first 1000 rnds by Hilton Yam of 10-8

Discussion in 'Beginner's Corner' started by IraG2362, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. IraG2362

    IraG2362 Supporting Addict Supporting Addict

    Sep 3, 2011
    I received this in my emails from his sight and thought I would share it.

    The most common 1911 question which follows new ownership of one is typically, "What should I do to it?" Before we begin, I must reinforce that any gunsmithing work should be performed by a qualified 1911 specialist for best results. The 1911 gets an especially bad rap since folks feel entitled to work on it themselves without any research, prior experience, or even proper resources.

    I would suggest for less experienced users to get 1000 rounds through their new 1911 prior to tearing into it. During this interval, it is your opportunity to evaluate the pistol in a number of areas. Experienced users probably already have a favorite setup for their gun, and will probably tear right into a new one. Even for experienced 1911 users, this first 1000 rounds is an important interval to examine their new gun.

    Before you start with the evaluation, I strongly suggest that you visit my website's 1911 Magazines article and ready carefully. Put aside the factory mags, get 4-6 of one of the mags recommended in my article, and go from there.

    Basic Reliability:
    Your new 1911 needs to complete this 1000 round test period without ANY malfunctions to be considered reliable out of the box. If you are buying a new production 1911, there really is no "break in" period that should be permitted. Contrary to popular belief, new factory production 1911s (ie. Colt, S&W, Kimber, Springfield, etc.) are not so tight that they need to be broken in. They are largely composed of drop in and minimally fit parts, especially the slide/frame/barrel, which should function correctly from the start. Any problems that crop up during the first 1000 rounds will need to be addressed, as they will typically continue to give you headaches down the road.

    1) Does the gun feed properly with ball and hollow point ammunition?
    If you intend to use the pistol for duty or CCW purposes, it is critical that it function with jacketed hollow points (JHP). Many guns that run great with ball end up choking on JHP's. Run as many rounds as you can afford - the more rounds of JHP through the gun, the more data you have.

    2) Does the gun extract and eject consistently?
    Your gun needs to eject each round in a reasonably consistent pattern from about 3:00 to 5:00. If it is throwing empties all over creation, hitting you in the head with empties, and spitting them out to 12:00 and 9:00, you have a problem with extractor tension. If you get a failure to extract where the empty casing stays in the chamber and a new cartridge is fed on top of it, you have a serious extractor problem. More lube, more cleaning, more "break in" will not solve this, so just stop and get it fixed.

    3) Does the magazine catch trap the magazines?
    This is a very common issue that confounds the shooter's attempt to perform rapid reloads. Try this simple test: with an empty mag in place, press the mag catch in as far as you can while catching the mag to prevent it from dropping out. Let go of the mag while keeping the catch depressed and see if the catch is holding the magazine in place. Your mag catch needs to be replaced or modified if this is happening.

    4) Does the slide stop lock open prematurely while there are still rounds in the magazine?
    It shouldn't, and if it does you need to have the slide stop and/or the detent plunger and spring addressed.

    Smart Mechanical Setup:
    During your initial 1000 round test period, pay attention to these items below to see how they affect your experience.

    1) Hex head grip screws and mag catch lock
    These are popular because they look cool and the assembler at the factory can use a powered driver to quickly install the grip screws. They are inconvenient for the end user as you will inevitably need to hunt around for the right size hex wrench when you need to tighten the grips or take the gun apart. Replace these.

    2) Full length guide rod
    If you want the extra weight out front for competition, then have at it. Otherwise, that part serves no purpose and makes the gun harder to take apart. Replace it.

    3) Sharp edges
    The 1911 comes with lots of sharp edges, and some guns are so bad that you end up ripping up holsters and making yourself bleed. Pay attention to where the worst edges are, and when it is time to have them addressed, you can point out exactly what needs to be changed.

    User compatibility:
    The 1911 is composed of many small parts, which for good or bad, can all be switched out by the end user. Pay attention to what is on your gun that you may wish to change to suit your needs. After 1000 rounds, you will get a good feel for what needs to happen.

