How should I smooth out roughness in 1911 slide action? - Pistolsmith

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Old 07-26-2002, 07:05 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 45
How should I smooth out roughness in 1911 slide action?

One of my new 1911's is quite a bit rougher when operating the slide when compared to the smoothness in my other 1911's. Especially when the slide as almost fully pulled back to the rear, I can feel increased roughness and tightening.

Can anyone advise on ways I can smooth this out myself? My guesses would be filing, stoning, or lapping... but I don't really know for sure. If you can describe the technique to do it and what specific tools to use (files, stones, lapping compound, whatever?) I would be so grateful.

I have the Kuhnhausen 1911 books and Gene Shuey's AGI tapes on building a 1911, but don't recall seeing info on smoothing out slide action other than the original lapping to fit the slide. I would guess that increasing roughness when slide is at the rear would be due to overly tight fitting channels at the front of the slide... does that sound right?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 07-26-2002, 07:16 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Tacoma, WA
Posts: 391
What manufacturer? Blued steel or stainless? How many rounds through this pistol? Was it originally rough in this position or did it become rough after firing a number of rounds? Visual roughness or just felt roughness?
How much tighter at the rear limits in percentage?
All of these things have a bearing on the technique you use to correct the condition.
Old 07-26-2002, 07:41 PM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 45
John: Thanks for your help. The gun is a new, blue steel, Colt Government model with about 500 rounds through it. It functions fine, but I would like the action to be smoother running.

I don't believe it has gotten rougher since new... I don't think it's changed much. The roughness is felt... more of a gradual tightening as the slide is pulled back to it's most rearward position. Overall slide movement on the frame is definitely not as smooth as my Kimbers or my Springfield TRP and I would like it to be. In terms of percentage, I'd say perhaps 10 to 15% tighter at the full rearward position. Hope this isn't a big problem.... but I'll do whatever it takes to make it smooth because I love the Colt and I want to make it right. I suppose I could return it to the factory, but I'd like to learn to fix this myself. Thanks again! Looking forward to your reply.
Old 07-27-2002, 11:45 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Illinois
Posts: 148
Just my .02, but if it runs okay I'd loosen it by buying about 1,000 rounds of S&B and firing 'um up....

Old 07-27-2002, 10:00 PM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Belcamp, Maryland
Posts: 86

Agree with the last post also, it will probably smooth out. If it is still rough after that I would first ensure gun is unloaded field strip the pistol. Install the slide on the frame and see if the roughness is still there. If not, find a pistolsmith or live with it.

If it is still rough completely disassemble the pistol. Get some polishing compound. I got mine a Brownells. (Believe it or not, auto polishing compound WITHOUT wax works okay, too.) Apply very little into the beginnings of the frame and slide grooves. Then move the slide back and forth only over the rough area...this will prevent from opening up the clearances too much in the areas where the slide is smooth. When the roughness smoothes out remove all the polishing compound. Then oil the rail, slide the frame and slide together some. You will see the oil is dirty as it comes out of the slide clearance. Remove the slide. Clean out all the oil and redo this step again to remove all traces of the compound. You will like the results.

Relube and reassemble.

FYI...any time a compound of this type is used it technically should be soap and watered to clean out the compounds. The soap carries away the debris and compound. Rinse and clean. But I know how much blued steel likes water..and I will get flamed for that FYI. That is why I use a few oil and clean cycles to let the oil carry out the garbage like it is designed to do.

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