Thoughts on Single Stack Magwell’s etc… — Gear & Accessories

Help picking Magwell

FWIW, I run both the Techwell and Dawson Ice on my primary and backup 1911s. I think the plastic liner on the Dawson may be *slightly* faster than the Techwell, but the primary difference I see between them is attaching via the MSH vs the grips.

One minor consideration is that the Dawson will be slightly more tolerant of different frame dimensions. I do have a Techwell fitted to a Springfield frame that would require fitting to use on a Caspian frame (the Caspian is slightly longer). The Dawson Ice could go back and forth without modification.

On the other hand, I run a heavy gun (42.5 oz). Using the Dawson MSH isn’t an inconvenience for me. If I liked a lighter gun, it’d be nice to have the option of using a plastic MSH, which would require going with the Techwells.

In practice, I can’t tell the difference between them. Since I use the the Techwell aluma-grips on all my 1911s regardless of magwell, I’d probably opt for the Techwell for any new build.

Smith and Alexander Magwells

I did a forum search and was not able to answer several questions that have come up.

I’m doing a little research on ParaOrdnance magazines and trying to determine how other shooters are able to get 21 rounds into their magazines and are able to use magwells on their Paras.

If this is very elementary, please forgive my ignorance. I’ve just started shooting again after a 10 year absence from the sport.

All my mags are original prebans acquired in the early to mid-90s. With 9×21 their capacity is 20 1. Several of the old basepads are no longer functional and needed to be replaced.

After installing new aftermarket basepads, the magazines fail to seat. Even though I do not have a magwell installed on the gun, the new basepads will not allow the magazines to go far enough into the pistol for the magazine catch to latch.

I went to the local gunshop and measured a new production magazine. I found the new mag body was 0.09″ longer than my old magazines. Not much but maybe this little bit is all I need.

Will the extra length of these new magazines allow the use of Dawson basepads in a ParaOrdnance? And if so, (now I’m really pressing my luck) will it also be long enough to allow me to install a magwell on this gun?

Thank you for any assistance you can offer.

Also a side note to Brian for giving us this forum and to the many contributing members out there, THANK YOU. After finding this forum last February, it was a significant factor in getting me out there shooting again!


I have been kind of on the front end of the curve with regards to the Single Stack SV magwell. So here are my thoughts on both the magwell and some other thoughts and questions about my single stack reloading, magwells and magazines.

First the magwell:

The SV magwell initially seemed like a gift from the shooting gods. It was the next best thing to shooting Limited, in that the HUGE target it presented seemed to make single stack reloading more palatable for someone like myself who had migrated from Limited. After having used it for 12 months now, here are my thoughts.

1) The SV magwell is great for a consistent grip on the draw!! I think this is the biggest asset / bonus of the magwell.

2) I do NOT think it speeds up your reloads, not noticeably anyway. Here is why, unlike limited, where you have a large magwell opening in the grip, and a tapered magazine at the top which then widens into double-stack width, a SS magazine is straight. The magwell opening is narrow and with the an un-tapered magazine, it has to be a much more accurate and straight presentation into the magwell. ( by this I mean into the actual grip of the gun, NOT into the “aftermarket” SV magwell). You see, the SV magwell can direct the magazine towards the “hole”, but it does not magically align it to be slid into the magwell / grip. I have come to the conclusion that there is NO substitute for practice, practice, practice, and MORE practice with regards to reloading.

3) Reliability? I have also found that using the SV magwell, I don’t seat the magazine 100% of the time. Let me explain, the depth of the magwell from top to bottom is significant relative to the length of the magazine. So, when doing a reload, it is imperative to actually rotate your wrist / palm to a perpendicular angle to the grip of the gun in order to fully seat the magazine in the gun. Why? Well, it is due to the extra length that SV magwell adds to the grip of the gun. I have been using Wilson 47DE magazines, which have a rather large basepad, even so, it is difficult to achieve 100% magazine seating reliability. OK, I already hear you, nothing is 100%!!! So, in my match testing, I would say that about 1 in 20 reloads are not seating, and after pulling the trigger on an empty chamber, I am forced to burn precious time re-seating and racking the slide. This is time that can cost you a match!!!!! I think that a 5% failure rate is WAY too high, your opinions may vary.

