1911 Feed Ramp

Why polishing the feed ramp on a Government Model is a bad idea.

The first thing to understand is that the angles of the frame and barrel ramp…aka “Feed Ramp and Barrel Throat” are critical, with the former being the most critical. 31 degrees +30 minutes – zip. When we “lightly” polish we risk rolling…or radiusing…the top corner. That effectively changes the angle and sends the bullet nose straight into the barrel ramp.

That pushes the barrel forward and up, which causes the barrel lugs to enter the slide lugs too early and leads to what is known as a “Three Point Jam. In the event that it doesn’t actually stop the slide, it damages the lug corners.

Which brings us to the barrel ramp…or throat as its come to be called. The barrel ramp is a clearance…not a bullet guide. If all is well with the specs, the bullet doesn’t touch the barrel ramp below the top corner…and as it breaks over to horizontal, it applies a light downward force on the barrel…and provides the lowest angle of entry into the chamber as the design of the gun will allow. At most, the bullet nose lightly brushes the face of the ramp.

If these functions are present, the gun will feed so easily and smoothly that the shooter can barely detect that it’s fed at all.

“Dremel Dan” has come to be that imaginary guy that I often refer to when the discussion of polishing feed/barrel ramps comes up…but he’s actually a real person. I based him on a guy I was loosely acquainted with when I was the gunsmith on duty at a long-gone gun shop in Winston-Salem NC.

The phone rang, and “Dan” was on the other end. His voice was a little frantic. His new Colt was chokin’ on hardball with nearly every round. With a couple questions, I was able to determine that his problem was a failure to return to battery.

The conversation went like so:

“I don’t understand it! I done a KILLER ramp’n’throat job…and it won’t even feed ball!”

“Why did you do the work? Was there a problem”

“Oh, no. It fed fine. I just wanted it to feed better.”

And that’s how it usually starts…and as often as not, the frame has to go to a gunsmith with the equipment needed to mill the ramp away and install a ramp insert.

In Dan’s case, the damage wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t get it squared away…but if he’d spent another 30 seconds on it with that cotton buffing head and that damned Dremel…it’d have gone to Gun City for an expensive cure.

Best leave that feed ramp alone.

My video on the same subject.

5 thoughts on “Why polishing the feed ramp on a Government Model is a bad idea.”
  1. Hello Mr. Travis,hope you are well.
    Polishing the feed ramp is a bad idea,agreed.
    Looking a the top round thru the ejection port,the roundt is pointed directly at the chamber,it is clearly above the feed ramp.It would appear that the bullet is going to clear the fed ramp altogether and contact the barrel throat as it moves forward while loading.
    Possibly and this I can’t tell,the case touches the edge of the feed ramp.So polishing the feed ramp does not accomplish anything because the bullet doesn’t even come close to it.

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