How to Disassemble a Colt 45

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The M1911 automatic pistol, better known to most as the Colt .45 automatic, is one of the world's iconic pistols. Roughly 2.7 million copies of this durable handgun were made, and knock-offs are still manufactured to this day, making it a widely available gun, and therefore an easy weapon to find and acquire. Owning a Colt .45 means taking care of it, however, and cleaning and basic repair demand you disassemble the gun.

Press down the magazine catch button, next to the trigger, to remove the magazine. Pull the slide back until it locks into the open position and look into the chamber to make sure there is no round in the chamber. Proceed to disassemble the Colt only if the pistol is unloaded.

Release the slide lock and let the slide go forward. Push down on the recoil spring knob, or the knob under the muzzle, until you can turn the barrel bushing. This is the casing around the gun barrel. Give it a 1/4 clockwise turn. This will release the recoil spring. Remove the recoil spring.

Remove the barrel bushing from the barrel and slide.

Cock the hammer to full cock and pull the slide back. Push out and remove the slide stop, a handle that runs through the Colt from side-to-side in a space between the trigger and the slide.

Remove the slide from the pistol handle.

Pull down the firing pin stop with a punch and remove it from the slide. Press the firing pin lock plunger down to release the firing pin. Keep the back of the slide covered with your hand through this procedure, as releasing the firing pin on a Colt .45 might make it spring out of the slide.

Pull out the hammer pin to free the hammer. Then pull the hammer out.

Push out the mainspring housing pin, or the pin holding the cover on the back of the pistol handle, with the hammer's strut. Slide the mainspring housing down and off the back of the pistol handle. Pull out the mainspring.

Pull out the sear spring, a small spring located near where the hammer and mainspring housing pins were. This will free the sear, a part that is between where the hammer and mainspring were, on the back of the gun. Pull the sear and attached disconnector out.

Push down the magazine catch from the left side while turning the magazine catch lock a 1/4 counter-clockwise turn using either the sear spring as a screwdriver, or alternately a small screwdriver. This frees the magazine catch assembly. Pull it out from the right side of the pistol.


  • It is not recommended you remove the extractor assembly from the Colt .45 unless you are an expert in gun mechanics. It is a tough component, but once out of the slide, properly re-aligning the extractor assembly is difficult.


  • The Colt. 45 automatic was designed to be completely disassembled using no additional parts. However, in some instances you may find using screwdrivers from your tool box more handy than parts from the gun itself.


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