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Old March 30, 2014, 02:56 AM   #1
Elerius
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Scavenging together a 1911

I have been thinking hard about abandoning IWB carry and moving to a high ride OWB holster under a loose shirt for comfort reasons, mostly being that I drive a LOT and the irritating part of carrying my Kahr IWB is during that time. If I'm going to carry OWB then I could finally get a commander 1911 that I have wanted but would never buy and put money into if I wasn't going to carry it. The problem is that I want certain things that are available on some models but not others, and unless I spend $4k on a totally custom Wilson Combat then I might have to build one myself, or compromise.

What kind of quality comes from trying to mix and match pieces of different 1911's together? Mostly my issue lies in wanting a bobtailed aluminum frame that comes that way. The Kimber Super Carry has those fish scale serrations everywhere that I don't like and other bobtailed models don't come in aluminum. The Ed Brown Executive Carry has pretty much everything I want but he won't make one in aluminum.

I had been thinking of buying one of the scandium alloy S&W models that have the checkering I like and the bobtail already and putting on a slide and other small parts that I want from some other model, maybe Ed Brown or something high end. That should give me light weight and avoid the argument of whether aluminum is strong enough as a frame material.

Will this give me a really "nice" 1911 or will it just give me a mediocre, functional gun?
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Old March 30, 2014, 05:37 AM   #2
hAkron
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1911 parts generally need to be hand fitted with files and stones by somebody who knows how to do that type of stuff. If you are inclined to learn and invest in some specific hand tools and jigs as well as a book or two, the best and probably most rewarding way to do it is to buy your base gun and figure out what you want to replace, then head over to Brownells.com and have them send you their 1911 catalog.

Otherwise just take ing the slide off of a Colt and putting in on and S&W E series and calling it good isn't usually going to give you pleasing results.
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Old March 30, 2014, 06:30 AM   #3
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Gun in general, and 1911s in particular, are built as cohesive units. Taking bits and pieces from here and there and throwing them together is not usually a formula for success. Like fitting an engine from one car to another it can be done but it requires skill and effort to make it work and be better than it was before. So, the answer is simple - compromise or pay. If no one makes the gun you want you can have it built but chances are it's going to be expensive. Otherwise you buy the closest thing within your budget and live with things like fish-scale serrations or use it as a base for a custom build when you can afford it.

As an example, I really wanted a lightweight 9mm snubby but all of the factory built 9mm snubbies had steel frames and weighed around 22oz, too heavy for my wants/needs. So I bought a scandium frame S&W 360J .38spl and had it converted to 9mm, made DAO, and had all of the other things done that were on my list. $1500+ later I had the 13oz 9mm revolver I wanted.
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Last edited by WC145; March 30, 2014 at 10:23 AM.
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Old March 30, 2014, 09:40 AM   #4
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When it comes to making a custom pistol, especially a 1911, it's best left to experts.
Just spend the money and get what you want.
Cobbling one together, without the knowledge and skill, just guarantees that it will show up for sale somewhere.
Have a heart, there's more than enough of those already.
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Old March 30, 2014, 10:09 AM   #5
j357
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What exactly is it that you want that isn't included in the SW1911Sc E-series?
http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/w...layErrorView_Y

I will second the remarks of others above that you wont likely get what you want from cobbling together parts on your first attempt.
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Old March 30, 2014, 10:28 AM   #6
thedudeabides
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A 1911 isn't like an AR. If you buy the pieces of an AR and put them together, you get a working AR.

If you buy the pieces of a 1911 and put them together, you have a bunch of pieces assembled to resemble a 1911.

You'll run into problems
-barrel locking lugs and slide fit
-bushing and barrel, bushing and slide
-hammer
-trigger
-slide to frame
-thumb safety
-slide release and frame
-slide release and barrel link
-barrel link and barrel via pin
-sights and slide
-feed ramp

Most parts are made oversized and need to be polished, lathed, sanded down, "drop in" parts aren't.

A 1911 is a project that needs the supervision of an expert gunsmith the first time around, then if you don't plan on building a bunch of them there's no need to buy the expensive and dedicated tools to make one. You can do it with a basic toolkit, but then it's harder going and the results tend to look halfassed (and why you don't let any idiot "gunsmith" with a dremmel tool work on your 1911).
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Old March 30, 2014, 07:41 PM   #7
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Like the Johnny Cash song, One Piece at a Time
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Old March 30, 2014, 08:34 PM   #8
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There's a guy on YouTube who did a series on "1911s Suck". Pretty informative stuff on why he feels they (mostly) suck as a defensive handgun. Here's part 1. There's several parts. One features an interview with a big dog at Wilson combat which gives some good info on building and fitment of 1911 parts.

http://youtu.be/HfJj90eNIfE
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Old March 30, 2014, 11:20 PM   #9
Elerius
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I am thoroughly convinced not to assemble one then. I really want an Ed Brown Executive Carry in an aluminum frame, but he only makes the Kobra Carry in lightweight. Like the Kimber Super Carry, I hate the serrations and snakeskin "checkering." On the 1911 forum board, someone had tried to get a custom order for a LW Executive but they refused, so there seems to be little hope for that avenue.

