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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I finally picked the pistol to start my custom project on. I was going to do the Tisas Service Special I bought a couple months ago, but it shoots so well and the fit is pretty darn good...I decided to leave it alone.
So I picked my latest Tisas Tank Commander. It has a looser frame/slide fit and I carry commanders more often. If you shake the pistol it rattles pretty good. I know, I know, the original 1911's rattled, but this is my project in 2023, we have the technology, and I want to improve every aspect of this pistol. So I want a custom, no rattle fit.

Helmet Wood Art Personal protective equipment Carmine


Anyways here we go. I measured the frame and slide and ordered the appropriate thickness frame plate. I suppose you could do this with no plate but this keeps you from going overboard with the hammer. I did not use a vice (edit 1-25-23 VISE haha got me!) to hold the frame, electing to go old school and hold it. Using the workbench as a base I was able to quite easily keep the plate in the frame groove/hold the frame and get to work with the hammer. I used a new stainless claw hammer.

Apparently this is called swaging and @Oldpistol convinced me to tackle it. I tap-tap-tapped (which became bang bang bang) each part of the 4 rail "corners" - avoiding the open middle where the magwell is. Then you see how the slide goes on, then tap bang tap bang some more. Rinse and repeat. Now I feel the fit getting tight. I flip the slide backwards and attempt to start it at the rear of the frame once it gets too hard to slide it all the way from the front.

Bumper Tin Gas Motor vehicle Bicycle part


Gas Wood Gadget Electric blue Bumper


At this point I have reduced the clearance so much that I have to lightly tap the slide with a deadblow hammer to get the slide on very far. I figure this is enough to start with.

Now I get the perma marker out and mark the rails and start the slide. It's very tight and I have to tap with the deadblow hammer. It leaves witness marks where the high spots are. Oil up a 240gr stone and lightly/carefully start hitting the high spots. Wipe off and test fit. Repeat.

Automotive tire Tire Automotive exterior Bumper Rim


Automotive exterior Wood Bumper Auto part Rim


Now the slide starts to fit and working it back and forth by hand, it leaves more witness marks and you file those again, repeat as necessary. Go easy. Remove a little at a time, clean the grit off, and test. After a few cycles it is almost there! Sliding it back and forth there are a couple of spots where you can feel a bit of drag, even though the slide will "fall" through the full range of motion under gravity. So now I switch to a 600 grit stone and carefully work across those 2 areas. Still using marker to check. Clean everything off and now the slide is butter smooth through the entire travel. The fit is noticeably tighter than when I started and instead of a rattle, it has the tiniest wiggle of play. There has to be some play, necessarily, as nearly identical dimensions will have high friction and gall/stick. So let's see what happens with the pistol assembled and lubed properly.

Holy crap. Is this the same pistol? There is no rattle, and I mean NONE. It cycles smoothly. I am SO impressed with the end result. I can't believe I was hesitant to take a hammer to 1911 frame rails 馃槂 I had fit a spare EGW angle bore bushing a couple weeks ago to tighten up the front end, now along with the frame/slide job, this pistol feels ready to run. Shooting tomorrow!

Air gun Trigger Gun barrel Gun accessory Combat pistol shooting
 

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1911's, a bunch and counting...
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I used a .113" - at first I was torn on taking it closer and doing some more swaging...but since I had no idea what I was doing I decided discretion should be used. It came out perfect. I think I like working with metal and I am finding I may have a feel for it.

I read a post about a guy in the early days of modern 1911 smithing...Bill Wilson perhaps...?

Anyway it was stated that he was swaging a frame with no rail plates or anything, just hammering away. I suppose he knew a bit more than we do though hahaha.

I have some parts being picked out...deciding if I want to do a beavertail....about 75% sure I do.

My goals:

1. Frame to slide fit (so far so good).
2. Barrel
3. Safety
4. Sear/hammer tuning (so far so good).
5. New trigger (easy)
6. Beavertail
7. Frame and slide blending
8. Refinish - not sure what. Maybe DLC.
 

