Frame Size Questions


May 20, 2004, 04:44 PM
Can anybody edumacate me on the differences in frames as they need to match to slides? Specifically, the following:

1. If I want to build a full-house Commander from scratch, is there such thing as a Commander frame, or will I just need a regular full-size frame?

2. I guess the broader question would be, does each different slide length require a different, corresponding frame?

3. Can anyone point to an online resource that could explain the differences in sizes and dimensions for the different frames?

I always thought the Commanders were built on full-size frames, but have heard recently that that might not be the case. Any help you could provide would be much appreciated.

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May 20, 2004, 05:02 PM
Howdy Specialized, and welcome to THR.

The Commander frame is different from the Government Model frame in that
the rails and spring tunnel are .100 inch shorter. (nominal) The Commander
dust cover is also shorter. There are other differences in the barrel lugs too...upper and lower... and the bushing , recoil spring, guide and recoil spring plug.

While you can build one on a GM frame, it takes a few modifications to make
it function well, and it's just not quite "right". I've done the mods and
installed Commander-length slides and barrels on GM -size frames because
I had the slides on hand, and didn't want to pop for the bucks for the
5-inch slides...but also because I was bored and curious as to whether I could make it work.

There are new Commander-sized frames available on the aftermarket.
Essex Arms and Caspian both make'em. Caspian is far and away the
better of the two, but a little pricey. Essex isn't a bad choice if you're on a budget.

The good thing about going with a new, matched frame and slide set
is that there's little fitting involved beyond final lapping.

Keep us posted on your project. There's a lotta good folks here who
will help in any way that they can.



May 20, 2004, 06:49 PM
Ah, I see. I figured it had to be something like that.

I'm planning on going with Caspian and getting a carbon steel, matched slide and frame. I just saw a full-sized frame for sale with a really cool serial number and figured I'd use that, if it was compatible. Now I guess I get to make up my own serial number, which will be good!

I have a great gunsmith lined up to do the work on this gun, his work is impeccable and he's just an all-around great guy, too. I'm looking to come out the other end with a great 9mm commander that's suited to IDPA ESP shooting, as well as all-around fun, and a great carry gun, too. My bill of materials (so far) looks like:

Caspian fitted slide/frame, commander length, no logos, no front serrations, just serrated flat top and Novak cut, with ball-end milled cuts
Schuemann barrel (blackened), custom crowned, with blended bushing
Polymer, standard-length commander guide rod with standard plug
Ultralight fire control parts, 3.25# trigger (C&S set, I think)
Aftec extractor
Heinie ultra low SlantPro night sights (slide back lined to match)
25lpi checkered front strap
20lpi checkered, blended S&A MSH
Blended, integral magwell (Heinie or Ed Brown, weld-on)
Bead-blasted, contoured, pin-covered S&A black micarta grips (for competition)
Wild-grained, exotic, pin-covered, smooth Cocobolo grips (for barbeques, church, etc. :) )
Titanium firing pin, HD spring
STI black polymer trigger
Wolff reduced-power hammer and mag release springs
Ed Brown Memory Groove grip safety
Ed Brown ambi safety
A half-dozen McCormick black teflon covered, low-profile-base mags
Either a super deep-blued satin or ArmorTuff black finish (can't make up my mind!)
That should just about clear out my bank account, but it'll be worth it. :) I'm kinda going for that "Darth Vader's Personal Sidearm" look, and a really smooth, ultimately reliable gun.

Any ideas/suggestions/comments on my little design?


P.S. Thanks for the welcome -- everybody's been great here!

May 20, 2004, 06:54 PM
From the looks of your goodies list, you're gonna have one helluva nice pistol when ya get it together. Who's doin' the work, if ya don't mind
me askin'?

May 20, 2004, 07:02 PM
A guy by the name of Dr. Barry Greyson, in Oklahoma City. Great guy, and a damned fine gunsmith. He'll do the bulk of it, and send it out for a few things (finish, etc).

