Since I was ill I wasn’t doing much and had nothing to write about, but since then I’ve been a busy boy. As you may recall we ended Part 1 with the gun together and functioning.
Now it was time to start the serious stuff, and that means I need to digress a bit…
Back in the 1980s I worked at Detonics for a time, and while I was there I got to see a concept/prototype gun called the Speed Master. This used a full-sized Score Master frame, a Combat Master slide and a 6″ bull-barrel with a slide-profile weight attached.
The idea was to have the low reciprocating weight of the Combat Master slide in a full-sized platform with the non-reciprocating weight to allow rapid, accurate fire. The resulting gun was used in the 1984 Tom Selleck movie ‘Runaway,’ about a cop tasked with dealing with malfunctioning robots. It was also carried by Sarah Conner in the 2nd (?) Terminator movie.
As I recall the gun never worked particularly well, but I might be mistaken. The design has a few other issues, like the shortened sight-radius of the Combat Master slide. Also dealing with the long barrel and the barrel weight were problematic as I recall.
Barrel-mounted compensators proved to be the solution to rapid, accurate fire for competition; they were lighter, at least as effective and generally less problematic. Still, the Speed Master concept stuck in head, and I couldn’t help but feel there was something there worth looking into, with suitable changes.
The first consideration is the Philosophy of Use- what is the gun for? Simple enough; I want it as a competition pistol/range toy. The ballistic advantages of the longer barrel are not needed, so going with a short slide and 3-1/2″ bull barrel seemed to eliminate a lot of potential issues. The weight could be supported by an extended dust-cover, which would further simplify things from a mechanical perspective. I also wanted the gun to be closer to the stock size and weight of a 1911. Maintaining the full-length sight radius and using improved sights would be good, and since I can tailor the sights to my preferred load I could save money by using fixed sights. Even better, I could use the sights from the Tisas’s original slide.
Phase 2- The Dust Cover
Obviously the easy way to do this would have been to buy a Les Baer frame with an extended dust cover, but this would have cost as much as the entire Tisas Duty .45 all by itself, then I would have had to buy and fit all the shooty-bits to make it work. It just wasn’t in the budget.
As it turns out Caspian sometimes goofs when machining a frame, and they dispose of these buy cutting them through the trigger-guard and frame. I don’t know what they do with the back half, but he section of the frame that includes the dust cover can be purchased for $5 each. I bought three so I could screw up a couple and still be good to go. The lovely folks at Caspian sent these promptly; their customer service is very good.
Now I needed to get the dust-cover cut-off attached to the frame, and this is where it helps to know a lot of people. People like my friend Ernie, who is not only a trained gunsmith but is also a God-like welder. He either owed me a favor or wanted me to owe him one (we’ll sort that out later) so I handed him the bits, explained what I wanted and in very little time it was done. Being Ernie he left me surprisingly little clean-up to do, and even chose the welding-rod so that the weld is barely visible under the blueing. Ernie is truly a master at his trade.
An hour or two of clean-up and some Oxpho Blue and I was ready to proceed. I should note that the finished gun will receive a coated finish, but for the moment the Oxpho will suffice.
A Weighty Matter
So now the weight had a place to be, and I knew the best way to go about making the weight. Being me, of course, I tried to do it the ‘easy’ way first. I cut a section from the Tisas’s slide, then lathe-turned a chunk of steel to fill in underneath and silver-soldered it in place. So I then bored through the dust-cover, threaded the holes in the weight and secured it in place. It looked good and seemed like it ought to do the job.
The thing to do was test it of course. I put a few rounds in the magazine, set up my back-stop and the predictable thing happened.
One the second shot the top of the weight flew off and landed a few feet away. OK, not secure enough. I mulled over the thought of having the weight welded together, attempting to pin the parts and re-solder them etc. Then I went ahead and did it the way I expected to need to do it all along.
I had a piece of 6065 aluminum lying around, and I headed for the bandsaw. After a couple hours of grinding, filing, drilling and cutting I had my new weight. Attempts to blacken it with Birchwood Casey Aluminum Black were, uh, sub-optimal. Just going to have to wait for the coating.
Mounted up on the gun we can now begin to see what the finished product is going to look like. I need to install the sights and do some test-firing. Once everything works there’s a good bit of finishing to do, then the coating.
Looks like we’re going to have one more installment; I need to see if I can get this thing together and tested; there’s an Action Shooting International match I’m signed up for Saturday morning…
Stay safe, and take care.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 9 December 2021