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1911 Guide Rods
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Steve
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June 3, 2012 - 4:23 pm
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You guys energized me to find out more about this, and I relied on several resources to round up the following information and opinions. The sources include my local gunsmith (a builder of high quality custom 1911's), Google, You Tube, and friends on a couple of other Forums. I am not attributing any of the statements or opinions noted, everything here is my understanding or interpretation of the comments of others.

The original 1911 design included what has come to be known as the "GI guide rod" which is 1.75" long, and was the only type generally available for many, many years. As the 1911 became more popular for competition shooting, the Full Length Guide Rod (FLGR) became more common, evidently for two reasons:

1) To prevent kinking of the recoil spring

2) To provide more weight up front to improve recovery from muzzle flip/recoil. There are actually hollow FLGR's filled with mercury to increase the weight up front.

A third factor in this was that the FLGR hanging out there when the slide locked back looked "cool", because the competition guys had them.

The FLGR made dis-assembly slightly more complicated, so the solution was to produce a Two Piece FLGR. This unscrews from the muzzle end for dis-assembly, normally with a hex/Allen wrench.

Most of the opinion that I reviewed seemed to consider any FLGR to be a "solution looking for a problem", there just does not seem to be any documented problem with 1911 springs kinking. There is a school of thought that believes that the FLGR helps to prolong the life of recoil springs, and/or helps the pistol cycle more reliably. I found no responsible authority to support either position.

At one time, the FLGR was touted to improve accuracy. From a purely mechanical standpoint, the type of guide rod seems to have little impact on single shot accuracy, which would rely much more on the barrel/slide/bushing fit. Recovery for follow up shots, because of more weight up front is more subjective, I don't have a solid number on the weight difference between a 1.75" -vs- 4" Guide Rod. It seems minimal based on the other energy factors involved.

A clearly documented issue with the Two Piece FLGR is that it can/will loosen during shooting, the common solution for this problem is to either tighten the pieces back together regularly, or LockTite them together.

My take on all of this that manufacturers put 2 piece FLGR's on some of their upper end guns to add a "custom" feature. Interestingly enough, the custom builders seem to offer this as an option, stopping short of recommending this or making it a "delete" option. One top line builder states that the 2 piece FLGR is an option offered to "allow builders to get more of your money".

I'm inclined to start securing mine with LockTite for now, and maybe buy a GI setup to try out.

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman "Were is the Self Help Section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

George Carlin

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Supermagfan
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June 4, 2012 - 7:24 am
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Steve,

 

Interesting article and timing of it as well.  My new Fusion has the Two piece FLGR.  I am still not sure why I chose it after a few dis-assemblies especially for the few rounds I will ever put through it.  I have shot Bullseye competition with my Father for many years and most of the shooters for their centerfire class shoot 1911's in .45ACP.  I have been out of touch with this crowd the last several recent years, but overall they had primarily used standard guide rods in their match guns. 

 

I would tend to agree that this is likely a more touted upper end option that is just about the money.

 

In my opinion

 

SMF

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June 5, 2012 - 9:35 am
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Interesting stuff Steve, thanks for the research & writeup. Being fairly new to the 1911 guns, I didn't know squat about the pro/con with a FLGR. When I bought my PMA-B, the seller said he "upgraded" to a GI style guide rod, but included the original full length one & it's bushing with the sale.

I've only fired mine with the short one so far, it seems to work just fine for me.range-time

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photohause
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June 5, 2012 - 6:39 pm
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Thanks for sharing this info.

I inherited a 70 Series Gold Cup that was worked on from a Bullseye shooter. When I showed it to several knowledgeable 1911 guys, they suggested to replace it with a standard guide rod…one even said, "Remove that silly thing."

BTW- this gun is the cat's meow…very accurate,

 If you're going to drink, don't drive. Don't even putt. 

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Steve
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June 5, 2012 - 9:24 pm
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Guy's, I checked out many discussions on several Forums. There seemed to be a strong reaction from a lot of 2P FLGR "haters".

There was also a lot of "mine works just fine when I manage it and understand how it works. I'm keeping it" type of sentiment as well.

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman "Were is the Self Help Section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

George Carlin

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June 6, 2012 - 5:18 pm
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Here's my silly thing. Haven't taken it apart yet to see what all the ruckus is about. Seems to shoot great with it.

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The Savantist

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June 8, 2012 - 7:50 am
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My Fusion has a 2P FL guide rod and I am still formulating an opinion??  

A man cannot have too many SuperMags

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rwsem
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June 8, 2012 - 8:13 am
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I'm a single piece fan, myself.  Less to potentially go wrong when firing semi-autos.  Hence the reason I prefer to hunt with revolvers...

