John Browning’s Model 1911 pistol and its offspring have been around for over a century and the secrets to maintaining them are pretty easy to master.
First– starting with a cleared and unloaded pistol, with no brass, ammunition or loaded magazines in the room– you need to field strip the gun. Almost all M1911 variants takedown in virtually the same way, ranging from Great War-era guns through today’s Commander and Officer carry variants.
Below is Team Colt shooter Mark Redl’s simple tutorial on how to field strip one of these venerable handguns. Pay close attention to avoid an unsightly “idiot’s mark” on the slide. Also, be careful with that recoil spring, as it has a nasty habit of trying to launch itself across the room.
Getting the gunk out
Once stripped, clean the carbon, fouling and grime away with products made specifically for maintaining firearms.
Do not over lubricate
Then be sure to lightly lubricate the pistol. When we say “lightly” just a few drops of lubricant in the right places can work wonders. Justin Baldini, Product Director for Colt, covers where and how much in greater detail, below. Tip: do not over-lubricate and shy away from heavy grease.
Putting it all back together again
After you have the M1911 variant stripped, cleaned and lubed, reassembly is easy. Be sure to function check the pistol without ammunition immediately after to make sure all is according to plan.
Should you find that you have earned an aforementioned “idiot mark” or have a scratch on your stainless slide, in many cases they can be fixed at home with the aid of a green pad and some elbow grease.
What about 1911s not made by Colt?
The good news is, as the basic layout of a Model 1911-style pistol is the same, cleaning and maintenance of a dirty pistol is largely the same no matter if it is a $300 Rock Island Arms or a $2,000 Wilson Combat series gun.
What about the mags?
Finally, be sure to keep your magazines cleaned and maintained. With any semi-auto pistol and the M1911 platform, in particular, jams and feeding issues encountered are often attributed to bad, worn or poor magazines.
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Have fun and happy shooting!