Parts Frequently Asked Questions
We have compiled together some of the more frequently asked questions for your reference.
What is a Shok-Buff?
The SHOK-BUFF® prevents the slide from battering the frame during recoil by sandwiching a 1/10" thick injection molded polymer buffer between the slide and frame contact areas. When you are shooting high-performance loads in your 1911 style pistol, you want the extra protection that the original SHOK-BUFF® provides.
Do I really need a Shok-Buff?
The SHOK-BUFF helps absorbs the blow of the slide against the frame and transfers some of the slide's impact into the polymer buffer, reducing wear and tear on your frame. The SHOK-BUFF also alters the recoil impulse of the pistol to a slightly softer feel and may improve your shooting in rapid fire. If you want maximum frame protection and prefer the softer recoil signature you may like the SHOK-BUFF®.
Your pistol will function fine with or without a SHOK-BUFF®.
Because the SHOK-BUFF® slightly reduces slide travel we do not recommend it's installation in .45 ACP 1911 pistols with barrel lengths less than 5". You can generally use a SHOK-BUFF® in 9mm handguns with up to 1" shortened slides like the EDC X9 without negatively impacting reliability.
When Do I Replace the Shok-Buff?
A SHOK-BUFF® can last over 1000 rounds before it requires replacement depending on caliber, recoil spring weight, and slide velocity. In larger calibers like 10mm and .45 ACP using factory ammunition, the SHOK-BUFF® will usually require replacement at shorter intervals, typically between 300-500 rounds. In 9mm the SHOK-BUFF® can last well over 1000 rds since the recoil impulse and slide velocity from the cartridge is very low in a 1911 style handgun.
A good rule of thumb is to replace your pistol's SHOK-BUFF® every few hundred rounds or when it becomes swollen or torn. When a SHOK-BUFF® deforms after high round count or a repeated pounding of heavy caliber loads it will slow slide travel and your pistol's slide operation will become sluggish, causing malfunctions.
If you carry a pistol for self defense it should have a new SHOK-BUFF® installed after your last range trip and prior to defensive carry. If you fail to maintain/replace your buff at these recommended intervals you should remove it prior to self defense/service use.
Suggested Replacement cycle for Shok-Buff:
- .45 ACP/10mm: Every 300-500 rounds or when SHOK-BUFF® gets torn, deformed or swollen or ANY time slide travel is impeded.
- .38 Super: Every 500 rounds or when SHOK-BUFF® gets torn, deformed or swollen or ANY time slide travel is impeded.
- 9mm: Every 600-1200 rounds or when SHOK-BUFF® gets torn, deformed or swollen or ANY time slide travel is impeded.
Who Uses a Shok-Buff?
Many top competitive and defensive shooters use a SHOK-BUFF®. In fact, almost all top competitive shooters use a SHOK-BUFF® for the change in recoil impulse and frame protection on very high round count guns.
USMC Force Recon used SHOK-BUFF® for decades to preserve the frames of their custom 1911 service weapons built on older 1911A1 pistols. (NSN 1005013737868)
Recoil Spring FAQ
The recoil spring in a 1911 pistol is an important part of the puzzle of overall autoloader reliability. The primary purpose of the recoil spring is to strip a cartridge from the magazine during the feeding process and secondly, to protect the frame from excess slide battering during operation.
Our recoil springs are carefully wound and heat treated in the USA of the finest ordnance-spec music wire to give you long-lasting durability and resistance to heat and deformation over time. They have been thoroughly tested and will maintain a consistent spring weight during long-term use.
Even though Wilson Combat recoil springs are the best springs you can buy, we recommend changing your recoil springs at regular intervals to optimize your pistol's performance and enhance reliability.
When is it Time to Change Your Recoil Spring?
If you start getting failures to return to battery while feeding, it may be an indication that your recoil spring is losing some of its overall length. Typically, compact pistols will require more frequent length recoil spring changes than standard pistols.
If your Shok-Buff recoil buffer is becoming torn within a few hundred rounds after installation, that is also evidence that your recoil spring is ready to be replaced.
Any easy way to check for a worn spring is to compare your recoil spring versus a new spring of the same weight and brand. If your spring has lost approximately one-half an inch of overall length, it is time to replace your spring. To ensure this you should always have extra recoil springs of your desired weight(s) on hand.
Any time you buy a second-hand or older 1911 pistol, it is a good idea to bring all unknown poundage springs back to factory spec for reliable operation. New, quality springs are a cheap insurance policy against malfunctions and pistol damage.
If your ejection or extraction pattern suddenly changes, you may have a weakened recoil spring.
What is the Correct Spring Weight for Your Pistol?
You can shop for 1911 springs here.
The proper recoil spring weight for a 1911 pistol is dependent on the caliber, length of the barrel, and the tension of the hammer spring.
It is advised to tune your spring weights based on the type of loads you prefer to shoot most often. If you shoot mostly lighter loadings, use weights at the lower of the spectrum; conversely if you prefer heavier or +P loads, try heavier springs.
For all-around reliability try spring weights in the median of the recommended spectrum.
If your pistol fails to lock back on the last round after installing a new recoil spring, you may need to try a lighter weight spring.
