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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, picked a used series 70 1911.
is there a way to tell which recoil spring is in it?
Since I don’t know the history of this gun, might have been used for bullseye.
how would I know if this is a lighter spring for maybe 185 gr bullets, or heavy spring for 230 gr.
thanks Ed
 

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Standard 230 grain ball ammo...16 lb. spring.
185 grain target wadcutters...14 lb. spring.

If it's a Colt spring, it will have some green paint on one end if 14 lb. Whenever I buy a used pistol like that I replace the springs on general principle if I don't know the round count or how it was used.
 

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I don't know of any practical way.
Due to the very low cost of new springs, the smart move is to just replace it, since as above, you have no idea how many rounds were fired with it, and it's simply good insurance to avoid potential damage from too light a spring.

The factory spring is a 16 pound for use with 230 grain ammunition up to around 800 fps. For hotter ammo you can go up to an 18 pound spring.
For most "Mid-Range" Target ammo of 185 grains a 14 pound spring is standard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
so just in general, let’s say you have owned you 1911 all along, how do you decide when to change the spring?
is there feel? Or can you see signs of hard recoil?
 

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Not really, but they 'will' take a set over the decades, and may well be shorter overall - but it won't matter, they'll still work.

Springs are ubiquitous - whenever you get a new piece, just buy them and change them out - you can always keep the old ones.
 

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There is a company online that sells a recoil spring tester for under $50, if you want one. There are also a couple of articles on how to build your own at home. With the cost of recoil springs being so low, however, the expense is probably not justified. But just to set the record straight, they do exist.
 

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George Nonte had stated years ago that when a used recoil spring is compressed to be three coils shorter then a known new spring then it needed to be replaced.

A Government Model 45 recoil spring is 32 coils
The wadcutter spring is 28 coils, as are the .38 Super GM
Commander recoil spring 24 coils.
 

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Most if not all1911a1 manufactures install a 16 pound factory standard spring. your gun will operate with 185 grain wadcutters and 230 grain FMJ. Most gunsmith will recommend that you use 18 pound recall spring if you are going to shoot 230 grain full metal jacket only(if you’re shooting full house bowling pin rounds you may need to go up to a 20 pound recoil spring or more). I prefer using wolfs 18.5 variable rate recall spring, as it is easier to initiate pulling the slide back than The fixed power spring. If you are unsure whether or not your gun will handle the 18 pound recoil spring do this simple test. Put one round in a magazine load the gun and shoot it, if the slide locks back Then the recoil spring is not too heavy. If after installing the 18 pounds recoil spring for the 230 grain hardball and you do not like the way the gun acts you can go back to a 16 pound spring but put in a recoil buffer. The buffer will get a beating and you will have to change it every several hundred rounds to avoid a malfunction. This will make your gun act more the way you may need it to act. I.e. your follow up shot is too high or too low for instants. Or it takes you longer to get your second shot on target there are a multitude of reasons to change recall springs over what is recommended. Only thing to remember is if your gun needs an 18 pound spring and you’re running a 16 pound spring with a buffer both the buffer and the spring are going to wear out quicker. Some US PSA shooters may even use a 14 pound recall spring to get their second shot off quicker and on target. Typically one should be able to get 1000 rounds or more out of a recoil spring provided everything is up to snuff. This has been my experience for 25 years of 1911 gunsmithing.
 

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Most if not all1911a1 manufactures install a 16 pound factory standard spring. your gun will operate with 185 grain wadcutters and 230 grain FMJ. Most gunsmith will recommend that you use 18 pound recall spring if you are going to shoot 230 grain full metal jacket only(if you’re shooting full house bowling pin rounds you may need to go up to a 20 pound recoil spring or more). I prefer using wolfs 18.5 variable rate recall spring, as it is easier to initiate pulling the slide back than The fixed power spring. If you are unsure whether or not your gun will handle the 18 pound recoil spring do this simple test. Put one round in a magazine load the gun and shoot it, if the slide locks back Then the recoil spring is not too heavy. If after installing the 18 pounds recoil spring for the 230 grain hardball and you do not like the way the gun acts you can go back to a 16 pound spring but put in a recoil buffer. The buffer will get a beating and you will have to change it every several hundred rounds to avoid a malfunction. This will make your gun act more the way you may need it to act. I.e. your follow up shot is too high or too low for instants. Or it takes you longer to get your second shot on target there are a multitude of reasons to change recall springs over what is recommended. Only thing to remember is if your gun needs an 18 pound spring and you’re running a 16 pound spring with a buffer both the buffer and the spring are going to wear out quicker. Some US PSA shooters may even use a 14 pound recall spring to get their second shot off quicker and on target. Typically one should be able to get 1000 rounds or more out of a recoil spring provided everything is up to snuff. This has been my experience for 25 years of 1911 gunsmithing.
One must remember that the mainspring also enters into this equation. The springs function together as a complete recoil system on the 1911... This is frequently something that is overlooked.
 
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