Why, Full-Length Guide Rod? Why?

What exactly does a full-length guide rod add to a 1911?

By Sheriff Jim Wilson (RSS)
November 28, 2011

The best I can find out, the full-length guide rod was adopted for the 1911 pistol by competition shooters around the time gamesmen began to take over IPSC competition. I have found it interesting to ask those who use the device to explain just what it does to improve the function and/or accuracy of the 1911. Manufacturers and shooters alike tend to respond with vague explanations that are not founded in facts or sound reasoning.

Some will tell you it improves accuracy. Others will share the fact that it keeps the recoil spring from kinking when the action cycles. Still others will declare that it gives a little extra weight to the muzzle end of the pistol, slightly dampening recoil and allowing the handgun to get back on target more quickly.

A few years back, an in-depth study of the full-length guide rod was undertaken. Guns were fired from a Ransom Rest with and without the part. It was clearly shown the full-length guide rod had nothing to do with a particular pistol’s accuracy or reliability. And we have known for some time that a strong isometric hold on the pistol is the best way to control muzzle flip and allow us to get back on target as quickly as possible. About the only thing a full-length guide rod accomplishes is to make an easy-to-disassemble pistol more difficult to disassemble. The value of this escapes me.

Somewhere along the line, however, some 1911 manufacturers decided including a full-length guide rod on their pistols gave them a “custom” look. Put three-dot sights and a full-length guide rod on the gun, and you can charge more for it. It’s almost like, if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s even more important to look cool. For goodness sakes, don’t ever ask why.

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6 Responses to Why, Full-Length Guide Rod? Why?

  1. Pingback: SayUncle » Never understood that either

  2. Tam says:

    If God had wanted us to have full-length guide rods, we would have evolved opposable bushing wrenches on our right hands with which to disassemble our firearms.

  3. Marq Yance says:

    There are several immutable facts in life. All living creatures are in the food chain, it’s only a question of where. Humans have canines and incisors and are therefore meat eaters. The true indicator of intelligence is the ability to fabricate and effectively use tools to improve our lot. And, if the 1911 needed a full length guide rod John Moses Browning would have given it one.

    • Marc says:

      Oh, really?

      And what about the hand bitter grip safety and hammer? JMB didn’t create the beavertail safety nor commander hammer… Are they bad?

      By your thinking, we should all drive 2014 Black Ford model T…

  4. cmblake6 says:

    I’ve got them on some, came that way. Others, no. Came that way. The ONLY thing they’ve done is, as you said, make them harder to disassemble. I’ve noticed no reliability or accuracy improvements. AH! One thing they do do, if they’re loose, is make the recoil spring a little easier to get in. Still have to hold your tongue just right, but…

  5. Mr.Machinist says:

    Thank you Sheriff Wilson for calling out the B.S. everyone flocks to like sheep.

    As a machinist tool&die maker and chronic 1911 tinkerer over the years I have come to the same conclusion. I am not a JMB purist, but I have zero tollerence for gamer B.S. and over the years my own pistols have de-evolved back closer to the original mil-spec as issed standard 1911 design.

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