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Old April 2nd, 2019, 11:08 AM #1
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1911 .45 - ramped barrel conversion?

Has anyone done a conversion to a ramped barrel on a 1911 in .45 ACP? I've read a bunch of different things online about it not being recommended for .45 ACP (but recommended for 9mm) although I'm thinking my situation might warrant it.

Long story short, I've owned a Colt 1991 for 20+ years and the gun has never liked hollow points. Chip McCormick, OEM Colt, and aftermarket magazines all the same where the edge of the HP opening gets hung up on the chamber mouth. About 10 years ago I was fitting a threaded barrel (fitment needed) and decided to work on the feed ramp and went too far so no more 1/32" lip. Nothing really changed, it still fed ball ok and still didn't like HP but what I did do is ensure that the original ramp could never be corrected (metal could be TIG welded in and reground but...).

So, since the original ramp can't be corrected, I've been contemplating a ramped barrel conversion where the smith grinds out the original ramp for clearance for the ramped barrel.

Anybody have this conversion done or have experience a ramped barrel .45 1911 vs original?
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Old April 2nd, 2019, 01:37 PM #2
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I'm not that conversant in 1911 mods but that conversion would be a forever modification...no going back. The feed ramp on the frame can be smoothed and polished and a different barrel that's been throated can be added which may cure the problem. Once you decide to do the conversion you're dependent on it fixing the issue. If it doesn't you have an expensive paperweight.

Speaking only for myself, if a throated barrel didn't make the difference I'd leave it as a hardball gun or sell it and get a one that will feed hollow points. The 1991A1 was initially an entry level Colt and early guns (I had one) were essentially updated original GI pistols that would only feed hardball. Maybe trying different hollow point loads might make a difference.
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Old April 2nd, 2019, 01:59 PM #3
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I do have some experience with this.

For starters, OEM colt barrels now have a notch taken out of the feed ramp which helps with reliability of feeding hollow points.

If you haven't tried the Check-Mate wadcutter feed ramp mags, then you have done yourself a disservice. (I have a couple, I will lend you one to try if you want). Check-Mate makes the OEM mags for Colt AFAIK, but they offer 3 different profiles for feed lips which may help.

If you are sure that you want to go with a ramped barrel, then that is fine, the extra case support is not needed with . 45 and will not necessarily fix your feed problems. (I had one I converted and nose diving jams turned into 3-point jams with a ramped barrel)

If you do convert your 1911, send it to a gunsmith. Conversely, you could just send the one you have to a gunsmith to have a threaded non-ramped barrel properly fitted.
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Old April 2nd, 2019, 02:23 PM #4
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My RI 1911 won't feed HPs, and my uncle's 1917 GI version won't either. For home defense, I keep a HP as the first round in the mag, and then I can manually put the gun in to battery (if I pull the slide forward, it will load a HP)
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Old April 2nd, 2019, 02:43 PM #5
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My feelings - 45acp, unlike non-ramped barrels, feed ramped Barrels have a fully supported Chamber. This helps with elevated pressures. However, they do create feeding problems. Even the slightest mag follower nose dive can create issues. I have corrected this in the past by installing an EGW elevated height mag catch. But, sometimes the mag lips hit the underside of the Ejector. Accordingly, the lips on the elevated mag catch need to be machined slightly for clearance with that specific mag. You will then have to use only that mag for reliable feeding. This is due to the locking slot vertical height location on different manufacturer's mags.

For 9x19m, ramped barrels are great, especially with mags which have an anti-nose dive feed lip on the front. However, for 45acp, feed ramped barrels are a true headache, with the disadvantages far outweighing the advantages. I have learned this over the years on my own 1911s, the hard way! Unless you are a super world-class competitor, don't do it!
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Old April 2nd, 2019, 08:46 PM #6
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All, thank you very much for all of your insight. This is all great info.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOriginalMexicanBob View Post
I'm not that conversant in 1911 mods but that conversion would be a forever modification...no going back. The feed ramp on the frame can be smoothed and polished and a different barrel that's been throated can be added which may cure the problem. Once you decide to do the conversion you're dependent on it fixing the issue. If it doesn't you have an expensive paperweight.

