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    A question recently asked of me had my mind wandering.
    Most places don’t have a particular section on basic maintenance or parts replacement, I.E. those parts that do wear out and need occasional replacement.
    Parts that should be watched also, high wear parts for example.

    So as I can, I’ll post information about particular guns and styles of firearms.
    I’ll put in where the info is opinion (based on experience) and where it’s industry/well proven.
    Feel free to add to it, but this is not a place for argument, we may have different experiences but lets keep this academic, we can get into disagreements elsewhere.

    Here we go.


    The Beretta 92 series.

    The 92’s (and 96’s) are good guns, accurate, reliable and carrying a decent ammo supply.
    While large for general use, CCW is difficult, it’s an easy gun to shoot accurately and is a ‘soft’ shooter normally.

    What wears out or breaks?

    First and foremost, the locking block is something to watch.
    A number of .mil guns shot with “Nato” spec ammo have shown accelerated wear and cracking of the locking blocks. This has the effect of taking the gun out of commission when the block breaks. With high pressure ammo, the “Nato” loads, as well as +P, and +P+, the wear is noticeable and issues can happen within 5000 rounds, sometimes within 1000.
    Beretta even addresses it in the manual as such: (on page 20)
    Get the upgrade parts also:–prod55439.aspx?psize=96

    Only $38

    Springs are a consumable. Get used to replacing them if you use the gun.
    Recoil springs:
    Try to get to them every 3000 rounds. 5000 on the outside.
    Why so often? You change the shock absorbers on your car before they blow out for the same reason, to keep the machine working right and not battering other parts.
    Most full size pistols can go the full 3-5000 rounds with no issues, compacts and subcompact versions of the same guns can have issues earlier, more on this in another posting.

    The factory weight is 13lbs, if you are going to run +P, or +P+ ammo, I’d recommend going with the 15lb springs or higher, check for reliability in your gun if you bump the pressure up.

    Magazine springs:
    A critical part, some mag springs can go decades without fail or losing proper tension after taking their initial ‘set’.
    Others, not so good.
    On my defense guns, I replace them yearly.
    Having had quality mags fail within 2 years because of bad springs, this is one thing I am highly critical of.
    In other firearms, tube fed shotguns for example, I ‘have seen springs fail (left loaded) within a couple of years, again while others seem to last forever. .22 rifle magazines seem highly susceptible to being left loaded for long periods of time, the thinness of the spring wire seems to be the main culprit.

    Beretta 92 extra power +10% magazine springs
    Brownells #969-740-730WB $18.00

    Hammer springs:
    This is one part many don’t think of, outside of the ‘hammer back 1911′ people.
    Yes, the hammer spring is part of the recoil system, slowing the unlocking of the gun. And they do wear out eventually. So before you start getting light FP srikes, look into replacing the hammer spring.

    Now for a dirty gunsmiths trick:
    Get yourself a Beretta 92D hammer spring.
    Brownells part number 913-100-493WB $6.00
    The hammer spring on the standard F and FS models is way too heavy for a good trigger pull.
    This is one of the secrets of a good trigger job on the 92/96 series.

    The other main issue in the gun itself is the trigger return spring.
    Brownells #913-100-487WB $3.35
    The Border Patrol has more than a few issues with their 96’s and the spring breaking.
    Wolff makes a drop in unit that will probably outlast the rest of the gun, in both standard weight and ‘lighter’ versions for $26. Worth every dime.

    And lets not forget magazines.
    The new design 15 round Sand Resistant mags are probably the best designed/built today.

    There are some that will still dig and scrounge for the older “Italian” made mags, and do a gut and replace of the internals, these have replaced the old mags for many users.
    The new 17 round factory mags are decent, but the added baseplate length for some is just too much.

    Bar-Sto and Jarvis make some of the best aftermarket barrels out there, if you want to upgrade.

    The newer 92’s (and 96’s) have plastic triggers and recoil spring guides, I highly recommend replacing them with either the factory metal parts or aftermarket metal versions. Wilson Combat makes a ‘short reach’ trigger that’s highly thought of. And for only $29, it’s worth a look.

    Brownells normally stocks the steel replacement part kit, but appears to be out.

    Get one.

