I received a question about a Shively Pistol Barrel for NM .45's. - M14 Forum

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I received a question about a Shively Pistol Barrel for NM .45's.

This is a discussion on I received a question about a Shively Pistol Barrel for NM .45's. within the Gus Fisher forums, part of the Gun Professionals category; WOW, Shively barrels are not something I've thought about or heard or even read the name in YEARS!! Takes me right back to 1974 when ...


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Old July 28th, 2013, 01:24 AM   #1
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I received a question about a Shively Pistol Barrel for NM .45's.

WOW, Shively barrels are not something I've thought about or heard or even read the name in YEARS!! Takes me right back to 1974 when I first transferred to the NM pistol Section to learn how to build a NM Pistol. I guess I should start with how to pronounce it for those who never heard it. It was always pronounced as a two syllable word. The first syllable was a combination "Shhh" and "hive" like a bee hive and the last sylllable is pronounced "Lee" IOW, sort of Shhive - Lee with emphasis on the first syllable. Not sure why I thought that was important to explain, but maybe it is from a sense of historical perspective. Grin.

Now I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint anyone looking for a boat load of information on Shively barrels. I'll be happy to tell you all what I remember/know and maybe others can fill in the picture for all of us. It was an older system we no longer used when I first began learning to NM condition a .45 pistol. I do not know who it was named after and I asked that back in 1974 and no Marine RTE (NM) Armorer knew. I don't know if it was named after a Marine Armorer, another service Armorer or a civilian Armorer.

Even the term "Shively Barrel" is a misnomer, in a way, as far as I know. It was not the name of the barrel or barrel maker, but rather a Pistol Barrel that had been modified according to the "Shively System." However, all the shooters talked about a NM .45 with the Shively System as "a NM pistol with a Shively Barrel in it." I am not even sure WHEN the Shively System was invented, though I know Marine Armorers used it in the 60's, but I'm not sure if it went back further than that.

There are two important things you have to do to make a .45 pistol shoot more accurately. The first one most people have heard about is tightening the slide fit to the frame. However, it is even more important to get the barrel to return to as near the same exact spot after each round is fired. That requires work on the fit of the muzzle of the barrel to the barrel bushing , the barrel lug fit to the slide lugs on top of the rear of the barrel and finally the fit of the barrel lugs on the bottom of the barrel to the slide stop.

Colt came out with "NM" pistols in the 30's, but they generally were just slicked up pistols with oversize fixed NM sights and some trigger work. Improved NM conditioning had to wait till the Post WWII years. In the early days of NM conditioning a .45, around the 50's and into the early 60's, there were were no special oversize NM parts that could be specially fit to tighten up the barrels until the Real Springfield Arsenal began making some such parts. They DID come out with NM barrels that were better made on the inside of the bore and chamber, though some early NM barrels did not shoot any better than standard barrels.

So in the earliest conversions, they put three spots of braze in the bushing and filed it to fit the muzzle of the barrel that had been turned down behind the area the bushing contacted. I am not sure, but I don't think that was part of the Shively System and not on the Shively Pistols I ever saw. They also "welded up" the top and bottom lugs of the barrels and then those surfaces had to be filed and fit to the slide and slide stop. LORD, do I remember how hard it was to learn to file the bottom barrel lugs to fit in the days before Lug Cutters became available!!! Now once lug cutters became available, that made it MUCH easier and faster to fit lugs BUT you STILL had to learn how to properly finish file and stone the barrel lugs. (SIDE NOTE: Once we TOTALLY switched over to Irv Stone's EXCELLENT BAR STO NM pistol barrels, we STILL required an OJT file his FIRST set of barrel lugs completely by hand so he learned how to do it and of course that made him much better at finishing the lugs when using a barrel lug cutter.) Here is a link to a lug cutter that became a Godsend to Pistolsmiths: http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-to...-373-1711.aspx

The Shively pistols I saw MOSTLY were made using "NM" marked barrels that DID NOT have the top of the barrel lugs welded, though the bottom lugs were welded up and filed to fit the slide stop. The main "essence" of the Shively System was you silver soldered shim stock to the slide behind the barrel lugs and opposite the ejection port. The intention was to keep the top of the barrel in the same position by being forced against the shim WITHOUT over heating/damaging the barrel by welding the top lugs of the barrel right on top of the barrel chamber. IOW, it was seen as a safer way to take tolerance slop out than by welding on top of the barrel. However, there was no shim soldered on the right side of the slide and that made it a PITA to file/grind to fit. It wasn't unusual to have to silver solder and try two or three different shims before you got one you could work down and be useful to take out the tolerance slop. So basically it was more of a way to take loose tolerance out than a true fitted "stop" or contact area as in later "oversized" NM pistol barrels. In the days before we had barrels that were made oversize in critical area, it was a good thing to do to make the pistol more accurate.

Thank GOD I was only required to fix/refit/re-silver solder the shim in I think two pistols with the Shively system in them, though. I had been initially trained to fit the Navy Style NM pistol barrels when I first learned to work NM pistols. Then when we changed over from Division Match Pistol Production to working on Post and Station NM pistols, some of them still had the Shively system. Our funding then was not good, so we were running out of the Navy NM barrels and had to refit some of the pistols with the Shively system still in them. WOW was I happy when we got more Navy NM barrels and finally Bar Sto barrels to put in all Marine Corps NM pistols. THEN when I ran into a slide that still had the Shively system in it, I laughed gleefully as I took the Shively shim OUT of the slide and fit a different barrel.

As refered to above, the first NM pistol barrels I learned to fit to NM pistols were known to us as the Navy NM pistols barrels with the "Donkey D**K" (rhymes with thick) muzzles on the barrel. These were so named by we Uncouth Marine RTE Armorers because the barrel muzzles were made with a rounded/humped ring towards the front of barrel that stuck out beyond the diameter of the barrel and looked something like a Donkey's Appendage. Grin. The idea was you turned that humped ring down on a lathe to fit it to a barrel bushing. Since that humped area was not as large as the normal contact area on the front of the barrel, it would tighten up the barrel in front and not cause unlocking problems.

However, THE FINEST NM Barrels we Marines ever used on NM pistols were Irv Stone's "Bar Sto" SS NM barrels with his NM undersize SS bushings. We special ordered them so they were oversize around the muzzle, on top the barrels for the locking lugs, the barrel hood and the bottom lugs. Now, that meant much more work to fit them, but that meant we could fit them much better to each individual slide and frame. When the front of the barrel wore a bit too much, we just reamed one of his NM bushings to a slightly smaller inside diameter and fitted it to the barrel and that meant they were good as new up front. We got an amazing number of rounds from those barrels before they shot out, as well. It was not unusual to get 40,000 to 50,000 rounds out of them before they lost their gilt edge of accuracy, but the RECORD was one barrel that had 80,000 rounds fired from it and it was STILL in great shape for a shooter on THE Marine Corps Pistol Team. I don't believe I ever learned how many rounds were fired out of that barrel before it finally had to be replaced.

If anyone knows more about the Shively System, I also would appreciate hearing about it in this thread.

Thanks from lumpy grits and budster
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