The Pencil Test

I cleaned my 1911 and my XD9 after the last IPDA match at PDHSC. I finally got a video clip of “The Pencil Test”. The gunsmith who took me under his wing showed me this after he walked me through a complete take down. Maybe I’m just a kid at heart but it makes me giggle every time I do it! This is a simple test that will assure you put your 1911 back together correctly after you clean it.

Before you load any ammo in the gun, slide the pencil in the barrel, eraser side down. Point the gun in a safe direction and pull the trigger. If the pencil doesn’t fly, neither will your ammunition.

Forcing the Slide

Back when I managed to paint my XD9 shut, I made a visit to the gun smith that has been so helpful to me in this journey. He forced the slide open and showed me the hand position  that he found gave him the most leverage to do that. He was kind enough to let me take photos of that hand position on a future visit when I wasn’t in such a flustered state.

Here are the two views of his hands on one of the guns from the shop:

Hands from above

Hands from above

Reverse view of hands

I’m not going to tell you when it’s best to force the slide versus taking a problem gun to a qualified gunsmith, but if I ever paint another gun shut (no plans at this time!!!) I’ll have a plan for getting the snap caps out.

Shooting is fun. Cleaning is frustrating…

Last weekend I decided to clean a few guns:

Field stripped S&W 22A

  • The .22 target pistol Mom likes to shoot,
  • the Springfield XD9 I last shot in November as I don’t know when I’ll shoot it again,
  • and the 1911 as I’ve put about 700 rounds through it.

The .22 and the XD9 were simple to disassemble, clean, lubricate and reassemble. The 1911, not so much.

The 1911 took me about 2 dozen tries to get the slide lock back in the gun after I cleaned it. I never got frustrated. I just read a bit in the 1911 maintenance manual I bought from my favorite gunsmith, and I knew I’d done it before so it had to be possible. Also I knew that if I paid the gun smith a visit, he’d help me.

Field stripped Springfield XD9. Easiest gun I own to field strip and reassemble.

I don’t like cleaning my guns, but there is a real since of satisfaction when I take the time and I’m actually able to take them apart and put them back together. At first I was only focused on getting them apart and back together. Then I focused more on cleaning. I think I’m doing a pretty good job of both now. Where I still feel short on knowledge is in the area of lubrication. But I took my best guess and I’ll be doing some research on that for the future.

I’m still missing a grip screw on the 1911. I ordered a set that I thought would fit my grips but it was clear when I looked at the gun then at the new screws that this was a “wrong” purchase. I checked the Brownell’s site again and I’m just not seeing the screws I need.

So I’ll be visiting the gun smith this week any way. I’m really thankful I took the time to get to know him and I trust he can help me figure this out. Then there is the conversation about way to keep the screws in the grip…. LockTite? Finger nail polish?