1911 modifications are classified into several types:
1. Reliability Work / Tuning
3. Handling & Ergonomics
5. Sight Picture
A) Feeding and Ejection
- Polish the breechface and breechblock to improve feeding and cycling. Polish the disconnector head for the same purpose.
- Check the condition of your magazine. Check spring for proper tension. Check mag body for dings, dent and corrision as these may cause the follower to drag and lead to feeding problems.
- Check magazine catch and spring for positive operation.
- Check and polish feedramp for proper throating to improve feeding reliablity
- Check extractor tension for positive extraction
- Check ejector angle for correct dimensions to ensure positive ejection
- Check the barrel's feedramp for correct dimensions. A wrong dimension will cause misfeeds.
- Never use titanium firing pins and skeletonized hammers on combat pistols. This may cause misfires especially with ammo using hard primers.
- Use the correct recoil spring appropriate the power of the the ammunition you're using. Too strong and the pistol will short-cycle, causing smokestack jams. Too soft and the recoil spring may not have enough spring tension to ensure positive feeding. This will lead to nosedive jams and double feeds.
B) Trigger Job
- Check hammer hooks and sear for correct engagement. A worn sear or hammer hook is an accidental discharge waiting to happen.
- Check the sear spring for proper spring tension
- Check the trigger for dings, dents and excess material that may bind against the frame. This creates drag, resulting in a bad trigger pull.
- Slide to frame fitting
- Barrel-to-bushing fitting
- Bushing-to-slide fitting
- Check the barrel lug to barrel lug recess fitting for positive lock-up
- Check the barrel link and barrel link pin for correct dimension and overall condition. A barrel link with the wrong size will cause excessive tension, and may start small cracks on your barrel
- Check barrel alignment. The barrel should be perfectly aligned and centered in relation to the firing pin hole.
- A properly fitted slide should slide freely under its own weight, with minimal or virtually no play.
C) Safety Check
- Check plunger tube and springs to ensure it's pinned securely in place to the frame. Check the springs to ensure positive operation of the slide stop lever and thumb safety.
- Check grip safety for positive engagement
- Check the disconnector for proper function and overall condition. A worn disconnector may cause and accidental discharge. Worse, your 1911 may go full-auto.
- Slamming the slide into battery should not trip the sear and cause the hammer to fall.
D) Firing Mechanism
- Check firing pin for dings, dents and overall condition. A bent firing pin will drag along, causing misfires. Check the firing pin spring for overall condition. Replace your firing pin spring everytime you replace your recoil spring. A soft firing pin spring may cause an "intertia discharge" while chambering a live round or if the pistol is dropped on its muzzle end.
- Check hammer for overall condition and correct dimensions. There should me a small clearance along its side, just bare enough to clear the slide. Excess material will cause drag and cause misfires.
HANDLING AND ERGONOMICS
- Stippling or checkering the frontstrap will ensure a positive grip on the pistol for better controll. Whether 20 or 30 LPI is up to you. 20 LPI is more sharper but it has a more positive grip.
- Check your firearm for sharp edges. Send it to a gunsmith for a dehorning job.
- Widening the mag well or installing a magazine funnel will ensure positive loading of magazines. Make sure however that your magazines have the correct sized basepad to ensure positive seating when slamming the magazine home. The basepad will also absorb the impact when you drop your magazines when performing speed reloads.
- Some like to have some checkering on their triggerguard but this is optional, depending on your preference.
- Fitting a beavertail is a good idea if you have big hands. This prevents hammer bite. A low-mounted beveartail will also improve your pistol's recoil characteristics since the pistol sits lower in your hand, lowering the pistol's bore axis.
- If you're a southpaw, fitting an ambidextrous safety is the way to go. Use a tactical ambi-safety for defensive/tactical applications and concealed carry. Save the big, wide ones for match pistols. Wide ambi-safeties may snag on clothing during the draw.
- On a full-size 5-inch Government Model, it's okay to put an extended recoil spring guide on a match pistol but I don't recommend it in combat pistols. Installing one will prevent you from perfoming malfunction clearance drills and other manual of arms procedures one-handed, in case you're wounded and/or incapacitated. The 1911 is a cavalry pistol, and designed with one-handed operation in mind.
- Your pistol's finish is not just for aesthetic purposes. Its main purpose is to protect your pistol from the elements and corrosion. On combat pistols, stay away from highly reflective finishes especially those that are prone to scratches. So far, chroming is the most durable and the most resistant to corrosion. However, it's not rustproof. A chromed pistol will still rust, but it's not as prone as a blued one. Send your pistol to a reputable gunsmith who knows who to plate your pistol the correct way. Your 1911 already came heat-treated straight from the factory. If exposed to excessive heat repeatedly, it may soften up and become brittle. And never ever chrome your barrel. Some barrel makers have chromed-lined barrels but leave that job to them.
- A good sight picture is essential for good accuracy. If you can't acquire your target, chances are your overall accuracy will go bad. It's okay to use adjustable sights on match pistols. Competitive shooters don't stick to a single load and do change their loading "recipes" from time to time to meet minimum power factor requirements. The adjustable needs will suit them just fine. However, I don't recommend the use of adjustable sights on combat, concealment pistols. Its wide profile may snag on clothing. Its construction is not as tough as a fixed sight too. If left uncheck, adjustable sights tend to shift zeroes. Fixed sights are more rugged and they stay on zero for as long as you stick to your preferred brand of ammo.
Lastly, If it ain't broke, don't fix it.