So, here are my thoughts on Single Stack magwells and some thoughts and a few questions on magazines:

I am giving SERIOUS consideration to going back to the S{amp}amp;A magwell. It allows me a to seat the magazine more reliably, it MIGHT, and I say might because I am not convinced it is so, but might be marginally slower than the SV magwell. I can hit a reliable in match 1.25 second reload with a SV magwell, I think I might slow down to a 1.35 – 1.45 second at worst. I think this is a good trade off for reliability. Take this with a grain of salt, as I also use a Blade-Tech DOH for Limited, as I like the peace of mind NEVER having to worry about the gun falling out of the holster. My draws are as fast or faster with this holster as they were in various “race” holsters. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO PRACTICE!!!!!

OK, magazines, here I have some questions rather than observations:

As I said, I have been using Wilson 47DE magazines. I have had to “re-spec” 4 of my 8 recently. On the front of the magazine, above the mag-catch hole, the magazines had become too wide and were failing to drop free. I put the calipers on them, and it was a very slight difference, but enough to cause a problem. The “bulge” was just after the front curve came to the flat area on the sides of the magazine. I DO dry-fire a lot, so maybe this is the cause of them going “out-of-spec”, maybe not. I purchased some new Tripp research magazines, model number 8R-45-RGH that I feel are excellent. I am in the early to mid-stages of testing, so take that for what it is worth. They don’t have the LARGE basepad of the Wilson’s, but if I do switch to the S{amp}amp;A magwell, they will be perfect and most likely will be what I switch to for the foreseeable future. They do work with the SV magwell, but once again, my trust level with the Tripp’s, due to only a month of testing, is a bit lower than the Wilson’s with the SV magwell. Without the SV magwell, I feel they are the “go-to” magazine.

OK, there are my thoughts on Single Stack reloads, magwells, and magazines from over a year of shooting Single Stack exclusively. I hope this helps some of you, makes you think about what you are doing and gets more people up to speed in a new Division. If nothing else, maybe I can help cut down on YOUR learning curve.


Edited December 5, 2007 by zhunter


History has a way of repeating certain things.

I am glad this time is the 1911 thing.

When we started this thing called IPSC. We had these pistols we called «Colt .45’s». Later on when «aftermarketeers» came about we started calling them 1911’s. It still sounds strange to me. I remember a friend who had a «Colt .45 in 9mm», and another one who had it in this weird caliber: «.38 Auto». Magazine capacity was 7 1. Yes, we had to reload, and do it as fast as we could too.

Initially we beveled the mag well opening, and that helped the lips hanging/grabbing on them. Some guys started doing something real nasty: they started physically «wedging» the opening, deforming the mag opening into more of a funnel. It was ugly and you needed to whittle the grips to fit, but it worked. I came up with the drastic idea of using a TIG welder to deposit molten metal in the front strap and around the mag well, and after it cooled of I would hand grind and shape that extra metal into front strap finger grooves and a perfectly «funneled», wider mag entry well. Now we were in shooter’s heaven. Later on Smith {amp}amp; Alexander brought in their mainspring housings with a mag well attached. The inside of the S{amp}amp;A’s did not have the funnel in front and the mouth was not as wide as my welded design, but it was a good compromised readily available over the counter, that you could install and were good to go, even if they were heavier. Caspian later on also came with a nice frame with a built in mag well, which is still available this day.