Speaking only for myself, if a throated barrel didn't make the difference I'd leave it as a hardball gun or sell it and get a one that will feed hollow points. The 1991A1 was initially an entry level Colt and early guns (I had one) were essentially updated original GI pistols that would only feed hardball. Maybe trying different hollow point loads might make a difference.
My thinking was that I'd already messed up the feed ramp so I'd already passed the point of no turning back. Barrel is pretty well throated and the only thing left would be to see how much of the case is unsupported and see if I can grind the base/bottom of the chamber mouth back a little to expose the 1/32" feed ramp lip again. If I think I've got something to work with I'd be willing to risk the barrel. On the other hand, it does seem to feed ball ok and thus far I've relegated it to a ball-ammo-only safe queen.

I did get one hangup with ball ammo last week while running suppressed but until I can reproduce that I'm writing that one off for now. Has generally fed ball fine otherwise whether shooting or hand cycling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boats View Post
I do have some experience with this.

For starters, OEM colt barrels now have a notch taken out of the feed ramp which helps with reliability of feeding hollow points.

If you haven't tried the Check-Mate wadcutter feed ramp mags, then you have done yourself a disservice. (I have a couple, I will lend you one to try if you want). Check-Mate makes the OEM mags for Colt AFAIK, but they offer 3 different profiles for feed lips which may help.

If you are sure that you want to go with a ramped barrel, then that is fine, the extra case support is not needed with . 45 and will not necessarily fix your feed problems. (I had one I converted and nose diving jams turned into 3-point jams with a ramped barrel)

If you do convert your 1911, send it to a gunsmith. Conversely, you could just send the one you have to a gunsmith to have a threaded non-ramped barrel properly fitted.
That's great advice, I'm going to order one of those magazines and see if that helps. My Chip McCormick feeds the worst of all of my magazines including OEM Colt and repros. Granted, the feed ramp is messed up but if I can get it running with just a good magazine then it's worth a shot. Only thing I have to lose is another spare magazine and I go back to running ball only.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gtodave View Post
My RI 1911 won't feed HPs, and my uncle's 1917 GI version won't either. For home defense, I keep a HP as the first round in the mag, and then I can manually put the gun in to battery (if I pull the slide forward, it will load a HP)
Unfortunately, if it's one of the hollow points it doesn't like then it won't feed manually from a magazine. Only option is an extractor killing drop-it-in-the-pipe and then insert the magazine. Lip of the HP opening literally catches the bottom of the barrel and gets hung up. Some of them feed just fine depending on what mood the gun is in, moon phase, planetary alignment, solar flares, etc.

Fortunately I've got plenty of reliable guns so no defense duty for the 1911.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trikshot View Post
My feelings - 45acp, unlike non-ramped barrels, feed ramped Barrels have a fully supported Chamber. This helps with elevated pressures. However, they do create feeding problems. Even the slightest mag follower nose dive can create issues. I have corrected this in the past by installing an EGW elevated height mag catch. But, sometimes the mag lips hit the underside of the Ejector. Accordingly, the lips on the elevated mag catch need to be machined slightly for clearance with that specific mag. You will then have to use only that mag for reliable feeding. This is due to the locking slot vertical height location on different manufacturer's mags.

For 9x19m, ramped barrels are great, especially with mags which have an anti-nose dive feed lip on the front. However, for 45acp, feed ramped barrels are a true headache, with the disadvantages far outweighing the advantages. I have learned this over the years on my own 1911s, the hard way! Unless you are a super world-class competitor, don't do it!
This is very helpful info, especially coming from a pro such as yourself. I had been reading a bit about the ramped barrels and some were saying they weren't good for .45 ACP but the reports were just short anecdotal statements with nothing to substantiate the claims. Your input alone has swayed me away from the ramped barrel conversion. It reminded me to re-read the concept of operation of the 1911's controlled feeding principle and sort of understanding why they actually don't work that well.

A few of my colleagues are retired SEALs and we had been talking about all the breakages we'd seen with M9s and the topic went to the customized 1911s they were using before the Mk25 was issued. One friend commented about the improvements they saw with the ramped barrels but who knows what else had been done to the guns, they were running spec magazines, and spec ammo (not necessarily ball but would have been a certain type/mfr). Thats what gave me the idea initially since I was thinking "well, I've got a 1911 with a bad feed ramp, I wonder if I could have it cut for a ramped barrel."
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Old April 3rd, 2019, 09:03 AM #7
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I fitted two ramped barrels in 1911's and there really isn't any advantage to it. I still have one of the pistols and it runs perfectly, my pin gun. I do recall having to set the ramp forward some and attention to the ramp to chamber transition properly touched up. You may have a fubar'd ramp, that is another issue. Also, the present ramp can be welded, recut or a steel insert fitted and installed. I had a Para Limited 14-45 that would feed perfectly (if using a shock buff I had to make sure it was trimmed to the side of the batter shield on the recoil spring guide. The feed angle can be sharper and that can be an issue. Try the strongest mag springs you can find.

