Educational Zone #38 – Refinishing a Sistema .45 ACP – pt. 1

I recently purchased a Sistema .45 ACP, Model 1927, from Gander Mountain.

It was priced at $249.

It was about as free of bluing as is possible, but seemed to be mechanically sound.

It looked like a fun project to me.

Here it is in its original state.

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And here.

As you can see, the bluing is completely gone.

But it had a certain “charm”.

My buddy Tman took one look at it and said, “Nice trot line weight.”

But we had been looking for a project to try out the Lauer DuraCoat Painting system.

This looked like the one.

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We took it to the range and I ran 50 rounds of Wolf 230 gr. ball through it with nary a problem.

The only small issue was a good case of “1911 Hammer Bite”. Smilie tongue out

I tend to hold a 1911 “high” and this may have led to that problem.

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The only thing that seemed to be wrong was that the magazine was very difficult to insert and remove.

I had heard that the failure of the magazines to drop free was common with these pistols, so wasn’t too worried about that.

I took it apart to see what we had.

The magazine was still sticking and not dropping free.

It took a lot of effort to pull it out of the frame.

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But I had a suspicion, especially after seeing a bright spot on the magazine.

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I suspected that the grip screws had been tightened too tight and the screw was riding on the magazine.

I took off the grip panels and removed the screws and, sure enough, the magazine dropped free. 

If you are having a problem with your Sistema doing that, try that solution. 

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While I had it apart, I decided to polish the feed ramp.

This is a simple procedure and will help with feeding in most pistols.

These pistols are famous for not wanting to feed anything but Ball, but I figured I’d give it a try to see if I could make it eat anything I fed it.

Here I am using a grit impregnated rubber bob on a Dremel Tool to smooth the edges on the barrel.

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I then used a felt polisher with polishing compound to shine it up.

That green “rock” in the background is the polishing media.

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I also polished the feed ramp on the frame.

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Here’s how they should look when you put them together.

I bet it feeds now. 

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There were some badly pitted and rough spots on the pistol.

I use a very fine wire brush to polish these parts.

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Then Tman used some 180, 220, and 320 Wet-or-Dry sandpaper to polish the top of the chamber.

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One advantage of the fine wire brush is that you can easily clean up checkered areas like the front of the spring cap.

This one had a little rust and pitting.

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Here it is after polishing.

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We detail stripped the pistol and hoped that we can get it back together. 

This will allow me to clean and polish all the important parts and make sure there is no rust or corrosion.

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Tman then started the long and tedious job of polishing the slide.

This will take a while, as he will use progressively finer grits to do the job.

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Here is the slide about half way through the polishing.

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Notice how we use a piece of micardia to hold the sandpaper perfectly flat on the flat areas. 

This is important to prevent “rounding-over” the edges. 

You want to keep them flat.

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Long and steady strokes in the same direction are the key. 

Since we are painting the pistol instead of bluing it, the finish doesn’t have to be as smooth. 

In fact, it’s better not to have it too smooth.

We will probably stop with the 180 grit, as soon as the pitting is gone.

But if you were going to blue it, you would want it as smooth as possible, and would finish with at least 220 or 320 grit.

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Conclusion:
We will spend a few hours over the next few days, working on the polishing as we wait for the DuraCoat paint to get here. I have decided to paint it an Olive Drab color with Black Satin accents.

When we start painting, I will take some pics and post Part 2.

Wish us luck.

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