Fitting a "drop in" barrel in my 1911

Nov 4, 2018
A few weeks ago I bought a new Ed Brown "Drop in" barrel for my 1911 and the slide gets stuck after fully engaging. Loosening it requires a sharp tap on the end of the slide but obviously this is not the way it should be so additional fitting work needs to be done to the new barrel. The problem is that I can;t figure out where the problem is located.

I have measured the old barrel everywhere and filed the new one down here and there to match the old as much as possible but nothing seems to improve. There has to be a spot I can file down to get the thing to cycle smoothly but I have not found it yet.

I am considering shooting the gun as it is hoping that it will somehow break itself in but I'm pretty sure that any "fitting" is going to take place inside the frame or the slide instead of on the stainless steel barrel and damage my pistol.

I posted this some weeks ago and got quite a few suggestions but so far nothing has worked & I've gotten to the point where I am totally out of ideas & fear that if I keep screwing around with the barrel I'll end up ruining it too.

If someone here has any ideas I will certainly appreciate their input.
That or coat all sides of the barrel hood and lugs in black sharpie marker. After 2 or 3 hand cycles, it will be crystal clear whats rubbing hard.

My bet is the end of the barrel hood where it contacts the breach face. Just a hair long will cause a tight lockup with the locking lugs.

It could also be the barrel to slide locking lugs, barrel link a hair long, or the lugs on the bottom of the barrel.

If you are going to tinker with a 1911, get the Khunhausen shop manual. It's worth 100 times it's weight in gold. Trust me on this.

Gain a full and clear understanding before you pick up a tool. Gunsmiths are expensive for a very good reason. Smiths that take in a "practice" gun are even more expensive.

And even more worth it.
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I have coated the entire barrel with a sharpie, put the gun together, cycled it and then disassembled. Except for a couple of small areas (underneath the barrel) and one of the lugs nearly all the marker is rubbed off the barrel surface. Does this tell me I have to sand or file down all these areas?
With the whole barrel wiped clean I might look at the bushing
Hard to tell without knowing his definition of “wiped clean”, but I was thinking bushing too.
Then we have to consider if the barrel is threaded, and if the thread protector is interfering.
If it is the bushing the question is reduce the muzzle or increase the bushing ID
@Charlie Martinez Is this the first barrel you've ever tried to fit? Have you read any fitting instructions, either from the manufacturer or from posts on one of the forums? What tools do you have? Do you know what to measure? All of these questions to help us help you. As you have discovered, there are no drop in parts on a 1911, especially considering the vast number of factory built guns from a large number of different manufacturers and 10 times that in aftermarket parts up to and including slides, frames, and barrels.
I suggest getting a copy of Kuhnhausen's volume 1 on the 1911. Read and study that untill it sinks in. Also take advantage of the previous posts here and on other 1911 centric forums. There are many that go in depth into the fitting process.
I agree that I need more knowledge on the subject although I have watched nearly every barrel fit video I could find on you tube including Ed Brown's. What is killing me is that I have tried reducing a lot of places hoping that when I hit the right spot a slight improvement will be noticed and then I would know & proceed at that one spot. However after filing all over the place the problem is exactly the same.

I thought the barrel link or the bushing could be the culprits so I replaced both parts with the ones that were on my old barrel and the problem continues.

I hate to give up but it appears that I am running out of options & may have to either buy another (well used) barrel or send the gun to a smith somewhere.
I still think it's the locking lugs on the barrel. A simpler fix would be to take a little out from the top of the barrel link hole, but that will accelerate wear on both the link and the slide stop.
How much engagement of the the top lugs with the slide? Target is .042"-.043" range. A little more or less is not a problem. Sometime material needs to be removed from the sides of the lug slots vs the top. Sharpie can help show that. Firing pin strike on center? Again, off a bit is not a problem, but could be indicative. Did you try without a link installed? Got gage pins to measure fit of lower lugs to slide stop pin? Using a series of gage pins smaller than the slide stop pin can help indicate whether additional material needs to be removed from the lower lugs. Do you have a loose barrel bushing to use while fitting the back of the barrel? A tight bushing can give false indications of fit.
Lots more little things involved. The Devil is in the details and there are lots of them.

After "filing all over the place" I strongly recommend that you stop and take it to an experianced 'smith for proper fitting. But be prepared to pay for another barrel.

But, that's if you are only wanting to get the gun up and running. If so, nows a good time to take a hard look at it and decide how far you want to go on changes/upgrades.

On the chance that you just want to fix it yourself, as a way to learning gun smithing, then be prepared to spend far more money in the long run than any 'smith will cost you. Getting the shop manual as reccommended several times NEEDS be your first step. After that buy the tools you need, as you need them.

Thats the route I chose. Learned a lot along the way and got pretty good at it too. I went to schools and got some certified training.

I totally ruined a few of my own guns too. There is no "trick" to becoming a gunsmith and getting a gun to run the way you want. That said, it is a lifetime of learning. It never stops.

It is more art than science in the long run.

Put the file down and figure out what you want to do.
Put the file down and figure out what you want to do.
I agree. Yesterday I thought I had it figured out and again nothing. I don't think I have ruined the barrel yet but it's possible. I am going to stay put while I find a decent gunsmith. A kid who works as a gunsmith in one of my local indoor ranges offered to fit it for $25. I think he meant well but I decided to not take the chance. Maybe I made a mistake and will never know it.
If Wayne Bergquist was still alive and working I would have pointed you at him over in Naples. Unfortunately he left us in 2021. Dave Smith is up at Gun Craft in Ruskin. He can do it. I'll try to think of some others.