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 right spring weight for your pistol?

  • 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 Recommended Recoil Spring Weight Range
.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” 18.5-2

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.

Buy Wilson Combat recoil springs here.

70 Responses to A Guide to 1911 Recoil Springs by Wilson Combat
  1. Good article. I have been having issues with my 9mm 1911 and now I see why :-)

    Just placed an order for springs for that 1911 and my Wilson 45

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. We do not sell springs for a Colt defender-it uses a proprietary spring/guide

  3. As usual, another informative article.
    How can I determine which recoil (full length) spring I should use for a particular load?

  4. The short barrel and slide will wear a spring out in a rapid fashion compared to a 5″ gun. The springs last approximately 1/2 as long. It is very important to keep fresh mag springs on hand also for compact guns.

  5. Chris, You may want to give us a call-sounds like you may have bent the recoil spring on reassembly.

  6. I have a metro arms classic combat commander 45 acp. and I would like to change the springs and bushing to wilson. But I don’t even know or where to start . I like the weapon but would really like some USA in it due to metal and service life.

  7. How is spring weight defined, and how do I test it? I’ve never found a good way to identify the various springs that I have accumulated . . .

  8. What about a kimber ultra Carry 2? I did not see a listing on which recoil spring rate to go with for a small 3″barrel 1911.

  9. I have a Springfield-Armory Mil-Spec 1911 fullsize. I replaced the Mainspring housing with a Wilson Combat one so that I could eliminate the ILS. I put a different main spring(hammer spring) in it. I am not sure what weight spring I put in it. My question is what recoil spring and mainspring/hammer spring should I buy from Wilson Combat to bring my pistol back up to the “normal” specifications of a pistol with no ILS since it is now a “normal” pistol with no ILS. Any help is greatly appreciated.

  10. I recently bought a used S&W 1911 PD SC in commander length. The weapon has approx. 2000 rounds through it. Can you please suggest which of your springs I should install for best reliability and function? Thank you.

  11. I have a wilson combat tactical elite in .45 ACP. Which recoil spring and guide rod should I buy and that goes for the firing pin spring also?



  12. I recently bought a used 1911 Springfield V10 ultra compact with the ported 3.5″ barrel. Mine came with 2 magazines with very weak springs so I borrowed my friend’s extra mags and 1 worked fine and 1 kept not fully loading the bullet as described above. Ive already ordered 2 new clips with stiff springs, do you sell the necessary recoil spring for my gun? I shoot 230 grain bullets and dont mind a hard to pull back slide if thats what it takes for this to fix my gun where I can depend on it not have it jam every few shots. (If it even loads the first bullet initially at all). Thanks in advance for your help, Andrew.

  13. I have a CQB Compact, what is the correct hammer spring for my gun? Also is the flat wire available in the compact yet?

  14. Charles Fainberg March 12, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I have a Kimber 1911 .45 ACP TLE/RL II (5″ barrel). Do you carry a recoil spring that will fit this handgun?

  15. which pound spring should i replace with for a sig 1911 5 in barrel shooting 185gn JHP with about 4.6 grains of bullseye.

  16. Ann McCabe Miles April 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Please advise on proper main spring for Rock Island Armory 1911 A1 (full size) shooting standard .45 acp.
    Thank you,

    • A 16 pound spring is what came in the gun. We use 17 pound springs in ours. Either will serve you well. Replace them when they are approximately one half inch shorter than a new spring or every 1000 rounds.

  17. I have purchased a Para GI expert 1911, and cannot find any listing on any of the spring #’s. Can you tell me what # springs came in that gun? Mainspring, firing pin spring and recoil spring? Thanks.

  18. I have a compensated Caspian in 38 super. It has about 5 ports ( comp ) I do not reload at the moment and would like to use factory ammo 115gr to 135. I was having jams / stove pipes from time to time, I know it is a spring issue. What spring rate would you folks at WC recommend that I use?

