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Building a Dedicated 1911 .22LR Pistol
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.


Purchasing the Receiver
Purchasing Parts and Tools
Parts List
Tool List
Polishing the Frame
  Frame Top
  Dust Cover
  Trigger Guard
  Magazine Well
Fitting Beaver-Tail Grip Safety to Frame
Blending Frame and Grip Safety
Fitting the Mainspring Housing
Checking for Protrusions in the Magazine Well
Polishing Barrel Bed and Feed Ramp
Performing Additional Polishing
Installing the Plunger Tube
Installing Fire Control System
  Preparing and Installing Fire Control Parts
Fitting Thumb Safety
Fitting Grip Safety to Trigger
Adjusting Trigger Pre/Over Travel
Polishing Fire Control Parts
Performing Function and Safety Checks
Cleaning Up and Installing Small Parts
Bead Blasting
Bluing Parts
Lubricating and Assembling All Parts
Test Firing

Custom Grips


I have a number of 1911’s in my collection; all of them I built from scratch with hand-fitted parts.  Two of them are single-stack in .45 ACP, and one is a double-stack, wide-body in 9mm.  I also have an Advantage Arms .22LR target conversion kit model 1911-22T that I sometimes use on one of my 1911 .45 ACP frames.  The .22 conversion kit is an economical and fun means to practice with a 1911, especially with the current cost and lack of availability of .45 ACP ammo.  I chose this conversion kit because it was the target model, and the slide locked back after the last round.  Some other conversion kits on the market do not offer the slide lock feature.  As a plus the unit came with a cleaning kit and a nice carry case.  Rather than having to swap the conversion kit onto a .45 frame, I decided to build a dedicated 1911 .22.  Just in case you’re wondering, it is always more expensive to build a gun from parts than to purchase a complete gun, but where is the fun in purchasing when you can build!

Purchasing the Receiver
I purchased a standard carbon-steel frame with a custom serial number from Caspian Arms.  Caspian Arms offers many extras on their frames, such as checkered front strap, integral plunger tube, integral accessory rail, wide magazine well, and many others.  I did not order any extras except the custom serial number.  The custom serial number I chose was KTGS 22 for “Kitchen Table Gun Smith 22”.  Because the receiver was serialized I had to have it shipped to my FFL dealer.  Walt at Caspian Arms indicated that they had about an 8-week backlog of orders; which worked out fine for me because it gave me time to purchase the additional parts to populate the receiver.


True to Walt’s estimate, the frame arrived at my FFL dealer two months after ordering.  After filling out the paperwork and paying the transfer fee I finally had the frame in my hands.  It is pretty much a standard GI 1911 frame, but ya gotta love that custom serial number!  Notice the long, pointed “tails” on the rear of the receiver where the standard GI grip safety fits.  These tails will be filed off and rounded to fit a beaver-tail grip safety.

Purchasing Parts and Tools  
Below is a list of parts and tools I purchased to build KTGS 22.  Most of the parts I found at Midway USA on sale.  Where possible I included the part number, but not the price since prices change frequently.  This was my fourth 1911 build so I already had the tools on hand, but they can be purchased from Midway USA or from Brownells.  Polishing sticks I made from wooden dowels and 1/4“ flat wood stock with 400 grit paper.  I wrapped the paper around the dowels, and glued the paper to the flat stock.  

Parts List

Drawing Reference Number


Part No. 


4, 7, 18, 20, 31, 32, 34, 35, 45, 49, 51


Swenson pin set



Smith & Wesson disconnector



Ed Brown Ejector

10, 27,30, 36, 41, 46


Wolff .45 Government Spring Pack




Grip Panel



Ed Brown speed bump beaver-tail grip safety



Slotted Grip Screws (4)



Grip screw bushing (4)



Smith & Wesson hammer



Smith & Wesson hammer strut



Nighthawk extended checkered magazine catch



Wilson Magazine Release Lock



Wilson 19lb mainspring



Kimber flat checkered mainspring housing, polymer



Swenson Plunger tube



Nowlin sear




Slide stop - Came with the conversion kit



Swenson extended thumb safety



Nowlin ultra-light trigger

As you can see from the list, the result is a “Franken-pistol mix-master” of parts.  However, everything was hand-fitted so they all fit and worked harmoniously together.

