My baby - a Nighthawk Talon 1911
My baby – a Nighthawk Talon 1911

I have had my dream 1911, a Nighthawk Talon, for a few months.  I love this gun, it is a true work of art. Every time I pull the trigger it feels like perfection.  This weekend, I decided it was time to clean all my pistols and I decided to take my 1911 apart for the first time with no help from anyone else. (Granted, I only took it down far enough to remove the slide, barrel, recoil spring, etc.) I see plenty of photos of all the zillion parts that make up a 1911, and a good friend of mine recommended that I take it all the way down to parade rest once or twice a year, but this time I was just doing a general purpose cleaning.

photo 1

Here is what I learned:

1.  It was not as bad as I thought. (Isn’t that the way it is with most things?)

2.  When you first turn the bushing to release the recoil spring, you had better be holding the recoil spring plug firmly, there is some serious tension there!

3. When putting the gun back together, pay particular attention to the slide stop, or you could scratch your frame.  It is not hard to insert it correctly, but if you do it wrong, you may have a permanent reminder of that moment!

4.  The recoil spring is a bugger to get back in and hold down while turning the bushing back in place upon completion. This step ALMOST kicked my booty.  I had a heck of a time holding the spring and plug down while simultaneously turning the bushing back into place. I eventually had to work smarter, not harder – and devised a way to gain some leverage using a tool with a soft end (so as not to mar my 1911 recoil spring plug) with this plan, I was able to hold the spring down and turn the bushing with ease. I am open to ideas on how to make this part easier.

The view down a clean and shiny 1911 barrel. (Hey, I thought it was a pretty photo!)
The view down a clean and shiny 1911 barrel. (Hey, I thought it was a pretty photo!)

The only thing better than a 1911 is a CLEAN 1911!

What tips and tricks do you have for cleaning a 1911? I would love to hear them!



14 Replies to “Cleaning my 1911”

    1. Ben,

      Thank you you for the tip! I just Googled a Bushing Wrench, yep – that’s what I needed. This is all part of learning, this will be easier next time for many reasons!


  1. Yes, a bushing wrench for a new and tight 1911 is helpful. Once in a while, carefully remove the grip screws and clean under the grips or you’ll get rust and crude.
    I do a 4 hour class on the 1911….how to clean and shoot it.

    1. I would love to take your 1911 class! I love this gun, and want to really understand everything about it too. I promise next time I will take the grips off and go further. After this, I am feeling brave enough to go further!

  2. I agree with everything you said, especially the slide stop! My first 1911 has what I call “idiot marks” – because of my carelessness.

    I think the most important part in cleaning a 1911 is the function test at the end. Lots about this in the Internet. The most important function test is the “pencil test” to make sure the pistol will go “bang” next time.



    1. Dan,

      All I can say is, “Thank goodness for You Tube!” Or, I’d have an idiot mark too. I haven’t heard about the pencil test – I’ll look that one up! Thanks for the tip!

  3. BTW, I was first issued a 1911A1 when I was 19 years old “mortarmen 11-Charlie”. I carried a Colt Gold Cup as a police duty weapon for 10 years, my last police duty gun was a Para Ordnance LDA 1911 14 shot .45.
    I shot a 1911 on the old CA National Guard pistol team and got a gold medal…. I do have a love for them.

  4. I was going to say the same thing as everyone else Bushing wrench. I could use a trick for putting my slide stop back in. Everyone who has shown me says it just pops back in but I can’t seem to get it to do that unless I pull back (using my thumb nail) the little (I’m not going to do a good job of describing this) but the slide stop pops into the hold and then it needs to snap into it through a little pin that seems to be in the way and won’t relent unless I use my thumb nail or a small screw driver to hold it back but after that it pops right in. Any help or suggestions? I have a Springfield Amory 1911.

    1. Kalaryn, You are not alone! The slide stop doesn’t just “pop in” unless you have been doing this for years and years. It is tricky, because you have to align three holes (one moves), plus the slide stop and the slide – all under spring tension!

      Try this:

      1. Try to remove all oil from the frame (especially the slide) and wash your hands. This will allow you to grip the slide well.

      2. Assuming you are right handed, move the slide back to the position where everything lines up. Hint: Hold the muzzle up at an angle, and tap on the pistol. Do this with your left hand.
      If you tap on the pistol, the barrel bushing (middle hole) will go into place.

      3. Next precisely line up the slide so that the slide stop will go into the “notch” – the notch that holds it back.

      4. If everything lines up (it may take a couple of tries) use your right hand to insert the slide stop while rotating the slide stop “up”. Keep using your left hand to keep the slide back.

      It took me a good six months to get this down, and I have the “idiot marks” to prove it! See my post above.


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