1911 Cleaning – How To Video

Hey Hickok 45. Guess what we’re going to do? Finally, after two or three years of requests, a 1911 cleaning video. We’ve done a disassembly video, but we’ve not cleaned one for you. We have had a lot of requests to do that. John and I shot this, about a box and a half worth, 60, 70 rounds worth, took my ears off. We’re just going to work on this gun. This is a series 80 Colt 1911. I’ve had this for quite a while, nice gun. I enjoy it and that’s the magazine out.

Before we start, let’s make sure there’s nothing in it because this process, you really do put your fingers up in front of the muzzle and everything else. It’s definitely clear, no doubt about it. Okay, I’m 100% positive. What I do, and there are different ways to go about it. I cock it, and put the safety up, the thumb safety, engage that. Turn it up and I want to depress the recoil spring plug here because you have to do that to take pressure off the barrel bushing to turn it now.

Mainly you want to turn it. See it won’t really go. That would be counterclockwise. You want to turn it clockwise, to the left, more or less, okay, clockwise. That releases this plug with lots of pressure from the recoil spring. Now there’s no pressure on anything. Alright, then I go back down here, take the safety off. I bring this back. You have to line up the slide lock serration there with this little bitty cutout in the slide. You see that? I’ll move it forward. There’s just a little bitty cutout.

That will allow this to come forward. Now I’m going to flip it over slowly and you see the button. You push on that which does no good unless this is lined up. See? That releases it. Okay. The slide lock is out. Now, there’s nothing to lock the slide, slide lock is gone. Alright, yeah look at all that carbon. Then, what I do… Again, we’re doing what I do. Whether you like it or not, this is what I do. You might have a different approach to it. I take all the little parts out, recoil spring, guide rod, barrel bushing, the plug, the slide lock.

My normal operation here, since they’re dirty, they’ve got carbon on them, I just soaked them down. Don’t soak the spring down. It wouldn’t hurt it, I guess. I just don’t do that. I usually take this out. Sometimes I don’t if I haven’t shot it a lot. It’s not really that dirty, that part, because I didn’t shoot it quite enough to get filthy, filthy, filthy. These are all these contact parts and I like to get plenty of lube on them and cleaner, because it just coats it, seals it. It ends up slicker, even when the lube is off.

We’ve talked about that before, how the lube I use, Ballistol cures things. Even when it’s dry, so to speak, of lube, you have a lubricating property there. Okay, the same with the barrel, of course. That is, in fact the most important thing. Do you see that? Isn’t that lovely? What I do is get it over here and again I spray it liberally. I do the same thing in my work shed. In my work bench in there I’ve got wood like this, two by fours, and I just don’t worry about it. Ballistol is good for wood. It just doesn’t matter. I just soak it. I don’t even put a patch through it. It’s just soaking alright? Now depending on what I’ve been shooting, if I’ve been shooting nothing but lead, cast bullets, I might let it soak longer and let it take effect a little bit longer.

I’ve shot some lead here and I’ve shot some jacketed rounds too. Leading shouldn’t be any kind of issue, but if it is, I’ll let it soak a little bit longer. It will release that as well. Then I go in here. In the front part of this… This is kind of a truism I guess about any semiautomatic, at least for me. I will take the front of the slide and let gravity be my friend and do kind of the same thing. I don’t worry about getting too much. I just go ahead and soak it down in there where it gets filthy. If we had shot it a couple hundred times, it would be even dirtier. Just let it soak.

You get that good Ballistol in those rails and in there in the grooves and does nothing but good stuff. Don’t worry about hitting the table; it’s not a big deal. Just dip some in there even. Now I’m careful about working back here on the slide. Sometimes I’ll just use alcohol. It just depends how bad it is. This isn’t so bad. I didn’t even bring the alcohol out. I’ll use kind of a damp Q-tip, maybe, get the worst of it off back there. This gun would shoot who knows how many more rounds if I did nothing to it, but I tend to just go ahead and clean them.

If I’m finished shooting it, firing it, and I put it away, who knows, I might not get it out for a few months. I go ahead and pretty well give it a good cleaning job. If for some reason I feel like I didn’t, I was in a rush, it was really late at night, we just finished up a video or whatever, I make a mental note of it and I get it out the next day or two and give it a more thorough cleaning. I’m using a pipe cleaner here. You’ll notice I’m getting down in that groove there?

I’m trying not to use too much Ballistol or oil lube or anything in there. You notice I didn’t just soak that down, just like I do my Glock. You’ve seen the Glock-cleaning video. This rear part of the slide, I’m more careful because you’ve got your firing-pin block right there and obviously it depresses in order for the gun to fire. You could get lube down in there into the firing-pin channel and all that. It attracts dirt, just not ideal. It would probably work a long time with some in there, but it attracts dirt. See that’s pretty clean there.

This back part of the slide, I’ll have some Ballistol too, some lube. When I make sure it’s pretty well clean enough for me, I’ll make sure I’ve got those rails or that groove back there. I didn’t just dump it in there. What I’ll do for the face here, the bolt face, is I’ll take usually, depends how dirty it is. I’ve got a wire brush or brass-bristle brush and I hit it with that quite often. That will really get the carbon off. I don’t like to put lube right there because that’s going to go, can go right back into the firing-pin channel. I get the carbon off there.

