on. Without exception, everyone shoots a 9mm better than a .45, often DRAMATICALLY better as is the case with students of small stature and/or female.

While quality .45s typically are inherently very accurate, so are 1911s in 9mm, possibly even more so. Take NRA Action Pistol competition for example, almost all the top competitors shoot some form of 1911 9mm, and this sport requires superb accuracy to be competitive. In addition to the inherent accuracy capability of the pistol/ammunition combination, less recoil and often less muzzle blast equals easier to shoot accurately.

A pistol in 9mm endures much less battering than the same pistol in .40 S&W or .45 ACP, which results in a substantially longer service life. Instance of parts breakage is also reduced and recoil springs last dramatically longer. While I have no proof of this, I personally believe a 9mm built on a 7075-T6 aluminum frame will last as long as a .45 built on a steel frame. I’m basing this opinion on the lack of wear on my personal aluminum frame 9mm 1911 and Beretta pistols.

In the first issue of Harris Publication’s BALLISTIC magazine they did a survey of 19 well known firearms experts, myself included, asking about our preferred self-defense caliber. The results were overwhelmingly 9mm. Top trainers like Ken Hackathorn, Larry Vickers, Mike Seeklander and Frank Proctor all have gravitated to 9mm. The fact that old die hard .45 guys like Hackathorn and Vickers are gravitating to 9mm tells us a lot.

Top Tips on Running a 9mm 1911

A 1911 in 9mm will typically feed and fire most Full Metal Jacket (ball) ammunition and jacketed hollow point ammunition that closely follows the profile of FMJ ammunition. Since the 9mm cartridge has a tapered case and is shorter overall than the 1911 was originally designed for, jacketed hollow point ammunition must be loaded on the long side to prevent nose-down failures to feed, approximately 1.135” – 1.150″. We suggest our customers shoot 124gr FMJ from reputable mfg such as Fed, Win, Rem, Speer, PMC for the first 500rds.

We recommend the following ammunition for best results:

Range / Target / Match:

Any name brand quality FMJ RN that has a power factor of 126,000 or more and an Overall length of 1.110” or longer (1.150” is ideal)

 

Self-Defense Carry Ammunition:

Federal 115 gr. Personal Defense 9BP

Hornady 135 gr. Critical Duty

Remington 124 gr. Golden Sabre

Remington 147 gr. Golden Sabre

Remington 147 gr. HTP High Terminal Performance

Speer 124 gr. or 147 gr. Gold Dot

Wilson Custom Ammunition 95 gr. Barnes TAC-XP

Wilson Custom Ammunition 124 gr. Speer Gold Dot

Winchester 124 gr. or 147 gr. PDX1 Defender

A properly broken-in and sprung 9mm 1911 will shoot any factory ammunition from a tame standard velocity load to +P+ major caliber factory ammunition and reloads. Be advised if you are shooting +P or +P+ ammunition to be observant of any signs of excessive pressure like swollen case heads, pierced or flattened primers, or primer material flowing into the firing pin hole as this debris can cause a failure to fire.

Use plenty of lubrication during break in and thereafter. We find that most service issues are caused by under lubricating or too-heavy viscosity lubricant in 9mm pistols.

We recommend the following lubricants for best results:

Under 60° F: Wilson Combat Ultima-Lube II Light Oil, Break Free LP or Shooters Choice FP-10. These lubricants should be used during the break in regardless of temperature.

Over 60° F: Wilson Combat Ultima-Lube II Oil, Lucas Extreme Duty Oil or Lucas Gun Oil

All Around: WC Ultima-Lube II Light Oil, Shooter Choice FP-10, EWL Slip 2000, Break-Free LP

NEVER Use any Form of Grease on a 9mm Pistol!

Make sure you tailor your recoil spring to the ammunition loads at hand. Our full-size 9mm handguns come standard with an 11# recoil spring installed and a 12.5# for use after break in or with hotter loads. For light loads during break in, you may need to clip up to 2 coils off of the recoil spring to run reliably if you do not have a firm grip. A 9mm 1911 will not require a SHOK-BUFF, but one can be used in 5” pistols. A compact 9mm pistol usually has a 10# flat-wire recoil spring installed and an 11# flat-wire included for use after break in or for use with hotter loads.

Make sure your magazines are clean and the springs have taken a set. Our ETM 9mm magazines are the most reliable 1911 9mm magazines on the market, but when new, the springs are very strong to ensure proper round position and last round lock back. It’s a good idea to load your new magazines prior to heading to the range and let the springs take their initial set.

Clean your 9mm 1911 every 300 rounds for best results. Excessive fouling from cheap powder in most inexpensive 9mm ammunition will cause your pistol to quickly become sluggish and will lose the energy required to strip, feed and chamber a round from the magazine. The key to keeping your 1911 9mm running is keeping it clean and well lubed with a light viscosity lubricant.

If your pistol locks back manually on an empty magazine but you experience a failure to lock back on empty when shooting, you likely need a lighter recoil spring or should use a higher velocity or heavier bullet loading. Make sure there is no SHOK-BUFF installed on the guide rod of 4” or shorter barrel pistols.

If you experience a failure to feed or chamber, your handgun is probably under-lubricated, lubricated with too thick of oil or fouled. We find that a 9mm 1911 must be kept cleaner than a similar .45 ACP handgun for best reliability. 1911 9mm pistols simply do not like some blunt hollow point loadings and more pointed bullet profiles should be used such as: Hornady Critical Defense, Remington HTP or Winchester PDX.

