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Real testing and feedback on Slide Lightening


CHA-LEE

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I wanted to share my findings in slide lightening on the .40 Caliber EAA Witness Limited. I use this gun for shooting major power factor ammo in the Limited division. The objective in doing the slide lightening was to see how removing weight from different parts of the slide would affect how the front sight tracks during the muzzle flip process and the felt recoil while shooting. I think most shooters simply do the slide lightening as a fashion statement and don’t really put much thought into how it affects the performance of the gun. I asked around about the effects of taking weight out of the front or back of a slide and many people didn’t know or simply felt that taking the weight out of the slide didn’t make a difference if it was done on the front or back. Since there really wasn’t any definite answers or data to reference I decided to test it out myself.

After many different iterations of slide lightening configurations with some that worked and some that didn’t work so well, I have settled on a new configuration that seems to work pretty good for me. The key word here is finding a setup that works for ME. What works for me may or may not work well for you. So it’s up to you to do your own testing to see what works the best. Hopefully this information can help you make an informed decision when you venture down the path of slide lightening.

The stock stripped Limited slide (removed sights, firing pin, barrel, guide rod, extractor, etc) weights a little over 11oz. I like to use a 10lb recoil spring with the stock weight slide. This stock weight slide with 10lb recoil spring produces a soft felt recoil but also allows the front sight to track pretty high with muzzle flip. The good thing with this setup is that the front sight returns to an aligned state post shot pretty good, even though the muzzle flip is a little excessive.

1oz Removed from the Front – The first test I did was to remove 1oz from the front of the slide by making large cuts on the top of the slide and cuts on the bottom of the slide where the guide rod goes. This setup produced a 10oz slide with a muzzle light feel. Using this setup with a 10lb recoil spring produced a slightly more harsh felt recoil and little less muzzle flip. The main issue I had with this setup is that the front sight would not return to a level condition post shot. It would return high unless I significantly increased my grip pressure. I tried using an 11 and 12lb recoil spring to help snap the front sight down to an aligned state post shot, and it did help, but the heavier recoil springs also increased the maximum muzzle flip and felt recoil which defeated the whole purpose of lightening the slide in the first place. I considered this test a failure as it didn’t really improve anything.

.50oz removed from the front and .50oz from the back of the slide – The second test I did was to evenly remove half an ounce from the front and back of the slide. My goal was to produce an even reduction in weight on the slide. My thought was to keep the front to back center point balance the same as a stock slide but simply take 1oz out of the total slide weight. Using the 10lb recoil spring this configuration produced a slightly more harsh felt recoil and a little less muzzle flip, just like the 1oz removed from the front only, but this time the front sight would return properly to an aligned state post shot. I really liked how this setup worked and felt. I used this on two different guns over two seasons of shooting.

1oz removed from the front and 1oz from the back of the slide – Since the even weight reduction setup worked well on the 10oz slide, I figured I would try the same thing but take another ounce out of it making it a 9oz slide to see how it would work. Once again I used a 10lb recoil spring on this setup. While shooting this setup the felt recoil was very harsh and I was back in the situation where the front sight would return high post shot. I tried heavier recoil springs but this really didn’t have much affect on the front sight returning high post shot. I think that there was simply not enough mass in the slide to snap forward and bring the front sight back down properly. This 9oz slide setup was simply too light for Major Power factor ammo. I did some testing with Minor Power factor ammo using a 6lb and 8lb recoil spring and it was AWESOME. The 6lb recoil spring felt and sight tracked the best, but it couldn’t produce 100% solid feeding since the spring was too light. The 8lb recoil spring solved the feeding issues and only slightly increased the felt recoil. Shooting minor ammo with this setup feels like cheating. The gun does not muzzle flip at all and the felt recoil is very mild. I use this setup while shooting steel challenge.

.25oz removed from the front and .75oz from the back of the slide – I always wondered what a back of the slide being lighter than the front configuration would feel and shoot like, so I gave this configuration a try in my latest gun build. Using a 10lb recoil spring I was initially disappointed in how it performed. The felt recoil was the same as the .50/.50 setup but the front sight would dip low then come back up to an aligned state post shot. I chalked this up to there being more weight on the front of the slide and too much spring snapping the extra weight forward excessively. I put in an 8lb recoil spring to reduce the “Snap Forward” effect and it completely solved the dipping low post shot issue. The 8lb recoil spring did create a slightly harsher felt recoil but it also produced less muzzle flip. This setup is very intriguing to me and I have decided to use it for the next season. Will the lighter 8lb recoil spring cause premature slide or frame damage? We will see how it goes. But what I do know is that this setup is the best setup I have shot so far in a lightened slide configuration. The primary benefit I see in using this configuration is the greatly reduced overall muzzle flip. The front sight tracks up and down rapidly with very little muzzle rise.