Another thing to do. Ensure unloaded pistol and pull the slide and barrel assembly off the frame. Use dial calipers and measure from the vertical impact surface (the vertical flat just behind the slide stop in holes) to the very top of the feed ramp. You may have to tilt the calipers a bit to make the measurement. If you have .246" or more, you can probably fit another barrel or possibly save this one. Any chance of getting a pic of the barrel ramp, frame ramp and the barrel seated on the frame?
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Old April 3rd, 2019, 11:25 AM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnumite View Post
I fitted two ramped barrels in 1911's and there really isn't any advantage to it. I still have one of the pistols and it runs perfectly, my pin gun. I do recall having to set the ramp forward some and attention to the ramp to chamber transition properly touched up. You may have a fubar'd ramp, that is another issue. Also, the present ramp can be welded, recut or a steel insert fitted and installed. I had a Para Limited 14-45 that would feed perfectly (if using a shock buff I had to make sure it was trimmed to the side of the batter shield on the recoil spring guide. The feed angle can be sharper and that can be an issue. Try the strongest mag springs you can find.

Another thing to do. Ensure unloaded pistol and pull the slide and barrel assembly off the frame. Use dial calipers and measure from the vertical impact surface (the vertical flat just behind the slide stop in holes) to the very top of the feed ramp. You may have to tilt the calipers a bit to make the measurement. If you have .246" or more, you can probably fit another barrel or possibly save this one. Any chance of getting a pic of the barrel ramp, frame ramp and the barrel seated on the frame?
I think I've definitely given up on the ramped barrel idea for all of the reasons mentioned although I'm fairly certain the ramp is fubar'd as too much material was removed (it was just pushed too far forward). I might consider some more substantial feed ramp work eventually but I'd be happy if a band aid fix of magazines and additional barrel throating/polishing fixed the issue and while messing around with the barrel and a few magazines last night it seems possible.

It looks like the barrel still has a little room to go for throating if needed and I took a little sand paper to the base of the chamber opening last night and it seems like I might have some room to go there. I checked a few of the magazines and one of them seems to feed ok with hollow points after polishing the chamber mouth a little more so I think I might be on to something. Watching it feed, it seems to feed nicely if the round goes straight in vs having to climb the feed ramp or nose down into the ramp before tilting back up. With the one magazine that now seemed to be working, the round followed a relatively straight path forward, more so than the others. The Chip McCormick was just a little too low and the HP would caught caught at the bottom of the chamber mouth (this is an old magazine, apparently they redesigned them at some point).

I'm looking at the CheckMate wadcutter magazines that Boats recommended as well as a few others brands. The only issue I see with the CheckMate wadcutter magazines is they don't have an anti-dive follower and at least some of my magazines seem like diving is an issue against the barrel/ramp profile I have. I'm also looking at MecGar and Wilson - Wilson has a solid plastic follower with nice ramp and MecGar has a sheetmetal anti-dive follower with some kind of reinforcing/alignment tab on the side.

I'll try to get some pics of the barrel and ramp tonight or probably tomorrow.
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Old April 4th, 2019, 10:37 AM #9
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Trying to attach photos from my cell phone, we’ll see if it works.

I think the ramp is definitely toast.

I messed around with it for an hour or so last night and did find that the OEM Colt magazines did feed the best, feeding 7/10 hollow points and 10/10 ball. They also have the stiffest springs and very little dive to the follower and what appears to be hybrid feed lips. The old Chip McCormick magazine was the worst, the follower bounces back and forth like a seesaw and won’t feed hollow points at all, followed by the Star Line magazines (pictured, same follower as CMC) which dive pretty bad and feed maybe 4/10 hollow points. The Chip McCormick would occasionally hang up on ball ammo.

I’m thinking the follower dive isn’t an issue in an unaltered 1911 feeding ball ammo due to the way the controlled round feed works - it’s supposed to ram into the ramp and then get picked up from there. So these magazines were designed correctly for their intended purpose but won’t work for me at all.

First thing I’m going to try is getting some mags with anti-dive followers and stiff springs. There are some spring/follower conversion kits available for the original mags and a particular MecGar magazine I want to try. May give the CheckMates a try but, even though they have great reviews from people using them in unaltered 1911s, I’ve got kind of a special case here and they have the same follower that’s already not working for me.
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Old April 4th, 2019, 11:22 AM #10
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