Replacing Recoil Springs

Discussion in 'The 1911 Forum' started by JUNKKING, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. JUNKKING

    JUNKKING Active Member

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    I have only one 45 a Sig Revolution I bought from my Brother In-law. I know before me he shot this gun often. Since I got it I have probably shot 2500 rounds through this gun. I have never noticed any difference in the way the gun operates. It functions flawlessly every time out.

    My question is, Whats the deal with replacing the recoil spring? Is there a difference in the way it operates that I am not noticing? And what is the reason for replacing this spring? I know they are very inexpensive, But why fix it if it isn't broken. Just asking, JUNK
  2. Keystone

    Keystone New Member

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    I was told that each spring have difference lbs. Some poeple want lighter springs and some people want heavyer springs. I'm sure some one in here will clear this up.
  3. zb338

    zb338 New Member

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    I'm no spring expert, but my take on it is. If you use a light spring with heavy
    loads you will batter your gun excessively. If you use a heavy spring with
    light loads the slide won't always go all the way back. How many lb. springs
    with what load. Pfm! pure freaking magic.

    Zeke
  4. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    The standard recoil spring in a full sized 1911 is 16 lb. For light loads use a 12 lb varible spring. For heavy loads use an 18 lb varible power spring. Wolf springs are available from www.brownells.com
  5. DWARREN123

    DWARREN123 New Member

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    If the gun starts having problems with extraction/ejection this may be a sign that the recoil spring is getting weak. I like to have one on hand but have only "had" to change one out once.
  6. jondar

    jondar New Member

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    I've really never given a thought to replacing springs. My 1911 is a United States Property made in 1918. It has had all kinds of ammo thru it, factory hard ball and my own reduced handloads. It fires everything I put in it. I bought it from a WW2 vet several years ago and it came with a 1918 clip in the well. Could this be the original spring? The only time I experienced extraction problems was when I experimented with soft loads for the purpose of reducing hammer bite, and some of the loads smokestacked. I increased the load a half grain and no problems since. These old guns are great.
  7. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    The problem with not changing out the recoil springs regularly is the failure mode is that the spring losses strength. That means the force of recoil over powers the slide and the slide slams it into the frame in recoil rather than perfectly controlling the slide and letting it just kiss the frame in the full rearward position. The first notice that the springs are weak may be a excessively damaged frame and maybe even a cracked frame (??).

    To me it makes more sense to test the springs in the gun with a trigger pull gage on the slide with the hammer cocked and the slide nearly touching the frame stop in full recoil. If the weight of the spring is different from what it was when new by more than 1/2 pound then replace it. Otherwise just replace it on a regular basis. Better safe than sorry. Damaged frames and/or slides is probably not good.

    I know, your gun has umpteen million rounds through it and the frame has not cracked or broken, YET. If you want your gun to last then maintain it. And that's my opinion. Do as you wish as you get to choose.

    LDBennett
  8. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

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    Kimber uses a 16 lb spring. They recommend changing that spring every 1500 rounds. Now, this is probably overkill, but I would certainly entertain changing within 2K rounds. The springs are cheap, and replacement frames and slides are not.

    I think the old GI 1911's uses a stiffer spring, 18 or so? On my old 1927 model, I put a new 16 lb and a shok buffer. Ive been told that the shok buffers are a 'gimmick', but this gun is old, and I feel it just helps a little for overstressing the old steel. So far, it has had no ill effect, and the new spring/buffer made the gun cyle much nicer than the ancient stock one.
  9. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    The old GI 1911's also used a 16 lb spring. If you are handloading hot rounds an 18 lb spring is needed. The standard spring for a Commander sized 1911 is 20 lbs.
  10. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    If you choose to change a 1911 recoil spring at 10,000 rounds. Get ready for a cracked frame and the barrel lugs sheared.
  11. jondar

    jondar New Member

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    Sorry, I'm not following. Are you saying that if I DO change the spring I will have these problems?
  12. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    How did you come up with that???????????????????:D

    Replacement springs are made for a reason. To be changed at regular intervals. Change the springs as recommended and let your 1911 live a long happy life. The correct recoil spring poundage is important to the reliability of your pistol. Too light a spring will batter the pistol and weaken the chambering process; too heavy a spring will result in failures to extract and eject, or in "stovepipe" stoppages. A too-heavy spring is also rough on the extractor. A too-quick closing of the slide will force the extractor over the rim of the cartridge, rather than allowing the cartridge to move up under the extractor in a controlled feed. It also has the effect of battering the slide stop unduly. The stock recoil spring in a standard 1911 is rated at 16 pounds. Moving up one notch to 18 ½ pounds will be about right for most pistols shooting hardball and other full-power defense ammo. Anything heavier is too much. Be sure to test the new recoil spring by shooting the pistol one-handed and loosely. It should function positively. If not, go back to the 16-pound spring.

    An extra-power recoil spring also aids in preventing the slide from opening too soon. You may have seen "skid marks" on primers, caused by the firing pin still being extended against the primer when the slide unlocks. Eventually, this could break the firing pin. The use of a heavier recoil spring often cures this problem.