    Personally, the VZ or factory wood grips are about 200% better feeling and for grip, but that’s just me. Many like the Hogue grips with the finger grooves, especially those with smaller hands, odd because it increases the grip size, but to each his/her own.

    Other parts to look for/at?
    In a few high mileage guns, the extractor was well worn, but still worked. Mind the extractor spring though.
    The firing pin/firing pin block, but few if any will shoot enough to do appreciable wear on these.
    Grip screws, these seem lost almost as often as Sig’s. Get a couple extras.
    Crimson Trace Lasergrips are a nice addition, especially for what has to be done to put night sights on the older 92’s.

    Remember, the 92’s are an older design and like to be run wet, oil them regularly, put a little white lithium grease on the locking block and in it’s recesses. It does make a difference.

    A 92 (96) is a good gun, fed good ammo, it will get you through the night.

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    So basically… This:

    I did almost all those mods except the short reach trigger and barrel. For the springs, I went with Wilson combat.

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    Well, that and I run mainly the 17 round factory mags. I do have 2 15 round military ones, but I have yet to ever have a mag problem with either type. Keeping with my “if it works and doesn’t look like it will break, leave it alone” philosophy on many things I will probably just stick with the mags I have.


    I am getting extra firing pin springs for everything. Double that for the High Point 45 acp carbine.


    The 1911.

    No other pistol is as revered or despised.
    If you get a good one, its a work of art.
    A bad one, it will cause ulcers.

    We will assume a fully functional pistol, no issues to start with.

    Used to be the barrel was rated for 5000 rounds before prime accuracy was gone. (Jacketed bullets)
    Nowadays, that’s extended to double or more.
    Basically, don’t worry about anything except cleaning it until it stops shooting groups that are decent.

    Springs: Swap out your recoil spring every 3000 rounds or so.
    The slide can damage itself or the frame if it is too short or weak.
    When you swap the recoil spring, replace the firing pin spring, they come with the RS.
    If you are so inclined, try different recoil springs to find the most appropriate for your loads.

    Hammer springs: Replace when you start getting light hits, or every couple years of hammer back carry. There is no hard and fast rule on these, each manufacturer has different specs and each spring is a rule unto itself.

    There are a thousand different things that can be done to a 1911, so we will stick with a GI gun and go from there.

    Things to watch:
    Magazines, stick to major manufacturers, Wilson Combat, Metalform, Chip McCormick, etc. Cheap junk will give you those results. These are a consumable, replace as needed, but most times they just need a new spring to bring them back to life.

    Keep an eye on the plunger tube on the left side, if it starts to come loose, find a gunsmith who can re-stake it. Depending on the gun and how bad it is, silver soldering it in place may be the best option but generally requires a refinish afterwards.

    The barrel, link, lugs and bushing.
    The barrel lugs can batter and roll over in an improperly fit or hardened gun, watch these.
    The link can crack, stretch or break. If it breaks during use, if you are lucky you have a manually operated gun, maybe. Just watch its condition while cleaning.
    The bushing can crack and break the retaining tab that holds it in the frame, generally caused by improper fit parts, it will put the gun out of use until replaced. Watch the lug when cleaning, as well as the back of the bushing for warning battering/damage.

    Grip screws and grip screw bushings. Oil or grease the threads on the screws before putting them back, if they seize or rust in place, its a challenge to put the bushing back if you’ve never done it before. Don’t over tighten them, just snug.

    The extractor.
    Ideally, your extractor will hold the case in place with @8-10lbs of pressure. It should not be rough or be untensioned. There are several aftermarket extractors like the Wilson Combat or Brown barstock products that are almost drop in and will normally outlast the owner.

    Like any other gun, loose sights, loose pins and screws.
    Most 1911 issues are either operator errors (installing junk) or magazine related.

    Little things I like:
    Recoil buffers. While they do little to actually reduce recoil, they do prevent battering of the slide to the frame. Like any consumable, you need to watch and replace them. I’ve never had an issue with one shredding and tying up the gun, but some have, generally those that don’t maintain their guns.

    Guide rods.
    Many detest these, I like them for two reasons, I run .22 conversion units on my 1911s, this allows me to swap the entire slide assembly without disassembling it.
    Secondly, the recoil spring is not able to rub inside the dust cover, reducing friction. It feels smoother, and any smothness you can add, reducing friction and wear is a good thing.

