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Old September 16, 2012, 02:18 AM   #1
LockedBreech
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Let's Talk About Conversion Barrels

So, we all know common advice when buying a gun is to get the larger caliber, since conversion barrels fit it. Personally, I don't know that I could ever trust a conversion barrel to run when I need it to, as a CCW or as a nightstand.

Tell me about your experience with conversion barrels. Say a 9mm in a Glock 32 or a .357 Sig in a P226 .40 S&W. How have they run for you? Who seems best? And would you trust the conversion as a CCW or nightstand piece?

Last edited by LockedBreech; September 16, 2012 at 02:53 AM.
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Old September 16, 2012, 06:29 AM   #2
thedudeabides
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Sigs chambered in .40 and .357 SIG are identical except for the barrel (P226 and P229)... magazines and all.

So if it's not reliable afterwards, it isn't the barrel.

If you're really concerned, get a factory SIG barrel for the conversion.

...but not all .40 slides can handle the power of .357 SIG cartridge (it's a much hotter round) and that's why there are problems with converting guns only meant to take .40.

Also, 357 Sig feeds much more reliably than just about any other pistol ammo due to its shape.

Last edited by thedudeabides; September 16, 2012 at 10:59 AM.
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Old September 16, 2012, 11:32 AM   #3
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Quote:
So, we all know common advice when buying a gun is to get the larger caliber, since conversion barrels fit it.
Since you mention more than one manufacturer, it is important to note that this statement is not true for all makes and models. For example, in the 1911 family the 45 frames will not work with 9mm/38 Super and such calibers as the ejector will not contact the case properly.
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Old September 16, 2012, 03:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ballardw
Since you mention more than one manufacturer, it is important to note that this statement is not true for all makes and models. For example, in the 1911 family the 45 frames will not work with 9mm/38 Super and such calibers as the ejector will not contact the case properly.
There is no difference in the frames. The ejector is not an integral part of the frame and can be switched. However, 1911s use three different slides due to case head dimensions. The original, of course, is cut for .45 Auto. The second breechface cut is for 10mm and .40 S&W. The third is for 9mm and .38 Super. There are also differences in the magazines. You cannot simply swap barrels on a 1911, unless you are switching between 9mm and .38 Super, or between 10mm and .40 S&W. But, with a change of barrel and slide and ejector, you can go back and forth between 9mm and .45 Auto. I have one pistol set up as such a switch hitter. I omit the ejector pin to facilitate swapping over.
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Old September 16, 2012, 03:57 PM   #5
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Glock 22 owner here. I bought a Storm Lake 9mm conversion barrel for it. Drops right in, no fitting or gunsmithing required.

Add some Glock 17 mags to it and it shoots 9mms just fine. Swaps in and out at the range very easily.

I've never had any problems shooting 40 S&W using the factory barrel. I've never had any problems shooting 9mm from it using the Storm Lake barrel.

So... if it shoots the ammo reliably and accurately, exactly what sort of test am I supposed to run before I trust the barrel? How many flawless rounds are required? 500? 5,000?

So sure, I trust mine with either caliber. I happen to shoot the 40 round fine so that's what's loaded in the gun and it's using the factory barrel. But that's not a matter of trust, just a matter of preference.

The reason I chose Storm Lake over the slightly cheaper Lone Wolf is that I didn't like the black Lone Wolf logo on top of the chamber. The SL is all silver (the logo is engraved, but not painted).
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Old September 16, 2012, 04:31 PM   #6
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One thing Ive found with conversion barrels, and just about anything that "converts" in general is, you usually settle on a combo you like, and everything else just sits in a box or on the shelf doing nothing. In some cases, the price of the combined conversion parts could be another "actual" gun that might actually get used.

My experience with the spare barrels has been, they all dropped in and worked fine, and I never had any function issues with them installed, but only one set up really ever got used once I found what I liked.

I had extra .40 barrels for my SIGs in 357SIG, they worked fine, and they basically only got shot once to prove it, and that was about it. On the plus side, I about doubled my money on the extra cases of .40 ammo I bought to go with the barrels when I sold them all. Did even better on the 357SIG.

I had a Lone Wolf 9mm barrel (40-9) for my Glock 31, it worked fine. I ended up using it more than the factory barrel, and there sat the factory barrel.

I also have a Lone Wolf threaded 9mm barrel in one of my 17's that has a suppressor on it. It too works great. The factory barrel sits in the safe.

