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Evaluating Used Bullseye 1911

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Wobbley
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Post by LightSpeed 6/4/2024, 6:09 am

Hypothetically, if you were looking at a used 1911 that had been worked over for Bullseye, how would you evaluate the condition?  Specifically how would you evaluate barrel lockup, bushing condition, and slide to frame fit?

What would be deal breakers for you on a $1000+ gun?


Last edited by LightSpeed on 6/4/2024, 7:50 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by NYKenn 6/4/2024, 7:44 am

Signs of damage or abuse would be the dealbreaker.
Finish does not really matter. Pretty don't shoot. 

Everything else can be corrected, fixed, tightened, etc...

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Post by Froneck 6/4/2024, 7:57 am

Deal breaker for me on a used $1000+ 1911 is who the frame and slide makers are. Quality makers a + cheap stuff is a walk way. I'd want to test it at 50 yards. Also determine who it was to be worked-over by. Quite a few so called bullseye gunsmiths don't know what they are doing! They can take a stock RO and make junk of it! May take lot of work and possibly parts to bring it to Bullseye standard. If possible get a Master or High Master to look at the gun.

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Post by javaduke 6/4/2024, 8:21 am

The slide to frame fit is not that important, what's most important is the barrel to slide fit. First, press down on the barrel at the ejection port and see if it moves ever so slightly. If yes, this is the indication that the lower lugs are worn out and the gun needs to be rebarreled. See if there's any play between the barrel and the bushing. If you can disassemble the gun, remove the barrel and the bushing and slide the bushing over the muzzle end of the barrel, it should slide on but you must feel a bit of a friction - if you don't, this means the bushing is too loose. This can be corrected by fitting a new bushing.

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Post by Froneck 6/4/2024, 12:41 pm

That is an over simplification of getting the 1911 to shoot accurately! Snug slide fit on rail is important. Yes iron sights are on the slide so is red dot if slide mounted but if slide to frame is loose slide and barrel can move when hit by the hammer, in addition there firing pin impact with primer. Hood fit in slide is critical. Correct bushing fit in slide and barrel are also important, just snug means nothing! Lots of things happen before bullet leaves the barrel! If making a good bullseye gun was so easy factory gun would be accurate or anyone can simply make a tack driver! Quite a few gunsmiths can't do it either!

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Post by bruce martindale 6/4/2024, 1:31 pm

How do I get my guns to shoot better?

Give them to someone else….

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Post by chiz1180 6/4/2024, 2:50 pm

A few things that I would look at on a used bullseye gun 1911, this by no means is a perfect guide, just a few things that come to mind at the moment. 

Quick visual inspection:
-what is the base gun Colt, Springfield, Caspian slide/frame, ect. 
-does it have makers mark ("clark heavy slide", "Salyer", ect.) or better yet paper work explaining the build
-are the parts indicative of use in a bullseye build (Kart, KKM, barsto or colt barrel are most common)
-does it have a iron sight rib, optic rib, or correct target sights.
-is the front strap/mainspring housing hand stippled/checkered, does it have target grips
-blued, parkerized or cerakote? If blued doe it have much finish wear or rust?

A bit more involved investigation:
-is the trigger weight legal for bullseye (e.g 3.5lbs for a 45 if a wadgun, 4lbs if a ball gun), this is something that is easy to change but if it is a true build this is something that should be correct.
-do the safeties work?
-look at the frame rails, are they peened (they won't be perfectly square in the slide rails when you look from the back of the gun)
-lock the slide back and look at the wear on the barrel, is it excessive? Also is all the wear linear with the movement of the slide, or does it have radial wear from improper bushing removal. 
-is the barrel clear of obstructions, is it bulged from a squib?

Deeper inspection, but will require a bit more knowledge of the platform:
-with the gun in battery shake it, does it rattle? If so what is the cause?
-ignition parts inspection, any excessive wear on the hammer and sear, are the hammer and sear pins in good condition? are the hammer and sear pin holes square?
-barrel and bushing fit. This is a bit more complicated to explain without a long dissertation and it is easier to evaluate with experience.  

With all of that listed, the price I am willing to pay for a bullseye gun will directly correlate to what I am personally willing to deal with or fix. I probably would not buy a peened gun as they will loosen up more quickly than a more modern build that was started with oversize rails and the fix is rather time consuming and somewhat expensive(welding it up and recutting rails). Safeties not working is a rather simple fix. Barrel/bushing fit and getting the trigger right for your needs is a bit more challenging, especially if you don't have the experience or a good bullseye smith that is willing to take on the work. 

With all that said, buying something with an unknown history is always somewhat of a risk, especially if you don't know the ins and outs of the system. If you can shoot it before you buy it that is often a good thing.
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Post by LightSpeed 6/4/2024, 3:01 pm

chiz1180 wrote:A few things that I would look at on a used bullseye gun 1911, this by no means is a perfect guide, just a few things that come to mind at the moment. 

Quick visual inspection:
-what is the base gun Colt, Springfield, Caspian slide/frame, ect. 
-does it have makers mark ("clark heavy slide", "Salyer", ect.) or better yet paper work explaining the build
-are the parts indicative of use in a bullseye build (Kart, KKM, barsto or colt barrel are most common)
-does it have a iron sight rib, optic rib, or correct target sights.
-is the front strap/mainspring housing hand stippled/checkered, does it have target grips
-blued, parkerized or cerakote? If blued doe it have much finish wear or rust?

