P 12 aluminum frame concerns - Pistolsmith

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Old 09-26-2015, 01:40 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2
P 12 aluminum frame concerns

Recently bought a p 12, great little gun. I've been a 1911 guy since the early 70's but this is my first aluminum framed 45. At present I have 4 Steel frame 45 I could use as range gun.
The problem is of late the only gun I seem to want to shoot is the little P12. Would any of you with long time shooting of aluminum 45's mighty have some suggestion on extending the life of a aluminum frames gun.
I.E. would recoil buffers soften the blow of recoil on frame?
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Old 09-27-2015, 02:56 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,801
There's always been the thought that aluminum framed .45's were to be "carried a lot, shot little".

Back in the 1960's famed gun writer and lawman Skeeter Skelton and some friends fired 10,000 rounds of 230 grain FMJ ammo through a Colt Commander.

After the 10,000 rounds the gun showed only minor signs of firing, but did have a small crack in a non-critical area of the frame.
Since then, aluminum alloys have gotten even better.

There are ways to "save" the frame and recoil buffers are one.
The most common is the polymer shaped washers that fit over the recoil spring guide.
These work but do have hazards that make them extremely "iffy" in a defense gun.
The problem is the buffer will deteriorate with use and begin to shed pieces.
It's very possible this could cause a stoppage.
For that reason many people will not use a buffer in a defense gun, some people use the buffer for the range and remove it for defense carry.
Others just inspect the buffer OFTEN and at the first signs of wear, throw it away and install a new one.
These are cheap so you loose little.

A second problem with many types of buffers are that they reduce slide travel.
In a smaller type 1911 they may cause the slide to fail to lock open, and may cause feed problems caused be the reduction in slide travel.
The shorter slide travel may also cause failures to feed if you "sling shot" the slide to load it.

Another option is to install a stronger recoil spring.
The standard Commander spring is 20 pounds. You can try going up to a 22 pound spring.
This is often done when shooting hotter ammo or 230 grain "hard ball" ammo.
The gun should be fired enough to insure it's going to be reliable with the stronger spring.
I personally won't trust a gun with anything less then 100 rounds of the SAME ammo I intend to use for defense.
This can be expensive so many people make a possibly fatal decision to do the reliability verification with cheaper ammo figuring It's all the same.
It isn't.

Then there are the guide rod/buffer devices.
Brownell's sell all the good ones.
These range from full length guide rods with polymer washers to piston type guide assemblies with internal or external springs.
Often the first spring is the standard recoil type spring and an internal spring is a buffer that slows the slide near the end of the slide travel to pad the frame.

Do some shopping on the Brownell's site.

The bottom line on all this depends on just how powerful you ammo is and how much you intend to shoot the gun. Fact is, most people never shoot an aluminum gun enough to really need to worry about it.
Old 09-30-2015, 06:44 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2
Dfariswheel thank you for your reply.
Since I first posted my question I've had time to consider it. First off at 64 years of age 10,000 rounds would realistic be 5 years of using the para for everything. Secondly I may just buy a second one as a back up. That should look after any concerns I may have about the aluminum frame . This little P 12 groups like my National Match Thanks John

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