Are 1911 slide and frames heat treated differently? - 1911Forum
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Old 12-26-2002, 02:20 PM
sean sean is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Oregon/Washington
Posts: 333
Are 1911 slide and frames heat treated differently?

What kind of heat treatment is called for in the original specs? Is the slide treated more than the frame?
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Old 12-26-2002, 03:59 PM
tmfr tmfr is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 68
I have been told that the original Military 1911's had no heat treatment whatsoever. The metal was considered hard enough before it was milled. I tend to believe this because I have known a few people years ago that had target guns built up on original slides and after high round counts the slides gave out because the metal was not as hard as it could have been if given a heat treatment.

The military must have been aware of all this because I have encountered national match military slides that were given special heat treament and were very, very hard. One gunsmith told me that the slides actually had to be anealed so that they could be drilled and tapped.
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Old 12-26-2002, 07:43 PM
Jim Keenan Jim Keenan is offline
Join Date: Sep 2002
Age: 84
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They may have been heat treated, but they were not very hard. This is indicated by Colt inserting the recoil plate and by the extra hardening used in WWII production at the front of the slide and at the slide stop notch in the slide.

Post-war, Colt commercial production and military replacement slides were the so-called "hard slide" which was hardened all over and the recoil plate and special hardening were eliminated.

Some modern clones I have seen, especially in stainless, appear to be softer and give problems in areas like the stop notch.

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Old 12-26-2002, 11:53 PM
dsk's Avatar
dsk dsk is offline
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 58,438
I too have seen a lot of battered slide stop notches lately, from both Colts and Kimbers. As for heat-treating the frame and slide differently, I have heard from several sources that the frame is usually not hardened at all.
Avoid the temptation to replace everything on your brand-new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot at least 500 rounds through it first, then decide what you don't like and want to improve. Regarding vintage 1911s, pre-1946 pistols are highly collectible in original, unaltered condition and should NEVER be refinished or modified as it completely ruins their monetary value.
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Old 12-27-2002, 12:38 AM
Archer Archer is offline
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 890
The original 1911's were spot-heat treated, in places such as the slide stop detent, and muzzle end usually with open flame and oil quench. So-called "Hard" slides were used in mid-century for building "National Match" pistols.

Today's heat treatment and alloy specifications are far advanced beyond the early 1900's.

On carbon steel, slides are heat treated to a Rockwell C number in the low 40's, and frames are usually a few points below this.

38-42 is pretty common for a carbon steel slide. 34-36 for a frame. This gives a good balance of lubricity, toughness, and wear resistance.

On stainless, 38-42 for slides, low 30's high 20's for frames. A 10 point Rc differential makes for a smooth-running Stainless gun. The closer the components are in hardness the more potential for galling and other problems on SS.
"A good general range rule for pistols is that, if what you want to hit appears larger than your front sight, you are within range."

- Jeff Cooper
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