1911 barrel question

Well, technically it’s a Colt 1991A1 question. How much difference is there between a ramped barrel and a “normal” barrel? Specifically, is there much work beyond grinding off some metal at the breech to turn a ramped barrel like this into an unramped barrel like this. Just by eyeballing it, it looks like grinding away the ramp (carefully, of course, and without overheating it, etc) should be all that is necessary. Is there anything else that needs to be done, or some other difference that makes them non-interchangeable? I’m not a serious 1911 geek, but I’m sure there are some out there that would know. The difference in availability is the reason I’m asking. The description says some minor fitting may be needed in any case, and I assume that’s generally emery-cloth minor grinding to slim it a thousandth or two in one spot or another to make for a proper fit instead of being overly tight, but is there more involved?


16 thoughts on “1911 barrel question

  1. The difference, as I understand it (it’s been a long time since I carried 1911s) is that a ramped barrel, in order to fit, needs alterations to the frame. Specifically, the ramp part of the barrel takes space normally taken up by the frame. With an unramped barrel, that space previously mentioned is there, in part, to support the barrel, and keep the frame tough.

    If you remove the ramp, than the barrel doesn’t have a part of the frame that it generally rests on.

    Does that make a difference in terms of reliability, frame strength, or other things that affect the functionality of the gun? I have no idea. But, personallly, if the frame of your 1911 is cut to handle a ramped barrel, keep to ramped barrels, if not, keep to unramped barrels.

    P.S. gunsmiths that specialize in “combat” or defensive 1911s, as opposed to competion or other purposes, tend to all stay away from ramped barrels as it doesn’t add to the reliability (in 45ACP at least) and weakens the frame some.

    P.P.S. I just realized that I may have misunderstood your intentions, that you are looking to remove the ramp in order to fit that barrel into a frame that isn’t cut for it.
    The dangers there, I would imagine, is weakening the area where the link is (it handles a lot stress) and getting the feed angle wrong (a ramped barrel seems to have a steeper feed angle than one that is just polished and chamfered for reliability) and that could easily make your gun unreliable.
    Serious 1911 guys fit and polish those parts very carefully and thoroughly. I am not one of those guys and you seem to say that you aren’t either, so I would assume that danger of getting it wrong and wasting your money is pretty high.

    • I was thinking cutting away the ramping on the barrel, so it would fit the frame, not grinding down the frame to fit the barrel. It had not even occurred to me to cut into the frame, but now that you mention it, it sounds like something I would not be inclined to do, or even let a gunsmith do…

  2. Don’t do it, Rolf. Get the right thing — even it will require fiddling, and ideally experienced fiddling.

    • I read the “1911 timing” blurb on the Schumann link given by Joe in Reno below, and a couple of the other barrel info PDFs on the page. Interesting and informative, and they decidedly give me the impression that getting the proper barrel to start with, and having it professionally fit, is the right thing to do. I might well get it to “work” grinding by eyeball, but if I’m not careful enough it might cause, er, much excitement in the future, of a sort I’d rather not experience.

    • Hmmm. Yes, that would work… [dig, dig, dig]… but finding an available 6″ barrel from my normal gun-parts shopping locations seems to be a problem. I found one locally, but at a hundred bucks more than the online (but backordered) price, and then I’d still have to get it threaded. Guess I’ll keep looking for a little while. Possible idea I’ll keep my eyes open for.

  3. I would wait for the proper part. Modifying the other type of barrel could probably be done, but would not be worth the trouble. Most of my time as a machinist was on CNC machines and only a few gun part ever passed through the shops I worked in, but precision machining is involved. Custom, one off work tends to cost anywhere from ten times to one hundred times what the same part would cost in even small multiple quantities. Even just a small modification like threading the end of a straight barrel is likely to cost enough to give you pause.

    If you want to fit the barrel yourself, find a qualified smith who is willing to supervise you. That kind of specialized work is expensive to learn by trial and error.

    • Yeah, I’m getting that impression. Like I said, by eyeball it looks like a simple mod as machining goes, and I’m sure a competent ‘smith familiar with 1911’s could knock it out in short order, or know that it’s the really hard way to get from here to there. In a pinch, I could likely do it myself, I think, maybe, if it’s as simple as it looks at first glance.
      Getting an available 6″ and threading it is an option, but not a great one. I know a place that does a fair bit of barrel threading at a fairly reasonable flat rate not to awful far from here. They do so much they have one guy that does nothing but threading barrels, and they keep him hopping, but he usually keeps the turn-around time measured in weeks rather than months. But it’s still a hassle, drive time, etc, if I buy a regular one and have it threaded. OTOH, Wade’s is “take a number.”

    • Brownells is close, but spendy or backordered. The 6″ unthreaded unramped is only slightly less than the proper Storm Lake barrel, but would need another $100+ to thread, then bushing and link. The others are only available in other calibers or ramped. Thanks for the idea.
      The Schuemann link has a lot of stuff to go through – thanks for the link.

      • Rolf, I think you are looking at the wrong picture. The listing is for a threaded 45acp barrel for $230.00 with thread protector inc. It is marked “in stock”.
        Item # 100-011-457WB
        Click on the little pic next to the stock # for a better view. The larger pic is just generic sample.

        • Ah, yes. Thank you, I stand corrected. It doesn’t look to have a link, pin, and bushing, but those are not particularly expensive, and if I’m going to have a ‘smith fit it anyway, I’m sure they’ll have some on-hand to get the right size.

          I suppose that leads to the next obvious question – any recommended gunsmiths in the greater Seattle area that will do respectable work on 1911s, preferably w/o a wait-time into next year, or requiring a small mortgage? Or is it cheaper and faster to just buy another .45 that already has a threaded barrel as a stock item?

          • I’m too far away to know anyone up there.
            The best people to ask for 1911 type work, would be any local USPSA club members you might know. Especially the Open class people. They are all into threaded barrels for compensators. Also, just a guess, but the guy who owns this blog might know someone…….{;>)

          • Frankly, getting a barrel threaded SHOULDN’T be that bloody expensive, nor should standard fitting of a barrel be that expensive. (From what I’m getting, this is DEFINATELY something you want to pay a gunsmith to do for you – fitting a 1911 barrel can get very picky and is best done with specific purpose tools.)

            You DEFINATELY don;t want to “de-ramp” a barrel on your own, not being an experienced 1911 gunplumber already. Not a beginner’s problem at all (nor is fitting the correct barrel, unless you’re ready to buy a second barrel after you “overfit” the first one and crap it up).

            THREADING, on the other hand, isn’t hard at all.

          • Get the correct length unramped barrel, and have it professionally fitted. If need be, get an unthreaded one and either have it threaded at teh same time or thread it after you get it back and have established it does work.

            Buying a whole ‘nother gun of this quality would be WAY more expensive than having a professional use the correct parts, even if they have to thread it. Same thing for “de-ramping”, THEN fitting a ramped barrel to “save” the cost of threading the proper barrel.

  4. To be fair, you can screw up threading, and end up with it being non-concentric to the bore. In the worst case, you’d risk baffle strikes.

    That said, it would be the easiest task to farm out.

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