That Pesky Spring: Two Tricks for 1911 Reassembly


Most pistols can be reassembled simply by reversing the order of disassembly, but not always. Check out these tips on 1911 reassembly.

After cleaning or maintenance, most pistols can be reassembled simply by reversing the order of disassembly. And some can’t.

These tips for reassembling a 1911 pistol are from the latest edition of Gun Digest Book of Automatic Pistols Assembly/Disassembly:

When installing the combination spring, slide the mainspring housing partially into the frame to hold the spring in place while replacing the grip safety. (The exploded gun drawing below shows the name and location of parts.)

During reassembly, the most difficult operation is often the alignment of the barrel link with the slide latch hole in the frame. The hole is large enough that the proper alignment can be seen, and the link can be edged into position by moving the slide back and forth a very small distance until it drops into place. Don’t try aligning the link and the clearance cut for the top of the latch at the same time. Get the latch shaft through the link, then swing the latch up and align it with the clearance cut.

44-Targetposters-pack-GD-reduced-300NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Storm Tactical Printable Target Pack

62 Printable MOA Targets with DOT Drills - Rifle Range in YARDS This impressive target pack from our friends at Storm Tactical contains 62 printable targets for rifle and handgun range use. Target grids and bullseye sizes are in MOA. Ideal for long-range shooting!

Subscribe to the Gun Digest email newsletter and we'll send your print-at-home target pack right away. Just enter your email address below.


  1. Really this is hard? Just place the pin in the hole JMB provided and gently slide the slide (HA HA) back and forth until it slips into the link. I don’t think it could be easier. If field stripping and then reassembling a 1911 gives you problems then you should not buy a complicated gun. JMB designed it perfectly that is why it is still THE PERFECT PISTOL after 100+ years.

  2. It seems that it is easier to align the link on a Commander than the full size ones. Just trying to coordinate the slide, push, hold, eyes and grip-hand can get frustrating. A third hand or twelve fingers might make it easier.
    I’ve never done it, but what worries me is what would happen if a pistol was assembled with the link not engaged? I want to stay scared of it…

  3. For thousands of GI Sgts and Company Grade Officers the standard 1911 drill has been Field Strip, assembly and safety function check in one min..for fun blindfolded..

    If your 1911 is too tight to assemble in that fashion..

    Maybe it is too tight..

    If it is too pristine.. to pretty to exicute the above drill in say two min..

    Maybe it is too pristine and too pretty..

    The 1911 is a hammer.. more reciently someone called it “a brick that shoots bullets” That’s not a bad discription either.

    Clear your weapon check it a few times to be sure then drop it into a muddy sand bank.. rinse it off.. wipe it with your shirt.. Lube it with some oil from your vehicle..then shoot the heck out of it..

    Take it out and use it.. Give it some real life experiences.. give it some personality.

    When you see a 40 year old 1911 silver/white from wear.. spot of rust now scrubbed but the mark still on the C of Colt from a long ago monsoon season, strange flat spots that appear like they came from it pounding at the end of it’s dummy cord on the side of Tank rolling down a road at 0300 when it’s owner after three days of being awake fell asleep standing in the TC Hatch.. Other side a few deep scratches where 30 years later the same fellow (considerably older himself) laid his Motorcycle down when some morons oiled the road without marking the area under construction.. a 10 year old aftermarket alluminum rail which leaves it strangely looking like the Grandpa of the Marine’s “new” 1911 Pistol.

    Now you have something..

    Treating your 1911 like a French Poodle is UnAmerican..


  4. Folks, the “Combination Spring” referred to in the tip is actually the Sear Spring. It’s wise to know and use the proper nomenclature as called out in the exploded diagram above. You’ll get a blank stare if you ask a vendor for a “Combination Spring.”

    “Seating” the Slide Stop (not “Slide Latch,” please see above) takes some practice and finesse. The technique is difficult to describe in writing. Press the lug on the back of the slide stop against the protruding slide stop plunger. While applying pressure against the stop, “wipe” the lug down (clockwise) very slightly; when you feel the slide stop moving towards the frame, shift your pressure to wiping back upwards (counter clockwise). The lug should snap into place in the notch provided for it in the slide. The motion is more a “wiggle” than a “wipe.” The procedure is lavishly illustrated on page 156 of “The M1911 Complete Owner’s Guide.”


    PS And yes, I wrote the book 🙂

  5. Personally I have no issue with aligning the link with the barrel, I have an issue getting the slide stop lever popping in at the back, tight up against the frame. Have to push the spring loaded safety plunger back with thumbnail. This is a critical area I have found, as it is possible to scratch the frame if you have to push too hard to pop the latch into place.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.