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Discussion Starter #1
I gotta tell you, many of the “modern” gun school instructors make me laugh. Am I old or does it seem like the old standby’s like Ayoob & Farnam are the only one’s REALLY making sense these days.

The proclamations I hear about 1911’s just kill me. And while I don’t doubt that what they claim to see at their schools is what they’re seeing (ie. 1911’s with malfunctions often). And I don’t doubt that a Glock/XD/M&P/Sig/ Beretta/ect is more reliable than your average 1911 out of the box. But here’s where I depart in logic.

I hear guys condemning the 1911 as a viable defensive pistol choice because of the frequent malf’s they see in class, or the pontificated observations of said teachers. Because your average 1911 won’t go 4 days and some 2,500 rounds at a shooting school, it’s not a good choice for defense.

Now here’s where I take issue. Nowhere in history has that EVER been any sort of a realistic necessity for ANY handgun; that’s just not the real world. Now I don’t have any issue if someone demands that kind of reliability in their pistol; best to err on the side of reliability when in doubt. But to say that such reliability is necessary, that’s just not so. I say it is a very nice confidence builder, and very convenient for training. But it’s really not needed.

So what is needed? Your pistol must make it through every magazine you carry without a malfunction; anything beyond that, is just a convenience. A pistol that requires cleaning every 100 rounds is an acceptable choice for a sidearm IF it’s completely reliable for the first few magazines you feed through it. Everything else is bragging rights…good bragging rights, but just bragging rights. Defensive handgunners tend to be an insecure lot and often really worry far too much about the hive mind. What’s needed is some critical thinking and perspective…good judgment will follow.
 

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You left out a point... how competent are the students?

I can't say I've ever shot that many rounds through a box stock 1911 but I've got a couple of guns that I shoot regularly and clean as little as possible. My favorite shoots 200 gr. cast bullets almost exclusively and was cleaned early last year. It just works.

I don't doubt that some trainers see malfunctions but is that enough to condemn the breed?
 

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Have you ever read of the original torture test the Army put the 1911 through?
 

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I think there are two reasons the 1911 has problems in shooting schools.

1. Manufactures are under pressure to provide a target grade accurate gun with all the possible "gotta have it" accessories, and do it at a low price.
In order to hold down price, they use MIM parts and do as little hand inspection or human intervention as possible.
The new owner rushes his new gun out to the range and if he can't put five bullets into the X ring at 50 yards, he bitterly complains.
The makers tighten the gun up for better accuracy and the owner has stoppages about which he bitterly complains.
The makers try to do both and the guns fail at shooting schools.

2. Owners don't know what they want.
They tell themselves that they want a "combat gun" but after accessorizing, tuning, and tweaking, what they actually have is a range toy.
This is impressive when shown to other shooters but a complicated range toy is seldom a reliable gun.
So shooters show up at a shooting school with an overly accesorized MIM range toy and it it chokes or breaks.

Obviously the 1911 is just not as good as modern guns.
Funny, the 1911 in unaltered form established an unequaled reputation for reliability all over the world in actual combat conditions before people decided it needed to be made better by alterations and accessories.

Back when he owned his shooting range, Jeff Cooper once said that the people who had the least trouble were those who showed up with a more or less box-stock Colt .45 that had been fired enough to break it in and verify it.
He said as the custom features and accurizing went up, reliability went down.

People complain that Colt doesn't offer enough custom features so much in demand and they prefer other brands that do. However, the old military style non-accesorized Colt Government Model or Commander guns are almost 100% reliable right out of the box and stay that way for many thousands of rounds.
These days they even have quite good sights.

The problem is, as soon as the buyer gets it, he starts "improving it" and accessorizing it.
I have the idea that if people showed up at a shooting school and were handed a new in the box forged Colt Government Model, few if any would have a single problem.

Back in the 80's I didn't do a lot of 1911 work, but I did do the usual demanded alterations like trigger improvement, better sights, exaggerated grip safeties, longer thumb safeties, throating and feed ramp work, and so on, all "needed" to "improve" the gun and make it "better".

In the 80's I bought a personal early stainless Colt Series 80 Mark IV Government Model.
Even before I fired it I was planning what custom work I'd do. I was already seeing too many 1911's failing at matches and police qualifications, and all of them had custom work to make them "better".
I stopped and started wondering if all that was really necessary.
So, I did basically nothing to my new Colt except to shoot it.

I have no idea how many rounds I have through it, but it's never jammed ONCE in all that time.
I have the modern version of a John Pershing era Colt Government 1911, and like Pershing's 1911's, mine is reliable and doesn't break or jam.
It's strange that it so reliable in it's un-improved, un-accesorized form, and without the fine sub-four pound trigger every one demands on a "Combat gun".
 

