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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, can anyone tell me more about swaged magwells (what exactly they are, how they compare to normal mag guides, how much it costs to have it done to a 1911, and who does it)? Any info or photos would be useful. I thought I heard of a Mr. John Jardine performing this modification to 1911s. Thinking about having it done to a Delta Elite I am receiving soon. Thanks all!

Alexander Garcias
USMA '03
 

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USMA Pistol,

I can give you a rough idea of whats involved so you gain a full appreciation of the difficulty and skill involved with doing this. That first sentence translates into real money to have this done propperly and rightfully so.

You ever flared the end of a copper pipe for a fitting? Thats swagging in its simplest form. Copper, being very malleable, will readily swag. A pistol frame, being made from heat treated alloy won't swag so easily. I imagine with any radical magwell opening, cold swagging will cause the frame to crack or rip apart where you want to flare it. Take a look at the frame in the above mentioned post. Thats a lot stretch for steel, especially if its not a dead soft steel.

Whats called for here is some heat. Well , a lot of it as a matter of fact. You will also probably want to have a die set to swag the shape with. One part of the die set would wrap around the outside of the frame and hold it tight, the other would slide inside the magwell area. This is at least how I would approach this. I would in all likelyhood try to put some kind of heat control in the outer die half as well to keep the heat from going to the rest of the frame, or use something like a heatstop clay. Then you heat the part, and tap the inner die piece down till it forms the magwell. This sounds easy, but is fraught with potential problems, so care needs to be exercised.

The only problem with my way, its a bit expensive if your only going to do one or a few as the dies aren't exactly cheap to make either. I dont know how the smiths used to do it, maybe they had an easier way. I'm more familiar with higher volume methods of doing things.

All the above takes some real skill, but the finishing is what makes the job, and that will take some time and skill as well, a lot of both I imagine.

As far as I'm concerned, this modification to a frame is worth a lot more in dollars than checkering. Anyone can buy a machine and do a flawless checkering job.
 

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Steve Nastoff swaged a fair number of mag wells back in the '80s. He got his swaging die from Charlie Kelsey of Devel..Kelseys' Gammon pistol had a swaged mag well..

Steve also swaged two mag wells for Larry Vickers; gun #1 and gun #4, both 45s with hand checkered front straps..See historical perspectives..
 

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In the early '80's I had two .45's with swaged mag wells done by a Houston gunsmith named Eddie Jimenea. After swaging, the front strap was checkered on the diagonal at about 20 LPI. The direction of the flare was forward, but not to the sides as I remember.

I put about 100,000 rounds through one of those guns with only a couple of extractor-related malfunctions. Had a small crack on the junction of the dust cover and the front frame rail. Eddie welded it up and I went on shooting. Shouldn't have sold them.

Eddie is still a top smith locally who builds carry guns, Limited match and Full Race guns in several calibers - all 1911-based. He has always been known for function, fit and finish. He's also a fine person who stands behind his work.

_________________
"Your aim in life is not worth anything if you don't pull the trigger."

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: tonerguy on 2001-11-05 22:39 ]</font>
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks all for the awesome info, don't know how I confused John Jardine for Steve Nastoff...

So does only Steve Nastoff and Eddie Jimenea do swaged magwells right now? How much (rough estimate) does this/ did this modification cost? Any advantages to having a swaged magwell over a nicely blended S&A or other mag guide? Just thought it looked very sharp on a 1911, but don't know how functional it is compared to plain old mag guides out there (which are no doubt, much less expensive to furnish and install).
 
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