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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all, I'm in need of some education and assistance.

I am really wanting a Colt Government O1991. That being said, I have a few questions for the experts and/or owners of Colt 1911s that I am hoping can be answered and clarified.

First off, am a correct when I say that O1991s have Series 80 Firing Systems? Next, am I correct when I say that the difference between Series 70 and Series 80 Firing Systems, is that the 80 contains the Firing Pin Safety, while the 70 does not?

I see that the other primary differences between the O1991 and the Series 70 Government are:

Lowered Ejection Port on the 1991, Firing Pin Blocker on the 1991, Long Aluminum Trigger on the 1991 as opposed to the Short Steel Trigger on the Series 70, Polymer Flat Mainspring Housing on the 1991 as opposed to the Curved Steel MSH on the Series 70, and about $120-$150 dollar difference in price (1991 being less expensive).

One of the big questions I have after doing a bit of reading is about the Firing Pin Blocker on the 1991 (Series 80). I have read several times now, people saying that "something" can happen with it, which renders the pistol completely inoperative. My question is; WHAT IS IT THAT CAN HAPPEN, mechanically? I am a huge Glock fan and Certified Armorer, and am intimately familiar with it's operation, to include the Firing Pin Safety part of Glock's "Safe Action" system. The two systems seem extremely similar in theory (plunger-like component in the slide, which is disengaged by the trigger and acts to block the firing pin from protruding through the breech face).

I like the 1991 over the Series 70, because I like the long trigger and flat MSH. And honestly, the cost difference is great too (under $1K). Though, the most important thing to me with any firearm is RELIABILITY over anything else, closely followed by durability. I really want the blued 5" O1991, but I want to get some clarification on this supposed "catastrophic failure" mode that I have read about.

Thanks a million in advance everyone, and I really look forward to your replies and guidance. Take care!
 

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Never heard of a "catastrophic failure" on a series 80 1911 of any type. As to the 1991 they are great firearms. Colts entry level into the 1911 world. Doesn't have all the "bells and whistles" of other 1911s but price doesn't reflect it either. It is reliable and goes bang without issues. I carry one in my truck. If anything were to happen to it I wouldn't be out near as much money as other 1911s I carry or shoot.

Here is a thread from several weeks ago on this firearm:
http://www.coltforum.com/forums/colt-semiauto-pistols/71803-1991a1-fans.html
 

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I have a number of Colt 1911s and other manufactures 1911 family of pistols. I like the "Plain Jane" 1911 that has been around for over 100 years. I don't care for the Beavertails, flared mag entry, opened up ejection ports, large safety and slide release levers, etc. I don't shoot matches anymore, but do very well with the original type 1911! As to the Series 80 safety, I don't like it....period. I remove them and add the filler piece so none of the linkage pieces are present. I feel the original system is a far better system for me. Now with that said, I like to be safe too, but I feel this Series 80 was done to prevent lawsuits from Idiots that cannot handle a firearm! If you like the Series 80 safety system, great, keep it and use it.

On to "Purkeypilot" questions about the Series 80 safety, I have never heard of anything about them which would render the pistol inoperative. The only thing I could see is if someone took it apart and damaged a part somehow, or reassembled it incorrectly??? I also like realiabilty, and simplicity is the best way to maintain relaibility. I am looking forward to other comments on the safety system myself.
 

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I have never heard of any catastrophic failures either. The one common complaint I hear is some feel the trigger does not have as smooth a release, or has a slightly rougher trigger feel. I have not noticed much of a difference between my Series 80 guns and the reissue Series 70 or my Series 70 GCNM that I have. I compare all of my 1911 triggers to the GCNM and do consider myself somewhat of a 'trigger snob'. If it has a bad trigger I really don't like shooting it. I love my 01991 and shoot the snot out of it. When I bought it I knew I would swap out the polymer mainspring housing and ended up getting the Colt flat/smooth housing with the lanyard loop along with a new Colt thumb safety, both patterned after the 1918 commercial guns. I liked the look so much I ended up getting a vintage trigger, hammer and slide lock so now I have a clone 1918 commercial. The 01991 is a great gun bone stock and a great platform to turn into 'your gun'. I highly recommend it.
 