Tool List  
Below are the special tools I used to build KTGS 22.


Part No.



Magazine well filler


Ed Brown beavertail grip safety jig


Plunger tube staking tool


Grip Bushing Tap 1911 .236"-60 Thread


Grip screw bushing bit


12pc 3 x 140mm FINE Needle File Set, Dipped Handles


54pc Rubber Polisher Set, 1/8 inch shank


43" Universal Rotary Tool Flexible Shaft Extension with Hand Chuck for Dremel


2.5x Rugged Gun Blue 4oz (2)

Polishing the Frame
A gun should look as good as it shoots.  The more time and care I apply here will benefit in the finished product.  There were several places I needed to address, but I started with the top of the frame.  I put the frame in my vise with the top up and used the magazine well filler to make sure I didn’t apply too much pressure.  The magazine well filler prevented me from crushing the delicate frame. The vise jaws were padded with leather so as not to mar the frame.

Frame Top  
The top of the frame had some tool marks which I wanted to remove and polish.  I wrapped a piece of 400-grit paper around a bastard file and polished the top until there were no more tool marks.  I needed to be careful to keep the file very flat as I didn’t want to “bow” or round this top surface.  I used a “draw-filing” action where I laid the file at right angles to the frame and moved the file parallel with the frame (refer to the photo above).  After the tool marks were gone I finished polishing with 600-grit paper.   

Dust Cover 
A Dremel® tool is one of my favorite tools because of its versatility, and it’s great for working on guns.  Because the Dremel® tool spins at up to 25,000 RPM or more it can run away and cause some serious damage.  This tool has to be treated with respect.  When I have it turned on, it will do the work that I desire, but if I don't pay close attention it could get away from me.  A professional gunsmith once commented that the Dremel® tool was his best friend because it generated a lot of business for him!

I put a 1/2“ fine sanding drum on a Dremel® flex shaft.  I put 3 layers of blue tape around the chuck to prevent scoring the dust cover while polishing.  I clamped the frame in the vise with the dust cover level and facing me.  I turned the tool to speed setting #4, and while holding it in both hands, smoothed the inside of the dust cover by moving the tool back and forth until it was nice and shiny.  Too much pressure on the drum could cause gouges so I just let the drum kiss the metal. 

This is plenty smooth for the inside of the dust cover, but I wanted it really polished so I continued to polish with 400-grit paper wrapped around the sanding drum, then I finished with 600-grit paper wrapped around the sanding drum to perform the final polish. 

Now I needed to work on several more areas of the frame.  I’m using small tools and working gently.  I’ve already polished the inside of the dust cover so now I needed to smooth out the upper edges and remove the sharp corners. 


First I took a jeweler’s file and carefully beveled the inside edge of the end of the dust cover (green edge).  After beveling with the file I used my Dremel® tool and a Cratex® tip to finish polishing this area.  I didn’t want to change any dimensions, just make it smooth. 

The upper part of the dust cover should be flat and smooth (area in blue).  I used 400-grit paper wrapped around my bastard file to draw-file these edges. 

The two sharp corners at the top end of the dust cover should be relieved so they are no longer sharp (circled corners).  Again I used a jeweler’s file to round the corners, then polished with a Cratex® tip. 


As part of the carry bevel I’m going to bevel the bottom front edge of the dust cover (red edge).  The carry bevel prevents sharp edges from tearing up a holster and my hand.  I’ll do more later, but for now I used a jeweler’s file and Cratex® tip to smooth this edge as I did before.  

Trigger Guard


The inside and outside edges of the trigger guard were also sharp.  I used a jeweler’s file and Cratex® tip to smooth these edges as I did before.

The under side of the frame inside of the trigger guard, and the inside of the trigger guard itself had some deep tool marks that I wanted to remove.  I took strips of 400-grit sand paper and polished these areas using a back-and-forth “shoe shine” motion.  I replaced the paper strips frequently, and continued polishing in this manner until the tool marks were removed.