    1) Trigger break
    A good 1911 trigger is just about unequalled in the world of the fighting handgun. If your gun's trigger does not please you, it is easy to have it changed. Also take note of the length and configuration of the trigger to ensure a good fit to your hand.

    2) Grips
    A good set of grips will help keep both hands anchored to the gun. Choose carefully to meet your needs.

    3) Sights
    There are countless different sight configurations on the market today. Try a number of different setups to see what works for you.

    4) Magazine well
    The 1911 really benefits from a magazine well treatment of some type, whether it is a simple bevel of the frame or an add on funnel. Figure out what your needs are and try a number of different units before making the change.

    During this evaluation, clean your gun every 250-300 rounds or so, keep it well lubed, and feed it with quality ammunition from top quality magazines. You'll have a better time and be more productive.

    Good Hunting,

    Hilton Yam

    10-8 Performance
  2. Quack

    Quack it's mmm, mmm good... Staff Member Admin

    Aug 15, 2011
    Nice. I was gonna post it, but I'm in class right now. :grin:

  3. Blayglock

    Blayglock Supporting Addict Supporting Addict

    Aug 18, 2011
    Very nice post. Im a fan of all things 10-8.
    Tango63 likes this.
  4. IraG2362

    IraG2362 Supporting Addict Supporting Addict

    Sep 3, 2011
    may it could be pinned.. I think it is an awesome piece..
  5. Hatter

    Hatter Makes **** Move

    Aug 23, 2011
    I second the pinning... I'll be reverting back to this I'm sure
  6. Sir Guy

    Sir Guy Sharpening Ockham's Razor Supporting Addict

    Aug 20, 2011
    Good article! He makes some very good points.

    Thanks for posting it. :thumb:

  7. rsxr22

    rsxr22 Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    Hilton is definitely an intelligent guy!
  8. DAT85

    DAT85 BIG OL' BALD HAID ! Supporting Addict

    Aug 26, 2011
    Every new 1911 owner should read this piece.
    (actually,old dogs like me should read the section about extraction a few times! )

    Thanks for posting.

    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
  9. claire

    claire Anger Management Graduate

    Sep 22, 2011
    The other post in his blog that was really helpful for me in understanding the 1911 was his blog post: Reliability, Round Counts, and Longevity in 1911s

    In observing the discussion of the reliability, longevity, and overall performance of 1911s, I find that there is a huge disparity in what folks consider to be "a lot of rounds" or a reasonable test cycle. It is not uncommon to hear that someone's gun has "never given them problems" or "runs great," only to find out that they have only shot 100 rounds out of it over the span of two range sessions. Since this site is aimed at professionals and serious students who could benefit from quality information and discussion, I thought it would be worthwhile to put some hard numbers out for discussion. Keep in mind that the component and build quality of the gun, as well as the type of ammunition and magazines, can drastically affect performance. The numbers below are guidelines, determined from my own experience and observation. They are also related to full sized, steel frame 1911s firing full power .45 ammunition. Hand built competition 1911s firing reduced power handloads or those fitted with compensators tend to exhibit different service cycles, and many of them tend to last quite a bit longer.

    Reliability Intervals:

    First, let's consider what should be a statistically significant round count interval. Firing 50 or 100 rounds through the gun is not worth terribly much as far as diagnosing its overall performance, unless you are looking at a very specific area. If you are doing very focused performance testing, 50-100 rounds can be worthwhile if you are looking for an expected outcome. For example, if you need to see if the gun is ejecting consistently, 50-100 rounds will give you some decent information. These 50-100 rounds may be fired at the berm, while observing the ejection pattern carefully, and would not constitute anything other than function firing. However, to get a bigger picture of overall performance, 300-500 rounds is the minimum you should accept before making any judgments regarding overall performance. If you are watching the gun closely, it is possible to get a pretty good read on the weapon's performance within 300 rounds. If I built the gun, I can usually predict how it will run after a 300 round test session because I am looking closely at certain criteria.

    To stretch out the discussion point here, I personally consider 1,000 rounds the standard interval that I examine for reliability and function. If a particular gun/ammo/mag combination will run for 1000 rounds without incident, that is meaningful to me. One malfunction in 1,000 rounds is the maximum that I will tolerate, and even then I am looking very hard for the root cause of the problem. Since the original 1911 underwent a 6,000 round trial without malfunction, it should be reasonable to expect a properly set up weapon to duplicate the same performance with quality magazines and ammunition.


