1911 frame and slide sizes - mix and match?

This is a discussion on 1911 frame and slide sizes - mix and match? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I'm getting more and more familiar with 1911s, but I've realized I have no idea how the different sizes work. I know only that the ...

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Thread: 1911 frame and slide sizes - mix and match?

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array BAC's Avatar
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    1911 frame and slide sizes - mix and match?

    I'm getting more and more familiar with 1911s, but I've realized I have no idea how the different sizes work. I know only that the government size is the full-sized firearm sitting on my desk. I hear of commander and officer sized guns/parts, but don't know anything about them. Could anyone explain to me the difference in models? Are they interchangable (as in, can you put a government slide on a smaller frame, or vice versa)?

    Thanks,


    -B

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    Govt: Full size frame, 5" barrel & slide.

    Commander: Full size frame, 4.25" barrel & slide.

    Officers: Compact frame, 3.5" barrel & slide.

    You can change lots of parts between Gov't and Commander, but generally not with the Officer's.

    A video by Lima on the topic: YouTube - 1911 Part 2: 1911 Sizes

    Hope that helps.

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    The Government and the Commander frame rails are not identical.

    Many parts will interchange but, of course some will not.

    Hummmm...where to start?

    You cannot put a Commander or Officer barrel into a 1911 pistol. (obviously)

    You CAN install a 1911 barrel into a Commander as long as it's not a collet bushing type barrel. You'll just have extra barrel sticking out the front.
    The 1911 & Commander ejectors are the same.
    The recoil springs are different.
    In a pinch you CAN use a Commander recoil spring plug and a commander barrel bushing in a 1911.
    The recoil spring guide is shorter on the Commander than the 1911 but you could use a Commander rsg in a 1911 but not the reverse.

    The barrel links and pins will interchange.
    The slide stops are all the same.
    The mag release and related parts will interchange.
    The plunger tubes and related parts are the same.
    The grips screws and bushings are the same but, not the grips.
    The mainspring housing and related parts are the same on the Commander and the 1911 but, not the Officers.
    The triggers are the same.
    The thumb safeties are the same.
    The sears are the same.
    The grip safety on the commander and 1911 will interchange not the Officers.
    You can use a series 80 grip safety in a series 70 1911.
    But, you cannot use a series 70 grip safety in a series 80 frame.
    The disconnectors are the same.
    As long as whatever hammer will fully cock without depressing the grip safety can be used in the Commander or 1911.
    You can use a 1911 magazine in all three but there will be extra mag sticking out the butt on the Officers.
    The leaf spring on the Commander and 1911 will interchange.
    You can use a series 80 extractor in a series 70 pistol (Commander or 1911) but not the reverse unless you remove the firing pin block parts.
    Same with the firing pin. A series 80 can be used in a series 70 but, not the reverse unless the FP Block parts are removed.
    The firing pin stops are the same.

    The hammer struts are the same on the 1911 and Commander but the Officers is shorter.
    You could use a hammer spring cap from an Officers in either the Commander or full size 1911 but not the reverse.

    I think that about covers it.

    Keep in mind that while the above parts will technically fit they may need minor fitting due to slight tolerance differences in different handguns.

    For instance even a 1911 "drop in" barrel MAY NOT drop right into a 1911 pistol without some fitting. It may overhang the frame feed ramp or the hood may need to be fit.
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    QK gave you a pretty good list of parts that may be interchangeable (baring fine fitting, of course) but one should take care to insure his 1911 and its manufacturer have not tried something unique where standard 1911 parts will not suffice.

    The Springfield EMP comes to mind as a pretty good example.

    On standard Colt models you could use any officer's size grip pannels on other officer and defender models. Not so with the EMP. They changed their grips just a tiny bit too much.

    There are a few other manufacturers who have tried to corner the market by making a specific part that only works on their gun but there are few. One should double check, however, before trying to do modifications.

    There are also manufacturers who make odd mixtures of the 1911 sizes like putting a commander length barrel and slide on an officer's frame and some other goofy stuff but that's all good provided they do it well.