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You left out a point... how competent are the students?
I think this is key. In beginner classes, it does seem to me that 1911s malfunction more than the polymer du jour.

OTOH, in upper level classes, I notice that the ratio changes. In my 499, the class was evenly split between GLOCK™s and 1911s... 4 & 4. Every one of the GLOCK™s had an issue during the week. Only 1 of the 1911s.

It is rare for me to have a malfunction with a 1911 at an IPSC match; I usually have at least one everytime I shoot a GSSF match.
 

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The problem is, as soon as the buyer gets it, he starts "improving it" and accessorizing it.

I think there is a lot to that statement and we see it a lot on the boards where guys change parts just to do something with no real idea of what effect it may have.

But I totally disagree that "tight " or accurized guns malfunction more. Several of the guns I shoot regularly are capable of "X" ring accuracy and run flawlessly. Some of our members have shot them.

I also think all the gripes about MIM parts have little or no factual basis... just that they are different

I think that you can go buy a new 1911 from any of the major makers and expect it to run and shoot pretty well right out of the box but I also remember when the new Colt you got probably had to have professional help first... granted that was a long time ago.
 

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To ALL,

Over the last nearly 5 DECADES (I bought nearly mint WWII-era US&S 1911A1 for 50.oo when I was a freshman in college.), I've probably owned at least 50 Colt's GM, GC & clones.

ALL of them shot plain old 230GR Government hardball JUST FINE.

Truth is: I don't see any really good reason for any other round for CLOSE COMBAT WORK, which is what the 1911 was designed for. = Fighting "drugged-up"/drunken Moro pirates.


just my OPINION, sw
 

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But I totally disagree that "tight " or accurized guns malfunction more. Several of the guns I shoot regularly are capable of "X" ring accuracy and run flawlessly.
I think the closest thing to a malfunction I've had with my Baer TRS is a failure to lock back on old W-R magazines. It was so tight when new it was hard to cycle the slide by hand. Charlie put it in a Ransom Rest and got a group of 0.93".
 

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My experience is that today's top end manufacturers have figured out how to make reliable, accurate out of the box 1911's. Between CAD/CAM and MIM, they can hold to tolerances that use to require hours of hand fitting, and do it on a more or less assembly line basis.

I haven't had a reliability problem with any 1911 manufactured over the last 10 or 15 years now. Oh, I've had the occasional jam. But almost ALL of them were ammo/magazine related...not the gun.

Besides, NOTHING made by man is 100% reliable. I've seen Glocks malfunction, as well as revolvers. Defecation Occurs. You just do your best to limit the chances and know what to do if it does.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Auto-pistol reliability almost always comes down to manufacture quality. Surely the user can take a perfectly good pistol and find a way to make it completely unreliable without changing a bloody thing on the gun.

If you give 1 million people a paper clip, 2 will find a way to kill themselves with it; that's just how freaking dumb the human race is.

The manufacturing standards and consistency of your better 1911's these days is at a level that Colt never even dared to dream about before WW II. And contrary to the so called "experts" MIM is BETTER, not worse. It cost a LOT more to use MIM parts; I doubt they'd be spending the extra money on an inferior product.

I honestly do believe that the newer designs are "more reliable" than the 1911 design, certainly more practical for military applications (cheaper, easier to maintain/repair) but that doesn't mean that the 1911 suddenly became unreliable.

Many of us could have any pistol we want; price really isn't an obstacle. So when it came time to choose what I considered to be the ideal daily carry gun FOR ME, I really couldn't find any weapon better than a .45 ACP Lightweight Commander. It's fairly flat, reasonably compact without being too compact, ergonomics are second to none, sights are great, trigger is great, the controls are exactly where they ought to be, accuracy is great, and reliability with my personal choice (S&W M1911PD) is thus far flawless. So I'm good. And if my pistol doesn't impress at a shooting school, I couldn't really give a rats arse...these days I'm becoming less and less impressed with shooting schools.
 

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Attaboy Kevin !:thumbsup:

I completely agree that the whole 1911 family- regardless of who made it- is a light year or two better than anything past.

It wouldn't even be hard to say it began in 1995 (?) when Kimber really started making guns with CNC machines.

I have never been able to pin down precise costs for MIM vs machined parts and would love to know that. But I have studied the process and most people who replace them just because they're MIM are fixing something that ain't broke.

Even if MIM parts cost more per piece they might still be ecomonically attractive because they require little or no additional work beyond finishing. The trade says MIM parts come out "net shape" so an economy would be found if the amount of manual work was eliminated.
 

