View Full Version : 1911 Aftermarket Beaver Tail

July 9, 2005, 10:28 AM
I have a Springfield Armory 1911-A1 Milspec and I want to install a beaver tail that will drop the barrel lower into my grip. I will do the installation myself. Looking at Brownell's they have several that would appear to work, and some of them come with a cutting jig. I like the idea of the cutting jig.

What are your recommendations for best brands and models, not necessarily out of Brownells of course. While I am asking, also considering an extended safety, left side only - any recommendations on that would be appreciated as well.

Tips for installation would be most welcome as well.


Bill Z
July 9, 2005, 11:07 AM
While I haven't tried the Wilson grip safety, it and the Smith and Alexander both have the proper radius for the Springfields frame tangs.

The Springfields radius is .220 where a 'standard' frame is .250

Springfield LEFT, Colt RIGHT

Springfield FRONT, Colt REAR

Since the radius on the Smith and Alexander that is designed for the .220 requires less material removal, you should get a real nice fit.


You can get it through Brownell's or go directly to Smith and Alexander and speak to Barbera and let her know what pistol it is for.


Dave Sample
July 9, 2005, 02:53 PM
I have a factory SA here and you would have to do a better beavertail fit than they do. It is Butt Ugly! Good luck on your project, sir.

Jammer Six
July 9, 2005, 05:12 PM
I did what you're talking about.

I used a Smith & Alexander, because a .250 radius beavertail won't fit Springfield tangs without welding.

I wrote about what I did here. (http://www.oz.net/~jammer/Milspec/)

Have fun!

July 9, 2005, 05:54 PM
Excellent Jammer - far better info than I had hoped for! :) :) :)

July 11, 2005, 07:33 AM

You might consider the Gunsite style lowered thumb safety (also at Brownells). I got hooked on these at school at Gunsite. If you use the Colonel's approach to the presentation, you will find it easier to locate and you can shoot with your thumb on it comfortably. In my opinion it also facilitates easier flipping up after a situation is clear and you need to return the piece to its holster. But this kind of thing depends on your individual hand size and shape. I, for example, wound up going from a flat mainspring housing back to the old arched style after my first Gunsite trip. I found it helped guide my grip into the correct position at speed. I also dropped back from the target style long trigger to a standard-length short trigger after that class. It gave me better first-shot control at speed.

My bull's eye guns are just the other way around. You just have to find which of these things work for you under what circumstances by trial and error.


July 11, 2005, 10:19 AM
Hey Jammer, I like your "frame slot squares" :D

Jammer Six
July 11, 2005, 10:28 AM

Once in a while, women come along, and say things that baffle me... :D

Where did I say I had frames slot squares, Shorts?

July 11, 2005, 12:57 PM
LOL It's a new pickup phrase... :eek: :p :o I'm kidding :D

The workbench in your link there has square holes. Simple, yet smart.

Dave Sample
July 11, 2005, 01:08 PM
I am heading out to Gunsite this afternoon to drop off some work. I am familair with the part Uncle Nick likes and the high thumb hold that they teach out there but I never use either. I don't like the part and I don't like the hold, but I never discuss it with them. I have been informed by all and sundry that I do not hold the gun right. Oh well. That is what it is like to be an ancient one that does what works for HIM! Different strokes for different folks. Nothing here is right or wrong, it is just what you like for yourself.

Jammer Six
July 11, 2005, 02:54 PM
Well, you made MY day, Shorts! :D

You don't need to work that hard to pick me up, though. I think the last time a woman ran a pick up line on me, Carter was President. :D


That bench is actually a cabinet maker's design, and I used to have bench dogs that fit those holes, but then I had an apprentice who was a couple ounces shy of a pound, and anything he'd never seen before got burned if it was wood or thrown away if it wasn't.

I ended up with a lot of empty shelf space, a new apprentice, and no bench dogs.

So now they're my Square Frame Holes (TM). :D

Harry Bonar
July 19, 2005, 10:14 AM
Dear shooter:
You cannot (should not) use anything on a Springfield Armory but the Wilson beavertail. They also furnish a super little tool (inexpensive) that works great, but, as always there will be some small hand fitting.
Harry B.

