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Troubleshooting 1911 Slide Stops

by Gus Norcross   |  November 11th, 2013 6

The 1911 slide stop is only a $20 part but proper fit and function is critical to the trouble free operation of your 1911. There are several key inspection points we will cover in this article.

1. Pin Diameter: The original G.I. print for the 1911A1 shows the frame hole as .201 inches by .002 inches. I think most commercial frames will be slightly tighter than that spec. Minimum acceptable pin size on the same print is .2005 inches by .002 inches (.1985 inches) and Jerry Kuhnhausen in his classic technical manual on 1911s specifies a minimum diameter of .196 inches. What I do when rebuilding a pistol is to keep the pin diameter within .002 inches of the frame hole. Commercial slide stops are available up to .203 inches in diameter so matching one should be relatively easy. We want a good fit but with freedom of movement so the pin can rotate.

2. Slide Clearance: Kuhnhausen says there should be a minimum of .015-inch clearance between the slide stop and slide and a little more won’t hurt. If the stop drags on the slide it could cause premature slide lock. Clearance on the pistol in the photo was about .025 inches.

3. Engagement Corner: The engagement corner of the stop should be only slightly radiused. If it is rounded off from wear or butchering by an idiot with a file, it must be replaced. Refer to the pictures to see a stop ruined by someone who shouldn’t have access to tools. The slide stop should fit reasonably well in the slide notch. In some cases the slide notch may have to be dressed up.

4. Lug Protrusion: The slide stop lug protrudes through a window in the frame just far enough so the follower of the magazine can engage it, forcing the slide stop upward locking the slide open. If the lug is too long, it is possible that a bullet can rub against it as the rounds feed up through the magazine and lock the slide open prematurely. If you experience premature slide lock, check the lug face for copper marks indicating bullet contact. This condition is corrected by carefully reducing the lug surface just enough for bullet clearance. Use a stone and go slowly. Power tools may quickly remove too much material from this critical surface.

5. Straightness: Make sure the slide stop lever is not bent. It must fit evenly against the frame. Some cheap cast levers may not be straight out of the package and may exhibit casting lines that interfere with smooth function. When replacing a slide stop, choose a high-quality aftermarket part from a reputable manufacturer.

  • PFG

    Eight round clips are not designed as John Moses Browning intended. The lower leg part of the follower that rests against the inside back of the magazine is shorter. This allows the slide stop to push it down at an angle. The springs are also lighter, the two together allow for an extra round. I only run 7 round clips in my 1911’s & have never had a problem with the slide staying open on an empty clip.

    • aap

      Same with my 1911’s (both 70 and 80 series). Tried several makes of 8-round clips and the unreliability was not worth the extra 230 grains.

      Andy Puzyr (author of Concealed Carry Revealed)

    • CWS_FAN

      @pfg: if those are tatooed inside your bicep, let’s play Nuremberg. I would be glad to drop you through the trap.

  • Bandit

    One of my peeves. People that don’t know the difference between clips and magazines should not be allowed to load either!

  • Blackie

    I must have some inferior 1911s, Mine have magazines. Last gun I had with a clip was an M1.

  • john

    Magazine or clip as a NRA pistol Ins. I care about shooting safely and can you hit the X ring from the onward we can teach proper nomenclature.

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