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1911 Slide dragging

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Oil, or Grease

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1911 Slide dragging - Page 2 Empty 1911 Slide dragging

Post by Bestdentist99 Tue Nov 21, 2023 7:33 am

First topic message reminder :

I’m having an issue with my 1911 custom 45 built by a well-known gunsmith with burnt-on carbon building up on the flat part of the frame  right above the feeding ramp and on both rails directly to the side after about 100-125 rounds to a point where the slide starts dragging and causing a spent casing not to eject properly or the slide staying slightly out of battery.
I need to field strip it and with a wooden stick dipped in Hoppes scrape off the crud to continue a 2700 match, because it doesn’t make it through 180 rounds.
It used to take more rounds before cleaning, but now it doesn’t make it through the match.
I use 4.0 grains of WST powder under Zero 185 SWC lead bullets for my reloads. Prior to this I used 4.4 grains of Bullseye powder and 160 gr lead bullets with similar results.
I used no lubricants on these areas, then I tried very, very  lightly lubricating the rails and the area of build-up with FP-10 oil, then a very, very light coating of grease, to no avail.
Can you suggest a fix for this issue?
Otherwise the gun is extremely accurate and when clean functions flawlessly for about 100-125 rounds.
Thank you for your input.


Last edited by james r chapman on Wed Nov 22, 2023 8:58 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Admin added poll for Thanksgiving ????)

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1911 Slide dragging - Page 2 Empty Re: 1911 Slide dragging

Post by Allen Barnett Wed Nov 22, 2023 5:37 pm

My coach when I shot on the Missouri National Guard pistol team always said, "If the oil ain't dripping off your elbow, you ain't got enough on it!"

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Post by Bestdentist99 Thu Nov 23, 2023 2:44 pm

Great advices. Thank you to all.

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Post by PMcfall Sun Dec 03, 2023 10:29 am

Dave Salyer read this thread and had this reply but couldn't post the reply because he forgot his login credentials Smile.  Anyway, here are his thoughts.


The barrel is raised up off of that area and firing when that buildup
happens. It drops down on that area only during feeding. This buildup
has nothing to do with the slide dragging. This buildup could cause a
round to catch the bottom edge of the barrel. But I have never seen this
be the cause of misfeeds. The buildup seems to get only so deep.

There are many causes of the slide slowing down. One is the top of the
barrel rubbing the slide. This can be caused especially when the frame
rails have been swaged down for tightness. Barrels can have the top back
sanded down for more clearance because this area has nothing to do with
lock-up. Too much oil on the top of the barrel collects crud. No oil is
needed on the top back of the barrel.

The better way to add oil during a match is to turn the gun upside down
and put a drop between the slide and frame on each side. It will migrate
to most points needing oil.

To prevent barrel to bushing wear, pull the slide back and put one drop
up against the bushing and barrel. There is lots of clearance back there
and the oil will go all around. When the slide closes the oil will go to
the front of the barrel where the bushing fit is tight. I prefer thin
oils in all weather so excess will move out of slide to frame and go to
other places to prevent corrosion and wear.
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1911 Slide dragging - Page 2 Empty Re: 1911 Slide dragging

Post by 96wa6 Sun Dec 03, 2023 10:44 am

TLDR ("Too Long, Didn't Read"): Decent-pressure loads via fast powder, not-too-light bullets, good crimp, good cases, good primers.

Sorry for the long post but I had too much coffee this morning. Also, you're probably aware that any single issue with our guns can have LOTS different causes.

Not sure why your fouling is so hard but here's my 3 cents-worth on how much fouling you get:

Yes, oiloiloil, but oil to reduce soot buildup is addressing the symptom. Your symptom (soot and the resulting fouling) leads me to believe you are having inefficient combustion of the powder charge. 

