Springfield/Warren 9mm 1911 Endurance Test: Report #2

24-Jul-12 – 10:15 by ToddG
4,524 rounds 1 stoppage 0 malfunctions 0 parts breakages
1 mag deadlined

It’s been a busy week for the test gun: daily dry fire and five days of live fire including a 2-day Rangemaster Combative Pistol course taught by Tom Givens.

In what will no doubt be a shock to pistol-training.com regulars, I cleaned the gun. In fact, it has been cleaned twice since the last report. But first the gun successfully passed the 2,000 Round Challenge. Honestly, I never thought that would happen with a 9mm 1911… especially one as tightly fit and accurate as the test gun.

Then, as if knowing it had proved its reliability in a way exceeding almost everyone’s expectations, it experienced a few hiccups.

The first problem occurred on Friday 20-July during practice. Round count was somewhere between 2,780 and 2,830. It was a classic failure to extract (see photo at left). I was forced to do a lot of soul searching in determining how to assign guilt for this stoppage. The ammo in use was commercially reloaded from a well known and well respected company. However, the report and recoil from round to round was very inconsistent and I even considered cutting my practice short at one point because of it. After the practice session I decided not to shoot any more of that ammo through the test gun. Furthermore, inspection of remaining ammo from the same batch shows some very beat up brass, particularly at the rim of some rounds. In the end I discussed the stoppage with some trusted friends and experts. I’ve decided not to count it in the tally against the gun. But as always, the details are here for others to assess and draw their own conclusions.

On Sunday 22-July during the Rangemaster class, the gun experienced another stoppage. Again the circumstances were odd but this one is counted against the gun. We were shooting a version of the “DTI Dance” which includes a dummy round loaded into the gun to simulate a stoppage. Ironically, immediately upon clearing the dummy round the pistol fired a single shot and that piece of brass failed to eject. It was lying loose atop the next round in the magazine. I cleared it immediately during the test so do not have a photo. While the timing is odd, the round fed and fired properly after the dummy round was long gone. So, that counts as the first official gun-induced stoppage of the test at round count #3,920.

One of the Metalform magazines also developed a problem that showed up during dry fire practice. Mag #7 stopped locking the slide back when empty about half the time. It’s notable that this is the mag associated with both of the stoppages mentioned above. That could just be a coincidence, but out of eight training mags this one was involved with both problems the gun has suffered so far. It’s been culled from the range kit. I’ve decided to separate out the rejected (deadlined) magazines from other parts breakages in the tally at the top of each report.

In terms of my shooting performance, reloads continue to be my major weakness in running the gun. There are three points at which I’m making mistakes inconsistently: mag drop (hitting the catch), mag insertion, and slide release (hitting the slide stop). Almost all of the dry fire I’ve been doing has been dedicated to that. The result is that I’m making fewer mistakes and thus seeing fewer outlier bad/fumbled reloads. But my good reloads are still far from where I’d like them to be. I’d predicted that the extra step of dropping the slide with my support hand would add a quarter second to my reload but in my heart I’d hoped it wouldn’t be true. So far, it’s been true.

The gun is wearing fairly thick stocks (Crimson Trace Lasergrips) which, combined with my stubby thumbs and more than a decade of using my trigger finger to drop a magazine rather than my thumb, made reloads glacially slow. I’ve now installed an Ed Brown extended magazine catch. The catch needed major fitting as it would neither allow a magazine to be inserted (no pressure on the mag catch button) nor allow a mag to drop free (when the button was pushed in all the way). My totally inexpert Dremel and sandpaper work was adequate to the task but I’ve got both a 10-8 mag catch and a custom Heirloom Precision (thanks, Jason!) extended catch on their way.

Tom Givens (L) and ToddG (R) at Tom's Combative Pistol class in Culpeper, VA July 2012

As expected, the biggest challenge with the crisp trigger break has been anticipation. During the Rangemaster class we shot a number of qualification standards and while I was able to score 100% on all of them, at the 25yd line I definitely launched a few that danced precariously close to being outside the 8″ scoring zone. That’s just sloppy trigger work on my part and a habit I’m going to have to break. Most of Monday’s practice session was spent working on 2″ dots at speed to help exterminate the jerks and snatches infesting my trigger finger.