    Commander-size pistols do well with a 20-pound spring for full-power ammo, and Officer’s-size pistols utilize a 24-pound spring well for the same purpose. As long as it’s not overdone, a stiffer recoil spring will aid in positive chambering and lengthen the life of the pistol. If the slide becomes difficult to retract using a stiffer spring, consider using one of the progressive-rate springs which are easier to get started at the start of the slide’s recoil stroke. The jury is out as far as the so-called "shock buffers" are concerned. These little polymer doughnuts slip over the recoil spring guide and cushion the shock of the slide banging against the end of the recoil spring guide. To this extent they are good, but they must be replaced regularly as they get chewed up. Having one disintegrate inside a defense pistol in a pucker situation is not something I would want to have happen, and for that reason I don’t use them. Likewise, there is controversy over the use of a full-length recoil spring guide in a defense pistol. Theoretically, the full-length guide keeps the recoil spring from kinking in its channel, and assures uniformity in the recoil stroke. It has the disadvantage of preventing a "press check" of the pistol, and of preventing one-handed racking of the slide by pressing the recoil spring plug against a shelf, shoe or other solid object. It is doubtful if the full-length guide increases accuracy, but you may gain some life from the recoil spring. Recoil springs should be replaced about every 2-3 thousand rounds anyway, as they gradually lose their strength over time and usage.
  13. jondar

    jondar New Member

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    Quote: How did you come up with that?

    Well, it's your words not mine. Paraphrasing: If I choose to change the springs at 10,000 rounds then I should be prepared for ........
  14. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

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    Shooter,
    Excellent post. Lots of good info. Question for you...

    You said a extra power spring for defense rounds or hardball ammo. I guess I'm a bit confused about the 'hardball' part of it. Full power defense rounds, usually associated with max power or even +P loads, I get that, but define the hardball part.

    I thought 'hardball' was just a 230 FMJ load, which of course is the most common rounds for a .45ACP.

    If I am shooting factory loads, ie. Win White Box, Speer Lawman, etc. in 230 FMJ, would a XP spring be a good idea? Or are you referring to a reload/max load situation with FMJ.

    Hope this isn't a dumb question, but I am a bit new to the 1911 world, only been at it for a few months. Like to learn all I can, plus, don't want to be talking out of my exhaust pipe if sharing info with others at a later date.

    Thanks

    Also, I placed a call to Kimber, asking them about the recoil buffers.....they say "NO!" The answer is change the recoil spring at the suggested intervals, and there is no need for a buffer. Tech stated same reason as above, they can come apart in the gun and create a mess. Also, on shorter commander style, and compact guns, due to the already short stroke, they tend to crowd the action and cause ejection jams.
    I still consider using it in my old 1927 as it has been used alot (before me) and I like the idea of having a little buffer for the old steel. I will just be sure to change it often. Not hard since it sees limited range time. Only about 500 rounds a year. I'll just change it once a year to be safe. $1 annual insurance program
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2009
  15. JUNKKING

    JUNKKING Active Member

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    I think what shooter was saying was. IF you wait until you've shot 10,000 rounds without changing the spring. You could have already caused the damage to the frame and barrel lugs, Also intending to let everyone know not to be surprised that your gun is jacked up for not spending a few dollars.

    Kind of like not changing the oil in your vehicle. Although the vehicle is running fine, It only costs a minimal amount to change the oil but those who don't shouldn't be surprised when something goes wrong.

    Preventive maintenance is what he was getting at.

    Thanks for the info. Shooter!
  16. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    The perfect recoil spring is one that just operates the gun and loads the next round. The slide has to recoil far enough to allow the slide to be caught by the slide stop on the last round out of the magazine.

    The way to find the perfect spring is to start with a set of springs like sold by Wolfe or others. Stick in the heaviest spring. Load up the magazine with one round of your favorite power level ammo. Drop the gun's slide and fire the gun. If the slide fails to lock open then go to the next lighter spring and do the test again. Keep changing springs to the next lightest one until you find the spring that reliably locks the slide back EVERY time on the last round. Then test with several full magazines. The gun should feed every time and lock back with every last round. Failure to do that? Then go to the next lighter spring. The gun MUST be reliable but only needs a spring that allows it to cycle perfectly every time, not some huge spring that makes the gun unreliable in feeding ammo or resistant to locking back on the last round.

    You can talk numbers until you are blue in the face but it is the gun operating correctly and fully that counts, not some mystical spring with a number on it that everyone else uses.

    LDBennett
  17. JUNKKING

    JUNKKING Active Member

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    After a very good PM conversation with Shooter, I had my question answered and fully understand WHY a spring SHOULD be changed in a 1911. It's kind of a pay now or pay later situation. Paying now is minimal to the pay later consequence of what it will cost you. Thanks shooter, JUNK
  18. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    Quite a few competition shooters will use 230 gr bullets and load them to max creating excessive recoil. In the early days, we called them hardball rounds. Maybe I had better stop using that term. :eek: But when using full or max power ammo, I'd recommend a Wolf 18.5 lb varible power spring. I hope this clears up any confusion.
  19. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

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    Yes it did. Thank you

    By theory, it does seem that a heavier spring would last longer, however, the post above makes sense that too heavy a spring might not cycle correctly. Plus putting extra stress on the slide as it returns may also create eventual premature wear.

    I like LD's explanation. That makes sense. Enough spring pressure to optimumize cylce effeciency means enough to do the job without extra stress to the components. Find the right spring rate, and change it out when it starts to loose it's effeceincy. Either by testing with a scale, or just do the easy thing, every 1500-2000 rounds.

    I think you can buy a set of good springs in a three pack for about $20
  20. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    John, using an incorrect weight spring will cause timing issues. Ex. slide closing too fast or too slow.
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