Differences on 1911 barrel links


April 21, 2004, 10:18 PM
What's with the difference in sizes of barrel links? There are so many sizes and what do these little things do to the 1911's? Thanks.

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April 22, 2004, 07:13 AM
Howdy valor1...Good question. This is one area that is often misunderstood. A little lengthy here, but it'll give you a better understanding of the function of the link and its function.

The link's job is to unlock the barrel from the slide. It also acts as a
sort of guide to keep the barrel on a straight track during the cycle, but that's secondary.

It's not supposed to bear any of the load of vertical locking. Many
people will install a longer link to effect a tighter lockup at the back
of the barrel, but it's the wrong way to do it because it doesn't do
anything to enhance accuracy, and can cause problems over the long haul.
Vertical locking is correctly maintained by the slidestop crosspin bearing
on the lower lug.

Links come in different lengths to allow the link to function correctly with
varying lower lug dimensions whenever a smith fits the lower lug to a
pistol with varied vertical dimensions between frame and slide. Hard-fit
type lower lugs are oversized to allow the fit to be precise, and the link
must be longer to function with the finished dimensions of the lug.

Additionally, the link should allow the slidestop to bear lightly on the
forward radius of the lower lug as the barrel rises into vertical lock.
When the link holds the lug away from the pin, and allows the barrel
pivot upward in that manner, it's a condition known as Riding the Link."

Many production pistols do operate in this condition, and it doesn't hurt anything for a while, but can eventually cause a problem if the pistol is used a lot. I've also seen some production guns lock vertically on the link, and the problems start earlier when they do that.

A shorter link corrects the condition, but then there's often an issue with
the amount of locking lug engagement in the slide, which can cause premature failure of the lugs.



April 22, 2004, 08:03 PM
Thanks a lot for the information Tuner. By the way, would you guys know what size is the barrel link on an STi Edge in .45 cal. and .40 cal.? Thanks.

April 22, 2004, 09:01 PM
Howdy valor,

The standard link is .278 inch center to center, and that length will
work out well in about 90% of the production guns that you'll run across, regardless of caliber. Occasionally, tolerance stacking will make that length
something less than optimum, but it will generally work.

The problem with deciding on a plus or minus length is that there are a few
factors to consider. The vertical dimension of the lug, and the forward radius to name a couple. It's possible to have a perfect fit when the barrel is vertically locked, but still allow the barrel to ride the link as the pin swings
around the forward radius. Using a short link to address this can put the
pin and link in a hard bind when the pistol is in battery.

Likewise, you can have a barrel that's locking ON the link, and use a shorter one to get it on the pin, and wind up with the pin in a bind on the forward radius. If the lug's location is a little off in either direction, it gets even more complicated.

When there's a stem bind condition that affects the reliability...and the
link is letting the barrel ride on it, it's generally better to simply elongate
the top of the hole a little if a .003 shorter link doesn't work out well.
More than .003, and you can wind up with the barrel's linkdown being stopped by the link instead of the frame...and that's not good. Sometimes
even .003 will cause it. Another fairly simple thing to check for, by the way.

That doesn't affect the linkdown timing because the bottom of the hole is
what works with the pin to unlock the barrel. That dimension stays the same. Only the area that contributes to the stem bind is altered.

Hope this helps


April 23, 2004, 02:50 AM
More power to you Tuner. This is really a great help for my curiosity. Thanks.

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