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  #1  
Old 11-01-2011, 09:53 AM
pbrake pbrake is offline
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What's the reliability issue about??

I've always heard and read about the reluctance to depend on compact 1911s, like Officers, Defenders, and the other compact and sub-compacts from other makers.

People just toss the line out as if it's a common fact: "Oh, I'd never carry a 3 in. 1911 because of reliability issues...."

BUT, I've never read or heard of a study or test that has actually demonstrated a reliability issue in these guns! Is there one? I searched the web for one, and have searched here for one, but I only find the comment above--never the data to demonstrate it.

And every time someone says it, someone else points out that their Officer/Defender/WhatHaveYou has been flawless through XXK rounds.

It's possible I've missed a well-known study or demonstration that was done. But it looks like what has happened is that someone somewhere speculated that a short barrel/slide/frame assembly *may* have issues if not built correctly, and that statement got into some gun mag or report, where folks started quoting it.

What am I missing?
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:29 AM
zaxx zaxx is offline
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What's the reliability issue about??

As you suggest, it is an issue of opinions. And you know what they say about opinions. Here's mine regarding reliability:

Regardless of brand or platform it (handgun or long-arm) must function correctly first time, every time...
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:53 AM
dcxplant dcxplant is offline
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I think it's remnants of Colts poor manufacturing years.

Also, this design was created by John Browning specifically for hardball rounds. Most modern 1911 have their feed ramps and barrel chambers shaped to accommodate hollowpoints, but some better than others.

The biggest feeding issue is making sure you pick ammo with an ogive (curve shape of the bullet tip) that the pistol likes. Some pistols have very forgiving chambers and some are a bit tighter. When you get a 1911 (just like any pistol!) go to the range with several brands of ammo to see what brand works best.

If you handload you have more freedom, like making small adjustments to the cartridge's overall length, case sizing etc.

I had a Kahr PM 40 that was picky as all get-out, and didn't feed reliably with ANY type of ammo for several hundred rounds. Glocks seem to eat anything because they have extremely generous chambers, reloaders who pick up 45 brass out of a Glock may find if there sizing die doesn't size all the way down the case will have a bulge at the base, and subsequently will not feed.

YMMV and all that....
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:55 AM
Horoscope Fish Horoscope Fish is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbrake View Post
BUT, I've never read or heard of a study or test that has actually demonstrated a reliability issue in these guns!
Such a "study or test" would be doomed to failure before it was even started. I mean... How, exactly, would you go about proving something like that; or even coming to a general consensus?

Personally I'm under the impression there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to give me pause about carrying a 1911 in a 3" platform. In my own personal opinion doing so is simply asking more out of the 1911 platform than what I'm comfortable with. I think it's a testament to the skills of designers and engineers and everyone who puts them together that any of them work AT ALL considering the numerous technical challenges I've (only) read about. In short, when it comes to handguns that small for personal defense and concealed carry I think there are better options and ones I'm more certainly more comfortable with.
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  #5  
Old 11-01-2011, 11:07 AM
Mike1969 Mike1969 is offline
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Wilson and Brown

among others will not build a gun under 4 inches. That carries a lot of weight with me.

But then again, I love my Kimber Super Carry Ultra and my SA EMP. I have not had reliability issues with either.
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  #6  
Old 11-01-2011, 11:54 AM
John Doe John Doe is offline
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The breech-face of the slide does not go back as far on an officer's model size 1911 than on the Commander or Government Model size 1911. This gives the magazine less time to feed the next cartridge. I witnessed a Para Warthog (3" barrel) being shot at my indoor range. The second to last round was being ejected un-fired and the last round was chambered. The shooter wasn't even aware it was happening. Go figure. I suppose with the right ammo, magazine spring pressure and recoil spring they can be perfectly reliable. I wouldn't care to trust my life to it.
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:03 PM
CastleBravo CastleBravo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbrake View Post
BUT, I've never read or heard of a study or test that has actually demonstrated a reliability issue in these guns! Is there one? I searched the web for one, and have searched here for one, but I only find the comment above--never the data to demonstrate it.
You're asking for a level of proof that doesn't exist for this question, or almost any other question concerning handguns. Nobody is spending tens of thousands of dollars on guns and ammo so they can run scientific studies of random gun-related questions like this, unfortunately.

The general consensus is that your odds of getting a reliable gun go down the shorter you make the barrel. The engineering argument why this might be so is fairly straightforward. Whether or not you accept that "conventional wisdom" or not is your business.

As a side note, it's not a question of if a short 1911 can work. Plenty of them do work. It's a question of what your odds are of getting one that works compared to your odds of getting a 4"+ model that works, all else being equal.
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:09 PM
Vern Humphrey Vern Humphrey is offline
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Many of the early short-barreled M1911 derivitives did not have the proper geometry. The M1911 unlocks, as we all know, when the breech end of the barrel is pulled down by the link during recoil.