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Like most modern manufacturing processes, MIM will cost less >once you pay for the equipment<.

This is like a stamped part.
Making ONE stamped part can cost many thousands of dollars because you have to make the stamping molds and pay for the press.
However, when you use that equipment to make thousands of parts, the price per part is very low. The more you make the less each part costs.

Consider how a forged part is made:
A lump a steel is heated red hot and beaten down into a mold. The part comes out looking vaguely like a part if it was made out of dough.
That lumpy shape is machined on milling machines and lathes until it's fully shaped, then it's hardened.
If at any point in the process something goes wrong, you've lost all that forging and expensive machine and tooling time. You're left with nothing but a piece of scrap metal that usually can only be sent back to a steel mill for re-processing into another lump of steel.

A MIM part is roughly made by mixing powdered metal and a polymer and injecting it into a mold.
The mold is heated until the powdered metal fuses together.
The mold is opened and the fully shaped and finished part is hardened to complete.
If at any point something goes wrong, the metal is simply processed back into powder and re-molded.
A botched part costs your process very little compared to a forged part that is ruined in the final stages of machining by a worn or suddenly broken tool.

So, once you pay for the MIM molding process equipment, the cost per part is very low compared to the much more expensive forged and machined part, and like stampings, the more you make the cheaper the part is.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Attaboy Kevin !:thumbsup:

I completely agree that the whole 1911 family- regardless of who made it- is a light year or two better than anything past.

It wouldn't even be hard to say it began in 1995 (?) when Kimber really started making guns with CNC machines.

I have never been able to pin down precise costs for MIM vs machined parts and would love to know that. But I have studied the process and most people who replace them just because they're MIM are fixing something that ain't broke.

Even if MIM parts cost more per piece they might still be ecomonically attractive because they require little or no additional work beyond finishing. The trade says MIM parts come out "net shape" so an economy would be found if the amount of manual work was eliminated.
Against machining from barstock, MIM is cheaper, but there are many ways to skin a cat. Colt's make their hammers from extruded barstock, then CNC machine finishes; that's a "machined" part made on the cheap. But if you're talking just machining from a billet, then MIM is cheaper. The setup to produce an MIM part is exorbitant, and the process is more costly than investment cast. So every way to slice it, the MIM part is NOT cheap. But it is precise, every time and not only reduces hand fitting time, but more importantly, factory returns.

I'll tell you this, MIM S&W revolvers have actions smoother than anything I've seen since before WW II. My 617 has a good 20k rounds through it, and easily a half million dry snaps. No signs of wear on the mating surfaces, nothing broken, and the action is still smooth as can be. How is that "bad"?

Naw, gun people are just horribly resistant to change; even a change for the better.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Like most modern manufacturing processes, MIM will cost less >once you pay for the equipment<.

This is like a stamped part.
Making ONE stamped part can cost many thousands of dollars because you have to make the stamping molds and pay for the press.
However, when you use that equipment to make thousands of parts, the price per part is very low. The more you make the less each part costs.

Consider how a forged part is made:
A lump a steel is heated red hot and beaten down into a mold. The part comes out looking vaguely like a part if it was made out of dough.
That lumpy shape is machined on milling machines and lathes until it's fully shaped, then it's hardened.
If at any point in the process something goes wrong, you've lost all that forging and expensive machine and tooling time. You're left with nothing but a piece of scrap metal that usually can only be sent back to a steel mill for re-processing into another lump of steel.

A MIM part is roughly made by mixing powdered metal and a polymer and injecting it into a mold.
The mold is heated until the powdered metal fuses together.
The mold is opened and the fully shaped and finished part is hardened to complete.
If at any point something goes wrong, the metal is simply processed back into powder and re-molded.
A botched part costs your process very little compared to a forged part that is ruined in the final stages of machining by a worn or suddenly broken tool.

So, once you pay for the MIM molding process equipment, the cost per part is very low compared to the much more expensive forged and machined part, and like stampings, the more you make the cheaper the part is.
The metal mixture is not cheap at all, much more costly than barstock. Combine that with very exepensive setup and now you see where MIM is a costly process. Still cheaper than milling from barstock, but also much more precise and repeatable.

I've used MIM hammers and sears on 1911's I've built for 20 years, I have yet to replace a single one. MIM had some teething problems, and the internet "experts" went buck wild and blew things WAY out of proportion. MIM is here to stay and I'm really glad it is; they're better parts.
 

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"The mold is heated until the powdered metal fuses together."

That is not correct.

The metal mixed with a "binder" is injected into the mold which is heated but the part that comes out can be crumbled right back to powder with your bare hands. It is also ~20% larger than the finished part.