Magazine Well  
The magazine well has some sharp edges that I needed to address with files and Cratex® bits.  I beveled and polished the outside edges of the magazine well, and the inside edges ONLY where the magazine fits.  I did not bevel and polish any of the inside edges where the mainspring housing sits.  I also beveled and polished the outside and inside edges of the round front strap.

Fitting Beaver-Tail Grip Safety to Frame

This has always been a fun process for me and when done right it looks very clean and professional.  First I taped my frame along the back edge where the grip safety goes to avoid nicking with the file.  Then I put the frame in my vise and installed the Ed Brown grip safety jig. 

With a bastard file I started taking the metal away from the two “tails” of the frame making sure I removed the same amount on each side.  I put chalk on the file to keep the teeth from getting full, and moved the file in one direction only.  After about 20 strokes I used a brass brush to clean the file and re-chalked. 


When I got close to the hardened steel “rollers” on the jig I switched to a Barrette file to remove more metal.  I took it right down to the rollers.  The rollers are made of hardened steel so the file wouldn’t cut into them.


The above photo shows the tails filed down to the jig.

Now that I’ve cut the proper radius I needed to fit the grip safety.  I used a blue marker to mark the radius on the frame that I just filed, then installed the safety with a taper pin.  I used a soft-faced mallet to tap the taper pin in fairly snug. 


I rotated the safety, then removed the taper pin and safety to see any white marks that indicated I needed to remove a bit more metal.  I took a jewelers file to gently remove a small amount of metal where the white marks indicated.  I re-marked the radii and re-installed the safety with the taper pin and continued to check for high spots until no blue wore off. 

Blending Frame and Grip Safety  
When performing the frame/grip safety blending I always wear a dust mask and safety glasses because there’s quite a bit of metal dust in the air which I don’t want to get into my nose, lungs, or eyes. 


I installed the grip safety onto the frame with a hammer pin, then taped the grip safety down so the gun would be smooth when being held.  

Then I took my Dremel® tool with a 1/4“ fine sanding drum and blended the frame with the bottom of the grip safety until smooth.  I smoothed everything up by shoe shining with 400-grit paper, followed with a Cratex® bit. 

I blended the top of the grip safety with the frame in the same manner.  The objective here is to make a smooth surface for the web of the thumb, and to make everything look smooth and professionally fitted.

Fitting the Mainspring Housing

Although I purchased a polymer flat mainspring housing (MSH), I really didn’t like the feel of the polymer.  I had a blue steel flat mainspring housing in my parts bin which I decided to use.  I wanted the mainspring housing to fit just as cleanly as I did the rest of the gun.  First I assembled the mainspring housing and parts as illustrated above.  I installed the cap and plunger onto the mainspring, installed them into the housing, put the housing in my vise and used a punch to push the plunger into the housing so I could install the retaining pin.  I wore safety glasses in case the punch slipped.  There is nothing worse than having springs and small parts fly off to who knows where and trying to find them in a crowded gun room.  I think they go to the same place as odd socks!

I assembled the sear spring and mainspring housing in the frame.  I put 3 layers of tape over the bottom of the magazine well, and then took my bastard file and draw-filed the bottom of the MSH until it was flat with the frame.  I then polished the bottom of the frame and MSH with a 400-grit paper wrapped around a bastard file. 

The rear corners of the frame were beveled but didn’t match the MSH.  I put a fine sanding drum on the Dremel® and beveled the corners of the frame to match the MSH, then polished out the tool marks with a Cratex® bit. 


I had used this flat mainspring housing to practice checkering, but buggered it up.  I used my bastard file to draw-file off the checkering, then shoe-shined it with 400-grit paper.  Since a .22 LR doesn’t recoil very much I don’t really need any checkering to keep the gun in my hand.

Checking for Protrusions in the Magazine Well  
Sometimes new grip screw bushings protrude into the magazine well so I wanted to make sure they set flush and wouldn’t drag on the magazine.  First I removed the main spring housing and sear spring. 

I discovered that the grip screw bushings did not screw easily into the frame.  I chased the threads with a .236” – 60 grip screw bushing tap to make sure the threads were clean, then I installed the grip screw bushings in the frame, being careful not to cross-thread them, and made them fairly tight.


