1911/1911A1 Disassembly
By D. Kamm

NOTE: The following illustrations demonstrate how it is possible to completely detail-strip an M1911A1 by using the pistol's own parts as tools. This is usually made possible by the fairly loose tolerances of USGI pistols, allowing the parts to be freed by pressure alone. This method often will not work on tighter commercial guns without the risk of slipping and damaging the parts or possibly injuring yourself. Once you have tried this method out and seen how it can be done it is STRONGLY advised that you refrain from using it in the future. Instead, rely on the proper tools for the job such as small and wide flat-blade screwdrivers, a small drift punch, and a small hammer. On collector's grade pistols the "tool-less" disassembly method should NEVER be attempted as the risk of slipping and damaging the finish is far too great. Again, use the proper tools and lay the pistol down on a clean surface with rags for cushioning. ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GLASSES TO AVOID INJURY FROM SPRING-LOADED PARTS!

Illustrations pertain only to USGI pistols, and do not apply to commercial Series 80 guns with the firing pin block.


Images courtesy of Marstar Canada Inc. http://www.marstar.ca

Colt1911A1.gif (3914 bytes)

Press magazine catch with right thumb and, at same  time, withdraw magazine from receiver. Pull slide to rear and look inside chamber to see that gun is not loaded. Close slide and pull trigger so hammer is down.

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With thumb, press inward on knurled end of plug, at same time rotating barrel bushing 1/4 turn clockwise to free plug and recoil spring assembly. Rest heel of gun on table so both hands may be used. CAUTION: WEAR SAFETY GLASSES! Out of control recoil spring plugs and eyeballs make a bad combination.

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Remove plug and recoil spring. If spring does not come free easily, rotate plug in counter-clockwise direction to separate from recoil spring.

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Rotate barrel bushing counter-clockwise until disengaged from slide. Remove barrel bushing.

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Slide is pulled to rear until lug on slide stop is opposite clearance notch on slide. Rounded end of slide stop pin protruding on right side of receiver is pushed inward by finger of left hand, which disengages slide stop from slide.

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Remove slide stop

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Pull receiver group to rear and off slide. Recoil spring guide can now be lifted out.

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Push link forward and remove barrel from front of slide. NOTE: This is the limit of disassembly at field strip level for routine cleaning.

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With hammer cocked, rotate safety lock almost to "On" position. It can now be pulled to left and away from receiver. Jockeying the safety lever between positions helps to free it from the frame.

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Remove hammer pin.

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Lift out hammer assembly

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Using hammer strut, punch out mainspring housing pin. Push in on the CONCAVE (dished) end of the pin, not convex. Pin will be positioned with the dished end on either the left or right side of the frame.

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Slide mainspring housing off receiver.

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Lift out grip safety.

Colt1911A15.gif (5163 bytes)

Lift out sear spring.

Colt1911A16.gif (7877 bytes)

Remove sear pin.

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Lift out sear and disconnector. Note relationship of these parts to facilitate reassembly.

HINT: The disconnector fits inside the sear, with the flattest side facing the front of the pistol and the large center hole lined up between the sear's through-holes.

Colt1911A18.gif (6884 bytes)

Depress magazine catch from left side; at same time rotate magazine catch lock 1/4 turn counter-clockwise using lip of sear spring as screwdriver. Magazine catch assembly is then removed from right side of receiver. Catch assembly can be reduced to components by turning lock clockwise 1/4 turn. Spring and lock will come out.

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Remove trigger.

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Using hammer strut, push in on firing pin. At same time using fingernail push downward on firing pin stop, freeing firing pin stop from recess in slide.

CAUTION: WEAR SAFETY GLASSES! The firing pin makes a great eyeball skewer.

Colt1911A22.gif (4811 bytes)

Remove firing pin stop by sliding downward. Firing pin assembly can now be removed from slide. It is recommended that you use the tip of your thumb to keep the firing pin and spring under control while removing the firing pin stop.

Colt1911A23.gif (4178 bytes)

With hammer strut, pry out and remove extractor.

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Separate firing pin from firing pin spring.

1.Barrel Bushing 2.Slide 3.Barrel 4.Barrel Link 5.Link Pin 6.Extractor 7.Recoil Spring 8.Recoil Spring Guide 9.Recoil Spring Plug 10.Firing Pin 11.Firing Pin Stop 12.Firing Pin Spring

13.Frame 14.Magazine 15.Magazine Catch Assembly 16.Mainspring Housing 17.Mainspring Housing Pin 18.Hammer 19.Hammer Strut 20.Hammer Strut Pin 21.Hammer Pin 22.Grip Safety 23.Slide Stop 24.Trigger 25.Thumb Safety 26.Grip (Right) 27.Grip (Left) 28.Grip Screws 29.Sear Spring 30.Disconnector 31.Sear 32.Sear Pin

ASSEMBLY: Essentially the reverse of above, however reinstalling the sear and disconnector in the frame is the most difficult task. It helps to use a small nail or pin punch to align the holes that allow the sear pin to pass through the frame, sear, and disconnector. When reassembling the slide assembly to the frame have the parts facing upside down. Tilt the barrel link forward, then slide the frame assembly forward onto slide. Turn pistol upright, then align barrel link hole with slide stop hole in slide. Partially insert slide stop, then retract slide to allow slide stop to pass through clearance notch in slide while also depressing slide stop plunger. Sounds simple, doesn't it? It takes a few tries (and a few scratches to the frame and slide) to effectively master quick reassembly. Now you know the REAL reason why the military adopted the Beretta M9!

Copyright 2001-2005
All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/13/08