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  #1  
Old 04-02-2020, 4:05 PM
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Default Rail tightening and polymer pistols

Hey everyone. Been reading up on 1911's and their modification.

I see that tightening rails and slides are useful accuracy enhancements (when a NM frame isn't available for fitting).

I'm curious to know why this isn't done with polymer frame pistols (e.g. Glocks).

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-02-2020, 4:19 PM
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I canít speak to glocks and suck but did want to clarify something on 1911s. NM frames (if there truly was ever such a thing) require this same treatment to squeeze the absolute utmost accuracy out of a gun too. Slide to frame fitting does achieve more mechanical accuracy but itís a tiny amount compared to properly fitting a barrel.


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Old 04-02-2020, 4:54 PM
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Thanks for the reply, your insights are always valued.

I may not be using the correct term when I say NM or National Match. What I intend to say is a 1911 frame deliberately manufactured oversize such that fitting is necessary for a slide to properly interface.
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Old 04-02-2020, 4:59 PM
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Default Rail tightening and polymer pistols

Quote:
Originally Posted by Experimentalist View Post
Thanks for the reply, your insights are always valued.

I may not be using the correct term when I say NM or National Match. What I intend to say is a 1911 frame deliberately manufactured oversize such that fitting is necessary for a slide to properly interface.

I donít want to derail your question with 1911 stuff as I am curious as well. I have little experience with polymer guns so I find your question intriguing.

NM is grossly overused and really doesnít apply to much of anything anymore as does match grade etc.

New higher end production frames and slides (such as caspian and JEM for example) do indeed come oversized for the intent of the gunsmith to properly machine them to a proper fit.


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Old 04-02-2020, 5:34 PM
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Are polymer frames rigid enough to make tightening effective?
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Old 04-02-2020, 5:45 PM
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1911s secure the barrel using the bushing, slide, and the frame via the takedown pin and barrel link. Keeping the slide and frame in tight relationship keeps the barrel locked up in the same position and aligned with the sights every time.

Most plastic guns lock up the barrel into the slide only, so its always in the same relation to the sights, a sloppy fit to the frame wont cause many issues besides inconsistent trigger/striker engagement causing inconsistent trigger action
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Old 04-02-2020, 8:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Experimentalist View Post
Hey everyone. Been reading up on 1911's and their modification.

I see that tightening rails and slides are useful accuracy enhancements (when a NM frame isn't available for fitting).

I'm curious to know why this isn't done with polymer frame pistols (e.g. Glocks).
It's generally not possible to widen or thicken the rails on polymer pistols like you do on a 1911, but significant accuracy improvements can be made on a glock by tightening the barrel lockup.
Gunsmith fit glock barrels come with extra material that must be removed before the gun will even be able to lockup.
A properly tightened lockup will eliminate almost all of the slides up/down movement when the gun is in lockup but retain the movement once the barrel comes out of lockup.
This will dramatically tighten up the up-down dispersion on target.
Even factory barrels can be tightened up by welding a small pad on the underside of the barrel and then re-fitting the barrel so the lockup is tight but still free enough to cycle.
I have done a bunch of them.
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Old 04-02-2020, 8:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Cuda440 View Post
1911s secure the barrel using the bushing, slide, and the frame via the takedown pin and barrel link. Keeping the slide and frame in tight relationship keeps the barrel locked up in the same position and aligned with the sights every time.

Most plastic guns lock up the barrel into the slide only, so its always in the same relation to the sights, a sloppy fit to the frame wont cause many issues besides inconsistent trigger/striker engagement causing inconsistent trigger action
Most plastic frame handguns actually lock the barrel in the slide AGAINST the frame as does the 1911.
The difference is that most plastic handguns use angled surfaces instead of a link to lock the barrel.
It matters not how it's done, but the barrel fit to the frame absolutely DOES effect how the barrel locks into the slide.

As with a 1911, take any plastic frame gun with the barrel in full lockup and push down on the barrel through the ejection port.
Almost every factory gun will be sloppy loose and the barrel will push down.
That happens because they produce the parts sloppy loose to make the guns less expensive to produce.
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Old 04-03-2020, 7:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cuda440 View Post
1911s secure the barrel using the bushing, slide, and the frame via the takedown pin and barrel link. Keeping the slide and frame in tight relationship keeps the barrel locked up in the same position and aligned with the sights every time.

Most plastic guns lock up the barrel into the slide only, so its always in the same relation to the sights, a sloppy fit to the frame wont cause many issues besides inconsistent trigger/striker engagement causing inconsistent trigger action
Good explanation on polymer guns. However, for 1911 tight fitting of the barrel lugs and matching slide lugs are critical to accuracy. The barrel link is sloppy on purpose to allow the barrel to move during cycling. I once thought the barrel bushing fitment was important. But when I custom fit a bushing, replacing a much looser tolerance factory one I saw no real improvement using a bench rest. I’m not real sure if a tight slide to frame tolerance is required because barrel locks to the slide and sights, similar to your explanation of a polymer gun.

