When you buy a gun, you expect it to work. However, when it jams constantly, it can frustrate you like nothing else. You may even feel like ditching your 1911 for something more reliable, especially if nothing you do seems to work.
The most common reason a 1911 will jam is from a magazine issue. Either the magazine springs are wearing out or the magazine isn’t inserted properly. Another common cause of a 1911 jam is a push feed issue where the extractor is not ejecting the spent casing.
These common causes also come with easy fixes. You just need to choose the fix for your particular issues. Therefore, by reading further, you will learn everything you need to know about these causes to fix them for good.
Are 1911 Pistols Reliable?
World-renowned for its ergonomics, the 1911 series of pistols is one of the most durable, reliable, and easy-to-use handguns on the market. These guns just work. However, its famed design also hides a monster. This short single-action, recoil-operated, semi-automatic handgun can jam up under the right conditions.
The problem comes from its strict manufacturing and machining specifications. While these specifications make the guns durable and refined, they also make them vulnerable to imperfections.
Even the smallest imperfection can push the guns out of spec and jam. Even mundane tasks such as polishing the gun can do it.
- As a result, the 1911 pistol has a notorious jamming problem, but the problems do not stop there.
- These guns can fail to load or return to the charge position.
- Luckily, these problems are easy to fix once you identify them.
Here’s a video about the 1911 jamming, with a lot more info below:
Why Does My 1911 Jam?
Most 1911 reliability issues come from the magazine. The rest of the gun offers solid construction with very few moving parts. However, the function of the magazine leaves it vulnerable to all sorts of failures and mishaps.
Stovepipe Malfunction from an Improperly Inserted Magazine
Not inserting the magazine properly is of the more common points of failure. However, the issue is not how gun owners insert the magazine. Instead, the issue is in how they clean it. Many gun owners will even forget to clean their magazines.
- Bullet magazines can collect dirt, dust, and grime while in storage.
- This dirt can then get caught in your gun’s mechanisms when you insert your mags into your pistol.
- Once there, the dirt can interfere with the gun’s operation causing a stovepipe malfunction and jams.
Stovepipe Malfunction from a Damaged Magazine
A bad or weak magazine spring may also cause your pistol’s to stovepipe. A weak spring will not have the power to push rounds into the gun’s slide.
The round then gets stuck causing the jam. This problem normally pops up with the last two rounds, giving it a tell-tale sign. You also cannot repair the damage. As such, replacing the spring is the only real fix.
Push Feed Failure
Push feed jams comes from the extractor. The extractor fails to remove the spent round, preventing the gun from going into the battery. This problem happens when the magazine has a weak spring and follower.
Under normal operations, a small dimple on the follower holds the round in place before it gets picked up by the slide. However, if this dimple wears out, the round may jump prematurely into the slide from the previous round’s recoil. It is this extra round that causes the jam.
How to Fix a Jammed 1911
Now that you know the potential sources of your gun jams, you can start troubleshooting them. It starts by identifying the exact cause of your current issue before taking the right troubleshooting.
However, you must let go of any preconceived notions that the issue lies in your bullets or lubricant. As revealed above, the true cause could be your magazine or sliders.
With that said, you should always follow the troubleshooting instructions provided by your gun’s manufacturer. However, you can use the following troubleshooting steps (source: gunanalyst.com) to get started.
- Polish the Feed Ramp – cleaning the feed ramp after long storage or after 400 to 500 rounds to remove any accumulated dirt
- Clean and thoroughly lubricate – most jams come from dirty magazines so cleaning them after long storage or after 100 to 150 rounds will clear most problems
- Smooth out the insides by shooting – rounds can snag on your gun’s internal fittings. You can smooth them down through regular use.
- Use different ammo – while rare, sometimes the problem is the bullets. Try something with a bigger recoil if the slider does not pull back enough for the next round.
- Stretch the magazine spring – Replace a weak spring with a better one or try to adjust it into place
- Test the plunk – remove and hold the barrel upright with the nuzzle down. Drop a live bullet through it and note the “plunk” sound. Then rotate the cartridge. If you cannot rotate it, you have a problem with the barrel
Troubleshooting a Bolt Over Base (BOB) Misfeed
Often called a Live Round Stovepipe (source: rangehot.com) failure, a BOB happens when the cartridge fails to reach the feeding position for the slide.
As a result, the slide outruns the magazine. This forces the round to tip up, jamming the case between the slide and barrel. Replacing or strengthening the magazine spring fixes the problem.
Troubleshooting for Push Feed Jams
Most common push feed jams have the opposite problem. The magazine cartridge moves too fast and reaches the feeding position before the slide. As a result, it fails to go to the battery and the round gets stuck in the extractor.
As mentioned before, push failures come from worn-out followers and springs. Replace them to fix the issue. However, in severe cases, you also want to replace the extractor as the jam will break it.
Troubleshooting a Three-Point Jam
If none of the above troubleshooting techniques work, the problem might be with the gun. People often call these failures “three-point jams” as they come from defects in three or more parts of the gun. As a result, they may require a more complex troubleshooting regime in the hands of a professional gun shop.
The 1911 pistol is a powerful and reliable handgun that is simple to hold and use. However, it can also jam unexpectedly out of nowhere. Fortunately, these jams have simple causes with simple fixes.