How to Disassemble and Clean a 1911?

If you are thinking of investing in a 1911 gun, or you already own one, you will definitely find this text to be super useful. We are going to explain in detail how to disassemble, clean, and then again reassemble this type of a weapon easily, without any hiccups or obstacles on the way. We are talking about handling a firearm that has a long history and is designed for personal defense reasons, but also for hunting, target shooting, and for military tactical operations.

There are many different types of 1911 guns since different manufacturers adapted this gun design to what they thought was the best solution regarding its accuracy and reliability. Some of them are based on recoil spring and recoil spring plug, while others use recoil rod, which means field stripping for them won’t be the same.

Now we are going to show you how to field strip a 1911 pistol while pointing at the difference between full-length guide rod, GI-style, and bull barrel models.

Field strip

1. Check if the gun is unloaded

In order to make sure accidents won’t happen during this disassembly/cleaning process, you have to check and see if the gun has an empty barrel. First, you need to remove the magazine, and then to establish there are no cartridges in the chamber by pulling the slide back. Make sure not to release the slide without a loaded magazine because you will risk damaging the inside part of the slide as well as the barrel.

2. Barrel bushing removal

The GI-style models 1911 disassembly starts by pushing the slide back and pressing it on the plug with your thumb. Then, you need to rotate the barrel bushing clockwise. Remember that the plug is under pressure, so be careful. Use a bushing wrench to rotate the barrel bushing if you want to make the process simpler for you. Given that the recoil spring is under tension, you will have to allow it to easily extend. If you own a model with a full-length guide rod, use the hex wrench to remove the front portion of the guide rod.

3. Slide stop removal

After you cock back the hammer, pull back the slide and align the slide stop with the left side of the slide. Use your finger to push the slide stop out from the other side of the gun.

4. Slide removal

Now that the slide stop has been removed, pull the slide off from the front part of the frame. Push the assembly forward and detach it.

5. Recoil spring and barrel removal

If you have a GI-style 1911 gun, use the back of the slide to remove the recoil spring. You can now rotate the barrel bushing counter-clockwise and remove the barrel easily from the slide. When it comes to full-length guide rod and bull barrel guns, you will need to remove the slide while the recoil spring is under tension. Pull the recoils spring gauge out. Use a bent paper clip and insert it into the small hole in the front part of the muzzle. Pull out the spring assembly, and after that, push the barrel forward and take it off the slide. Later on, we will explain how to clean 1911.

Magazine disassembly

Every time you eject the magazine and let it fall out on some sort of firm surface, you expose it to potential damage. It is extremely important for you to take care of the magazine and to treat it right because it is the weakest part of the 1911 weapon. Now, if you wonder how to disassemble a 1911’s magazine, we will provide you with the simplest trick. You should take a screwdriver or a bushing wrench and use it to push down on the follower. After that, take a paperclip or a nail and insert it into the second top hole, so it goes all the way through. Take the follower out of the magazine and be gentle while doing so. Now press your hand on top of the magazine and remove the punch that’s holding the spring.

Cleaning

Even though maintaining a gun can be such a boring and complex experience, cleaning 1911 is really very simple, and it won’t take much of your time. We believe you already know how important it is to keep your weapons clean, so we won’t give you a speech on that subject now. In order to do this job properly, you will have to prepare a cleaning kit that includes a solvent, lube, nylon brush, and several clean patches.

Step 1: Clean the barrel

Place a patch soaked with a gun cleaning solvent on top of the cleaning rod and push it through the bore of the barrel. Move the rod up and down, and repeat this step several times with a clean patch. That way, you will remove the lead residue and copper that broke under the action of the solvent. Now take a dry and clean patch and run it through the chamber and bore. You need to remove all the dirt, so repeat this step also for a few times. In the end, you can use an old toothbrush to scrub the chamber area and ramp.

Step 2: Clean the slide

In order to make the slide of the pistol clean as well, you will have to spray it with a CLP, and then to wait for a little while until the solvent breaks the powder residue. Make sure all the dirt falls out of the slide, and not into it. The next step includes taking a brush and scrubbing the interior of the slide, as well as rail and chamber face. After you scrub everything pretty good, it is time to move on to soft clean patches you will use to wipe both the interior and the exterior of the slide.

Step 3: Clean the frame

The last step regarding cleaning the 1911 process is cleaning the gun frame. First, make sure to remove the grip if it is sensitive to regular gun solvents and can be damaged by them. Then you can spray the frame with CPL and leave it for some time so the chemicals can start dissolving the dirt. Make sure that the solvent doesn’t go inside of the frame, but to drip outside. Now take a toothbrush you no longer use and scrub the rails. In order to remove unapproachable debris, you can use a pick. In the end, wipe everything with clean patches.

Step 4: Clean the magazine

Soak patch or a swab with an adequate solvent, and then rub the inside and the outside of the magazine body with it. Clean the follower and the spring as well. After that, take a clean cloth and wipe out the entire magazine and all its parts. It is essential not to leave excess lube on the magazine in order to prevent the malfunction of the weapon. 

Lubrication

When it comes to this part of gun maintenance, it is essential to remember that less is more. That means that you should be very careful not to exaggerate with gun oil usage. The small amount will be enough to keep the firearm fully functional, but if you overstep with its usage, you are risking attracting and cumulating dirt more easily. After you thoroughly cleaned your gun, you need to apply gun oil at the right points, very carefully. First, you should place a few drops at places where barrel lugs meet, then on the outside of the barrel, and on the outside of the muzzle. It would be good to apply oil on each rail, both outside and inside of it.

Reassembly

After you did all the work, it is time to reassemble your gun and return it to its original shape. It would be good to first position the slide assembly upside down and check if the barrel link is forward. Then place the frame onto the slide and insert the slide stop. Now you need to retract the slide rearward and to push the slide stop down into the frame. Make sure not to scratch the frame while doing that. After you put all the parts together, you should function check your gun. That includes inserting unloaded magazine and racking the slide that should lock in place. You should then press the trigger in order to drop the cocked hammer, and see if the thumb safety works. In the end, check if the magazine release works – if it’s empty, it should fall free. Now, you can place your weapon into the 1911 shoulder holsters if you prefer concealed carry, and carry on with your favorite activities with your gun safely on you.

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