Last edited by LMT4ME; 04-03-2020 at 8:03 AM..
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Old 04-03-2020, 2:13 PM
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Fwiw, there is a Johnny Glock video on youtube where he describes 'tightening the slide" on a Glock. Check out after about 05:00 where he shows how he peens the slide itself to tighten the fit when the slide is in battery.

Just pointing this out, not saying it is a good or bad idea.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93QLSE4pzqU
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Old 04-03-2020, 7:03 PM
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Thanks for all the information everyone, I appreciate it.

The technique I am familiar with is documented in Jerry Kuhnhausen's book (see footnote) starting on page 110. This technique involves peening or swaging the frame rails to match the thickness of the slide rails. The 'smith inserts metal bars under the frame rails of thickness equal to the height of the slide rails as a limit to how far the rails are compressed.

The video linked by OddBall (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93QLSE4pzqU) seems to be achieving roughly the equivalent, if by less sophisticated means. Instead of beating on the slide with a hammer in a hit and miss effort, it seems much more efficient to follow the Khunhausen method of measuring and precisely shaping the frame rails.

I wonder if there is some reason to modify the slide instead of the frame rails (what 'Johnny Glock' refers to as "tabs" in the above video). Is there a reason one could not peen or swage the frame rails on a Glock as described by Kuhnhausen?

Thanks everyone.



Jerry Kuhnhausen, "The Colt .45 Automatic - A shop manual", Volume 1, Heritage VSP, 1990.
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Old 04-03-2020, 7:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Experimentalist View Post
Thanks for all the information everyone, I appreciate it.

The technique I am familiar with is documented in Jerry Kuhnhausen's book (see footnote) starting on page 110. This technique involves peening or swaging the frame rails to match the thickness of the slide rails. The 'smith inserts metal bars under the frame rails of thickness equal to the height of the slide rails as a limit to how far the rails are compressed.

The video linked by OddBall (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93QLSE4pzqU) seems to be achieving roughly the equivalent, if by less sophisticated means. Instead of beating on the slide with a hammer in a hit and miss effort, it seems much more efficient to follow the Khunhausen method of measuring and precisely shaping the frame rails.

I wonder if there is some reason to modify the slide instead of the frame rails (what 'Johnny Glock' refers to as "tabs" in the above video). Is there a reason one could not peen or swage the frame rails on a Glock as described by Kuhnhausen?

Thanks everyone.



Jerry Kuhnhausen, "The Colt .45 Automatic - A shop manual", Volume 1, Heritage VSP, 1990.

This technique is old and outdated. Itís also extremely inaccurate and the cause of much heart ache.

The preferred method now is weld up the frame rails using micro welding or laser welding and machine to proper fit. Some of us also use a technique where we machine down the rail partially and then silver solder in inserts and then machine those to fit. Itís precise.


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Old 04-05-2020, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by ar15barrels View Post
It's generally not possible to widen or thicken the rails on polymer pistols like you do on a 1911...
I appreciate it's not a simple thing to increase dimensions of the frame rails of a polymer pistol, but what about peening or swaging them as Kuhnhausen describes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CifaldiPrecision View Post
This technique is old and outdated. Itís also extremely inaccurate and the cause of much heart ache.
Thank you for the information. Two follow up questions:

1) I appreciate the area near the magazine is comparatively fragile and it's important to stay away from it else risk collapse of the frame. Would you mind elaborating on the inaccuracy and / or heartache involved with swaging 1911 frame rails using a punch designed for the task and slide bars as guides? Kuhnhausen seems to think good results are obtained. I'm agnostic, having no practical experience. Insights from accomplished gunsmiths such as you and Randal are greatly valued.

2) It seems the bulk of educational materials commonly available are decades old. Much of that material remains relevant, the basics don't really evolve very quickly. But I do wonder where one might find more contemporary information? Anyone have insights?

Thanks.
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Old 04-05-2020, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
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I appreciate it's not a simple thing to increase dimensions of the frame rails of a polymer pistol, but what about peening or swaging them as Kuhnhausen describes?
The most likely result is that you damage the plastic that the metal rail is anchored in and render the frame useless.
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Old 04-05-2020, 12:22 PM
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The most likely result is that you damage the plastic that the metal rail is anchored in and render the frame useless.
I see. So then if one were interested in tightening a Glock slide, it very much sounds as if the slide is the place to work.

Cifaldi talks of micro or laser welding 1911 frames and re-machining. Sounds as if doing similar on a Polymer pistol slide might be the way to go.

