1911 Owners: Assembling/Disassembling the 1911 Pistol, by Hilton Yam

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Hilton Yam has detailed his assembly/disassembly procedures for the 1911 pistol on TacticalForums.com in this thread.

The following is what Hilton wrote. If you own and/or carry a 1911 pistol, DefRev highly suggests you read it. Here:

"The following is a users guide that I’ve written, detailing how I typically strip the 1911 for routine maintenance. If there’s anything I missed, pls let me know. (Click on "Read More" to continue reading)…

Field Stripping:
Before field stripping, check to ensure that your weapon is clear.
Rack slide back, hold with right hand, and pull slide stop out with your left hand.
Pull the slide off the frame, keeping the recoil spring captured.

Set the frame aside, release recoil spring and remove from the slide assembly.
Tip the barrel down out of lockup, and push forward about halfway. This will permit easier turning of the bushing and reduce wear on the full diameter portion of the last .5” of the barrel, which is generally fitted tightly to the bushing in match grade guns.
Turn bushing clockwise to 7-8:00 and pull out recoil spring plug. Non milspec 1911’s often have the recoil spring plug tunnel cut straight through, and can have the plug pulled from rear.
Turn bushing counterclockwise to 4:00 and pull out barrel/bushing assembly. Separate.

Detail stripping:
Remove grips.
Remove right side ambi safety, if applicable. This can be accomplished by working the right side lever up and down while pulling away from the frame. Once a sufficient gap is made, it is possible to insert a small screwdriver blade next to the pin and pry it out. Do not attempt to pry or force the lever from the end most distant from the pin, as it is easy to bend or break the lever.

Remove left side safety by moving lever up and down while pulling out to the left.

Manually decock the hammer, being careful not to let it strike the frame. Damage to both the frame and hammer can result. Using either a pin punch or a Brownell’s Mainspring Housing (MSH) Pin Tool, drive out the MSH pin from the dimpled side, usually from left to right.
Slide the MSH out. Remove the grip safety and sear spring.

Use a 3/32” punch to drive out the hammer and sear pins to the left.

Remove the hammer, sear, and disconnector. If Series 80, also remove the trigger bar lever and plunger levers. Be careful to observe the relationship between the various parts.
Remove the magazine release by simultaneously depressing the release while gently turning the magazine catch lock counterclockwise. The catch lock will disengage from the frame and the tab will turn into the body of the release. Be sure that the lock tab is fully cleared from the frame recess.

Push the release out to the right.
Remove the trigger bow from the rear of the frame. The trigger can be relatively fragile, so be careful not to crush or deform the bow, or cause the shoe to be moved on the bow.

Turn the slide upside down. Use a 3/32” punch to depress the firing pin. Once it is clear of the firing pin stop, slide the stop away from the slide and release the firing pin from the slide. Remember that the firing pin is under spring tension, so do not fire it across the room.

For Series 80: Push down on firing pin plunger, then depress firing pin.
Remove the extractor by inserting a punch (or better yet, a nonmarring nylon tool) into the firing pin stop groove and pulling rearward. Some extractor hooks are too wide to clear the breech face, and can be removed by gently pushing on the extractor hook at a 45 degree angle to the breech face (ie. Rearward and out from the axis of the slide). Use a nonmarring nylon tool to avoid damage to the extractor and breech face.
For Series 80: Pull extractor out approximately 1/16” and remove firing pin plunger and spring. Remove extractor as above.

Reinstall the trigger into the frame. Install the magazine release from the right. Lightly depress the magazine release while gently turning the magazine catch lock clockwise. As the release moves to the right, the catch lock tab will engage the frame recess. Be sure that the lock tab is fully engaged in the frame recess.

Lay the disconnector with the shovel (the flat end that engages the trigger bow) end down, and seat the sear on it with the nose facing up. Place the assembly into the frame with the head of the disconnector in the frame hole and the shovel end on the rear of the trigger bow. Insert the sear pin, ensuring that both sear and disconnector are engaged on the pin.

For Series 80: Assemble and install the sear/disconnector as above, but insert the sear pin flush to the right side of the sear. Slide the trigger bar lever on the rightmost side of the above assembly, with the short tab facing up and to the rear. Fully insert the sear pin. Tip the bottom of the trigger bar lever down to touch the trigger bow. This will help later in the installation of the plunger lever. Place the plunger lever with the top of the lever flush in the frame recess, and the lower hole lined up with the hammer pin hole. Ensure that the plunger lever is engaged with the trigger bar lever.
Align the hammer with the pin hole and install the pin. Leave the hammer forward (decocked).
For Series 80: move the trigger bow to check that the trigger bar lever engages and moves the plunger lever. If it does not, remove and properly reinstall the components.
Place the sear spring with the bottom end in its frame slot. Check that the leftmost finger is laying ON TOP of the left sear leg, not underneath it. You can pull the trigger to check for proper movement.

Push the MSH halfway into place to secure the sear spring. Place the grip safety in position, and align the hammer strut in the recess inside the grip safety. Slide the MSH into place to engage the two tabs on the bottom of the grip safety, ensuring that the hammer strut enters the MSH and properly engages the mainspring cap. Install the MSH pin (the dimple traditionally goes on the left side, but it doesn’t affect function either way) by tapping into place with a plastic hammer.

Cock the hammer, feeling for proper engagement with the mainspring cap. Place the left side thumb safety in position, use a pin punch or nylon tool to depress the detent plunger, then snap the safety into place. Install the right side of the ambi safety if applicable.

Insert extractor into slide. Install the firing pin and use the punch to push the firing pin in far enough to clear the firing pin stop cutout. Install the firing pin stop and release the firing pin.
For Series 80:
Insert extractor into slide and align plunger cutout with hole. Turn slide right side up and insert plunger and spring. This will help keep the plunger spring from falling out or kinking up in the slide.

