Care and Feeding of 1911 Magazines
The Springfield 1911 series of pistols is by far one of the bestselling and most loved handguns of all time. You only have to look as far as our forum logo to see an example of this. The thing is, probably the most important step to keeping that Springer ticking like a clock is in proper magazine maintenance.
Before you check out, give us ten minutes of your time. You can thank us later.
How do you get that bad boy apart?
Ok, first of all, there is more to cleaning and caring for that mag than just wiping off the outside of it and rubbing the follower on a rag to dust it off. For proper cleaning, you have to take it apart. Relax its mainly just four pieces: the body, the follower (the doohickey up top that the bullets rest on), the spring, and the floor plate.
Now the 1911-style mag has been around for over 100 years and people are always trying to improve it. 7 rounders, and 8-rounders are both flush fit. One piece monolith followers and spilt level follower. Fixed floor plates and removable ones.
Relax, this is pretty easy. No matter what they all still just have four pieces to the mag. On removable floorplate mags, simply depress the button in the center of the floorplate with a punch or small screwdriver, then the empty mag comes apart with ease.
(Five very different 1911 mags, don't worry though, four of these come apart the same way...)
Be sure to point the mag away from you so that the spring doesn't fly out and poke your eye out. No 1911 lover looks good with an eye patch, unless they had one already, in that case, carry on.
For fixed floorplates, push the follower down on an empty mag with a small wooden dowel about halfway. Then take a straitened paperclip, jeweler's screwdriver or punch and pin the spring through the magazine witness holes to where it stays in place. Then remove the dowel and follower, followed by the spring.
(The floorplates on these five magazines all look different. The 8-rounder on the far left comes off with the depression of the center button. The rest are fixed.)
Once you have them apart, clean off your carbon and rust with a good product made for the task and reassemble.
In both cases do this in reverse to get them back together.
Kg9pz has a short tutorial on magazine disassembly.
The neat thing about 1911 mags is that really nice ones are not that expensive. You can pick up Chip McCormick Shooting Star type competition mags for as low as $15 and Wilson Combats and Pachys for just a few dollars more. Of course, as long as the magazine body is strait and the floorplate is holding, you can always upgrade any old worn out mag with a new follower and spring for peanuts.
This is a good trick when you realize that old GI style mags can be found at swap meets, gun shows, and junk bins coast to coast for super cheap prices. I once got a bunch of 'Assy' stamped mags $20 for ten and after some love and a few spring replacements, loved every one of them.
You can even give it a good once over to ensure it works like a top.
Harp Custom's excellent tutorial on polishing magazine spring followers and springs
Now go take care of those mags, so they can take care of you.