I’ve had more than a few 1911s over the years. A couple of them required a barrel bushing wrench to disassemble. One of them required a barrel bushing wrench and a mallet. I got rid of those guns, both Les Baer 1911s in .45ACP. They were shockingly accurate guns, they just took a lot of maintenance. The necessity of a tool, or tools to disassemble them made maintenance much more difficult. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s annoyed no end by a tight barrel bushing. Dd Fab of Canada has created what they call the 1911 Gripwrench. It’s a barrel bushing wrench that has a little swivel hook on the side of it for 1911s with, in my opinion, overly tight bushings. While I already have a few 1911 openers, this one seemed worth a try . . .
First, I just wanted to see how well it works as a standard barrel bushing wrench. Please note: none of the 1911s I now own require a tool for me to disassemble them, but using one does make it easier. I shoot a little bit, so I’m disassembling a 1911 a couple of times a week and I’ve used all sorts of tools. The one I have with me all the time is the STI Bushing Wrench/Bottle Opener keychain. Pure genius, but it doesn’t have a handle and so it’s not the best wrench.
The Gripwrench actually makes a pretty great bushing wrench. It fits tightly over the bushing, has a long enough handle to be comfortable, and doesn’t mar the metal at all. I actually used it to attempt to scratch several different types of metal, to no avail. So I wouldn’t worry about it marring my guns at all. It’s also wide enough that it helps stop the spring cap from flying out, which everyone does at least once.
As far as the tight bushing part, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how this gizmo worked – until I found a video that showed the process. Then it was head-slapping simple. The YouTube video shows how it works much better than I can explain it.
Now, I had to simulate the need for the swinging arm, as none of my bushings are that tight. If they were, though, this thing would work pretty well. If I had it back when I owned my Les Baers, I might have kept them and I certainly wouldn’t have had to bring a mallet to the range. Beyond coping with an overly tight bushing, shooters with limited dexterity in their fine motor skills – such as a friend of mine who can’t bend his index finger due to an injury – would benefit mightily from the Gripwrench.
In short, it works as advertised and it works well. It’s sold on eBay for $22.50, so it’s not a lot of change out the door and it provides additional functionality over the standard wrenches. All that said, if you have normal mobility in your fingers and you have a 1911 that absolutely requires tools to disassemble, I would highly recommend either fixing or replacing that gun first. But if you insist on keeping it as is, this little tool is a good buy.
Rating (out of five stars):
Overall: * * * * *
The 1911 Gripwrench works exactly as advertised and does its job well. If you have a gun that requires a wrench or your hands could use a little extra leverage, it’s the way to go.