9MM 1911 conversion

Apr 29, 2005
South Shore
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I would like a 9MM or 38 super 1911 for shooting IDPA and maybe some IPSC. I would prefer a steel 1911 that shoots with a little less felt recoil and muzzle rise than my .45 USP H&K. Since the Para 1911's in these calibers are not yet Mass compliant and who knows when they will be I was wondering about a conversion. I know S&W is going to make their 38 super available to Mass folks but the price is crazy and if I could buy a Colt I would but the few I have found are in the 1400 to 1500 dollar range. So any help on if it can be done and a ballpark cost would be much appreciated. Thanks.
I researched it and the price is a lot for us in MA regardless of what you do. For a conversion, the problem is that .45 1911s that we can get have non ramped barrels, whereas 9mm and .38 super barrels are ramped. That means that the frames are different, so a switch top system doesn't work like it would between a .40 and a 9mm. To make a dedicated 9mm frame it has to be machined for the ramp and have the ejector changed and tuned. Then you have to buy a 9mm slide set up. I put a 9mm slide set up together with good parts at Brownells dealer pricing and it was still around $600 (STI slide, Clark barrel, Aftec extractor, etc.). Add to that the labor for a gunsmith to fit everything, put it together, and tune your mags, because 9mm mags need tuning, and the Performance Center .38 Super from Smith looks pretty good for $1600 or so. In short, to convert a .45, could cost $800, on top of the gun you start with. Actually, that makes a Glock 17 for $400 look real good. Hopefully Smith will come out with an affordable .40 or 9mm 1911 soon.
Thanks GTO for the info that is what I expected but the S&W performance gun is around $2300 if I remember correctly. So it looks like I'll keep my 1911 and dump the H&K for an old Colt. I would prefer 9MM over 38 super because of ammo prices but (Mass) beggars can't be choosers. The Smith DK 38 Super looks real nice but man is it over priced. Thanks again.
One can put together a 9mm or 38 super on your 45 frame without too much cost..A Caspian or Essex slide will do or a Colt if you can find one..As far as a barrell goes there are a lot of unramped 9 and 38s being used and they work great as long as factory pressures are not exceded..You will find that the 38super might be a better choice as the longer cartrige feeds better,this is not to say that the 9mm doesn't work..It just might take a bit more tinkering..I have done both calibers on a Springfield frame and an Essex frame.
Change the ejector,your upper can have both caliber barrels fitted,if that is what you have in mind..Some have had good luck using 38super mags with both also..
Think on it a bit more,it just might be something that you want to try..I did it and I am no gunsmith by any means..I do enjoy tinkering and the satifaction of shooting something that you put together yourself is a blast...
One other thing,,,
I believe that the 38super shoots much better than the 9mm in 1911 guns..Maybe just me but thats how mine worked out..
Non-ramped .38 Super barrels are available for those who would load to SANE levels. The only change to the frame assembly requires changing the ejector.
Parts required for a conversion are slide/barrel assembly, ejector, magazine.
I've read up and you guys are 100% correct, there are plenty of non-ramped options in 9mm and .38 super. Finding a Springfield upper would be great.

But, it got me thinking, is there a reason other than chamber support to go with a ramped barrel?
Thank you all for the advice, I really appreciate the input from everyone. It looks like I'll give this a lot more thought before I leap into building a 1911 up myself. With that said I really "neeed" to have one so maybe this will be on the fast track, we'll see.
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