If you have a purpose and they fill it, then they are probably worth the money. For me, the 9mm barrel in the 31 was a good thing since the 31 was being beaten to death by the 357SIG. It also convinced me that I was just wasting money on 357SIG, as +P+ 9mm basically duplicates it, and doesnt beat the gun up like the 357SIG. Its also a lot cheaper to shot and reload.

The threaded barrel in the 17 is more of a specific need thing. At the time I got it, I didnt realize Glock made factory threaded barrels (not that Ive seen Glocks for sale with them), and in the long run, it turned out the better choice, as the Glocks thread is metric, and not as common as the LW's 1/2x28, which will go on more guns without extra adapters.

As far as resale, the extra barrel really didnt bring any extra when I sold the guns that had them off. They sold pretty quick, but they also only sold for a few bucks more than guns that didnt have the spare barrel.

Personally, except in the case of the threaded barrels, which address a more specific need, if you want a gun in a different caliber, youre probably better off just getting another gun, and having two that you know will work.
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Old September 16, 2012, 05:14 PM   #7
LockedBreech
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ballardw View Post
Since you mention more than one manufacturer, it is important to note that this statement is not true for all makes and models. For example, in the 1911 family the 45 frames will not work with 9mm/38 Super and such calibers as the ejector will not contact the case properly.
This is a good point. I'm primarily talking about Glock and Sig. More specifically 23 9mm conversion and P226 .40 9mm conversion.
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Old September 16, 2012, 07:01 PM   #8
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The Sig .40 S&W to 9mm conversion takes more than just a barrel (unlike the .40 S&W to .357 Sig conversion). The kits that Sig sells (slide, barrel, and magazine) work quite well but since they are Sigs they are pricey. T

My 226 runs 9mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, and 22lr. I think the conversion kits are worth it and are as reliable as the original parts.
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Old September 16, 2012, 08:19 PM   #9
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1911's chambered for the 10mm cartridge can use a 9mm barrel. You may have to tweak the extractor, but with my Delta Elite it was not necessary.

You will need 9mm magazines and a weaker recoil spring. The breech face will be too large, and therefore a sloppy fit. It works, but I wouldn't trust it for serious use.

I have fired .38 Super, 9x19mm, 357 SIG, .40 S&W and 10mm from my Delta Elite.
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Old September 18, 2012, 05:08 AM   #10
thedudeabides
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The kits that Sig sells (slide, barrel, and magazine) work quite well but since they are Sigs they are pricey.
The 9mm conversion kit for the 40/357 SIG only works for the Exeter, NH frames and is really designed to work with the 22LR... so it may not even work with all Exeter guns.

I wouldn't buy one without knowing I can return it if it doesn't fit.
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Old September 18, 2012, 08:11 AM   #11
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There is no difference in the frames. The ejector is not an integral part of the frame and can be switched. However, 1911s use three different slides due to case head dimensions. The original, of course, is cut for .45 Auto. The second breechface cut is for 10mm and .40 S&W. The third is for 9mm and .38 Super. There are also differences in the magazines. You cannot simply swap barrels on a 1911, unless you are switching between 9mm and .38 Super, or between 10mm and .40 S&W. But, with a change of barrel and slide and ejector, you can go back and forth between 9mm and .45 Auto. I have one pistol set up as such a switch hitter. I omit the ejector pin to facilitate swapping over.
I'll have to respectfully disagree with the above statement.
Frames are different between calibers, the frame ramps are cut diffferent in angle and depth.

Now if you mill the frames to accept a ramped barrel changing calibers will be easier to do, as the correct ramp will be built on the barrel.

Best Regards
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Old September 18, 2012, 08:39 AM   #12
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Sig Combo

I have a 239 Sig in .357 Sig that came wih a 9mm threaded barrel and spring as a combo from the factory.
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Old September 18, 2012, 08:41 AM   #13
Strafer Gott
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Sig Combo

I have a 239 Sig in .357 Sig that came wih a 9mm threaded barrel and spring as a combo from the factory. 2 mags for 9mm were also included.
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Old September 18, 2012, 05:05 PM   #14
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Locked Breech,,,can't address Glock or Sig, switch barrel guns, but I do have some experience with a Colt Combat Commander, the steel framed version, originally in .45 ACP. As sold to me by a close friend, it came with a Wilson Match Grade Barrel and Bushing, beavertail grip safety, long match trigger and an early version of Novak sights. It was and remains, my #1 1911...other representatives of that storied platform have turned my head, sometimes for months, but that old series 70 vintage Commander remains my 'go to' gun when I mean business..be it BBQ shoot-offs or serious carry when its weight is not a factor.

