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Recoil spring wisedom, myth, lore, and BS?

earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,749 Senior Member
edited February 23 in General Firearms #1

The gun is a Colt 1991A1.
The recoil springs are from top to bottom. The original one that came with the gun in the early 1990's. The Wolff standard weight replacement installed when spent cases had firing pin drag marks on the primers. When was that? Who knows? I can't remember. The bottom one is a NIB Wolff standard weight 16.0 lbs spring.

Notice the difference in length. What does that mean? I have absolutely no idea. I guess they lose power and get shorter with use.

So when do you change them? At regular intervals? How many rounds? Heck if I know.

Here's what I do know. Last outing, my son and I put 200 rounds through it. Add that with two other trips for 2019 at fifty to 100 rnds per trip. That's 400 rounds for the year. Maybe. Mostly handloads. Loaded to moderate velocity, one at time with scale weighed powder charges, and crimped with a Lee FCD..

Unless the local sages here advise me otherwise. I'll probly just replace that center spring when spent primers show fp drag marks again.

I did buy more than one NIB replacement spring just to have them.

Wisedom, myth, lore, BS???

Replies

  • Elk creekElk creek Senior Member Posts: 6,450 Senior Member
    Springs are cheap, and cheap insurance. I chance them every other year or so. The firing pin return spring is far more important. If it breaks you got issues 
    Aim higher, or get a bigger gun.
  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,749 Senior Member
    The fp spring was changed when the recoil spring got changed. I should get a couple more maybe. They're hard to change in the series 80 slide.
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,255 Senior Member
    Dunno about using firing pin drag marks as your indicator.  I've never really looked into how the firing pin spring behaves during cycling.  You have the natural forward motion from the hammer, the rearward rebound from the spring, a (relatively speaking) second forward motion as the slide gets kicked back in recoil, and a final rebound back to the starting position as the slide slams back into battery.  An extra power firing pin spring could change the dynamics of that, as could a lighter titanium firing pin . . .and how much of a braking effect the recoil spring has on it is another variable as well.

    I do know that a firing pin spring that snaps in half can cause you failure to strike.

    Best way to judge wear is by comparing ejection with a new spring to what you have with the old.  Since you have all those springs handy right now, it's easy to get that education.

    I like to run the 18.5# springs myself with the beefy FP springs and full power (23# IIRC) mainsprings.  The guns seem happier that way with full power, GI food, and I figure it will have to wear A LOT to get to the point of having less resistance than a worn out 16# standard spring. I've tinkered briefly with that spring combo with dialed back 200 grain loads and it ran fine.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 23,654 Senior Member
    Elk creek said:
    Springs are cheap, and cheap insurance. I chance them every other year or so. The firing pin return spring is far more important. If it breaks you got issues 
    This - with the caveat that change interval depends largely on how much a given gun is shot. It never ceases to amaze me how people will fret over changing a spring in a 50 year old gun, even moreso in a gun they just acquired and have zero idea of the what/how long/when of the spring that is in it. Springs are cheap, guns are expensive!
    As discussed here in another thread, I just changed the recoil spring in my recently acquired M57 Makarov - because what was in it was probably the original, the replacement was dirt cheap, and at the rate I'll shoot that particular gun, I'll never have to worry about it again. Now my Ruger Mark III, purchased brand new a few years ago, is going to get a new spring in it pretty soon as I shoot it just about every time I go to the range.
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,749 Senior Member
    edited February 23 #6
    The new fp spring is the Wolff extra power one. The primer drag marks diagnoses came from the board here. Went away when I changed the springs. Only original spring left in the gun is the sear spring. I do have a new one stored.

    I thought about getting the heavier recoil springs. But I dont ever use hot ammo. All my handloads are lighter than factory. And standard factory 230gr ammo is as hot as I go.

    Edit.
    Just realised. Ive never replaced the plunger tube spring.
  • GunNutGunNut Posts: 5,779 Senior Member
    About every 500/1,000 rounds fairly religiously with the 3” guns because I’ll take no chances with those.  A little more lax with the larger guns.  Never had an issue with firing pin springs.  I rotate my 1911s at the range quite a bit so it takes a little while.
    Old West Saying: God created men, but Col. Sam Colt made them equal.

    General George Patton:  “Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.”

  • Elk creekElk creek Senior Member Posts: 6,450 Senior Member
    For me, I load in lots of 500 and 1000. I have a note in the bottom of the cans to change springs with a date and gun..... it’s not perfect but it works for me 
    Aim higher, or get a bigger gun.
  • SpkSpk Senior Member Posts: 3,962 Senior Member
    edited February 24 #9
    Here's a nice article on recoil springs and replacement. Saves me time writing.