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I've never heard of any full-size Colt 1911 being anything but completely reliable. I'm with Abwehr when it comes to a preference for basic 1911's, although I must admit that my Colt 1911XS (or is it XSE?) is very comfortable to shoot and very accurate. The 01991 is as basic as it gets. Maybe a little too basic for my taste. I need something to look at, and I'm willing to pay for it.

I'd remove the Series 80 system, too, if I knew how. Lawyered up.
 

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If (and that's a BIG if) something was to go wrong with the 80-series firing pin safety, then it could stop the gun from firing. It would have to break in some way that jams the system up. Not likely in my mind. Could it happen? In theory maybe, but not anything I'd ever be concerned with.

Guess if you wanted, you could worry about the firing pin or sear breaking, the barrel lug fracturing, the hammer breaking off or any number of "possible" failures. But any well-maintain weapon should reduce any of these issues to nil.

And you can remove the firing pin safety if you'd like, there are kits out there to fill the void once it's removed. Just be certain to have your lawyer ready if you use the gun.
 

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Just from an educational standpoint…the difference between the Series 80 and true Series 70 is the use of the collet bushing and associated barrel for that bushing in an original Series 70. This difference does not apply to the current Series 70 reproductions that are on the market as they have the later barrel and bushings found in the current Series 80 pistols. You are correct regarding the lack of a FPS in the Series 70…current and original.

Never heard of a failure regarding the Series 80 FPS parts but in theory….it could happen but I would not worry about that in making my decision one versus the other.
 

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Most if not all of the negatives about the Series 80 firing pin safety is hogwash. Internet balderdash!

Improper assembly is probably the main one that is not. As for catastrophic failures I doubt it.

Some shooters do prefer the original pre-Series 80 or so-called Series 70 firing pin and that is fine. Personally I find no reason to remove the firing pin safety from a Series 80 pistol.

I do suppose that there might be a perceived difference in trigger pulls and I feel that it be might more imaginative then real. But on the other hand some 1911 type pistols have nice decent triggers and some do not. This can usually be remedied even in most Series 80 pistols.

As far as I'm concerned I doubt if I would spend the difference and buy a retro Series 70 pistol, because IMO if it does not have a MK IV Barrel and collet bushing it really isn't a Series 70 pistol.
 

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Never heard of a full size Colt with the 80 Series 80 system having a major failure. These days Colt can give you a very nice trigger with the system in there. Other differences is that the new Series 70 comes in a Colt Custom Center Box and it has a Titanium firing pin, so given that it is much better than the original in a drop. A lot of manufacturers of 1911 type pistols now use a Titanium firing pin as their solution to a drop test.
 

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I got a 01991 in matte black (carbon steel) last week, and have put about 200 rounds through mine.

I like the sights: it shoots close to point of my aim so far, though I may need to drift the rear a little. We'll see.

It eats all the ammo I've fed it so far, including some out of spec Fiocchi hollowpoints, and some too short reloads. My other pistols won't eat that stuff.

The trigger pull is 5lb 7oz (measured with a Lyman trigger pull meter just now).

Actually I don't mind series 80 triggers at all. Two of my three 1911's have series 80 style. I've never had any trouble with them and the triggers feel fine for clean break and smooth reset on mine (the other is a SiG Sauer 1911 Target - currently my IDPA pistol, which has the enhancements like target sights and beavertail, and a mag well I installed: I bought the Colt as a backup for it).

I think the nightmare stories may come from another design used by another company that actuated the firing pin block and released it from the grip safety, vs the trigger.

As an old retired mechanic I can appreciate that the Colt Series 80 firing pin block design is simple and proven. It also will trap the firing pin forward for you when you go to remove the firing pin stop plate if say, you want to clean out the the gunk in the firing pin tunnel or change the spring, etc.