All that said, I respected the old gun so much that I searched for and found an add'l slide and barrel assemblies in 9mm and .38 Super. While they never perked with the precision of the original .45 barrel, they are useful for practice and most folks that see them, have a hint of lust in their eyes...I've been offered some impressive sums for the gun....NOT GUNNA HAPPEN!

When Ciener was still doing well, I ordered a .22 lr unit for it as well and quickly found that even Wally World Remington Bulk HP Golden Bullet .22's would easily shoot into sub-2" groups, and at 25 yds too. It's a good, cheap practice modification, quiet too, if the neighbors are a concern...

As to reliability, all of them work well, with the .45 the best, nearly 100% if good ammunition is used. The 9mm and .38 Super slides are less than 100% but not by much as is the .22 lr.

It's my favorite gun, and of the 36 handguns in the safe at this point, it is the last that I would part with....try to pry my cold dead fingers off the grips and all that....

Switch barrels make sense...if you can't gunsmith it yourself, get some knowledgeable help. I did mine and have had no real problems. Jerry Kuhnhausen's shop manuals have it all for Smiths, Colts, Rugers and the venerable Colt automatic. For Sig's or Glocks there's a wealth of info on the net...get in there and do it pard...you'll enjoy yourself and dazzle your shooting pals.

Best Regards, Rod BTW, here's the apple of my eye, complete with all its slide and barrel assemblies. R.

To Hunter Customs...can't say if my Commander has been milled or not, tho it doesn't look like it, and I bought it used from a friend. I did smooth the feed ramp with a dremel, and changed the ejector, ...but it was 15 years ago and as I haven't changed the ejector since...may be a 9mm or a .45, can't say. Other than that, and some minor fitting on the link as is normal, no changes were made. I will say that the 9mm and .38 Super have a dedicated recoil spring..don't ask me what strength...it's been in there of over a decade and a cpl thousand rounds. I do use Wilson's recoil buffer and have had no problems. Rod

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Old September 18, 2012, 08:58 PM   #15
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hunter
I'll have to respectfully disagree with the above statement.
Frames are different between calibers, the frame ramps are cut diffferent in angle and depth.
Bob, I have read this, but I don't think it applies across the board. I have an Armscor slide and somebody's 9mm barrel that I've slapped onto several different .45 Auto receivers with just a change of ejector and it has worked fine on all of them. And I know Colt used to sell multi-caliber pistol sets, with one receiver and two or three slides, barrels and recoil springs.

On the other hand, I know Gary Smith at Caspian says their 9mm frames have a different ramp, and that may be the case. What I found curiously fascinating is that the last frame I bought from Caspian is a "9mm" frame, but it will NOT work with a Caspian 9mm/.38 Super slide and either a 9mm barrel or a .38 Super barrel. The lip of the barrel ramp overhangs the frame feed ramp. Yet when I install the slide/barrel assembly from a Colt M1991A1 in .45 Auto, everything lines up and the pistol functions flawlessly.

There may indeed be a minute difference, but tat clearly doesn't guarantee either that a given receiver will work with a given caliber ... or that it won't.
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Old September 19, 2012, 09:07 AM   #16
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hunter
I'll have to respectfully disagree with the above statement.
Frames are different between calibers, the frame ramps are cut diffferent in angle and depth.
Quote:
Bob, I have read this, but I don't think it applies across the board. I have an Armscor slide and somebody's 9mm barrel that I've slapped onto several different .45 Auto receivers with just a change of ejector and it has worked fine on all of them. And I know Colt used to sell multi-caliber pistol sets, with one receiver and two or three slides, barrels and recoil springs.

On the other hand, I know Gary Smith at Caspian says their 9mm frames have a different ramp, and that may be the case. What I found curiously fascinating is that the last frame I bought from Caspian is a "9mm" frame, but it will NOT work with a Caspian 9mm/.38 Super slide and either a 9mm barrel or a .38 Super barrel. The lip of the barrel ramp overhangs the frame feed ramp. Yet when I install the slide/barrel assembly from a Colt M1991A1 in .45 Auto, everything lines up and the pistol functions flawlessly.

There may indeed be a minute difference, but tat clearly doesn't guarantee either that a given receiver will work with a given caliber ... or that it won't.
I agree, one may get lucky and everything will work.
That being said the 1911 pistol is not as simple of design as many think.

Let's take timing for instance, this is one thing were deaing with when we are installing different barrels and slides on different recievers.
To just slap a new topend of a different caliber on a receiver and not go through the timing procedure is taking a chance.

