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Old May 1, 2013, 09:44 PM   #1
ActivShootr
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1911 build questions

I have decided to take the plunge and build my own 1911. Fortunately a reputable gunsmith has mercifully agreed to supervise this project. I am trying to weigh my options of buying a complete pistol and "re-build" it so to speak, or buying a matched slide and frame and a Wilson or C&S parts kit.

Who has had the best results and in what way?

I know either way could be labor intensive but I'm confident in my machining abilities and I'm also willing to learn something new. Ideas, tips, or even top secrets are very welcome.
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Old May 1, 2013, 10:46 PM   #2
wyop
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What do you want the outcome to be? A carry piece, a competition pistol... ?
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Old May 1, 2013, 11:22 PM   #3
ActivShootr
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It will be a carry piece with reliability as the top priority. I'm a bit concerned that the kits will require more fitting than I want to do. I'm just wondering what other's experiences are?
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Old May 2, 2013, 04:22 AM   #4
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I'm an ameteur.I do not have to think in terms of a business plan,and there may be a better way.

I have had excellent luck with Cylinder and Slide hammer/sear/disconnect kits,of the service to carry sort vs competition.

For myself,I have the Wilson beavertail jig and I like their grip safety.

Look at Fusion Firearms kits

I built one on a Caspian frame/slide.Good stuff.

Frankly,for a modest investment,you can get a slide/frame/bbl from Sarco,RIA,for about $225.IMO,its good value,and servicable.Maybe a good learning project.

I lean toward Ed Brown or Wilson for the rest of my parts.

Get a high quality slide stop.

I like the basic Colt thumb safety.Buy two.They are under $20,the first one might be practice.

Cool!
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Old May 2, 2013, 11:00 AM   #5
Creeper
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One more brand to consider for the frame and slide, as well as all the other parts, is SVI-Infinity. Quality is exceptional and the options are near endless.

C
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Old May 3, 2013, 12:14 AM   #6
ClydeFrog
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SVI...

Not to knock SVI but I've seen a few of the product line & it's not that impressive. The frames & parts just seem like a lame excuse for gun shop mgrs or staff to jack up the sale price on a SAO pistol.
With the 2013 gun stampede, many new gun owners & shooters do not really understand or get what quality is. They see high $$$ price tags & think; "hey this MUST be the good stuff, ".

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Old May 3, 2013, 12:23 AM   #7
Bill DeShivs
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Buy a standard 1911 ans shoot the sh, um, stew out of it. There is no need to "rebuild" it unless there is something wrong. The basic design is as reliable as it gets. Adding unnecessary stuff to the design is where the unreliability comes in. Tell our friend Matt I said "Hi!."
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Old May 3, 2013, 11:25 AM   #8
ActivShootr
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My gunsmith guru said pretty much the same thing. Either buy a new one and put a bunch of rounds through it or buy a used one and put a bunch of rounds through it and see if it needs anything.

I'm still dreaming of building one from a kit but I think I will be better off learning on a working gun.

I talked to Matt the other day. He is doing well.
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Old May 4, 2013, 03:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
My gunsmith guru said pretty much the same thing. Either buy a new one and put a bunch of rounds through it or buy a used one and put a bunch of rounds through it and see if it needs anything.

I'm still dreaming of building one from a kit but I think I will be better off learning on a working gun.
I agree with your gunsmith and Bill DeShivs, buy a complete gun learn what makes it work and why.

There's more to building a 1911 then a lot of people realize.
Study the gun, learn the math of the gun then if you want to build one I would say go for it.

However keep in mind that good quality parts, this includes slide and receiver will most likely cost more then a complete gun.

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Old May 6, 2013, 11:50 AM   #10
RickB
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Starting the project with a complete, functional gun is certainly going to make it easier to determine the efficacy of any "upgrades".
I've done it both ways, starting with a box of parts, and starting with a complete gun, and both were fun and educational.
Keeping Kuhnhausen's shop manuals handy is a good idea.
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Old May 6, 2013, 12:00 PM   #11
wyop
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OK, if you want a carry piece with reliability as the top priority, I'm going to impart some hard truth to you:

You will have a gun that rattles when you shake it.

The 1911, as originally conceived, was a very reliable weapon. It was also much looser than today's high(er) end CNC-made 1911's.

You will also want a slide & frame of differing hardnesses. Someone has to be harder than the other side of the sliding fit - either the slide is harder than the frame (more typical on older Springfields) or the frame is harder than the slide.

