Customizing the 1911: machining a golf ball pattern slide

In this post I’ll be machining a golf ball pattern into the top of a 1911 slide.  This pattern will match the golf ball texture on the grip and main spring housing, giving the pistol a unique, custom look.

For reference purposes, a schematic of a 1911 pistol can be found here.

Before we get working, take a few minutes to read’s disclaimer:

Warning:  The contents of are produced for informational purposes only and should be performed by competent gunsmiths only. and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.

Any modifications made to a firearm should be made by a licensed gunsmith. Failure to do so may void warranties and result in an unsafe firearm and may cause injury or death.

Modifications to a firearm may result in personal injury or death, cause the firearm to not function properly, or malfunction, and cause the firearm to become unsafe.

I ordered the following tools from Brownells to complete this project:


I begin by mounting the slide in the mill’s vise.  I have to make sure the top of the slide is parallel to the mill’s x-axis.  Since the slide of a 1911 pistol is tapered, I can’t simply place the slide on a set of parallels to accomplish this.  Instead, I have to run a dial indicator along the top of the slide to make sure it is parallel.  Note the top of this enhanced Colt pistol is already flat, this saves a step over a conventional pistol.


I located the center of the slide using an edge finder in the mill.


A cost of Dykem helps make the work visible as it is machined.


To machine the golf ball pattern on the top of the slide I am using a 3/16″  2-flute solid carbide ball nosed end mill.    Each cut is .015″ deep and .100″ apart.  Each row is staggered .050″ on the x and y axis.  golf-ball-top-offcers-slide-1911-6The front of the slide looks great, time to move onto the

The cutting sequence is repeated on the rear part of the slide.


With the Dykem removed and the sights test fit in place, you can see how nice this slide is starting to look.  1911-officers-rear-of-slide-1

This is what the rear of the slide looks like from the Colt factory.


After some polishing with abrasive cloth, the surfaces are now blended.


The slide and frame are secured in the mill.


And the 3/16″ end mill is used to repeat the pattern from the top of slide.  Each cut is .015″ deep, .100″ apart.  Each subsequent row is staggered .050″ in the x and y axis.


I ran this pattern until the edge of the slide.  Before I coat it, I will use some abrasive cloth to break off the edges.


Looking good…



This is the finished gun after Cerakote McMillan Grey has been applied, I’ll take it!

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