How to Fit a 1911 Barrel, Part 1: The Hood

How to Fit a 1911 Barrel, Part 1: The Hood

The most critical component of a 1911 accuracy job is the barrel. If the barrel doesn't lock up into battery exactly the same way every time, accuracy will suffer. Factory barrels are manufactured to minimize or eliminate hand fitting and are generally referred to as "drop-in."

True match barrels must be hand fitted to the individual pistol and are manufactured oversized for a "gunsmith" fit. The pistolsmith will be required to remove material from the barrel hood and bottom lugs to achieve proper lockup. In this first article in our barrel-fitting series, we will cover the hood.

The Kart .45 ACP barrel we will fit to our pistol is one of the best quality tubes available. I have fitted dozens of them over the past few decades and I have never been disappointed by their accuracy. Machined from a forging, the bore is mirror polished for excellent performance with the lead semi-wadcutters favored by many bullseye shooters.

The barrel hood should fit into the slot above the breech face in the slide but we don't want the sides to make contact. A few thousandths clearance on each side is fine. Measuring the slide with dial calipers shows the width of the slot is .442 inches. The hood width of the Kart barrel is .451 inches, so some material will have to be removed from each side. Using a safe sided pillar file, carefully reduce the hood width until the barrel will drop into the slide and touch the breech face.


When test fitting the barrel, I use a Kart bench bushing and a barrel alignment block to keep it aligned with the slide.


Now that the hood width is set, adjust the length. You will note that when you test fit the barrel it won't go far enough to the rear for the top lugs to lock into the slide. The hood length of the new barrel is 1.33 inches and the recess in the slide where it fits is 1.314 inches, so you will need to remove .016 inches of material from the end of the hood to allow lockup and touch the breech face evenly without binding.

I use a lathe for shortening the end of the hood because it's quick and easy to keep my cuts square, but careful filing will achieve the same result. Final fitting involves lapping compound and tapping the barrel in and out of lockup until full contact is achieved.

Be advised that some breechfaces are not square, so the shape of the barrel hood must be adjusted accordingly.

When the hood is properly fitted, the barrel will lock up into the slide with finger pressure with clearance on the sides and light contact at the rear. In Part 2 of this series (next Friday), I'll fit the bottom lugs.


The Tools

Here are the tools of the trade for efficient and accurate 1911 barrel fitting: a Kart bench bushing, barrel alignment block, pillar file and digital caliper.

Too Wide

As supplied from Kart, the barrel hood is too wide to enter the barrel slot. This is intentional to allow the pistolsmith to fit it accurately to any slide.

Narrowing the Hood

The hood is narrowed with a safe sided pillar file. As the name implies, a safe-sided file has no teeth on the sides to prevent marring the workpiece.

Test Fitting

The barrel alignment block and bushing are used when test fitting the barrel. The bench bushing\'s a lot easier to install and remove repeatedly.

Measurement

Measuring the barrel hood length. Norcross says you can\'t assume the breechface is square; the hood may have to be filed at an angle for best fit.

Shortening the Hood

Norcross uses a lathe when shortening the hood, but says the job can be done with a file if you are patient and careful. A close fit will pay off in accuracy.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Shooting the 20mm Lahti

Shooting the 20mm Lahti

David Fortier had the chance to fire the Lahti L-39 while filming the 2018 season of Guns&AmmoTV while on location at DriveTanks.com.

New addition to the Browning X-Bolt rifle series

New addition to the Browning X-Bolt rifle series

New for 2019 is the Max Long Range model featuring a composite Max stock with fully adjustable comb, spacers for adjusting length of pull, stainless fluted heavy sporter barrel, threaded muzzle brake and extended bolt handle.

American Suppressor Association (ASA)

American Suppressor Association (ASA)

ASA is the unified voice of the suppressor industry and a leading subject matter experts on suppressors and suppressor related advocacy.

New Bushnell Prime 1700 and Nitro 1800 Rangefinders

New Bushnell Prime 1700 and Nitro 1800 Rangefinders

Jake Edson of Bushnell Optics tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead about the brand new Prime 1700 and Nitro 1800 rangefinders.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The last of Germany's infamous Elefant tank destroyers. Historical

World War II German Elefant Tank Destroyers

Neal S Shera - July 12, 2019

The last of Germany's infamous Elefant tank destroyers.

Governor Northam is calling a special session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, July 9th, to do nothing but pass more gun control! 2nd Amendment

Virginia Governor Northam Declares War on Gun Owners

Virginia Citizens Defense League - July 09, 2019

Governor Northam is calling a special session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, July 9th, to...

If you want to keep the peace, keep and bear arms. Don't give up your guns. Any other choice would be ridiculous. 2nd Amendment

Is Red Dawn Really Just Ridiculous? If Not, Who Would Citizen Disarmament Help?

David Codrea - May 29, 2019

If you want to keep the peace, keep and bear arms. Don't give up your guns. Any other choice...

Rhode Islanders are setting brushfires for freedom once again as they advance a Second Amendment Sanctuary Town movement. 2nd Amendment

SPECIAL REPORT: BIG 2A HISTORY BEING MADE IN LITTLE RHODE ISLAND

John Peterson - May 22, 2019

Rhode Islanders are setting brushfires for freedom once again as they advance a Second...

See More Trending Articles

More Gunsmithing

Lone Wolf Distributors are now offering the Advantage Arms .22 Conversion Kit for Glock pistols. Gunsmithing

Lone Wolf Advantage Arms .22 Conversion Kit

SGN Online Editors - April 16, 2014

Lone Wolf Distributors are now offering the Advantage Arms .22 Conversion Kit for Glock...

YouTuber, GunCraft101, builds an AR-10 from used brass casings. Gunsmithing

YouTuber Builds AR-10 Receiver from Used Brass Cartridge Cases

Jim Grant - July 06, 2018

YouTuber, GunCraft101, builds an AR-10 from used brass casings.

There was a time (a couple decades ago) when most 1911 front sights were staked in place as John Gunsmithing

How to Stake a Trijicon 1911 Front Sight

Gus Norcross - May 29, 2014

There was a time (a couple decades ago) when most 1911 front sights were staked in place as...

I have long been a big fan of Savage 110 series bolt action rifles. They are an extremely good Gunsmithing

Rebarreling a Savage Model 11

Gus Norcross - February 04, 2014

I have long been a big fan of Savage 110 series bolt action rifles. They are an extremely good

See More Gunsmithing

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.