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Certain Mag Followers eating Aluminum 1911 frames?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Amish_Bill, Jan 11, 2004.

  1. Amish_Bill

    Amish_Bill Well-Known Member

    I just got linked to a forum at a 1911 site that had an interesting warning. It appears in the context of flat-fronted McCormick followers and Kimber aluminum frame 1911s, but I have to assume that it applies to ALL aluminum framed 1911s and flat fronted followers. ???

    Apparently, some mags that have followers with no front support are eating frames. The sharp front edge of the follower is said to be being pushed forward and hitting the feed ramp.

    Let me see if I can find the linky.... Yes... Here it is. McCormick Style Followers having Aluminum Kimbers For Lunch.

    Has anyone here seen this themselves?
  2. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Well-Known Member

    I've heard that before. Never saw it firsthand, though, since all my 1911s have been steel framed.

    Note that some hollowpoints can chew up aluminum feed ramps, too, which is why some folks just have steel ramp inserts installed in their alumimum-framed guns.
  3. esheato

    esheato Well-Known Member

    Here's the final word on aluminum framed guns.

    Yes, the aluminum frame is soft....COMPARED to a steel frame. When you buy the gun, you have to understand that it has a shorter lifespan than a similar sized steel one. Hell, even a steel frame can have a short lifespan if it's not properly hardened, cured, whatever you want to call it.

    Yes, they're great to carry. No, they shouldn't be a competition gun that will be shot daily for practice.

    Now, I'm not one to follow my own advice. I have a Kimber Pro Carry with the aluminum frame that I carried daily. When I first started shooting IDPA, I used this gun as it was the only 1911 that I owned. For over 10 months, I was shooting 2,000 rounds of reloads per month. I used McCormick mags (PowerMags actually) and within 2-3 weeks, I noticed gouging of the feed ramp. The gouging was from the bottom lip of the follower. There's a small section that is pointed and it was digging into the frame. How do I know this? Take off the top end and insert a magazine. The gouge and the magazine fit together.

    Two minutes with the Dremel rounded out the follower and the wear has not increased even though I use the same McCormick mags.

    I'd say I used the Kimber for around 10 months of shooting, four times a week, 2,000 rounds a month. The gun has been put through it's paces.

    I eventually acquired a steel framed govt model and that is now my primary competition gun, while the Kimber has been a strictly carry piece. I shoot it maybe 15 rounds every month just to make sure it still works.

    If you want pics of how I changed the follower on my mags, I'd be glad to post one fo ryou.

    Enjoy the pics.



  4. Amish_Bill

    Amish_Bill Well-Known Member

    I'd love to see pics of what you did to your mags. any chance of before & after shots?
  5. esheato

    esheato Well-Known Member

    I don't have any unadultered magazines to show you. I only have 2 and have modified both of them.

    If someone else out there could photograph a closeup of the original CMC PowerMag follower that would be great.



    The bottom lip of the follower was what I modified. I just ground them round.

  6. Amish_Bill

    Amish_Bill Well-Known Member

    The only pics I've seen of the CMC mags were from the side. The perpective you shot those from is a good one to illustrate the issue.

    As I follow it, the lower arm of the follower was originally straight across, and your mod was to round off the edges, right?
  7. esheato

    esheato Well-Known Member

    It's been a year or two since I modified them. The bottom of the follower was not straight across. I believe that the original part was partially rounded yet protruded more. I wish I had a new one here to photograph them side by side.

    As you can see from the feed ramp photos, the mags were only gouging the ramp on the left side (looking from the back of the pistol). IIRC, the left bottom side of the follower was the culprit.

    I've got my fingers crossed that somebody will help me out with a new mag photo.

  8. Andrew Wyatt

    Andrew Wyatt Well-Known Member

    Dad's commander was his competetion gun when he was still active in IPSC and SWPL. It has upwards of 25,000 rounds through it, and the feedramp is still pretty much pristine, the frame isn't cracked, and the gun still goes bang every time.
  9. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Dinged Frame

    Yes, certain magazine followers will eat into your feed ramp. 8-round
    magazines come with a couple of penalties. A shortened follower and
    a spring with fewer turns. The room for that extra round has to come from somewhere. This is addressed to magazines with shortened sheet metal followers, either the Devel design or the conventional type.

    What happens is that the rear leg of the follower isn't as stable as the longer 7-round follower. The standard follower has 3 of the spring's coils
    against it to keep it in place against the back wall of the empty magazine, while the shorter 8-rounder has only two. When the last round feeds, the follower gets pushed forward and down in a nose-dive attitude. The front of the follower makes contact with the feed ramp, and if frame is aluminum, a gouge begins to take shape. Polishing the feed ramp will remove the
    hard anodizing and accelerate the process.

    Some hollowpoint ammo will also mark the ramp, but not to the degree
    nor as quickly as the follower. If the magazine is right, the bullet nose
    shouldn't make more than light contact with the ramp anyway. If the round
    nose-dives into the ramp before it enters the throat, the magazine spring
    is weak, or the follower is set at the wrong angle. Hardball, with its
    round ogive is more forgiving in this circumstance.