There's a wealth of information in Kuhnhausen's 1911 book. Buy it, read it carefully with your 1911 or parts in hand before you start working on it. Read it all the way through to really understand what's going on, go into special detail on the cycle of operations, which is essential to you understanding how to make a 1911 ultimately reliable.
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Old May 7, 2013, 08:30 AM   #12
Hunter Customs
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Quote:
OK, if you want a carry piece with reliability as the top priority, I'm going to impart some hard truth to you:

You will have a gun that rattles when you shake it.
I have to respectfully disagree that a 1911 has to rattle to be reliable.

Quote:
The 1911, as originally conceived, was a very reliable weapon. It was also much looser than today's high(er) end CNC-made 1911's.
This is true.

However I've built many 1911 pistols that did not rattle (as a matter of fact they were on the tight side) and they were every bit as reliable as any of the original 1911's.
A tight gun set up correctly will be just as reliable as a loose one, maybe even more so.

I've built many a competition 1911 that was tight, accurate and reliable,; I can't think of any competitor that would have been pleased if their gun was not reliable.

At the last American Handgunner World Shootoffs I competed in, I competed with a tight gun I built.
The match was shot in some of the most extreme weather one could choose to shoot in (extreme heat, blowing grit of all types, even a little rain), the gun went through 2700 rounds in four days of competition and never bobbled.
The gun was not cleaned until I got back home from the match.

I heard many times that a tight gun will not run, it's time to lay this myth to rest as it's simply not true.

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Old May 8, 2013, 02:09 AM   #13
ActivShootr
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Quote:
I have to respectfully disagree that a 1911 has to rattle to be reliable.
I also respectfully disagree. The original 1911 was conceived to run in the mud and crud and to only need a pile of parts to make a pile of guns. MIL-SPEC usually means looser tolerances than custom or higher end production guns.
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Old May 9, 2013, 06:04 PM   #14
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Suppose a part has a 5 hole pattern where the holes are for 1/4 -20 screws.For our example,the drawing might say .251 to .281 is an acceptable size for the clearance hole.The part is acceptable if a gage with 5 .250 pins on location will drop in.,but no holes plug .282.

A proud young toolmaker might make all his holes .252 and on location within .001.Thats OK,but his pride does not pay the bills.

Another man might use a .277 drill,figuring it can cut a tad oversize and still be inside .281,and he will gain positional tolerance via the hole clearance.

He can make a lot more parts in a day that gage "good".

Most AR lower assy's rattle,because most takedown/hinge pins are within .0005 of being .245.

You can build a 1911 from a bucket of mil-spec parts that will run.

Do you know,originally,the proof load was intended to beat the locking lugs into full contact?

How many mil-spec 1911's properly use the link to position the barrel up into the slide,but have the barrel underlug properly engage the slide stop to hold the barrel in lock?Both will run,which will run longer?

IMO,I do not want the slide rails fitted to .0005.It has an "ooooh,ahhh" factor,but it also has a gall factor.I might choose a .002 running clearance.

The barrel can has the od relieved behind the muzzle so the bushing is tight as the hammer falls,but there is clearance as it runs.

Its like blueprinting an engine.You make it function as designed,but intentionally put clearance where clearance is needed,and precision where precision is needed.
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Old May 18, 2013, 03:10 PM   #15
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I'm sure your questions already been answered - figured I would throw my experience/opinion in the mix anyway.

I too wanted to build a 1911 from a kit a year or so ago, but due to being completely impatient I ended up just buying one (the Para USA GI). I loved it, it shot better than expected for the price I paid and it gave me a chance to actually learn the firearm. I do agree with others that have replied that it is good to buy one built, learn the weapon, then build one. However, if you jump right into building one, it is also a great way to learn the weapon if you are willing to do some research and deal with the possible frustration of trial and error. The great thing about building one from a kit is you get to customize it to exactly how you want it, and you get the satisfaction of finally finishing it and seeing that finished product. With my Para 1911, I paid around 500$ for the pistol new, then over time dropped about 300$ in new parts (ie. VZ grips, stainless trigger, hammer, slide release, mag release, thumb safety, and beaver tail). Currently the model of Para 1911 that I bought retails at 700$, + the 300$ for the parts I wanted - I'm not sure if I would have saved money and been as happy building my own or not. I use all Wilson parts for the parts I've swapped, and it still fires beautifully with no failure to feeds after about 800 or so rounds.

So - after that wall of text - what are your intentions with the 1911? Are you looking for that satisfaction of building one yourself and customizing it to exactly how you want it, are you trying to save money, or maybe both? If trying to save money, look up your "dream" pistol so to speak, see what those cost, and then go onto Brownells or a similar sight and put a cart together to see what it would cost for parts and tools vs the completed pistol. If you're looking for a project and satisfaction of seeing that finished product, I say go for it, try building one and with an experienced gunsmith willing to help you as well as info on the internet and people on these forums, I think you should be able to do it and build something you end up being proud of and happy with.
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