Modern manufacturers have learned how to get good trigger feel with the series 80 setup. I don't think they would be as high casualty set of parts as the extractor or ejector, when it comes to small parts that could go South.
 

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"I think the nightmare stories may come from another design used by another company that actuated the firing pin block and released it from the grip safety, vs the trigger."

If you are referring to Kimber then I will have to disagree with this statement. I have owned more Kimbers (9mm and .45) and put way more rounds thru Kimbers than Colts and I have never heard of an issue with the Swartz safety. I actually prefer it over the Series 80 set up. IMHO there is a difference in the trigger feel. By actuating the firing pin safety with the grip safety you take way that function from the trigger and let the trigger do what is intended to do.


Again, IMHO and a lot of time/money spent with 1911s.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Thanks for all of the great replies everyone! It's helped a lot. I'm pretty darn set on picking one up, though it won't be in the IMMEDIATE future. Sooner rather than later though with any luck. I'm pretty set on the 5" O1991 :)
 

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The O1991 series is classic in appearance, they work well, are reasonably priced, have excellent fit and finish and work right out of the box. I like the Series 80 firing system for the extra margin of safety provided with a locked firing pin.
 

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The O1991 series is classic in appearance, they work well, are reasonably priced, have excellent fit and finish and work right out of the box. I like the Series 80 firing system for the extra margin of safety provided with a locked firing pin.
I've got an arched mainspring housing and some old Colt plastic mil-looking grips I could put on for a photo session, but I won't put it a short trigger just for that.

I do appreciate that it has classic lines and looks though. Contrasts nicely with my other 1911's, which have the usual enhancements for shooting (mag wells, beavertails, stainless steel, etc.).
 

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I've got an arched mainspring housing and some old Colt plastic mil-looking grips I could put on for a photo session, but I won't put it a short trigger just for that.

I do appreciate that it has classic lines and looks though. Contrasts nicely with my other 1911's, which have the usual enhancements for shooting (mag wells, beavertails, stainless steel, etc.).
My M1991-A1 has the original parkerized finish with a few enhancements including Trijicon Night-Sites that are still working since 1991. One of the things that I did change was the long trigger for an arsenal repair trigger about 1943 in vintage and it appears to be Colt. Like the looks the feel and how the military trigger performs. I gave some vintage military Colt grips to my son for his 1991. They look great on his '91.
 

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My M1991-A1 has the original parkerized finish with a few enhancements including Trijicon Night-Sites that are still working since 1991. One of the things that I did change was the long trigger for an arsenal repair trigger about 1943 in vintage and it appears to be Colt. Like the looks the feel and how the military trigger performs. I gave some vintage military Colt grips to my son for his 1991. They look great on his '91.
My son's 1991A1 has Pachmyrs on it, but I gave/sold a mongrel Gov't slide on a steel aftermarket frame of some kind to him that had the small military trigger. With the small sights and plastic Colt grips it looked pretty authentic.

His 1991A1 has target sights somebody milled the slide for (and the top of the firing pin stop plate). Both guns are sort of hosed in ways as far as market value, but are safe and good shooters.
 

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Diehard 1911 purists simply hate the firing pin safety for not being a part of the original design, and that's it. The "factual" reasons are really just mostly made up. Yes it adds maybe 1/2# to the trigger pull, but unless you're building a hair-trigger comp gun it's a non-issue. Yes there are more parts to keep track of during a detailed disassembly, but again it's a non-issue. And the claims that it can somehow fail are mostly paranoia. I say "mostly" because if you screw around with a Series 80 firing system, blindly swapping parts there is the possibility that you can affect the timing of the levers, causing the plunger to not clear the firing pin completely and eventually cause peening damage that could potentially cause the firing pin to stick. But as with any modification of a 1911 (or any other firearm for that matter) you simply need to know what you're doing and not assume that everything is going to be a simple "drop-in" fit.

For what it's worth I prefer the new Series 70 pistols over everything else, including the original S70 guns. I simply like the way they look. However the O1991 is a good solid gun, and you shouldn't feel uneasy about getting one just because of the FPS bogeyman.
 
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