A bit more involved investigation:
-is the trigger weight legal for bullseye (e.g 3.5lbs for a 45 if a wadgun, 4lbs if a ball gun), this is something that is easy to change but if it is a true build this is something that should be correct.
-do the safeties work?
-look at the frame rails, are they peened (they won't be perfectly square in the slide rails when you look from the back of the gun)
-lock the slide back and look at the wear on the barrel, is it excessive? Also is all the wear linear with the movement of the slide, or does it have radial wear from improper bushing removal. 
-is the barrel clear of obstructions, is it bulged from a squib?

Deeper inspection, but will require a bit more knowledge of the platform:
-with the gun in battery shake it, does it rattle? If so what is the cause?
-ignition parts inspection, any excessive wear on the hammer and sear, are the hammer and sear pins in good condition? are the hammer and sear pin holes square?
-barrel and bushing fit. This is a bit more complicated to explain without a long dissertation and it is easier to evaluate with experience.  

With all of that listed, the price I am willing to pay for a bullseye gun will directly correlate to what I am personally willing to deal with or fix. I probably would not buy a peened gun as they will loosen up more quickly than a more modern build that was started with oversize rails and the fix is rather time consuming and somewhat expensive(welding it up and recutting rails). Safeties not working is a rather simple fix. Barrel/bushing fit and getting the trigger right for your needs is a bit more challenging, especially if you don't have the experience or a good bullseye smith that is willing to take on the work. 

With all that said, buying something with an unknown history is always somewhat of a risk, especially if you don't know the ins and outs of the system. If you can shoot it before you buy it that is often a good thing.
The improper bushing removal is not something I've heard of before.  Would you mind explaining this for me?

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Post by chiz1180 6/4/2024, 3:15 pm

LightSpeed wrote:The improper bushing removal is not something I've heard of before.  Would you mind explaining this for me?
On a bulleye 1911, the bushing fit to the barrel is a critical dimension. If you look at a 1911 barrel, the muzzle end is a larger diameter than the middle. When turning the busing it is best to do so such that you are not turning the bushing over the larger diameter towards the muzzle, but more towards the center of the barrel. Basically, don't turn the bushing while the gun is in battery as you will cause premature wear.

The bushing can be properly removed a few different ways, pull the slide back far enough to give the bushing clearance, then turn it to remove spring plug(careful as it is under spring tension and will have a tendency to shoot across the room). Another method would be to remove the slide slowly, catch the spring and guide rod  (don't let them fly across the room basically), remove them, push barrel forward then turn the bushing as required. 

Hopefully that is a clear explanation.
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Post by LightSpeed 6/4/2024, 3:21 pm

Makes sense, thanks!

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Post by Wobbley 6/4/2024, 3:23 pm

If you can shoot it, that alone will tell you far more than any test you can come up with otherwise. When you test it, you can test it with a set of known good ammo (Atlantic Arms, Federal Gold Medal or known accurate hand loads). Test it at 25 yards! If the gun holds the X-Ring (2 inches) for ten shots, it will get you to master. If it only has iron sights, put a dot on it with a grip adapter (keep one around for that alone). While testing at 50 is the “gold standard” , in reality few people have the skills necessary to accurately hold an iron sighted or dot sighted pistol at 50 yards even in a rest.
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Post by hengehold 6/4/2024, 7:16 pm

LightSpeed wrote:Hypothetically, if you were looking at a used 1911 that had been worked over for Bulkseye, how would you evaluate the condition?  Specifically how would you evaluate barrel lockup, bushing condition, and slide to frame fit?

What would be deal breakers for you on a $1000+ gun?

Great question. Thanks for starting this post.

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Post by DA/SA 6/4/2024, 8:31 pm

Remove the recoil spring assembly. Put the slide/barrel in battery and then point the muzzle up. If the slide stays in battery, that's a good start. Now look at the upper surface of the slide stop pin for wear marks. If there are two wear marks that coincide with the lower barrel lugs, that's a good indication that lockup is good. If there is only one central mark, that indicates that the barrel is locking up on the link instead of the lower lugs. That's not good!

While you are at it, check the slide to frame fit with the slide just out of battery. If it rattles around, that's not really a good thing g either!
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Post by BE Mike 6/5/2024, 6:57 am

Any good used bullseye pistol is probably going to go in the + category, unless the seller is highly motivated!
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Post by chiz1180 6/5/2024, 8:06 am

BE Mike wrote:Any good used bullseye pistol is probably going to go in the + category, unless the seller is highly motivated!
I have not looked too much recently but I have seen decent guns in the $1000-1400 range. Were they the absolute best top of the line, nope but they were solid shooters.
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Post by Merick 6/5/2024, 10:12 pm

A quick clue to general build quality without disassembly is to inspect the fitment of the thumb saftey. On safe the slide should be locked dead and allow little to no movement of the hammer.

Technically that has little do with accuracy (some of it is determined by the cutting of the barrel lugs) but if fitting the saftey was a B-/C+ job then the rest likely won't be much better.

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