    The mainspring and sear spring are under a very light load, and quality units tend to last longer than the round count milestones discussed below. Neither spring typically requires replacement in normal service, which includes keeping the hammer cocked at all times. The longevity of the fire control components – hammer, sear, and disconnector – will vary based on the quality of the parts. High quality machined parts that fit are fit and set up properly in the gun will generally exceed the service cycle milestones listed below with no noticeable change in feel or performance.

    Round Counts – Meaningful Milestones:

    The 1911 platform will last far, far longer than the 6,000 rounds from original military trials. However, that long road is not without meaningful milestones that should be respectfully and diligently observed by the dedicated user. These intervals that follow apply to my experience with 5" 1911s shooting .45 ACP, and each gun is going to be very different.

    500-1,000 rounds – If you are running a synthetic buffer in your gun, this is the interval at which you need to replace it. If you wait too long, the buffer will come apart inside the gun and tie it up. Five hundred rounds is a reasonable interval at which to perform basic cleaning, lube, and maintenance on your 1911.

    3,000 rounds – Every 3,000 rounds should see the replacement of the firing pin spring and the recoil spring. Timely spring replacement prolongs the service cycle of the weapon.

    3,000-10,000 rounds – This seems to be the lifespan range of the average slide stop detent plunger and the accompanying plunger spring. Why is this significant? The detent plungers, if made to the original ordnance specifications, are only surface hardened about .002" to .005". More often, modern pin sets are not made to such specification, and the tips of the plungers flatten out with age. A flat headed plunger does not exert the appropriate tension on the slide stop, and in conjunction with a weakened plunger spring, can lead to premature or false slide lock malfunctions. Make a habit of periodically examining your slide stop plunger when you perform maintenance on the gun.

    This same round count interval is also when many factory plunger tubes tend to loosen from the frame. This is a show stopper and the gun must be pulled from service immediately. It is possible for the safety detent plunger to ride out over the safety while it is in the "safe" position, making it physically impossible to lower the safety and fire the gun. Standard ordnance pattern grips will support and pin the plunger tube to the frame, which conversely is why slim grips are a bad idea. Take a look at your grip panels and see if they help keep the plunger tube in place.

    5,000 rounds – This is what I find to be the low end of the average lifespan range of the modern internal extractor. Yes, plenty last much, much longer, but plenty also last only a fraction of this round count. Once an extractor starts to log this many rounds, I will typically replace it at the first hint of failure (ie. erratic ejection). Some important caveats are necessary in explaining this very harsh and short service interval. Once the extractor is properly set up - and this may require a skilled hand for fitting as well as some test firing - the extractor should be good to go for its whole service cycle. Once it starts to let go, it is on the downhill slide and more problems will continue to surface. The first time you get a profound extractor related malfunction, don't shrug it off, you're going to get more. The extractors often will continue working with some retensioning, but that can sometimes just be a temporary fix. The key issue here is that extractor failure is typically only recognized by the shooter as a stovepipe or double feed malfunction, where that really is the most extreme situation. If you start seeing rounds ejecting forward, left, and straight at the shooter's head, THAT is the beginning of extractor failure. This milder type of failure is often dismissed, which is why extractors may often seem to last longer.

    20,000 rounds – About the time to start giving the gun a comprehensive overhaul to look for worn components. Cracked firing pin stops, cracked or bent barrel bushings, and peened barrel lugs (both lower and radial) may start showing up. If the gun started with a relatively modest or loose slide/frame fit, they may be pretty loose by now. If the gun still works fine, it's not a big deal, but retightening the fit between the slide and frame can give the gun a whole new feel.

    20,000 – 30,000 rounds – About time to start looking at the bore if you've been shooting jacketed ammunition the whole time. However, as long as there is some rifling left in the last 1" or so of the tube, a good barrel will often continue shooting just fine. Thanks to John Miller from AMU for that nugget of wisdom. I have a gun that is missing a large percentage of rifling in the first third of the barrel, yet is still a tack driver. Barrels may be reaching the end of their service cycle around this point due to wear in the overall fit. The longevity of the barrel fit will have much to do with how it originally fit in the gun. The better the fit, the longer the barrel will tend to last.