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Technically, the glass is always full; half liquid, half air....

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Steve
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June 8, 2012 - 10:17 pm
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As I've said, my only issue is the two pieces loosening, and causing some functional issues. I think LockTite will resolve that, and I really want to keep it original, and I DO prefer the look of the full guide rod.

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman "Were is the Self Help Section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

George Carlin

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Steve
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February 6, 2013 - 3:42 pm
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Resurrecting an old discussion, but I actually have some first hand experience that I think is pretty much on point. Today was a dedicated 1911 session at the range, and I put close to 200 rounds through my DW 1911, which has a Two Piece Full Length Guide Rod. I've never had a clear feeling on the 2P FLGR except that it's the way DW built it and it accurate as all get out, so it must be the right thing. There has been the nagging issue of keeping it tightened, but not such a huge issue.

Today, after 60-70 rounds I started seeing accuracy drop off and a real shift high and left in POI, I remembered to tighten the guide rod and shot my next target, with this result

0656b9ae-746a-4629-9d26-c9a1c8d1ba86_zpsa94acd55.jpgImage Enlarger

Both targets were already downrange together, I shot the left, tightened the guide rod (it needed about one full turn to go tight again) and shot the right target. Same style of shooting, two hand unsupported, 8 rounds in 10 seconds, same ammunition, literally less than one minute apart. I have seen that same shift up and left in the past, and as I continued to shoot and not tighten, I started getting the occaisional FTF, which has also been an intermittent issue over the years

I still like the full length for a little extra weight, but I'm getting a one piece. I could Locktite the two pieces, but why? The two piece is supposed to make dis-assembly easier with a FLGR, but it wants to take itself apart while I'm shooting-Not Good!

Anyhow, my Age Old Question is now answered, Brownells here I come.

 

BTW-I'll say it again, if you don't have the Brownells 1911 Catalogue, get it, it's FREE Gun Porn!

 

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman "Were is the Self Help Section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

George Carlin

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rwsem
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February 6, 2013 - 7:01 pm
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What are all the holes in the targets?  That never happens when I shoot my PMs...  nice followup- thanks!  And thanks for helping me to spend more money.

Technically, the glass is always full; half liquid, half air....

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SCORPIO
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February 6, 2013 - 9:36 pm
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rwsem said
What are all the holes in the targets?  That never happens when I shoot my PMs...  nice followup- thanks!  And thanks for helping me to spend more money.

Really?  I think my PM7 was the most accurate 1911 I've ever shot.  My RZ10 is a close second.  Practice makes perfect.wink

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zoommb
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February 10, 2013 - 9:49 pm
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Well, Steve.  Thanks for once again coming up with an answer to a question that no one else seems to want to address, including Keith @ DW. Well, in fairness to Keith, he said it makes no difference which seems to be the conclusion you came to as well.  I just like your detailed explanation better.

My wife's PM-9 has a FLGR, while my Razorback RZ-45 has the shortie. Both guns shoot great.

-Mike

 

D2X_0011_x_sm.jpg

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Steve
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February 11, 2013 - 5:58 pm
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I think there is probably no functional difference between the GI (short) guide rod and the Full Length, but the two piece Full Length seems to be something I need to re-think.

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman "Were is the Self Help Section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

George Carlin

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rwsem
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February 11, 2013 - 7:45 pm
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I need a Ransom Rest!!!!

Scorpio- I apologise- I was speaking sarcasm... I am fluent in it.  In fact English is my second language.

Technically, the glass is always full; half liquid, half air....

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SCORPIO
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February 11, 2013 - 8:31 pm
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I thought perhaps you were waxing sarcastic but wasn't sure.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

My father

If a man designed it, and a man built it, then a man can fix it.

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Steve
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February 11, 2013 - 9:19 pm
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I think maybe the sarcasm was referring to my less that skillful marksmanship, deservedly so.

My PM1-S and I usually do better than either of those targets displayed. I've never shot that much .45 in one session, and I shot over 200 rounds of 230 gr FMJ through a Lightweight Commander, frankly it got a little unpleasant. 

In addition, my transition from a pretty crappy trigger to a perfect one threw me off.

Finally, I'm not that great a shot to begin with.

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman "Were is the Self Help Section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

George Carlin

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fiza456
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July 14, 2023 - 11:01 am
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Guide rods are a common improvement for the 1911 handgun. They add to the stability and might lessen rebound. For optimum performance, be sure to select a premium guide rod that is appropriate for your particular 1911 model.

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