The Sixgun Journal

A Collection of Firearms Articles & Campfire Tales

A Resurrected (As in Back from the Dead) Rock Island 1911A1

This gun was purchased used by a young Officer I work with and like, with intentions of qualifying with it and carrying it off-duty. He bought it from another young man who is equally likeable and enthusiastic about shooting.  I’m the Armorer for my outfit and the new owner tells me his 1911 won’t feed the first round from the magazine. I’m thinking ‘extractor tension’ so I back-burner it- it’s an easy fix.

When I finally look at it, I discover some Bubba-smith has ground the top 3/8 inch of the frame ramp up under the barrel throat.  This is bad enough by itself, but he also failed to blend it into the original ramp. This leaves a rough crest in the ramp, precisely where the first round of hardball will hit it. Hand cycling confirms this and I deep-seated several rounds of ball trying to load from slide lock. Rims are not getting anywhere near the extractor.

It gets even worse when I checked relationship between the frame ramp and barrel.  0.032” is the minimum spec and there’s less than 0.020” present. Crap…there is no way to correct this without ramp work and the top third of the ramp is all but undercut. So I tell the kid that the patient may not survive the surgery; he tells me ‘Go ahead, I’ve got nothin’ to lose.’

My plan of attack was start below the screwed-up top of the ramp, deepen it a tad while salvaging the feed angle, and finish just short of the undercut area. This was accomplished with a mandrel, improvised from a magnetic bit holder, which also happens to be the perfect radius for 1911 ramps. It is powered by a high-speed hand drill. The mandrel is wrapped in two layers of 320 wet-or-dry, bottomed-out on the factory ramp and allowed to cut until it was within about 1/8” of its original apex. At that point the 320 was swapped out for 600, the main ramp was re-polished and the top edge was blended into it. The pic tells the rest of the story.

 

I’ll admit that it was really tempting to just polish it all into a mirror… but the black curly-Q on the right side of the frame ramp provided a reference point as to when things were becoming unscrewed-up. The under-spec ramp/barrel gap worried me some, so I set the bottom of the barrel ramp in about 0.004”, blended in a good wadcutter throat and added a 0.002” radius to the bottom edge of the chamber, where it meets the barrel ramp. This virtually eliminates 3-point jams, where the round gets wedged between the breechface, the top of chamber and that break-over point.

I blew the grit out of the gun, oiled it and reassembled it. The gun came with four mags; two Wilson 47D’s and two unmarked, blue GI type mags. I also grabbed one of my CMC Powermags, an ACT mag and I loaded them all with Winchester USA ball. The first round of each fed slickly into the chamber. I repeated the process while holding two fingers on the slide, to retard its forward motion. Same result. Finally, I topped each mag with a couple of rounds of Ranger SXT, Golden Saber, USA JHP and my 200 grain wadcutter load. Each first and second round slipped smoothly into the chamber.

Live fire results were trouble-free and I was happy to send the owner a post-op report.

Test Run

Soon after, The Resurrected Rock Island got a good wringing-out. The owner and his Dad accumulated thirteen, 100 round boxes of Winchester USA 230 grain hardball. The gun chugged through ten of them in one day- and  digested them all without a malfunction. I am told that it also fed two magazines of CCI shot cartridges.

Pardon me if I am just a little bit proud of that.

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2 Comments

  1. I like this blog it’s a master piece! Glad I observed this on google.

  2. that’s a great post… SARGE, you need to write more…

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