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Old February 19, 2013, 02:54 AM   #1
willmc33
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1911 parts help. Springfield Mil Spec starting point.

Completely new to upgrading parts to a 1911 so unsure what works where and with what. My pistol that I plan on upgrading a few parts for is a Springfield Armory Mil Spec 1911-A1. My question is does one 1911 part fit basically any 1911 style pistol. I noticed looking at some of the extended beavertail grip safeties that they said Series 70 or series 80 etc... Dont know the difference but since they mostly look fundamentally the same I would assume they would fit but you know what they say about assumptions. Parts I would be interested in changing first would be the trigger, grip safety, thumb safety, sights. Any information steering me in the right direction on these upgrades or any others I would benefit from or you can reccomend are greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
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Old February 19, 2013, 06:38 AM   #2
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Looking alike on the outside doesn't count. There are internal differences between series 80 and70 pistols that make a big difference.

My experience with "upgrading" good 1911's with drop in parts has not been good. In each case the overall function and reliability was hurt.
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Old February 19, 2013, 07:00 AM   #3
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You've picked a bad example with the beavertail safety. They require fitting, most of the time a simple stroke with a file, but if you find a "drop-in" beavertail, you've gotten lucky. Or unlucky if it fits but doesn't work.

Most of the other 1911 parts are forgiving, but that beavertail isn't.
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Old February 19, 2013, 07:03 AM   #4
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Your gun is a series 70, I would have a good gun smith fit the parts you want to change if you have no experience doing it.
I have that gun and changed to a flat main spring houseing, a different thumb saftey and a new trigger. These are things that I wanted and not things I needed.
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Old February 19, 2013, 10:00 AM   #5
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More precisely, it's NOT a Series 80. Most Series 80 parts, such as grip safeties and extractors, will fit and work on non-S80 guns.
The beavertail grip safety, as popular as it is, is one of the most misunderstood "1911" parts on the market. The Mil-Spec frame must be cut and contoured to install a beavertail, and you want to get the right part, or you won't get a good fit.
The S&A grip safety which requires cutting the frame with a .220" radius is designed specifically for the Mil-Spec frame, and will fit better than any of the more popular .250"-radius beavertails.
Triggers will usually need a little bit of file work to fit, as they are usually slightly oversize for a within-spec pistol.
The thumb safety will almost certainly need a bit of file work to fit, as they are also sligthly oversize.
Sighting options are almost limitless, but the Mil-Spec sights are really quite good. I removed the white dots from the rear sight on mine, and the resulting sight picture was better than some aftermarket sight sets that require milling new dovetails in the slide.
Get quality parts the first time, and that will save headaches in the long run.
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Old February 19, 2013, 11:02 AM   #6
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Please don't take this the wrong way.
Everyone has to start some place.
But, if you have to ask these kinds of questions, you really should not be messing with your gun, yet.
Bad things can happen.
At the very least, first get a copy of Kuhnhausen's book:
http://www.amazon.com/Colt-45-automa...11+gunsmithing
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Old February 19, 2013, 12:15 PM   #7
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You'll have to bob your spur hammer or change it out to use a beavertail.
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Old February 19, 2013, 01:15 PM   #8
willmc33
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Im definately not going to undertake the work myself. I was just looking over parts. I would absolutely have a gunsmith do all the fitting of the parts since I dont know what I am doing. Only part I would do myself is change grip panels.
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Old February 19, 2013, 06:25 PM   #9
g.willikers
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Why not just buy a model with the improvements, instead of paying gunsmith rates and rolling the dice as to the outcome?
It would have to be a lot less expensive and less risky, too.
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Old February 19, 2013, 06:47 PM   #10
willmc33
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Because I already have the Mil Spec I didnt know that it was such an issue because the aftermarket is so huge. I didnt know all the in betweens and potential problems with aftermarket parts.
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Old February 19, 2013, 07:15 PM   #11
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Basically, your gun will follow the series 70 parts, but to select the exact parts you want, you have to know the basics of the 1911 engineering layout and the common alternate layouts. The is not super hard, but there are a few surprises. The Kuhnhausen manuals are a great reference, as is your gun builder. Also, your gun builder should know what parts make good combinations and what leaves you with a pile of crap. Frankly not all aftermarket parts are equal. I would not want a customer the exact part to use. It should be a 2way street. You shoul insist on thing you care about, but let the gunsmith persuade when quality and time to fit come into play.

For example, some beavertails are a quick fit. Some brands are a bad match to your SA's lines and will never fit right without welding.
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Old February 19, 2013, 07:23 PM   #12
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The terms "Series 70" and "Series 80" were originated by Colt for changes to their guns. The latter uses a firing pin block actuated by the trigger.

Those terms do not apply directly to any other make of pistol or even to earlier Colt pistols. They are used as "shorthand" ways of saying "guns without a firing pin block" and "guns with a firing pin block", but even guns with a block by other makers don't necessarily operate the way the Colt block does.

For parts not directly associated with a firing pin block, the terms are meaningless, but that does not mean that those parts will interchange among makes or even within one make. The original Colt-made military Model of 1911 and Model 1911A1 set the specifications for makers of "clone" firearms, but not all makers follow those specifications.

The result is that while parts will almost always interchange among military pistols, interchangeability among "clones" is iffy, to say the least.

Jim
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Old February 19, 2013, 07:49 PM   #13
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I would leave the gun alone unless there your needs/wants are very particular. If you have an exact configuration in mind go for it. Choose your smith choose your parts and do it but know going in that you will pay a lot more than an off the shelf configuration with an equivalent but not identical setup.

This is the reason so many people buy what I call production custom. Every manufacturer of 1911s offers features on a stock gun that you used to have to get a smith to do.

The SA mil spec is a good base gun but it will cost you almost what you paid for it to customize it. You have to ask is it worth it.
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Old February 21, 2013, 02:00 AM   #14
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I like either near stock or a pro dressed custom job. Being a lefty, I usually install an ambi safety, springs, grips, etc... but mostly leave it alone. I had a custom build in the 70s and sold it. You know, most of the time it's the shooter the needs improvement, not the pistol. The two 1911s I like are the RIA Tactical and the SA Loaded. Both reasonably priced and serve me well.
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Old February 21, 2013, 02:09 AM   #15
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The money in parts and gunsmith labor Not counting wait time. You could sell or trade your and buy a upgraded pistol and be shooting Not waiting.
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Old February 21, 2013, 02:16 AM   #16
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Don't forget two way shipping costs.
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Old February 21, 2013, 07:28 PM   #17
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As a side note, I own three Springfield milspecs.

The first one, I changed parts on. I changed everything except the slide, frame and barrel. Then I changed the barrel.

As I shot it, as I got into teaching, as I learned more, both from experience and from students (yes, instructors learn from students) what I wanted in a weapon changed.

The second and third milspec are still straight stock. No changes needed.

So my side note is this: shoot 300 rounds a week for a year and a half, and then decide what changes you want to make.
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