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  #1  
Old 02-14-2020, 05:00 PM
papafluff papafluff is offline
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What is a tight fit 1911

Hi all
I love 1911’s owned them for years and in the past year have really studied up on them and what makes them tick. What is considered a tight fit 1911? I recently purchased a Dan Wesson Valkyrie. I’ve done a lot of reading and all I read is how they are considered top of the line for a production gun and a very tight fit. No play between slide and frame barrel and bushing bushing to slide rock solid barrel lockup. Being a retired toolmaker I’m a numbers guy so I took the time to do a inspection report on all the critical areas of what I believe to be the foundation of the mechanical accuracy of this gun. The machining on this gun is outstanding. Surfaces are true and parallel void of all machine marks and burrs. The gun feels soft in your hands just outstanding craftsmanship but the actual numbers confuse me. This could very well be my lack of knowledge of what’s considered tight fit on a 1911. Let’s start with the barrel lockup to the slide. My understanding is the upper lugs of the barrel should bottom out so to speak with the corresponding lug recesses in the slide. On this gun there is .048 until contact is made with slide. When the gun is assembled I’m getting.04 engagement. That’s .008 away from making any contact with the slide. Is this normal? I was under the assumption based on all I’ve read the link should push the barrel up against the slide thus creating a solid lockup between barrel and slide. Now the lower barrel lugs are fit perfectly to the slide stop pin and the barrel hood has .001 clearance on all 3 sides creating a very solid lockup. I’ve drawn a quick drawing of all the other dimensions regarding slide to frame fit and barrel to bushing to slide. The dimensions marked with S are the slide dimensions and F is frame dimensions. Like I said I’m a numbers guy and just don’t know if these numbers represent a tight fit gun or not. I’ve got a rock island that has just as tight a slide to frame fit in fact the whole gun is fit just as tight as my Dan Wesson. I’m looking to learn here and figure out if this gun is or is not what I should expect from Dan Wesson
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  #2  
Old 02-14-2020, 05:43 PM
blindshooter blindshooter is offline
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It's junk, I'll give you $low$ for it.
Sorry I couldn't help myself....
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  #3  
Old 02-14-2020, 05:51 PM
BBBBill BBBBill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papafluff View Post
… Let’s start with the barrel lockup to the slide. My understanding is the upper lugs of the barrel should bottom out so to speak with the corresponding lug recesses in the slide. On this gun there is .048 until contact is made with slide. When the gun is assembled I’m getting.04 engagement. That’s .008 away from making any contact with the slide. Is this normal? I was under the assumption based on all I’ve read the link should push the barrel up against the slide thus creating a solid lockup between barrel and slide. Now the lower barrel lugs are fit perfectly to the slide stop pin and the barrel hood has .001 clearance on all 3 sides creating a very solid lockup…
You have it backwards. The slide lugs should bottom out in the barrel lug recesses. There will be clearance between the top of the barrel lugs and the slide recesses. Measure the TDC depth of the lug slots(recesses) in the barrel, particularly the back one. On a perfectly fit barrel that dimension establishes the lockup, i.e. if the depth is .043", if the bottom lugs are cut to be supported by the slide stop pin then you will have .043" engagement. That number cannot be more that the measured rear lug slot depth, but may be less depending on how well the barrel was fit. On a correctly fit gun the link should do nothing but pull the barrel down out of lockup. In the real world many factory guns ride the link with variable accuracy. It was common in the old days, before oversize gunsmith fit match barrels were commonly available to build the gun to ride the link. That is probably why Pachmayr developed the wide link that the used on their in house builds and sold to the trade. The hood clearance is very nice. Far better than most factory guns. I would prefer zero clearance hood to breech face and with your .001" on the sides and a little chamfer on each rear corner.
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  #4  
Old 02-14-2020, 06:31 PM
papafluff papafluff is offline
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I did word that incorrectly and thank you for correcting. Let me put it this way. If I hold the barrel up into the slide with slide removed from frame bushing installed and measure from top of slide to top of barrel and take the same measurement with gun assembled the assembled dimension is .008 greater which tells me the barrel is .008 away from making any contact with slide.
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Old 02-14-2020, 06:43 PM
papafluff papafluff is offline
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I should also correct that not the barrel link but the barrel’s lower lugs against the slide stop pin should hold the barrel up into slide. This gun has .008 to go up before making any contact with slide. I find this to be the case with every 1911 I own. The numbers may be different but none of them actually contact the slide vertically in lockup.
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  #6  
Old 02-14-2020, 07:07 PM
jglenn jglenn is offline
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That's typical in mass produced guns. Not typical with a properly fit gunsmith fit type barrel such as a Kart or KKM
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  #7  
Old 02-14-2020, 09:05 PM
papafluff papafluff is offline
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So this would be typical for a Dan Wesson? What about slide to frame fit? The numbers I posted are typical? Seems sloppy to me but as stated I don’t know what is considered tight or sloppy. Barrel bushing slide are numbers typical or should this gun be going back?
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  #8  
Old 02-14-2020, 09:27 PM
megafiddle megafiddle is offline
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The dimensions you show are actually looser than the nominal ordnance specs for the 1911. That would not be considered tight for a target gun, where clearances would be around .001" or less. But for a carry gun, a tight slide to frame fit is not required.