If the timing's wrong there's a good chance the barrel and slide will be ruined.
The gun may run fine for a while, ( up to as much as 5000 rounds) then the radial lugs of the slide and barrel get destroyed enough the gun quits running or the lower lug shears off the barrel.

As for different frame ramps, Colt evidently thought there was a good reason to have different frame ramps for different calibers.
I have a Colt MKIV in 40 S&W caliber, the frame ramp in this pistol is much shallower and set at a steeper angle then the ramp in the Colt's I have that's setup for 45acp.
I can assure you this shallow steep feed ramp of the 40 will not work well or reliable with 45 acp ammo.
Keep in mind the smaller diameter bullets strike higher on the feed ramps then the larger diameter bullets.
I would be willing to bet that if I fit and timed a 45 topend for the frame with the 40 ramp the gun would experience nose dive jams with 45acp ammo.

I still believe the best way to set up a muti-caliber gun is to eliminate the frame ramp and use barrels with the ramps built on them (full ramped barrels).

As for your Caspian not working with the 9MM or 38 Super barrels because they over hang the feed ramp there's a lot of things that can cause this problem, radial lug spacing being one of them.
Again not trying to bore everyone to death here with the proper procedure for building a 1911 but the first step in barrel/slide fitting should be the measuements of the spacing of the radial lugs in the slide and on the barrel to make srue they are in spec for optimum performance.

Best Regards
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Old September 19, 2012, 09:30 AM   #17
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Locked

All that said, I respected the old gun so much that I searched for and found an add'l slide and barrel assemblies in 9mm and .38 Super. While they never perked with the precision of the original .45 barrel, they are useful for practice and most folks that see them, have a hint of lust in their eyes...I've been offered some impressive sums for the gun....NOT GUNNA HAPPEN!

As to reliability, all of them work well, with the .45 the best, nearly 100% if good ammunition is used. The 9mm and .38 Super slides are less than 100% but not by much as is the .22 lr.

It's my favorite gun, and of the 36 handguns in the safe at this point, it is the last that I would part with....try to pry my cold dead fingers off the grips and all that....

Switch barrels make sense...if you can't gunsmith it yourself, get some knowledgeable help. I did mine and have had no real problems. Jerry Kuhnhausen's shop manuals have it all for Smiths, Colts, Rugers and the venerable Colt automatic. For Sig's or Glocks there's a wealth of info on the net...get in there and do it pard...you'll enjoy yourself and dazzle your shooting pals.

Best Regards, Rod BTW, here's the apple of my eye, complete with all its slide and barrel assemblies. R.

To Hunter Customs...can't say if my Commander has been milled or not, tho it doesn't look like it, and I bought it used from a friend. I did smooth the feed ramp with a dremel, and changed the ejector, ...but it was 15 years ago and as I haven't changed the ejector since...may be a 9mm or a .45, can't say. Other than that, and some minor fitting on the link as is normal, no changes were made. I will say that the 9mm and .38 Super have a dedicated recoil spring..don't ask me what strength...it's been in there of over a decade and a cpl thousand rounds. I do use Wilson's recoil buffer and have had no problems. Rod




Rod,

No your frame has not been milled for a full ramped barrel.

I will say the 45 feed ramp will be more forgiving then if the muti-caliber set-up is tried with a frame set-up for a smaller caliber.

That being said, reliability is the key word here, even by your own admission the two smaller caliber (9mm/38 Super) topends are not reliable.
However I would be willing to bet that if they were set-up correctly on frames with proper feed ramps they would be reliable.

Reliability is the reason why Colt and other manufactures use different feed ramps for different calibers.

Best Regards
Bob Hunter
www.huntercustoms.com

Last edited by Hunter Customs; September 19, 2012 at 09:37 AM.
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Old September 19, 2012, 10:02 AM   #18
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Quote:
The Sig .40 S&W to 9mm conversion takes more than just a barrel (unlike the .40 S&W to .357 Sig conversion). The kits that Sig sells (slide, barrel, and magazine) work quite well but since they are Sigs they are pricey.
This is true for factory 9mm barrels. However, I think what the OP is talking about is a 9mm conversion barrel like ones offered by Bar-Sto and EFK Firedragon. These 9mm conversion barrels are designed with a larger outside diameter so that they will fit into a .40/.357 frame. They are either semi-drop-in (Bar-Sto's words - 70% will drop in and fit) or match grade (have to be fitted by a gunsmith).

