1911 guys..


oklahoma caveman
February 17, 2009, 10:39 PM
ok i have a question, and if it is a stupid question then i apologize.

since all 1911's are made to the same basic specs as far as dimensions, would it be possible to get a commander length barrel and slide and put it on a gun that originally was a full sized model? or vise versa?

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February 17, 2009, 10:42 PM
Yes you can do that.

February 17, 2009, 10:54 PM
A Commander is a 4.25" barrel (some folks use 4") and accommodating slide on a Government size frame, so in theory, yes. You'd have a Commander size 1911 as a result. You may have slide to frame fit issues if you just go grab random slides and frames and start mixing and matching though.


oklahoma caveman
February 17, 2009, 10:59 PM
thanks guys. just looking at options. would any springs need to be changed out due to the loss of mass?

February 17, 2009, 11:03 PM
thanks guys. just looking at options. would any springs need to be changed out due to the loss of mass?
Yeah, you'd want to change out the recoil spring (assuming you don't already have one on the commander slide). Most folks run 18 lb on commanders, and 16 lb on government, with some variation depending on loads and individual pistol quirks.


February 17, 2009, 11:08 PM
People do it all the time. About as easy as can be.

Steve C
February 18, 2009, 12:33 AM
Sort answer, yes it can be done Commander to Government but not vise verse, and not without some gunsmithing changes.

The dust cover on the government model is longer than on a Commander frame so they don't mate properly. If the longer slide of the Gov Mdl was placed on the Commander frame the recoil spring would be exposed. If the Commander slide is put on the Gov Mdl the dust cover will extend beyond the relief cut on the slide.

While you could shorten a Gov Mdl dust cover to work with a Commander slide there's no hope of making the Government slide look right with a Commander frame or keep dirt out of the innards.

February 18, 2009, 07:11 PM
Duh. I didn't even think about that...


February 18, 2009, 07:20 PM
Ok I have seen guys swap out the slides on Gov't models with Commander slides and don't remember any wonkyness to the look of it and have seen said guns fired at range.

On another note Steve C. makes perfect sense. --My Mind is officially boggled --I unfortunately don't have a commander hanging around right now. I need to remedy this situation pronto.

February 18, 2009, 07:31 PM
Yeah. I'm confused now, too, and thinking now that the dust cover length doesn't matter, as the guide rod housing on the slide is what makes the difference. I think the dimensions of the receiver are the same IIRC. :confused: It's been a long day....


Old Fuff
February 18, 2009, 08:30 PM
In a number of ways, there are differences between a Government Model and Commander frame; but the most important one is the depth of the recoil spring tunnel. The one on the Commander frame is about ľĒ deeper, so the recoil spring guide sits further back, and the frameís rails are shortened at the front.

The purpose of all this is to make more room for the recoil spring, which otherwise could stack and at full compression could allow the coils to overlap. This can cause some serious problems. :eek:

In addition the bottom lug on the barrel is modified at the front so that it can work in the shortened space thatís allocated to it.

While a Commander slide on a Government Model frame can be made to work, it seldom works very well, and the dust cover at the front look rather strange if it isnít shortened Ė and after that it doesnít look right if you put the regular length slide back on. :uhoh: :uhoh:

This is a great example of what seems to be a good idea, but is filled with unintended consequences. Since having to buy a new frame to put your Government Model slide back onto can get expensive, I suggest that you donít try it. ;)

February 18, 2009, 08:57 PM
Thanks for clearing up the confusion Old Fuff.

I knew I had seen it made to work, but didn't realize just how involved it was. When you look at finished/semi finished receivers in catalogs, they often market it as working for either size slide, with no mention of the amount of work involved in getting it "right". Maybe they just assume anyone buying a slide or frame by itself already knows all this. Buyer/tinkerer beware I guess.


February 19, 2009, 01:50 AM

What Old Fuff said is spot on.

Interestingly, there are no problems with taking a Commander top end and putting in on an Officer's model frame. The tolerances where the frames and slide interact between the Commander and the Officers are the same.

Tom Fury
February 19, 2009, 09:28 AM
1. Commander rails are shorter than GM rails Doesn't appear to affect anything, but they are.

2. Commander ejector is generally (original Colt, anyway) thicker than GM ejector and will usually have to be changed to accommodate swap.

3. GM barrel will not work in a Commander slide. Lug differences; can be modified, EGW can do it.

4. Commander and Officers upper swap IS a simple straight drop on exchange.

Layne Simpson addresses all of these in his book, worth a look.

Cheers, TF

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