Often I don’t even use the brass bristles, I just a regular cleaning brush of some kind, a toothbrush. Just make surey that’s clean behind that extractor. I like to make sure that extractor is free, moving freely. It just depends on how dirty it is and how obsessive you are, right? You could use a little lube. You could use some alcohol right here. If I wanted to feel a lot better about it and I knew I wasn’t going to touch it for a long time, or I was going to be carrying it, or it had been very, very, very dirty, I would be dipping this maybe in some alcohol and just cleaning that really well.

Of course, it evaporates and doesn’t leave anything there. That’s pretty good, right there. That’s pretty good, okay? Then I have my patches, so I might dampen a patch there, just to make certain that… Just all that little part right there, just carefully, just a little Ballistol, a little cleaner. As I get closer to the firing pin and that area, I’m just a little bit more careful with it. I don’t just drench it like I do down here. There’s nothing down here that I’m going to hurt, not at all really.

Then I will use Q-tips in the little grooves there, where the barrel locks up, perfect. Now I’m just mainly trying to get the dirt out. There’s not a lot of dirt, but you can see it’s kind of dirty. I want those to lube. I want oil in there. A 1911 is a little bit like an AR-15. It does run better if it’s well lubed. It’s almost better to be over-lubed as long as you’re not soaking the rear of the slide. That’s my feeling about it. Of course we’re clean, not that bad up here, looking pretty good.

Now I’ll get these paper towels or something just to make sure it’s pretty clean on the outside of it. You want your gun to look good. You want it to be clean on the outside and in. The inside is maybe most important in a lot of ways. Then if you’ve got grit on the outside of it and you’re putting it in and out of a holster, you end up scratching the bluing or wearing it a little bit more. Get that clean. I’m kind of drying it off now. Actually right now that slide is in good shape.

It may be not lubed enough, so before I put it back together, I may just go ahead and do a little of that. I’ll put a little more on it, just as a final touch there in the grooves and the rails, where that contacts because I want it to be well lubed. I like a little lube up front there. Okay. We’re probably in pretty good shape. Let’s hit that, Q-tip, and make sure we’ve got lube back here. Of course, we’re in pretty good shape.

I can lubricate the rails here and take care of that. You’ll notice how dirty that gets, the ramp. I usually spray a little bit there and then wipe that down. You definitely want that ramp clean. If you don’t do anything else… If for some reason you were firing your 1911 and you were visiting a friend, that’s your carry gun… I’ve been in situations where that’s happened, if it’s me or somebody else.

A couple different officers were over here, local deputies, once firing a 1911, took a few shots with it and that was their carry gun. I had to ask the guy, do you want to clean that a little bit? Do you at least want to clean off the ramp? Some 1911’s are not quite as reliable in terms of the feeding ramp as others. Just make sure that part is nice and clean. It depends again on how anal you want to be about it. Get it cleaned out in there and then wipe off the rails. There wasn’t too much on there. It looks pretty good. Just to make sure it’s lubricated, of course you can hit the rails with a little Ballistol.

Where you’ve got all your moving parts that are concealed that might attract dirt, I don’t like to get a lot down here in the mechanism and the springs. There’s not a reason to get a lot of oil down in there. You’ll notice I don’t just take off spraying like crazy right there, the same with the Glock. We’re well lubed right there I think. It’s pretty good. That frame is basically clean enough for me. I will shoot this gun at some point before too long. That’s in pretty good shape.

Don’t worry about making a mess. The slide is in pretty good shape. It’s even lubed. I don’t think I put any back there in those locking grooves. There we go. That’s where your barrel locks up. Do you see it matches up there? Your grooves right there in the slide, it locks there, so I like a little lube right there. Alright. The critical part, it’s kind of critical. Over here, the barrel is a big one. I’ll take a look at it as I’m working on the gun. I’ll make sure it’s really soaked down well, the link, all of it. Alright?

Everything here is in pretty good shape. Let’s wipe off the guide rod here. This whole process is a little different if you have a full-length guide rod. I don’t like full-length guide rod, to be honest with you. I don’t think they’re really that necessary. You might. A lot of guns have them. A lot of 1911’s have them, especially high-end competition guns and that kind of thing. I had one I used in a competition for a couple years that had it and I hated it. It was difficult to take it down.

I couldn’t tell any difference in accuracy, to tell you the truth. The barrel bushing, again I’m mainly cleaning it. I’m not trying to get all the Ballistol off, other than just trying to clean in. then I’m going to put some more back on it, okay? I put a little on the guide rod, the slide lock, very good. You’ll notice all this. We’re pretty much ready to put it back together, except the barrel. It’s been soaking. I usually save it for last. I want it to soak the longest.

I’ll get a patch or two here and run through it. I tend not to use the bore snakes on handguns so much. I have been known to on occasion. I’m still kind of old school on that, use the old rods and just run them through. It’s a little gritty there. See, we actually did shoot this gun. The barrel shows that. Here we go. This solution I use is a great preservative and everything.