Using my bastard file I smoothed the inside sides of the magazine well where the bushings might be slightly sticking up.  On this particular frame the bushings protruded on only one side.  I left the bushings installed for the rest of my work.  Since some of the bushings were now of different lengths I needed to make sure they went back in the same locations when I removed them in preparation for final finishing.  After I removed each bushing I put a piece of tape around it and labeled its location so I would know where to put them when I re-assembled the gun. 


I re-installed the sear spring and mainspring housing and checked to see if the sear spring tab was protruding through the slot into the magazine well.  Mine wasn’t, but if it was I would have used a #0 pillar file to smooth the tab flush. 

Polishing Barrel Bed and Feed Ramp  
I now wanted to make the barrel bed ready to accept a barrel.  This process isn’t necessary for my .22 top end, but I wanted this frame to be able to accept a .45 top end as well. 


I clamped the frame into my vise.  With 400-grit paper wrapped around a 3/8” dowel I smoothed out the barrel bed and polished it.  I didn’t want to lower the bed, I only wanted to remove the machine marks and make it smooth.


Next, I wanted to do the same to the feed ramp.  I was very careful not to change the angle of the feed ramp.  That angle is critical and must not be changed in any way.  I wanted to maintain the sharp edge at the top of the feed ramp.  I used 400-grit paper and the 3/8” dowel to polish as I did before.

Performing Additional Polishing

Now I did some additional work on the frame.  Sharp edges I beveled with a jewelers file and polished with a Cratex® tip.  Wherever I had a frame line, not an edge, I used just a Cratex® tip to make that line a bit softer, but did not eliminate it.  Refer to the above photograph for references to the numbered areas described below. 

1.                  First I beveled the sharp outside edge at the rear of the frame between the slide and the grip safety with a file then Cratex® bits.  This edge was left very sharp after I blended the grip safety with the frame. 

2.                  Next I worked on the edges of the rear of the frame where the grip safety and mainspring housing set. 

3.                  I then beveled the outside of the magazine well including the front round edge. 

4.                  I slightly softened all frame lines with a Cratex® bit, but I was careful not to do too much. 

5.                  Finally I beveled the outside edge of the dust cover.  I did this previously but I just wanted to make sure I got the sides as well. 

I took a careful look at the frame just to see if there were any other areas that needed work.  I decided to run a Cratex® bit over the top edge of the grip safety because that edge felt a bit sharp. 

Installing the Plunger Tube  
The plunger tube is probably the most fragile part of the 1911.  I’ve had to install three plunger tubes on another gun I built because of my own stupidity.  But, this is how we learn.  Before I could install the plunger tube I needed to chamfer the holes where the tube attaches to the frame. 

I chucked a 1/8” carbide ball cutter into a keyless chuck, which I then inserted into my gunsmith screwdriver.  I put the ball end against the hole on the inside of the frame and rested the shank on a piece of leather and turned it until I had a nice chamfer.  This chamfer will help hold the plunger tube tightly against the frame.  The leather is not shown in the above photo for clarity.  The leather prevented me from marring the frame. 


I cleaned off all the shavings, then cleaned the area with Acetone using a Q-Tip.  I also cleaned the back of the plunger tube with Acetone. 

Now that everything was clean I put a thin bead of green Loctite 609 in the area where the plunger tube will be and made sure I got some in the holes.  I also put some on the back of the plunger tube itself. 

I inserted the tube into the holes and made sure the small hole was to the front, and the large hole was to the rear.  I cleaned away the excess Loctite with a Q-tip and acetone, then put the frame in my vise.  I applied just enough pressure to keep the plunger tube in place.  I let it set for 24 hours to give time for the Loctite to set up. 


After the Loctite had time to set up, I expanded the stud/rivets with a plunger tube staking tool. 


In the process of cutting the chamfer with the ball end I raised a burr around the two holes.  I took my 400-grit polishing stick and polished off the burr so again, the inside of the magazine well was nice and smooth for the magazine. 

Installing Fire Control System

Now I was ready to install the fire control system.  The first part to go in was the trigger, but first I had to prepare the frame.  The area in which the trigger rides needed to be smoothed.  First I polished the two trigger stirrup channels, one on each side of the frame.  I used narrow 400-grit polishing stones until both channels were nice and smooth. 


