Pistolsmiths - PLEASE advise on barrel link length - Pistolsmith

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Old 05-09-2002, 07:24 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 76
Hey guys, I noticed when doing one of the often seen "barrel tightness" tests of pushing down on the barrel hood with one's thumb when the gun is in lockup that the barrel on one of my 1911s does go down a little. There is some play there.

So I thought that replacing the barrel link with a slightly longer link would keep the barrel from going down when pushed on from the top. I called Wilson Combat to order a longer barrel link. The sales guy didn't seem very knowledgeable about this (surprised me!) so he said he asked their pistolsmith whether I needed a longer or shorter link. He said the pistolsmith said a shorter link to pull the barrel down. That sounded weird to me as I would have thought a longer link was needed. Anyway, who am I to argue with a pistolsmith at Wilson.. I ordered one size shorter than standard length.

So, TWO major questions for you experts:

Is changing the link length a reasonable approach to correct this barrel play?

Is a shorter link the correct way to go?

Thanks so much for your help!
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Old 05-09-2002, 08:13 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 720
One of the most accurate .45's I have ever shot has some play in the barrel as you describe. Accuracy comes from many things including the barrel returning to the same position for each shot. It can return to the same position for each shot even with the play you describe.

I have followed your posts with interest. You have learned a lot quickly but you are also someone who likes a problem to solve. Maybe you are a tinkerer at heart.

I would not change the link without a good reason from a gunsmith who really knows 1911's. You may have unintended consequences such as putting too much strain on the link or making the gun unreliable.

IMHO, your gun is more accurate than you are already. You can't know without a ransom rest. I think you are out to solve a non-existent problem.

Your mileage may vary.
Old 05-09-2002, 08:49 PM   #3
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Northern Nevada
Posts: 896
I agree with Rob, and I think you've been taken care of you on the "other" forum. Unless you know what you're doing, I wouldn't mess with changing lock-up engagements via the link length, as changing lock-up of the barrel lower feet on the slide stop pin also changes engagement depth of the top locking lugs of the barrel. In going with a shorter link, you may well bring down the barrel on the slide stop pin (hopefully not to the point of impingement), but in doing so you might also reduce top lug engagement below the minimum safe threshold. Visa-versa, you might lengthen the link to max-out your top jug engagement, all the while raising the barrel feet off of the slide stop pin (also not a good thing). Changing pin lengths also changes bore centerline angle somewhat. Unless you are competent, either don't mess with it, or find a good smith who understands things. Take care.
Old 05-09-2002, 10:01 PM   #4
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 76
Rob - thanks for your post. Yes, I am a tinkerer, but a very cautious one who asks a lot of questions and tries to be as educated as possible before doing anything. I'm not a big risk taker... but I do take calculated risks at times! By the way, how's that holster catalog coming along? Looking forward to seeing the Tucker goodies!

I think I've got it figured out...

OK... I removed the very loose link pin, gave it a couple of "love taps" to fatten it just a touch and now it fits back in nice, just a little snug.

It appears that the 'smith at Wilson was right.

On close examination, I can see that the barrel link hole is a few hairs longer than the lug arches that the hole should align with.

Does that make sense? When looking at the alignment of the hole in the link which the slide stop pin goes through, I see that the link hole looks about .005" away from (beyond) the "rest" arches on the lower lugs which sit on the pin when the gun is assembled... when I examine this same view on my other 1911 barrel links & lugs, the hole and the lug arches match up perfectly. It appears that a .005" shorter link would probably put the link hole in perfect alignment with the lug arches on this barrel.

I think it might be reasonable to fit the new link and if it aligns more closely with the archs of the lower lugs than the existing link does, without being tight, it would seem to be a good thing.

I understand the potential for problems where the top lugs meet the slide and certainly would not risk going any more than 1 increment of .005" nor risk changing it at all if the new link's hole and barrels lower lug arches don't align perfectly.

And I well appreciate your helpful suggestions to leave well enough alone, but given this new information (that the existing barrel link's hole is slightly mis-aligned with the lug's feet arches), does it seem that going with the new link, IF it aligns perfectly with the feet arches, has some merit with little risk?

I know that only a competent gunsmith could answer that question with true authority and hopefully one will reply!

Thank you Rob & Dave for helping me work through this. I love learning about things, especially 1911's!
Old 05-10-2002, 05:24 AM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Randburg South Africa
Posts: 31
You also want to make sure that the rear of the barrel legs still contacts the standing breech face when it is unlocked.
do this.
pull slide stop out halfway rotate it 90 deg. so it points down towards the trigger guard.
Cock hammer and place muzzle on a flat surface and push it back till it stops.
HEld in this position the slide stop should be loose.
If it has tension on it the link is too short.
Old 05-10-2002, 08:07 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Colorado or Louisiana or...
Posts: 1,420
Have you shot this one yet? How does it shoot? Does it group or throw holes all over the paper?

...Have fun...Be Safe...Shoot yer' guns...
Old 05-10-2002, 08:33 AM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Prescott, AZ
Posts: 191
Changing links seldom works on factory guns. The downward movement of the barrel hood is not a problem with any factory gun. Some one posted that as long as the gun shoots OK to leave it alone. One thing I used to do with Norinco's is to install a NM bushing and re-link the barrel with Wilson Number 3 barrel link. One without the other seems pointless to me, but what do I know? All I know is the the three I built would do 3/4" at 25 yards all day long. Long links are really bad and are a sign of brainless meddling with things that you don't understand. A 1911 is a very simple machine with 58 parts. But the hook is that they all have to be happy with each other. Good Luck.
Old 05-10-2002, 09:01 AM   #8
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 76
If you install a shorter link, it'll pull the barrel down further when in battery and you'll still have play when pushing on the top of the chamber. You may also pull the back of the bottom lugs away from the recoil surface on the front of the frame rails and that will lead to shearing off of the bottom barrel lug. The barrel will also probably contact the frame bed in full recoil and that will cause problems as well...like a broken link and sheared lugs.
If you install a longer link, it'll move the barrel up into the slide lugs more, but it'll also lift the slide stop even higher off the bottom barrel lugs and will allow the barrel to twist more than it does now. It will also decrease the clearance between the top of the barrel and the inside surface of the slide lug area, resulting in battering of the lug corners in recoil. It will also cause the very tip of the bottom barrel lug "feet" to contact the slide stop pin, which causes that tip area to bend backwards and eventually break off if you're using a heavy recoil spring with full power
I agree with the other guys...leave it alone!
If you really want to increase accuracy, weld up those barrel lugs and have them fit to the pistol, and fit a NM bushing like Dave suggested. Now that'll do it!
I hope I haven't told you more than you want to know here, but at least now you know what happens when you alter the dimension of one of those 58 parts and don't compensate by altering the other affected parts.
However, the 1911 is a tough pistol, and you can probably change that link and never have a serious problem unless you shoot it an awful lot. Lots of guys have, including me when I was young and ignorrant.
Old 05-10-2002, 03:36 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Prescott, AZ
Posts: 191
Good post by Bob Brown. He and I are from a different time and we have messed with enough 1911's to know about the "Law of Unintended Consequences" This comes into play when you are trying to solve one problem and creat three or four more. Somethings are better left as is.
Old 05-10-2002, 04:57 PM   #10
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 76
Hey Dave, is that Law of unintended Consequences similiar to the one where you're in Alaska in the winter and you pee in your boots to keep your feet from freezing?
It's called an Expediency.

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