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    Also, don't be fooled by other manufacturer's names for the different sizes.

    Colt's original designations for things were:
    Government: 5" bbl
    Commander: 4.25" bbl
    Officer's: 3.5" bbl - officer's frame (7-round capacity)
    Defender: 3" bbl - officer's frame

    So, wanting to be like Colt, but NOT be like Colt, other companies have made up their own names for the same size groups.

    Take Springfield (again) for example:
    Long Slide: 6" bbl
    Full-Size: 5" bbl
    Champion: 4" bbl (the new "commander" size in a lot of manufacturer's minds)
    Ultra-Compact: 3.5" bbl
    Micro: 3" bbl

    Kimber:
    If you see Kimber's model with no other designation before it it should be the 5" model. For instance. The Stainless II or Tactical II. This should mean it is the 5" version.
    If "Pro" or "Compact" is placed before that it is their 4" version as in the Compact Stainless II or the Pro TLE II.
    If the word "Ultra" proceeds the model it is their 3" version as in the Ultra CDP or Ultra Stainless.

    I don't believe Kimber makes a 3.5" but I could be wrong. I don't know.

    So, even though these companies use their own "language" to describe the sizes of their guns they almost unanimously fall under the same size specifications as Colt. That is why if you are to look on a package of grips and see the words, "fits all Government model 1911s" you can be pretty confident that it should fit the "full-size" version of your Springfield or Kimber because they share the same size specs for Colt.

    It can be a little confusing some times but you get the hang of it.

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    Thumbs up

    Good addition Lima.

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    Good intel. Thanks guys (and gals). I guess what it boils down to for me is whether or not you could mate a full/government-sized slide with an officer's frame, and whether or not this would require modification of parts. I love my Springfield as is, and have no plans to do anything like this to it, but I also love to tinker and have too few resources (read: firearms ) to actually try this on my own. Who knows, might even turn out to be a good concealed-carry project.

    Regardless, thanks for clearing up sizes for me.


    -B

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Zaria View Post
    Govt: Full size frame, 5" barrel & slide.

    Commander: Full size frame, 4.25" barrel & slide.

    Officers: Compact frame, 3.5" barrel & slide.

    You can change lots of parts between Gov't and Commander, but generally not with the Officer's.

    A video by Lima on the topic: YouTube - 1911 Part 2: 1911 Sizes

    Hope that helps.

    Peace,
    Pete Zaria.
    Don't forget the CCO (Concealed Carry Officer's).

    Compact Officer's frame, Commander 4.25 inch barrel & slide.


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    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
    And go to your God like a soldier.

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    Talking

    I know this is what he wants. Springer frame.
    And no...that's not my Whoops! Idiot Scratch on that frame.

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  11. #10
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    Is that a gov't slide on a smaller frame? Looks like a normal gov't model to these untrained eyes.


    -B

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BAC View Post
    Is that a gov't slide on a smaller frame? Looks like a normal gov't model to these untrained eyes.
    -B

    Looks like a 4.25" upper to me.

    The lower looks like an officers frame.
    Look at the main spring housing, and the size of it relative to the grip safety, and then look at the lower part of the slide in front of the dust cover.

  13. #12
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    Don't forget that a ramped barrel won't work in a frame not cut for one! (& vice versa)
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    Excellent post QK. A few minor points....

    The grip safety on the commander and 1911 will interchange not the Officers.
    The Officers will use a Gov't grip safety.

    The hammer struts are the same on the 1911 and Commander but the Officers is shorter.
    The hammer struts are the same

    Officers use a Govt' size sear spring.
    Officers were originally 6 round magazines.

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    Thumbs up

    Thanks OD.
    I knew that you would find this thread eventually.
    I was awaiting your arrival.
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    You did a great job, QK. I've copied your post to my files.

    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

    "Diligentia Vis Celeritas"

    "There is very little new, and the forgotten is constantly being rediscovered."
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