I have a Bar-Sto 9mm semi-drop-in conversion barrel for my .40 P229 and it has been 100% reliable and accurate using .40 mags and recoil spring. Some users have chosen to replace the recoil spring with a 9mm one and used 9mm mags because there have been reports the .40 mags may not feed reliably when fully loaded.

I use my conversion only for cheap range practice so I have never considered using it for CCW. Logically, I can't see why it couldn't be used for carry, especially if the barrel has been fitted and 9mm mags and recoil springs used. However, mentally, I might feel some doubt about reliability just because the gun didn't come that way from the factory. I guess the one concern would be the extractor.

Last edited by wgsigs; September 19, 2012 at 10:16 AM. Reason: added extractor comment
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Old September 19, 2012, 02:30 PM   #19
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I have experience with drop-in barrel conversions for my G23 .40S&W. and my Sig P229 in .357. The G23 .40 has a drop-in .40 with compensator slits in the barrel. The LWD barrel is 4.9" vs. 4" std G23. I also have a 4.9" threaded drop-in barrel in 9mm to fit my G23. I don't have the offered .357 barrel. The only caveat is with the 9mm barrel installed the G23 takes a G19 magazine for the 9mm luger rounds. Both those barrels so far(3 yrs.) have performed flawlessly.

My 229 is a Sig .357 and I have the drop-in barrel in .40cal. No problems at all. They both use the same mags. Never needed any smithing done with any of these drop-in barrels.

LWD and Bar-Sto both warn against firing a new barrel before thoroughly inspecting it for any flaws. If flaws are present the barrel maybe returned postage paid by the manufacturer.
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Old September 19, 2012, 02:54 PM   #20
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I have a 40 S&W Lone Wolf conversion barrel for my 10mm Glock. Functions perfectly even with the 10mm mags. It is the most accurate (for me) 40 S&W pistol that I own.
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Old September 19, 2012, 07:49 PM   #21
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I have a Glock 23/27 and 31C. I have conversion barrels for the G23 to 9mm and the G27 in 357 Sig. I can use the 9mm bbl in the G27. They run flawlessly.

My EDC is my G27 with the 357 Sig bbl and the G31. The 357 Sig blows the 9mm (of any pressure) out of the water. 9mm is cheap for practice, but does require 9mm mags. Glocks chambered in 40 and 357 Sig are identical except the barrel.

My plans are to have all 3 Glocks convertible into 9mm, 40 and 357 Sig.
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Old September 19, 2012, 10:10 PM   #22
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Storm Lake 9mm and 357 Sig barrels for my S&W M&P 40c have been absolutely flawless. Both are deadly accurate, and the 357 Sig shoots flatter by far than the 40 or 9. 9mm required different mags, 357 didn't.
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Old September 19, 2012, 10:37 PM   #23
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Personally, I don't know that I could ever trust a conversion barrel to run when I need it to, as a CCW or as a nightstand.
If the only difference between the two guns in the differing calibers is the barrel then, once it has been proven with the conversion barrel, it should be as reliable as any other gun that's been proven.

If there are other parts differences in the guns besides the conversion barrel, then the converted gun (with only a barrel change) can never be as reliable from a theoretical standpoint as the unconverted gun because the other parts are not ideal for the conversion caliber. It's clear that the differences aren't there because the manufacturer likes to spend money making unnecessary changes between calibers. No manufacturer/designer makes changes when they don't have to. The changes between the two caliber guns are there because they were found to be necessary to insure maximum reliability and functionality.

I would never use, nor recommend a conversion barrel for self-defense use unless, as mentioned above, the ONLY difference between the two calibers is the barrel or unless all the differing parts had been changed out and the gun proven in its converted configuration.
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Old September 19, 2012, 10:59 PM   #24
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Appreciating the responses. Based on them, I think I'd be most comfortable with a .357 Sig barrel in a .40 P229 or a Glock 23, since the gun is basically the same with a slightly narrower barrel (inside, same exterior dimensions). The .40 case being necked down to .357 would let the magazines, extractor, etc. all function the same.
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Old September 20, 2012, 05:00 PM   #25
rodfac
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Hunter Customs...good points and to be sure, a tuned-specific to the caliber slide/frame mating is one of the keys to reliability, and good magazines too, I'm happy with the sub-calibers on mine, tho not 100% reliable but good enuf for practice...that said...I'll leave you with this...

When something is crashing the alders ahead,
and its death to that brute or you in its stead,
I trust the Colt Automat, the chunky blue cat, the fist filling gat (in .45 ACP),
to chuck its competent lead!


Best regards, Rod
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