This past weekend I had the chance to take the 10-8 Performance 1911 Advanced Armorer’s Course. Since I’m shooting Colt 1911s this year, I wanted to spend some time with the platform learning to diagnose and correct function issues with the gun.
The 10-8 class is the next level in their 1911 classes, starting with their 1911 Operator’s Course. The Operator’s Course gives students a foundation in the fundamentals of 1911 function and gunhandling, while the Advanced Armorer’s Class is designed to give a unit armorer the skills needed to keep their duty guns running.
Training Day 1 starts with an introduction to the instructors, Tim Lau and Hilton Yam; then moves into an overview of the 1911 as a duty pistol. Right off the bat, they point out the disadvantages in a 1911 for duty use, which include the following list:
- Need for skilled labor
- no standards across manufacturers
- excessive maintenance
- feedway not well set up for modern bullet designs
- extractor design
After the overview of design, the students then performed a detailed strip of their guns for familiarity and then reassembled them. It was there that I began to discover the “joys” of Series 80 guns. The class moved to the range for a 50 round function check. 10-8 designed this check as a way to test to see if your gun is feeding and extracting properly without spending a ton of money on ammo. The function checked should be performed with duty, or in my case match ammo instead of 230 grain ball ammo, as the profile of ball ammo can mask function issues. We paired up in class so that the non-shooting partner could monitor the ejection pattern. If the gun is ejecting straight up, to the left, or really anywhere other than in the 3 o’clock-5 o’clock position, that can be indicator of issues with the extraction/ejection cycle on the gun.
After the function test, much of the remainder of TD1 was spent on working on the 1911 extractor, which is one of the weak points of the design. While modern service pistols like Glocks, M&Ps, etc all use a claw extractor that’s tensioned by a spring, the 1911 extractor is one single piece of metal. Tensioning a 1911 extractor basically means “bend this long skinny piece of metal”. For someone new to the platform, there is a considerable amount of trial and error involved. This was where Hilton and Tim’s expertise really started to benefit the students, as they’d frequently check your work to make sure you were putting enough tension in the extractor. Trying to hit the butter zone was a little arcane, because too much extractor tension and the gun won’t feed right, not enough extractor tension and it won’t extract spent cases.
Students whose guns had passed the extractor test took the time to fit and tension a spare extractor using a Wilson Combat Bulletproof extractor. Much attention was given to proper extractor engagement, length of claw, and making sure that it’s contacting the cartridge in the correct location.
Training Day 1 wrapped up with an overview of everything we’d covered, and a quick look ahead at TD2’s topics, which would cover trigger function and most of the lower frame parts. Essentially, day 1 of the class was getting the top half of the gun right, and day 2 would focus on the bottom. Tomorrow I’ll continue the series with TD2.