A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, March 03, 2008

The 1911 Gap

Because of the ready supply of aftermarket parts, many people teach themselves a bit of gunsmithing on the kitchen table after the purchase of their first 1911. This is not a bad thing really, it only becomes a problem when they do not understand concepts such as............If you are about to grind on the feedramp of a 1911 with a Dremel to make it feed better, you are about to turn a 1911 frame into a trotline weight. Unfortunately Danny Dremel will often try to pass off his mistake to an unsuspecting buyer lured by price.

When considering a used 1911 with a non-ramped barrel, expect there to be a small (about 2mm) gap between the frame's feedramp and the barrel's feedramp when the slide is locked back. This is normal. It's supposed to be there. If it is not there, the pistol will never feed correctly, and the only solution is to weld-up and recut the frame, cut out the frame and install a ramped barrel, or replace the frame. None of these options are fiscally attractive.

Always check for this gap. If it is not present, pass on the gun. You will save yourself a lot of anguish.

Here is what you want to avoid.

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Blogger Firehand said...

First thing I ever read about messing with feed ramps was, thankfully, at The High Road from 1911Tuner. Who illustrated why he cringes when somebody posts 'feed ramp' and 'dremel'.

You can polish the ramp, but it has to be polish, and no more.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Mulliga said...

Yeah, the need to "fix" a 1911 feed ramp always puzzled me, too. Probably has a lot to do with the one-piece ramps that a lot of newer gun designs (the CZ-75, for instance) have. People see that the gee-whiz wondernines all have no "gap" and they start monkeying around with their .45s.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Dremels have been a plus for gunsmith incomes. No doubt they got a lot of "rescue" work after some guy starts grinding at the kitchen table.

7:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We devotees of the FN/FAL rifle have another name for "Danny Dremel". It's "WECSOG". That's "Wile E. Coyote School of Gunsmithing" To be a truly bonified WECSOGer, one must ruin some perfectly good steel,preferably American or Belgian, in the name of 'fixing it' or 'modifying it'. It hurts, yes, both fiscally and physically. Especially when the sweat in your eye obscures your vision while the bit eats into your thumb. But, American weapons have always been reflections of improvements made by the home inventor. Dremel just sped up the process.
The 1911 ramp is one of those mechanical devices that defies "common sense". Of course, jacking with it will provide an incredible education on multi-event mechanical operations. I thought that was why God made Rock Islands.?.


7:57 AM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Not being a gun owner, let alone a 1911 owner at this point (only a gunblog reader right now), I'm confused. How can grinding at it make that gap go away? I would think it would only make it bigger. Or is that what you mean, people make it TOO big?

1:56 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

what these folks do is grind the frame's feed ramp forward and blend it into the barrel's feed ramp. Once the metal is removed from the frame, it's difficult to replace.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

So where there are originally two fairly steep angles, they end up with one more shallow angle where the two pieces line up better.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Exactly Jeff. When a 1911 gets this Dremel treatment, the advancing cartridge gets hung on the edge of the barrel ramp, because the barrel is then effectively set to far to the rear in relation to the frame feedramp, at the moment the cartridge travels from the frame feedramp to the barrel.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

Ouch! I do have a 1911. A beautiful piece circa 1970. It feeds very well thankyouverymuch. Why o why would I want to "polish" the feed ramp?

I also have a Walther PPK, Smith & Wesson make. It does not feed quite so well after a few magazines. I need to give a little forward assist to get the round chambered.

Me and Mr. Dremel did a polish job on the ramp, not much, and a little around the chamber entry. It still doesn't feed like I would want it to, but it does seat the bullets more often than before. My gunsmith friend looked at it, said all's well, best to shoot it and break it in.

Since it is my carry, I'm wanting to be sure it operates consistently in the event my life or anyone near needs it to.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Wadical said...

"It still doesn't feed like I would want it to, but it does seat the bullets more often than before. My gunsmith friend looked at it, said all's well, best to shoot it and break it in...since it is my carry, I'm wanting to be sure it operates consistently in the event my life or anyone near needs it to.

Jerry, I am curious why you would adopt ANY pistol you're not completely confident in as a carry pistol. If you have feed malfunctions on even a semi-regular basis...you need to carry something else. Your pistol, your life. I'm just sayin', I'd never stake my life on a pistol that didn't operate VERY consistenty.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Strings said...

As a former metal refinisher, I'd like to say that the inventor of the Dremel can kindly go rot in Hell... :)

I've seen more "Dremel polish jobs" that take twice as long to fix than I can count.

Yes, I have one, and do use it occasionally. However, folks don't seem to understand the main rule of removing metal: take a VERY small amount at a time, then check for fit...

And, if you have no clue what you're doing, find someone knowledgeable to help!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Firehand said...

Strings, you got it: it's 'polish', not GRIND.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

Wadical, first - Thanks for your interest. I can shoot the first two magazines with no problem. At that point I'm pretty much out of the fight. (That's 13 shots - one in the chamber and 2 magazines.)

I am confident in my use of the PPK and comfortable carrying it. I would probably carry a couple more magazines if I had a good way to carry them.

I don't have another "carry" sized piece. My Glock M30 is very reliable, but kinda bulky. I don't want to even try the 1911 until I can aford one to beat up. (Mines kinda an heirloom.)

I do want to "break-in" the PPK though and practice is a good way.

Strings, you are absolutely right! I got the instructions on how to "polish" from a guide to "fluff and buff" the kel tec. POLISH A LITTLE AND CHECK.

I'm always open to suggestions and I have many questions. I'm also thankful for these blogs. BTW I got here through "View From The Porch."

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have done the 1911forum "fluff and buff" on my 1911 barrels and never even thought of using anything more than a SOFT cloth wheel and a little tiny bit of flitz POLISH!!!

A dremel needs to come with a trigger lock. ;)

7:37 PM  
Blogger HokiePundit said...

Having just gotten a used 1911, I went and checked out the ramps...and promptly freaked out that they were all up on each other.

Then I shifted the gun, the bull barrel moved forward, and a pleasant gap appeared.

Don't make my mistake. Make sure everything is properly jiggled before you freak.

4:38 PM  

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