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Project Velociraptor

733 Views 19 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  BigEd
Yeah a bit dramatic I know but I decided it fit what I intend to accomplish.
Giving new life to a deadly but old dinosaur (to some people) of a handgun.
This all started out approximately this time last year involving a trade I really didn't want to make. My S&W 442 .38spl. for a Springfield Armory Range Officer 1911 Govt Model in .45ACP. Mainly because the 442 was my daily carry in all weather.
The 1911 while nice didn't at first fit into any of my prepping or shooting plans past maybe instructing someone to shoot and having a single action auto platform as an example of one.
But a few months later ,for various reasons, I've been motivated to move to a different area. Probably in state but definitely out in the middle of nowhere.
Pondering the increased likely hood of encountering black bear, wild hogs and at least a tweaker or two I was wanting something set up with deep wound channel penetration and nearly instinctive handling/shooting qualities.
Since I cut my semi-auto pistol shooting teeth on a 1911 and had done some reasonable beefing up of the .45ACP cartridge load wise in the past the S.A.Inc. Range Officer started to look less like a range queen and more like something I used to carry quite a bit in the mountains around here.
At least in my mind.
So in phases I made a few changes to it a little bit at a time.
Because it's better to do something than just "think about it a lot".
First off even before this full on make over in progress began I had already swapped out the chunky original walnut grips for Magpul ones. More ergonomic and made magazine changes easier. However the polymer was meh; more on that later.
I also swapped out the factory mainspring housing assembly for one that was flat, checkered and had a provision for attachment of a lanyard. Plus it lacked that icky factory lock mechanism.
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The next step was a brief zero and function test with some 185gr JHP. Everything went well and I did roughly dial it in and was smacking center mass at 50yds from a rest. Plus the 25yd range was packed full.
Basics done I then acquired some more magazines. I did have 3 total but that was way shy of my minimum. So now I have six spares and 4 more would be even better.
The next big step was load development.
Which entailed me wanting to work up a load reaching a velocity between 900 and 1000fps using a 230gr JHP and unfortunately as things stand today with scarce components
that's the biggest hold up to detailed testing.
Fortunately I do have a limited amount of Unique and W-W 231 powder; sufficient for load development and testing.
Currently I have a load worked up to an average velocity of approximately 950fps within the published data.
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Next changes and load development.
Rear Sight, although I'll most likely replace the rear sight with a fixed Tritium one dot type to match the front (which will be next). I'd rather be able to carry and practice draw from carry without shredding my skin or clothes. So I went to work on the rear sight blade and rounded the corners so it no longer has the profile of a snow shovel.
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Next, due to the loads I've been working up I decided to do something to hopefully reduce the overall battering on the slide and frame without,I hope, screw up reliability.
In the past I'd normally do what many other shooters do and install a heavy recoil spring and maybe a buffer.
Well those have their pluses and minuses.
So I decided to go with the EGW "Square Base" firing pin stop. While it at a distance it looks square edged the bottom rear is slightly rounded. Alegedly this is the original pre Govt acceptance design that John M. Browning had. So I will give it a try. Plus I hope it'll help with the ejection so my brass isn't tossed into next week. Because last range trip brass was goin up high to the right, hitting the inside of the roof of the firing line and flying another 25 or so feet.馃檮
I'm hoping this will help a little.
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What does the square edge at the bottom do? Slow down unlocking and rearward slide travel due to added friction against the hammer?
Something along those lines.
Although after I fitted it and did a basic test.
I can't tell any difference in manually working the slide when the hammer is down.
I was prepared to feel a difference. Maybe I got duped or maybe it's true about what Gabe Suarez says about the average american shooter being out of shape. I say that because when I searched for online feedback and reviews the main negative was that it made it harder to rack the slide.馃檮Errrr., not for me.
Range report:
#1. New slide stop-Meh. Same ejection, might be due to profile of the hammer face. I'm not about to change the hammer. Spring kit time I guess.
#2. No surprise that the best performance was with a moderately high charge of 6.4grs of Unique; 6.5 & 6.6grs started to exhibit poor accuracy and excessive pressure with the 6.6grs in particular.
I bought and installed a Wolff 20lb variable power recoil spring. The design is supposed to reduce rear slide velocity but not significantly increase forward slide velocity.
I also just got in a extra power 25lb hammer spring from Wilson Combat which in theory is also supposed to slow rewards slide velocity.
Although tempted to pull out the Mainspring housing and install the heavier spring I'm going to wait until I can Parkerize the Mainspring Housing and the other small parts as it's been wanting to both fade and rust. I do believe at best it's nickel phosphate or at worst matt blued. I'm also wanting to tear down the used 700 I bought last year and Parkerize it as it's got that crappy matt blue as well.