Then I polished the four areas up forward where the trigger sticks out of the frame.  Again, I used my polishing sticks to smooth the top, bottom, and sides of the trigger cut.  I needed to be careful not to change any dimensions, only smooth.  There were some burrs here that prevented me from installing the trigger, but smoothing these surfaces removed the burrs and the trigger fit perfectly.

Now that the trigger channel was all smoothed I polished the sides of the trigger stirrup with a Cratex® bit.  Now I tried the trigger in the frame.  Because it fit perfectly I didn’t have to perform any additional fitting.  If the trigger had been oversized I would have carefully polished the top and bottom of the trigger shoe with 400-grit paper until it just fit. 


Next I assembled the magazine catch with the magazine catch itself, the magazine catch spring and the magazine catch lock.  After I inserted the spring and lock into the catch I rotated the lock counter-clockwise until the tab caught in the slot. 


I inserted the assembly into the frame with my finger holding it in.  I held a screwdriver in my other hand and rotated the lock until it set in the groove in the frame.  I worked the magazine catch a few times to feel for any resistance. 

At this point I carefully inserted an empty magazine to see if it contacted the trigger stirrup.  The magazine slid in smoothly with no contact. 

Preparing and Installing Fire Control Parts  
Now that the trigger and magazine catch were installed I continued installing the fire control system.  The parts I needed were: 

  1. The Sear
  2. The Disconnector
  3. The Hammer
  4. The Hammer Strut
  5. The Hammer Strut Pin
  6. The Plunger Tube Assembly
  7. The Hammer Pin
  8. The Sear Pin


First I smoothed the sides of the hammer and sear by rubbing them on a flat sheet of 600-grit paper.  Then I rubbed the corners of the sear on a 400-grit polishing stone to break the corners. 


Next I smoothed all sides of the hammer strut.  First I used a fine polishing stone on my Dremel® tool set at a slow speed just to remove the high spots and sharp edges.  Then I finished with a Cratex® bit. 


I laid the hammer on a hard flat surface, lined up the hole in the hammer with the hole in the strut and tapped the pin in as pictured above.  I was careful to start the pin straight and get it in all the way.  Once this was assembled, I stoned both areas where the pin comes through to make sure that it was smooth. 


Now I assembled the plunger tube parts.  The small pin went to the front; the larger pin went to the rear.  Then I installed the assembly into the plunger tube. 


I took the disconnector and tried to put it in the hole from the top.  Mine fit perfectly, but if it hadn’t I would have polished the ring at the top of the disconnector until it would go through the hole


I assembled the 'cradle' with the sear and disconnector as shown in the photo above.  I installed the sear and disconnector into the frame and installed the sear pin to keep them in place.


I now installed the hammer with the hammer pin.  

Fitting Thumb Safety

Now I fit the thumb safety.  I’ve done this on other guns and have had problems with the thickness of the frame where the safety wouldn’t completely rotate.  I removed all parts from the frame except for the trigger and magazine release.  First I made sure the back of the safety was perfectly flat with no raised casting marks.  I filed away any raised edges with a jeweler’s file.  Note in the photo above how I had to polish off the raised edge around the outside of the safety.

Then I installed the thumb safety so that it was flat against the frame.  I moved the safety up and down to see if it would rotate freely in the safety cutout slot in the frame.  My safety rotated freely and did not bind on the frame.  


Now that the safety rotated freely, I removed it and re-installed the sear, disconnector, and sear pin.  Next I installed the sear spring making sure that the little tab at the bottom of the spring was in the slot in the frame, and the flat at the top of the left most leaf was against the bottom of the sear.  I installed the mainspring housing and pinned it in place with the mainspring housing pin, then I installed the hammer and hammer pin.


I cocked the hammer and tried to install the safety.  It wouldn’t go all the way in because it was hitting against the sear.  I lightly filed the engagement surface with a file only 2 or 3 strokes at a time until the safety would go in and I could engage it, making sure it blocked the sear. 