    Thanks very much,


  19. I recently purchased used a Colt Mark IV Series 80 45ACP…first problem of slide not locking back after last round was fixed with replacement of slide lock… gun will sometimes jam when chambering a round mid magazine…I am also getting hit in the face sometimes with ejected shells…gun was filthy when I received it…did thorough cleaning and disassembled and cleaned magazines…both magazines marked Colt fit and function but one only will fit 6 rounds…noticed spring was twisted on this magazine…I was thinking that recoil spring was next to replace…I shoot factory standard load 230g FMJ ammo…can you advise on which springs to purchase…also thinking about tricking out trigger…JB

  20. I just purchased a Springfield Armory Mdl is Stainless Compact 45 (4″ barrel). I believe it was only produced for a couple of years and am having problems finding info on the spring specifications. It currently has a clipped recoil spring and recoil buffer and it seems have light striking of the firing pin problems. What of your springs would you recommend for the recoil spring and the firing springs and would you recommend i keep the recoil buffer in there or just eliminate it.?

    • Try a 20 or 22# “Compact” spring from our website. Light strikes indicate you may need a new hammer spring. We sell a compact hammer spring also. Buffers are not recommended for compacts.

  21. I just acquired a used Springfield TRP Operator Full Rail .45 what Recoil Spring would you recommend? Thank You!

  22. Hi can you pls advise me on what recoil spring weight to use for my colt 45 xse series full size. I use major factor ipsc for competition. I replaced my hammer spring with 19 lbs. and use egw square bottom firing pin stop. Thank you.

  23. I need to replace the recoil spring in a 1911-style Llama XI-B 9mm . What would you recommend?

  24. Hi, I’m replacing the hammer spring in a Springfield MC Operator, what size would u recommend? Thanks again.

  25. Steve Lewandowski July 23, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    My father-in-law wants to replace the recoil spring in his Colt Series 80 MK IV Combat Elite – 45 ACP. I have ordered a Wilson Combat 17# flat recoil spring with some Shok Buffs. I believe the factory recoil spring is 16#. Will the WC spring be fine?

  26. What would you recommend for my 14-yo Colt M1991A1 4.25″? I’m still on my original springs after putting probably five to eight thousand rounds through it. Looks to me like I need the Commander complete spring set (item Number: 316C). Just want to double check to make sure.

  27. I have a 1911 Mark IV and I also have 2 barrels one is a 9mm while the other is a 38 super. Would I be able to use the same recoil spring for both? What # do you recommend? Also what is the part # of the firing pin I will need. Thank you.

  28. I have Taurus PT 1911 45-ACP I mounted one of your wilson combat compensator(beautiful) and the two piece guide rod, which recoil spring? thanks

  29. Hi
    I got a Taurus 1911-5″ barrel in 9mm , i occasionally get stove pipe and the some times hammer doesn’t lock on the last round, should i try a lighter recoil spring? 10 or 12 lbs ?thanks.

  30. Please recommend springs for the Ruger sr1911. I do not use +p ammo. I do use factory 230 fmj, and jhp.

    thank you.

  31. hi would like ure advice with regards to a recoil spring for my colt series 70 mark 4 it has a compensator fitted thats jacketed over the barrel single port.

  32. Hi there! I just bought a new SA 1911 Mil-spec 5″. Do you know how heavy the factory recoil spring is? If below 18#, would replacing it with an 18# improve performance and/or perceived recoil? Thanks

  33. I have a 1911 Sig Sauer Tac Pac 5″ 45acp.
    Would like to know the standard factory.
    What would you recommend.
    Thank You Peter

  34. Any comments on using a 20lbs. recoil spring and an equivalent 20lbs. mainspring? I have ran this setup for a while with no issues of function or damage. I shoot mostly hornady factory +P reloads and lots of them.

  35. Hello Sir, I recently bought a used Wilson CQB full length, with a bull barrel, and a full length guide rod that had 450 rounds through it. It’s in very good shape and I have now put 500 rounds through it with factory loads @ 230gr. I also just bought the WC recoils spring caddie. In hopes to get in line with my sights faster. First question is when I pulled the old recoil spring out it is much smaller than the new ones in the caddie, is this normal? Or is this not designed for the CQB? Second question if is what which recoil spring would you recommend so I can get the sights on target faster.

    Thank you G

  36. Hi I’ve been using shock buffs because I was throwing brass 15+ feet behind me with my 10′s an factory 18.5 springs. I just installed your 22lbs and now I’m throwing brass 7+ to my side. Pretty happy now, but if #22 are good would #24 be better ?Or not worth extra weapon wear?

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