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Old 11-01-2004, 11:41 PM   #1
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1911 Lightening Cuts

Anyone have any good advice on lightening a 1911 frame and slide? I am talking about with a Dremel tool or files. I have no milling machine.



I don't think this is a new idea. I had a Series 70 Colt Gov't model .45 that got wet and stayed wet for a time, pitting the slide and frame. Off it went to be polished and the frame hardchromed and slide hot blued. Admittedly I got shafted by the gunstore who sent it off. There was considerable "dishing" made by the polisher. Also, there was noticeable thickness removed from various places.



The result was a noticeably lighter gun. I could tell after having worked in the grocery business for several years. Handling cans, boxes, packages, etc. for a long time had made my hands sensitive to very little or moderate differences in weight.



I would like to lighten my Thompson-Auto Ordnance .45. I've got a Caspian aluminum beavertail grip safety to install. I am thinking about trying a Wiley Clapp special, putting a recurve on the front of the triggerguard like Mr. Tussey does. I have already modified the arched mainspring housing Armand Swenson style, with flats made but no checkering. I would like to lighten the slide a bit but not excessively. I don't shoot this gun a great deal, use only standard pressure loads, and just want a lighter, dependable gun without the expense of going to an aluminum frame.



Thanks in advance for any comments or thoughts about this process.
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Old 11-02-2004, 10:56 AM   #2
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1911 Lightening Cuts

I forgot to mention that I have already "lightened" my Thompson-Auto Ordnance .45 by sticking strictly with 185 gr. JHP's. At first I went with the 165 gr. Federal Personal Defense rounds but after several chamberings of the ammo had more than one that the bullet shoved back into the casing! I've not had that problem with any other ammo.
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Old 11-03-2004, 07:57 AM   #3
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1911 Lightening Cuts

Hello,



I don't really know how much a pistol could be lightened by doing some serious grinding & fileing, but, to me, "the pain would not be worth the gain".



If I really wanted a lighter 1911, I would get one with a alloy frame.



Take Care,

THE SOCKMAN
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Old 11-04-2004, 12:33 PM   #4
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1911 Lightening Cuts

I didn't really explain myself, not very well anyway. I was wondering if anyone had any practical knowledge of how much material could be removed and where without destroying the structural integrity. So far I plan on removing material where I think there is plenty of material to start with. I am beginning to think that no one really knows, it's just a trial and error type thing.



I didn't want the extra expense of buying an aluminum frame and having the top end fitted to it. I don't mind the time involved in whittling metal here and there on a slide and frame.



I like the 1911 pistol, but have to agree with Sgt. Provo in "The Green Berets". When John Wayne asked him, "So you like heavy weapons?" Provo replied, "Not if I can find a light one, sir."
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Old 11-04-2004, 10:14 PM   #5
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1911 Lightening Cuts

I would recommend that you get in touch with a smith that builds IPSC race guns as they are known to trim excessive weight on occasion.



But, you must also consider, what the effects (if any) will be.



How will the faster slide speed, affect loading?



Will you need to increase the mainspring weight and recoil spring to overcome the increased speed?



Will there be an increase in recoil (perceived/actual)



Will you need to replace the springs in your magazines, so that they can present the round faster?



You can save some weight by swapping out parts.



Replace trigger with a synthetic or skeletonized or aluminum one.



Synthetic mainspring housing.



Skeletonized hammer.



Just some thoughts, for you to consider.



Regards, Mueller







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Old 11-06-2004, 04:15 AM   #6
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1911 Lightening Cuts

I am sorry to hear about the misfortune with the condition of the poorly polished pistol.

The following might lighten your heart some...."A pistolsmith friend of mine took an apprentice into his shop one year. The apprentice while assisting in the completion of a custom 1911 cut the forward cocking serrations on a very expensive Les Baer slide backwards, i.e. reverse angle from the factory milled ones! To his suprise, the pistolsmith mulled over how to correct the problem and wound up tapering the front of the 1911 slide to the look of a Browning High Power..." He wound up replacing the slide for the customer and completing the work himself and then taking the modified slide and mating it to another frame. Interestingly enough, he sold the gun to another customer with the custom lightning cuts billed as a 1911 with a BHP look!

As a suggestion for your pistol, you might want to look at getting the frame bead blasted and parkerized, it will hide most of the defects of the poor polishing. :)
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Old 11-25-2004, 02:01 AM   #7
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1911 Lightening Cuts

I'm coming maybe a little late but... My cherished 1974 Lighweight Commander has crescent cuttings on both sides of the firing pin, leaving the extractor uncovered. It has, too, a lightning cut between the bushing and the lugs - all factory made of course. I never had the opportunity to weight a "massive" Commander slide versus a lightened, but it looks like a lot of machining for a very marginal gain. The second has - maybe - 3 or 4 cubic centimeters less steel, which means about 20 to 30 grams. No big deal for a weakening of the slide on 2 critical areas!



In the same idea as Carolinaman, I remember of a compact 1911 made by Wilson (something like a Stealth or Sentinel model, I don't remember), which had the front sides of the slide tapered. Again, I think the idea was to enhance concealability (and look, for sure) as the grips were very thin, too. I don't remember if the frame was steel or alu...



Best



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Old 11-25-2004, 06:29 AM   #8
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Hello, Larry. Would you care to post a picture of your precious?
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Old 11-25-2004, 10:37 AM   #9
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1911 Lightening Cuts

Usually lightening a slide is done for reasons other than making it lighter for carry. It's usually done in raceguns to make the cycling action quicker and to make it more reliable using powder-puff loads for competition. Grams can make a difference here.

You probably took one of the biggest chunks of weight out when you changed your bullet weight that you are going to accomplish. Other suggestions would include a lighter mainspring housing, either composite or aluminum and the grip safety.

Doing too much lightening on the slide can lead to reliability issues as well as structural issues. I also wouldn't reccomend the ultrlight fire control components if reliabilty ar an issue, the hammer sear and FP mass can have an effect on your primer strikes.



Now, what I have done to slides that may help a little with weight and have some ohter neat benefits include lowering and flaring the ejection port, having the slide flattopped and serrated, madifying a Novak or two for one handed clearance drills, and I kind of like the BHP cuts also, I'm just agains the random drilling of holes in the slides.











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Old 11-26-2004, 07:35 AM   #10
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1911 Lightening Cuts

Very nice job, Zero!

Sorry, NewsFlash. but I don't have any digicam...



Maybe I should have been more precise: these lightening cuts were made by Colt on some LW Commanders and not on others, apparently at random - someone here surely knows better about Colt.



Several years ago, I owned a LW Commander in 9 para, made in the fifties, that didn't have the cuttings. I heard too that Gold National Cups - some or all - have or had similar lightnings cuts on the slide. In addition to a weaker recoil spring, to fire target loads.



Bests.



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