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A Guide to 1911 Recoil Springs by Wilson Combat

The recoil spring in a 1911 pistol is an important part of the puzzle of overall autoloader reliability. The primary purpose of the recoil spring is to strip a cartridge from the magazine during the feeding process and secondly, to protect the frame from excess slide battering during operation.

Our recoil springs are carefully wound and heat-treated in the USA of the finest ordnance-spec music wire to give you long-lasting durability and resistance to heat and deformation over time. They have been thoroughly tested and will maintain a consistent spring weight during long-term use.

Even though Wilson Combat recoil springs are the best springs you can buy, we recommend changing your recoil springs at regular intervals to optimize your pistol’s performance and enhance reliability.

When is it time to change your recoil spring?
•If you start getting failures to return to battery while feeding it may be an indication that your recoil spring is losing some of its overall length. Typically, compact pistols will require more frequent length recoil spring changes than standard pistols.
•If your Shok-Buff recoil buffer is becoming torn within a few hundred rounds after installation-that is also evidence that your recoil spring is ready to be replaced.
•Any easy way to check for a worn spring is to compare your recoil spring versus a new spring of the same weight and brand. If your spring has lost approximately one-half an inch of overall length, it is time to replace your spring. To ensure this you should always have extra recoil springs of your desired weight(s) on hand.
•Any time you buy a second-hand or older 1911 pistol, it is a good idea to bring all unknown poundage springs back to factory spec for reliable operation. New, quality springs are a cheap insurance policy against malfunctions and pistol damage.
•If your ejection or extraction pattern suddenly changes, you may have a weakened recoil spring.

What is the right spring weight for your pistol?
•The proper recoil spring weight for a 1911 pistol is dependent on the caliber, length of the barrel and the tension of the hammer spring.
•It is advised to tune your spring weights based on the type of loads you prefer to shoot most often. If you shoot mostly lighter loadings, use weights at the lower of the spectrum; conversely if you prefer heavier or +P loads, try heavier springs.
•For all-around reliability try spring weights in the median of the recommended spectrum.
•If your pistol fails to lock back on the last round after installing a new recoil spring you may need to try a lighter weight spring.
•Wilson Combat recommended spring weight ranges are as follows.

Caliber/Barrel length Recommended Recoil Spring Weight Range
.45 ACP 5” 15-18.5#
.45 ACP 4.25” 17-20#
.45 ACP 4” 18-22#
9mm 5” 10-12#
9mm 4” 11-13#
.38 Super 5” 13-16#
10mm 5” 18.5-24#

When replacing your pistol’s recoil spring it is important to remember to change your firing pin spring at the same time.

284 Posts
I use a FLGR with a #18 recoil spring. In all my 1911's. The full length guide rod stops the recoil spring from binding and coiling. The stronger spring operates in a straight line thus not losing any tension. The 1911 cycles faster and smoother with less over travel. I would like to try and test the variable recoil springs next.
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