Wilson Combat recommended spring weight ranges are as follows:
Caliber/Barrel Length and Recommended Spring Weight:
- .45 ACP (5"): 15-18.5#
- .45 ACP 4.25": 17-20#
- .45 ACP 4": 18-22#
- 9mm 5": 10-12#
- 9mm 4": 11-13#
- .38 Super 5": 13-16#
- 10mm 5": 18.5-22#
When replacing your pistol's recoil spring it is important to remember to change your firing pin spring at the same time.
- The firing pin spring is one of the most important springs in your 1911 pistol.
- A weak or broken firing pin spring can cause a failure to fire and can also reduce the drop-safe qualities of your pistol.
When to Adjust
The extractor is a critical part of 1911 reliability. The 1911 extractor is a brilliant John Browning design that is easy for the user to adjust and maintain. It provides its own tension and can be tuned to compensate for varying tolerances of different firearms. The main downside to the 1911 extractor is that it often requires fitting or adjustment for perfect function.
The sole function of the extractor is to remove an empty case from the chamber during the firing cycle, hold it in position for the ejector to strike the case head, and deflect the empty case out of the ejection port to make way for a fresh round. This sounds simple, but the shape and spring tension of the extractor influences the entire firing stroke; too much extractor tension can cause failures to feed and too little can cause failures to extract.
You might need to adjust your extractor if:
- If you have failures of an empty case to extract, you may need to adjust or replace your extractor.
- If you have failures to eject an empty on the last round, you may need to adjust or replace your extractor.
- If you have erratic ejection of fired cases, you may need to adjust your extractor or try an oversize firing pin stop that prevents excessive extractor movement in its tunnel.
- If you have failures to chamber, you may have too much extractor tension.
A good live fire extractor test is to fire your 1911 with the magazine removed a minimum of 5 times; if the empty consistently ejects each time without a magazine in place, you likely have sufficient tension on your extractor.
How to Adjust
With the slide taken off the frame and the barrel removed, slip the rim of a LOADED cartridge under the extractor hook and position it so that the extractor is gripping the case at the center line. To verify this use the barrel as a guide and move it into battery over the round. You should now be able to lightly shake the slide in any direction, without the cartridge falling off. The nose of the bullet should dip slightly. When using an empty case to verify extractor tension, the case mouth should sit straight at 90 degrees to the breechface. If this test is unsuccessful, you will need to adjust the tension.
For tension adjustment, place approx. 1/2" of the tip of the extractor into the extractor channel and apply just enough pressure to slightly bend the extractor. Be careful, a little goes a long way!
Do not put more tension than needed to perform this simple test — too much tension will result in feeding malfunctions whereas too little tension can cause failure to extract and/or erratic ejection.
Extractor Tuning Video
1911 Sight FAQ
Wilson Combat handguns with tritium night sights exclusively use tritium lamps from the best domestic manufacturer, Trijicon.
Since the glow from your night sights is actually a by-product of harmless radioactive tritium decay, most sights have a brightness of less than 10 years. We will service our night sights for seven years from the build date of the firearm (not the purchase date). If at any time your sight(s) goes out or becomes unusable within that timeframe we will replace them. If your pistol is older than seven years old you have various options. We can replace your entire sights at standard gunsmithing rates and turnaround, or you can return your slide to Trijicon to replace just the tritium lamps for a nominal fee.
You can contact Trijicon by visiting their website.
To schedule a return to Wilson Combat, please visit our contact page.
Front Sight Heights
We build guns with a variety of front sight heights so it would be impossible to say what front sight your particular pistol needs without inspecting it. Most pistols with combat-style, fixed rear sights will use between .150"-.200" tall depending on barrel length, barrel fit, caliber, and height of the rear sight. Most guns with fully-adjustable rear sights (like our low-mount adjustable rear sight that is used on the Classic model) will use a .170" front. The best way is to either send us your slide or simply measure the height of the sight with a depth micrometer from the top of the sight to the top of the base.
Most front sights that fit in a dovetail will require gunsmith installation.
How to aim Your Handgun
For precision shooting, align the top of the front sight post and the top edge of the rear sight. The POI (Point of Impact) should be close to the tip of the front sight. When shooting groups, shooting at extended range, or shooting at a small target, you should ignore the bead/rod. Don't try and align the bead/dot with the u-notch. The u-notch is just an aperture for eye to look through.
For snap shooting, shooting at close range, shooting in dim light, or shooting at HIGH speeds the fiber optic rod or gold bead is used to maintain focus on the front sight and help you find it.
Aiming with Battlesights
Please refer to this visual aid for an illustration of the proper aiming methodolgy.
Every Wilson Combat handgun ships with a test target shot by a professional shooter that establishes the correct windage and elevation (Point of Impact) for every gun we build. Most handguns are set up to shoot approximately 1" high at 15 yards. This ensures that most shooters have an effective point of impact with a dead on hold (Point of Aim) out to 50 yards with service ammunition.
Wear and Tear
Wilson Combat Armor-Tuff finish will show wear and/or discoloration on suppressors over time due to extremely high surface temperatures associated with rapid-fire shooting. If your Wilson Combat suppressor shows finish wear/discoloration after use we can refinish it for a nominal service charge.