Fitting 1911 barrel bushing

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Apr 11, 2004
Northeast TN
I got an EGW pre-fit bushing for my RIA 1911, and after some work, the bushing fits in the slide nice and tight. The problem is that the barrel OD is .581 and the bushing ID is .578. How can I fit the bushing to the barrel without goofing anything up?
It really should be reamed, if not it should be lathe turned.

You can use a hone and go slow, but it isn't the best way.
Saw this on another forum and suggested it to Tuner: Go slowly and use a brake wheel cylinder hone. Probably won't be as perfect as reaming or using a lathe, but the wheel cylinder hone costs about $8.00.
Thanks. I'll go get a hone today at lunch. I was thinking that maybe sandpaper on my little finger, but I decided that might not be such a good idea.

Thanks again,
The hone will be really slow, but I see that as a positive. It'll take a little patience, but you'll be able to take a few ten-thousandths off at a time until you get it right. The hones are adjustable for tension. Put as much tension as possible on the stones. (Be sure and use a honing oil)
I've done it with a lathe, but the brake hone is a good idea because it would make a superior finish over lathe cutting alone.

A new hone with rectangular stones will have stones with sharp edges. Be careful that they don't dig in to your new bushing.

You could also try an adjustable reamer. These are available from Brownells or I tried the brake hone method myself. Even with a new hone adjusted for max tension, there's still not a lot of pressure on the stones. It'd be almost impossible to do any "cutting into" the bushing. It REALLY is a slow process, as those hones aren't of course, grinding...they're honing.
I picked up a cylinder hone from Advance Auto, but it only goes down to 3/4", so only one stone will fit in the bushing. I gave up and ordered an adjustable reamer from ENCO and will figure out how to use it when it gets here.

Thanks for all the suggestions
" the bushing to the barrel..." You don't. You fit the barrel to the bushing. Mind you, in your case, there's a only 3 thou difference. I'd leave the bushing alone and have 5 thou of the barrel removed, from a 1/2" in from the muzzle to the chamber by a machinist. This will provide clearance for the bushing in recoil, but the barrel will be held properly by the bushing. And 2 thou from that 1/2".
A lot of gunsmithing books say to fit the barrel to the bushing. I never thought this perfectly logical because you'll kick yourself a lot softer after screwing up a $20 bushing instead of a $200 barrel.

Anyway. My Kimber barrel has a slight taper to it, so when fitting the bushing to the barrel I had absolutely no problems with spring-back. But even if the barrel had a perfectly straight taper you can relief-grind the bushing to allow the barrel its angle when unlocked.
If you got a hone that only goes down to 3/4", then you probably didn't get a wheel cylinder hone. (or maybe you got one for big truck wheel cylinders) The range of the hone's performance is listed on the blisterpack.

I don't care what any "experts" have to say on the matter, I'm not reducing a barrel to accommodate a bushing.
Look for a hone for an Import clutch cylinder, most import parts store have them. some of these cylinder are smaller than a 1/2" .

For .003 inch, chuck the barrel in a lathe and use a smooth-cut mill file to fit the barrel to the bushing. .003 inch isn't as thick as a sheet of 20-bond typing paper.

Remember that the forward part near the muzzle is flared, and you need about .006 additional clearance to keep the bushing from getting into a bind on the barrel as the slide that .003 inch should be removed from the muzzle all the way back.

Light touch now. That file will cut faster than you think it will...Spin the lathe about 1,000 RPMs and check the bushing fit often. Do NOT use cutting oil. If you elect to polish with Flitz or something of that nature, do NOT use a cloth. Use a paper towel.
This is the first time I've heard of fitting a barrel to a bushing...

What are the pros and cons of barrel to bushing and bushing to barrel?

Doesn't Kuhnhausen say bushing to barrel?
In a Fit

Jammer, I don't always do what Kuhnhausen says. shhhhhh.... :p

If the mismatch was 10-12 thousandths, I'd go after the bushing. Since it's only .003 inch...and the barrel dimensions can easily vary that much...
filing the barrel works.


It's quick. It's easier than using a boring bar in a lathe. No mandrel needed,
and thus no live center needed to insure that the cut follows the true center
of the bushing. (The file follows the barrel's OD)


It's not as precise as fitting it as described above, thus the accuracy may not be gilt-edged...but then, an RIA ain't exactly a match gun anyhoo.
Too too many things involved in accuracy tuning to fret over a bushing that isn't perfect...unless everything else is.

Bottom line:

It's probably what a local gunsmith would do unless he was building a match-grade gun...and charge 50 bucks.
Tuner: You REALLY should try the old reliable wheel cylinder hone method sometime! :p
Having a gunsmith turn the barrel down a little isn't really an option since the only local gunsmith that I know of is in poor health and maybe works one day a week. I don't have a lathe, so my only option appears to be reaming out the bushing. If this new bushing doesn't help accuracy, I'm going to trade this thing in on a SA Mil-Spec.

You can always order a matched barrel-bushing set and then only have to perform the slide fitting.
For a few thou a drill press (even a large hand drill) and some wet-or-dry will probably get the job done.
I am thinking about ordering a Kart EZ Fit barrel to put in the thing, especially since that would be cheaper than trading the gun in on a Springfield. I don't plan on modifying the RIA, I just want to make it more accurate, which it isn't at the moment, and replace anything that breaks.

Using the adj. reamer I got from Enco, I got the bushing fitted to the barrel. When I check for barrel springing, there is a very little bit, but I don't have a way to get a measurement on it. When I pull the slide back 1/8", the barrel drpos .036" from where it is at lockup, but I have no idea to how to see how many of the lugs are engaging.

Do I need to fix the springing problem? Is the lug engagement good?

I fitted an EGW "Melt" bushing to my Colt Delta Elite using a tapered dowel (old drumstick) chucked in my drill press with various grits of sandpaper taped to it. Took well over 2 hours of fitting, sanding, and fitting again. But when I was done I had a bushing that goes in and out without tools, locks up nice, doesn't hang up anywhere, and shrunk my groups in half (the factory bushing was horrificly loose).

I paid special attention to making sure the barrel wouldn't bind through the full travel of the slide. Lots of work but it was worth it. You can see how the wear from the bushing is now more evenly distributed around the barrel and no longer wearing the bluing in a few stripes.

I went with the melt bushing for the little extra slide weight to help keep my full power 10mm loads locked up a little longer. I thought about the tungsten ones but that was just too much $.
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