Monday, March 30, 2009

Sprinco USA 1911 Recoil Springs

.Sprinco USA 1911 Recoil Spring
A properly tuned 1911 Automatic is unquestionably the finest combat pistol in the world.
I've owned my Colt Combat Government for about thirty years. I wore it on and off through out my misspent and tumultuous youth in New York City and Miami. The bluing is a little worn around the sharp edges near the muzzle, and it has a couple of honestly earned scratches, but other than that, it is the one firearm that I pick up first regardless. No kidding, I can shoot you in the eye at 21 feet and if you stand still long enough I can shoot you in the other eye.

I have put approximately 1500 rounds through it, all of them 230gr ball. Recently I added the Buffer Technology 1911 buffer, which is something I highly recommend now, and I felt that it was time that the recoil spring was also replaced. Recoil springs have a life of 3000 to 5000 rounds so I was well within the lifespan, but better safe than sorry.

I got in touch with Alan Dugger of Sprinco USA for some advice. After a bit of discussion, Alan forwarded a selection of Sprinco 1911 Recoil Springs for my evaluation.

Note the different color ends on the springs, and the color code dot on the labels.
Nice touch Sprinco USA.

Sprinco 1911 Recoil Springs are manufactured from a chromium-silicon alloy that is noted for it's hardness and superior performance at extremely high temperatures and stresses. Because of it's heat resistance and hardness, the alloy is used in valve springs and automatic transmissions that operate at temperatures well over 275F. Chrome-silicon was originally developed for recoil springs in anti-aircraft guns where high resistance to environmental degradation, shock loads, and long life is needed. A nice feature by Sprinco is the color coded packaging by weight for easier field I.D. by the shooter. In addition, the recoil springs come packaged in hard plastic tubes for easier transportation. The springs also have a corresponding color for the spring weight as well.

One thing that deserves mention by itself is the extreme duty cycle of the Sprinco chromium-silicon alloy recoil springs. This alloy provides excellent service for applications in the 5,000 to 50,000 cycle ranges. How's that for longevity?

How do you decide what weight of spring to use? The correct recoil spring poundage is important to the reliability of your pistol. Changes in the weight of the slide and barrel, like changing them may require a new spring. If you add barrel weights or a compensator, scopes or an optical sight attached directly to the slide, or if you change your ammunition to something stronger or weaker, it may require a change in spring weight. Too light a spring will beat the pistol and weaken the chambering process; too heavy a spring will result in failures to extract and eject, or in "stovepipe" stoppages. Your best bet is to use the heaviest spring possible while maintaining reliable function. But a spring that is too heavy will pummel the extractor. The rapid closing of the slide will force the extractor over the rim of the cartridge, rather than allowing the cartridge to slide under the extractor with a smooth controlled motion. It also slams the slide into the slide stop unnecessarily.

A good field indicator is how far the ejected cases land from you. Less than three feet indicate the spring is too heavy, while more than six feet means you need a heavier spring. Remember, a spring that is too light will ultimately damage your 1911.

New spring is almost a full coil longer than factory original.

The stock recoil spring in a standard 1911 is rated at 16 pounds. Moving up one notch to 17 or 18 pounds will be about right for most pistols shooting hardball and other full-power defense ammo. Anything heavier is too much. Be sure to test the new recoil spring by shooting the pistol one-handed and loosely. It should function positively. If not, go back to the 16-pound spring.

Locking the recoil spring in place.

Guide, Buffer Tech 1911 Buffer, and Sprinco 17lbs Recoil Spring.

In my particular case I shoot standard full power ball ammo for practice, and I use Winchester Supreme T-Series as my defensive load. The Supreme T is a full power load with a 230gr hollow point. It leaves the muzzle at almost 900 fps, and is a formidable defensive round. I put in the 17 pound recoil spring from Sprinco, lubricated the slide with Machine Gunner's Lube and headed to the range.

Colt Government Combat with its new Sprinco Recoil Spring

I noticed that there was a definite difference in the tension of the spring, One pound difference is noticeable when racking the slide. Upon firing, the Colt was as smooth as ever. Empties were ejecting without a hitch, and every round chambered flawlessly.

When you are ready to change your 1911's recoil spring, give Sprinco USA a call and order yourself one. A spare spring should also be pat of your 1911 kit.

Sprinco USA

Sprinco 1911 Recoil Spring
MSRP: $7.95


Rick Kratzke said...

Nice post Albert, very informational.

Gun Slinger said...

Great review, I've linked to it.

Shoot Straight,
Reviewing the Reviews

tom said...

Keep in mind that for Commander and smaller 1911s like my 3" barrel ones for carry, the weight required is going to differ than what works for a full size 1911. You may also find a need to shorten them. It's easier and cheaper to buy a range of standard GI length springs than to source springs for micro-compacts and such.

As an owner of WAY too many 1911s, I have a drawer full of springs and play "shoot and see" with new additions to the collection if there's a possible spring issue. The odds of you guessing the right spring you need and getting it right only ordering one aren't good gambling odds and springs are cheap compared to cracked slides and jam-o-matic gun function.

Albert A Rasch said...

Thank you Tom, great observation. It really is important to have good advice when working on a defensive weapon.


tom said...

Credit Gunsmithing College Instructor Harold Thomason, not I.

He was not a very forgiving man and taught most of the 1911 classes when I was there. He was a retired armorer from the US Army Marksmanship Unit among other things. He was about the same age as my grandfather and was similarly stern when there were things to be stern about. He began attendance at Kemper Military Academy of Missouri September of 1918 if that says anything.

One of the more demanding people I ever had to deal with in my life but we learned because of it. If you had a 07:30AM class and you showed up at 07:31 he'd be on the other side of the glass in the door as he locked it, smiling at you as he mouthed the words "Best come back tomorrow."

He could set up extraction and ejection so if somebody on the AMU team pissed him off they would end up at their next tournament with hot brass falling down the front of their blouse or hitting them in the face, although their 1911 would function flawlessly and nail the ten ring all day long as they cussed him under their breath, flawless function other than the discomfort he engineered for them for insulting him or getting in a tiff about something. Somewhere in there was a sense of humor, but he took what he did (and taught) very seriously and expected to be taken seriously..

1911s aren't a black art but there's so many variants that there are no one-size fits all solutions. Remember also, if you change the length of a spring you are also changing it's function in weight as it compresses and such. There's no such thing as a "drop in part" for a 1911 in spite of what some people advertise. "Drop in" some of the time, yes, always--no way!

If I say something smart about 1911s on occasion it's likely his fault.

tom said...

One other other thing:

The balance between the mainspring and recoil spring is crucial and you can have very disparate combinations of main springs vs recoil springs that all end up working quite substantially the same. Mainspring strength actually has the upper hand in unlock and slide timing if you get down to the nut cutting but mainsprings aren't easily changed to a casual 1911 owner and hobby 1911 mechanics so you see mainsprings rarely tinkered with and recoil springs often changed, even if it's the lesser way to improve things at times. It is just the nature of the fact that anybody that can field strip a 1911 can change a recoil spring and a lot of the same people will spend hours trying to figure out how to get a mainspring back in it's housing.

Happy Shooting GOD'S FAVORITE PISTOL (and mine too),