Product Tests : Fire Dragon Dual Action Buffer Spring System

The latest trend in standard type M-1911s, is the usage of recoil reducing devices, which however do not alter the size of a gun, like a compensator does. Usually this sort of devices come in the form of a different recoil spring guide rod. Last weekend, I had the chance to test one of these devices, namely the Fire Dragon Dual Action Buffer Spring System. This must be the longest name for a recoil rod, but it is not names that concern us here, it is effectiveness.

Dave Spurlock of Pacific National Shooting Sports was kind enough to send me one of these devices for testing. The device was packaged in the standard plastic envelope, which contained one strange-looking guide rod, a recoil spring and a recoil spring plunger. A piece of paper provides all the required instructions for installing the device, plus a very neat diagram showing how this device fits inside the pistol. The recoil spring that comes with the device is a 16 lbs one, for usage with standard 230 gr FMJ rounds. This may sound strange (most people use 18.5 lbs springs in Government size pistols), but it is logical. Keep reading.

The guide rod, which is the heart of the whole system, is a strange affair. In reality it consists of two parts, where the front one is riding outside the second, rear one. Inside the front part, there is a spring, which requires considerable pressure to compress. This spring, acts as a dumping device, when the gun is fired. It is not possible to separate the two parts, at least I didn't try it. The front part of the guide rod, has a ring at its rear. As the slide moves back, initially its motion is dumpen by the standard recoil spring. As soon as the recoil spring plug reaches the ring on the outside of the front part of the spring guide, it engages this ring and from then on, the second spring, inside the guide rod is adding its power to that of the standard spring, thus considerably dumping the rearward motion of the slide, during the last few millimeters if its travel.

The device is installed like any other guide rod. After removing the slide (MAKE SURE THE GUN IS EMPTY, NO ROUNDS IN THE CHAMBER), remove the recoil spring guide, spring , spring plunger etc. and install the supplied guide rod. Install the recoil spring and spring plunger and twist the barrel bushing to lock everything in place. A barrel bushing wrench will come handy here, as the end of the guide rod protrudes a bit on the muzzle side, and requires a good amount of pressure to push it in, for the bushing to turn to its resting place.

When I first installed the device on a Government size gun, I noticed that the effort required to retract the slide was more or less the same as before. However, I could not pull the slide completely backwards. There was about 1 centimeter of travel for the slide stop to engage the slide stop notch on the slide. This final 1 cm required a lot of pulling effort. I presume that this is where the dumpening action is most needed, the last few millimeters of travel.

I took the pistol to the range, together with another Government I had at hand with a standard 18.5 lbs spring, for comparison. The ammo I used was some Sellier Bellot (is that how it is spelled?) 230 gr FMJ and some locally produced 230 gr FMJ. The targets I used was the standard IPSC-type. I first fired the normal pistol, about 15 rounds, trying to pay attention to the way the gun moved in my hand and the way the front sight moved when the gun fired. During this firing I could see the pistol's sight, climbing up and a bit to the right, each time I pulled the trigger. The amount of vertical travel was enough to move the front sight outside the A-zone of the target. In the same time, I tried to notice how much the gun was kicking in my hand.

Then I switched guns and did the same test, this time firing the pistol with the Fire Dragon device. Again, I could see the front sight climbing up and a bit to the right. As for the amount of climb, I cannot be sure, some times I had the impression that it was less, some times I wasn't that sure about it. So I switched back to the normal pistol and did some alternating firing. After spending about 100 rounds of ammo, of both types, I am yet not sure if muzzle climb is reduced.

However, what is significantly reduced, was the felt recoil. I could definitely feel that the gun was kicking less. The straight-backward pressure excerted on my hand was significantly less. and this is logical, as the device is severely dumpening the rearward slide travel, during the last part of its motion. It is clear that this device works, as far as the recoil is concerned.

I wanted to compare this device with the Harrts Recoil Unit, I have installed in my M-1911, but unfortunately, I run out of ammo, before I had the chance to do any side by side comparisons. So I'll have to go back again, with more ammo, in order to better verify the device's ability to reduce muzzle jump and to do some comparisons with the M-1911. Come back next week, for more info on these devices. Until then, I want to thank Dave for sending me this device.

Final Note : I did some more tests with this device, after an IPSC match I participated here, in Athens. I did some shooting of two similar Government models, one equipped with the Fire Dragon, the other one with a simple full-length guide rod. Results? Well, you have to be really very careful to see the difference, as far as the muzzle climb. The felt recoils is definitely less, but I am not sure if the muzzle climbs any less, with the device installed.

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