If you experience a failure to eject, the slide is not coming far enough to the rear and it indicates you may need a lighter recoil spring or your ammunition is underpowered.

Sight Height Guide

Sight Radius is measured from the rear of the front and rear sights. (The side closest to your eye when aiming)

Sight Height is the measured distance between the top of the slide, and the top of the front sight.

Since identical pistols often use different front sight heights, you need to be able to determine the height that you need.  For example, if you would like to raise your point of impact, use a shorter front sight. Likewise, if you wish to lower your point of impact, use a taller front sight. However, If you are happy with your current point of impact, order a replacement front sight of the same height as your current sight.

WARNING: ALL MEASUREMENTS SHOULD BE DONE WITH AN UNLOADED GUN WITH NO AMMUNITION IN THE VICINITY

In order to calculate this adjustment, you take the sight radius times impact distance, and divide by the target distance in inches, which will then equal your sight height change

(Sight Radius * Impact Distance) / Target Distance In Inches = Sight Height Change

EXAMPLE: Your gun shoots 2 inches low, at 15 yards (540”) Your sight radius is 6.9”. Your front sight height is  .210”.  

( 6.9”  * 2” ) / 540” = .026” shorter site needed.

Then you take your current site height minus change required. .210” – .026”, tells you that your new sight height should be .180” tall.

How do I keep my 9mm 1911 functioning reliably?

Keeping your 1911 chambered in 9mm functioning flawlessly requires a little more care and knowledge than your average 1911 chambered for the traditional .45 ACP. This is primarily due to the fact that 9mm pistols operate with lighter recoil springs, and that there are several 9mm magazines on the market that simply don’t enhance functional reliability. Here are some tips that will keep your lighter caliber 1911s functioning properly.

Keep the pistol clean. Giving your pistol a quick field strip and clean, especially the breach face and chamber, will go a long way toward reliable function. I recommend a quick clean/lube regiment every 300 rounds for range use and once a month for your carry pistol.

Check your extractor adjustment while you have the pistol disassembled. The extractor and its adjustment is the heart of any 1911 in any caliber with regards to reliable function. It should take approximately 3 lbs. of pressure for you to slide a loaded cartridge up under the extractor hook and it should firmly hold the cartridge against the breach face. In addition, you should be able to drop a cartridge into the chamber with the slide locked open and ease the slide closed until the slide is held open approximately 3/8” because the front of the extractor hook is resting on the cartridge rim. Once in this position, you should be able to push on the rear of the slide without using an excessive amount of pressure and the extractor should snap over the case rim causing the slide to fully close. This is called push feeding and all semi-auto pistol designs will do this from time to time, therefore your extractor must be adjusted so your pistol will push feed when required to do so.

Keep your pistol lubricated with the proper lubricant. Most of the pistol warranty issues we see at Wilson Combat® are either dirty and dry or are lubricated with a too-heavy viscosity lubricant and often way too much of it. ALL METAL FRAME PISTOLS REQUIRE LUBRICATION!!! The more metal-to-metal contact surface the pistol design has (1911s have a lot), the more critical proper lubrication is. Temperature is a big factor in choosing a proper lubricant. Cold temperatures combined with heavy lubricants are guaranteed to reduce the functional reliability of your pistol. Additionally, caliber and recoil spring weight affect your selection of a lubricant. Lighter sprung calibers such as 9mm simply do not run well with heavy lubricants. NEVER use any form of grease on a 9mm pistol.

Recommended Lubricants for 9mm 1911 Pistols

Under 60 degrees F: Wilson Combat Ultima-Lube II Light Oil, Break Free LP or Shooters Choice FP-10

Over 60 degrees F: Wilson Combat Ultima-Lube II Oil, Lucas Extreme Duty Oil or Lucas Gun Oil

All 1911 magazines are not created equal and magazine quality and design have a large bearing on functional reliability. Currently (as of Aug. 2015) there are only a few reliable 9mm 1911 magazines on the market, and only a couple that I am aware of that can be trusted to feed hollow point and flat point ammunition. Choose your magazines wisely and thoroughly test them with the ammunition you plan to carry for self-defense.

A tight/firm grip on the pistol has a substantial effect on how well your pistol functions. As barrel length decreases, a tight/firm firing grip on the pistol becomes more and more critical for proper reliable function. 1911 9mm pistols with a 4” or shorter barrel (especially if built on an aluminum frame) require full charge ammunition and a tight/firm grip to function reliably. A weak grip and limp wrist WILL cause malfunctions with an inherently reliable properly maintained pistol, using good magazines and shooting good ammunition!

Most 1911 9mm caliber pistols will function properly with a recoil spring in the 11# – 13# range if a tight/firm grip and proper ammunition is used. Conventional music wire recoil springs should be replaced every 3,000 rounds, chrome silicone round wire springs every 20,000, rounds and chrome silicone flat wire springs every 40,000 rounds. Ideally you want to run the heaviest recoil spring that will function properly with the lightest ammunition you plan to shoot. To check for spring weight/ammunition compatibility, go to the range and load a single round in the chamber using a magazine proven to reliably lock the slide open on the last shot fired. Fire the shot weak hand only, and if you can do this with reliable slide lock operation 10 consecutive times your recoil spring is not too heavy for your ammunition. Ideally you want the heaviest recoil spring that will pass this simple test because, the heavier the spring, the more positive the feeding of cartridges from the magazine to chamber.

Light Selection Guide

Our new compact size frames now feature the ability to attach full size lights. For a full chart of what lights work on which of our older frame types, please click here.