Cent 1) Light bullets can create soot. They have less resistance to moving (inertia?) which results in lower pressure where your powder may not burn efficiently. In a 1911 .45, a 165-gr is lighter than most bullseye loads (no one I shoot with, including a Master or two, shoots that light of a bullet). This can often be mitigated by fast powders, but you WERE using Bullseye, which is my go-to solution for leading and soot issues. The Zero 185 you are using is also my go-to short-line bullet, but I'd switch back to BE to see if that has any effect. Also a good crimp helps towards efficient combustion. Simply using more crimp can often increase efficiency.

Cent 2) What cases are you using? 20+ years ago, I had bad sooting when I got gifted a big bag of IMI brass. The IMI cases are from Israeli military suppliers, were excellent quality, were from full-blast 230-gr. military spec ammo BUT were seriously hard/tough cases. I could EASILY tell if an IMI was in my reloader by the force needed to resize it (which didn't help my elbow issues.) I found they didn't seal well with my BE loads (3.4-3.6 of BE under 185 or 200 gr. LSWCs) with soot on the cases and more fouling in the nooks and crannies of my slide, and more smoke in front of the line. I use Winchester brass now because it's consistent, nice and soft and seals fine with bullseye-pressure loads.

Cent 3) Less likely to be the total cause, but I mention it here because it HAS helped in some guns. What primers are you using? Hot primers tend to aid efficient combustion. In our testing, Winchester Large Pistol primers tended to shoot better groups (out of a Ransom Rest run by an anal-compulsive friend -- a GREAT kind of person to test load accuracy). We think they're a bit hotter because of their accuracy and the fact that Win claims they are good for regular AND magnum loads.

Extra Cent) Less likely, but I might as well mention it. Soot can also be cause by the bullet lube. Very low-pressure loads can have less (or no) bullet obturation which can cause gas blow-by, which will burn lube, which will cause smoke AND SOOT. Increasing the charge or going with faster powder can mitigate this.

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Post by jjfitch Sun Dec 03, 2023 12:14 pm

You might want to read the current thread regarding the .463 crimp and unburned powder. Might help with the crud build-up!
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1911 Slide dragging - Page 2 Empty Re: 1911 Slide dragging

Post by Slamfire Sun Dec 03, 2023 2:07 pm

I guess the OP never heard the Bullseye advice that the "elbow is the drip point". Keep your 1911 well oiled, and keep on oiling it during a match.

The fact of the matter is, as the OP is finding, friction is bad with automatic mechanisms. At some friction level, the round does not have enough energy to cycle the mechanism. 

I do recommend this: lube your cases. With a light oil of course. Surely in the last ten years I have shot tens of thousands of 45 ACP rounds where I put a drop of oil on the junction between case and bullet. During loading of course. Sometimes on each round, sometimes on each other round, sometimes on the round at top of the stack. It always surprises me how changes in Bullseye Powder lots , primer lots, ambient temperature will turn  what used to be a reliable load, into something that does not have enough oomph to function the mechanism. That's when the oil bottle comes out, in the hope that less friction produces more function. It is a "band aid", but it reduces alibi's.

One of the side affects of this is very clean barrels. About half of the oil (percentage a guess) goes up the tube and totally prevents leading and jacket fouling. When I get home, push a patch down the tube, I don't see anything but mirror brightness. Another affect is a reduction in friction. Case to chamber friction is reduced, meaning more thrust is applied to the breech face. And the slide rails ooze oil, which surely reduces friction.  Half of the oil gets squeezed into the mechanism, and basically, I have created an oil pump. Fresh oil solvates gunpowder reside, the rails are swimming in fresh oil, and so are the link and bottom of the barrel.

Gotta to tell you, crud just wipes out, or blows out with compressed air. The cheap motor oils I often use have detergents to dissolve organics, and when it comes to firearm mechanisms, that has to be good. I don't want caked on, baked on, gunpowder inside my 1911. Nice and moist fouling is much preferred.

The disadvantage is, I frequently use paper towels to wipe off the oil that oozes below the slide rails. My hands do get oily during a match, if I don't keep the external accumulation of oil to reasonable levels by wiping, oil droplets have appeared on the lenses of my shooting glasses.

