View Full Version : lapping the barrel bushing

September 22, 1999, 01:05 PM
I recently purchased a nice 1911. The barrel bushing appears to be an Ed Brown, and it is fitted so tightly that dissassembly is almost impossible. While I understand a tight bushing positively affects accuracy, I'd like to lap it a little bit simply to make taking it apart slightly easier. Which grit (?) of compound should I use?
Thanks, Paul

September 22, 1999, 03:40 PM
Paul, I assume you are using a bushing wrench. If not, get one. Makes turning a tight bushing much easier.

If the outside diameter of the bushing is a really tight fit in the slide you could use some of the red buffing compound from Dremel. Just smear it on the outside of the bushing and put in back into an empty slide. Use your wrench and crank back and forth till you get it to smooth out a bit.

If that doesn't do it, try some marker fluid on the bushing so you can see where it is rubbing the most. Then you can polish the secific high spots.

Try not to remove any metal, just polish where you need to. A properly fitted bushing has a lot of influence on your accuracy, so you don't want to mess it up.

If it's the inside diameter thats a little too tight, just "shoeshine" polish the last couple inches of the barrel with fine wet dry paper. Try to polish it evenly all the way around, and again don't get carried away.

Good Luck... Joe


September 22, 1999, 06:47 PM
First off what kind of barrel does it have? If it is a match barrel the tight bushing will seat over time. I would suggest a bushing wrench. Disassemble by taking out the slide stop then sliding out the slide while grasping the bottom to catch the recoil spring. With the slide and recoil spring out push the barrel out half way, now take off the barrel bushing. I would not lap the bushing. My wadcutter 1911 is tight very tight and it is just now seating in. It keyholes 5rnds at 25 yds. HTH

September 22, 1999, 07:37 PM
Thanks! I use a bushing wrench, and actually had to get the steel Brownells wrench as the pistol tore up two plastic wrenches. I have put 600 rounds through it since I purchased it, and it shows no signs of loosening up. To give you an idea of how tight it is, I am fairly strong, and fairly large, and it takes a LOT of torque for me to get it off with the steel wrench. I am going to try both methods suggested, and thanks for the warning, I will be careful not to overdo it. Thanks again for the help!

Unkel Gilbey
September 22, 1999, 07:42 PM
A friend of mine had a M1991A1 that he was using to break into IPSC matches. The accuaracy wasn't what he wanted and he deduced that a large part of the problem was in the Bbl. bushing. So he ordered a oversized bushing from Dare Gun Room. Of course it wasn't a drop in fit, so he proceded to 'fit' it to his weapon. A drill with a split dowel holding a piece of 400 grit took down the inner diameter (bit by bit) and a thin strip of 400 grit with a piece of rawhide wrapped around the outer diameter and 'shoeshined' took down that surface. He contrived a way to hold the bushing on a sort of mandrel while he worked the outer surface using his bench vise and a dowel that tightly fit the inner diameter of the bushing. Very tedious work, as it was cut and try the whole way. When the bushing was just barely able to fit into the slide, he then started to 'polish' it with (believe it or not) some tooth polish. Can't remember the actual name, but it was that stuff that you brush on your fangs in a attempt to remove the brown coffee crud. It is a very light abrasive. He's put a touch of this stuff onto the surface that he wanted to polish, and slowly work it in. A bit of water to assist. It would also clean up with water. The end result was a .45 that would keyhole like a bad dog at 25 yds.

I know that this isn't the 'smith recommended way to fit a bushing, but for us folks who have more sense than dollars, I think that it's a decent alternative. Incidentally, this bushing HAD to be turned in and out with a (bushing) wrench.

Another thing, our Match armourers always told us shooters that we were to not remove the bbl. bushings under ANY circumstances, as this would start to ruin the accuracy of that particular weapon. We'd take the .45's down the same way as the previous posting, and use a bunch of CLP and Acetone to clean the weapons. There was a point where the weapon NEEDED to be completely taken down, and all in all, I think that in a year of practising for and shooting in matches, I only completely took down that pistol about three times. After that third time, I started to see enough slop that it was starting to affect me. Not that I was a National Match winner! There were others (who I think were bigtime prima dona's) that would demand a new bushing EVERY time that they took their weapon down.

To sum up a long posting, I'd stay with the tight bushing. As I understand it, it is that fit there at the bushing, and the way that the Barrel locks up into the locking grooves that really have a great effect on the accuracy of that type of pistol. If it's tight in those places, and given a decent trigger, you should have a really accuarate weapon. As they'd say on the team, it's not the dope on the weapon, it's the dope BEHIND the weapon!
Unkel Gilbey

[This message has been edited by Unkel Gilbey (edited September 22, 1999).]

