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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having read enoug posts on the above subject around these parts I gather that FLGR's are anathema to most of the regulars here but I don't know the specifics.

I was in my local gun-shop yesterday and the nice -- usually very knowledgeable -- lady behind the counter was showing me a Kimber and espousing it's qualities including FLGR. When I said I heard that FLGR's were a bad idea I thought she was going to shoot me. She started into some serious name-dropping "When I was shooting matches and Rod Leathem took us all out to dinner... and I used to date Mark Mclaren(sp?) blah, blah, blah. Anyway her contention was that Everybody who is anybody including Koenig and the aforementioned ALL SHOOT WITH Full Length Guide Rods!

So, is there a place you can point me to where I can read up on the whys and wherefores of guide rods?

Thanks,

Ed
 

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Maybe all who are into games use FLGR, but I know few* who consider them necessary or even advisable in a combat gun. Certainly John Moses Browning didn't.

*the exceptions are the ones selling tricked out pistols.
 

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Snarl...

The story is much too long to repeat here, but this is really something you can see if you'll look. With the standard guide rod there is about 1/4" of the spring that is not supported either by the original guide rod or within the recoil spring plug. Therefore they serve no useful functional purpose. Fans claim that they prevent springs from kinking... BS: they couldn't if they wanted to.

What they do accomplish is to make the gun more difficult to field strip (to their credit Kimber's is not so long as to make it impossible to turn the bushing) and to separate sheep from money.

It is claimed that long rods make guns more reliable- but if you've already got 100%- I'd like to see that. In the past some sellers make claims that they improved accuracy, but I think they've finally stopped that.

Robbie Leatham is one of my very most favorite people but he would win throwing rocks...
 

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Well, here's my thoughts on them.
Short answer, I think they're worthless on a "carry gun". But, they might, possibly, maybe, have ever-so-slight purpose on an IPSC Open Class gun.

Longer answer:
The negatives-
On a "carry gun", they basically are in the way.
There are a couple of techniques that you can't do with a FLGR installed.
I said a couple of techniques, but really it's more like two variations of the same one, called a "press check". The "old" Gunsite/Jeff Cooper is credited with starting this. It is used to verify if you have a round in the chamber, or to operate the gun one-handed. The steps to one variation (chamber check) are:
1- Put the tip of your non-shooting hand's index finger on the recoil spring plug.
2- Put the tip, and only the tip, of your non-shooting hand thumb in the trigger guard in such a way that it "hooks" into the front of it. Actually, using your thumbnail, if there is enough nail, might be safer.
3- "pinch" your thumb and finger together to crack the slide open a little to see if there is a round in the chamber.

Now, I can't tell you why this is a better systen than just grabbing the slide serrations, giving it a tug, and looking in. Maybe someone else can tell us?
It may be a little safer in regards to how the muzzle ends up being pointed.

The second technique, which is the more important one in my opinion, is being able to operate the slide one-handed.
With the standard recoil guide/plug system, you can press the lower front of the slide against an object like a table top, fence, whatever; push forward by the grip, and open the slide. This would be in case you had to clear the chamber due to a faulty round, or some other problem.
The thinking is you may only have one good arm in a gunfight due to a wound.
I tend to think in terms of you only being able to use one arm to begin with. I have two young children, and should "a situation" arise, I'm sure I'll be grabbing kids, and shoving them to cover. Or, you may have grocery bags in hand. Or, whatever.
Regardless, I think it's a good option to have.

Those are some "tactical" reasons. I've come to hate the word "tactical" by the way. Some mechanical reasons to justify staying with the original design would be:
1-FLGR's make disassembly harder. Many made now are an improvement over past designs, but they still add complication. Most now seem to be just a little bit shorter than full-length, allowing you to push the recoil spring plug in enough to turn the bushing. But, since there is a big hole in the center of the plug, there isn't much to push against. So you end up using a bushing wrench most of time, even if it is fit loose enough to turn by hand. i I don't worry about being able to to strip the gun without tools because I'm raiding the beach, and don't want to drop the knife from my teeth. But, even at the kitchen table, I'd like it to be as easy as possible.
2-On a 5", or Commander-length gun, I don't see that they add anything. Fans of them claim they prevent the recoil spring from kinking. What kinking? Look at a cutaway of a 1911, or imagine what it looks like.....
The spring is surrounded and supported by a tunnel in the slide at the front end, and held by the standard spring guide at the rear. It's a very short space between the two. It would be a trick for it to kink in that space.
Perhaps on a 6" barreled longslide?
3- They add weight. Absolutely no big deal, maybe even a plus. But I've seen a few high-dollar custom 1911s built with titanium or aluminum frames and other parts meant to be as light as possible. Then they throw a steel rod in there called a FLGR. Makes no sense to me.

