Best 1911 Upgrade? Stan Chen SI Magwell
July 27th, 2020
5 minute read
As an avid 1911 shooter, and one who trusts the platform with my life, it’s important to me to understand the design’s limitations as well as its advantages. Most who are familiar with the platform will understand the gun’s major drawback is ammunition capacity.
Be it in .45 ACP, 9mm, Super .38 or another caliber, the traditional 1911 almost always has a lower magazine capacity when compared to many other platforms of similar size.
As a result, for the dedicated 1911 aficionado, the reload becomes a core value in training, as it’s understood that the gun’s magazine capacity is relatively limited and it can be imperative to be able to quickly reload a 1911 in difficult situations.
Finding the Funnel
When I first began shooting and reloading my Springfield Range Officer Elite under stress via shot timers or when on the move, I noticed some slight frustration when reloading my single stack magazine into a magazine well slot of the same size. While reloads could be done with purpose, as I would tire during a course of fire, my reloads would begin to miss their mark.
While the pistol does have a nicely beveled mag well standard, it occurred to me that something with an even more generous of an opening might help me out. I quickly began searching the internet for a flared and extended magazine well. I fancied a magwell that would be streamlined for carrying and attractive, as well as offer a good fit without needing to be hand fitted to the gun, like so many 1911 parts.
Of course, being in college I also hoped to find something relatively cost-effective. After months of searching, I stumbled across the Stan Chen SI (Shooter Installed) Magwell on sale while digesting some turkey on the couch post-Thanksgiving feast. I haven’t looked back since.
My first impression of the Stan Chen Customs SI Magwell actually came before the magwell even arrived. While trying to figure out if the SI was the right fit for me, I direct-messaged Stan Chen Customs via Instagram on Thanksgiving Day. Not expecting a reply, I was surprised when I received a very pleasant and helpful message back from the company.
For the next thirty minutes, the people at Stan Chen engaged in conversation with me, helping make sure the SI Magwell was what I was after. My wonderful experience with Stan Chen Customs didn’t stop there. Upon delivery, I opened the box to find not only the SI Magwell, but also two Stan Chen Custom stickers, a handwritten “thank you” note addressed to me personally, and a pack of peanut M&Ms! After emptying the bag of M&Ms, I moved on to examine and install the SI Magwell.
The Stan Chen SI is a handsome magwell, to say the least. The black finish matched my Springfield Range Officer Elite Operator’s Black-T color perfectly (it is also offered in stainless steel). The SI is a one-piece magazine well, which means the funnel and the mainspring housing are made together, being CNC machined from a block of heat-treated steel.
The checkering on the mainspring housing is a comfortable twenty-five lines per inch, and the sharp edges of the magwell have been eliminated, which is very attractive for concealed carry, as it prevents the magwell from snagging on clothing.
The flowing lines of the magwell just scream custom and cast an exclusive demeanor to the Range Officer Elite Operator. The butt of the magwell is low-profile and rounded, adding favorably to the overall look and concealability when installed.
Installing the Stan Chen SI Magwell is a rather simple task. As the product name suggests, the “SI” or “Shooter Installed” magwell is meant to be affixed to the 1911 without need for a gunsmith’s professional installation. Simply put, the SI Magwell replaces the traditional mainspring housing. The swap took up approximately ten minutes of my time, with the first three minutes being dedicated to scarfing down those peanut M&Ms!
The magwell slid tightly into place, and appears as if it came from the factory with the gun. Existing springs and hardware from the original mainspring housing were swapped without issue into the SI Magwell. Additionally, the magwell is designed specifically for 1911s that feature a bevel in the magazine well from the factory. This feature is found on the Springfield Range Officer Elite Operator, and as a result, this magwell does not require the blending of the frame to the magazine well. Finally, a set of flat bottom grips that flow into the magwell really help to tie the gun together.
Very rarely am I as impressed with a single part of a gun as I am with the Stan Chen Customs SI Magwell. The addition of the SI Magwell to my pistol changed the entire feel of my Range Officer Elite Operator, and helped to give me that extra edge I wanted with it. I immediately noticed a difference in my reloads from day one with the SI Magwell, as it made finding the magwell quicker, thus creating much faster reloads.
Stan Chen Customs is based in Durango, Colorado, and they specialize in precision machining for the 1911 pistol. They offer safeties, magwells and even full custom builds. Needless to say, I was impressed by not only the quality of their product but the customer service that accompanied it. I recently acquired the new Springfield Ronin Operator, and you can bet the first modification I will be adding to the Ronin will be the Stan Chen Customs SI Magwell.
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