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  #1  
Old 03-07-2011, 07:12 PM
tyler2you tyler2you is offline
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Plunger Tube Installation Sample




I was reading something Larry Vickers wrote about some of the weak areas in the 1911 design that made me curious. He mentioned that the plunger tube is an area that really needs to be addressed in the design to ensure reliability due to the ability of a tube to lock up the safety and prevent operation.

I decided to pull out all of my examples to see how they looked. It was rather eye opening and surprising in some cases. I would have expected that the higher the purchase price, the better executed the plunger tube installation would have been. On the higher dollar guns, I would have expected to see the hole chamfered and a solid staking job. Not necessarily so in my examples. Here's what they look like:

SA Loaded. Close to $900 doesn't get you much as far as staking goes. Looks like it's barely hanging on:



EB Kobra Carry (circa ~2005). Probably the most disappointing considering the ~$2,500 price. Just looks sloppily done in my opinion:



Remington R1. Paid approx $600 for this example. Appears to be pretty typical.



DW CCO. Approx $1,500 for this one. Also looks pretty typical.



DW Heritage. More of the same for around $1K.



DW Valor. And more of the same at $1,450



SA EMP .40. Purchased new for right at $1K. The jewel of the bunch in my opinion. Hole appears to be chamfered and a nice amount of material displaced into the recess.



Remsport Commander. Frame and slide combo for $299 with the plunger tube installed by Remsport. Also appears the hole is slightly chamfered with a small amount of material displaced into the recess.



So, any conclusions to be drawn on these examples? Not sure. Maybe it was a slow day and a couple of my guns got some extra attention or maybe it was a bad day for someone.

I'd be interested to see other's examples.
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  #2  
Old 03-07-2011, 07:34 PM
RPM509 RPM509 is offline
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I'm actually kind of surprised at those examples, almost afraid to look at mine knowing they are probably no better. Although considering the design I
shouldn't be surprised they are like that.

Maybe the plunger tube should be an integral part of the receiver.
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  #3  
Old 03-07-2011, 09:17 PM
sophijo sophijo is offline
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interesting aside

Somebody; Hilton Yam , EGW or maybe C&S makes a four post tube.
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  #4  
Old 03-07-2011, 09:27 PM
tyler2you tyler2you is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sophijo View Post
Somebody; Hilton Yam , EGW or maybe C&S makes a four post tube.
Believe it's Ned Christiansen (Michiguns).
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  #5  
Old 03-07-2011, 10:00 PM
Serpico1985 Serpico1985 is offline
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Neds extra stout/HD 4 post plunger tube or a caspian frame with the integeral/welded plunger tube are both examples of attempts to make that area less vunerable. Also I believe and someone will correct me if I'm wrong but the grip panel on the left side should partially cover or shroud the plunger tude for additional protection...


Edited to add: they don't attempt to improve the original design, the DO improve the original design.

Last edited by Serpico1985; 03-07-2011 at 10:14 PM.
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  #6  
Old 03-07-2011, 10:11 PM
Joe C Joe C is offline
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Tyler2you,

First of all, very nice pics.

Secondly, your guns look pretty much like the standard of what I see come into my shop on many guns. I would say that typically about 80% of the guns that come in here have loose or poorly staked tubes. It is a problem that one would think is easily fixed. Unfortunately that does not seem to be the case. Perhaps people just get in too big of a hurry or think it isn't that important...I don't know the answer to that question. I can say that when they leave here they are not nor will they be in the future loose!

Personally I don't care much for the integral tube idea. If you think about it, what happens if that tube gets smashed in the wrong place? Not good...
And as for the four poster, the bolt on by another company, etc, they are good ideas, but the long and short of it is if it is done correctly a person shouldn't need all that...just do it right the first time and carry on knowing that if it gets crushed you can pop it off and replace it.

