Bull Barrel vs. Bushing Barrel Accuracy

Discussion in '1911 Gunsmithing' started by Nineteen-ElevenObsession, Jul 30, 2020.

  1. Nineteen-ElevenObsession

    Nineteen-ElevenObsession Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2020
    Generally speaking, is there any difference in accuracy potential for bushing barrel vs. a bull barrel when built correctly? I'm assuming not, but wanted to ask some experts.

    All my guns are bushing barrels, but kind of wanted to change it up on a future build and go for a bull.
  2. wrmiller

    wrmiller The Tinker

    Oct 29, 2016
    Most bull barrels are cut a few thou smaller (.697-.698") than the ID of the slide, which is typically .700". So depending on a pistol's particular dimensions a bull barrel may or may not be as accurate as a bushing fitted pistol depending on how tight or how loose the barrel to slide interface is. But then I just built a 5" 10mm using a Jem slide and a KKM bull barrel and actually had barrel springing (interference at front of slide) as the barrel was going into lockup. I then fit it for a zero clearance fit and it is way more accurate than I am.

    In summary? Can it be? Yes. Is it always? No. The potential is there for the bull or cone-type barrel, but there are way too many variables involved to give some kind of absolute answer here. But that's just my opinion. :)

    As a note, I've seen (and shot) some pretty crappy bushing fitted 1911s so don't assume that just because a pistol has a bushing it's the most accurate in any comparison you do.
    JM44, simonp, Rick McC. and 4 others like this.

  3. pistolpete

    pistolpete Well-Known Member

    Mar 12, 2016
    It's pretty easy to fit a bushing to a barrel/slide. If the bull bbl don't fir or is worn, I don't know what you do.
  4. wrmiller

    wrmiller The Tinker

    Oct 29, 2016
    Pretty easy? Then why do so many screw it up?

    How do you tell when a bull barrel is worn? Just curious.
    HooDoo Man and Badabing11 like this.
  5. jcc7x7

    jcc7x7 Well-Known Member

    Nov 2, 2019
    Just some thoughts.
    These thoughts are based on the gun being built correctly!

    Bullseye guns which require extreme mechanical accuracy are bushing guns.
    USPSA limited guns are most often bull bbl guns to keep the weight out front and still have wonderfully good accuracy but not 50 yard 1-11/2" accuracy.
    I've built both and own both and for my shooting it doesn't really matter.
    If I wanted the most accurate gun I could have I would contact a maker who specializes in bullseye guns.
    Other wise I think it's mostly a matter of preference, unless it is dictated by a particular game you might be playing. Such as USPSA single stack that states you can't run a bull barrel in anything longer than 4 1/4" gun. SO if you use a Gov't length gun it has to have a bushing.

    Good night and God bless America!
  6. seagiant

    seagiant Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2011
    I think the "Angle Bore" bushings such as made by EGW was a step in the right direction...

    And probably easier to fit correctly for the home builder.

    Used one on my last Commander build and using one again for a GM build!

    Just sayin something for maybe the OP to look into???
  7. Nineteen-ElevenObsession

    Nineteen-ElevenObsession Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2020
    Where is the majority of accuracy derived when it comes to barrel fit? The lower lugs, the slide locking lugs or the muzzle/bushing? I know it's all 3 to some degree, but I feel like one in particular may be the driving factor.

    It seems a lot of attention is paid to the lower lugs, so I'm assuming that may be it. Is that a correct assumption?
  8. wrmiller

    wrmiller The Tinker

    Oct 29, 2016
    IMO, it is not the most important part. By far. The key to accuracy in a 1911 is accurate positional repeatability between the barrel and slide. This is primarily controlled by the barrel's hood, upper lugs, and the contact areas between the barrel and the bushing or slide. The purpose of the lower lugs is to push the barrel up into the upper lugs of the slide, and these are primarily responsible for positioning the rear of the barrel. The tilting of the rear of the barrel up into those lugs is done by the lower lugs riding up on the slide stop pin. This can be accomplished by one or both lower lugs. A slight axial tilt of the barrel one way or another does not alter the point of impact significantly as long as the rear barrel lugs are centered in the slide's upper lugs. The significance of more contact area on the lower lugs is that the more surface area there is, you get a better distribution of forces when the lower lugs slam into the slide stop pin. Better contact between the slide stop pin and the lower lugs means that a good barrel fitting will last longer than one that is not fit as well.