A common estimate places a tight slide fit's contribution to accuracy as being only 15 percent. Plus, a gun with a loose slide can still lock up tight, with the barrel fit taking up some of the slides vertical movement.

The bushing fit also appears loose, but those clearances diminish as the barrel links up. It's possible for the bushing clearance to drop to zero at linkup. For a target gun, the bushing will typically be a tight fit in the slide, and a close fit (.001" or less) on the barrel. The inner bore of the bushing would not be a simple straight bore though. It will either be a straight bore relieved for linkup. or an angle bore relieved for linkdown.

So that would not be a tightly fit gun in the sense that target guns are tightly fit. But a gun can nonetheless lockup tight in spite of what the dimensions might suggest.

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  #9  
Old 02-14-2020, 10:56 PM
BBBBill BBBBill is offline
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The barrel fit and the slide to frame fit are not custom built match gun tight, but are far better than the average off the shelf factory built gun.
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  #10  
Old 02-15-2020, 07:46 AM
DesmoAndrew DesmoAndrew is offline
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adding to what meggafiddle mentioned about barrel fit and loose slide fit taking up the mechanical slack .. I have 2015 Colt Ser 70 repro that has a rattle slide. But the barrel to bushing and bushing to slide fit are quite good in lock up, and the barrel fit is such that in battery there is very little mechanical slack. As a result it shoots as accurately as any of my better fitted guns (for my shooting skills at 50 ft).
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  #11  
Old 02-15-2020, 08:01 AM
papafluff papafluff is offline
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This is exactly what I’m trying to find out. Is my gun up to Dan Wesson quality or do I have one that slipped through QC? All I’ve read is how tight Dan Wesson’s are particularly the slide to frame fit barrel lockup and so on. Numbers don’t lie and as a toolmaker the numbers on my gun say slop but then I have no knowledge of what is considered tight on a 1911. I did contact Dan Wesson and was told that NO production 1911 locks up vertically against the slide and that my slide to frame fit are in spec. I’m here to learn is this true or am I being told this because they don’t want to repair or replace. Any Dan Wesson owners out there that can compare my numbers to theirs? Dan Wesson’s are not cheap and I just want to make sure I got what I paid for. Love this site and the knowledgeable people here. I love to learn and ready to be educated
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  #12  
Old 02-15-2020, 08:58 AM
david_root2000 david_root2000 is offline
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What is a tight fit 1911

How does your gun group? This is what matters.

I replaced the bushings on both my DW. The PM 9 now shoots under 2” at 50 yards The Valor in 45 shoots under 3”.

I am a bullseye shooter.

My hard fit Gold Cup is so tight it needs a bump to unlock from an empty chamber. Th is NOT any factory type lockup.

It’s a compromise between reliability and accuracy. You can have both. But.....

My PM-9 is the most accurate factory gun I have. This was before the bushing change.

David
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  #13  
Old 02-15-2020, 10:22 AM
papafluff papafluff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesmoAndrew View Post
adding to what meggafiddle mentioned about barrel fit and loose slide fit taking up the mechanical slack .. I have 2015 Colt Ser 70 repro that has a rattle slide. But the barrel to bushing and bushing to slide fit are quite good in lock up, and the barrel fit is such that in battery there is very little mechanical slack. As a result it shoots as accurately as any of my better fitted guns (for my shooting skills at 50 ft).
I can completely understand how a proper barrel lockup would overcome the play in the slide but that’s not the case here. The barrel on my gun is .008 away from making contact with upper lugs
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  #14  
Old 02-15-2020, 10:43 AM
papafluff papafluff is offline
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[QUOTE=david_root2000;13068624]How does your gun group? This is what matters.

