The best bang for the buck these days is still Dan Wesson IMHO. They are the best production 1911 on the market today. Their top of the line Valor in stainless for about $1600 and one in duty coat black for about $1800. You can get a great gun like Heritage for under $1200.
They are 90% to 95% of the way to the semi-custom gun makers like Wilson and Brown but are less $$$. The law of diminishing returns really starts to kick in around the $1600 mark IMHO.
I would also throw Les Baer into the mix. You can get guns like the TRS/UTC for $2000. They are not as pretty as a Brown but are built with a different philosophy behind them which some people prefer.
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