    On to...the spring issue. The shortened magazine spring won't be as
    strong as a standard spring, all else being equal. It will also get tired
    sooner and start to exhibit magazine timing problems. Rideover feeds,
    Bolt Over Base...Push-feeds/extractor snapover feeds. Most of these
    occur on the last round, while the other indication is the top round
    nose-dive. Wolff 11-pound springs will usually cure the timing problems,
    but won't do much about the short follower's instability and forward rock.

    8-round magazines come with a price. No such thing as a free lunch, I'm afraid.


  10. esheato

    esheato Well-Known Member

    I'm not saying that they're brittle. I'm not saying that they're worse than steel framed 1911s. Just that they're different, and are created for different situations...At least in my head :D the aluminum is more suited for carrying lots, shooting little and vice versa for the steel models.

    I probably have upwards of 20,000 through mine, and it wouldn't be in such a dilapidated condition if I would have caught the mag problem earlier.

  11. BluesBear

    BluesBear member

    Here's a pic of one of my Colt 8rd magazines. They come with a CMcC follower.


    The bottom shelf on the follower is about 3/16" longer than the top.
    My Mec-Gar 8rd flat bottom mags have a similar follower except the point is rounded off and it's only at most 1/8" longer than the top.

    My Mitchell 8rd is shaped exactly like the CMcC.

    Attached Files:

  12. DDGator

    DDGator Well-Known Member

    Excuse me if this is an ignorant question, but...

    For occasional use of CMC mags in aluminum guns, is the problem entirely avoided by not shooting the mag dry (i.e. -- in IPSC I usually do a tac reload before the mag is empty)?
  13. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Tac Reload

    Gator asked:

    Excuse me if this is an ignorant question, but...

    For occasional use of CMC mags in aluminum guns, is the problem entirely avoided by not shooting the mag dry (i.e. -- in IPSC I usually do a tac reload before the mag is empty)?

    Not an ignorant question Gator. A very valid one, and the answer is no...
    not as long as the last round doesn't feed. One round in the tube keeps the follower too far down to make contact with the frame OR rock forward.
    Up until that point, the follower behaves the same as a standard follower,
    or very nearly so.

  14. DDGator

    DDGator Well-Known Member

    Thanks Tuner. I figured that might me the case.

    I occasionally use my carry gun (with aluminum frame) for IPSC, just to keep sharp with it. But, to get through a whole course of fire, I need to use my collection of CMC Shooting Star mags that I use with my all steel gun.

    Fortunately, each stage is 6 rounds, so I usually do a tactical reload with a round or two left in the mag when it drops. I didnt want to have to worry about new mags or conversions for this type of limited use.

    In the future though, all my officer size mags for my carry gun will be Wilsons.
  15. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

    Another solution would be to go to an alloy-framed 1911 that has a ramped barrel, like the Springfield Lightweight models.

    Mine has a ramped barrel, but I only use 7-round Metalforms anyway.
  16. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

    I use a steel feed ramp in my Defender, and in fact thats what we do to all of our custom 1911 lightweight carry guns

  17. DDGator

    DDGator Well-Known Member

    I am using a Kimber Ultra Carry II. I don't have it on me now at work and I can't remember if it is a ramped barrel or not. I am sure someone here knows.
  18. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Ramped Barrels

    Mark said:

    Another solution would be to go to an alloy-framed 1911 that has a ramped barrel, like the Springfield Lightweight models.

    That'll work. For .45 caliber pistols, a better approach is the steel ramp
    insert. Ya gotta cut the frame for the ramped barrel anyway, so why not?
    Ramped barrels are uniquely suited to the smaller calibers, and are almost
    a necessity for function with hollowpoint ammo is some .38 Super/9X23

    Mine has a ramped barrel, but I only use 7-round Metalforms anyway.

    Double protection. Not a bad idea for a really good pistol, and worth the
    cost, I'd say.
  19. Albert Shear

    Albert Shear Well-Known Member

    I took the pics of some of the mags on the 1911 forum to use in aluminum frame guns. If concerned you can change followers and springs or get new mags. I have two aluminum frame 1911s, a Colt Officers which Wilson mags are used (polymer followers) and a Kimber Tactical Custom II. After testing several different mags I have found(my opinion only) that Ed Brown have worked the best. The follower is recommended for aluminum frame guns, it has the large base pad for the mag well and it fed with 100% reliability.
  20. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Ed Brown Mag

    Albert, that's a Metalform with their proprietary round follower. As
    delivered from Metalform, they need a little stiffer spring, and the
    spring is a lot like the ones meant for the Wilson 47s in that just any
    service replacement spring won't work. I think Metalform will upgrade
    that magazine with a correct 11-pound Wolff spring for a nominal extra
    cost...maybe 2 bucks. The magazines are available in carbon and stainless.

    Tune on!


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