I had another question (full if it I am... ) Cifaldi says one modern method to tighten 1911 slides is to partly machine the rail and silver solder in additional metal to be machined to suit. I've read cautions about applying heat to highly stressed areas as one may alter the temper of the metal and thus its capacity for load bearing.

How is one able to silver solder in the frame rail area and not cause issue with the steel temper? Is there technique involved, does the newly added metal compensate, or....?

Thanks everyone.
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Old 04-05-2020, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Experimentalist View Post
I see. So then if one were interested in tightening a Glock slide, it very much sounds as if the slide is the place to work.

Cifaldi talks of micro or laser welding 1911 frames and re-machining. Sounds as if doing similar on a Polymer pistol slide might be the way to go.

I had another question (full if it I am... ) Cifaldi says one modern method to tighten 1911 slides is to partly machine the rail and silver solder in additional metal to be machined to suit. I've read cautions about applying heat to highly stressed areas as one may alter the temper of the metal and thus its capacity for load bearing.

How is one able to silver solder in the frame rail area and not cause issue with the steel temper? Is there technique involved, does the newly added metal compensate, or....?

Thanks everyone.

There is technique to everything and this is a common concern we always take into consideration.


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Old 04-05-2020, 1:43 PM
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Thanks for the information everyone. Really fascinating stuff.

I found this YouTube video that describes silver soldering a gun frame. Clearly not the same thing as what Cifaldi talks about, but I found it interesting.



I was amazed by how much heat is being applied to the frame. Apparently one can be more aggressive than I had originally imagined.

I'll throw out again that I would be interested in sources of contemporary information on gunsmithing techniques.

Thanks,
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Old 04-05-2020, 3:33 PM
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Just because the guys on YouTubeís doesnít mean he knows what heís doing lol.


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Old 04-05-2020, 3:40 PM
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the point of silver soldering is that it takes less heat than welding..

going at it with a mapp torch kinda kills the principal

a single orifice jewelers torch is a better approach
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Old 04-05-2020, 3:40 PM
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No, there seems to be a bit of clumsiness in the proceedings.

Care to offer specific thoughts on it?
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Old 04-05-2020, 4:05 PM
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No, there seems to be a bit of clumsiness in the proceedings.

Care to offer specific thoughts on it?
it requires a small tip, steady hand, and a dual fuel source ideally.

I'm not a gunsmith, just a fabricator by trade and hobbyist. Most of my silver soldering has been with copper refrigeration plumbing with a regular oxy/acetylene torch.

this video shows how little heat or solder is actually needed to make a very strong bond

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Old 04-05-2020, 4:07 PM
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another option would be tig welding with silicon-bronze fill rod, you can run the weld with 15-20 amps or even less if your machine will hold the arc.
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Old 04-05-2020, 4:37 PM
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it requires a small tip, steady hand, and a dual fuel source ideally.

I'm not a gunsmith, just a fabricator by trade and hobbyist. Most of my silver soldering has been with copper refrigeration plumbing with a regular oxy/acetylene torch.

this video shows how little heat or solder is actually needed to make a very strong bond

Good stuff, thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Interesting, I do see your point about efficiencies with heat and solder.
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Old 04-05-2020, 5:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Cuda440 View Post
it requires a small tip, steady hand, and a dual fuel source ideally.

I'm not a gunsmith, just a fabricator by trade and hobbyist. Most of my silver soldering has been with copper refrigeration plumbing with a regular oxy/acetylene torch.

this video shows how little heat or solder is actually needed to make a very strong bond


I use an oxy/acetylene torch as well. Just have to regulate the flame correctly and heat enough to allow flow.


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Old 04-05-2020, 9:41 PM
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How is one able to silver solder in the frame rail area and not cause issue with the steel temper?
Is there technique involved, does the newly added metal compensate, or....?
Low temperature silver solder works around 450-600 and won't hurt the frame if you stay within that range.
There is lots of technique/experience in controlling heat to not hurt things.
A first timer would do well to spend LOTS of time practicing on scrap metal before working on an actual firearm.
That also applies to the machining that you have to do before and after the soldering.
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Old 04-05-2020, 9:46 PM
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I'll throw out again that I would be interested in sources of contemporary information on gunsmithing techniques.
Go spend a few years learning to solder/braze/weld with a torch and you will learn a lot about heat control and management.
This is nothing specific to gunsmithing.
It is all long established metalworking skills.

Gunsmithing just means working on guns.
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Old 04-05-2020, 9:50 PM
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another option would be tig welding with silicon-bronze fill rod, you can run the weld with 15-20 amps or even less if your machine will hold the arc.
I have done some silicon bronze tig brazing, mostly on cast iron repairs.
Silicon bronze is not fun to machine.
It's also done at a MUCH higher temperature than soft solder.
I would feel much more comfortable machining away some material and making a shim that is soft soldered in and then re-machining the shim than adding silicon bronze and then machining the silicon bronze.
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