Respectfully,
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  #7  
Old 03-07-2011, 10:21 PM
Serpico1985 Serpico1985 is offline
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Joe C,

In reference to the integral tube. I read the same point you made about It getting smashed and then what to do with it somewhere else and considered it before deciding to go with it. Someone made the point "just mill it off and drill a hole for the standard plunger tube". Never the less good point and I'm sure a properly fitted and staked tube will stand up to a lot of use as well.
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  #8  
Old 03-07-2011, 10:24 PM
Joe C Joe C is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serpico1985 View Post
Joe C,

In reference to the integral tube. I read the same point you made about It getting smashed and then what to do with it somewhere else and considered it before deciding to go with it. Someone made the point "just mill it off and drill a hole for the standard plunger tube". Never the less good point and I'm sure a properly fitted and staked tube will stand up to a lot of use as well.
Serp,

Yep, that is the solution. Unless of course you are thousands of miles away from a mill and proper tooling. Or unless your gun has been damaged and a firefight pops up before you have time to get back to your shop with the tooling and you end up getting killed because your safety was locked in the on position. Or unless you have to pay to ship it off to a gunsmith (read: shipping, down time, shop costs, new tube, return shipping)...o.k. I'll stop now.

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  #9  
Old 03-07-2011, 11:23 PM
Dave Waits Dave Waits is offline
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looks to me like the Remsport installation was the best of the bunch.
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  #10  
Old 03-07-2011, 11:29 PM
prcabr4christ prcabr4christ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Waits View Post
looks to me like the Remsport installation was the best of the bunch.
I'm gonna call the Brown the worst...especially because it's a Brown
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  #11  
Old 03-08-2011, 05:57 AM
Jolly Rogers Jolly Rogers is offline
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I don't see anything wrong with the first DW either. Short legs on the tube are an irritant.
Joe
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  #12  
Old 03-08-2011, 05:27 PM
klf klf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe c View Post
tyler2you,

first of all, very nice pics.

Secondly, your guns look pretty much like the standard of what i see come into my shop on many guns. I would say that typically about 80% of the guns that come in here have loose or poorly staked tubes. It is a problem that one would think is easily fixed. Unfortunately that does not seem to be the case. Perhaps people just get in too big of a hurry or think it isn't that important...i don't know the answer to that question. I can say that when they leave here they are not nor will they be in the future loose!

Personally i don't care much for the integral tube idea. If you think about it, what happens if that tube gets smashed in the wrong place? Not good...
And as for the four poster, the bolt on by another company, etc, they are good ideas, but the long and short of it is if it is done correctly a person shouldn't need all that...just do it right the first time and carry on knowing that if it gets crushed you can pop it off and replace it.

Respectfully,
+1
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  #13  
Old 03-08-2011, 06:57 PM
Al Booth Al Booth is online now
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Plunger tube

Interesting discussion and pictures. I went for a while where every darn 1911 I bought had a loose plunger tube.

I have a question (not meant to challenge anyone) - when have you ever seen a crushed plunger tube from real damage, not a shade-tree gun plumber ? As I look at my guns, it looks like there would be a lot of damage to a bunch of other parts. I can't say I have, after over 30 years of carrying a 1911 as an LEO, old-time IPSC shooting, and now on my CCW.
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  #14  
Old 03-08-2011, 07:09 PM
Joe C Joe C is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Booth View Post
Interesting discussion and pictures. I went for a while where every darn 1911 I bought had a loose plunger tube.

I have a question (not meant to challenge anyone) - when have you ever seen a crushed plunger tube from real damage, not a shade-tree gun plumber ? As I look at my guns, it looks like there would be a lot of damage to a bunch of other parts. I can't say I have, after over 30 years of carrying a 1911 as an LEO, old-time IPSC shooting, and now on my CCW.
Al,

Yes, I have seen it twice. Once on an officers gun that was damaged during a struggle when it was smashed on a street curb and once on a BE competitors gun when his gun box got dropped and it dented in the tube in the middle. The BE one was still usable as it was in the middle of the tube.

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  #15  
Old 03-08-2011, 07:13 PM
MoHawk MoHawk is offline
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tyler is a much better photographer than I am. I tried taking pics of my SA Loaded & SA TRP which both having staking similar to the Remsport example.
No good shots even on Macro setting.
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  #16  
Old 03-08-2011, 08:42 PM
tyler2you tyler2you is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoHawk View Post
tyler is a much better photographer than I am. I tried taking pics of my SA Loaded & SA TRP which both having staking similar to the Remsport example.
No good shots even on Macro setting.
Thanks--it was challenging considering I'm using a 5 year old Nikon digital (Coolpix 4300). It works pretty well considering its age. If only the battery would last longer than 20 minutes.

