I have several 1911s, but one of the better ones is my Colt 1911 XSE Rail Gun. This is a reliable 1911, it’s on Hilton Yam’s recommended list of 1911s for duty use. But like we’ve said about modern 1911s, even it can be kind of finicky. I managed this weekend to hit a perfect storm of issues to get my 1911 to have two failure to feed malfunctions during a USPSA match at Kitsap RRC near Bremerton.
To set the table, the night before the match I had tested all my mags and the ammo I’d be using at West Coast Armory Indoor Range in Bellevue. I was also using a new grease on the gun, which at the indoor range in 68 degree weather during a 400 round practice session worked just fine. The ammo I was using was Remington 185 grain semi-wadcutter FMJ, which is loaded pretty light, meaning lower slide velocity. However, indoors at WCA it worked just fine.
Fast forward to KRRC the next day, where I have two failures to feed with my gun. I then took the same gun and mags to an indoor range and shot the same rounds after the match…and it worked just fine. Via process of elimination, I can only conclude that the issues were due entirely to the following perfect storm of conditions:
- Colt weather makes the grease not as viscous as it should be
- Fewer rounds don’t allow the gun to heat up
- Semi-wadcutter bullet shape
- Low slide velocity
Add all those together and you will get the occasional failure to feed – in this case I had two on one stage, which was maddening since it cost me a stage win.
I’m not knocking the Colt. I’m not knocking 1911s. What I am saying is that it’s important to test your gear in different conditions. It didn’t occur to me while standing on a heated indoor range with a hot gun that the grease I was using would perform differently at 40 degrees with a cold gun; it certainly didn’t occur to me that the lower slide velocity from the semi-wadcutter rounds coupled with the cold temps would cause the gun to fail.
That’s what you sign up for when you use 1911s though – the guns do weird things, and you often need to know exactly what your gun is going to do under all sorts of different circumstances; not just under ideal conditions on a nice range. It’s worth noting that there was a guy in my squad running a 9mm with some really, really light loads and using the same grease as I was using – he had zero issues with his Sig P226 X5. Again, I’m not knocking the 1911 platform, because I do love it, but rather illustrating that there are lots of things going on with a 1911 that often wouldn’t be an issue with another platform.