BARREL FIT: - Pistolsmith

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Old 08-27-2004, 08:07 PM   #1
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1. How far should a loaded 38 Super round drop into the chamber of a 38 Super barrel. When I put the round in the chamber it goes into the chamber so the back of the rim is 1/16" from the edge of the chamber mouth--looks like it is going in to far.

2. Is outside diameter of the barrel suppose the same outside diameter as a 45 ACP barrel?

3. When the barrel is all the way to the rear in the frame shouldn't it be about even with the front edge of the mag well--I have about 1/4" between the front edge of mag well and barrel chamber mouth?

Anyone have any pictures of this??
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Old 08-28-2004, 04:08 AM   #2
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1. Either your barrel has been incorrectly chambered or it is an older barrel by Colt that does not headspace on the case mouth, but relies on that little semi-rim of the 38 Super to stop on a small, machined recess in the barrel hood. Colt went to headspacing the Super on the case mouth with the Series 80.

2. Most 38 Super barrels have a barrel diameter significantly smaller than the 45 ACP, but the chamber area and locking lugs should be the same as the 45 ACP. I understand that this has changed with current production 38 Supers, but the older ones have skinny barrels and a matching barrel bushing.

3. The bottom edge of the barrel needs to be 1/32" (or 0.030") from the edge of the frame feed ramp for most 1911's. My 10mm Delta Elite actually has a little more distance, but it has certainly not impeded reliability. I know for a fact that less than 0.030" will cause rounds to jam on the bottom edge of the barrel.
Old 08-28-2004, 01:48 PM   #3
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1. Yea it's an old Colt barrel alright and I don't think the machine recess is even there--hope they will let me return it.

2. Yea it has a skinny barrel--I quess the 9mms are the same way?

3. Barrel is a lot further away than .030"--I imagine the frame has to be cut further to the rear...

I bought a Caspain Officer receiver and Commander slide to build a 38 Super. The receiver and slide are really nice with good straight sharp lines. I had them fit the frame to slide but failed to realize that evidently the receiver has to be cut further to the rear, AND the little recess area for the barrel link may need to be lowered a little. Man I new this would be more than a manufactured gun but I failed to realize just how much.

One of my opions might be to return the barrel and get a ramped barrel and just cut straight throught receiver. That appears to simpler than having to plung an end-mill into the frame and then end-mill from the top side.

Anyway thanks for the data...
Old 09-03-2004, 04:44 AM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Delta, PA
Posts: 233

To cut the Vertical Impact Surface (VIS) of the frame rearward you can get a $60 tool from Nowlin's. It has a pilot that goes in the dustcover and keeps the cutter where it needs to be. After cutting back a little bit you can clean up the remaining metal with a needle file (the cutter is round and leaves a little metal that you need to remove by hand. The tool is here: ... AME+BRIDGE

You'll need a 1/2" drill to use it without a milling machine
Old 09-03-2004, 07:33 AM   #5
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Location: Issaquah, WA
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I have built a good number of guns on Caspain frames and slides. The are good parts. With a quality barrel there is no need to cut the frame for a ramped barrel unless you plan on shooting something besides factory spec ammo in your 38 super.

My suggestion is get the typical books on building a 1911. Easy enough to match the frame ramp (always cut short on a Caspain frame) and the barrel with little effort and simple hand tools.

The gap on the frame to barrel fit is one of the most critical areas for reliability when fitting up the gun. Not the best place to be quessing at things.

Do yourself a big favor and get a modern, quality barrel to build with.
Old 09-03-2004, 01:24 PM   #6
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10MM and Dane - thanks for reply.

I had to send the receiver back to Caspian. There were a few other things that didn't seem right, so Caspian suggested sending it back so they could take a look--might be gunsmithable stuff that is not intended for do-it-yourselfers?

I had them fit the receiver to the slide, and thought I could handle it from there with a drop-in, or semi drop-in barrel. I don't want a real tight gun just a good quality shooter. I have tinkered with 1911s for a while and thought I was up to the task of building a "sort of" simple pistol.

But the slide stop would not insert all the way through the receiver. It would go in from the left and then stop on the right inboard side--it would go in from the right and stop on the left inboard side.

I will not cut the frame for a ramped barrel because I want to just shoot standard ammo (that was a Oh ^$#% what do I do now thought). 10mm I saw the Nowlin device and that is pretty slick but I think I will stay with standard barrel. But, I'm assuming if the receiver "was" manufactured correctly I will have to send it to a gunsmith to have the correct dimensions cut in the receiver barrel bridge area (never knew it was called that).

Anyway, the slide and receiver are just great as far as clean cuts and straight lines. I almost bought one of the new Colt Government 38 Suppers but I just like straight lines--of course building your own is more expensive in the in the long run...
Old 09-03-2004, 01:38 PM   #7
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Delta, PA
Posts: 233
What Dane is saying is that the Caspian frames have the feedramp left short so that it can be shaped and moved to the proper size and dimensions by the end builder. Also, I forgot to ask, did you request a 9mm feedramp from Caspian? The .45 and 9mm families have different feed ramps.

Anyway, I would suggest the Kuhnhausen books as you will need them to check to see if the feedramp needs the work or if the VIS needs to move rearward.

Before I cut on the VIS I would check the timing of the gun, for instructions go to and look for the article on timing.

The whole 1911 building thing gets more and more complex the farther you deviate from the original platform which is a 5" gun in .45ACP. Add in some sub-standard or out of spec parts and you make it even worse. If you are looking for a drop in barrel I would go with a well known company like Ed Brown or Nowlin. Ed Brown products are really good. Even "drop-in" parts need some work now and again. Feel free to email me at if you want some more direct help.
Old 09-03-2004, 01:44 PM   #8
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 329
10mm - thanks. Thr receive is a 38/9mm reveiver so Caspian will probably say that is correct and if the slide stop is not a problem they will just return it.

I have been looking at Edf Browns barrels and will probably go with them since most of the other parts are coming from them. I had some Colt stainless steel parts and they appear to have fit perfectly.

Well, I guess I'll just wait and see for now...
Old 10-31-2004, 12:10 PM   #9
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Posts: 329
All, finally received receiver back from Caspain and it had some sort of burr in the slide stop hole--they cleared it up.

Now, after studying the barrel fitting steps at I'm wandering why even mess with the 1911--I mean do Glocks, S&Ws, Sigs and ll the rest have all these critical barrel fitting problems??

Well I have about all the parts so I guess I will proceed, might be calling on some of you guys...

One last thing, I bougth the slide in 38 Super but I'm gonna build on 9mm to start because of ammo availabilty--any one see any big problem with that, I have read where others have converted 38 Supers to 9mm..
Old 11-04-2004, 08:23 PM   #10
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Oklahoma City,Oklahoma
Posts: 11
38 Super vs 9mm

# 9 mm breechface width = .400-.410"
#38 Super breechface width = .410-.415"
Length of extractor nose will vary with the cartridge, and with the extractor tunnel location as well. You might get "tolerance stacking" which would affect the extractor performance if you don't use the proper extractor with the 9mm cartridge. You would be better off using the proper slide and breechface width if this is going to be a carry gun.

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