I recently acquired two Springfield 1911's in a trade and would like to do some work to them. I have experience as an armorer (read parts changer), but not a gunsmith. Rather than pay to have both guns worked on I intend to figure it out myself.
I will be buying an Ed Brown Beavertail installation jig (Brownell's part #087145886) as a guide to cut down the frame ears on both guns. However, I don't know what to file it down with. I imagine my Dremel would be handy for this, but what bit? Also, if I use a file, which one? I will end up ordering both from Brownell's so a part number or page number for catalog #61 would be much appreciated.
Just to clarify, I need to know what Dremel/rotary tool attachment and hand file to use with a beavertail installation jig to modify the frame ears on two 1911's.
Thanks for your help.
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June 26, 2009, 11:14 PM
I have done this a number of times and never given it much thought - just use one of the dremel's rotary stone grinding attachments. Once you get close, stop and switch to files.
It's been a while since I did one, but I think I did the next steps with a 8" or 10" mill bastard file, or maybe it was a smaller one. Then some smaller jeweler's files I bought as a kit. Then once the shape was right, sand paper of various grades to work it smooth.
The trick is to have the gun well-secured in a vise at all times so you can dedicate both hands to controlling the tool you are using and not make any bad strokes or loose control and touch the frame. Mask off the rear of the frame. Here's an idea borrowed from the medical field - cut a piece of cardboard with holes to just stick the frame tangs through. Then pin it in place with the jig. You know have your other areas masked off and reduce any risk of damaging them.
June 27, 2009, 09:29 AM
A friend of mine recently bought a bunch of AGI videos, and I had a chance to look some over. The 1911 series is fantastic, and the gunsmith really knows his stuff. They show everything you're talking about (and more) in this video:
In fact, I think he started with a NIB Springfield ... and turned it into a nice custom carry pistol.
Per the website link, the video covers the following:
Tightening The Slide, Lapping The Frame To The Slide, Installing A Drop-in Barrel, Installing A Gunsmith-fit Barrel And Bushing, Ramping The Barrel, Fitting The Link, Cutting The Barrel Feet, Showing The Jarvis Camlock System, Fitting And Tuning The Extractor, Installing A New Ejector, Replacing The Plunger Tube, Fitting An Extended Beaver Tail Safety, Installing An Extended Slide Stop And Thumb Safety, Installing A Tapered Mag Well, Fitting An Adjustable Trigger, Performing A Complete Trigger Job, Cutting The Hooks On The Hammer, Installing A Skeleton Hammer, Installing A Titanium Firing Pin, Stoning The Sear And Hammer, Tuning The Disconnector, Serrating The Back Of The Slide, Installing And Tightening Stake-on Front Sights, Cutting The Dovetail For An Adjustable Rear Sight, Installing Tritium Sights, Installing An Extended Guide Rod, Contouring The Frame And Slide To Fit Your Hand, Installing An Extended Mag Release, Closeup Views Of Hammer And Sear Never Before Seen On Video, Overview Of A Myriad Of Custom Options And Accessories, How To Use Many Specialized Jigs And Fixtures (For Drilling, Milling, Trigger Jobs, Tightening Slide, Tightening Frame, Fitting Grip Safety, Installing Stake On And Dovetail Sights, Etc.) Variety Of Hand, Power Tool And Machining Techniques, How To Adjust Trigger Pull Weight...
I will be sandblasting the frame to refinish it so I don't need it to be perfectly smooth.
Any comments on either of those products?
June 28, 2009, 01:33 AM
Those should work fine for you - looks like what I used. My only other comment is that they seem pricey - you should be able to get dremel stones and a decent set of small bastard files much cheaper at your local hardware store. I'm not sure why those are so pricey unless they are Uber-hard and will last forever (in which case they may be well worth it). The files seem pricey though - I'd go get a few different sized ones at the hardware store so I had a variety and could get the right size into the spot I need.
Some el-cheapo jeweler's set can be very handy too for small places, odd angles, etc. Something like these. You get what you pay for, but if you only need to use them a few times, a cheap set is ok:
Whatever you do, when you go to refinish the gun don't use those rattle-can "Brownell's baking laquer" and junk. Send it to be parkerized locally, or if you want get a proper air brush kit and spray on Gun Kote or similar. If you are only cutting the tangs on the frame, you can just use cold blue to protect them and then they are almost fully hidden with the safety in place. But whatever your plan, don't waste time and money on the rattle-can stuff. Blechh....
June 28, 2009, 01:49 AM
According to a recent American Handgunner article, one good way to do it is to use the dremel 1/2" sanding drum with 80 grit, then end up with 120 grit.
It follows the contour well and works pretty fast.
June 28, 2009, 02:13 AM
I did the heavy grinding on mine on my bench grinder, then finished with a 6" mill file, then smaller files, and finally wet/dry black oxide sandpaper, about 220 grit I think. I wanted to buy a Brown's jig thingie, but I wasn't about to pay $10 shipping for an item the size of a cigarette butt. I made my own jig with a screw, nut and two washers. First and only time I've done it, it turned out good, IMO. Ignore the lint and dust, please.
Thanks for the picture. That turned out great. I agree with not paying $10.50 shipping on a 1/2 ounce item, but it will be part of a much larger order and I will be modifying two guns so I am sure I will get my money's worth out of it.
The sanding drum sounds easy enough. I have those on hand as well. I will post again when I get them finished.
June 28, 2009, 03:55 PM
Most aftermarket BGS's are made to be added to Colt frames; be aware that the grip tangs on the SA are not of the same shape or mass as Colts, and I believe the procedure for adding a BGS of any sort except the SA factory one or one specially made and marketed by Smith and Alexander for the SA shape and radius will require welding up and recutting (and attendant refinishing) of the tangs; even with the Brown BGS jig you would still have to do this.
June 28, 2009, 03:58 PM
Alex Hamilton wrote the article on installing the Ed Brown beavertail. After reading it, I used the sanding drum instead of how I did it before and it worked pretty well.
Be sure and contour the frame to match the grip safety in the depressed position.
June 28, 2009, 04:30 PM
My photo above is of a Rock Island GI model. Here's a comparison between a stocker and my modded one. There was LOT of filing done here!