There were no wide bodies to get us «distracted». It was just good ole’ 1911’s, and in .45 ACP. We found ways to make them work and like «ZHunter» we practiced, practiced, practiced, and them more practice those mag changes. Learned a few tricks and facts along the way. As «ZHunter» illustrated, it is a long «skinny» ride up that grip. Inserting a mag angled from either side or the rear does not work, and deforms the lips, untill you learn to train your muscle/memory to align/angle from the front, against the mainspring housing and straighten it as you shove it right up. Sometimes we cut a little bit off the bottom of the grip, leaving a small gap (about the same as the front notch of the front strap), and that would help seating the mags fully on the run. The insertion routine was not that different than the one used for the wide body gun nowadays, but it is not tolerant at all with slight side insertion. It was/is a practice of approaching the grip’s opening in a straight line at a slight angle, aiming the back stripe of your mag at the lower inside point of you mainspring housing, making sure the bullet nose cleared the front strap, then from there a quick shove as the hand’s palmtook the small slight upwards turn. Practice it several thousand times, looking at it, with your eyes closed, overhead, behind your back, etc. untill the darn thing goes in like a guided missile. Take the freaking mag well off, and practice without it untill you can confidently score every time, then put it back on, when you don’t really need it anymore. Hey, they do look cute. {amp}lt;_{amp}lt;:ph34r::cheers:

As for mags, I would seriously take a look at those Tripp, or the Novak/Act-Mags. Personally I am starting to love the ease of disassembly/cleaning/reassembly of those Novak/Act-Mags.


I have had, in the following order:

No magwell


Techwell SP

Techwell XT

Techwell Carry

IMHO, the ONLY thing the ‘big’ magwells are good at it helping your grip, and that depends largely on your hand size/shape. As Z stated in the original post, with SS mags, you need to get them aligned pretty good in order for any magwell to help you. When it all boils down to it, a ‘big’ magwell will MAYBE save 1% of your reloads, if you’re lucky — if you index was that bad, chances are you’re having other problems too. I really liked how easy it was to get a nice grip with the bigger magwells, but being a new shooter, I didn’t want to get into bad habits and am forcing myself to do it the hard way…

After running the Techwells, I really started to like the way the gun balanced with the polymer MSH, Al grips and well combo. The S{amp}amp;A is a great magwell, but I just prefer the balance of my current setup.

My findings on Wilson Basepads and fitting in the box:

S{amp}amp;A — regular 47D pads work and feel great.

Techwell SP and Carry — D’s will work, but they’re a bit too flush for my taste, so I run shaved DE pads. Build a box and shave them to fit. In the Carry, they seat similar to how a D feels in a S{amp}amp;A.

XT — you need to run shaved DE’s. The XT has no problem fitting in the box, if it doesn’t, either you frame is way too long, or your rear sight is way too tall.

I have yet to see an Al S{amp}amp;A. That may be the low budget solution. The only downside to the Techwell Carry is the cost. It is slightly wider and taller than the S{amp}amp;A, which for me, yields the best blend of performance given slightly sloppy technique, while looking dead sexy.


There is little to no disadvantage to a S{amp}amp;A magwell.

Matt — Do you mean as opposed to other magwells, or as opposed to beveling the opening on the gun itself?

No disadvantage to the S{amp}amp;A over the techwell/SVI/etc.

I’m not sure how or why you guys keep coming up with this, but it’s simply not true.

A larger magwell (i.e. Techwell or SV) will absolutely, positively, 100% of the time give you more margin of error to take a reload that was a bit off and make it nearly as good as a perfect reload….and certainly good enough to keep from totally trashing a stage.

None of that means SS shooters shouldn’t practice the H@ll out of reloads, but no matter what, even the very best sometimes miss a reload (we all recall the pic in Front Sight of TGO totally blowing a SS or L-10 reload last year).

A larger magwell won’t help on a perfect reload, it won’t help on one that’s nearly perfect since any decent magwell will save those, but it’s when you miss one just «that» much more where the big magwells save your bacon and keep it from being a disaster.

If people don’t like the way they look, don’t like the way they feel, don’t think they’re keeping with tradition….all that’s fine and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that a bigger magwell offers a bigger margin of error.

When I put my Techwell next to an S{amp}amp;A, there’s enough room in the Techwell that you could hit the outer part of the funnel just enough to make the reload where it would be on the flat part of the bottom of the S{amp}amp;A….which would be a 100% blown reload.