Dave Sample
July 19, 2005, 11:02 AM
I beg to differ, Harry, unless that part requires a .220 radius. I do not use any Wilson Parts so I do not know what he makes nowadays, but Smith and Alexander is the only one I have ever used and they go in nice and easy. Many smiths come close to my beavertail fits, but no one does a better fit than I do. It takes me about three hours to do an Ed Brown and that is what I use.

I do not work on Metric 1911's.

Nice to see you back with us, Harry. I have missed you here!

Harry Bonar
July 22, 2005, 01:50 PM
Dear Dave:
I got Novak to buy a rotary table - made a jig on top, "zero'd it" and can cut a .250 radius and install an Ed Brown in 30 minutes.including the grinding and finishing the frame It works great, but for Wilson it's a different radius so I use the little hardened tool.
Yes, there are alot of grip safeties with a .250 radius that I can fit this way too. I think S&A is a radius I cut on the mill too.
Good to see you Harry B.

Dave Sample
July 22, 2005, 04:02 PM
Speedy Harry! You are the Man! I don't use machines. It takes more time my way, but the results are there.

Hunter Customs
July 24, 2005, 09:41 AM
I like to blend my beavertails for the highest possible hand position when I'm fitting them. This one is blended that way; it sure gets your hand closer inline with the bore.
Bob Hunter


Harry Bonar
July 29, 2005, 07:15 AM
Looks darn good!
Harry B.

Dave Sample
July 29, 2005, 02:33 PM
That is one of Bob's 1911's. I like the two tone, Harry. I do mine that way sometimes but I like to blue the sticky outy parts. I fit mine tighter than this but he did a nice job.

July 29, 2005, 11:06 PM
Bob, it looks like you contoured up into the grip safety some and then the blended the frame to match to get an even higher hand hold. Is that correct?

From the looks of it you picked up 75-100 thou higher hand position than just blending the frame to the safety......

Hunter Customs
August 1, 2005, 07:31 AM
Yes I do contour the grip safety and blend the grip frame for a higher hand position. I have never taken an actual measurement of how much higher the user can get their hand but I know you can feel the difference. Also the thumb safety has to have extensive blending when the grip safety is fit this way.
Many times I've been ask by shooters why their gun using an Ed Brown grip safety does not feel as if it sits in their hand as deep as mine using the same grip safety. I always tell them it's all in the way they are blended.
The higher hand position does make a difference in controling recoil.
Bob Hunter

August 3, 2005, 12:34 PM
It looks like about half the safety's pin is blended away in the process; any problem with breakage?

Dave Sample
August 3, 2005, 01:07 PM
I do not do them this high for several reasons. I do not like the thumb safety pin shaved away. I do not want the side of the beavertail to have a gap in the frame area. There is a danger of going right through the beavertail and having a nice hole to fix after the metal is gone from the lower end. Bob is a very brave smith. I always blend the left side of the thumb safety into the lower end as it would not feel good if I didn't.



This is a 1914 Colt GI that some fived thumbed clutz had butchered the rear tangs on. There was enough meat left to fit an Ed Brown so we got it looking better.


Same old story, different gun. We made this one decent again, too


This is the beavertail fit on my SS Commander. I like the Ed brown part, but it is not perfect and needs some help to install them right.

August 3, 2005, 02:30 PM
Thanks for the info Bob. I took mine pretty high on the Commander I just did, but not quite as high as yours. It sure feels good and I agree that it does make a difference when shooting. I had to do some pretty serious contouring on the thumb safety too to get it to quit biting, I got right up to the pin but not into it at all before it felt good.

Hunter Customs
August 4, 2005, 08:18 AM
The pin on the thumb safety is not touched, however the metal on the thumb safety around the pin is blended. I use nothing but good quality steel parts and I've never had a thumb safety break.

It sounds to me that you have done a very good job. I also contour the top edge of the thumb safety so it does not stick up past the top of the rear tangs when the safety is in the on position. I see others doing this now after I mentioned it many years back. The contouring may be adding to the illusion that makes it appear that part of the pin is gone.
Bob Hunter