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Why? Custom 'smiths say a tight fitting slide is maybe 5% of end accuracy on a 1911, i.e., essentially a waste of time.
 

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I finally picked the pistol to start my custom project on. I was going to do the Tisas Service Special I bought a couple months ago, but it shoots so well and the fit is pretty darn good...I decided to leave it alone.
So I picked my latest Tisas Tank Commander. It has a looser frame/slide fit and I carry commanders more often. If you shake the pistol it rattles pretty good. I know, I know, the original 1911's rattled, but this is my project in 2023, we have the technology, and I want to improve every aspect of this pistol. So I want a custom, no rattle fit.

View attachment 665690

Anyways here we go. I measured the frame and slide and ordered the appropriate thickness frame plate. I suppose you could do this with no plate but this keeps you from going overboard with the hammer. I did not use a vice to hold the frame, electing to go old school and hold it. Using the workbench as a base I was able to quite easily keep the plate in the frame groove/hold the frame and get to work with the hammer. I used a new stainless claw hammer.

Apparently this is called swaging and @Oldpistol convinced me to tackle it. I tap-tap-tapped (which became bang bang bang) each part of the 4 rail "corners" - avoiding the open middle where the magwell is. Then you see how the slide goes on, then tap bang tap bang some more. Rinse and repeat. Now I feel the fit getting tight. I flip the slide backwards and attempt to start it at the rear of the frame once it gets too hard to slide it all the way from the front.

View attachment 665682

View attachment 665683

At this point I have reduced the clearance so much that I have to lightly tap the slide with a deadblow hammer to get the slide on very far. I figure this is enough to start with.

Now I get the perma marker out and mark the rails and start the slide. It's very tight and I have to tap with the deadblow hammer. It leaves witness marks where the high spots are. Oil up a 240gr stone and lightly/carefully start hitting the high spots. Wipe off and test fit. Repeat.

View attachment 665684

View attachment 665685

Now the slide starts to fit and working it back and forth by hand, it leaves more witness marks and you file those again, repeat as necessary. Go easy. Remove a little at a time, clean the grit off, and test. After a few cycles it is almost there! Sliding it back and forth there are a couple of spots where you can feel a bit of drag, even though the slide will "fall" through the full range of motion under gravity. So now I switch to a 600 grit stone and carefully work across those 2 areas. Still using marker to check. Clean everything off and now the slide is butter smooth through the entire travel. The fit is noticeably tighter than when I started and instead of a rattle, it has the tiniest wiggle of play. There has to be some play, necessarily, as nearly identical dimensions will have high friction and gall/stick. So let's see what happens with the pistol assembled and lubed properly.

Holy crap. Is this the same pistol? There is no rattle, and I mean NONE. It cycles smoothly. I am SO impressed with the end result. I can't believe I was hesitant to take a hammer to 1911 frame rails 馃槂 I had fit a spare EGW angle bore bushing a couple weeks ago to tighten up the front end, now along with the frame/slide job, this pistol feels ready to run. Shooting tomorrow!

View attachment 665691
Dude, yer into some whacked-out shizzle.. Fearless.

I'd be terrified, (and Boge's comment I've heard before). Still, Educational Experience - congrats.
 

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1911's, a bunch and counting...
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Why? Custom 'smiths say a tight fitting slide is maybe 5% of end accuracy on a 1911, i.e., essentially a waste of time.
Because it's the 5% you pay for on a custom pistol. Do you think when a custom smith sells you a $5k pistol it's going to be loose and rattle when you shake it? No sir. It's the feel, the details, the quality you get.

It took me an hour or so and it feels awesome! It was easier than I expected and if you have the tools to do it, why not?
 

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Because it's the 5% you pay for on a custom pistol. Do you think when a custom smith sells you a $5k pistol it's going to be loose and rattle when you shake it? No sir. It's the feel, the details, the quality you get...
Yes, and he will smile when he makes his Lexus payment with your money. :ROFLMAO: ;)
 

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I wouldn't attempt to "bend" or "peen" tempered steel. It could decide to crack vs. bend, even if you don't notice it right away. After many therapy sessions, I finally surrendered my "tight slide" OCD.