    This is what I've done for years, and it as served me well, but YMMV of course. :)
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020
    simonp, A45GUNNER, brotherrat and 2 others like this.
  9. wrmiller

    wrmiller The Tinker

    Oct 29, 2016
    Well said. TBH if I want a REALLY accurate pistol, it will be a bolt action or single shot (preferably). The most accurate pistol I have ever owned was a first generation Thompson Contender. Semi-autos are the worst pistol from a accuracy perspective.
    jcc7x7 likes this.
  10. Nineteen-ElevenObsession

    Nineteen-ElevenObsession Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2020
    Appreciate the perspective. Lots of valid insights here.
    wrmiller likes this.
  11. Nineteen-ElevenObsession

    Nineteen-ElevenObsession Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2020
    I had that thought too. Pretty much every limited gun is a bull barrel, but they aren't exactly shooting for groups in USPSA.

    I generally prefer to look of a bushing barrel gun anyway. For some reason, a bull barrel just looks right on a monolithic gun. But for a regular 5 inch gun, I just feel like it looks as if something is missing visually if you don't have a bushing. Just my perception anyway.
    wrmiller likes this.
  12. wrmiller

    wrmiller The Tinker

    Oct 29, 2016
    I'm not an expert, nor even a working smith. I have spent some time understanding the design and functionality of the 1911, and have tried more than a few things to see what works and what doesn't. I was an electronics engineer by education, a embedded systems designer (firmware/microcontroller stuff) by vocation, and just like to tinker with things to see what makes them tick. And the 1911 pistol is a wonderful mechanism to experiment with. :D
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
    simonp, A45GUNNER and jcc7x7 like this.
  13. jglenn

    jglenn Member

    Jul 8, 2016
    While Bull barrels generally have too much clearance a Cone barrel like the new Karts can be every bit as accurate any any bushing barrel.. Prior to Kart most cone barrels were threaded and then a cone screwed on. Worked fine.. Jerry Keefer was a bit fan of them.. Several BE smiths have done them with excellent results. The accu-lock from Travis Strahan were pretty much a cone style barrel coupled with his locking system

    I just fit a cone barrel to a 6" 9mm.. shots as well as my 5" bushing barreled KKM 9mm EIC pistol..
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
    wrmiller likes this.
  14. wrmiller

    wrmiller The Tinker

    Oct 29, 2016
    Made a threaded-on cone for a custom (near commander) length 10mm barrel. Works great.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
  15. Steve B

    Steve B Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2011
    May I ask what you're trying to accomplish with this pistol? The action pistol guns will benefit from lightened slides with weight added to non-reciprocating parts.

    For myself I LOVE the look of a properly fit cone barrel, being completely flush at the muzzle. The other benefit is a properly fit cone barrel can cut the tolerance in half compared to using a bushing. The other benefits are disassembly is easier and the cone doesn't loosen from disassembly like the bushing does.

    I've been where you're at and the questions you're asking... send me a PM.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
  16. Nineteen-ElevenObsession

    Nineteen-ElevenObsession Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2020
    Honestly, I'm not trying to accomplish anything other than a new range toy. I'm going to do a build soon with a Leupold DPP and no iron sights. All my other guns are bushing barrels and just thought about changing it up by going for a bull barrel.

    Ultimately just trying to decide if I like the look of it. Regardless, the gun is going to shoot better than I can.
    wrmiller likes this.

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