    50,000 – 70,000 rounds – A lot of guns start to really show their age once you get past this mileage point. Slides and frames can start to develop cracks, and excessive wear in various small components starts to add up as well. Broken or loose ejectors, cracked thumb safeties, loose ambi safety shafts, broken hammer struts, broken slide stop lobes, loose plunger tubes, and loose sights are all common ailments of the small parts. It's time for at least another rebuild, this time you may need to look at replacing the slide and barrel. A lot of life can be squeezed out of the frame as long as the pin holes remain round and the barrel bed is not too worn from barrel lug impact. Ultimately, it may be easier to retire the gun at this point, as you may end up chasing a lot of different breakages.

    Clicky Here

    19DRS83, Hogleg and kenshoTx like this.
  10. G27RR

    G27RR Hmmm...

    Oct 11, 2011
    If you get a chance to take a 1911 class, Hilton hand files extractors and sets the correct tension for guns in class that aren't in spec. Mine was borderline, and I'd gone about 1,000 rounds without a malfunction, but he was nice enough to reshape mine to be right on the money anyway.

    Sir Geoff likes this.
  11. 230gr

    230gr Active Member

    Aug 23, 2011
    The more you hang around guns, the more and more you realize that eveyone one of these guys has their philosophy that they think you should live by. I kind of just chuckle and take it all with that proverbial grain of salt, educate me, and make up my own mind.
    Now the value in someone that just shoots, doesn't get in to maintaining their gun to a very high level or that sort of thing, yeah, there's probably good value in this sort of thing for that person, but to me it's all hoo-ey.
  12. ph.eagle

    ph.eagle New Member

    Mar 12, 2013
    Learned a lot thank you
  13. Wes28376

    Wes28376 Low speed, high drag

    Jul 15, 2012
    You should try his new armorers course. I attended a while back and found it very valuable. He teaches you how to fit the extractors and you do your own work with his oversight. It was a very valuable course.
  14. the.batman

    the.batman Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2013
    I wish more folks would actually spend the time to put 1000 rounds through their guns before declaring them to be "running great." There are so many posts on forums from guys asking why their new gun jammed the first time they took it out. A couple boxes of ammo and a single malfunction do not help a guy make an accurate diagnosis! Here's another tidbit from Hilton that is right on the money- "The 1911 is an aficionado's weapon, and has a place in the modern arsenal for those who are dedicated to it." -Hilton Yam
  15. Quack

    Quack it's mmm, mmm good... Staff Member Admin

    Aug 15, 2011
    I was reading on another forum some posted that they've had x gun for 8 years and its been very reliable. Along with that he says he had about 1000 rounds through it. Must be the same person that puts a mag or 2 through a gun and calls it good.

    R0CKETMAN NRA member Supporting Addict

    Dec 24, 2011
    What I found of interest was Hilton's 1/1k failure rate tolerance. Certainly can be tough with a 1911, or any gun for that matter.

    Aside, I may have one that's capable..half way there
  17. Bender

    Bender Supporting Addict Supporting Addict

    Aug 15, 2011
    "RUNS GREAT!"........1450 without a fart.


    "RUNS GREAT!"........1260 without a fart.

  18. Ls3miata

    Ls3miata Wow I could have had a V8

    Mar 19, 2013
    took my 2011 STI Eagle out today and put another 200 rounds through it. I've had it less than a month and it has 1100 rounds through it with no issues and I haven't so much as field stripped it yet. It will get its first cleaning tonight.
  19. Bender

    Bender Supporting Addict Supporting Addict

    Aug 15, 2011
    Hey, 'bought a pic of the Eagle?
  20. Gun-nut

    Gun-nut Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2013
    Great article. Everyone has their own standards and tests for what they deem reliable or accurate. Nothing beats a for sale add that says some holster wear. Carried for xx months. Round count under 100. Adds like that have always cracked me up yet concerned me more. I never know what to believe. Round count or that they actually were carrying it.

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