Bull Barrel in a 1911

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by pokute, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

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    I just picked up a Citadel Compact (Officer size) 45 as a project gun. I'm going to paint it and polish the flats and god knows what else... I picked it up cheap when it was returned to LSB Auctions because it "shoots low".

    It's also interesting because it has a bull barrel. A bull barrel in a 1911 is a funny thing, because it "requires" that the barrel be fitted directly to the slide opening, without a bushing. The one point firmly in favor of the bull barrel is that it puts some weight out front.

    The barrel in the Citadel was clearly not fitted. It just sort of wallows in the slide opening, and can be jiggled up and down at full (factory) lockup. This means that as it is, it probably strings vertically pretty badly. It also means that any fitting to improve it is going to have to be done at the upper and lower lugs.

    I think my first pass is going to consist of a longer link and a slide-stop with a bigger pin. That can be done pretty cheaply and with a small investment in time. Pictures and range report to follow.
     
  2. gumpy

    gumpy Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Sounds like an interesting project! Let us follow along with.
     

  3. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

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    Okay, so I spent 6 hours working on it today. Found out some interesting things:


    1. The Citadel has a shorter mainspring housing than a Colt Officer's.
    2. The fairly nice feeling out-of-the-box trigger was mostly due to Armscor using a light mainspring. The sear face was horrible. I had to correct the sear primary angle and add a secondary angle. The hammer hooks needed a fair amount of dressing.
    3. The link was too short. I swapped in a #3 link and the lockup became perfect :)
    I put a Wolff 22lb mainspring and a Clark 4-finger sear spring. This was my first time playing with the Clark sear spring, and it's very clever. You can easily get a crazy light trigger without creating a dangerous situation. I went all the way down to 2lbs and it proved!

    I wasted a lot of time trying to modify a fancy Officer's MSH to fit. I quit before finishing it :(
     
  4. gumpy

    gumpy Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    I've got to do some more reading before I understand all you just said! Lol. What's MSH?
     
  5. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

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    Oops. Mainspring housing. It's the thing at the back of the grip. The 1911 has several (okay, exactly 5) springs:


    1. The "mainspring" is the hammer spring, and also acts as part of the recoil system.
    2. The recoil spring holds the barrel, frame, and slide in battery, and also acts as part of the recoil system.
    3. The firing pin spring holds the firing pin back in it's tunnel. The hammer must overcome the force of the firing pin spring and get the firing pin flying into the primer against the force of the firing pin spring. The inertial firing pin was originally called a "flying" firing pin.
    4. The plunger tube spring holds the slide stop and thumb safety in opposition.
    5. The so-called sear spring. In fact, this spring is also the grip safety return spring, the trigger return spring, and the disconnector (disco) return spring. Note that is has three fingers, but serves four purposes. It should have 4 finger. Jim Clark designed a four fingered spring in the 1960's, but it has never caught on, just like the group gripper has never caught on... Actually the four-fingered sear spring, the group gripper, and the shok-buf are all significant improvements to the 1911.
    Anal retentive types will point out that there is also a magazine spring.
     
  6. gumpy

    gumpy Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    I like that last line,Ha.
     
  7. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

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    I have to work hard not to look like Poindexter.
     

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  8. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

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    Okay, got it done to the point where I'm ready to range test it. The BOM:


    • Longer link to achieve bank-vault lockup.
    • WWII Trigger because I like them.
    • Low paddle thumb safety. Had to cut a divot out of the left grip panel to clearance. - Enhances one-handed grip.
    • Recut the hammer and sear for crisper trigger.
    • Clark 4 finger sear spring. My new favorite item!
    • Wilson fine checkered MSH because it looks better.
    • Pachmayr Combat grips because they are the grippiest grips.
    • Kensight adjustable Novak sight. What a job it was installing that! Pics below are of the sight removal, fitting the new sight, and the finished gun. Note the chewing gum and sloppy staking that held in the original sight. I had to really crank on the Hillwig Sight Pusher!
     

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    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
  9. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

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    Shot it today. Needs a stronger recoil spring, needs to have the hammer stoned to prevent contact with the firing pin stop, and needs a taller front sight blade to go with the adjustable rear sight.
     
  10. gumpy

    gumpy Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Amazing what can be done by someone who knows what they're doing!
     
  11. squirrelhunter

    squirrelhunter Well-Known Member

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    Exactly gumpy,if I ever tried to work on one it would probably never fire again. :(
     
  12. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

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    After roughly three years of doing this, the only guns I feel comfortable working on are 1911's and Ruger single actions. Parts are readily available for both, so screwing something up isn't too terrible, and they are both very forgiving designs.

    Though, really, I can't account for how the 1911 is so forgiving. Whenever I see something held together by springs, I assume it's going to be very finicky, but the 1911 will function well with things all out of whack.

    And a radical conclusion that I am coming to is that the Group Gripper is actually BETTER than hard fitting. Everyone who tries one of my guns with a Group Gripper in it is astonished by the consistent accuracy. The combination of the Group Gripper and 4-fingered sear spring produces exceptional results. The Group Gripper will NOT work with low power recoil springs, however (the Group Gripper is tensioned by the recoil spring as part of the return to battery). 18 pounds seems to be the correct weight spring.

    I should add a disclaimer: I build my guns for long-range accuracy shooting from 50 to 200 yards. The way I set them up is not much use for bullseye shooting (light springs, light loads - though the 4-finger sear spring may be a real winner for bullseye) or a carry gun (zero tolerance for accidental discharge).
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015
  13. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

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    After a ridiculous amount of work, I got the taller front sight on. I think I must have had a stroke, I wrestled with the sight so much. Clearly the original sight was NOT a Novak!
     

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