Now, on a competition, IPSC, Open Class, "racegun", they might have some merit. Maybe. I don't know if they do this, but, with the compensator hanging oin the barrel, some FLGR's might be installed in such a way to support the compensator. I don't know if it's possible, due to the need for the barrel to move vertically, but if they can, it could help, I guess.

Another possible use might be on a short 1911 like an Officer's ACP, or similar. The original Colt design, with the weak recoil spring plug design needs replacing, and most replacements are a "system" with a self-contained FLGR and spring- sorta like on a GLock. Given a choice between the Colt design, and that setup, I'll replace the Colt design.
 

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I have bought a couple guns with them, & the first thing I did was replace them with the old fashion setup & see the FLGR to somebody on ebay that wanted to part with some money. But I just don't like them, period.


I recently read an article where an expermint showed a little longer recoil spring life. Whoopeee! Recoil springs are cheap & getting 500 more rounds out of a 6-7 dollar spring just isn't worth the hassle.

If I am not mistaken, doesn't the Sig GSR 1911 & the 1911's the FBI bought have the standard setup?

BTW, I don't think I have ever heard, & if I did, I have forgotten, what system does the LAPD SWAT Kimbers use?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Charlie Petty said:
Robbie Leatham is one of my very most favorite people but he would win throwing rocks...
You're right there Charlie! I'm amazed everytime I watch American Shooter or Shooting USA (whatever the new version is) When I see Rob or Jerry M. or Doug K., etc., It's not just the accuracy but the speed at which they achieve it that makes me want to sell my guns and take up knitting.

Thanks guys, as always, I appreciate the the info?

Ed

P.S. she is a very nice lady and I do respect her opinions and knowledge.
 

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My Glock 23 uses a captured recoil spring which makes the FLGR a requirement. Are other Glocks made that do not use such an arrangement? My Colt 1903 Pocket Pistol is quit happy without a FLGR. My Kimber's FLGR is thd least of it's problems. While a nice gun, can't be field stripped without a bent paperclip.
 

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Let's see:
1. most current pistols have a captive recoil spring, usually with a plastic rod. I belive this is common to all Glocks. Also the SW 99 variations and SIGS. I don't remember how the Beretta is.

2. I think all Kimber full size guns (including those bought by LA) have the same length rod.

3. With the Government Model variations- especially those that do not use a conventional bushing- a guide rod and reverse recoil spring plug, is mandatory. Most of the compact versons require a paper clip- or other sophisitcated tool- to capture the spring, guide rod, and recoil spring plug and effectively make a captive unit.

4. The other Browning classic- the 1935 uses an arrangement that is, effectively, the same as the 1911. There is no bushing or recoil spring plug, so the long tunnel in the slide serves the same function.
 

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1. most current pistols have a captive recoil spring, usually with a plastic rod. I belive this is common to all Glocks. Also the SW 99 variations and SIGS. I don't remember how the Beretta is.
Charlie, neither my P239 nor my P229 use captive recoil springs. They do have a FLGR though.
 

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You're right... they have that funny wound wire spring don't they. What about pizza pistols?

BTW: I asked a buddy at Kimber and was told that the customer perceives the guide rod as added value.
 

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I have long suspected that most of the reported reliability issues (and the rare accuracy improvements) with the FLGR in a M1911 are the result of an interference fit. Either the frame's shoulder or the guide rod's head is out of square. The end result is that the guide rod is not parallel to the frame rails. Thus, the interference fit results in binding when the slide is going into or out of battery.

Other pistols with FLGR seemingly don't exhibit the same problems, so perhaps their guide rods have enough wiggle room in the frame and/or slide for self-alignment.
 

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This is derived from a collection of notes and posts I've made over the years on the subject of, ack!, full-length recoil spring guide rods and other accessories in that area of the Colt's/Browning pattern pistol. I was one day going to make a TGZ page out of it in a "primer" series I've been working on, but this is as good a place as any for a "core dump."

I admit to be nauseatingly predictable in this regard… full-length guide rods as replacements for factory non-full-length guide rods offer no practical benefit. In well-made self-loading pistols, recoil springs simply do not "kink," as CeePee has already noted.

