Looking at the first 50,000 rounds of the SACS/Warren 1911 test, people seem drawn to one of two diametrically opposed opinions:
- A Mean Rounds Between Stoppages of better than 3,500 is impressive, it did great!
- Previous test guns were more reliable, it did horrible!
First, let’s get the harsh reality into the light. This gun was less reliable than the Smith, HK P30, HK45, and even the troubled gen4 Glock. No matter how you massage the data, the other guns proved more reliable. In some cases, the other guns were substantially more reliable.
But is “less reliable” the same as “unreliable?”
Fourteen stoppages in 50,000 rounds is a MRBS of 3,571. That’s almost twice as good as the industry standard 2,000 MRBS. It’s also as good or better than the results I’ve seen from many government agency procurement tests. So objectively, the gun is reliable… but not as reliable as other guns tested.
Looking at the 1911 stoppages, magazine issues are a major culprit. Three occurred due to the Metalform feed lips giving up the round too quickly during the feed process. At least two more were caused by the Wilson ETM magazine’s positioning of the top round very far forward which can lead to feed problems if the slide doesn’t move forward with full force. Eight of the fourteen stoppages occurred within the first 13,000 rounds before I switched to a 14# variable recoil spring at the advice of Heirloom Precision’s Jason Burton.
So in true 1911 fanatic fashion, if I dismiss all the problems before settling on Wilson magazines and the 14# recoil spring, after that the gun had just six stoppages in 37,266 rounds… a MRBS of 6,211! That beats the Glock gen4 gun and the P30! But that is massaging the data, and while it may influence how I personally feel about relying on the gun in its current configuration, it’s not an honest assessment of the 50,000 test.
Let’s look at the reality of the reliability from the entire test. What does an MRBS of 3,571 mean?
Odds of having a stoppage during a 6-shot F.A.S.T. run: 1 in 596
Odds of having a stoppage emptying all 11 rounds in the gun: 1 in 325
Odds of having a stoppage while firing all 31 rounds I carry normally: 1 in 116
Odds of having a stoppage during a typical 75-round match: 1 in 48
Odds of having a stoppage during 200 rounds of demos in an AFHF class: 1 in 18
(for those who like the 6,211 number better, the results would be, respectively: 1036, 565, 201, 83, and 32)
It’s also worth noting that while four parts broke during the 50,000 round test, none of them had an immediate impact on reliability or performance. The first part to break was the mainspring housing pin, which would have performed perfectly in its broken condition until the gun was next disassembled. Two broken ejectors each went hundreds and hundreds of rounds without inducing a stoppage, a result which actually inspired many readers to recommend getting away from the extended ejector altogether. The other “breakage” was peening of the slide stop notch in the slide, which may have exacerbated problems with my grip preventing the slide from locking back on an empty magazine.
So is the gun reliable or not? As I’m sure the comments will demonstrate, it’s a matter open to debate. Yes, one chance in three hundred twenty five is mathematically worse than one chance in 1,516 (e.g., the HK45). And I wouldn’t fault someone who made a decision based on that. But realistically we’re down to “angels on the head of a pin” equations at that point. For me personally, even the 3,571 number is well past my personal threshold. Because while it’s easy to get wrapped up in the numbers and the calculations, the reality is that the gun’s reliability is likely to be the least of my worries in any stressful situation. Which is why it’s on my belt as I type this post, and why I’ll be carrying it until the next 50,000 round test begins.
And if I’m wrong, it will make for a great blog post by my successor, right?
Train hard & stay safe! ToddG