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Old 04-19-2007, 04:46 PM
Stan Chen Stan Chen is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Durango, CO
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Chen/Legacy Custom Magwell

It's pretty much a given to most serious practical/tactical shooters that an enlarged mag well funnel of some sort gives a serious boost in the speed and/or consistency of the shooter’s reloads under stress. No less authority than The Great One himself, Rob Leatham, has written that he considers it the most important modification after good sights and trigger. This is especially true of the single stack 1911’s, as they do not benefit from the tapered magazine tops of the double stack designs.

These benefits are not just limited to the competition realm, but apply to fighting pistol applications as well. Single stack 1911’s, while arguably the most inherently shootable fighting pistol platform, do not hold that many rounds. Having to reload under stress, while engaging better armed/ multiple threats is a distinct possibility. Recent active shooter incidents, such as the one in the Salt Lake City mall, illustrate this well. Our local rural LEO’s are often 30 miles or more from the nearest backup. Let it be said, however, that no modification or gizmo can replace dedicated training and practice of weapon manipulation fundamentals.

Nonetheless, we can all use whatever edge we can get. To date our choices in enlarged mag wells/funnels have been

1.) A simple mag well bevel of the existing frame. This should be considered a minimum. It can be made much more effective by beveling back into the mainspring housing, done most effectively using a Legacy Custom MSH (shameless plug), which allows this modification without a knife edge at the rear of the well that can catch on mags and get beat up over time. This is a noticeable help, and a viable option for many users. However, we can do better, performance wise….

2.) S&A/ Wilson, etc. extended add on mag funnels. These are effective, relatively inexpensive, and easy to install. Their major disadvantage is that they extend below the frame of the 1911, adding unnecessary bulk, compromising concealability, and requiring the use of extended base pads. These pistols are big enough as is.

3.) Weld on/bolt on horseshoe shaped mag funnels, as installed by many of the modern master pistolsmiths. These are fantastic in that they give a very large opening, and add no length or width to the pistol. Their major disadvantage is that the horseshoe in the front prevents the shooter from stripping out the magazine, using the front lip of the base pad, in the event that the magazine becomes stuck in the pistol. They also require skilled installation.

So, if we could spec out the perfect mag well/funnel for the single stack 1911, the list might look like this:

1.) Dramatically increases mag well opening for speed and consistency while reloading under stress.
2.) Adds no length or width to the pistol, so that concealability is not compromised.
3.) Allows access to the magazine lip, so that the magazine can be forcefully extracted in the event it becomes stuck in the pistol.
4.) Be machined entirely from bar stock for strength, durability, and overall quality of final fit and finish.


(I suppose to be perfect, it would cost $15 and anyone could install it 5 minutes with a screwdriver. That’s not gonna happen, so let‘s not even consider it. :wink: )

We have a solution. I’m excited to introduce the Chen/Legacy Custom Magwell, designed from the ground up to meet ALL of our criteria outlined above (no snazzy name yet, but we're working on it!). It represents a tremendous amount of R&D and design work on my part, with the initial design concept beginning in 2003. It became quickly apparent to me that traditional machining techniques would not be adequate for bringing my vision to being in metal, as the machining of the required geometry and surfaces could not be done in the traditional manner. So I utilized solid modeling CAD/CAM technology to design the part and generate the required toolpaths in order to CNC machine the part using multiaxis interpolation (a fancy way of saying turning all the handles on the machine at the same time). This was all done completely in house, in my shop.




The entry angle was CAD/CAM’ed to be optimized at every point along the contour of the magwell; that is, it allows for the easiest insertion angle at any given point. Traditional magwells maintain a constant angle at all points along the contour, as they are cut with some form of a chamfer mill or countersink that is only capable of cutting a fixed angle. As illustrated with an original Brown magwell, one of the excellent long time standards in weld ons:.



As you can see, the front of the Chen/Legacy horseshoe has a geometry that is considerably reduced compared to traditional weld on magwells. As such, a single entry angle along the entire contour will not work, IF we want an optimized entry angle. On our magwell, the entry angle constantly changes, and is optimized, at every point along the contour of the front of the horseshoe. (I have pictures of this being machined, but don’t want to tie up more bandwidth, unless requested)

As installed, after some machining, TIGing (or you can just as easily braze), and blending. 0.300” is machined off the bottom of the frame and it is installed in the traditional weld on manner by a competent 1911 smith. After cutting several prototypes, we found it was necessary to go to 0.300" in order to accomodate the mag stripping feature.







The inside geometry was carefully designed to give the very maximum amount of funnel surface.



Of course, a Legacy Custom MSH is used..... :wink:





Note the access notch in front. A stuck magazine can be forcefully extracted. The radius of the cut was designed so that the baseplate of a spare magazine can be used for extra leverage in ripping the sutck mag out. Simply cutting this notch in an existing magwell design is not totally satisfactory, as it does not blend with the inside contour that is already cut into the existing magwells. A totally new contour is needed, which is what we’ve done.






For the time being, these will be machined on a limited basis by me in my shop, until we get a shop on board to do production. As they are done on a more or less one off manner, they unfortunately won’t be inexpensive. Eventually I'd like to also offer the magwell packaged in a "suite" with my mainspring housings, with the rear bevel of the MSH already machined to match the contours of the magwell perfectly.

Drawings are already done for a Slim version, for use with thin grips or those who prefer the more low profile of a magwell tucked up under standard grips. Also, if there is sufficient demand, I might be talked into a bolt on version, for those who prefer not to weld.

Thanks for looking!
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