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1911 Recoil Spring Info Needed


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I'm looking for suggestions on what weight recoil spring I should start with to tune my 1911 (Ruger) for my 160 power factor wild bunch loads.  I've been using the stock spring, but I'd like to go lighter.  I know each gun is different, so I'm just looking for a ball park spring weight to start with.



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Howdy Doc, some good experts here will be along shortly.  I'll just say that I always hear that your brass should land approximately 6 feet to the right/rear.  Closer means spring too strong, further means spring too weak.  Hmm, or is that backwards?  :P


I don't have to think about it because the stock spring is just about right on my Armscor with similar power factor.

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Factory 230 grain loads make about 187 PF.  Wild Bunch shooters run about 165 PF.  That leaves some room to lighten springs to get easier (quicker) racking of slide manually, and to ensure you get consistent ejection with those 10% lighter loads.


Factory 5" government models are usually shipped with 16# recoil and 23# mainsprings.    Because the 1911 uses a balanced set of springs (mainspring to convert recoil energy into cocking the hammer and slowing the slide down, and recoil to strip the next round and drive the slide forward), if you lighten the recoil spring, you should also lighten the mainspring.  This also will probably require smoothing out (honing) the mainspring housing's spring bore, since a lighter mainspring will be storing less energy. 


I (and many other folks tuning their 1911s) find a 15# recoil spring and a 19# mainspring work real well with Wild Bunch ammo.  Do you HAVE to change springs?  No, the factory springing works pretty well for some folks.  But if you find you are leaving an occasional fired case in the slide, and the extractor and ejector are doing their job most of the time, then it's time to either step up the powder charge (slowing you down) or lighten the springs (speeding up parts of your loading and firing cycle).  A lighter mainspring also slightly improves the trigger pull weight and felt smoothness of trigger pull, too.


Yeah, as a rule of thumb, I like to see a well tuned gun throw it's fired cases 6-8 feet from where I stand.  Does that prove anything?  Wilson and several other tuners think it does.  It certainly is better than having cases dribbling out of the gun, because soon one case won't.


Another rule of thumb - lifted from Wilson - Fire a single round from a good magazine (loaded with just that one round) with weak hand only - if you can get a reliable slide lock back 10 consecutive times the recoil and main springs are not too heavy for your ammunition.


Well broken in, or deburred/slicked guns, can usually run with lighter springs (sorta like cowboy guns can).


Good luck, GJ

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