Slide-to-Frame Fit

Discussion in '1911 Gunsmithing' started by TexShooter, Sep 11, 2011.

  1. TexShooter

    TexShooter Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    So I've read about various methods to tighten slide to frame fit. What have you tried and what have been your results? I'm considering tightening my rails on my 9mm loaded. Its really just for personal preference as I dont like the wobble in the fit compared to my higher quality models.

    I'd say I shoot less than 3k rounds a year through each of my guns so it doesn't have to be a lifetime fix. But what's your call?
  2. Bender

    Bender Supporting Addict Supporting Addict

    Aug 15, 2011
    There are differing thoughts to this. Some well known 'Smiths state slide to frame
    fitment has less to do with accuract than barrel and bushing fit. A semi-custom
    1911 will have a rather tight slide to frame fit when manufactired.

    I had a Springfield Armory GI built, the 'Smith elected to tighten the fit.
    I believe the frame rails and the slide's rails were "adjusted"

  3. CMG

    CMG Member

    Aug 20, 2011
  4. TexShooter

    TexShooter Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    Just to clarify, I'm not talking about accuracy improvements, rather personal preference in having a tightly fit 1911. - any improvement in accuracy would likely be negligible under 25 yards.
    I understand that a fit bushing and barrel (which i already have) will do more to improve the accuracy of a 1911 than tightening the rails.
  5. Quack

    Quack it's mmm, mmm good... Staff Member Admin

    Aug 15, 2011
    You can peen or swage the frame rails to tighten up the fit.
  6. TexShooter

    TexShooter Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    Is that what was done on your TRP you just sold Quack? After that is done does any adjustment need to be made to any other part?
  7. Quack

    Quack it's mmm, mmm good... Staff Member Admin

    Aug 15, 2011
    that is how Springfield tightened the fit. besides peening the rails, you will also have to take the burr of the edge of the rail and lap the slide/frame together.
    If your slide has side to side movement, you would have to squeeze the slide a little to tighten that up.

    the other way's would be swaging, welding up the rails and milling them down or getting Accu-rails installed.
  8. EvolutionArmory

    EvolutionArmory Well-Known Member

    Sep 9, 2011
    The way I like to do it is to measure the rail on the slide and buy the closest size frame rail fitting bar and peen the corners of the frame rail. Then I hand lap the frame and slide. You can also squeeze the slide if necessary.
  9. Quack

    Quack it's mmm, mmm good... Staff Member Admin

    Aug 15, 2011
    do you go with a fitting bar that is .001 or so smaller, then lap to fit?
  10. EvolutionArmory

    EvolutionArmory Well-Known Member

    Sep 9, 2011
    If you go smaller you can mark the rails with dykem and hand file the marks and then lap them together.

    Hand filing is more precise because lapping compound does not discriminate. It will remove material everywhere.

    I don't put a lot of stock in overly tight slide to frame fit so when I peen the rails, I usually will not make the frame rails smaller than slide rails. I just peen the frame rails down close enough and lap it so it is smooth.
  11. Quack

    Quack it's mmm, mmm good... Staff Member Admin

    Aug 15, 2011
    thanks for the additional info
  12. EvolutionArmory

    EvolutionArmory Well-Known Member

    Sep 9, 2011
    Quack, if you go on Brownells website they have a great video tutorial linked up to the product page for the slide fitting bar set. It is short but to the point. The only thing stopping me from buying the set is the price and the rail gauge they sell is stupid money.
  13. Quack

    Quack it's mmm, mmm good... Staff Member Admin

    Aug 15, 2011
    just asking for the others and to see how you do it. I've peened before :)
  14. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

    Sep 11, 2011
    I have peened, accu-railed and welded and re-cut. I have to say that the best way, in my opinion, is to weld and re-cut or accu-rail but there are down sides to both of those, although not as much to welding.

    And yes, slide to frame fit has a lot to do with accuracy, contrary to some peoples belief...
    salelcid likes this.
  15. Wheezy

    Wheezy Bullet Banger Supporting Addict

    Aug 31, 2011
    Personally I like my slide to frame fit as loose as possible. When I run out of ammo It doubles as a maraca in the mariachi band I play in.
  16. knedrgr

    knedrgr Low capacity, low tech...

    Aug 15, 2011
    Could you elaborate on this please? Just wondering about the pro's and con's of both paths.
  17. 230gr

    230gr Active Member

    Aug 23, 2011
    I peened the rails on both of my 1911's with good results. My Springfield GI when in battery fully assembled I could pull up on the slide and see daylight between the slide and frame. I peened just the four corners about a half inch of the rail until the slide began to grab and not move freely. I then added a little JB Bore Paste, oil, and worked it back and forth until it moved freely. Admittedly it was kind of crude but I got good results I think. Tightened up that vertical play.
  18. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

    Sep 11, 2011

    Pros of welding: can machine to exacting tolerances, can machine to desired look (i.e. pads on top, pads on bottom, scalloped at mag opening etc.), does not cause barrel legs to be overly short when fit, looks good on the back end of the frame slide, long lasting fix, no rails to bend or fall out during dis-assembly.

    Cons of welding: finding someone to do it correctly, finding someone to do it neatly, finding someone to do it correctly, risking the entire frame by someone doing it incorrectly, risking that the metal is not "proper" and will melt upon striking the bead, risking that the person you hired to do it doesn't do it correctly and fills in the holes for the ejector and you have to re-indicate and machine them, finding someone to do it get the point...find someone to do it correctly.

    Pros of Accu: Excellent slide to frame fit, long lasting, when it wears out you can replace the rails with larger ones, makes for accurate guns (when the barrel is fit properly), fairly cost effective, very smooth feel to the gun when completed.

    Cons of Accu: sometimes they leave shavings in the slide when it is returned and if you cycle it before taking it apart to clean it the galling and subsequent cursing will begin, it causes the barrel legs to be shorter than normal (although I have seen no problems with this in the past), the rails tend to fall out when you take the gun apart so you have to keep track of which one is which and make sure you get them re-installed correctly, it looks a bit funny from the rear of the gun to some people. The slide and frame are now permanently altered, you can never use a .22 conversion on this frame.

    All of this is better however, in my opinion, than peening a frame (which I have done a lot in the past). And by the way, a peened frame can be welded up and fixed...but it will cost you. My biggest pet peeve on frames that people have peened is that they peen all the way to the rear of the frame. On a properly peened frame you should not be able to tell it was peened from the outside (read: back of gun), but only when you remove the slide should it be slightly visible...but then perhaps I'm too picky. ;)
  19. Isom93

    Isom93 Member

    Aug 23, 2011
    Eh, it was off topic anyway. I prefer welded. :)
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  20. Kokopelli

    Kokopelli Schütze

    Aug 17, 2011
    I've been fortunate and the pistols that I've bought so fare have been very tight (slide to frame), even the one's I bought sight unseen. Personally, I believe I'd just trade off the pistol if unhappy with the slide to frame fit. There's a lot of pistols out there and if you want to take a loss, you can sell anything and be out in the open about things. I also don't like the look of the rails that are bent over/down and can be seen from the back of the slide.

    If I really wanted to have one tightened up, I'd have Jay wield and re-cut the rails.. JMO.. Ron

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