Sunday, November 24, 2013

How-To Polish the Feed Ramp of Your Semi-Auto Pistol

If you've ever had the chance to look at the feed ramps of several barrels, you may have noticed that they come in many different shapes and sizes.  They all fill a key role in the reliable operation of a semi-auto pistol as they help guide rounds from the magazine into the chamber of the barrel.  Some firearm manufacturers will polish the feed ramp and others ignore the ramp and leave it full of machining marks.  It's all a trade-off of the cost to polish the ramp vs. the enhanced feeding reliability of the pistol.  I've seen barrels with feed ramps full of deep machining marks that function really well.  I've also seen pistols with ugly feed ramps that cause feeding issues where the bullet jams into the feed ramp and causes a failure to feed.  

If you have a barrel with a rough feed ramp, and it's impacting the feeding reliability of the pistol, here is a very low impact way to go about polishing up the feed ramp.  I'm a bit OCD when it comes to cleaning my pistols so I do this polishing process with the Lone Wolf barrels to make them easier to clean.  Before polishing, it's not uncommon to see copper deposits on the feed ramp as shown in the photo below.

In the photo below you can see that the Lone Wolf barrels come with a buffed finish on the stainless steel that leaves a pattern of very fine scratches across the feed ramp.  Do they work well with this finish?  Yes they do.  Are they more difficult to clean?  Yes they are.  For this reason, I like to remove the factory finish and replace it with a high polish.

It's been some time since I made a how-to video so I decided to make one that demonstrates a low impact, and low risk, way to get a mirror smooth finish on your feed ramp without using aggressive abrasive papers or power rotary tools.  When taking on a project like this, there is always a risk of going too far and removing too much metal from the feed ramp.  This risk increases exponentially if you use very abrasive compounds or papers.  This method is not the fastest or most effective way of achieving the end result, but it's a good practice exercise for those of us that don't mind investing a little time developing a skill that can be used anywhere on a pistol that can benefit from a highly polished surface.  The only tools you need are your hands, a tube of Flitz or tub of Mother's Mag & Aluminum Polish, and a bunch of Q-tips. 

Here are the barrels I started with.

Here are the barrels after investing a couple of hours polishing the ramps.  It's a dramatic improvement.  Not up the quality of work you would get from a professional Gunsmith, but it is a serviceable result.  

If you attempt this, please make sure to clean your barrel before and after polishing.  It's not difficult to end up with some polish residue in the chamber when you are done.  You will want to be sure the chamber and barrel are free of all polishing residue before using the barrel.


  1. You should try using some 2000 grit wet/dry abrasive paper. It can be found in the automotive department at Walmart. It will turn those feed ramps into mirrors in just a couple minutes I promise it's such a fine abrasive that it would be impossible to mess anything up as long as you use hand power. It's commonly used to remove tiny tiny scratches in the top clear coat auto paint Then hit it with your polish. Those ramps will be as mirrored as mirrored can be. I agree with you completely about the polishing aiding reliability. I own a Wilson Combat 1911 that is polished so nicely that you can load the magazine with spent cases and it will feed them as slow or as fast as you can rack the slide. This was one of the tests that an ASP pistol was required to pass before it was allowed to be sold. Many pistols can do this nowadays but Ive owned some that would only pass this test after I polished the feed ramp to mirror smoothness.

    1. True Dat!
      I used to do cylinder heads, aluminum, and it is much softer. So one could use a lower number
      (heavier grit) paper if they did this a lot.

  2. Thank you very much for the video and commentary! This seems like a very low risk procedure! I look forward to trying it out!