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Friday, January 1, 2010

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Transforming a Springfield Armory Loaded 9mm into a better mousetrap

Recently I was able to come in to a Springfield Armory Stainless loaded 9mm with fixed sights.

Springfield guns normally don't appeal to me for a variety of reasons-a multitude of sharp edges, non-standard dimensions (Brazil uses the Metric system after all..) and lots of low bidder parts (ie:MIM) begging to be replaced. This gun was no exception-gritty and sharp, it exhibited zero fitting, but after a tedious extractor replacement it was reliable and accurate enough for a little home gunsmithing.

I have been digging through my parts box and have replaced most of the flash chrome plated carbon steel parts (WHY?) and just about everything else but the barrel and have come up with a pretty decent 9mm loaner or range gun.

So far I have:

Replaced the trigger, hammer, sear and disconnector with Wilson bar stock parts.


The original trigger pull was about 8 pounds. SA uses a very funky hammer/sear angle that defies home gunsmithing to get any semblance of a good trigger pull. The parts looked liked they were cooked in an easy bake oven and sprayed with silver krylon. The original trigger had lots of up and down play and an impressive amount of pre-travel.

I have also replaced the ILS housing with a Wilson 30 LPI ss mainspring housing. The ILS is a bad idea in so many ways-it uses a short mainspring which never quite feels right and you usually immediately lose the little key that unlocks the thing. Bad JuJu.

The ambi thumb safety went in the trash also. Poorly fitted, the right side would barely disengage the safety and the left side was sharp enough to clean your nails with. Sorry, I hate most ambi safetys as a rule. Replaced with a properly blended, radiused and fitted Kings cast part.

The MIM slidestop was replaced with a Greider stainless part. The slide stop is the most important pin in the gun-it is the bedrock for the barrel/slide fit. Don't use MIM here-ever.

The firing pin stop was replaced with a Wilson bulletproof square bottom and the extractor was replaced with an SVI barstock piece. It took forever to fit since it seems the extractor tunnel was a bit far away from the centerline of the breechface.

Replaced the mim, plated mag catch with a Greider unit, deburred.

Replaced the chrome plated bushing and plug with stainless parts, also from Wilson.

Replaced the chrome plated grip screws with a set of VZ Slex screws.

Replaced the Titanium firing pin with a real steel one.

Replaced all chrome plated pins with Wilson stainless pins.

Tuned the ejector to clear live rounds. Restaked the grip screw bushings and plunger tube.

Oddly, the gun feeds 100% after the extractor work. The slide and frame fit is sloppy, and the barrel is a drop-in fit that doesn't lock up like a real fitted job, but who cares, this is a beater. A range gun that will likely be loaned out to others to shoot cheap 9mm ammo in.

PS-I also have a Kimber take off .38 super barrel that fits like a glove. :)

Pics to come after I get the small parts bead blasted by Phillip at Innovative Arms. Hopefully tomorrow.

PS-Please don't add up how much all these parts cost. I might cry if you do.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Smart Part-Liebenberg Designed Pistol Dynamics ISS 1911 sight system

Paul Liebenberg is a smart guy. After shaking up the custom 1911 world while an innovator at the famed Pachmayr gun works in the 80's, at the S&W Performance Center in the 90's, or now at his own Pistol Dynamics, Paul is always brimming with ideas. IMNSHO One of his best ideas is his ISS interchangeable sight system.
In his words:
Our proprietary interchangeable sight system (ISS) is the only fully secured
replaceable front sight design available for the 1911. This unique design relies
on a precise press fit of a dedicated dovetail sight to a matching longitudinal
dovetail machined into the slide. The front sight is also trapped by a retention
tab integrated into the design of either a solid or spherical Pistol Dynamics
keyed bushing. The fit of the front sight to the slide is precise enough to
ensure that the sight will not dislodge during field stripping and cleaning. A
tombstone-bushing wrench is supplied with the system. Numerous front sights
options are available that include height variations and a myriad of inserts.
System includes one standard front sight ..............$195.00 installed, plus
shipping The ISS System is available as a factory install only. We will need your slide and barrel assembly in order to fit the system. Please call for a compatibility check before mailing your assembly.
This is a VERY slick setup and allows easy front sight changes in the field depending on conditions and/or height adjustment depending on POI. Brilliant! My Ned 10mm wears this sight. I love it-I would change all my guns over if I could.

Monday, December 28, 2009

.22 Conversion Kit Redux

After a good showing today I think that for now I am going to stay with the Marvel 1 and 2 for Steel Challenge -they are reliable enough after my mag tuning efforts and are well known for their intrinsic accuracy.  The Advantage Arms Target Unit had a few bobbles that I believe were related to a heavyish mainspring in the particular frame I installed it on.  Will try again..for best results you should use a 19 or 20 pound hammer spring with .most 1911 22 Kits. I am also not too keen on their polymer mags-hard to load... I will stay with metal for now....just call me a Luddite.
At any rate, the I am ready to take on all comers with my iron sighted .22! LOL

Here is the one I really want

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Further testing .22 1911 Conversion Kits today

.22 1911 conversions have been an interest of mine for 20 years.  I have owned just about everyone available: Kart (5" and 6"), Day, Colt, Ciener, Marvel 1&2, Pachmayr (yuck!), Jarvis, and Kimber.  One thing you immediately learn when messing with these things is that they are incredibly finicky. My most reliable unit is a Marvel Unit 1, but it doesn't fit in a standard holster, so I typically shoot the unit 2, that fits the holster well but gives me some sort of bobble about every 75 rounds.  Not good enough for match winning scores in my opinion.

My new pistol shooting passion is Steel Challenge with my iron sighted 9mm EGW gun.  Part of my practice regimen is using the .22 unit to lessen the expense and try to "push the envelope".  My best runs are typically with the .22, but not always.

To optimize reliability I use only CCI Mini-Mags.  They aren't the cheapest, but they are clearly made to a higher standard than most other .22 ammo and have enough energy to cycle any unit briskly.

My metal mags (Marvel) have all been tuned in accordance with Bob Marvel's protocol-what a pain in the butt.  I have 3 polymer mags to test-Marvel, Kimber and Advantage Arms.  I think the Advantage will be the winner, but we shall see.  If these don't perform to my standard I am going to bite the bullet and buy a Tactical Solutions.  Their mags are rumored to be the best.  I have handled them but never used them...will report back...