    After that, a 1911 is like a Harley.
    There’s little you can’t do to them, not much you can’t fit on or in them.

    Leave it as stock as you can, only make changes you need.
    The farther you get from GI, the less reliable the gun can get.
    Combat loose is fine. You don’t need a target gun, unless you are target shooting.

    Me I tell people that a 1911 normally only needs three things, good sights, a good trigger and good magazines. After that, its personal preferences on features, like leather or cloth interior in your car, Ford vs Chevy.

    One last thing.
    MIM parts.
    The 1911 was not designed to use MIM parts, forged or barstock were the way it was designed. Some parts can be castings or MIM, like the grip safety, but others, the critical parts like the sear, disconnector, and hammer should be forgings or barstock parts. Sadly, most manufacturers use MIM in critical areas today.
    Me, I junk the internals on all 1911s I get that aren’t pre-MIM. Even new, into the trash can and good reliable, long lasting parts are installed and properly fit.
    Cheap insurance, the life I may save may be one of my children’s.

    I could go on, but this is a basic post.
    Any questions?


    Okay, the Browning Hi-Power.

    While I could go on about the BHP, I’ll post links to a site that specialized in the BHP and certain articles that are more in depth than I could ever be.

    (Special attention to the above post)

    Have a look around the site, it’s worth the time, there’s a lot of good information if you look.


    FN-FAL and variants.

    Okay. Now on to my favorite MBR.

    There’s been a lot said about the FAL, mostly good, some bad but the same can be said for most rifles that came out of that era.

    What can be said about a rifle that was adopted by 90+ countries from the arctic to the burning desert? That soldiers on into its 6th decade with no end in sight.

    Sure the AK is 7 years older, but its not as user friendly, or powerful.

    With a charging handle, mag catch and release, bolt release that all can be operated with the support hand, without taking the firing hand out of position, it was ahead of its contemporaries.

    Enough history.
    What does one need to look for or watch out for in the FAL?

    They like to be wet. Oil not water.
    The older designs were designed to be user maintained and lubricated.
    This modern concept of running a dry gun because sand or dust may get in it, is a load of hooey. Get a little crud in there, pull the bolt wipe it and its raceway down and oil it. It will run.
    Don’t forget to put a dab of grease on the bolt carrier locking cam area and the locking pin (headspace pin) in the receiver.

    Make sure you’re not on the ” grenade ” setting, I see this a lot with newbies to the platform who go the wrong way after cleaning.

    As far as what breaks, or may go wrong, I have seen less with the FAL than any other platform.

    However, if you’re building one, look at picking up a spring kit just in case.
    Recoil springs, hammer springs and firing pin springs are the three big ones.
    Because people leave the hammer back forr decades, the firing pin spring is thin and the recoil springs may actually have 60 years of use.

    The extractor spring occasionally has issues, but its normally either rust or cosmoline clogged.

    The FAL benefits from sticking to one type of brass cased ammo. Brass cased because you don’t want to void your warranty (DSA and others) and you don’t want to stress the gun any. Leave the steel case to the AK.

    One type, that way you don’t have to mess with the gas adjustment ring on the fly.
    Running a heavy bullet hunting load is no problem, but if you switch to ball ammo with a 147-150:gr bullet, not only are you likely to have point of impact changes but also functioning issues, too little gas.

    With the heavy load concept, I like to run a recoil buffer.
    Keeping an over gassed gun from beating itself to death is a good thing.
    Cheap insurance, in thousands of rounds, in several guns, I have yet to have one shred in the FAL.

    Second biggest issue? Magazines. Grease and junk filled, bent mag lips, collapsed springs, like every other mag fed gun, mags are consumable. Get spares, the new Moses mags are worth the cost.

    More to follow.


    Whirl ,
    Thanks for that post , I only disagree about one point . For me , the AK is by far more user friendly than the FAL . I like the FAL , but the thing that bothers me the most about it , to the point where I was considering selling it , are the controls being on the left hand side , I hate that . Most weapon designs are right hand controls . I’m left handed , and you would think I would love things being on the left ………..not so , other than that , I love it . I like to use lithium grease , but be careful ! that stuff likes to travel , you will find it in your shorts if dont watch it .

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