September 22, 1999, 08:09 PM
Thanks, Unkel! Your advice rings true. I'm going to "shoepolish" it a little, but will leave it tight enough to necessitate use of the wrench. The accuracy is fine-the pistol shoots well. I've just been trained to field strip the gun including the bushing off the barrel...may be it's a habit I need to break.

September 23, 1999, 12:42 AM
I'd agree with unkel, if its a fitted bushing
by a smith changing its tightness might mess
the gun up, does it shoot good? I've seen brass bushing wrenches for sale cheaper than
some plastic ones,:}

September 23, 1999, 11:46 AM
Zot-thanks for the post. I ordered Wilson's "versa-tool" yesterday-it seemed a little pricey, but looks like it has everything. I'll leave the fit alone for a while longer, but if it's still such a pain to get off after about another 1000 rounds, I'm going to lapp it some more.

George Stringer
September 23, 1999, 10:16 PM
Paul, the bushing to slide fit won't change no matter how many rounds you fire through it. There is nothing rubbing against anything to wear in. I build all my pistols and install all the bushings I put in to require a wrench to remove. If you are willing to sacrifice some accuracy, lapping the bushing will loosen it. It just depends on what you want from your pistol. George

September 23, 1999, 10:21 PM
Thanks, George. It's time for me to fess up. I like the tight bushing. I like the custom fit. I like the accuracy it gives me. BUT...(here's the embarrassing part) I read an article in Combat Handguns a while back that said a defensive pistol had NO BUSINESS wearing a bushing that couldn't be dissassembled without a wrench. So here I've got this "defensive" pistol, Ashley tritium big dot front, express rear, all the bells/whistles, and some magazine writer has to go and say THAT! Am I crazy for listening?

Daniel Watters
September 24, 1999, 09:00 AM
ptpalpha: If you need to field strip your firearm in the middle of a shootout, you are in big trouble, period. The presence or lack of bushing wrench isn't going to really help. (Although a big heavy bushing wrench like the King's Deluxe Model could be used as an impact weapon. ;) )

Perhaps if the author were discussing a prolonged deployment in the field in a military or hunting scenario, then the ability to field strip your firearm without carrying any extra tools would be quite understandable.

September 24, 1999, 10:24 AM
Obviously I didn't mean I'd be field stripping my gun in the middle of a shootout! My concern is that I would have to carry a bushing wrench with me should I be forced to flee my home. Without the wrench, the gun would be impossible to take down. I have, however, solved the problem. On the eve of Jan 1, 2000, I will install the factory Springfield bushing, which is loose enough to strip without a wrench. Should society remain intact, I will re-install the custom bushing the following week. Pretty good, hey?

George Stringer
September 25, 1999, 05:51 AM
Paul, it's articles like this that have caused me to quit reading gun rags. I couldn't disagree more with the writer. Some of these guys who write these articles seem to just pull opinions out of nowhere. If the combat were a war situation where you would be cleaning the pistol in the field then I might say yes, he's right and a bushing wrench would only be one more thing to keep track of. Especially since the primary weapon in a situation like that would be a rifle. But, in day to day carry he's nuts. Why carry a pistol that is less accurate than one that you use to punch paper? Which is more important? Since the bushing itself doesn't move and isn't causing malfunctions in your pistol it makes no sense. Give me a pistol that puts the round where the sights point and I'll worry about disassembling after the smoke has cleared. George

September 25, 1999, 05:11 PM
George, good point. You know what I've realized? Since I began coming to this forum and the Bladeforums.com site, I haven't bought one magazine. More informative, more accurate, less biased, and just plain good folks. Thanks a million. Now I can burn my piles of magazines for warmth when Y2K comes!!

Joe Portale
September 26, 1999, 10:43 PM

I had one of those really tight bushing installed on my 1911. Yep, it is a pain in the neck. But the improved accuracy is just compensation for some grunting and groaning. Also, as everyone said, if the balloon goes up, (please don't loose too much sleep over that one), you need to put the round were you intend.

One thing I noticed from gun magazines is that what ever firearm they are reviewing becomes the end all. I will tell you in a military action, your pistol is only something used fight your way to your rifle. Keep the match bushing. And, if you are worried about the end of civilization, get an AR-10, AR-15 or an M-1 with lots of ammo.

Joe Portale
Sonoran Sidewinder
Tucson, Arizona territory