29 March 2007

Care and feeding of guns

Other than my infamous "nasty gun" post a while back, we really haven't much discussed the care and feeding of our pistols. Considering what happened to me at the Double Tap Championship this past weekend, I thought we'd dwell a bit on some basic maintenance items, and that is when to replace key parts of the pistol due to wear.

Everything I say will be based on the 1911/2011 platform, based on an annual round count of 18,000-20,000 rounds.

Using slide glide as my main lubricant, I'm able to get a minimum of 1,000 rounds between serious cleanings. Every 2,000 rounds, I'll break down the top end and pull the firing pin, extractor, and firing pin stop out and clean all the gunk out of the two channels.

Every 5,000 rounds, I'll change out my recoil spring. I personally like a recoil spring in the 16-17.5 lb range. Others like much lighter. It's personal preference, really.

I'll change out my firing pin spring annually. Mainspring annually. I'd like to never have to mess with the leaf spring that works the sear, disconnector and grip safety. Unfortunately, I've had to do that twice in the last 7 months; mainly because the part was too lightweight for the abuse that I was heaping upon it.

And that really has been it, up till now.

I need to set a maintenance schedule for the trigger components as well - the hammer, hammer strut, sear, disconnector and leaf spring. These components failed me miserably this weekend, costing me a decent finish to an otherwise great weekend of shooting. I just wasn't thinking that those parts would wear out, and I believe it was a little naive on my part!

I got to thinking that I've had the frame of my 2011 since about 2001. At a conservative guess of 15K rounds a year, that's 90,000 rounds through the frame. (The top end is newer, I've probably only got somewhere around 50K through it.) Add to the live fire a minimum of 10 trigger pulls for each live round; approximately 900,000 times I've pulled the trigger of that pistol since 2001. No wonder the damn trigger system broke!!

To keep it from breaking again, I plan to replace the components every two years. That should keep everything fresh, working fine and keeping the gun chugging along like it should. I think with proper maintenance and care, I can get at least another 50-75,000 rounds through the pistol with no problems....

So, when you start working on your maintenance schedule for your firearms, it's not just springs and lube!!
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