Now, regardless of barrel length, the locking lugs need to be of the same depth -- so a short barreled gun needs to be pulled down at a steeper angle to unlock. This requires some subtle engineering to make short-barreled guns work reliably.
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Old 11-01-2011, 02:03 PM
Viper7 Viper7 is offline
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I have two three inchers, a STI Escort and a Kimber UC II. The STI runs fine with no failures. When I first got the Kimber, it would not completely chamber the first round in a fully loaded mag. Six rounds and everything was good. That problem was solved with better mags - the standard Kimber mags are junk IMO. They wouldn't run in the STI either.
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  #10  
Old 11-01-2011, 02:38 PM
pbrake pbrake is offline
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Good points--testing for such data officially would be time-consuming, difficult, very expensive, and still controversial under less than hyper-strenuous testing parameters. So it hasn't been done, and we rely on anecdotes.

The problem with the compact/sub-compact anecdote is, that I don't hear any significantly *larger* numbers of personal failures from these guns than I hear about from larger or full-sized guns. There's just an assumption out there, I think, that the smaller guns will have problems.

Several have said that they see how the smaller gun is engineered, and conclude that it may have a reliability issue, and are surprised that some small guns work at all! I understand the opinion, but that doesn't result in "a reliability issue," for me, especially if the anecdotal evidence isn't there to a greater extent than it is in full-sized guns.
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Old 11-01-2011, 02:59 PM
Horoscope Fish Horoscope Fish is offline
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Originally Posted by pbrake View Post
Several have said that they see how the smaller gun is engineered, and conclude that it may have a reliability issue, and are surprised that some small guns work at all! I understand the opinion, but that doesn't result in "a reliability issue," for me, especially if the anecdotal evidence isn't there to a greater extent than it is in full-sized guns.
I'm not concluding anything. I said I think it's a testament to the designers and engineers behind these designs who have overcome significant obstacles in making such a small platform as functional as they have. That's not drawing a conclusion on reliability, it's a statement on a personal observation.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:06 PM
mikeg1005 mikeg1005 is offline
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I think its that their design is inherently LESS reliable than a 4 or 5 inch pistol, not that they are not-reliable.

Guys listed stuff here..

Shorter cycle, higher barrel angle when unlocked, the fact that you are using a heavy recoil spring... all that comes into play + people trying to use different profiles of bullets... There is more forgiveness in a 5" pistol for something else to be wrong and the gun to still run.

MIke.
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  #13  
Old 11-01-2011, 03:24 PM
Mr. T Mr. T is offline
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There is nothing wrong with the smaller 1911's. It comes down to what you can shoot, and if you consider it reliable. all of the subcompact 1911's I have shot worked without issue.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:35 PM
gtbigup01 gtbigup01 is offline
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Interesting question. I will submit this one to Riflemen magazines and see if they come back with substantiated feedback, whether good or bad. After all, I do have a 3" 1911 (styled) which I dispised the first 3 weeks of ownership
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  #15  
Old 11-01-2011, 06:36 PM
Al Bundy Al Bundy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Doe View Post
The breech-face of the slide does not go back as far on an officer's model size 1911 than on the Commander or Government Model size 1911. This gives the magazine less time to feed the next cartridge. I witnessed a Para Warthog (3" barrel) being shot at my indoor range. The second to last round was being ejected un-fired and the last round was chambered. The shooter wasn't even aware it was happening. Go figure. I suppose with the right ammo, magazine spring pressure and recoil spring they can be perfectly reliable. I wouldn't care to trust my life to it.
This
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:13 PM
DANCESWITHGUNS DANCESWITHGUNS is offline
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People that have way more invested and experience with the platform shy away from the shorter models, so I figure theres got to be a reason. Mentioned earlier were a couple of custom makers and I'll add Chuck Taylor's name in the list that shy away.

I drank the Kool-aid and believe the shorter than commander models tend to be a bit more finicky caused by timing issues (due to less travel and slide mass). I can't prove or disprove the validity of the belief but if someone of an authority tells ya the train's coming you don't stay on the tracks I guess.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:43 PM
Runt7680 Runt7680 is offline
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I have a Para pda 9mm on the 1911 platform. Since day 1 with out even a round down range, the ambi safety failed. Only the left side would engauge. I bought 2 boxes of CCI aluminum case 115 grain fmj. It run perfect, I was happy about that, but mad because of the safety. I sent it in and had a single sided safety put on. When I got it back, I tried WWB constant failure with failure to eject. Got another box of cci and run perfect. They seemed to be hotter and it like's Hornady CD. I have had the para for a year and it needs to back again for warrenty work, that happened a few month's ago. It has been a complete headach from day one. The mags are crap and can only run para mags. They are shorter than an officer mag, or atleast what I'm told. When it's running good I love it.
I think with the shorter slides and stiffer recoil springs in the 3inch barrel gun's they need a hotter round and an extra stiff locked hand grip to get proper function and reliability out of it.
My 3 inch beretta px4 storm don't like weak ammo. It will shoot WWB just fine, but it's not rated for +p ammo for continous use, like the para. The beretta had problems out of the box also, since I had it back,it's been flawless for a year,it or my p95 don't like remington umc. Would I buy another 3 inch, only if I had to.
to.
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:45 PM
kthom kthom is offline
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The laws of physics cannot be ignored. The shorter (lighter) slide, with the need to have the recoil spring weight just right to allow all the things that must happen to happen correctly, and all the other construction requirements to make the shorter barreled 1911s work well is a greater challenge. Things need to be right with all sizes of them, but the longer barreled ones are a bit more forgiving in my experience. I also believe that our propensity to start adding or removing stuff that we read about on forums and in magazines will negatively affect the shorter barreled units even more quickly than the longer barreled ones. I also personally feel that shooting a short barrel 1911 requires a very firm shooting grip to allow the recoil and reload process to have it's best chance to function correctly, as compared to a longer barreled one. If your arms and hands soak up to much of the recoil force, it affects the timing and function of the weapon.