    Like Slug, I replaced my standard 16# springs with 18.5's and never looked back. I also run hotter ammo than most folks are comfy with. For me, standard ball is the low end. I even compete with standard ball.
    Springs do get shorter with use. Some really worn springs will even come out "cork-screwed!"
    Among the same brands you can count the coils to get an indication of the No. of #'s it's supposed to be on a worn out spring. Some folks don't throw anything away so I've had folks come up to me and ask, "Can you tell if this is a 16# or 18.5# spring?"  I tell them to throw them out but they won't. So I tell them, "Neither. If it's that worn out, it's less than 18.5 and could be as low as 14. Then I tell them to count the coils and maybe they can determine what it once was.
    Since I run hot ammo on a regular basis, I use Wilson Combat Shok-Buffs in conjunction with the 18.5# springs (full size 1911's).

    I go through about 3 Shok-Buffs before I start thinking about replacing the recoil springs. Some places recommend replacing your springs every 1500-2000 rounds, I usually stretch that to 3000 using the Shok-Buffs (again, full size gun). Works for me.

    As for the myths and lore...
    The Aboriginal people of the Northern territory in Australia believe if you hear the elusive Jara-Jara bird during your range session, you should pack up your gear, call it a day and see a doctor immediately. 👍

    But it could all be BS, though.



    Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience -- Mark Twain
    How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and [how] hard it is to undo that work again! -- Mark Twain

  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,749 Senior Member
    Good article Spk!
    Thats exactly where my gun throws the brass.

    I'll keep the 18.5 pound springs in mind. Two guys on here advocating them. They're only 2.5 lbs heavier than what I'm using.

    I used to think close up visits with owls were a bad omen. I found out that was bs, but Canadian geese should be avoided.
  • SpkSpk Senior Member Posts: 3,962 Senior Member
    An owl as a pet or at the zoo up close, no worries.
    An wild owl in the daytime up close screeching at you for no apparent reason -- watch out! Bad mojo is stalking you!
    😮
    Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience -- Mark Twain
    How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and [how] hard it is to undo that work again! -- Mark Twain

  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,749 Senior Member
    That sounds right.
    Native American lore.
    Likely based in fact, as raptors screeching at you is hard to interpret as good.

    I don't shoot enough for a note in the can like Elk Creek. But handloading does help me with making a close estimate of rounds fired.
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 23,654 Senior Member
    You could say that the Owl is my totem animal.
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
  • Elk creekElk creek Senior Member Posts: 6,450 Senior Member
    zorba said:
    You could say that the Owl is my totem animal.
    For a while when our puppy Daisy was still under 10 pounds and we had to go with her outside at night there was a great horned own that would serenade us while she did her business. I stayed close to her for sure! That same time there was another owl that would hoot at me when I would go to work early in the morning before sunrise.... cool stuff. I grew up with Screech owls, great horned owls bit the cool ones were burrowing owls! 
    Aim higher, or get a bigger gun.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,917 Senior Member
    When we lived in KS we had Barred and Great Horned Owls living in the creek bottom behind the house.....the Barred Owls would serenaded us all night while the Great Horned Owls hunted any of the barn cats that were stupid enough to venture out after dark...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,255 Senior Member
    Good article Spk!
    Thats exactly where my gun throws the brass.

    I'll keep the 18.5 pound springs in mind. Two guys on here advocating them. They're only 2.5 lbs heavier than what I'm using.

    I used to think close up visits with owls were a bad omen. I found out that was bs, but Canadian geese should be avoided.
    I gave the heavier spring thing a long head scratch and came up with the following train of logic:

    1.  There's some thought out there that .45ACP was originally a launch pad for a 200 grain bullet; the 1911 16# spring spec MAY have originated from that, and the Army insisted on 230 grain at some point in the process because they were still trying to maintain the old .45 Peacemaker's ability to fell a horse.

    2.  Colt and Browning both knew that the military trials would include mud testing, sand testing, lack of lube testing, and all kinds of heinous things intended to make guns fail.  16 pounds of resistance would be easier to power through with all that gak in the gun than 18 pounds or more.

    So I figured that if you ARE running anything near standard pressure 230 grain and you are NOT subjecting the pistol to a RIDICULOUS amount of powder or environmental fouling, the 18.5's are probably the ticket.  The perceived difference is like that between a car suspension working within it's limits vs. one that's bottoming out on the same bump.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
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