Making cuts on a slide is far more impacting than a simple fashion statement. I don’t know about you guys but I would take proper function over fashion any day. Removing slide weight does impact how the gun feels and the sights track. Removing weight from the front or back of the slide also changes how the gun feels and the sights track. I hope that this information helps other shooters in making some educated decisions on what slide weight reduction path they should take.

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I think most shooters simply do the slide lightening as a fashion statement and don’t really put much thought into how it affects the performance of the gun.

This is so true....Great post!!!

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Noel Alfaro once told me about a 45 Gold Cup that he shot for a while that had a heap of weight out of the rear of the slide - the cuts were done from the bottom and concealed. Everyone that shot it couldn't believe how flat it shot. I always thought that the less weight that went over the wrist, the less muzzle flip and Noel's Gold Cup seemed to support the theory.

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I believe most shooters and some smiths do not get it. My smith gets it, unfortunately he retired, he did extensive testing and slide lightening on open guns and had some really good info on his site. His name is Gary Natale, GAN's. Maybe his info is still there, might be worth a look. I remember reading it years ago.

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My daughter who is 14 yrs old and tiny 90# soaking wet was shooting limited but had to move to open because the recoil was to much for her to accurately handle, I wanted to get some slide lightening work done for her but everybody said the recoil would be to harsh.

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Thanks for the great info CHA-LEE, do you have pictures of all these slides?

Intuitively everything said in this thread makes sense, especially the idea of slide weight at the back of the slide inducing rotation at the wrist.

I will see if I can get some pictures taken of the slides. I don't have all of them any more so there will be some missing.

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Good information. One other thing I've been wondering is the effect of these slide mounted red dot optics.

I am not sure how the slide mounted red dot optics would affect the felt recoil or tracking of the dot. One side of me feels that weight added is weight added so unless you removed the same amount of weight from the back of the slide as the red dot weighs then it may change how it feels and tracks while shooting. There is also the factor of how high on the slide the optic is mounted. the further away from the frame rails the weght is, the more effect it will have on the mass of the slide as it moves back and forth.

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It makes sense to me but then I think of the popularity of the sight tracker guns. They would most certainly have more slide weight off the front vs. the rear. Thoughts?

I am not sure about that. Maybe a gunsmith that builds sight trackers would step in and talk about it. I would assume that since a sight tracker style configuration has more non-recipocating mass (front of barrel, front sight, etc) on the front of the gun that would offset the additional slide weight taken from the front of the slide. I have only shot a couple of sight tracker pistols over maybe 50 rounds total, so I am not sure how changing the weight of the slide would affect that configuration of gun.

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My daughter who is 14 yrs old and tiny 90# soaking wet was shooting limited but had to move to open because the recoil was to much for her to accurately handle, I wanted to get some slide lightening work done for her but everybody said the recoil would be to harsh.

Try setting up a .40 Minor Limited gun for her. My wife is very recoil sensitive and when she wants to shoot, usually steel challenge, I set her up with my 9oz slide setup using .40 minor rounds with 200gr bullets. That setup shoots MEGA soft, almost .22 like, and she loves it.

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Not to hijack this thread...does anybody have any idea why AETI M&P that was made for Costa comes with a 20lb spring? This confused me b/c I thought they would have went with a much lower spring.

Give the guys at AETI a call and ask them directly.

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I think the thing with sight trackers is less about lightening the slide and more about the front sight not reciprocating with the slide making it easier for your eyes to track its movement.

one other thought I had for all the 2011 shooters is to remember these tests were done on a Tanfoglio where the standard slide weight is all ready as light as many 2011 lighted slides. The base balance point will be different to start with so separate testing is probably in order.

Mike

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've always thought removing weight from the back of the slide was the best idea. I want to try it on a 2011 limited gun though.

Same here since that's the part that goes over the wrist.

I once did lightening on a GM slide similar to the early Colt Commander and GC, but I never made a comparison test. On the rear of the slide, I plunge cut with a flat end mill instead of the side mill cut a la Colt. That way you can remove a little more material.

I sure would like to experiment on this starting with front, then rear, then both front and rear lightening.

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  • 2 weeks later...

great job on the testing. The slide cuts in my 6" Limited gun work and look sexy at the same time. I'm a little guilty of liking a little flash with my function so to speak. I can track the front sight pretty much the same as a sight tracker.

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Attached to this post are pictures of three of my slides in different weight setups. The slide on the left is the one with .50 oz taken out of the front and back. The one in the middle has .25 oz taken out of the front and .75 oz taken out of the back. The one on the right has 1 oz taken out of the front and back.

I couldn't find the slide that I took 1 oz out of the front but it pretty much had cuts on the front like the one on the left with more material taken off and nothing taken off of the back. Now that I think about it I believe I sold that gun a few years back so that would be a good reason why I can't find it :roflol:

post-15819-0-82061700-1384897623_thumb.j

post-15819-0-03505100-1384897644_thumb.j

post-15819-0-66740400-1384897659_thumb.j

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