1911 Franken-gun woes.....


July 6, 2003, 09:32 PM
Need a little advice here, guys (again). OK here is the gun: A blue Essex frame (I know, I know, at the time, I THOUGHT it was all I could afford!) with all G.I parts. The slide: A contract GI slide, again with all GI parts except for a S.A. barrel. 16.5 # spring.
The problem: Even with 230 ball and KNOWN GOOD metalform magazines (as well as good GI mags), this thing will not feed the top round or two from a full (7rd) magazine. Starting from slide lock with a full magazine, the top round dives slightly nose down and comes to a screeching halt at the frame feed ramp, won't go any farther. Download to 5 rds and it runs fine.
What I've done so far: polish the barrel feed ramp, polish the frame feed ramp (by polish, I mean with a soft felt bullet wheel and some Flitz polish at low speed in a Dremel tool) Polish, radius and tension the extractor and polish the breech face lightly. OK, now, where do I go from here? Any advice would be appreciated.

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July 6, 2003, 10:25 PM
I'm thinking the 16.5 # spring is too light but I sure could use some help here too. Anybody else???

July 6, 2003, 10:48 PM
The only essex 1911 frame I built on had very little meat in the frame portion of the feed ramp, making the feed ramp of the barrel very steep and hard to get a decent transition between the two. I took some of the support out of the chamber ala Glock setting the chamber back a tad instead of modifying the frame extensively. I later sold the frame and rebuilt that gun on a higher quality frame. It did run fine when it tore it down but it took some doing to get it there.

You may want to try some Shooting Star mags or some Wilson mags before dinking around with this thing much more. Your "known good" mags may work in another gun, but may still not quite suit this one.

4v50 Gary
July 6, 2003, 11:59 PM
Try some GI or Colt magazines. At least eliminate the magazine problem.

July 7, 2003, 06:05 AM
Great thoughts, guys, thanks! I'll try an 18# spring out of one of my other guns, though I thought the 16# was standard factory spec. I did try several GI mags, same problem. The Metalforms have proven good in a slew of other 45s besides my other two, I tend to really trust them. I'll also compare frame "meat" and such between this gun and my Colt and Springfield.

July 7, 2003, 10:03 PM
Thanks for the replies, guys! Now for an update: I tried the 18# spring, no joy. But, it gets better. I called my gunsmith this afternoon, and just had a chat with him. Prior to this, I tore down and compared my Springfield (and later, my Colt) and noticed that the Essex frame portion of the feed ramp was VERY shallow when compared to the others. I explained this to Al over the phone, and he gave me some measurments of depth of ramp at .400 from the top of the frame rails and distance from the front of the ramp (at the top of the frame) to the front of the disconnector hole of 1.68. Well, needless to say, it was well shy of both dimensions! Incidentially, these numbers jibed with the other guns existing ramps.
So, a little sanding and polishing later, here is where I stand: it now feeds ball from a full GI mag with a 16.5 # recoil spring installed, even slowly cycled by hand. It also feeds my really grundgy "dummy" rounds, which need to be thrown out, they are so beat up. I am testing now with full mag of Hydro-shocks and still getting a few top round FTF jams, but it seems to be coming around slowly. It just kinda scared me a little to be moving metal on the "expensive" parts, but sometimes it's what has to be done. Rest assured, I'm going slowly!

July 13, 2003, 04:28 PM
Was this an older Essex frame or new production? The only 1911 that I have had with similar problems was an Auto Ordnance. They also used Essex receivers and slides. Mine also had an oversized magazine release opening and this allowed the magazine to sit lower than specified.

July 13, 2003, 04:53 PM
Don't really know, bought it new from Brownells in about '97 or so, to use as a basis for an Ace conversion unit that I had picked up. It ran fine for that, but sure needed work to use as a 45. At the time I built it it needed a special grip safety made for it with a longer "tongue" for the safety to actually function properly. I guess the hole for that was mis-drilled in the frame as well.

July 14, 2003, 06:00 AM
Yep, old Essex.

Bob Brown
July 17, 2003, 06:52 PM
It sounds like you moved the top of that frame feed ramp forward a bit. I'd recommend you check to make sure you have about .030 setback between the top of that ramp and the bottom of the chamber.
BTW, if you want to really cure that feeding problem, see if you can get one of Virgil Tripp's new Cobra Mags. They set the top of the mag about .090 higher than standard and give the round almost a straight shot at the chamber. I've been testing one now for about a month and am impressed.


July 26, 2003, 08:37 PM
Actually, I had not measured it, but there is still a step between the frame and barrel feed ramps. After firing the gun extensivly with ball, 185 gr wads and hydrashocks, I am satisified that it was done correctly, mainly because it works! (I WILL measure it though just to see what the step is. The (sort 'of) important thing is it seemed to work fine with GI, Mec-Gar and Metalform mags which means I don't need to drop any green on "Vunder Mags".

Thanks to all for the advice, I did learn alot on this project!

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