1911 School: Commander and Government Model differences.
We’re specifically discussing Colt’s pistols here since Colt pioneered the Commander. Clones and variants may or may not be true Commander spec.
Along with a shorter slide and barrel are a shortened barrel bushing, spring plug, and spring guide. Because of the shorter slide, the slide travel and runup to the magazine is shorter. The frame rails and impact abutment in the Commander are located 1/10th inch farther rearward. The ramped portion of the lower barrel lug at the front is chopped off to 90 degrees due to the cramped space in the spring tunnel to allow the spring guide flange to sit closer to the lower lug. The short extension forward of the 3rd barrel lug has been removed for clearance with the end of the bushing.
The frame dust cover is shortened.
The “recoil” spring itself is shortened to 22.5- 23 turns from the Government Model’s 32 with a higher rate as evidenced by the slightly wider spacing between coils. Note that a Government Model spring can be substituted when cut down to 24.5-25 turns in a true Commander spec pistol. Bushingless/reverse plug systems and 4-inch Commander wannabes need not apply. When substituting, always check for coil bind…where the spring stacks solid before the slide hits the frame impact abutment, which is always good policy whenever changing springs in a Commander…especially when opting for heavier than standard springs. A friend of mine learned this lesson the hard way.
The slide takedown notch is relocated a quarter-inch rearward. The slide stop notch…the one that locks the slide to the rear…is relocated 1/8th inch rearward.
Testing for coil bind is simple. A quick test is to rack the slide briskly and listen. You want to hear a sharp, metallic “clack” sound. If you hear a dull thud or a “crunchy” sound, you’ve got coil bind. Trim a half, turn off the spring, and test again, lather-rinse-repeat until you get the sound of steel impacting steel. Needless to say, any plastic shock buffers should be removed before the test.
If the pistol is fired with a coil bind condition, it will result in damage to the bushing lug…the bushing lug raceway in the slide…and can even cause the slide to fracture adjacent to the raceway.
Here endeth the lesson.