It really does a good job. I get them pretty clean. I think I’ve told you before; I don’t sit here and run patch after patch after patch after patch through here, 40 patches until I absolutely cannot find any brown lubricant coming through there. I don’t do that because I know the Ballistol will take care of it, even at this point. If I didn’t as long as I keep the barrel dampened with that stuff… I do the same with my muzzle loaders. That’s the beauty of it.

I don’t worry about every last patch being perfectly white. It’s not going to rust. It’s not going to deteriorate. It’s just going to stay right where it is, even if it’s a little bit dirty, as long as I’ve neutralized all the acids and everything with the Ballistol. It’s getting pretty good there. That’s close to where I’ll just leave it, because it’s going to be… What I will do often, before I shoot a firearm… I’m going to talk about that another time too. I check the bore and I’ll run a patch through it most of the time before I bring it out here.

I’ll make sure there’s not lube just hanging in there. I like to leave guns coated with lube, especially with the lube I use because it’s kind of a penetrating lube, a cleaner lube, it’s different things. I don’t mean to be selling it. Everybody likes their lube. There are a lot of good ones out there. That’s not too bad, is it? I can live with that. It’s definitely coated in there. Then I’ll wipe the barrel off, make sure it’s clean enough to suit me.

You do get a lot of crud around there and around the link and everything. It’s been soaking for a good while, so it’s just a matter of really wiping it off. Alright, then before I put it back together, I’ll make sure there’s lube on that thing. It doesn’t hurt a bit, doesn’t hurt a thing. I believe that’s about it. The spring usually doesn’t get that dirty. I’ll just wipe it down, spin it on a paper towel or something, my pants or my dress pants or something, just clean it and dry it. There we go.

Now I have no idea how to put this thing back together. Maybe you all can do that for me, get John to do it. Alright, get some of the junk out of the way. I think I got it pretty clean. Take the slide, the barrel… Unlike a Glock, I tend to want to stick it in there like a Glock, which you have to come in from the front, barrel link down. Let’s run the plug in there, that through the bushing. Now if you’ve never messed with one of these, the bushing will only go in one way.

It’s got a little slot in there. You turn it over here to that point and then spin it back. Let me get the spring out and show you that. It will only go in one way. It’s mortised out. Do you see the little knob on it there? It’s not a big deal. Just right in, it just locks right there, locks kind of open. One thing I didn’t put in was the guide rod. Put that in there. I usually, I guess I stick it in this way. Get your little cuff barriers down against that. I have more success if the link is down. It’s easier to line up and get the slide lock back in.

You can put that on if you want to at this point. Usually this just goes right back together. What’s funny, sometimes, like one out of ten, you’ll slide it together and you’ll have trouble getting that slide lock back in. usually when I do this, turn it upside down, it’s lined up… Get away fly. The fly must like the Ballistol. I did it, pretty good. Then you line up the little notch again, because this will not go in unless you do that. You’ll notice on a lot of 1911’s there’s a scratch right here. That comes from just turning that up against the gun.

You’ll notice I don’t think I’ve done that. Of course, this is an older gun. I bought it new. I’ve had it a little bit. It’s just destined to happen eventually. A lot of guns, even new ones will have an ugly scratch right there, a circular scratch. Lift that out just a little bit and get it up there and then push on that little tube plunger. Sometimes it’s a little bit of a trial and error. You can disconnect. There we go. Make sure we’re all the way down. There we go. Hold my mouth right and see if we can pop him in there.

Like I said, one out of ten times, she’ll sometimes… Let me tap it a little bit. Let me just take it out now, make sure. Oh I see. You see… I don’t know if you can see that hole there. It wasn’t lined up perfectly. It looked like it was, but when I pulled that out partially, it got off track there. There, not it’s in, not too big of a deal. Then I lock that back. We’re kind of back where we started because I’ve got to get this plug back on there, back over the recoil spring.

We’re just doing the reverse order. The barrel bushing is where we left it. Push this down in carefully, not putting your eye over it. Turn it back around, back in business, 1911. Magazine in. Nice clean gun. Notice I’ve got oil on it. So what? It doesn’t matter. Again it’s like an AR-15. If you’re going to err, you’re probably better off to err, from everything I understand and read, on the side of being a little wetter than you’d like it, a little more oily than you would maybe think it should be.

If you’re going to err, err on that side of it. It’s better for the firearm. It’ll function better, be more reliable, and feels good. We have a gun that’s clean. That’s the way I do it. It’s worked for me for a long time, for 30 years or more that I’ve had 1911’s. You may do it differently. You probably use a different lube, a lot of you, maybe even a different approach to it.

I might be doing it a way that’s a little more awkward than the way you do. I’m probably not going to change because it’s what I’ve been doing for a long time. It works for me. I don’t have to think about it too much. Anytime I don’t have to think, that’s always good for me. I hope you got a little bit out of that. Good old 1911’s, there are a lot of them, but they’re all basically the same, aren’t they? That’s why we love them. They just work and they’re not that hard to clean. I hope you got something from it. Life is good.