A Guide to Cleaning Your 1911 Build

Posted by 80-Lower on Jan 22nd 2019

A Guide to Cleaning Your 1911 Build

Your new 1911 will function as one of the most reliable handguns ever made – if you build it and maintain it. If you plan on going the build route by completing an 80% frame with a 1911 jig and Build Kit, then you’ll need to know all about cleaning your cutting and drilling areas while you fabricate, lest you ruin that shiny, new 1911 frame. We’ll also teach you how to care for your new 1911 in the field. Without further ado: A Guide to Cleaning Your 1911 Build!

Cleaning While Machining Your 1911 Frame

If you’re opting for the build-a-gun route, you’ll have to do a fair amount of metalworking on your 80% frame. You’ll be required to drill two holes and you’ll have to cut the slide’s frame rails and barrel seat.

When a few thousandths of an inch can make the difference between a smooth shooter and a busted gun, you need to be sure to clean your cutting and drilling areas. Each of our 1911 Jigs includes lubricating oil, which should be used liberally.

It’ll also be helpful to have compressed air and a soft brush to clean while you work. Any debris caught in your drill or cutting surfaces could gouge your frame, resulting in poor fitment and function.

Lapping and Polishing Your Finished 1911 Frame

In some cases, you can finish your 80% 1911 build with final assembly without further polishing or lapping. However, odds are you’ll need to do some final fitment. Lapping your 80% 1911’s slide and frame involves fitting the two together, working them back and forth with a gritty sanding compound (commonly called lapping compound).

This process is usually completed by hand with the same discipline of sanding or polishing. Lapping your frame rails will create a polished surface for your slide to operate on, guaranteeing a smooth, clean shooter.

Polishing Your 1911’s Trigger

Triggers can take time to wear in, but a hand-polishing job will ensure your new 1911 operates without a hitch and it’ll accelerate the break-in period. Polishing all mating trigger surfaces should only be done with a metal polishing compound and a fine-grade cloth. Polishing wheels and mechanical buffing may quickly remove too much metal.

Polishing the hammer and sear surfaces, trigger bow, and disconnector by hand will greatly improve felt trigger feel. Be sure to avoid polishing or softening the edges of the hammer and sear engagement points – wearing down these edges can result in a trigger that feels mushy and light.

Lubricating and Cleaning Your 1911

Your 1911 should be only be operated with proper lubrication. Be sure to apply oil to the trigger assembly, frame rails, and barrel seat before shooting. When cleaning your 1911, always remove the recoil spring plug first – this will release tension before stripping, preventing any loss of components.

When cleaning the barrel, always brush from the breech and avoid pushing cleaning rods or bore snakes through the muzzle. The muzzle is crowned to manage the release of gas, and damaging the carefully machined crown can result in a loss of accuracy.

Don’t Over-Clean Your 1911!

Your 1911 was designed to operate under harsh conditions with minimal maintenance. Over-cleaning your 1911 can result in early wear-and-tear. Removing carbon build-up from your 1911 also removes metal. Carbon is, after all, the base element in all carbide-bladed, metal-cutting equipment.

Many shooters run through two, three, even five hundred rounds before disassembly and cleaning. Generally, as long as your 1911 is operating reliably, a simple re-oiling and wiping down after each range day is sufficient.

DISCLAIMER: If you are new to the world of DIY gun building, you likely have a lot of questions and rightfully so. It’s an area that has a lot of questions that, without the correct answers, could have some serious implications. At 80-lower.com, we are by no means providing this content on our website to serve as legal advice or legal counsel. We encourage each and every builder to perform their own research around their respective State laws as well as educating themselves on the Federal laws. When performing your own research, please be sure that you are getting your information from a reliable source.