Springfield/Warren 9mm 1911 Endurance Test: Report #16

12-Mar-13 – 13:59 by ToddG
27,995 rounds 10 stoppages 0 malfunctions 1 parts breakages

Somewhere, in some pantheon of gods and demons, there is clearly a supernatural being bent on preventing me from doing a decent reload with this 1911.

Thanks to joshs volunteering to be my shooting partner one day, I was able to ascertain the leading problem with my reload technique: my mag pouches. In all the weeks and months of struggling to get my reloads down, I never made the leap to the possibility that it could be my gear. But the sharp square bottoms of the mag pouches were apparently catching my shirt tail whenever I rapidly cleared the garment for my draw. In other words, when I yanked up on the front of the shirt to get at my gun, I was wedging the shirt between the mag carriers and my belt.

I’d never noticed it in dry fire because I usually practiced my reloads without a separate draw each repetition, and most of my dry fire is at a more controlled speed… the problem only cropped up when going at full speed. At the range doing live fire, again a lot of my reload practice went well because I wasn’t drawing first. But then when I’d do a more comprehensive drill (like the FAST or 99) at full speed, I was simply aware that sometimes I got a bad grip on the magazine or that I fumbled clearing my shirt. Like most shooters, when there was a problem, I assumed the mistake was me.

Here we have an excellent example of why it’s so important to have a sharp eyed and knowledgable shooting partner. It didn’t take joshs ten seconds to assess what was going wrong. A simple mag pouch swap and my reloads should become legendary, right?

So the first time I got to the range with my replacement mag pouch (something I’m using temporarily until my 5 Shot Leather pouches arrive) what happens? I have a string of consistent failures of the slide to lock back on an empty magazine. My slidelock reload practice became, instead, a dedicated tap-rack session. The problem occurred with a number of magazines and even happened while shooting one-handed (which usually eliminates shooter error as the cause). Occasionally, when the slide did lock back, it would fly forward as soon as the magazine button was pressed and the magazine dropped from its normal position.

Immediately I assumed it’s an equipment thing. Examining my Wilson Combat magazines, I see that the followers have become a little deformed and the springs have taken a significant set. Wilson had sent me some spare springs and followers so I put those in eight of my ten mags. In the other two I replaced the follower but not the spring.

All of the magazines were more reliable at locking the slide after that. The two with old springs were still more likely to fail than the ones with new springs, so it seems the spring was also a partial factor. It’s not surprising that the magazines began having trouble. Given all the slidelock reload training I’ve flailed away at over the past months, each magazine has probably locked the slide back under recoil close to a thousand times. The followers are polymer and a known wear part, and obviously springs wear out over time.

But, in an ironic reversal of the previous problem and solution, this time the assumption that it was all gear related turned out to be wrong, too. Even after changing to fresh followers and full power new springs, I still got the occasional failure to lock back. What the…?

Right before my involuntary hiatus from shooting I’d been playing around quite a bit with my grip, trying some new things. When I got back to shooting and was solidly focused on reclaiming my ability to line up the sights and press the trigger properly, I let my grip go into autopilot mode. The problem is that my autopilot mode grip is inconsistent now because of all the fiddling I did late last year. So sure enough, I found that sometimes I was still putting enough pressure on the slide stop lever to prevent the gun from locking back.

The issue was clearly a combination of both wearing parts and shooter error, but both had to be addressed to get the gun running properly.

The good news is that once I got all that dialed in, I was pulling pretty consistent 2-second slidelock reloads from concealment during FAST drills and the like. That’s a significant improvement (by about a third of a second) compared to previous performance. More importantly, I’m getting far fewer fumbles and mistakes now, and when I do they’re just as likely to be something other than “bad grip on magazine.”

The bad news is now that I have it coming together properly, I start my next 6-8 week hiatus from shooting. Fate, such a cruel mistress.

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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