View Full Version : Commander wear & tear

August 30, 1999, 10:42 PM
I own a Colt Lightweight Commander.
I've put 5000 rds of Hardball (IMI) through it. At 3850 a hairline crack
started at the left side just forward of the slide stop pin hole. When this
happenned on my previous LW Commander I got rid of it. With the new one I
was carefull to change recoil spring every 2000 rds .The crack seems to be
making its way ,very slowly, towards the hole.
Does the presence of the crack make the weapon unsafe and unserviceable?
Can it be heliarc welded?
Can a hole be drilled in the frame on the prospective course of the crack to
stop its progress?
If so ,how? Can the firewall be touched at all by the drill?
Should I just let it be?
I live in Israel,good gunsmiths are very hard to find,and are usually biased
to sell you a new gun.I don't want to have to retire my LW Commander again.
I practice with what I carry and I practice regularly,so the question of
dump it or keep it is important. Also I can't find a LW Commander here in
Israel (has Colt stopped producing it?)
You might be curious as to what it's like here - gunwise. IPSC went to the
Gamesmen trend ;most armed citizens choose the 9 mm ;very,very few carry
anything Condition 1; Glocks are very popular (carried condition 3) and most
people practice only for renewal of license.
I'd appreciate any advice you would send.I thank you in advance for your
time and advice.
Respectfully yours,
S. David Pam

George Stringer
August 31, 1999, 07:09 AM
David, it can be welded but this should be done by someone experienced in welding aluminum and it alloys. Colt no longer lists the LW. Nor do I find the Combat Commander on their website but I have a couple of wholesalers who still carry the Combat Commander in their catalogues. George

James K
August 31, 1999, 04:05 PM
I can't offer much help except to say that your problem is hardly unknown. Few people recognize the stress placed on the slide stop pin and the frame when the slide runs home. It is the slide stop pin that brings the barrel and slide to a screeching halt, after all. Lots of dropping the slide on an empty chamber can make things worse.

In truth, those lightweight guns were never intended for heavy use.

I doubt any fix will stop the crack permanently. One alternative is a steel frame, but of course that increases the carry weight. It might be possible to cut or drill out that entire part of the frame on both sides and insert steel bushings to spread the load, but that would depend on how big the crack is, and would take a real good gunsmith to do the job.


August 31, 1999, 05:36 PM
The problem with welding aluminum is that it will destoy any heat treating properties of the alloy. Aluminum does not like being welded. Drilling a small hole at the point of the crack would reduce local stresses, but it would have to be at the head of the crack. Tough job. As this is a fatique induced crack, and a drilled hole would reduce the local stresses in that one area, it is likely that a crack will start some where else.

I am not a gunsmith. I am an engineer, and I am familiar with some aluminum alloys. Aluminum has always been very susceptible to fatique cracking.

What about getting an Al alloy frame and rebuilding? You have all the parts. Kimber sells frames. Their web page is http://www.kimberamerica.com/ Their phone number is (914) 964-0742. They have a compact Al frame for $220.