Dr. Barry posts on, if they still exist (that's a pretty ominous note on there right now), and a few other places. Don't know if he posts here or not. We've discussed the gun, all I gotta do now is find the money!

Jim Watson
May 20, 2004, 07:28 PM
I would not use a titanium firing pin, especially not on a high pressure round like 9mm P. The one that came in my Springfield Ultra Compact with its stiff spring and short ILS mainspring would rebound so fast that the primer indent would iron out completely from residual chamber pressure. It would eject an empty case with a primer apparently unpopped except for a shiny spot where it had been dented and blown back out. Wouldn't have taken much - like +P ammo - to extrude or pierce primers. It now has a Brown firing pin, Wolff FP spring, Wolff pre-ILS mainspring, and a GI mainspring cap cut to fit the short MSH. It can still be locked with some manipulation, so an ambulance chasing lawyer would have little to attack.

Low-profile magazine basepads are not compatible with a mag well funnel UNLESS it is one of the ones that calls for cutting the butt of the gun off by a quarter inch or so. I know the Heinie bolt on is that type, dunno about a weldup Heinie or Brown.

I would not be flip-flopping grips back and forth for ceremonial occasions, those threads are fine and it doesn't take much to cross thread, strip, or pull out a grip screw bushing. My FLG hates pin-covered grips because you have to take the grips off to detail strip the gun, see above.

I sure wouldn't paint a gun this fancy. And that is all the various trade name coatings are, heat cured paint. Blue will wear, but I think it just adds character. Worn paint just looks dirty. How about hard chrome or stainless construction? Maybe with some engraving.

May 21, 2004, 03:30 AM
Good input about the titanium firing pin, I hadn't thought of that. If it won't work, I'll go with something else instead. Still learning about the differences between 9mm 1911's and the ones I know now, the .45 ACP.

The magwell will be, indeed, one of those that adds no extra length to the frame. As you stated, the Heinie is the bolt-on (I have one on another gun already and love it), and the Ed Brown is welded. Both require cutting the frame to fit. As for the grips and screws, I ain't skeered. :) I don't anticipate changing them out very often; besides, I've never stripped one before (and have several with pin-covered grips).

The finish: this gun will be, first and foremost, an IDPA and similar-style working gun. I love a really deep satin blued finish from a looks perspective, but I also like the feel of the ArmorTuff finish. My CQB has it, and I'm a real fan, especially in that black. Kinda gives a similar feel to hard chroming. I have enough stainless guns, and have been wanting an Evil Black one to go with my M4 anyways.

It's interesting that you mentioned the ironed-out primers and the Springfield titanium FP's, though. I had that very thing happen to me with my Springfield full-sized loaded using some of that UMC green-box ammo. The primers looked like a fried egg, with a silver ring (the primer striking surface) and a perfectly smooth brass "yolk" in the middle, where the FP hit was. Is that what causes this phenomenon? I hadn't heard of or seen it before, but surmised that something like this must have been the cause. The ammo threw sparks like there was no tomorrow, too. I haven't shot any since.

Any other gotchas you can think of with my goodies list and the 9mm Commander platform? I appreciate the input.

Jim Watson
May 21, 2004, 09:57 AM
Most of your other wants are matters of style and preference, no reason to listen to me and other strangers on that. I would be sure that "Dr Barry" signs off on the parts you plan, he might have preferences or experience for or against a particular brand.

I have shown pictures of that Heinie mag well to my FLG but he won't bite. I would have to cash in a lot of favors to get him to install one.

I saw a Commander length ESP gun at the Alabama State. RickyT (of the comatose 1911forum) had one on a Bobtailed titanium frame. He says it is fast to swing but still steady enough on target for good accuracy and quick splits.

I would like to have a lightweight 5" 9mm for the Division but Caspian doesn't make aluminum receivers any more, and I am not willing to do their beta testing on titanium. Hard to get by said conservative FLG, too.

Kimber is bringing out a Tactical Pro lightweight 4" 9mm, maybe if I am patient they will add the Tactical Custom 5" in the caliber.

If you enjoyed reading about "Frame Size Questions" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!