View Full Version : Steel vs alloy 1911 frames

November 21, 1998, 08:21 PM
I have been stung by soft alloy frames on Les Baer and Springfield armory pistols and this has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I was considering putting together a steel Officers frame with a Commander slide, when the Colt CCO came out. The fits the bill but I don't know about going the alloy frame route again. I've heard the Colt frames are okay, but I don't want to go down the path of feedramps scarred by hollowpoints (like my Les Baer) and a slide to frame fit that that goes from normal to rattletrap in less than 1000 rounds (Les Baer and Springfield). Are the Colt frames better? how about the new Kimber compacts? Any advice?


November 21, 1998, 09:15 PM
I can't speak to those frames that you've mentioned, but I have an acquantance who built an IPSC match gun on an alloy Para frame- I think it was 4 years ago - it just cracked this year. This was not an occasional shoot it once a month gun, at least one match a week, sometimes two, and more than a few larger, several day matches.
Oh yeah, major loads.

George Stringer
November 22, 1998, 07:30 AM
CBorden, I would think the answer would be a ramped barrel. That's what I use in pistols I build with alloy frames. They are more expensive but you don't have to worry about bullet noses cutting up the feed ramp. George


Mark THG
November 25, 1998, 12:42 PM
I've been thinking of building a compact light weight from a caspaian frame and slide. How good is the slide and frame from them Especially the frame considering the main post in this topic. I'm not a full houise gunsmith but an apprentice.

November 27, 1998, 10:02 PM
I have never had a problem with an untouched Colt alloy frame. It seems the problem occurs when an agressive gunsmith trys to polish the ramp. Yes, even on the ramped barrels too. It appears that the Colt frame ramp is surface hardened. My 80 series enhanced has almost 2K rounds thru it with no marks on the ramp. I have a friend with a $2k Wilson that the ramp looks like S##t and he is very unhappy. My Commander feeds anything.


December 7, 1998, 12:08 AM
I have a 35 year old Colt Commander that I use as my primary carry gun. I'm pretty hard on it and practice regularly. Happy to say that there is no sign of frame wear and considering the advances in metalurgy over that much time, I would think the new alloy frames would be better.

Harry Bonar
January 27, 2005, 12:06 PM
Dear Sir:
Yes, alloy frames (most of them) will "dimple" and cause problems, and yes, polishing them while doing a reliability package will remove the hard anodizing!
Novaks sent one out to me; a Colt alloy frame, that was really beaten up. The customer insisted on THAT frame. What I did was mill out the old feed ramp and insert a steel block and re-shape it for a new feed ramp; it worked beautifully (I've never had the guts to do another one)! But this is a real possibility; it stayed, never worked loose (as I pinned it in).
Now, as to a ramped barrel in a Colt or Springfield (or any other 1911 package) single stack (other than a 9MM conversion) I never put a 45ACP ramped barrel in a single stack; they just do not feed reliably enough for combat use, period! Novaks (for whom I work on special projects) will never do this. This is not to be dogmatic, and I respect other opinions, but this is just our experience. I would be extremely careful in inserting the steel block too.

Dave Sample
February 3, 2005, 02:58 PM
I have never had any trouble with ramped barrels, but maybe I am just lucky. I have heard reports from other smiths that some of them do not have the "Right Angle" on the ramp. I have a 45 LW GI I am building that feeds like they are greased. I think it depends on who made the barrel. I only used Fred Kart Barrels so perhaps there is a Clue there. Tye barrel in this gun is a Storm Lake and seems to be OK I got it in a trade so I just stuck it in this gun. I think installing a steel block in the feed ramp area is the best way to go.

February 10, 2005, 03:15 PM
EGW sells a steel feed ramp insert for aluminum frames. It is $40 or $50 for the part and about $50 for the labor. It is secured by a set screw in the frame that is hidden behind the slide stop IIRC. Chuck Rogers does the insert as well and so does Ned Christiansen. I have one here that I am going to do for a gun I am building for my brother if I ever get some time to myself. I'll post results when I am done.

Dave Sample
February 11, 2005, 02:30 AM
Intersting post from 10mm. I am interested in the report.
As for Caspian, we just test fired the gun we had at the Caspian booth at the Shot Show today. It is Shortsword 01 and ran 200 assorted rounds flawless back home in MD. Did a varity of ammo and Dean says it is the best gun he has ever shot. I was very happy that after 1 1/2 years he got to bust a cap! Most smiths do a Commander slide and an officers frame because they are easier to make run. I have always done the oposite becuase I can make them run the way I like them, with 9-10 rounds of hard ball on your right hip. This gun has had 500 rounds through it and feeds and ejects like a 5".




Remember those old EAGLE 9 round magazines? I just happened to have one in the old spare parts box that works to perfection. 10 rounds of hot stuff ready to rock and roll!

Harry Bonar
February 18, 2005, 09:37 AM
Dear Dave:
Looks like a NOVAL adjustable on rear? Great looking gun!

Harry B. (harryboneher) :)

Dave Sample
February 19, 2005, 02:40 PM
It is, indeed, an adjustable Novak Rear sight. Don Williams at the Action Works did the sight cuts. He had a big part in this never ending saga of titainum and blue steel. We have since gone to Caspian's 4 way adjustable rear sights for our Class 1911's. We like new and different stuff. Our Proto-Type GSP also has that rear sight so we will give them both a great work-out and see if the rumors about these sights are true. We don't believe them, by the way.