Otherwise, shooting has been pretty easy. Draws are straightforward, though they require me to position my thumb differently at the holster and that’s another habit that sometimes creeps back in. Press-outs are absolutely the same: sights, trigger, bang. If anything, I’d say I’m having an easier time doing good press-outs with the 1911 than I did with the Glock. Splits are ridiculously easy on high% targets. On low% targets I’m seeing more muzzle movement than I’d like. I may try going from a 12# to an 11# recoil spring.

In the coming week I won’t get as much opportunity to practice, but I’ll be teaching my first class while shooting the 1911. That should make for some fun — or possibly funny — demonstrations. Check back next week to hear all about the parts I’m willing to admit publicly…

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

(photo from Givens Combative Pistol class courtesy of Tom & Lynn Givens)

You can also follow and discuss via the pistol-forum.com 2012-2013 Endurance Test thread.

Previous Springfield/Warren 9mm 1911 Endurance Test posts at pistol-training.com:


  1. 22 Responses to “Springfield/Warren 9mm 1911 Endurance Test: Report #2”

  2. I would count it as two malfunctions. Think about how bad a rim has to be to be the culprit; and if it was so bad it’s likely you would have noticed it when you loaded it. Please don’t become a 1911 apologist :).

    By Matt on Jul 24, 2012

  3. 11 and 12 pounds is light. The slide is going to come back more violently and the rounds in the mag are going to want stay where they are. I believe that can cause them to jump out of the mag and cause feeding issues. Supposedly tight slide to frame fit makes a difference in this as well and can let you get away with a lighter spring.

    “standard” is 16 pounds which is quite stout.

    By Ariel Weisberg on Jul 24, 2012

  4. The gun came with a twelve pound recoil spring.

    By ToddG on Jul 24, 2012

  5. 16 pounds is common for a .45

    People who like to protect their frame a little more often opt for a 18.5 pound spring.

    1911s chambered in .40S&W often run a 19lb spring, and my personal 10mm 1911 (5″) runs a 24lb spring which actually allows my warm .40 reloads (Georgia-Arms canned-heat to be exact) to cycle the slide as well.

    11 to 12 pounds is very common for a 9mm 1911 though if it’s cycling smoothly, I’ve seen people run as low as 8 pounds.

    By Billy on Jul 24, 2012

  6. I’ve had the same issue happen with a couple of Metalforms, and one Wilson.

    I didn’t get to shoot with Givens when I hosted his class, so many people signed up there wasn’t room on the line ;-[

    By The Duck on Jul 24, 2012

  7. Billy — Thanks!

    Matt — Any time the stoppage is questionable, it becomes a case where someone is going to disagree with the analysis I made. That’s why I publish as much information as I can. Folks who disagree with the “official” count can draw their own conclusions. In this case, it really boils down to something I cannot convey adequately with words: if you were behind the gun pulling the trigger, hearing the widely varying muzzle report, and feeling the significant difference in recoil from shot to shot you’d be hard pressed to declare the ammo in-spec.

    By ToddG on Jul 24, 2012

  8. Oops, forgot that this is a 9mm.

    By Ariel Weisberg on Jul 24, 2012

  9. Have to say that so far this test has really got me rethinking some of my past experiences with 9mm 1911’s… yours seems to be running like a champ. I’ve witnessed many, and a owned couple that ran horribly, but I also had one that was 99% reliable with FMJ (maybe 75% reliable w/ JHP), so who knows..?

    As for the recoil-spring weight, and with the above said, the 9mm 1911 that ran the best for me spent the majority of it’s time with an 8lb or 9lb spring installed and seemed to run better the lighter I went.

    A hardcore USPSA SSTK guy I know had told me when I started running a 1911 that the gun would let me know how light of a recoil-spring it liked; as long as the gun would strip a fresh round from slide-lock using the slide-release reliably, then lighter was more bueno (as generally lighter shoots flatter and feels softer): for some 9mm 1911’s this means a 12lb spring, for others, a 7lb spring will get it done.

    I’d be curious to hear your observations if you were to burn some rounds trying out a few different spring weights..?

    By ChipK on Jul 24, 2012

  10. Todd, I know you like the laser grips, but you might want to merely try thin grips or the Wiley Clapp “Tactical Oval” grips. I have a relatively short thumb too. Thin VZ Gator Back’s with a normal mag catch were helpful to me. However, I’ve considered trying the 10-8 mag catch with the thin grips. Keep your powder dry, John

    By John on Jul 24, 2012

  11. Any guesses on what about out-of-spec ammo would cause a failure to extract? It doesn’t sound like the case was bulged.