I replaced the bushings on both my DW. The PM 9 now shoots under 2” at 50 yards The Valor in 45 shoots under 3”.

I am a bullseye shooter.

My hard fit Gold Cup is so tight it needs a bump to unlock from an empty chamber. Th is NOT any factory type lockup.

It’s a compromise between reliability and accuracy. You can have both. But.....

My PM-9 is the most accurate factory gun I have. This was before the bushing change.


Yes ultimately groups are what matter but that’s not what I’m trying to find out. I’m trying to learn if the numbers on my gun are what I should be getting from a manufacturer like Dan Wesson. Without a baseline to compare to I have no clue. Was the information Dan Wesson told me correct that no production gun’s barrels will lockup against the upper lugs? That the numbers I have between my slide and frame are considered tight? Like I stated I have a rock island that is just as tight or tighter than this Dan Wesson at a third the price. Did I get lucky with the rock island? Or is my Dan Wesson not what it should be?
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Old 02-15-2020, 11:57 AM
david_root2000 david_root2000 is offline
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A few notes. My bushings were similar to yours. that is why I replaced them.

It looks like you have .003" in all places slide to frame fit except one which is .004.

I do not have the capabilities to measure as you have.

I can tell you I had the slide of my valor creakoted or how ever you spell it and it was really tight on the frame after that. How thick is the coating? I dunno.

My PM-9 is a little looser than the Valor was before the coating. I can't give you numbers. I can tell you of all the 1911 I have and had these are the best by far.

I understand you are a machinist. I get you measuring everything. I bought my guns to compete with and I think I bought the best. Both have many thousands of rounds with zero problems.

David
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:12 PM
davidj davidj is offline
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You guys are really way above my pay grade. I am happy that my 1911 hits where I point. Thanks for the education.
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:51 PM
papafluff papafluff is offline
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I certainly appreciate all the info and knowledge. I still question the vertical lockup. If a properly functioning 1911 locks the barrel up into the slide why would a gun like a Dan Wesson or any 1911 be produced not to? Is this something that is only found on custom built guns?? Do you buy a production 1911 and then have a barrel properly fit to get a gun to be the way it should be. I have studied the mechanics of the 1911 and it’s pretty straight forward. Why is the proper vertical lockup left out?
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  #18  
Old 02-15-2020, 03:22 PM
david_root2000 david_root2000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papafluff View Post
Snip
Do you buy a production 1911 and then have a barrel properly fit to get a gun to be the way it should be. Snip
YES, buy an oversize gunsmith fit barrel and have it fit or do it your self. I have done both. The one I had fit was a better job. Both shoot well.

Have you measured your slide stop pin? A larger pin will push the barrel up more. How big of a pin can you fit in the hole?

David
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:32 PM
Magnumite Magnumite is offline
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Assuming a .200” slide stop pin:
203” pin is largest I know of. Then only .003” of the present lock up is reduced, leaving .005” of locked position clearance still remaining. Plus you may have to correct subsequent barrel timing changes. Not worth it, really. Buy a Kart EXact Fit Barrel System. Done well, you will be pleased with the results. You will still have to check and correct barrel timing but it will be well worth it.
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Old 02-16-2020, 03:27 AM
Totally Tactical Totally Tactical is offline
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The proper term is "Hard Fit".
The idea behind it is the gun starts out really tight when new.
Very hard to pull the slide back.
After about 500 rounds it's just nice.
On a hard fit gun it is recommended that you just pull the slide back and lube the gun and don't try to dissasemble for cleaning until about 500 rounds.

The only companies that is making hard fit guns that I know of is Springfield Armory Custom shop and Les Baer ( Les started at Springfield).

I have owned both and still own one Springfield and one Baer, they are my most accurate 1911's.
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Old 02-16-2020, 09:25 AM
TRSOtto TRSOtto is offline
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For those interested....

