MagWell ‘Magnifique!’

By Ted Yost

It’s interesting and fun to trace the origins of some of the popular modifications and parts in the pistolsmithing world. I have frequent discussions with others in the trade about who may have done a certain mod, or first developed a part or process we now use every day. Our past is important, and we all learn from it. We revere the industry’s pioneers and the ones who did the work and took the risks to bring about the revolution in customizing handguns.

There’s a reason though, why windshields are large and rear-view mirrors are small. We shouldn’t lose sight of the guys currently producing truly ground-breaking new products. One of the new breed of young professionals in the trade is Stan Chen. His name is well known in the high-end custom 1911 circles, but Stan has recently turned his creative mind toward the manufacture of “best-quality” parts for the 1911 platform. Stan’s company produces the Max Bevel mainspring housings in various configurations, checkered or not, in blue and stainless. Flawlessly finished, this mainspring housing allows an advanced hobbyist or his gunsmith to greatly increase the ease and speed of reloads without an externally visible magazine well, while using standard grip panels.


Chen Gen2 Magwell installed, and the original part. Note tabs on the
sides preventing movement if the well is struck or impacted in some way.


No added length or width, just one great big hole!


Shooters seeking the ultimate in a performance add-on magazine well are not forgotten at Stan’s shop, either. Until now, magazine wells have been offered in two basic styles — the “all-in-one mainspring housing/mag-well” combinations, and the integral style requiring substantial frame cutting followed by precision welding or silver-brazing and lots of clean-up work. Both had their pitfalls. The all-in-one unit added length to the butt of the pistol and was susceptible to damage from side impacts that could cripple the gun. The integral magwell’s main downfall is it is prohibitively expensive for many shooters, and is a job for a seasoned professional.”

The new Chen 2nd generation magazine well is a blend of both concepts, with ingenious features built in addressing every concern I’ve ever had about either design. The design doesn’t add any length to the grip frame, so this means you’ll need to have your frame modified, and that’s permanent, so be sure this is what you want! The cutting of the frame is where all similarity to the old style integral magwell ends.

The Gen2 Magwell incorporates a special shortened mainspring housing, so the entire assembly is removable for detail cleaning, requiring no welding or silver-brazing to install. It also features tabs on either side preventing side-impact damage which could possibly jam a magazine in the gun. The funnel itself is a full-circumference beveled piece creating the largest opening possible within the envelope of a standard single-stack grip frame. Perhaps the most “cool” feature is that the mainspring housing pin hole is relocated during the installation process. When the pistol is assembled, the grip panels completely cover the pin, for a really clean look.


Install And Use

Ihad the opportunity to install and work with this new mag-well, and it’s everything it’s supposed to be. A really big opening, easy to hit quickly, and equally important, a beautifully made, well detailed part fitting perfectly, as expected.

As great as the Gen2 Magwell is, there’s one catch. Its installation is not for the timid or uninitiated. For the immediate time being, Stan Chen Customs has authorized a number of competent pistolsmiths to handle the installation of the part. In addition you can have it installed aboard the Chen mothership in Durango, Colorado. For a referral to an installer, or to set up an appointment at Stan Chen Customs, call (970) 385-7900.

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