The Recoil Spring experiment

Recoils Springs, Bushing "Disk" by Lynx, and an empty flare tube to transport the springs.

Recoils Springs, Bushing “Disk” by Lynx, and an empty flare tube to transport the springs.

The day before I shot the Carolina Cup I was at PDHSC for several reasons, but one was to get a different recoil spring for my 1911. I had a conversation with one of my informal mentors at PDHSC and he’d recommended I go lighter. It might also help with the occasional double feeds I experience.

The gunsmith I work with runs a business out of the same building so I asked him what he recommended. I like getting more than one opinion as it helps me to learn and increase my knowledge. The Brownell’s book we checked stated that the standard for a 1911 in 9mm is 14 lbs for the recoil spring. I just found this article that recommends my 5′ barrel in 9mm should have a 10-12 lb spring.

We had no way to measure the spring in the gun so I assumed it was 14lbs. I still have it as a back up.  I bought a 12lb spring and proceeded to reserve a lane at the range and check out the gun with the new spring in it. I also had my new XDS with me and several of the guys I know that work at PDHSC wanted to give that a try so I was talking with several folks. The guy that recommended the light recoil spring shot the XDS then asked if I’d picked up a new spring. I proudly said I had: at 12 lbs.

He really thought I ought to go lighter. It would help noticeably with recoil control however it would be tougher on the gun. He explained that I’d need to lubricate the gun well and it would still have parts that would wear more quickly – but if I wanted the gun for competition it might be worth the trade-off for me. He loaned me a 7lb spring. I was amazed at the difference. I went through several drills and all appeared well.

He asked me to replace the spring later when the gunsmith was back but the price for all the advice was the cost of a pink bushing wrench. Now I’m not a fan of pink. I tend to avoid most “girly” looking gun equipment and this was no exception. But it worked well, it was less than $8 and it had a breast cancer fund raising ribbon on the product — so it wasn’t a hard sell. It is larger than my other bushing wrench and it’s very easy to find in a range bag.

I know this because the first stage I shot at the Carolina Cup the next day showed me that the spring wasn’t strong enough to put the gun back into battery after a slide lock reload. There were two reloads required on the first stage I shot. The first time the RSO had to point it out when the gun didn’t go “bang” and the second time I was ready for it. A thump on the back of the slide fixed the issue – with a loss of time on the stage each time.

I excused myself after the stage, went back to my car, used that handy pink bushing “disk” and put the 12 lb spring back in the gun. I had no further issues.

I think I still might pick up a 10 lb spring. At $8 apiece it’s not a big investment. And I’m starting to understand why most of my shooting friends spend the time to experiment with gun modifications.