They can work and work well, but as mentioned, you must accept in most cases a much smaller choice of ammo to fire if every shot reliability is your goal. Since that is my goal, and since I can conceal an alloy officer's frame with a commander length barrel just as easily as the three or three and a half incher, it's no contest for me. MY OPINION ONLY here, FWIW!!
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:54 PM
OnTarget1911 OnTarget1911 is offline
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They work

Internet rhetoric and opinion parroting. Yes they are harder to make run right. But they run. Or can run. And you will read time after time after time after time here on this forum problems with all lengths of guns. Now, having said that there is one important reason to go with a longer barrel. Velocity.

Jess
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:05 PM
MaestroGustav MaestroGustav is offline
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http://www.10-8performance.com/pages...-Duty-Use.html

Hard to argue with a guy who has had his hands on more 1911s than all the people on this forum put together. . . .

Oh yeah, Larry Vickers also says 5 inch steel or go Glock.

You will hear from people who have shorties that work; if you wanna play the odds, go ahead.

If I need a tiny pistol, I'm going to another platform. good luck with your choice.
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:16 PM
OnTarget1911 OnTarget1911 is offline
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Guess you

told me. I respect the opinion of the experts for sure. But as I said, 3 inch guns can run. Now if you ask me if I would carry one, no. And if Larry doesn't like short guns, good for him. I personally carry nothing shorter than a Commander length. And I carry a 5 inch gun all the time. I tend to carry the longest barrel I can under the given circumstances. I see no "concealable" advantage to a shorter barrel or grip if the right holster is used and the gun is canted. Especially if you use an IWB holster then the barrel length is moot. And there is the weight, but the difference between a Titanium or alloy framed commander length and steel is negligible in my opinion. Like I said, repeating internet opinion. And I do respect Hilton Yam no doubt. I just know that I have and can get them to run. If you really want to get picky then get a Glock. Nice short 3 finger grips, crappy trigger and new school cool. And perhaps switch to a 9MM or .40 so you don't have to change mags as often. Reality is that people will shoot what they want and carry what they want. If the sub 4 inch gun is built right and running right, there is no reason to expect it to fail more than a 4 or 5 inch gun. Most of the people that have shot the crap out of the Colts and Kimbers (that work) will argue otherwise. And I have shot many thousands of rounds out of personal 3, 4, and 5 inch guns. They can all have issues and they can all work. The shorter guns are just more challenging to get running if they are not setup right or tuned right. Anyway, as I always say, shoot what you want and carry what you want, it is a free country. And if you ever have to pull your carry gun to use it, make sure it runs before you get to that point.

Jess
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  #22  
Old 11-02-2011, 01:02 AM
DPris DPris is offline
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The only 3-inch 1911 variant I've ever worked with was a Springfield model about 11 years ago.
The most accurate 1911 I've fired, the least reliable. Even after it went back to Springfield to be adjusted.
Just one quantifiable example I can offer.
Denis
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  #23  
Old 11-02-2011, 05:25 AM
excess3 excess3 is offline
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when was the last time,
there was a new gun design,
without an integrated barrel-feedramp?
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Old 11-02-2011, 09:30 AM
MaestroGustav MaestroGustav is offline
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Jess, I didn't tell you anything. . . . we agree. Commander is also the shortest I would go. . . but like you I carry 5in. There is so little difference; that 3/4in means nothing for me in terms of concealment.

I am confident a 4.25 can be made to work on an individual basis, but the tolerances are smaller and there is less room for error. No one in their right mind would do several hundred of them for a department.

When you get under 4 inches, it just doesn't make sense TO ME to try and force those dimensions on the 1911 platform.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:39 AM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by excess3 View Post
when was the last time,
there was a new gun design,
without an integrated barrel-feedramp?
You can get a 3" 1911 with an integrated ramp if you like. I have two: STI Shadow and STI Escort. The Shadow is my current EDC. Neither has reliability problems of any sort, and the Shadow has over 3,000 rounds through it, with over 500 being various JHP varities.

ETA - I do acknowledge that there is less margin for error in achieving a reliable 3"-4.25" 1911, and that more user attention and more frequent spring changes are needed.
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