For every 0.001" of play within the barrel lockup, the POI will move by about .125" at 25 yds. That's for a full size gun and assumes a sight radius of 7" or so.
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Old 02-16-2020, 09:28 AM
jglenn jglenn is offline
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The simple reason a DW or any production gun isn't fit perfectly is that it is a "production" gun...it must be made for a certain price point and in a certain time frame with a certain performance level. That's why you got the canned it's in spec answer....They can't stop and spend an hour fitting a barrel. Even with cnc these days, parts have a variance. The same slide from the same maker will vary.. i build BE pistols mainly these days and use a lot of Caspian frames and slides.. each barrel fit is always unique..

Build enough 1911s and you find that various makers abuse the original specs on the pistol at will..

Shoot and Enjoy your DW..
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Old 02-16-2020, 09:30 AM
david_root2000 david_root2000 is offline
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Try this. Remove the barrel, Clean the ramp the slide stop pin rides on. Cover is with dykum blue or sharpie. Assemble the gun work the slide a bunch of times or shoot a few rounds. If the barrel is fit properly, you will see the pin rides on the feet evenly. Most factory guns do not pass this test.

Click image for larger version

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I give credit to Joe Chambers for this test. Its called the barrel fit challenge.

David

Last edited by david_root2000; 02-16-2020 at 09:33 AM.
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  #24  
Old 02-16-2020, 10:35 AM
JayhawkNavy02 JayhawkNavy02 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papafluff View Post
If a properly functioning 1911 locks the barrel up into the slide why would a gun like a Dan Wesson or any 1911 be produced not to? Is this something that is only found on custom built guns?? Do you buy a production 1911 and then have a barrel properly fit to get a gun to be the way it should be. I have studied the mechanics of the 1911 and it’s pretty straight forward. Why is the proper vertical lockup left out?
Cost. Properly hard fitting a barrel would make a 1911 considerably more expensive. If you want a hard fit barrel (properly) you'll most likely need to send it to someone who can do the work reliably. Some folks below who I would be confident can take care of you. I'm sure there are more, but I've seen their work, spent time in their shop or own firearms they've made.

David "Dave" Sams - Sams Custom Gunworks
Jon Eulette
Joe Chambers - Chambers Custom
Greg Derr - Derr Precision
KC Crawford - KC Custom Creations
Ed Masaki
Roddy Toyota
Dave Salyer

Quote:
Originally Posted by jglenn View Post
The simple reason a DW or any production gun isn't fit perfectly is that it is a "production" gun...it must be made for a certain price point and in a certain time frame with a certain performance level. That's why you got the canned it's in spec answer....They can't stop and spend an hour fitting a barrel. Even with cnc these days, parts have a variance. The same slide from the same maker will vary.. i build BE pistols mainly these days and use a lot of Caspian frames and slides.. each barrel fit is always unique. Build enough 1911s and you find that various makers abuse the original specs on the pistol at will.
This is spot on as usual from JGlenn. At best you're getting a semi-drop in barrel fit from DW, the less expensive factory guns like Springfield Armory are often just drop in barrels with the minimum of fitting required to save cost. Just like Mr. Glenn said, every barrel is unique. I can't swap my Bullseye pistol parts around (most of them) because they're oversized and properly fit and unique that 1911 which has slight variation even though they're all Caspian frames (several are sequential).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Totally Tactical View Post
The proper term is "Hard Fit". The idea behind it is the gun starts out really tight when new. Very hard to pull the slide back.
Hard Fit isn't really defined anywhere (at least I haven't found it), so its challenging to say someone is right or wrong on how they view it; however, there's more IMO to hard fit than slide/frame fit. Its a philosophy of using oversized parts and doing the final fitting to ensure that you have the best performance possible. Typically there aren't drop-in/semi-drop components (there are some exceptions) for the most part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Totally Tactical View Post
On a hard fit gun it is recommended that you just pull the slide back and lube the gun and don't try to disassemble for cleaning until about 500 rounds.
This sounds like Baer (etc) advice. I don't fully disassemble my Bullseye 1911s. I just leave the bushing in. My full custom Bullseye pistols worked when I took them out of the box with the exception of needing a little nudge to help them go into battery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Totally Tactical View Post
The only companies that is making hard fit guns that I know of is Springfield Armory Custom shop and Les Baer ( Les started at Springfield).
Quote:
Originally Posted by KC Crawford
Zane, I'm glad you told us that. Good luck on the auction. RRA over baer every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
KC is a well known Bullseye Gunsmith and Guild Master Pistolsmith. If you want a truly hard fit 1911, you'll probably be working with a Gunsmith on a full custom build. The closest companies (semi-custom) to getting near a true hard fit I've found are in order: Accuracy-X, Rock River Arms and Springfield Armory Custom Shop. Of the three, Accuracy-X seems to do the best work, and the price reflects that. Of RRA and SACS, I would go with RRA. Both RRA and SACS occasionally need re-work.