Push the extractor into place to lock the plunger into the slide. With the slide upside down, depress the plunger and install the firing pin. Push the firing pin in far enough to clear the firing pin stop cutout and release the plunger. It will hold the firing pin forward. Install the firing pin stop and press the plunger to release the firing pin.

TW25B, a lightweight milky consistency Teflon bearing grease, is excellent for carry and deployment. It does not dry off, run out of crevices, and is resistant to harsh weather and sandy/gritty environments. It is my preference for general carry and mission use. For range use, a light oil such as FP-10, Militec, or Kellube is fine. I do not like Break Free since the oil needs to be shaken to mix up the Teflon particles. For tightly fitted guns, this oil tends to drain out or dry with carry, and does not provide adequate lubrication without reapplication. A good compromise is to combine a light grease, such as Lubriplate or Tetragrease, with one of the above oils. This gives the benefit of long lasting lubrication and adhesion with the lubricity of the oils. Some tightly fitted guns will not function well with straight Lubriplate or Tetra. Conversely, using straight TW25B is much less complicated and achieves the same end result. The greases can be applied with a small brush, such as the acid brushes available from Brownell’s and MSC. Simply apply some of the grease, add a few drops of oil over it, and brush evenly over the contact area.

Frame: Apply lubrication to the rails and the disconnector head. The trigger bow, hammer, sear, disconnector, and applicable Series 80 levers should be lubricated appropriately during assembly. The hammer and sear engagement surfaces should be lubricated often. I use Trigger Slick, a molybdenum disulfide grease originally marketed by Chip McCormick. Trigger Slick is now available from STI. TW25B is also effective. Throwing a drop of oil down onto the front of the hammer (while assembled) before a range session is helpful for maintaining lubrication on this critical wear area.
Slide: Lubricate the radial lugs, the rear of the hood extension, the lower lugs, link, and full diameter of the muzzle end of the barrel. The bushing/barrel contact area should be generously lubricated.

During assembly, light lubrication can also be applied to the circumference of the rear of the firing pin body (where there may be oil grooves on some brand firing pins), the middle lug and the locator pad of the extractor. These have minimal effect, but are also moving (or slightly moving) parts that may increase overall system friction, depending on your gun’s setup.

Range lube: The lubrication method outlined above will prepare your pistol for extended periods of carry and will normally be fine for a range session of 2-400 rounds, even after carrying for several weeks. While at the range for an extended session, class, etc. you may fire a larger volume of ammunition before you have a chance to strip and clean your weapon. To increase reliability between cleanings, here are some lubrication points that can help.

With the gun cocked but slide closed, place a drop of oil in front of the hammer to lubricate the hammer hooks/sear nose contact. This point is easily located between the rear of the frame and the bottom of the hammer’s strike face. Apply oil to the front of the barrel hood to lubricate the radial lug recesses – this is the most critical area to oil, as it is an area of very high friction. Too much is just fine here. Lock the slide back and apply oil to the disconnector head and to the exposed area of the barrel/bushing contact area. Put a drop of oil on your finger and rub it on the rear of the barrel hood extension. On a properly fitted match grade barrel, this area will bear fully against the breech face in lockup.

Slide the barrel in through the front of the slide, about halfway in. Install the bushing and turn counterclockwise to 7:00. Install the recoil spring plug (this step is unnecessary with non GI spec guns with spring tunnels bored straight through) then turn the bushing to 6:00. Slide the barrel into full lockup. Load the recoil spring and guide assembly from the rear. Keep the spring captured with your left hand as you feed the spring in with your right. Ensure that the link is pointed downward, not to the rear of the slide. Slide the top end assembly onto the frame rails, leaving the slide in its forward most position. Align the link with the slide stop pin hole and install the slide stop. If necessary, tip the slide back about ¼” or so to allow the slide stop pin to move past the barrel lugs. The slide stop will easily depress the plunger by pressing it into place from only about 1/8” or 1/16” below the plunger tube. It is not necessary to swing it in a big arc – you’ll only guarantee that you’ll slip off the detent plunger and scratch the frame and slide. The “idiot mark” is the sure sign of an amateur. Installing the stop with the slide forward allows you to position the stop without having to worry about keeping the slide from slamming shut. Move the slide back to line up the slide stop with the takedown notch, and snap the slide stop into place.

Weapon handling protocol:
Always ease the slide down on an empty chamber, never slam it shut from slide lock. The jarring of the slide slamming down on an empty chamber can cause the hammer to follow and the sear nose to crash into the hammer hooks. Your trigger job will last longer if you ease the slide down. It’s not the end of the world if the slide drops on an empty chamber, but it’s not a good habit to develop either.

Thumb cocking the hammer can sometimes result in the hammer slipping out from under the thumb and falling to half cock. Some hammers are designed with a half cock notch that protects the sear nose, but many do not. Excessive crashing of the sear nose into the half cock notch will ruin your trigger job. If you are fumble fingered, try cycling the slide to cock the hammer for dry firing. This may seem picky, but I see this occur constantly.

Contrary to popular opinion, dry firing is not harmful to modern 1911’s. Old guns with soft breech faces may have exhibited peening problems from the firing pin strike, but a modern gun should be plenty hard. Serious shooters dry fire practice frequently, and well made guns do not experience any ill effects from it."

Hilton Yam is a pistolsmith who specializes in building custom tactical/carry (professional-grade) 1911’s. Clicking here will take you to Hilton’s website where you can view his work. You can email Hilton at [email protected].

1911 Owners: Assembling/Disassembling the 1911 Pistol, by Hilton Yam by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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