Fitting Grip Safety to Trigger  
Now I was ready to fit the beavertail safety to the trigger stirrup.  First I removed all of the trigger parts except the trigger and the magazine catch.  In this way I could see how the grip safety engaged the trigger stirrup.  In the safe position the grip safety prevents the trigger from moving rearward to disengage the sear.  When I grip the gun the grip safety is depressed and rotated and the leg on the safety is moved up and out of the way of the trigger stirrup.  I installed the beavertail safety and the thumb safety and kept the thumb safety in the lowered or fire position.

I then installed the mainspring housing and held it in with the retaining pin half-way in.  By looking inside the frame I could see how the grip safety contacted the trigger stirrup.  

I removed metal from the bottom of the grip safety leg with a file until the trigger would slide under it when the grip safety was depressed.  I then polished the top of the rear of the trigger, and the surface I just filed with a 400-grit polishing stone to make them smooth.  

Grip safety out, trigger blocked

Grip safety in, trigger not blocked

Adjusting Trigger Pre/Over Travel  
I purchased a trigger with pre-travel adjustment tabs and an over travel set screw, so now I adjusted pre-travel and over travel.  First I installed the complete trigger group.  Then I pulled the hammer back and let it rest in the half cock position.  


The first time I performed the pre-travel adjustment on another pistol I gripped the trigger shoe to bend out the adjustment tabs.  This caused the trigger shoe and stirrup to become so misaligned I spent over one hour getting them realigned.  So now I only grip the stirrup and tab, never the trigger shoe. 

With the hammer in the half-cock position the trigger should have no rearward travel at all.  I used two pair of needle-nose pliers to bend the tabs out by gripping only the stirrup and tab. 


I really didn’t have to bend the tabs very far to take up the pre-travel.  I’ve done this before and the amount of bend is about the same for most guns. 


Now for the over-travel adjustment.  I cocked the hammer and turned the adjustment screw in until the hammer didn’t fall.  Then I backed out the screw 1/2 turn to see how it worked.  I held the hammer back when I pulled the trigger and gently let the hammer go forward.  I could feel the half-cock notch on the hammer just touch the sear so I backed out the adjustment screw another 1/4 turn.  I tested it again just to make sure the half-cock notch didn’t touch the sear.  Once set I used some Loctite blue to lock the set screw in place. 

Polishing Fire Control Parts

Now I performed some final polishing on parts of the trigger group to get a good, reliable trigger pull.  First I polished the front of the two left leaves of the sear spring.  The left-most leaf contacts the sear and allows the sear to return to the fire position.  The middle leaf contacts the slanted surface of the disconnector and allows it to return to the fire position.  The right leaf returns the grip safety to the safe position.  I also needed to make sure that the two outside leaves did not contact or drag against the frame.  I polished the leaves by rubbing the appropriate surface against my 400-grit polishing stick. 

Next I cleaned up and polished the disconnector.  I polished the slanted area by rubbing it on a 600-grit polishing stick.  I also polished the flat portion behind this.  Finally I used a Cratex® tip to polish the tip of the extractor to make it very smooth for the disconnector rail on the slide to ride over.  I also polished the flat back of the stem. 


Now on to the sear.  With my Dremel® and a Cratex® tip I polished the two lower legs of the sear.  With the curve facing me I polished the fronts and ends. 


I had already polished the inside of the thumb safety when I fitted it, but I polished the sharp edge on the lower part of the lever. 

Performing Function and Safety Checks  
Now it was time to see if all my hard work had been worth it.  I completely assembled the gun and used some dummy rounds to perform the function and safety checks.  First I locked the slide in the rear position with the slide stop.  I loaded ONE round into an empty magazine and inserted it into the gun.  I released the slide stop and allowed the slide to go forward into battery.  It fed the round into the chamber smoothly.  Then I pulled the slide back smartly and the round ejected briskly.  Good work!

Now with the gun empty and no magazine in it I again locked the slide back with the slide stop.  I held the trigger fully to the rear and released the slide and let it go into battery.  The hammer stayed back in the full cock position.  I repeated this a second time without holding the trigger back, and again the hammer stayed at full cock.  This is the only time I will allow the slide to slam forward without a loaded magazine.

With the gun empty and no magazine I racked the slide to put the hammer in the full cock position.  With my hand off of the grip safety I pulled the trigger; it did not drop the hammer.

