Colt Forum banner
1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
981 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Lately, I've heard many differing opinions about replacing springs in 1911s. I went back to the owner's manual for my Mark IV Series 70. It covers disassembly, cleaning, and re-assembly, but doesn't cover lifespan of springs and such.

Can someone tell me the following?

1. On a full-size (5" barrel) 1911, what is the weight of the factory recoil/main/magazine springs? How often should these be replaced?
2. When replacing, is there an advantage to using a higher or lower weight springs?

There's a gunsmith in my area who is suggesting that all springs should be replace after 1000 rounds, which seems to be overkill - more of a way to increase his business than ensuring your gun is in proper working order.

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,616 Posts
I bought a brand new Colt repro series '70 45ACP in 2012. I shoot it quite regularly and the recoil spring lasted about 4,000 to 5,000 rounds before I started to get FTF's. A factory spring is 16 lbs. I would stick to that weight unless you are using non standard velocity ammunition. I have not changed out the magazine or mainspring.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,387 Posts
I've used 1911's as my "fairly hard use" duty weapons on swat for years, as did many other guys on my team. We would typically swap out springs anywhere between 3k-5k rounds. If the gun slide "felt" loose or was having an occasional malfunction, it'd be closer to 3k...if it was running 100% up to around 5k, then we'd swap out there just because. Even if the gun was still running 100%, I'd swap springs because the gun was just simply getting beat up too much during recoil. I found that spending enough time with one particular gun, you could get a feel for the spring "power" and just kind of know what was right or wrong. I ran 18lb springs because my ammo was most often +p 230gr. When we ran standard pressure 230gr ammo, we'd use 16lb springs. I also got in the habit of swapping out the firing pin spring around the same time. I preferred the Wolf brand and got the combo spring packs from Brownells.

I had Dave Williams as the Springfield custom shop do a custom build for me and when the gun was returned, included were both 16lb and 18lb springs for use with varying pressure loads. I believe 16lb is the industry standard for a factory gun.

As to lower weight springs like 14lbs, they are more for bullseye shooters/etc that are running low pressured rounds, often reloads. The gun will be softer shooting, which is ok as long as the pressures are low. Using 14lb springs for any factory self defense loads as standard or +p rating, will definitely increase the abuse your frame will take during recoil.

1911s are a funny beast - timing is so so important and often one little thing can throw its reliability all out of whack. 98% of issues are magazine problems, 1% spring problems and the rest who knows....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,034 Posts
230 ball in a 5" Colt .45 auto and I would stick to 16 pound recoil springs like Colt supplies. I look at an SD pistol replacement interval more critically than on a range toy. A range toy can have the recoil spring left until failure to return to battery occurs.

Some may recall JMB called a recoil spring a return to battery spring. The factory 23 pound main spring does the job of retarding slide velocity to the rear. You have to know the Gold Cup, the .38 super and 9mm come with a 19 pound main spring. I have never replaced a main spring for fear of excessive wear. I have toyed with replacements in weight change only.

Some companies supply 16 pound main springs now. They seem to be no problem in ammo ignition or pistol battering.
 

·
*** ColtForum MVP ***
Joined
·
15,680 Posts
From the above post on the Colt Defender................

"One simple way to judge when to replace a recoil spring is to note how far away, and in what direction the gun ejects cases when it's new.
Then, when it starts tossing cases farther or in a very different direction, it's probably time to replace.
Another method takes into consideration how cheap recoil springs are compared to the gun, and just replace the spring at a certain number of rounds whether it seems to need it or not."

The key point is, springs are dirt cheap compared to new frames.

Jerry Kuhnhausen states in his Colt .45 Automatic Shop Manual that the factory spring is 16 pounds for standard 230 grain ball ammo at 800 feet per second velocities, but that you can go up to 17 or even 18 1/2 pound springs for todays loads, and that this may improve cycling and reduce battering.

Usually, you can't go wrong with a factory spring if you're shooting standard load ammo.

Just pay attention to the ammo you're using and if it's hotter you may be best going up one step, BUT.... reliable operation is THE critical test.
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top