How to Field Strip a Colt 1911

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Designed by John Browning, the Colt model 1911 was the standard side arm issue weapon for the Unites States military from 1911 until it was replaced in 1985. A durable, easy to use and maintain weapon, the Colt 1911 was chambered in the .45 acp round that packed an enormous amount of energy. Over 2.5 million Colt 1911 models were delivered to the military with many in the hands of collectors today. Field stripping a 1911 is a simple process necessary for cleaning and maintaining the gun.

Unload the Colt 1911. Remove the magazine and pull back the slide so the chamber may be inspected. Place the magazine in a location away from the area where you will be working to help prevent any accidental loading by another individual.

Locate the safety at the rear of the gun near the hammer. The safety will be lever operated and should be moved up into the safe position. This will prevent the firing pin from being engaged should the trigger be pulled and will also help with the field stripping.

Hold the gun so that the front of the barrel can be accessed. Place two fingers securely on top of the barrel retaining bushing. The bushing is a thin piece of steel located at the end of the barrel. Press the recoil spring plug, located below the end of the barrel, in toward the gun. Turn the bushing to the right while holding it securely as there will be considerable tension. Turn the barrel retaining bushing to the left and remove it from the slide.

Push the safety lever down to disengage the gun's safety mechanism. Pull the slide back until the small notch in the bottom of the slide aligns with the slide lock mechanism on the side of the gun. Push the slide lock mechanism out from the opposite side until it is completely removed.

Turn the gun upside down and remove the slide from the end of the gun. Carefully remove the spring, barrel bushing and barrel for cleaning or maintenance. Pay attention to how the spring, barrel and bushing area were assembled before removing. This will help you assemble the gun.


  • Perform the field stripping of the Colt 1911 on a sturdy work surface with good lighting. Consider placing an old cloth or rag on the surface to protect the finish of the gun and prevent parts from rolling or moving around.


About the Author

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

Photo Credits

  • the devil"s right hand image by Lee O"Dell from Fotolia.com