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New 1911 grip screws: a new and much needed improvement of grip screw bushings for 1911s.

There is a short list when looking for ways to improve 1911 handgun performance. I sometimes add good sights to GI 1911A1 pistols. Even the very best 1911 handguns from major makers will benefit from a properly-fit Bar-Sto barrel. There is one basic problem everyone working these pistols regularly finds--and cusses--but we don't usually attempt a long term fix. I am talking about grip screw bushings. The rub is there are few 1911 shooters happy with factory grips. Various makers offer so many excellent custom grip options (I'm a fan of and use custom grips on all my 1911s) and this leads to grips being changed out often. With this many change outs, the grip screws and grip screw bushings can give us trouble. I was excited to finally find a fix.

When I first examined the bushings from Challis Grips (, 801/571-5247) the hex head design alone was worth serious study. However, it was the addition of an O ring that made me contact the manufacturer to learn about his intent and purpose more closely. First, the Hex Drive. This design solves several problems. The most careful gunsmith will admit that slotted screws tend to get nicked up. Truthfully, that isn't a fair analogy. It isn't gunsmiths that change grips most often, it is the home hobbyist and they are likely to be the ones that damage screws and strip bushings. I think that keeping these bushing and screw sets on hand and offering to change out from the old style will result in a small but steady profit for the gunsmith.


To change to the hex head bushing, a 7/32 nut driver is all that is need. The socket holds the bushing in proper alignment and it is easier to accurately engage the frame threads. Starting the bushing by hand and then using the driver isn't necessary with these bushings. The Challis design is much more stable than previous designs. Apply sufficient torque to seat the bushing tightly and strongly. This will minimize damage to the threads under recoil momentum. I have fired handguns fitted with Challis grip screw bushings with a good many +P loads to confirm these claims.

As many of us have discovered, G10 and other heavier materials sometimes are the hardest on grip screw bushings. However, once you have converted a 1911 to the Challis system, the grip screws are easily removed with the same 7/32 nut driver that drove them in place. The bushings are not fragile. Even if the grip screw bushings need to be removed, such as to refinish the pistol, these bushings may be reused and that isn't always true with the older design.

While I understood this, I was not certain why O rings were added to the design. I asked the source and after considerable testing came to several conclusions. These grip screw bushings do not have to be used with Challis grips and can be used with grips from any maker. They can be used without the O rings. While the O rings are not demanded with these bushings, the improvement is worthwhile and they will maximize results.


The O ring is slipped around the Challis grip screw bushing and retained by the grooves in the bushing. The ring is forced down into a conical seat as the grip screws are tightened. This seat is outward against the counterbore. When the handgun grip panels are seated properly, the compressed O ring isolates the grip panel from the grip screw bushing with a rubber cushion that prevents contact between the bushing and the grip panels as the gun is fired. By cushioning recoil shock to the bushing it is less likely to work itself loose. This will prevent loosening of both the grip screws and the grip screw bushing. The company reports that this is especially beneficial when used with the more fragile grip materials such as mammoth ivory. The newest grip screws and bushings from Challis are rather inexpensive compared to ivory or even stag grips and will help preserve their longevity. There are also grip materials such as G10 and aluminum that are used for greater adhesion. While useful in tactical environments, grips made of these materials abrade or scuff the frame. The grip screw O ring acts as a buffer to curtail this type of scuffing.


Challis also makes a bushing extractor. If you work the 1911, then you will run across stuck bushings. The Challis stuck grip screw bushing extractor is well made, well polished and finished, and offers plenty of leverage. This little tool will come in handy more than once and is well worth its cost. To use, place the bushing extractor over the grip screw bushing and rotate to engage. Attach firmly with the supplied standard full size grip screw. Insert the rod and rotate clockwise to remove the bushing. If the bushing has been secured with Loctite, you may need to heat the bushing slightly for removal.
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Title Annotation:BACK TO BASICS
Author:Campbell, R.K.
Publication:American Gunsmith
Date:Dec 1, 2016
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