But, I can live with that if my pistol is more reliable.

I do not recommend greases on target pistols firing low energy impluse rounds. Greases slow the slide down, and you will see it going from hot weather, to cold weather. I ran a low of semi fluid greases this year, worked great in 90 F weather, a total jam a matic when temps dropped in the lower 60's. Lesson learned, not going to use greases on slides, barrel hood, locking mechanism, slide stop and barrel lug.

Even though the 1911 is a recoil operated mechanism, case lubrication surely affects the function, just as in a blowback action. As a reference to why lubrication may be good, I add this reference:


Technical Notes, Small Arms Design,
Author: John G. Rocha
Date May 1968

Blowback Operation pg 58

The most important factory in the blow-back operated weapon is the behavior of the cartridge case, since it is in motion at the instant of firing. Blowback is usually reserved for low power cartridge, and for military weapons, is most usually found in sub-machine guns firing the cal. .45 and 9mm pistol cartridges.

Cartridges for blowback weapons are essentially cylindrical, with no neck or shoulder, and very little body taper, if any. The base is sufficiently thick to support the chamber pressure for the time and travel that the cartridge case moves during blowback. It is this initial movement that limits the blow back principle to low-powered weapons with a cartridge design that can move rearward in the chamber without danger of case stretch.

Calculations for this system are quite straight-forward. The force acting rearward on the bolt equals the chamber pressure multiplied by the cross-sectional area of the mouth of the case. The bolt impulse is equal to the projectile and gas impulses.

The cartridge case is designed to resist seizure by the chamber wall at the onset of blowback motion. At this point lubrication will make a difference in function, reflecting higher rates of fire. However, the U.S. systems use unlubricated cases, while some European systems do lubricate their ammunition. The force expended in overcoming friction between the cartridge case and the chamber may reduce the energy transferred to the bolt sufficiently to cause a short recoil or failure to feed.

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1911 Slide dragging - Page 2 Empty Re: 1911 Slide dragging

Post by pcmacd Wed Jan 10, 2024 6:16 pm

I would consult the "well known gunsmith"....
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Post by Jack H Wed Jan 10, 2024 6:30 pm

BE Mike wrote:No love for WD-40? 1911 Slide dragging - Page 2 2309170423

Maybe in the rain

Rain drops keep fallin' on my gun...
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Post by Cmysix Wed Jan 10, 2024 7:38 pm

Draggin my slide, draggin my slide, beep beep!
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Post by Allen Barnett Wed Jan 10, 2024 9:12 pm

if the oil ain't drippin off your elbow you ain't got enough!!!!  i always put 3 drops on each rail when the pistol is locked open a drop on the disconnect, enough on the muzzle it wraps around and then close the slide and lube the hood area with 2-3 drops.  Work the slide several times and go for it!!!!  Never have any function problems and I will run 800-1000 rounds between cleanings.  By the way way I use the National Guard Red Oil formula.  Don't ask because I have been sworn to secrecy!!!!!

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Post by Froneck Thu Jan 11, 2024 11:14 am

I've built quite a few tack driving 1911s and don't have the problem listed! Just for the heck of it remove the barrel and provide a good photo of the lower lug side view with link inserted. What your describing seem to be a lower lug issue not lubricant! Me and Adam have shot 3 matches (2700) in a weekend and didn't oil the gun and had no problems. Adam shot an entire season without one alibi with the 1911!

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Post by NYKenn Thu Jan 11, 2024 2:38 pm

Oil is your friend.
Cannot really over oil it.

Might be too much it is dripping off your elbow though.

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1911 Slide dragging - Page 2 Empty Re: 1911 Slide dragging

Post by Froneck Sat Jan 13, 2024 7:52 am

A couple of drops of oil is all that is needed! Do you have the dragging problem when ammo is being pushed into the chamber and not when cycled with out ammo?

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