Les Baer does do a "hard fit" on the 1.5" guns, but not correctly. We did a team buy and they couldn't hold the X-ring after a while We went back and forth with Les, finally gave up, and sent them to a reputable Bullseye Gunsmith (above) for new slide stops, trigger jobs and barrel/bushings. Pretty expensive after the initial buy. Years later, those 1911s shoot as good or better than the day we got them back from the Master Gunsmith. Baer 1911s are not fit by a Gunsmith and it shows. Unfortunately, lots of folks do not shoot enough or at a level to know the difference or have access or use the tools required to test to verify performance (barrel fixture, HEG or Ransom Rest, etc) to detect the drop off in accuracy.

A couple great articles to inspect your pistol:

The Custom-Built Handgun by Larry Leutenegger - Hyperlink - Bullseye Encyclopedia

A Day With A Master Gunsmith by Chip Lohman - Shooting Sports USA

Don't take my word for it alone...

Quote:
Originally Posted by EvolutionArmory View Post
I think the biggest problem is that the way Baer pistol barrels are fit gives a false sense of superior fit but if you really looked at the way the barrels are filed, it’s actually an inferior fit. And it has more to do with their technique than anything. Trying to file a curved surface with a flat file for example. Lots of stress risers on those lower lugs. But because it takes force to break the gun open, people think it’s well fit. Some result in cracked lower lugs. This thread is an example of Les’s genius as a marketer. Some people want this feature but don’t really understand why.

Ask Rob about that. Google some of the broken lower lugs found on some Baer guns. Usually it’s attributed to stress risers from the fitting process. Broken lower lugs, peened to hell upper lugs, etc. with the 1.5 inch guarantee you guys are paying extra for a barrel fit that is less than ideal and in some cases, catastrophic. Most of you won’t shoot enough rounds through the gun to get that far. Most people don’t shoot that much. I certainly don’t. But if you’re a high volume shooter, the chances go way up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlchemyCustom
There's a lot "wrong" with many of the stock Baer barrel fits. Will they work for quite a while? Yes. Are they done right most of the time? No. Does it matter to his fan base? Again...no. Most likely what led to the ultimate failure was a stress riser caused by using a flat file to fit the lower lugs to the slide stop pin. The flat file puts a line into the radius and...the radius is only contacting the slide stop where it sits on the lugs and at the tips. A lot of stress is put on the tips and the line filed gets the crack started. Using properly sized lug cutters and fitting techniques along with the right link size goes a long way toward preventing this situation. One also needs to verify proper location of the VIS. Hood length was also probably a bit long. Just some of my thoughts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Eulette
Here is a picture of a typical Baer (top photo) barrel bottom lug fit. The barrel has approximately 0.010" of bearing surface for lockup. This means the barrel will drop out of battery after slide has traveled 0.010". Translates to higher slide velocity and more felt recoil. The headspace was good on this barrel, but the sides of hood were sloppy loose. Also the upper barrel lugs were unfit! So QC was on low end of the totem pole as usual. The barrel I am fitting has 0.075" of bearing surface for lockup, which means slower slide velocity because barrel stays in battery about 7x longer; yes it makes a difference. Proper upper lug fit and hood fit. The Baer barrel easily rotates when placed into the slide due to improper hood and upper lug fit. I've only seen one Baer 45 that the barrel was fit correctly in over 20 years. Just because it feels tight in battery doesn't make it right.

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Last edited by JayhawkNavy02; 02-16-2020 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:44 PM
NoExpert NoExpert is offline
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Originally Posted by Magnumite View Post
Assuming a .200” slide stop pin:
203” pin is largest I know of. Then only .003” of the present lock up is reduced, leaving .005” of locked position clearance still remaining. Plus you may have to correct subsequent barrel timing changes. Not worth it, really. Buy a Kart EXact Fit Barrel System. Done well, you will be pleased with the results. You will still have to check and correct barrel timing but it will be well worth it.
Actually, the .203" pin only changes vertical engagement about .0015" compared to the .200" pin (radius vs diameter).

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