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

27-Sep-12 – 18:13 by ToddG

16,071 rounds 8 stoppages 0 malfunctions 0 parts breakages
6 mags deadlined

It’s been more than 3,300 rounds since the three stoppages I experienced with my carry ammo and mags. The gun has been functioning properly ever since I swapped to a 14# variable recoil spring per the recommendation of Jason Burton (Heirloom Precision). About 100 rounds of that has been carry ammo through my new carry mags, and hundreds of rounds have gone through the previous carry mags (the ones that were in the gun when it failed).

In fact, this has been the longest stretch the gun has gone without a stoppage. That Burton guy… he could probably make a living doing the 1911 thing.

In an attempt to get the Metalform magazines working properly, I took the advice of Brownells tech support and bought some 8# magazine springs. Unfortunately, these appear to be the exact same springs (number of coils and gauge of wire) as came in the mags originally. Furthermore, a new spring did not alleviate the problems that some of the Metalform magazines were having — failing to lock back on an empty magazine and occasionally sticking in the gun — which leads me to believe that it is a problem with the follower rather than spring tension that is causing the issues. I deadlined another magazine because of it. It probably doesn’t even make sense to track the number any more since essentially they’re all questionable.

So, I continue to rely primarily on Wilson ETM magazines for practice and exclusively for carry. These are the mags that everyone from Burton to Ken Hackathorn told me to use before this test even began. But did I listen? Well, lesson learned.

On the shooting performance side of things, burning through 2,000 rounds per week has definitely helped to turn the corner on some issues I was having. There have been a few key lightbulb moments:

  • Because the trigger break on the Springfield is so short and crisp, I was getting into a habit of letting the trigger dictate the speed at which I pressed the gun out. This led to dramatically reduced accuracy on low% targets and/or a need to stop and find the sight after reaching full extension. Simply slowing down the gun’s extension forward during the draw to a speed at which I can lock in on the front sight not only improved accuracy but also speed (because the shot was reliably breaking at extension instead of after it). Shooting this week’s Drill of the Week got me down to sub-1.2 second hits from concealment on the 3×5. I followed that up a couple days later with a similar “floating PAR” drill of doubles to the 3×5 card at 7yd from concealment and got to the point where I was scoring both hits in less than 1.6 seconds about half the time.
  • Along very similar lines, my endless battle with reloads got a boost from the same “slow down and do it right to be faster” approach. In particular, I’ve found that taking the time to get a solid visual lock on the front corner of the magazine well during my reload and slowing down the insertion to a speed where I can guarantee a smooth single motion has greatly reduced the number of fumbled reloads I’m causing. The long term goal, obviously, is to build up enough reps that neither the visual index nor the moderated pace are necessary. But for now, while my best reloads are a tenth of a second or so slower, my average reload is a quarter second faster.
  • Improving the press-out and reload helped me turn in the best 99 Drill results I’ve had with the 1911 so far: 92 total (-1, -3, -1, -2). The reload stage is still the one kicking my butt, usually because I fail to do a good press-out after the reload or because I rush the reload (and fumble… see bullet point above).
  • All of this culminated on Wednesday night when I ran five consecutive clean F.A.S.T.s in a row under five seconds. The numbers weren’t amazing but it’s the best string of successes I’ve had since starting this test:
  1. 4.96: 1.69, .35 / 2.26 / .22, .22, .22 (clean)
  2. 4.79: 1.54, .41 / 2.20 / .22, .21, .21 (clean)
  3. 4.86: 1.52, .39 / 2.29 / .23, .22, .21 (clean)
  4. 4.88: 1.52, .46 / 2.22 / .23, .23, .22 (clean)
  5. 4.96: 1.62, .43 / 2.22 / .33, .22, .24 (clean)
  6. 5.76: 1.57, .46 / 3.06 / .24, .23, .21 (clean) Metalform magazine got stuck in the gun and needed to be ripped out by hand to clear the mag well.