With the gun empty and no magazine I racked the slide to put the hammer in the full cock position.  Gripping the gun normally, I engaged the thumb safety and pulled the trigger.  Again, the hammer did not drop, which is correct.  With my finger off the trigger I moved the thumb safety to the fire position; the hammer did not drop. 

I did a little work to make the trigger pull smoother by “pushing” the hammer.  I disassembled the gun and removed the grip safety.  I then reassembled the gun and cocked the hammer.  With my left thumb I applied additional forward pressure to the hammer, then pulled the trigger to allow the hammer to fall.  I did this 5 or 6 times which helped the hammer and sear mating surfaces to work in quicker. 

I tested to see if the disconnector was resetting properly by first pulling the hammer back into the full cock position.  I then pulled the slide back just until it pushed on the disconnector.  With my left hand pushing on the slide I pulled the trigger, then released the slide keeping the trigger pulled.  When I released the trigger I should have heard a click as the disconnector reset, but the trigger would not return to the forward position. 

Upon close examination I discovered that the top of the rear part of the trigger bow was dragging on the bottom of the disconnector.  I carefully filed the top of the rear of the trigger bow as shown in the above photo until the trigger and disconnector reset as they should.

Cleaning Up and Installing Small Parts

Now I needed to check my work and make sure I have done all of the things that have to be done to build a Custom 1911 pistol.  I installed a .45 ACP ejector I had in my parts bin onto the frame.  Although this ejector is not used for .22 LR cartridges, I didn’t want there to be an empty space below the slide where the ejector should go.  Besides, I someday may want to put a .45 upper on this frame.  First I pinned the ejector in and made sure that the pin was flush on both sides.  It went in from right to left.  


Some of the internal parts I polished I wanted to protect the bare metal so I cold-blued them instead.  I used a cotton swab dipped in acetone to degrease them, then I suspended them in .  Shooter Solutions™ Rugged Gun Blue until I got a nice deep blue.  After removing the part I wiped it dry, then stopped the bluing process by wiping with gun oil.  I only blued the bottom half of the hammer because I like the bare steel look, but I didn’t get the deep blue I wanted I think because this part is hardened. 


Next I staked in the hammer strut pin to make that sure it stays put.  I used a pointed punch to make a dent in the center of each end of the pin to make sure that the pin wouldn’t come out.  


Next I removed the grip screw bushings and reinstalled them with Loctite red to insure they would not come out when I removed the grip screws.  It is very irritating to have the bushing come out with the screw.   

Bead Blasting

Now that I have a fully functioning 1911 it’s time to enter the home stretch.  First I needed to prepare all the parts I planned to blue.  I purchased a used blast cabinet for about half the price of a new one and glass bead blast media from ebay.  I wanted all visible parts to be blued so they would first have to be bead blasted to get the same texture and remove any original bluing. 


Some of the polished/fitted areas I didn’t want to have damaged by the bead blasting so I protected them with masking tape.  I taped the feed ramp, top, and slide rails on the frame.

I took the parts to my blast cabinet and worked with the frame first.  I had my air compressor set to 100 PSI, the maximum for the cabinet, and held the gun fairly close to the work piece.  I made a slow back and forth pass over all external areas until I got a nice even matt texture.  I made sure there was no bluing left on the ejector, grip screw bushings, firing pin stop, plunger tube, and front and rear sights.  There were a couple of areas Dremel® tool with a Cratex® bit got away from me, but the bead blasting eliminated the marks. 

Before Bead Blasting - Shiny or Blue


After Bead Blasting - Matt Texture, No Blue

Then I concentrated on the smaller parts.  Again I made sure there was no bluing left on any of the previously blued parts.

Bluing Parts

Since my .22 LR conversion kit was blued I decided to try my hand at bluing the frame so it matched.  Professional, commercial bluing requires hot dipping tanks and special bluing salts.  Shooter Solutions™ has a cold bluing solution that comes out almost looking as good as, and durable as commercial bluing.  I purchased two 4-ounce bottles of their 2.5X Concentrated Rugged Gun Blue just to see how it would come out.

