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1911s Guns Gunsmithing Handguns

Building A 1911 Long Slide

by Gus Norcross   |  September 3rd, 2013 8

There is something that draws me to long slide 1911s. I’m not sure exactly what it is but I like the extra sight radius and heft of them. My favorite recreational pistols sport the long slide and barrel and I shot one in bullseye competition for a while. Building one is really no different than building a standard government model except for three specialty parts that are unique to these guns.

Slides: Obviously, you’ll need a long slide. Caspian Arms of Wolcott Vermont has been supplying their slides to custom pistolsmiths and manufacturers for decades and their customers include some of the biggest names in the industry. Available in carbon or stainless steel, Caspian slides can be ordered with a variety of sight cuts, cocking serrations and engraving.

You can also choose from round (Colt style), serrated, knurled, snake skin or plain flat top profiles. As an old-school traditionalist, I prefer the Colt style round top and vertical rear cocking serrations.

Keep in mind that these are gunsmith fit parts made to maximum rail dimensions, so you will have to fit a custom slide to your frame. Usually, working the slide on to the frame with some lapping compound will result in a nice fit.

Barrels: 6-inch barrels are available from Kart, Nowlin, Clark, Bar-Sto, Nighthawk, Les Baer and probably other makers. Some, such as the Clark, will have to have the large diameter at the muzzle end reduced behind the bushing for proper function. It is possible to build longslide pistols in any caliber you find the 5-inch guns chambered for. Like low recoil? Try a 6-inch 9mm pistol. Do you want a pistol for hunting? Try a 10mm.

Springs and plugs: Since the 6-inch slide is longer than a Government Model, you’re probably thinking about longer recoil springs. Forget it. Stick with standard Government Model springs by using a special spring plug with an internal shoulder that shortens the spring tunnel length by one inch. These long spring plugs were sold by Rock River Arms for years but I don’t see them listed on their current website. Caspian Arms lists them. Order one with your slide.

Aside from the three proprietary parts listed above, you can use standard items available anywhere for your build. Now go build yourself a “big iron” 1911.

  • Leigh Rich

    An old AMT has a 7″ slide….longer

    • Gus

      AMTs were low quality guns compared to the 1911s on the market today.

      • Leigh Rich

        Is this speaking from experiance or what you read on the internet. My AMT LS is a very good firearm. Perhaps i got lucky ,,,you think?

        • Gus

          Experience. I’ve worked on hundreds of 1911s over the last 25 years including AMTs. Current production guns from the major makers are the best ever produced. The parts are more accurately machined.

          • Leigh Rich

            So have I. Nice to hear from another 1911 lover.. 1911s are much more plentiful now days then they were in the 70-80′s. Everyone makes them. My 7″ AMT LS works well with ball ammo only as does my government Remington 1911. I guess i was just lucky..

      • grey katt

        Sometimes it gets old people knocking the AMT ,who never had on,,sure they are not a Desert Eagle or acustom built COLT but from a person who has the Automag II ,Automag III & the 45 longslide hardballer knows ,they are awsome ..IF you keep them clean ,That is the biggest issue I have found ,I can dump 300 rounds through mine without any problems ,I am in the marker for a nice automag V 50 AE next & with the bad press ,hopefully I will get a good price on one .Bottom line ,don!t clean your ass & it will stink too

  • Zeke Normandin

    FWIW, For many years…before there was factory parts for this..these were made with 2 basic custom touches…the nose of an old reject slide was cut off at the desired length and welded to the nose of a 5″ slide..hand dressing the welds brought everything to contour. You made a 6″ barrel by salvaging the backend of a rejected pitted(internally) GI barrel cut off the bbl at the frony of the major diameter(lug area) and then opend up the chamber to about .60 to 70. caliber..not leaving the side walls that thin. You then used a length of Douglas .45 pistol barrel stock to create an insert…the chamber end was reduced to fit the lug you made and then the rest of the barrel was turned to National Match contour with an end result of a 6″ NM barrel profile…the 2 pieces were then silver soldered to gether, the chamber and barrel hood cut. You then proceeded to build a NM .45 as if you were using aGI Model 1911A1…I still have a pair of these I built in the late 1960′s. Both have had thousands of rds put thru them and there is not a factory custom part in them..all built the old way..it can still be done by the home smith with a limited amount of money to spend..One of the 1911A1 clones on the market from the Phillipines is an excellent canidate for the project…they are very much akin the old GI guns…..and..if you dig thru ther old NRA articles on this gun…all the instructions are there…and if you join a bareel, it no longer has to be soldered…you can use a product like Black Loctite…this acually gives better covaerage than solder…with the epoxy..you know you have 100% coverage…have fun…BTW all the parts can be had from ads via this publication….Have fun…..

  • Alek Hidell

    I used an old AMT Hardballer Long Slide as basis for a pin gun; Shot it for 20 years and its been very dependable with all kinds of round nose and SWC lead bullet reloads. I did replace some parts and yes, the quality and fitting of some factory AMT parts left a lot to be desired. The original 2-piece barrel failed after years of shooting some really hot pin loads but I found a replacement, put it in and its as dependable as ever.

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