Update: yeah of course I couldn't wait to see if it made a difference. Didn't shoot it yet but oh man yes. Can't be lackadaisical in racking the slide with the hammer down that's for sure.
But not as difficult and there's a minor increase to felt trigger pull weight.
Now to consider a brief test firing.


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Update at the range. New 20lb Recoil Spring and 25lb mainspring.

Ejection distance cut almost in half going by distances between shooting benches.
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Now what is the average brass ejection of a 1911 using standard GI ammo?

Well doing some searching I think I'm just a hair bit out of the norm around 12 feet instead of 8-10feet.
I'm a little tempted to try a 22lb spring of the same type next or maybe a 24 but currently the ejection distance and pattern is so close I may leave it alone for now.
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Since I had the sandblaster out and running I hit a couple of parts to make them less shiny.
That got me to thinking about all the changes I made to this pistol so far aside from internal. Some were for utility, some cosmetic and some a little of both.

So, my local internet permitting, I'll post a few comparison photos and see if people can pick out all of the changes in outward appearance. One or two are kind of subtle. One or two others obviously easy. The regulars here ought to get all.

First a couple of S.A. Inc. photos to illustrate the Before condition.
And two of my own for the After.

Air gun Trigger Gun barrel Everyday carry Gun accessory
Air gun Trigger Line Gun barrel Gun accessory

Okay mine:
Air gun Sleeve Trigger Grey Gun barrel
Air gun Trigger Grey Gun barrel Revolver

There are 6 differences in total.
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Another modification update to this project.
After some debate with myself I went ahead and ordered a Dawson Precision Tritium front sight for it.
I was lucky in that they still had a matching height for my factory front sight in stock. I had toyed with the idea of a shorter one something in the .140 to .160 range; the OEM front sight is .180.
Considering the velocities of the other cartridges I'll be working up to I was wanting a rear sight adjustment range workable for my current loads but it might cause issues if I ever have to use standard .45ACP ammunition.
However I may end up getting a different slide assembly. Particularly if I go to the .460Rowland.

Hopefully it will be on the way by the 5th or so and I'll get it mid month maybe.
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Well, it surprisingly arrived today after shipping out the same day I placed the order.
Mr. Dawson runs a tight ship!

So out with the old and in with the new.
Just have a little clean up and touch up to do.:
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Looks good. Looks almost like an XS big dot.
Yes although I think it's the camera angle and distance. But the white outline does help. As far as I know it's a Dawson Precision contract made for them by Trijicon.
Or they are least supplied the Tritium element.

Here's a link to their homepage:

Well it's zeroed. Well actually it was used dial calipers to double check the front sight was aligned right then I used them to check for any deviation in the specific sight after installation. Did two clicks up based on that and it was zeroed verified by hitting a 2 inch Shoot N-C sticker at 25yds(from the bench).
Now one last change and maybe a performance upgrade.
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This arrived today and actually a lot sooner than expected. As now I have to run out and acquire a barrel bushing wrench again.
Which I'll need regardless once I get back into a position to do Parkerizing for an income source.
I hope I'm not embarking on a, scratch that "a" another, wild goose chase again.馃榿
Don't know why I didn't simply order one from this place.馃檮
Yeah, maybe I'm picking nits but the slide to bushing to barrel fit is actually loose. Even though it pretty much drives tacks. So maybe it'll drive finish nails when I'm done?
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Catching up on this project:

Didn't mention that I went with a 22lb variable power recoil spring back in August sorry about that.
Since I've been experimenting with new loads then and I'm continuing I'm also searching for a 24lb variable power recoil spring or similar.
Yep, it's supposed to, in theory, reduce the effect of a heavier than OEM spring causing things like the slide stop pin from wallowing out. And I think it probably makes it slightly easier to rack the slide back.
Well apparently I can't get a 24lb variable power recoil spring, or found one yet, as Wolff doesn't make them.
So for now I'll be using a standard 24lb spring on a limited basis.

I'm about to see how many rounds of "950fps" ammo I can crank out using what's left of the Unique I have left.

Then later I'm going to work on some experimental loads with the Ramshot Silhouette with the SP Magnum Primers. And maybe some loads with .45+p Starline brass but that's probably further in down this Spring at best
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