Preparation is everything.  First I had to clean and degrease all the parts I planned to blue.  I wore vinyl gloves so I wouldn’t contaminate the parts with oil from my skin.  I used acetone to clean and degrease all of the parts.   

I poured one bottle of solution into a 1-cup glass measuring cup.  I used a bent paper clip to suspend each of the small parts in the gun blue solution for one minute.  I removed the part from the solution, dried it off, then coated it with gun oil. 

I poured both bottles of bluing solution into a plastic pan that came from my favorite Chinese restaurant.  I save these plastic tubs and pans and use them for keeping small parts together, cleaning parts, etc.  After I degreased the frame I laid it in the solution.  The solution only covered half of the frame so I had to keep flipping the frame to ensure it was evenly blued.  After about 45-seconds on each side I removed the frame, dried it off, then coated it with gun oil.


Overall I was very pleased with the results as you can see from the above photo.  We’ll see just how durable this finish really is with time and use.

Lubricating and Assembling All Parts  
First I degreased all parts by spraying with brake parts cleaner, then dried with an air compressor.  I lightly coated all parts with BreakFree CLP then wiped them clean.

I reassembled the gun and put some good gun oil on the internal moving parts.  Personally I think the result is much better than I had hoped. 

Test Firing  
Now I checked all of the functions of my 1911.  First I inserted the .22LR magazine and made sure it dropped out smoothly.  I re-checked the thumb safety for solid operation and saw that it clicked in place firmly.  I also re-checked the grip safety function making sure that it released the trigger when it should and that it did not hold the trigger back when I pulled the trigger for the next shot. 

The test fire procedure is very important.  I started with a single round in a magazine and with the slide locked back, loaded that one round into the chamber by depressing the slide stop and letting the slide slam home.  The round chambered with no hang-up.  I fired that one round and made sure the slide locked back.  With it locked back, I inserted a magazine loaded with two rounds, chambered the first round, and fired both shots.  I did not have any “doubling” where both shots were fired with only one trigger pull.  This would have been a dangerous condition that I would have had to fix before loading and shooting a full magazine.  

Since all seemed to be well I shot about 100 rounds to make sure that everything was working correctly.  This also helped to “break in” the gun.  Man this gun was tight and shot better than I did!  I didn’t have any failures-to-feed (FTFs) or failures-to-eject (FTEs) and the gun put the shots right where I was aiming after adjusting the rear sight!  Reliability and accuracy; the results of a job well done.  

So how does it shoot?  My neighbor said it was really smooth.  The above target is 30 rounds at 8 yards so it is not only smooth, but accurate as well.  The trigger breaks at a crisp 3 1/2 pounds which makes this gun a pleasure to shoot.

Custom Grips
Now that everything was working correctly I wanted to make a set of custom grips.  I have done this before (refer to my article Making Custom Handgun Grips) and they come out beautifully.  Rather than use wood I decide to use black Delrin® which is a polyoxymethylene (POM), also know as acetal, polyacetal, and polyformaldehyde.  It is a synthetic polymer thermoplastic used in precision parts requiring high stiffness, low friction, and excellent dimensional stability.  Delrin® is DuPont's name for this polymer, and I have found that it machines like metal and sands like wood.

I performed the drilling, milling, and shaping processes as described in my article.  You can see in the above photo that the final shaping process left tool marks behind.  

After completing the shaping on my hobby CNC mill I sanded off the tooling marks and polished with progressively finer grits of sand paper starting with 150-grit and progressing to 220, 400, 600, 800, and 1,000-grit paper.  I used a buffing wheel on a drill with polishing compound to get the final high-gloss finish I was looking for.

I created a design that I engraved into the grips using my CNC mill and a 0.015" bit.  I tweaked the design just a bit and put the spider web hole in the center of the O in SHOT.

After I completed the engraving I filled the lines with white epoxy appliance touch-up paint.  I painted the entire design so the lines were filled with paint, then allowed the paint to thoroughly dry.  I used a cotton cleaning patch and odorless mineral spirits to remove the excess paint from the surface so just the filled lines were left behind.

As you can see from the above photo the white lines really stand out from the black polymer grips.  So now I am fully prepared for the zombie apocalypse!



   © Copyright 2013 Roy Seifert.