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Have been researching 1911s lately for my next purchase. Actually never paid attention before, but have noticed a lot of the higher/mid level models from well respected manufacturers like Sig, S&W, etc. are using alloy versus steel in a lot of their subcomponents. Realize the greater immediate benefits, weight, potentially stronger materials, etc, but am wondering about long-term reliability. Does anyone have an idea of whether the alloy subcomponents hold up well over heavy use and time?

Thanks for your input in advance.
 

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Aluminum alloys have come a long way since the Colt Commander was introduced in 1951 and it really wasn't an issue then. While my preference in a 1911 is an all steel gun, I've used plenty of aluminum frame pistols and have never had an issue regarding frame durability. The gun will probably out last you. Be careful with magazines though. Some designs can damage the frame at the feed ramp.
 

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There are 100 year steel pistols that still function reliably. I haven't heard of any 100 year old aluminum alloy pistols in firing condition.
 

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Aluminum wasn't commercially produced until the late 1880s and 100 years ago was being primarily used in aircraft. I believe the first production aluminum framed handgun was the Colt Commander post WWII. Some of those are still in firing condition, I'd bet.

The newer aluminum alloys, in particular the aluminum-scandium alloys are stronger, more fatigue resistant and more corrosion resistant. They very well may be functional in 100 years. Too bad we won't be.
 

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The only parts of which I am aware in which aluminum alloy is used in a 1911 are the frame and the trigger. There are some aluminum main spring housings in the after market, maybe even on some makers guns.

You will basically hear these answers not in any particular order:

1) Steel Only for carry and range use,
2) alloy: carried a lot but fired sparingly,
3) shoot the new alloy as much as you want.

I do not know who is correct. I resisted the alloy frame 1911 a long time. Now I have one. I do not think it will get shot that much. Too much steel around for that to happen. Judging from my Sig P229, it will last awhile. If you are one to fret over a cosmetic flaw from carry, you might want something else. My first 1911 purchase would most likely still be steel if I had it to do over again.

The magazine you want to avoid is the original CMC shooting star with the devel follower. They are still sold. It was the first design used to turn a seven round tube into a eight round magazine. The follower over rides the front of the magazine on the last round.
 

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I shoot with some guys who have been at it longer than my mere 30 some years of range time. There are a few well aged (lightweight) Commanders that they've owned, carried, and fired for about a half century. I think one of them developed a crack in the frame near the slide stop hole. That gun's frame got mated to a .22 long rifle top end. However it would still function okay if put back into service as a .45.

Couple of us have Scandium S&W Commanders. Rick is up to 7,000 or so rounds through his, and mine has seen maybe a third that total. No issues.
 
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