View Full Version : Pistol barrels - what to look for?

Sid Post
August 4, 1999, 08:16 PM
I am in the market for a couple of pistol barrels. My current quest is for a Glock 21 and the good old 1911.

My first question is, how drop in, is a drop in kit? Glock's seem pretty straight forward but, 1911's seem to be a little more tricky as a drop in kit. Is this something for an amateur to worry about? Should I just take it all to a gun smith?

Next, how do you choose? Prices seem to vary some and overall fit and finish appear to be consistently high for the all the "big" names. Should I shop with price in mind? Does a more expensive barrel give me something I am missing? In 1911's, every good gun smith of national fame seems to have a personal factory making good barrels. Then there are guys like Kart and Bar-Sto (and others I'm sure) who basically do nothing but turn out high quality barrels. What do I look for to judge "bang for buck" in barrels that appear to be similar in construction. Also, it seems a Glock barrel is easier to make due to its cleaner design so, perhaps a cheaper alternative would be a wiser use of my money for the Glock when compared to the 1911.

What brands to you guys recommend and why? Please share your experiences!


[This message has been edited by Sid Post (edited August 04, 1999).]

George Stringer
August 4, 1999, 10:31 PM
Sid, it just depends on what you're after. If you just want a pistol that will be reasonably accurate just get a standard barrel. Colt, Springfield and even mil-spec barrels are very accurate in the 1911 when matched up with a properly fitted bushing and the right link. I can also recommend the Wilson full length guide rod with Group Gripper for these barrels. Since they aren't oversize and don't usually need fitting they can be a little loose in the rear lock up. The Group Gripper will take care of that. Most of the big name drop-ins qualify their product by the fine print that says little or no fitting required. The lock-up and the bushing are the two most important factors when accuracy is concerned. You can pay $300 for a super duper match grade barrel but if it isn't fitted properly a stock barrel that is will shoot rings around it. Another thing you might consider is this: it has been my experience that unless you are very, very good with a pistol or do all your shooting from a rest, you will never see the difference in a match grade and a standard barrel if both are fitted correctly. One of the most accurate 1911 barrels I've ever put into a pistol went into a gun of my own. I paid $9.95 for it from Gun Parts Corporation and all it needed was a little metal removed from one side of the hood. But, if you want to spend $150.00 for a Wilson, Brown etc. drop-in, go ahead and buy a gunsmith fit for the same price and have it installed. George

August 5, 1999, 11:26 AM
Sid, This web site http://www.larue-targets.com/Extreme1911.html
has the reprints of an 11 part series by Layne Simpson (Shooting Times) on building a custom 1911. Parts #2 and #5 should give you a bunch of info. In my limited experience (I've only built two 1911s) George is correct about standard barrels being accurate. In one of my pistols I have standard Colt barrel with a Group Gripper on one end and a Briley Spherical Bushing on the other, and it shoots very well (much better than I can hold). Good luck, and let us know how your project progresses... Joe


[This message has been edited by JoeHatley (edited August 05, 1999).]

August 5, 1999, 01:22 PM
george, did you buy one of those slightly
out of spec barrels from GPC? actually their
called seconds by manufacturer, if this is
the barrel you bought, what exactly was wrong
with it and what was your cure?

George Stringer
August 5, 1999, 01:52 PM
Zot, that's exactly what it was. I've bought a couple of them in .45 as well as a 9mm. The 9mm will shoot 1-1/2" groups at 25 without the benefit of a Group Gripper. It does have a fitted bushing however. The problem with all 3 was the same. The barrel hood was not exactly aligned with the feet. I fit all my barrels to either lightly touch or not to touch the hood at all and with these it's just a matter of removing a little metal from one side until the hood fits. I've been meaning to try their $12.95 barrels but haven't got around to it yet. You think maybe those are match grade? George

Matt VDW
August 5, 1999, 02:04 PM

As others have said, you should be satisfied with a "standard" barrel for your 1911. Kart and Bar-Sto make wonderful barrels but unless you need groups smaller than 4" at 50 yards and you're willing to pay a gunsmith $50+ for fitting they're not worthwhile.

The stock Glock barrels are excellent aside from having loose chambers and tending to foul excessively with lead bullets. The Federal Arms barrels are OK; I have one in a Glock 23. If I were willing to pay for more accuracy and a nicer finish I'd get a KKM or Advanced Tactical Firearms (formerly Accumatch) barrel.

Chuck B.
August 6, 1999, 04:42 PM
Hey, would somebody mind explaining what a "Group Gripper" is? That's a new on me.

Thanks in advance.

George Stringer
August 6, 1999, 06:16 PM
Chuck, the Group Gripper has a leaf spring in the rear of the guide rod that fits into a step cut into a special barrel link and exerts pressure upwards forcing the 1911 barrel into consistant lock up. These have proven to be just what the name implies. I have yet to see the pistol that they didn't help. If you have a barrel that was oversize and had to be fitted to the gun then there should be no need for the GG but with standard "drop-in" type barrels it does increase accuracy. George