In part one, we covered the basic shooter maintenance, of tracking the spring wear of the 1911, and some of the effects of spring wear.

Paying attention to what your handgun is doing when fired, is the same as paying attention to what your car is doing when you are driving. Would you keep driving along when your car is losing power and the steering is coming loose? Of course not.

Unlike car drivers, who have a certain mechanical awareness of their vehicles, most 1911 owners have not had their awareness raised, over time, by frequent discussion of their handguns operating characteristics.

Part of this is due to the political atmosphere, where gun discussion is considered incorrect, except in shooter circles. The other reason is that the current crop of plastic/metal hybrid handguns are marketed as infallible appliances. The Glock pistols were marketed as “unbreakable”, but over time they exhibit part failure at around 10,000 rounds just like everything else.

Nevertheless, this kind of thinking has percolated through the handgun market. Argue with me please. I stock every part for Glocks. Why? Because they don’t last forever. Don’t get me started!

1911’s don’t have as many sudden failure modes as the later hybrids. As I mentioned, spring fatigue lets itself become apparent in various ways. 1911’s typically have slower failure modes.

Another change over time in 1911’s is a loss of accuracy. Groups start to open up. “The barrel is wearing out” someone says.


The barrel bushing is usually the culprit. It is a high wear item. The barrel bushing controls the front of the barrel’s location in the slide. As it starts to wear, the barrel can move vertically and horizontally out of alignment when the slide returns to battery. So what? It’s only a few thousandths.

What if your sights were drifting around loose?

A few thousandths in random directions, different on every shot?

Do you think it would affect your accuracy? Duh!

New bushings are available. Some say “Drop in fit! No tools required!” Great! Now you are installing a loose fitting accuracy part! If you actually want to restore accuracy with a new bushing, it needs to fit the inside of the slide without slop. Ideally, requiring a plastic bushing wrench to turn. Yeah, it requires a tool for disassembly. Bummer, Dude! But, the benefit is accuracy.

The inside of the bushing where the barrel slides, must fit the barrel closely. We want no side play between the barrel and bushing, except for a slight drag.

Contrarily, the barrel must be free to tilt up and down, so as to lock and unlock, without force, or as the pistol smiths say “springing”. Springing causes feeding and cycling issues in 1911s.

So, the actual shape of the bushing interior is a very small precise OVAL. This is where hand fitting comes into play. Accuracy is restored. The beauty of this system, is that as the outside of the barrel slowly wears, new bushings can be custom fit to maintain accuracy over time. Quality barrels ‘shoot out’ very, very slowly.

Well, I hear, “I don’t like the idea of needing a tool”. Get used to it! Even the plastic guns require special tools for service. It’s a small compromise for a superior gun.

Well, that’s about it for common wear parts. If there is a moral here, is pay attention to what your gun is doing.

If it’s a 1911, it will serve you better over a long period of time, with a little love and attention.