For comparison, my personal best with the HK45 was nine in a row, and with the G17 I once did eleven in a row. So there is obviously still a lot of work that needs to be done to get dialed in with the 1911. I need to be more aggressive (or just more confident) on the two head shots… I know from this week’s practice that I can consistently get both hits in 1.8 or better, but I’m averaging two-tenths more than that on the FAST. And as I work the final kinks out of the reload I expect to see another quarter second improvement, at a minimum, from that part of the drill.

I’m in Albuquerque for the last Aim Fast, Hit Small class of the year this weekend with some pretty experienced 1911 shooters in attendance. It will be interesting to get their take on the gun.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

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:


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  1. 10 Responses to “Springfield/Warren 9mm 1911 Endurance Test: Report #9”

  2. Todd,

    I’m glad you got the gun worked out! I hope it maintains its current reliability level for you!

    By Ketan Chand on Sep 27, 2012

  3. Happy to see it working better; that is one good looking gun!

    By Steve on Sep 27, 2012

  4. “— failing to lock back on an empty magazine and occasionally sticking in the gun — ”

    If the magazines sticking has been previously mentioned, I missed it. That’s a sign of the follower riding over the lobe of the slide stop.

    Is the slide stop “dimpled”? Also bad for lock open problems.

    Try another slide stop.

    By cm smith on Sep 27, 2012

  5. cm smith: if Todd’s Metalform problems are anythign like mine were, a new slide stop won’t fix it. In mine, the slide stop lobe was as large as physically possible without hitting the rounds in the magazine. To try to fix the issue, I flattened the bottom of the lobe making a very sharp edge (the lobe was a bit too rounded from the factory) hoping that that would fix things, it didn’t. My Metalform mags simply had too much left/right wiggle room within the magazine body that allowed them to jump the lobe while under recoil from the last round.

    I switched to Wilson ETMs as well and my experience is as Todd’s is – flawless operation. Frankly, after feeling the quality of the Wilson ETMs, I’ll never buy a different 1911 magazine again. They feel/operate like no other.

    By Billy on Sep 28, 2012

  6. I was getting into a habit of letting the trigger dictate the speed at which I pressed the gun out.

    Not sure I follow this… Why would your presentation speed vary?

    By Les on Sep 28, 2012

  7. If I extend the gun faster than I can control the sights adequately for the needed shot, I’m left having to clean up the sight picture after extension which also means finishing the trigger press after extension.

    By ToddG on Sep 28, 2012

  8. Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast. You’re on the right track with the muscle memory stuff. Glad to see it’s starting to grow on you!

    By tonedeaf310 on Sep 28, 2012

  9. Mr. Green,

    This has been a very educational series of posts regarding your endurance test guns. I’m happy to note that the magazine issue is improving, and I have a question.

    I have no experience with the 9mm 1911, however, in many of the sources that I’ve read, a common theme is that the Springfield 9mm magazine has been designed to incorporate a kind of “pre-feed ramp” that encourages proper positioning of the 9mm during the feed stroke.

    Do the Metalform mags have this feature; and have you had any experience with this style of 9mm 1911 magazine?

    By NPB on Sep 29, 2012

  10. NPB — The 9-round 9mm 1911 Metalform “Springfield/Leatham” magazines have an indentation at the front of the magazine instead of the spacers other mags use at the rear. By all reports this works better because it puts the cartridge in contact with the slide at the same time a .45 would be, and gives the round the full run-up to the ramp and chamber.

    If the “ramp” you’re talking about is the split follower, then yes the 10rd standard Metalform magazines share that with the 9rd ones they make specifically for Springfield. However, it seems like that follower may be the culprit in the failure to lockback issue I’ve been experiencing so even if it does add to reliability somehow, the fact that it causes a constant operation failure outweighs that for my purposes.

    By ToddG on Sep 29, 2012

  11. I’m not very fast on reloads with any gun, but some advice from Jason Falla really helped me to consistently reduce fumbled reloads.

    He said to stop the magazine right before it enters the magwell, and say “stop!” when you do it. In that little instant that the magazine stops, you’ll automatically align it.

    I’m sure you’ve probably heard about/tried this, but it worked for me.

    Thanks for site!

    By samuse on Sep 29, 2012

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