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canebrake 11-14-2010 05:15 AM

1911 slide lapping 101
I'm going to post a How-To thread on lapping in your 1911 slide. Some members have had some issues and I had a baptism of fire getting my SS XSE Government to cycle properly with the 460 Rowland kit installed so I thought I'd share my experience.

This project is a rather simple DIY project and on a required skillz scale of 1-10 you will need to be a 5. (And no Ineffable, I don't need to say which end of the scale is low!)

The equipment you will need to perform this operation, besides your standard 1911 strip-down tools, are:
  • Lapping compound and I suggest the Wheeler Engineering Lapping Compound Kit $ON SALE$ here > Wheeler Engineering Lapping Compound Kit (1 oz each of 220, 320, 600 Grit Compound) - MidwayUSA
  • You will also need a small art/flux brush to spread the compound in the lands and groves of your slide.
  • Some good dish soap like Dawn.
  • A scrub brush that will fit in the lands and grooves of the slide.
  • Have at least one can of Brakeclean, maybe two. I can never have too many cans lying around for gun cleaning.
  • A 5 gallon pickle bucket or something similar to wash the lapped parts between grits.
  • Have plenty of shop towels and shop air (compressed air) to blow out dirt and dry the parts. A can of computer dust-off works just as good.
  • Q-tips are a must! Best thing to clean the firing pin and extractor channels.
  1. Lapping compound
  2. Compound brush
  3. Dish soap
  4. Scrub brush
  5. Brakeclean
  6. Q-Tips
  7. Shop/compressed air
  8. Shop towels
  9. Bucket
  10. Whatever CLP you use
  11. Plenty of elbow grease
Iím going to re-lap the Colt and take photos for this demonstration.

Hang in there; I'm a retired engineer so sometimes I go a tad fast. If that happens just let me know.

Drrhein 11-14-2010 12:04 PM

Excellent! I now have the kit and am ready to go.


danf_fl 11-14-2010 01:59 PM

Thank you. I like to see how others do things and what I can incorporate into my process. Thumbs up!

spittinfire 11-14-2010 06:37 PM

Cane, this will come in very handy for me as I start the 1911 build.

CA357 11-14-2010 08:08 PM

This sounds good. I love learning new firearm skills.

Drrhein 11-20-2010 12:06 PM

Any news on this?

canebrake 11-21-2010 12:54 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Sorry guys, I had a bad week.

Let's start with the required materials and tools.

Lapping compound w/brushs:

Dish soap:

Scrub brush:


Q-Tips and Shop towels:
Attachment 21881

Shop/compressed air:
Attachment 21880

Attachment 21878

Whatever CLP you use:
Attachment 21879

canebrake 11-21-2010 01:49 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Next step, completely strip your 1911, everything except;
  1. Sights
  2. Plunger tube (remove the spring & plungers)
  3. Grip bushings
  4. Ejector

While you have it in this most revealing condition, inspect everything.

NOTE: Slide lapping is the art of removing interference fitting areas of the slide channel. To remove metal, you MUST remove all lubricant!
  • Get your soap and mix with hot water in the bucket.
  • Place the large parts (receiver, slide) in the bucket.
  • Place your small parts in a strainer and dip in the soapy water. Attachment 21882
  • Scrub all parts until void of any lubricant.
  • Lay parts out on a clean shop towel and re-inspect everything. Look at the wear areas and for cracks or galling.

This is the time to decide if you are going to lap other areas besides the slide, or maybe just a clean-up with a greenie or foam backed sand paper.

Trigger Bow ^

Slide stop ^

Barrel ^

Using your compressed air, clean all the nooks and crannies. Use the q-tips to clean the extractor and firing pin channels.

If you find any trace of lube, draw more hot water, add the Dawn and re-do the scrub thingie.

When you are comfortable with the cleaning, proceed to the next step.

canebrake 11-21-2010 02:25 PM


Take the compound brush and the courses (lower number, 220) compound and apply to both the receiver and slide channels.

Assemble the slide onto the receiver and be careful as the compound will "scrape-off" as you marry the two parts. With the slide to the rear, take the excess "scraped" compound and apply it to the inside rails through the ejection port. Slowly move the slide forward applying the compound the full length of the rail.

With the compound applied, start the slide cycling going the full length of travel. Avoid slamming the dust cover against the feed ramp/barrel lug machining.

You will feel the compound cutting the high spots with a grinding feedback. Keep cycling until the feedback disappears. If compound is forming on the outside of the slide, use the brush to re-apply it through the ejection port until the "grinding" feedback ceases.

The compound will consume itself into a liquid media darkening with the suspended, removed metal. When you are sure it has stopped working, cycle the slide another 50 times.

Separate the two parts and using the bucket and the Brakleen, completely clean the parts until the compound is gone.

Blow dry the parts and inspect for wear areas. This will show you where the high spots are located. Re-apply the 220 grit compound insuring the high spots are well coated. Following the above step, continue until the current compound is spent.

Repeat the step at least one more time with the 220 grit for a total of three applications.

Now repeat the above using the the two remaining grits, 320 and 660 for a minimum of 9 total applications. Do more of each grit if needed. NEVER go back to a more course grit! It's a waste of time and money. If you do each grit three times, it will be done. More is never better when you are removing metal!

Do a final wash of all parts with the Brakleen followed with soap, and dry completely. Coat all parts with CLP and reassemple your 1911.


Let me know how this worked for you.


IGETEVEN 11-21-2010 05:59 PM

This needs to be stickyed Boss! :cool:

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