I got the gun frames under a really bright fluorescent light and played with the angle until I got a sharp image using the macro setting. Resolution is at max for the camera which is 4 megapixels. It's no Nikon D3, but it works. Would rather spend money on guns than cameras.
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Old 03-08-2011, 10:14 PM
zdragon52 zdragon52 is offline
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Last edited by zdragon52; 03-10-2011 at 01:16 PM.
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  #18  
Old 03-09-2011, 09:10 AM
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Gary Smith Gary Smith is online now
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We have had the integral plunger tube for 20 years on our high cap and we never heard of one getting damaged and I can assure you that none ever came loose.

When you consider that a loose plunger tube is a common problem that is often only discovered when the pistol can't be taken off safety(and could prove to be fatal) and weigh it against the very remote possibility that the tube might be crushed, the integral plunger tube makes a lot of sense.
We've heard from a lot of top gunsmiths that have seen many loose tubes but I'd be curious to here from those who have encountered crushed tubes.
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:18 AM
tyler2you tyler2you is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Smith View Post
We have had the integral plunger tube for 20 years on our high cap and we never heard of one getting damaged and I can assure you that none ever came loose.

When you consider that a loose plunger tube is a common problem that is often only discovered when the pistol can't be taken off safety(and could prove to be fatal) and weigh it against the very remote possibility that the tube might be crushed, the integral plunger tube makes a lot of sense.
We've heard from a lot of top gunsmiths that have seen many loose tubes but I'd be curious to here from those who have encountered crushed tubes.

I also don't believe a crushed tube would keep the weapon from functioning by hanging up the safety. I guess it could potentially make the detents stiffer if the spring is crushed, but I would think the weapon would keep operating. True?
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:08 PM
Ttwwaack Ttwwaack is offline
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I had an Officer's model that got dinged. The ding only slightly impaired operation so I reamed it out. As a result of the ding though, it loosened up over time to the point that I re-staked it which did not hold. In the end, I would have been money ahead to have just replaced the PT in the first place. Colt factory plunger tubes are not as stout as aftermarket barstock units.
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  #21  
Old 03-09-2011, 06:36 PM
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I've had two loose plunger tubes on factory guns. Bought the Brownells/Vice-grip tool and installed their replacement after dremeling out the space for the tube ends to expand into. I still check my 1911s before going out with it and after cleaning/range trips, and am considering silver soldering the one on my next build. To me that solves the possibility of crushing and not having access to a mill (which I don't have, but I do have access to a torch). I almost ordered the integral plunger tube option when I built Rebel 1. If I were doing it today I would.

Robert
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:25 PM
goetztrp goetztrp is offline
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Thats why the nighthawk enforcer is a gun i like so much because of the integral plunger tube. This comes up a couple times a year and the debate begins if it gets crushed you can replace it. You could drive over it and the stocks are going to protect it. Every time i snap my safety on and off i look to see if it is loose. Like Gary Smith i want to see a crushed one.
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Old 03-09-2011, 10:55 PM
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A sample of mine. The Mil-Spec and Smith & Wesson were done by me about five years ago. Tube is Wilson Combat Bullet Proof® model. The Kimber is stock. The Kimber will get a new plunger tube when I refinish with Cerakote, which won't happen until I get a new compressor and a spray gun...







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Smith&Wesson.jpg   Mil-Spec.jpg   stock-Kimber.jpg  
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  #24  
Old 03-10-2011, 07:40 AM
sophijo sophijo is offline
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From Hilton Yam

Re: Browning's original grip design

Plunger tube support:
I consider this a non-negotiable feature on a set of 1911 grips. The plunger tube is one of the major weaknesses of the 1911, as a loose tube will cause the thumb safety detent to slip past the thumb safety and pin it in the up/safe position. The original Browning grip design helps to shore up this deficiency by pinning the tube in place. It is not a hard feature to include, and I have discovered plenty of loose tubes only after the grip panel was removed. With the above thoughts in mind, there are no immediate plans to offer thin grips as the thin panels are unable to provide support to the plunger tube.
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Old 03-10-2011, 08:50 AM
Dave Berryhill Dave Berryhill is offline
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Plunger tubes don't come loose because they aren't silver soldered to the frame. They come loose because they aren't properly attached by ANY method. And if a manufacturer can't properly stake the tube in place, I don't want them to come near the frame with a torch!

It's just one of those things that "if you want it done right, do it yourself." Obviously it's not getting done right at many manufacturers.

Use silver solder if it makes you sleep better at night but a proper staking job is sufficient.
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