Accurizing the Model 1911

Accurizing the Model 1911
While the heart of a Bullseye pistol may be the barrel and the trigger, a custom extractor (right) will be hand fitted to a slide, whereas the factory extractor (left) drops in with no special fitting.

accurizing_1911_fRegular readers of Shooting Times know that I often get questions from fellow readers. One that I frequently receive has to do with how to improve a Model 1911's accuracy.

Gunsmiths since World War II have done amazing things with the Model 1911, producing extremely accurate and reliable handguns for many different uses, but what they do to a pistol intended for Bullseye competition is a combination of science and art.


The secret to better accuracy and superior performance is really not all that much of a secret. It's just plain old-fashioned attention to detail, even what you might think is the smallest and least significant detail. In addition, top-drawer accuracy requires the use of superior components.



Although today's factory-produced 1911s are tighter and better made than ever before, primarily due to advances in the manufacturing processes, there still can be room for improving 'em.


The Barrel

The heart of any firearm is the barrel, and that's a good place to begin. The standard factory gun normally has a pretty good barrel. It's sure better than the typical barrel used on most guns years ago, but it's usually not as good as a premium barrel used by a good custom gunmaker.


The secret to better accuracy and superior performance is plain old-fashioned attention to detail and the use of superior components.

Many custom pistolsmiths set up their Bullseye 1911s with ramped barrels. These are barrels made with an integral feedramp, and this requires extra work in cutting the frame for the ramp as well as a good bit of special hand fitting.

The factory guns are made with traditional nonramped barrels with the feedramp built into the frame. That works, but it will never feed as well or as reliably with wadcutter or hollowpoint ammo.

Custom pistolsmiths also spend many hours hand fitting the barrel to the frame and slide. They don't depend just on the close tolerances of the individual parts. This, more than anything else, makes the difference in the accuracy of the handgun.

Keep in mind almost all custom pistolsmiths will guarantee a high degree of accuracy with their handguns. They'll normally specify how big a group the gun will shoot at 25 and 50 yards, and it'll be darn small! How small? About 2.5 inches or less at 50 yards.

The Trigger

The trigger is another good example of the differences you'll see between custom and standard-production guns. The trigger on a custom gun will not only be of higher quality, but it'll also generally have a greater degree of adjustment.

For example, it's pretty much standard on a custom Bullseye 1911 for the trigger to be easily adjustable for overtravel. Of course, the trigger will be hand fitted to eliminate even the slightest degree of unnecessary movement.

The Extractor

accurizing_1911_4You'll find similar situations when you look at the internal components. An extractor looks deceptively simple. It's just a rod with a hook on the end of it designed to jerk the fired case out of the chamber, right? Well, there's a lot more to it than that.

The extractor on a custom 1911 will be set up so that there's minimal distance between the inside of the extractor hook and the breechface of the slide. This helps to ensure consistent and reliable extraction and proper positioning of the cartridge as it's stripped from the magazine and fed into the chamber.

Areas that receive special attention from custom pistolsmiths include the barrel's feedramp and the slide's breechface. Both are polished to the point of being silky smooth, which fosters optimal functioning.

On a custom Bullseye gun the gunsmith is concerned not just with reliable functioning but with every detail of how that part affects the loaded, as well as the fired, cartridge.

As with the barrel and other parts, a custom gunmaker will tend to use a higher quality extractor. It'll be made from better materials and to tighter tolerances. And most importantly, it'll be hand fitted in the slide and adjusted to exert a specific amount of tension on the cartridge rim.

The Breechface

I mentioned the slide breechface relative to the extractor. Part of the fitting of the slide and barrel entails a lot of detail work on the slide. The breechface on a custom gun will be polished to give it a super-smooth surface. Some custom gunsmiths will even give the breechface a mirror polish.

While the heart of a Bullseye pistol may be the barrel and the trigger, a custom extractor (left) will be hand fitted to a slide, whereas the factory extractor (right) drops in with no special fitting.

It isn't just for looks. As the loaded round is stripped from the magazine and the rim slips under the extractor, the base of the cartridge case must slide up the breechface as the round is chambered. A highly polished breechface makes this much easier and more reliable.

That's just one more feature of a custom gun. The typical factory gun seldom has any work done on the breechface. It's used pretty much just as it comes off the production machine.

It's basically the same story with all the other parts. The custom Bullseye Model 1911 will generally have much higher quality parts made of better materials and to tighter tolerances.

The custom gunsmith then carefully hand fits those parts to the frame and the slide. The result, of course, is a pistol capable of winning matches.

Recommended for You

Ammo

Danger Tamed: Hornady DGX Bonded Hunting Ammo

Joseph von Benedikt - May 23, 2019

A half-century in the making, the new DGX Bonded is Hornady's best-ever dangerous-game bullet.

Handguns

Review: Stoeger STR-9

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 17, 2019

The new striker-fired STR-9 9mm semiautomatic pistol from Stoeger Industries is reliable,...

Ammo

Five Great .270 Cartridges

Layne Simpson - May 28, 2019

Considering how popular the .270 Winchester has become, it's a great mystery why more...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Moving and Shooting

Most gunfights are fluid and it's likely that you will need to move. Here are some precise methods for moving and shooting.

Springfield Armory Saint Victor

The SAINT' Victor Rifle delivers a lightweight and agile rifle solution while maintaining effectiveness at extended engagement distances.

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Big bore semiauto or a lever gun? We look at the futuristic .450 Bushmaster and how it compares to the tried and true .45-70. ISS Prop House gives us the rundown on the guns used in Enemy at the Gate. We ping steel with a .300 WinMag at over a mile.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

How-To

The Key to Shooting Far: Improving Ballistics

Rick Jamison - April 17, 2019

Improved ballistic coefficients lead to greater performance downrange without upping blast and...

Reloading

Share the Handloading Experience

Lane Pearce - May 19, 2019

The joys of handloading are many, and one of them is sharing the experience with a novice.

Handguns

Review: Stoeger STR-9

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 17, 2019

The new striker-fired STR-9 9mm semiautomatic pistol from Stoeger Industries is reliable,...

See More Stories

More How-To

How-To

Reforming .204 Ruger Cases Into .222 Remington Magnum

Lane Pearce - December 13, 2018

Reforming .204 Ruger cases into .222 Remington Magnum forced the author to relearn a valuable...

How-To

Super Powered: Battery Basics for Firearm Accessories

Brad Fitzpatrick - April 14, 2015

It's hard for me to wag my finger at other shooters for not having a basic understanding of...

How-To

12 Ways To Hide Your Personal-Defense Firearms

Layne Simpson - March 14, 2018

Here are a dozen ways to keep your personal-defense firearms out of sight, but close at hand.

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×