John Strayer’s 50K Round 1911

By Massad Ayoob
Posted in #Guns
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John Strayer’s 50K Round 1911

February 17th, 2020

5 minute read

In the recent profile of shooting champion John Strayer, The Armory Life editor Mike Humphries noted that John was still using a Springfield Armory TGO-II 1911 that had consumed some 50,000 trouble-free rounds. He thought that was worthy of more discussion, so he asked me to dig a bit deeper on it with John.

The 50K TGO II. The aluminum grips Strayer added has been hogged out to give his right thumb faster access to the left-side mag release button.

Strayer and his wife Terri own two thriving businesses, John’s Lawn Equipment and the ProArms Gun Shop, both in their hometown of Live Oak, Florida. Shooting is their primary hobby. Their FFL gives them access to factory ammo at wholesale pricing — a handy thing for a serious competitive shooter.

When John decided to focus on 1911s for competition, he bought a number of high-end specimens of various makes. The one that seemed to shoot the best for him was his Springfield Armory TGO II. Hence, it got to devour the lion’s share of the ammo supply.

Strayer’s TGO II has clearly seen some serious range time, but is still alive and kicking!

For those who may not be familiar with the TGO series, they are named after the shooter who helped develop them — Rob Leatham, otherwise known as “The Great One” (TGO). As a side note, Leatham stresses that he did not come up with the name, but rather was dubbed that by his friend and renowned shooter, Brian Enos. He points out that Jackie Gleason was truly The Great One…

There were three levels of the TGO series: I, II and III. The TGO I is most like the first gun Leatham built for himself to his specifications. The TGO II was a more affordable version of the TGO I, and the TGO III featured a lightweight frame. Currently, the TGO I is still available through Springfield Custom.

The barrel and rifling of Strayer’s TGO II have stood up remarkably well.

Maintenance and Diet

As you probably could tell from the title, John has put around 50,000 rounds through his TGO II. He has been through multiple recoil springs in this particular TGO II, partly for routine maintenance but largely because he was experimenting with different power level loads that had to cycle the gun reliably. He is currently running a DPM Recoil Reduction System, which he feels does live up to its name. He admits to being lax on firing pin spring changes, having done so only once that he can recall during his 50K round time frame.

The pistol is free of cracks anywhere, and he has only changed the slide stop once, to install a larger one for faster reloads. But what of barrel life?

Greater wear is evident on John’s 50k-round TGO II (above) than the author’s (below), which has seen a lot less mileage.

John estimates that about 30,000 of those rounds were American Eagle 230-gr. full metal jacket that he bought several cases at a time when he didn’t think he had time to reload. When he got more serious about winning, crafting a softer-kicking round that still made power factor in competition motivated him to get into reloading. He has settled on a load that makes power factor with 230-gr. coated round nose bullets.

Count the primers. John Strayer, shown here in his personal reloading space, clearly shoots a lot.

None of these have been +P loads, and .45 ACP being a low-pressure cartridge, his TGO’s barrel has stood up well. On visual inspection, it looks surprisingly good. I put it on the bench and tried it out for myself, and with the AE load and John’s current preferred reload, it showed sub-2″ 25 yard grouping potential.

Life Expectancies

For perspective on this, I talked to Springfield Armory’s Dave Williams, one of the world’s leading authorities on 1911 pistols. As to barrel life, he replied, “That’s a tough one. A typical Springfield Armory production barrel service life is expected to be in excess of 50K rounds or so. Accuracy will start to drop off some time after 20K or so but this can only be detected with a Ransom Rest or carefully shooting from a good rest with match ammo…This all depends on how the barrel is maintained over its life. I’ve seen barrels still serviceable with over 80K.”

Strayer is shown here running his TGO-II at a USPSA match.

What about a 1911’s service life in general? Dave advised, “I’ve seen our 1911’s go 80K plus. The great thing about a 1911 is it’s kinda like a small block Chevy that’s rebuildable multiple times and thus can last and last.”

Strayer and his 50K-round TGO-II show their winning style at an IDPA match.

General maintenance is important. Springs, of course, and some other parts simply wear out and require regular replacement by the responsible owner. It’s analogous to tires and spark plugs with an automobile. Dave Williams suggests the following for routine parts replacement: “Recoil springs and firing pin springs: 5-7K. Mainsprings and sear springs: 20K or so. Slide stops really don’t have a specific service life, but periodic inspection will let you know if there is a reason to replace; I would always replace the slide stop when or if the barrel is replaced.”

Strayer’s reloading room, where he develops the fuel to feed his TGO II.

Remarkably Unremarkable

Thanks to Dave Williams for sharing his knowledge, and to John Strayer for sharing his well-worn 50,000 round TGO-II .45 for this article. It looks like a well-made 1911 like a Springfield Armory and their forged frames and slides will give you a long service life. As a result, Strayer expects that pistol to keep adding to its round count for a long, long time.

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Massad Ayoob

Massad Ayoob

Massad Ayoob is a renowned firearms expert with decades of experience in the firearms community. He's the author of more than a dozen books and hundreds of articles and has extensive experience as a law enforcement officer, competitive shooter and expert witness.

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