The next step is to "de-binderize" the part. This done in a warm liquid bath of some secret sauce with the parts spread out on a rack. They come out close to final size but not yet.

The next phase is sintering and this is where the metal is fused. It is a high temperature oven with an inert gas atmosphere. It is a long thing- maybe 30" with the temperature ramped upand then down along the length. The parts are placed on a moving grillwork and pass through. It is pretty slow but I don't know travel time.

When the parts come out of the sintering furnace they are the desired shape and ready for finishing.

Most of the gut of a S&W revolver are MIM now and the actions now are as good or better than the hand fitted guns of the good old days.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
"The mold is heated until the powdered metal fuses together."

That is not correct.

The metal mixed with a "binder" is injected into the mold which is heated but the part that comes out can be crumbled right back to powder with your bare hands. It is also ~20% larger than the finished part.

The next step is to "de-binderize" the part. This done in a warm liquid bath of some secret sauce with the parts spread out on a rack. They come out close to final size but not yet.

The next phase is sintering and this is where the metal is fused. It is a high temperature oven with an inert gas atmosphere. It is a long thing- maybe 30" with the temperature ramped upand then down along the length. The parts are placed on a moving grillwork and pass through. It is pretty slow but I don't know travel time.

When the parts come out of the sintering furnace they are the desired shape and ready for finishing.

Most of the gut of a S&W revolver are MIM now and the actions now are as good or better than the hand fitted guns of the good old days.
Thanks for that information, very interesting. The process is around 20 years old now in the gun business...I figure another 20-30 years from now and people might not gripe about MIM parts all the time. Look at how long it took for investment casting to get respect.
 

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I gave the simplified version of how MIM is made.
Of course there's a lot more to it, I just didn't want to do a huge amount of typing not really related to the subject.

I think where MIM got the bad rep was in the hands of manufacturers who tried to do it fast and cheap instead of the right way. Some parts failed, and that was it as far as many people were concerned.
Gun owners are usually pretty conservative and don't like changes to the way their favorite guns are made, especially if it's done as a cost savings.

Every one "knows" the old forged and milled S&W internal parts are best, and MIM just doesn't do it for them.
The new generation will "grow up" on MIM and plastic guns and will no doubt complain when something else comes along.
I'm old enough that I look with great suspicion at aluminum pistol frames, and plastic a pistol has me reaching for the cross, holy water, and a stake.

Many of the MIM guns really are smoother in operation and that's because there are no milling machine marks on the parts. Since they're molded, there ARE no machine marks and the parts are almost always as smooth as will do any good.

This sort of started with Colt and their sintered steel parts on the 1969 Colt Mark III series.
People insisted on ruining parts by polishing them to "improve" the action, when the critical sintered parts were very smooth already.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
This sort of started with Colt and their sintered steel parts on the 1969 Colt Mark III series.
People insisted on ruining parts by polishing them to "improve" the action, when the critical sintered parts were very smooth already.
Yeah, I recall people raised all kinds of hell when a few Mk III guns had broken parts. Nevermind that from time to time parts break, but since people knew the Mk III's uses sintered metal, rather than say it was a bad part, people sought to condemn the entire process of manufacturing. When in fact, sintering is a very good method of manufacturing. And to this day, the MK III is one of the easiest DA revolvers I've ever worked on. If you want one with a slicked up action, you don't ever have to take a stone to them either, they're perfect right out of the box. All action work was done on the springs. Trimming the hammer spring and re-forming the rebound spring (which was a bit tedius, but when done right netted a fantastic DA action). When all was done right, the action would be smoother than most well tuned S&W's.

Really too bad, I always thought the Colt's Mk III was one of the best, most durable DA .357's ever built. Really the only thing they had going against them was that they weren't as pretty as a S&W 19; but they were more accurate, more durable, stronger in EVERY way&#8230;they were also heavier. The MK III line was created to go head to head against the S&W Model 28, and it clearly had the 28 beat by a good margin. It was also better than the 19, but it was heavier and cops wanted light weight more than they wanted brute strength.
 

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The Colt / Hi-Standard MK. III was an interesting design. But you could hardly ever find one outside a catalog! I think I saw maybe half a dozen in shops back in the day. A lot of variants were cataloged, but I can't recall seeing one carried by any LEO.
Does anyone have a good reference to it's history?
Geoff
Who remembers a Colt Three-Five-Seven carried by a small town Police Officer in his youth.
 

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My Ruger SR1911 and my Magnum Research DE1911G are both reliable thank you. Have not run more than 100 rds at a time though. That is about the amount I can afford per range visit.

Sgt Alvin York in WW1 was quite satisfied with his 1911 by the way!
 
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