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Thread: Bull vs.bushing: Which do you prefer?

  1. #1
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    My goal this year was to purchase a 1911. Upon doing research, I discovered that there were two types of barrels prevalent in 1911s. The bushing style in most government models and the bull barrels in commander and officer models. I had the opportunity to rent both. Although my shots were well placed with both, I felt more at ease with the bull barrel.

    After renting and shooting numerous 1911s on the range, I decided to purchase the Kimber Pro TLE which uses a 4" bull barrel.

    So I ask experienced 1911 users...what is your preference? Bull or bushing. and, why?



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    Regular Member Alexcabbie's Avatar
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    I am not really much of a 1911 fan, but assuming the "bull barrel" means that no bushing is required as a spacer of some sort it would seem to me that (1) you would have one less thing to wear out or break and (2) one less step in disassembly/reassembly of the weapon. Also I would prefer the extra robustness of a bull barrrel.

    But I am not really a 1911 fan, so I may be full of bull.

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    Regular Member buster81's Avatar
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    Well, some say the bull barrel is more accurate. I'm not so sure, but I can't say they are wrong. It is heavier becauseof the extra metal in the barrel. I prefer the balance of the traditional 1911 with the bushing, but that's just me. I think most people who prefer the bull barrel say that the extra weight reduces barrel flip.

    I think many of the short barrelled guns are using the bull barrel, but I'm not too sure why.

    I prefer the bushing simply because that is how JMB designed it.




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    Regular Member Alexcabbie's Avatar
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    buster81 wrote:
    Well, some say the bull barrel is more accurate. I'm not so sure, but I can't say they are wrong. It is heavier becauseof the extra metal in the barrel. I prefer the balance of the traditional 1911 with the bushing, but that's just me. I think most people who prefer the bull barrel say that the extra weight reduces barrel flip.

    I think many of the short barrelled guns are using the bull barrel, but I'm not too sure why.

    I prefer the bushing simply because that is how JMB designed it.


    Cue "Tradition!" from "Fiddler on the Roof"

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    Aah, the quandaries that plague man: Revolver or auto, .45 or .40, belt or shoulder holster, blonde or brunette, Johnnie Black or Chivas, soda or neat, ice?. Truly, we suffer an embarrassment of riches.

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    I have a 1911 with a FLGR and Bushing so I can't really give an opinion on the Bull Barrels. It would seem that with the Bull Barrel there would be wear on the slide due to the absence of a Bushing. If so, I would think that replacing a Bushing would be easier and less expensive then replacing/repairing a slide.

  7. #7
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    I prefer a bushing setup personally. For one thing, one of the first options you have when attempting to improve accuracy is to add a fitted/oversized bushing. Also to be considered is that most of the time a full length guide rod is used when you use a bull barrel. I don't like FLGRs but that is as much a personal thing as anything.

    A true commander setup is 4 1/4" barrel with a barrel bushing. If it is only 4" and without a bushing it's called whatever that manufacturer calls it ('pro' in the case of Kimber). It's mostly semantics but I wouldn't call your Kimber a 'Commander' for that reason.

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    sevenplusone wrote:
    I prefer a bushing setup personally. For one thing, one of the first options you have when attempting to improve accuracy is to add a fitted/oversized bushing. Also to be considered is that most of the time a full length guide rod is used when you use a bull barrel. I don't like FLGRs but that is as much a personal thing as anything.

    A true commander setup is 4 1/4" barrel with a barrel bushing. If it is only 4" and without a bushing it's called whatever that manufacturer calls it ('pro' in the case of Kimber). It's mostly semantics but I wouldn't call your Kimber a 'Commander' for that reason.
    Yes, I agree. This model is only 4", and I realize that traditional 1911s come in government 5", commander 4.25", and officer 3". But, I went with what provided me with what I felt was best after trying out different models. Well actually, out of all the ones I tried, I was most effective with the Nighthawk Dominator. But I'm not ready to put a couple thousand dollars on a firearm.

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    Regular Member shad0wfax's Avatar
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    What you're really getting at when you ask about the busing vs bull barrel setups is the method of dis-assembly and the convenience (or inconvenience) of each method. All 1911s can be made to shoot extremely accurately whether they're bushings or bull-barrels. Not all 1911s come from the factory that accurate though.

    The bushing setups can be dis-assembled with your fingers (if they're a true GI setup) or with strong fingers, any hard object, or the little tool that comes with most 1911s. Once the recoil spring is out, the rest is very similar to a bull-barrel takedown.

    The bull-barrel setups use a pin that looks like a thin but long allen-key with no sides to it. (or like a long L shaped paperclip) This tool is inserted into a small hole drilled in the guide rod when the slide is fully locked back. Then you can release the slide onto this little pin and it will hold the recoil spring coiled tightly on the guide rod assembly so you can then move the slide to the dis-assembly notch and the take-down is the same as any government model is from there.

    Which method do you prefer?

    The accuracy is good either way.

    I've got hundreds of thousands (no joke) rounds through a few 1911A1's (I was lucky when I was in the service). Some were much more accurate than others. This had more to do with parts wear, barrel wear and also a bit of "luck" on the production line. I never got a chance to fire them at 25 yards, just 15 yards max, but accuracy was often ragged-holes from good pistols.

    I've fired a Kimber Gold Match II which is a 5" bushing barrel setup. It's very accurate.

    I've also fired a Kimber Crimson Carry II which is a 4" bull-barrel setup (with a crimson trace lasergrip). It's very accurate (off of the irons or the laser) and actually slightly more accurate than the Gold Match II is. I'm not sure if it's because of how close the tolerances were held to or if it's just a "10am Tuesday morning" gun.

    My H&K USP Tactical is more accurate than either, but it's the equivalent of a hand-fitted bushing setup in that it has an O-ring groove with replaceable O-rings to act like a hand-fitted busing setup.

    When I say "very accurate" "more accurate" and "most accurate, I'm splitting hairs since they're all shooting ragged holes under 1 inch. (This is on a good day, from a rest and only when I, the fallible shooter am at my best.)

    At 25 yards, the 5" bushing setup is grouping right at 1 inch from a rest. The bull-barrel setup is grouping around 0.90 to 0.95 inches and the USP Tactical O-ring setup is grouping between 0.80 and 0.90 inches.

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