As long as it shoots well, I'm ok with it. If you require a tight slide fit, I'd get a pistol that's already cut for it from the factory (y)
 

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Or have the rails laser welded. Peening the rails is old school for sure. The drawback is that the shape is distorted and the limited contact areas wear so the tightness is relatively short lived.
I respect your efforts anyway @theraptur! Your skill set grows hourly it seems!
Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This is why I do it on a 400 dollar pistol hehe. I probably wouldn't do that to say, my SA stainless Loaded. And using a rail plate to make sure it doesn't get as warped since the plate in there stops any one small area from being smashed further than the very limited space the plate would allow. And a large faced hammer so it contacts a larger area. I tried to spread the area as evenly as possible.

At least that's what I get from the theory.
 

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theraptur:
It's looking great. I look forward to seeing your progress.
I read a post about a guy in the early days of modern 1911 smithing...Bill Wilson perhaps...?
I don't know if Bill Wilson did this, BUT for a few of the old timers here who took Dave Sample's 1911 course many, many years ago (do a search if needed), he taught how to take a "rough" Caspian frame and slide, and by using:
1. Borepaste (liberally and frequently replaced) on the rails,
2. a strong vise holding the protected frame,
3. a rubber, weighted mallet to "pound" the slide,
4. patience and many hours,
swage the frame and rails to a very nice fit. The slide would not fit onto the frame at all when you started. But when you were finished, there was no wiggle or bounce. Smooth travel. But very labor intensive and required patience and time, as in many hours.
I did it once, my pistol turned out to be great, but I wouldn't do it again. Old school works. I can still use a slide rule for multiplication/division/and other math functions.;) But a calculator, or even a cell phone, is better.
For my next 2 or 3 Caspian slide/frame combos, I had Caspian do the frame/slide fitting. Saved time, effort and energy.

Dave Sample/Captain Eagle passed away 15 years ago this coming March. Gone but not forgotten, especially when I shoot my first pistol build.
 

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I broke into gunsmithing in the late 60s but mostly it was just tinkering with rifles until I started fooling with 1911s around 1972. At first I was mostly interested in making them more accurate, later I became more interested in practical shooting (well that's not strictly true, we did have a "practical" 3-gun match in 1969 - but I did more shooting for accuracy each week than the other).

What I found when reading about accuracy was the slide to frame fit was nowhere near as important as the barrel to slide fit - mind you I've lapped a few "squeezed" slides to frames in my time, I've also had to laboriously fit oversized frames to slides. How well the barrel seats in the slide can be reloaded to the link and lower lugs however.

I have a 7" AMT Hardballer - it is a really poor quality gun! - but I mounted a Leupold 2X scope on the slide (got the idea from a national champion B.E. shooter) and it shoots handloads into 1" at 50 yards (10 shot groups)! The key there is the sight (while I'm not a big fan of optics I do tinker with them). - it rattles like a Tin Lizzy :)

I also have an all stock Remington Rand 1911a1 that rattles - it will shoot Winchester ball into about 5 inches at 50 yards, if I do my part. That might not set any records but I have passed the military Rifle qualification with it 3 times and won a sudden death shoot-off at Gunsite at 100 yards. I admit, I only hit the 300 meter target on the rifle range about one out of four, but an accurate pistol I can only do it 1 out of 2 (it is a really large target - the "Ivan")

I do have a couple of other accurate .45s - whether they rattle or not does not seem to matter.

Riposte
 

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CNC machining gets the tolerances so close now days that hard fitting (like John Miller taught to a lot of smiths) is almost a dying art. It does, however, seem to give a gun a special feel when hand cycled. That said, even though we have several old school guns that are superb, the fit of the DWs we have is outstanding for the $s spent on them. I'm sure there are other brands out there with similar fit and finish; and then there are the others. Just sayin'. Keep tappin'.
 
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I discovered that a large file I already had, almost perfectly fit the frame rail grooves, so tap-tap-tapped with the file held in place.
There is satisfaction in the smooth, rattle-free fit, even if it does nothing but remove the rattle!
 
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