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Sick Day. I hate ’em. And as someone who’s self-employed, there’s no such thing as “paid leave.” Nope. When you’re sick, you’re effectively out of work. So it was with an extra heapin’ helpin’ of angst that approached the prospect of sick day(s) for moi. But I’ve tried (as best I can) to put them to good use.

The problem with combining a work-at-home lifestyle with monthly visits from a school-aged child, is that you’re pretty much laying yourself wide open to every friggin’ one the the bugs brought home from that taxpayer-funded Petri dish we call a middle school. It never fails – She comes in for a visit, and I get whatever she had since the last trip to visit. And lemme tell ya, all the Vitamin C, Zinc, and other “miracle” preventatives simply do NOT work.

So here I am with some forced ‘down time’ and little to do to keep me occupied during that four in the morning time when by biological clock has decided it’s time to wake up. So after running through the list of usual suspects – podcasts, checking email, et cetera – I realized that it might be a relatively low-key activity to clean my carry piece.

The Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II is a Commander-style 1911, which is to say that it has a 4 inch barrel, as opposed to the original spec of a 5″ barrel. Whereas the original design features a barrel bushing, Kimber’s 4-incher uses a bull barrel which is a bushingless design. What’s the big deal about a bushing or bushing-less design? Well, two things – accuracy and disassembly.

The whole thing about semi-autos and accuracy revolves around getting the barrel to fit to the slide without play. When you hear talk about 1911s being “sloppy” or someone singing the virtues of custom-fitted parts, this is what they’re talking about. As you fire the gun, the slide moves to the rear, as the ejector grabs the spent casing. The barrel tilts downward at it’s rear, to facilitate another round fed into the chamber.

It’s that movement during cycling that causes the problem. When parts are fitted together carefully, either design should work. The bushing design has one extra part, and allows for a couple of designs in guide rods – a two-piece that screws together, or a one-piece that does not. The bushingless design features a barrel that flares outward, rather like a blunderbuss. The wider, flared barrel matches up with the front hole in the slide to secure the barrel back in place.

With a one-piece guide rod and bushing configuration, it’s possible to field-strip a 1911 without tools. If you have a two-piece rod, add in a hex wrench for disassembly. With a bushingless design, you’ll need a specialized tool – or a bent paperclip.

Yep. That’s what I said. A bent paperclip. You see, there’s a small hole in the guide rod, just large enough to insert a paperclip’s wire. When you release the slide, it engages (or “is stopped by” if you prefer passive voice) the paperclip, allowing you to remove the slide. It’s a pretty cool design, but it requires you to have a paperclip on hand, if you need to strip and clean your gun. Is that a big deal? I don’t think so.

Your results may vary. I think the likelihood of finding myself in a situation where the only way to save the day is to be able to field strip my gun without having access to a paperclip is roughly about a million times less likely than finding myself in a life-or-death situation with my gun.

So, how hard is it to disassemble the Kimber with a bull barrel? It’s actually pretty easy, once you’ve done it. The first time can be a little…tricky. (Kind of like sex, I suppose.) I found that (with paperclip in hand) I actually prefer the bull barrel disassembly to the bushing system with my Springfield.

Is Kimber’s bull barrel design any more or less accurate than a bushing design? I don’t think so. Of course, the more “custom fit” a gun is, the better it’s accuracy. Either design would seem to work. I personally think that the fewer parts (especially the fewer moving parts), the more reliable something is. But both the 1911s I’m shooting are über-reliable.

I finished my TLC project. And then, like now, it’s time for me to head back to bed. Hopefully, tomorrow, I’ll be once again leaving home, and continuing on my concealed carry odyssey.

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  1. I have a disassembly question. Is it possible to disassemble a 1911 the same way you disassemble a USP? (Pull the slide slightly to the rear, push out the slide stop, and just slide the slide, barrel and guide rod off at once.)

  2. Lance: I sold my 1911 in January but I believe it is. At least, I can’t think of why it wouldn’t be possible to do so. You might have the recoil spring and/or spring guide fly into the air, but I think you can do it.

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