    By MT on Jul 24, 2012

  12. I would count it as two malfunctions. Think about how bad a rim has to be to be the culprit; and if it was so bad it’s likely you would have noticed it when you loaded it. Please don’t become a 1911 apologist :) .

    INTERNET GUN RULE #1.5: If it happens with a Blastomatic 2000, it’s the fault of the mag, ammo, or shooter. If it happens with a 1911, it’s the fault craptastic antique design.

    (INTERNET GUN RULE #1.0: My gun rules. Your gun sucks.)

    By Tam on Jul 24, 2012

  13. re: Master Series LaserGrips…

    Incidentally, I managed to give at least three CTC employees a good-natured ration of $#!+ for releasing exactly what I’d asked for about three months after I stopped carrying a 1911. (I guess it took that long for product development since I’d pestered them about it at Blackwater…)

    By Tam on Jul 24, 2012

  14. Todd, could you privately (email) let me know the maker of the reloaded ammo involved with the failure to extract? I’ve had a similar issue extraction with a S&W 9mm 1911 and I’m starting to think it could be ammo related.

    By Daniel Corriveau on Jul 25, 2012

  15. Daniel — It was Atlanta Arms.

    By ToddG on Jul 25, 2012

  16. “Kind of like a Harley you have to like to work on them” Vickers

    By Brian Ellington on Jul 25, 2012

  17. I’m just glad that we have someone who after years of riding Hondas and Yamahas is going to put a Harley through a year long test.

    Todd, you’ve stated that the test gun is the “Green” model. Does the “Grey” or backup gun ever get used?

    By Tango on Jul 25, 2012

  18. Tango — Simple question, complicated answer. First, “Green” is now wearing the grey grips because the green grips stopped working. I’m contacting CTC about that today. The back-up gun doesn’t get shot with any regularity. The idea is to keep it relatively pristine so if something goes wrong with the test gun, I can pick up the backup and drive on like nothing’s happened.

    By ToddG on Jul 25, 2012

  19. I run a S&W 1911 9mm with external extractor. Initially, had a big issue with double feeds exactly as Todd’s picture. Took it to a 1911 extraction specialist (local gunsmith) and I haven’t had a single malf since — ~1000rnds. But I’ve also used high quality ammo (and personal reloads).

    I’ve used Atlanta Arms in a couple 9mm 1911’s and I’d say 1-of-50 malfunctions. But I’ve found the same with several other mfg’s. Not all 9mm loads are created equal as applied to 1911’s. It seems polymer pistols are like Mikey, “they’ll eat anything”. 9mm 1911’s are like athletes; very picky about what they eat.

    The one major thing to consider when lowering recoil spring weight is frame and slide battering. If the spring weight is too low (or rounds too “hot”), the recoil guide rod can batter against the back of the feed ramp on the frame. Very bad for metal-against-metal; don’t care on polymer frames. (That’s also why you never slam the slide forward on an empty chamber in 1911’s — barrel on slide.) This battering can cause frame and slide cracks. That’s why recoil spring buffers were invented.

    If you notice indentations in the front of the feed ramp on the frame and/or on the back of the guide rod, the recoil spring is too light for the loads being used. It takes a while to get that bad. Wearing in those areas is normal; indentations are not.

    By GhettoSmack on Jul 25, 2012

  20. The HK45’s record remains safe. I’m starting to think the only gun that might beat the HK45 is the USP45. That Springfield is a good looking gun though.

    By Mark on Jul 25, 2012

  21. I wonder what would happen if you ran the questionable ammo through a different gun?

    By David Hicks on Jul 26, 2012

  22. GhettoSmack,

    (That’s also why you never slam the slide forward on an empty chamber in 1911?s — barrel on slide.)

    Not to nitpick, but ‘barrel on slide’ happens in all locking-breech tilting-barrel Browning-pattern guns.

    The slide-dropping thing on 1911s is to preserve the knife-edge whittled onto the sear of old Bullseye guns and is of questionable relevance with a modern, quality 1911. (Although it’s still bad manners. 😉 )

    By Tam on Jul 27, 2012

  23. What bullet weight was the Ammo that had the issues? I shoot a lot of their 147 grain subsonic and it is loaded very light. It is a load designed to just barely make minor power factor for USPSA.

    By Bryan on Aug 3, 2012

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