Brass (only?) or steel punches for Colt 1911 (dis)assembly?

Dec 1, 2014
How do you feel about using steel punches for (dis)assembly of a Colt 1911 XSE? My knee-jerk feeling is that a steel punch may very well damage the pistol and/or at the very least screw up the finish...which I don't want to do!

Also, I'm told I need a 1/16", 1/8", and 3/32" punch set. Does that sound about right?


Thank you,
Let me give you a little experience I have gotten over the decades building and repairing firearms.

With the exception of some highly polished and rounded pins ( and some roll pins) and all non steel pins of course- the steel punch is the best and proper tool for the job.

That comes with several qualifiers though- any one of which is a game changer

Most "punch damage" I wind up repairing has come from the wrong type of punch used the wrong way. Not whether it is steel, brass or nylon.

A "pin" can be tapered ( inserted usually from right to left especially on European guns), have a catch or held by tension of parts ( and of course corrosion and deformation)

Some other pins are a light interference fit ( like the pivot pin on many doubles)- don't drive those, press them

Make sure your pin is correct as to type and there is no mechanical adverse binding thing like rust.

Use a "starter" punch for resistive (they are stubby and less flex)- when it moves- use a drift punch to drift it out.

Almost always, damaged pins come from damaged punches and improper technique- not the metal.

Ensure proper diameter and roundness, make sure you flatten tips with a jig and not by hand, don't hot grind and change temper or finish

Don't use or try to save bowed punches

Use the shortest punch for the job (minimize deflection)

Use the proper size ( just undersize from the diameter)

If its bound- don't beat- head to the press, something's wrong.

specialty head pins do require specialty punches- don't substitute or try to get by.

High end finishes will require a non marring layer ( brass can mess up many finishes too)

Follow Wayne's advice on where to get them and don't scrimp on punches or drivers for guns

Use a bench block and always level the weapon and punch at 90's

Wear glasses ( safety)

Follow that and you will be fine
Honestly you don’t need punches for normal disassembly. They can make it easier particularly the MSH and aligning the S80 parts but they certainly are not required. If you can find one Pachmaer (sp?) used to make a handy little screwdriver thing with the needed tools in it. Lyman may sell it now.
It has been said that John Browning designed the 1911 to be dissembled with its own parts and a fired case.

The XSE has a few features that throw a wrench in that but its still pretty simple.

Assuming it is a .45. a Government model and is neither very early, very late or a Combat Elite. An XSE has these features: a one piece full length guide rod without a take down hole, an extended ambidextrous safety, hex head grip screws with smaller than typical sockets and is a Series 80 FPS system.

My advice is replace the stock screws with slotted (keep the old one).

The Colt FLGR can be taken down in the conventional manner, the bushing will turn with the slide in battery, the plug can be removed an then the guide rod will come out when the slide is off. Alternately you can use the "Wilson" method. Which is to remove the slide as an assembly, I use the convention method on everything possible.

The Ambi makes the sear and hammer pins slightly more difficult to remove because they will be flush vs radius but it isn't a bug deal.

You can use the hammer strut to push out the MSH pin.