Breaking in a 1911

By Syd

Break-in of a pistol is not quite the elaborate ritual that it is with a rifle. Here’s what I do. Field strip it and check it out. If it’s bone dry, give the contact surfaces a light coat of gun oil or grease, depending on what you have. I use Mil-Comm MC2500 gun oil and Mil-Com TW25B grease on the slide rails and just a bit on the lugs where the barrel locks into the slide just forward of the chamber. If the gun happens to have excess lubrication in it, clean that out. Springfield is bad about shipping guns that are just dripping with oil; Kimber tends to ship them dry. I run my fingers over the rails just to make sure that there are no burrs or rough spots. There probably won’t be any with a Kimber or Springfield, but you never know. Even good gun makers occasionally miss things.

I will take a swab and give the bore a very, very light coat of oil, not wet and drippy, but just run a lightly oiled swab through the barrel a couple of times. It may only be my imagination, but this seems to make the barrels easier to clean after they’ve been fired. Then go to the range and run 50-100 rounds through the gun. Bring it home and give it a thorough cleaning and lube, including the very light coat of oil in the bore. Repeat this through the first 500 rounds fired through the gun. The key to a good break-in is frequent cleanings during the first 500 rounds.

I don’t really consider a pistol broken in until I have 1000 rounds down range. If the gun is to serve as a personal defense weapon, a minimum of 200 rounds of the carry load should go through the gun without a malfunction.

When I clean a pistol, the first thing that I do is to run a swab soaked in Mil-Comm MC25 Cleaner/Degreaser through the bore and set the barrel aside to let the solvent work while I clean the rest of the gun. After the rest of the gun is clean, I brush the barrel out with a bronze brush (don’t use steel brushes) and then clean out the gunk with with cotton patches.

Dry firing helps to smooth the engagement surfaces on the sear and hammer. Despite what some people will tell you, dry firing is a good thing, and it helps to smooth the action. Unless you’re unhappy with the trigger break, nothing more is needed.

A method I picked up from “Gun Tests” is to push forward firmly on the hammer with your thumb while pulling the trigger 10 or 20 times. This does seem to remove roughness at the sear and gives a slight but noticeable improvement.

I know some people who will do a complete detail strip (completely disassembling the gun) with a new 1911. They will clean, oil all the parts, and sometimes lightly polish the engagement surfaces on the hammer and sear. I don’t recommend this for people who are new to the gun. 1911’s are easy to take apart, but more difficult to reassemble until the user acquires greater familiarity with the mechanism. I would certainly do the detail strip on a used gun that I didn’t know, but on a new gun, it shouldn’t really be necessary unless it just makes you feel better about the gun.

Tips for enhanced break-in and reliability preparation for autoloading pistols

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