Even if it only saves a reload for me a couple of times a year it’s worth it to have that extra margin of error.

Actually, I encourage everyone shooting SS to stick with no magwell at all, just do a little blending and call it good…no sense in offering help to the competition right? :devil:

Edited December 21, 2008 by G-ManBart



I gotta wonder… With that gap on the front of the magwell, does that part of the funnel actually serve the purpose of guiding the magazine into the well or does the step «catch» the top round or the front of the mag body?

I’ve never used any SSTK magwell other than the S{amp}amp;A. Well, I also had one of the cheap Wilsons that attaches to the lower grip bushings, which if fitted well can also do the job (the grips must be relieved for seamless look). Given the straight wall (non-tapered) shape of the 1911 mags, they have to be indexed (pointed) straight at the well. If tilted or canted, they won’t go in smoothly. FUMBLE!!

Now after some years of practice I think my SSTK mag changes are almost smooth. To new 1911 shooters I would recommend to start with one of the small-mouth magwells, develop the technique and then change to a big-mouth. I think that it doesn’t matter how big the funnel opening is, if your technique for on-the-clock mag changing is not correct, the 1911 wont forgive as much as a double-stack tapered mag will. FUMBLE!!

Then again, what do I know? Just a lowly B-class shooter…


DISCLAIMER: This post is the result of a 1 hour flight delay out of TPA. If it sounds like senseless rambling it probably is. As he gets older the author likes airports less and less, and flight delays make him disoriented and very grumpy.

The Smith {amp}amp; Alexander magwell weighs 2.9 ounces which puts my 9mm STI Trojan at 43.3 ounces with empty cobra mag. Too heavy. I’ve ordered the Wilson Combat «slip on» well for a temporary fix, unless the thing works really well and I decide to keep it on the gun. I’d really like to be at 42.5 ounces total weight with mag. So I need a magwell that’s about 2 to 2.25 ounces. Does such a thing exist. I’m pretty sure the techwell will work, but I’m not sure that’s what I want to go with.

Here’s what I need some help with. I need weights for the available magwells that will fit my 1911. Wilson Combat Speed Chute, Ed Brown Maxiwell etc…

If you can post the weight and what kind of scale it was weighed on, and the reliablity of the measurement on that scale, it would be a great resource.

Smith {amp}amp; Alexander magwell = 2.9 ounces. Weighed on a 10 lbs digital scale. 100 Grain check weight weighed on my reloading scale also measured same equivalent in grams/ounces on the 10 lbs scale. I am confident in this measurement.

You have to admire Alan Smith. Not only was he smart enough to invent the integral mag funnel that’s a part of the mainspring housing, he was smart enough to patent the idea, and aggressive enough to sue anyone who infringes on his patent. You see other mag funnel designs, they either affix directly to the frame or, if they affix to the mainspring housing, they’re a separate piece that’s held to the housing with a bolt or pin. Though this is touted as «allowing you to remove the funnel for carry if you want,» every person within the industry to whom I’ve talked, who was really in the know, laughed at that and said, «That’s really to get around Alan Smith’s patent.»

I greatly prefer the Smith {amp}amp; Alexander to any of the two-piece designs. AAMOF, the only mag funnel design period that eclipses the S{amp}amp;A in my opinion is the Heinie design that bolts or welds directly to the frame and allows installing a funnel while adding no length to the butt at all. For concealed carry, if not increasing the length of the butt is an overwhelming concern, this is probably the best way to go. OTOH, it does not escape my notice that if concealment was an overwhelming concern, we probably wouldn’t be carrying a 1911 with full-length butt to start with. :lol:


I think patents can be renewed prior to date of expiring to protect it.

The wife {amp}amp; I been trying to decide which to buy for a SS Gold Cup, Kimber SS Flat are backordered, have not called Colt and the S{amp}amp;A looks identical to what Colt uses on the Special Combat Govt which she really likes, I am ASSuming Colt gets them from S{amp}amp;A for the custom shop guns?

LOL must get one this week as we shoot a qualifier this Sat :lol:

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