I guess it's either settle for a DW Guardian or fork over the money for a full custom. Does anyone have a first hand recommendation for a custom job on par with Ed Brown that would cost significantly less then a Wilson Combat custom?
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Old March 30, 2014, 11:28 PM   #10
Elerius
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Quote:
What exactly is it that you want that isn't included in the SW1911Sc E-series?
Same problem, I don't like the squiggly serrations, and I especially don't like forward serrations on a pistol. In that price range, a Dan Wesson Guardian would be my choice despite not being scandium. Although I'm not particularly worried about wearing out aluminum in a carry gun, at least I know that both the scandium frame and Ed Brown LW with the steel inserts (supposedly guaranteed as long as an all steel model)
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Old March 30, 2014, 11:37 PM   #11
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Like building an AR, building an M1911 can be a great learning experience, but not to rely on for CCW. My experience with milsurp/milspec M1911 parts is they are drop in-what do you think the armorer in the field does ?
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Old March 31, 2014, 07:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
I guess it's either settle for a DW Guardian or fork over the money for a full custom. Does anyone have a first hand recommendation for a custom job on par with Ed Brown that would cost significantly less then a Wilson Combat custom?
Les Baer Customs here at www.lesbaer.com
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Old March 31, 2014, 07:13 AM   #13
Jim Watson
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I don't know if Les Baer will sell you a lightweight bobtail.
You should also be aware that a Baer Commanche differs in some important ways from a real Commander and while most do OK, some do not.

A friend has one of the S&Ws and it is a good shooting pistol.

I would either get the Kobra and learn to live with the scales or the Dan Wesson.

A full custom for enough less than a Wilson to matter will be hard to find.
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Old March 31, 2014, 07:17 AM   #14
WC145
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Quote:
Same problem, I don't like the squiggly serrations, and I especially don't like forward serrations on a pistol. In that price range, a Dan Wesson Guardian would be my choice despite not being scandium. Although I'm not particularly worried about wearing out aluminum in a carry gun, at least I know that both the scandium frame and Ed Brown LW with the steel inserts (supposedly guaranteed as long as an all steel model)
Like I said before, sometimes compromise is the only way to go. Like you, I can't stand front serrations, however, I carry a Novak built Colt Commander with ()front serrations. I hate the look and they chew up holsters, but I got an incredible deal on fantastic gun that came with a slew of extras. After considering everything I was getting vs front slide serrations, I decided I could live with them.
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Old March 31, 2014, 08:43 AM   #15
Elerius
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Quote:
I don't know if Les Baer will sell you a lightweight bobtail.
You should also be aware that a Baer Commanche differs in some important ways from a real Commander and while most do OK, some do not.

A friend has one of the S&Ws and it is a good shooting pistol.

I would either get the Kobra and learn to live with the scales or the Dan Wesson.

A full custom for enough less than a Wilson to matter will be hard to find.
I suspected as much, but at least I know for sure. To cover all options I sent an email to Ed Brown asking about making me an Executive Carry in aluminum, as their section on custom orders sounds encouraging and implies they would be happy to. I'd think of all custom jobs they could have, simply not "kobra-izing" the serrations and checkering and just making them standard ones would be no problem. As far as I'm aware, those are the only differences between the two.

For Les Baer, I keep reading that he will never make alloy frames again and that old ones are rarely for sale. As to why, I could not say but it doesn't appear to be an option.

Thanks for all the replies, it has been illuminating.
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Old March 31, 2014, 08:54 AM   #16
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Why don't you just get a LW Commander with everything you want and just get it bobbed by a gun smith it only cost like 150.00 around here plus the cost of the bobbed Main spring housing like another 50-60 buck and you got what you want.?
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Old March 31, 2014, 09:06 AM   #17
Elerius
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I was under the impression it was very difficult to bobtail an aluminum frame after the fact. If this is actually not true, that opens up options a bit.

Here is the reply I just got back from Ed Brown:
Quote:
The checkering doesn’t hold up well in aluminum, so we only offer Snakeskin or Chainlink in this material. Thank you.
So, even if I want to checker it anyways, it looks like they won't do it. (Based partly from the email, and partly from another forum where the poster was directly refused.) I don't recall any of the other manufacturers saying anything of the sort, or any complaints from people that own checkered aluminum across all ranges of handgun, 1911's included. But there you have it.
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Old April 2, 2014, 04:16 PM   #18
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no cobbling

Pay.
More.

Or settle for less.


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Old April 2, 2014, 06:10 PM   #19
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Take a look at the Dan Wesson Guardian. Dan Wesson makes fine 1911s. A bit on the pricey side but much less than an Ed Brown. Here's my Guardian. It's 9mm but DW also makes them in .45:

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Old April 3, 2014, 12:37 AM   #20
Elerius
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I'm going to start out with a Guardian. If it works out carrying it in an OWB holster, I'll start putting together the money for a Wilson Combat Lightweight Professional with bobtail. The only change from that I would want is a flush guide rod, don't like how it sticks out alongside the barrel as if it's partly out of battery. I think it is full length also, and I don't know if I need/want a FLGR but I will decide on it when the time comes.

I'm not inclined at all to do so, but does anyone actually recommend forking over 2k more for a Supergrade version?
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Old April 3, 2014, 07:22 PM   #21
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Good decision. I have some high end 1911s, including Brown and Wilson, but have never felt the Dan Wesson I carry was inadequate (I carry the CCO and not the Guardian above). But, 1911s are like potato chips -- nobody can stop at just one.
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Old April 6, 2014, 01:32 AM   #22
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There are lot's of talented gunsmiths around besides the big name co.'s like Baer, Wilson, Brown, Wesson etc. who would not only LOVE to have your business but will not exist without it. See if you can find someone you trust & go with it. I asked a long-time friend to build me a Caspian based Commander length 1911 and for 2k I got a true work of art. And he's still building & selling. An excellent Christmas was had by all.
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