Smith & Alexander Magwell Installation

From time to time, people ask me my opinion of the Smith & Alexander Magwell & Mainspring Housing (MSH), and how hard it is to install. First, my opinion: I like them fine. Enough so that I have six of them. They are a solid chunk of metal, compared to the standard plastic MSH found on most Kimbers. They hold up well, serve their function admirably, and look pretty nice. There are several other options out there, including the Wilson magwell that attatches to the grip screws (easy install, but requires you to relieve a small portion of each grip for proper fit). Also, Kimber, Wilson & others have a two piece combo where the magwell can be removed by a hex key. Pretty slick. I am a creature of habit though, and have made a habit of using the S&A MSH.

I've been carrying my Kimber TLE a lot lately, and it's time to lighten it up a little bit, so I am going to swap the magwell and magwell cut Alumagrips for a set of VZs I have lying around. The magwell & old grips will get rotated to my new Gander Mountain Custom Target II, which isn't likely to ever be carried.

I've busted out my pin punches & hex keys. I tried to find some rubber bands, but when that failed, I stole some of my wife's hair holder things. Not a whole bunch of tools needed to do this job. First step is to remove the grips.

Once the grips are removed, the rubber bands / hair things come in to play. I use them to hold the grip safety in the depressed position. This will keep all the other parts aligned and make it much easier to slide MSHs back on.

Next, I am going to use a roll pin punch to push out the MSH retaining pin. The mainspring is under tension, so a little bit of force may be required to drive the pin out. A light touch and some good padding & support are recommended, so you don't scratch your frame.

MSH is out, hair things holding everything in place. Next up are a couple of shots of the MSHs. Plastic Kimber MSH on the left, S&A unit on the right. If you buy a new S&A, it does not come with any of the MSH internals. These pictures show where the mainspring and associated parts are held under tension by a small pin in the MSH. The main spring is under a lot of tension, so you have to be very careful when taking out the pin. Wear safety glasses and be prepared to hunt for parts on your hands and knees if you screw up.

I relieve the tension on the pin by depressing the mainspring with a roll punch and using a pin punch to push the retaining pin out. I don't need to take these apart, but I will anyways. Here are the three pieces inside the MSH. I don't know their proper names. Transfer all three into the S&A magwell, put tension on the mainspring, and push the retaining pin back into place.


The S&A magwell is now assembled and ready to slide into place. Push it back into the frame, and drive the retaining pin back in. The rubber bands should make this fairly simple. Put the grips back on, and you're in business.


Firearms     |      Wood     |      Table of Contents

All Content Property of All Rights Reserved