Keeping your 1911 clean will help it run smoothly long into the future. If you already know how to field-strip and clean your 1911, you're in good shape.
But you may still be wondering how to tell when your pistol needs a cleaning.
1. Visual examination
First things first - you can start by simply field-stripping your gun and examining it for carbon build-up. This is a pretty reliable indicator of whether or noat a cleaning is in the cards. If there's a significant amount of build-up, you may need to reach for the cleaning solvent to remedy it.
2. Round count
For frequent shooters, you may have gotten your round count down to a fairly exact science. Keep track of how many rounds you've sent through your pistol so you can gauge whether it's time to clean again. You'll eventually begin to notice a pattern between your rounds fired and the carbon build-up, making a visual inspection nearly unnecessary in determining cleaning time.
(NOTE: This number will vary depending on gun and user. If you're looking for a specific number of rounds fired that everyone agrees upon, then you're out of luck. Some people clean after every range session regardless of how many shots they fired. Others only clean after putting 1,000 rounds down-range.)
Do you conceal-carry your 1911? If you do, we suggest performing a thorough cleaning after each use or lubing it up once a month if it hasn't been fired. Keeping your carry pistol in tip-top condition should be a priority.
Now, if you're just using your 1911 on the range, we suggest performing a routine cleaning every 500 rounds. If you're using lead bullets, maybe consider cleaning a bit earlier, at around 300 rounds. Your routine cleaning should consist of field-stripping your gun and only cleaning out the barrel to apply lubricant.
Regardless of your shooting style, after firing 5,000 rounds, we suggest doing a thorough cleaning. During a thorough cleaning, you'll want to completely disassemble your gun and do a detailed cleaning of each part.
Check out this video for help taking apart your 1911.