After-market recoil arresters or dampeners are a gimmicky accessory of dubious value and a lazy man's attempt to avoid learning and practicing the proper technique!

An * x-purt once tried selling the notion:
A FLGR is an improvement to the 1911, but a small one. It makes the action a bit smoother, probably helps (in a small way) prevent the spring from getting weakened by "kinking," and puts a little extra weight out front.
Well, I guess if you "think" it helps you, then you probably will be helped… but, really, how much is that "extra weight?" And every time I hear that "K" word in this context, I am reminded of Jeff Cooper's API250 lecture on hardware in which he discussed full-length recoil spring guide rods and dismissed them with a solitary deadpan comment:
"They" say it prevents "kinking…" [pause] Imagine that."
Just so!

The argument is often made that:
Lots of custom guns come with them as standard issue and they don't seem to have any bad side-effects aside from being somewhat more difficult to disassemble.
'Smiths, and especially that appalling sub-species known as "parts-changers," make money on selling parts… hell, that's all the parts-changers really do.

But long before I ever heard Cooper's lecture, I'd made an informed decision that they weren't a good idea on a "working gun." The number of FLGR-enabled 1911-pattern pistols I've seen fail on my home range during defensive pistolcraft courses instructed by John Farnam, Ken Hackathorn and Pat Rogers, had made a significant impression on me… especially since the removal of same invariably remedied the problem… well before I ever attended Gunsite where the walls of the Donga were virtually littered with such accessories. (Places like Gunsite and Thunder Ranch are incredible proving grounds for one's equipment in additional to their obvious instructional value.)

A full-length recoil-spring guide-rod only buggers your pistol unless it is properly set up in a manner than no parts-changers and few kitchen-table do-it-yourselfers can do. And therein lies a crucial element of the FLGR "mystique." It is something the tyro can do on his own to add a distinctive "custom touch" to his new, non-Kimber, non-Charles Daly blaster, that little something extra that allows him to not only swagger a bit at the range, but help him get the girls.

And, as y'all may have noticed, competitive shooters like Robbie Leatham, Doug Koenig, Jerry Barnhart, et al, all have properly set-up pistols!

The comment about "more difficult to disassemble" is curious. I have one FLGR in my battery, and that on a Caspian/Schuemann Hybrid slide which Jack Weigand fitted to "Rod, the Wonder Pistol" back in '91 as part of a "two-guns-in-one" project we were doing. It makes slide-swapping very easy… detail stripping, of course, is another issue altogether.

In my mind full-length recoil spring guide rods on non-race 1911s are like extended slide stops. Of no discernible benefit, and plenty of down sides! I'm with CeePee on this one… I'm just not as succinct about it.

I think Charlie's recollection of the Kimber comment is instructive… and not for nuthin', but that "added value" phrase is identical to what Charles Daly-owner Michael Kassner used in defending his own decision to incorporate same into his 1911 line.

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*-. Frequent Firearms Forum
 

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If memory serves the flgr dates to the early days of IPSC when there was a search for any extra microgram of weight to "help" with recoil. Didn't Chip McCormick once have a tungsten rod?

As was already mentioned there may have been some merit to using them to support compensators- esepcially on bushingless barrels- and somewhere around here I've got an early Wilson .38 Super so rigged.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
Let's see:
1. most current pistols have a captive recoil spring, usually with a plastic rod. I belive this is common to all Glocks.
Something in the back of my mind tells me that the earliest Glocks did not have a captive guide rod. Is that right?
 

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DeanSpeir said:
Well, I guess if you "think" it helps you, then you probably will be helped…
An experienced golfer once told me that for the average player, a change in clubs will usually result in improved scores, not because the equipment is better, but because the user is concentrating more on fundamentals. Perhaps the same thing is going on with newly installed FLGR's?

BTW, for whatever it's worth, the Beretta 92 uses a FLGR and a non-captive spring. I understand that recently sold pistols have plastic guide rods.

The comments about the slide tunnel preventing kinky springs make a lot of sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks guys, that covers it very well for me.

As far as providing extra weight for recoil control it reminds me of a phrase an old friend and mentor one used "Hell a fart weighs more than that!"

As you stated Dean it's something even the fairly inept can handle at their kitchen table so it's a "feel good" thing to do. I think that's why the vitamin sellers make so much money. Taking a vitamin is seen as doing something healthy and there's no work involved...

Ed
 
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