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1911 Bull Barrel vs. Bushing

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by jonnypopr, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. jonnypopr

    jonnypopr Vancouver Member

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    Hello 1911'ers,

    I have recently aquired a like new Colt Combat Commander made in 1984. I am going to build my ultimate carry gun. The question:

    Bull barrel Vs. Bushing? Why?

    What upgrades have you done to your 1911 that made it more accurate and reliable and why?

    Thanks for the input!
  2. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    You'll have to define what "accuracy" means to you? It seems to be different for everyone, when asked.

    Most people want the utmost last fraction of an inch accuracy out of their gun, spend so much time and money trying to achieve it, when it really isn't necessary from the start.

    Around 1.5" or less groups at 25 yards is good combat accuracy.

    The best bang for the buck is a properly fitted barrel bushing. I run mine with .001" clearance from the barrel to the bushing, and .001" from the bushing to the slide.
    EGW makes one of the best bushings around, and can custom cut one with a carry bevel for about 30.00 or so.

    Most guns out there really don't need what's called a "Match" grade barrel. Many of the stock barrels, except for the 2 piece junk types found in some of the Springfield models, are about as good as one needs for most anything they will encounter...range and street alike. As long as the barrel is locking up consistently every time, you're good to go.

    A tightened slide to frame fit only accounts for about 5% of the total accuracy picture, and isn't worth the time or money. As long as the parts are put together properly, meaning they function well and are consistently doing the same action/motion with every shot...then the accuracy will be there.

    A slide stop with an over sized pin will help tighten up lower barrel lug fit, which in turn adds to that consistent barrel lock up.

    For anyone buying a new 1911 there are some simple mods I would recommend for absolute reliability. Some require parts change, others require some simple 'smithing to achieve it.

    Other than the above, look at a better quality extractor, it is THE single most important part to 1911 reliability. Most parts in 1911's these days don't have a lot of love put into them, and one of the most important parts that should, is the extractor...and it needs to be properly prepped and fitted.

    As for simple 'smithin'. Look at the guide rod end, where it rests against the frame. All have some kind of rounded part protruding out. Make sure the barrel link does not contact this part, or you're lookin' for an implosion somewhere down the line. If you see rub/shiny marks on this area, dress it down.
    The same for the sear spring. If there's a shiny mark on the middle leg, it means the hammer strut is making contact, and this can affect your trigger pull.

    There are many other things to look at...some are necessary, some are pure gimmick. Careful parts selection is the key. With so many parts on the market these days, made from so many different companies, which may or may not be in spec., its no wonder the 1911 platform is a reliability mess.
  3. 45 for me

    45 for me Oregon Well-Known Member

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    wichaka had a pretty comprehensive post, but I'll throw in my 2 cents. Bushing vs Bull barrel: I don't really notice a difference. I will list the pro's and con's that I have heard bandied about, but again, I don't think there is a significant difference.


    Easier to replace or fix if there is a problem
    lighter for carrying (weak benefit on a heavy gun, but maybe if you had a polymer sti frame and you were worried about every gram)


    Easier to dissasemble (don't need to mess around with a bushing wrench)
    More weight to the front of the barrel for better recoil control (another point I don't notice)
    If there is a problem, it affects the slide or barrel, which are more expensive parts to replace and re-match.
    Looks cool? (I admit I do like the look of a crowned bull barrel flush with the slide.)

    I don't think there is an easily measurable difference in accuracy between the two configurations if they are both well done, but I think the bushing is easier to do right, and replace for wear.

    Other accuracy mods:

    I think they break down into two categories. Ergonomics and mechanical

    Ergonomics: Get the grips, MSH, beavertail and trigger length to fit your hand. Have a short, light, crisp trigger pull (balance light with your carry situations. Sub 3lbs is better for accuracy but asking for trouble in a carry gun). Good sights (again there is a carry vs. accuracy trade off in configuration. I like LPA with fiber optic as a balance, but maybe you need a smoother sight for the draw like a Novak).

    Mechanics: Basically wichaka covered it better than I would.
  4. iamme

    iamme Lane County Well-Known Member

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    I'd go bushing- but it really is preference. With a properly fit barrel of good quality things should be roughly equal. I don't know that you'll find alot of 4.25" bull barrels though, most are 4" and were done to compensate for the lack of room to recoil and busing.
  5. RickB

    RickB Greater Seattle area Member

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    The Combat Commander is already a pretty heavy carry piece, so I wouldn't put more weight into it with a bull barrel. I'd carry a bushing-barreled 5", if I wanted that much weight.
  6. ktd

    ktd nw Member

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    I generally agree with wichaka but will note that my most accurate 1911 is a
    springer champion with a two piece barrel. It's annoying because its sloppy and beat up but outshoots my kimbers.

    I also agree that the primary advantage in bull barrels is that it makes short barrels work more reliably, the shorter the barrel, the more the bushing and chamber interfere. Get rid of the bushing and the slide has less issues traveling.

    i actually got rid of a newish bull barrel champion and replaced it with the beat up bushing gun, but that was because i like the looks of a bushing better and wanted something more suitable for carry condition wise.
  7. MarkAd

    MarkAd Port Orchard Well-Known Member

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    BUSHINGS all the way. For me they are easier to work with then bull barrels.
  8. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Ardenwald, OR Well-Known Member

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    Bushing for a SD pistol.

    Read this about a thousand times! I tend to avoid aftermarket parts. I built my first custom 1911 back in the early 70's when there was not a lot available, not like today were you can build a gun with out a single factory part.

    If you want to do your own work get the Kuhnhausen shop manuals.
  9. Chipperxd

    Chipperxd Buffalo Active Member

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    I don't know about Bull barrel guns being easier to disassemble. I know my EX-Kimber Pro Carry and the EMP are a bubblegum to take apart if you happen to lose the little paper clip (kimber) or the little plastic plug (EMP).
  10. Chipperxd

    Chipperxd Buffalo Active Member

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    Also, that is why I like GI setup instead of the FLGRs on "custom" 1911s. No bushing wrench to mess with.