View Full Version : 80% 1911 frames?

March 7, 2012, 11:48 AM
A few years ago, I gathered up a book of info on building up a 1911 from an 80% frame. Back then, I didn't have the time to put into it or the space and money for a small milling machine.

Fast forward to now, I've got some extra time, extra space and a little extra money to burn. Problem is, I can't find anyone selling 80% frames anymore. I tried Sarco, Tannery Shop and a few other sources that I gathered up a while ago and the only thing I can find is from http://www.ktordnance.com/kto/products.php but that isn't exactly a $20 GI frame that I won't feel bad about making a paperweight out of. Anybody know of where I can get one or three of them?

James K
March 7, 2012, 05:25 PM
That fad seems to have died down. I don't know if there was any legal pressure, but I suspect just too many folks found out that the 20% wasn't as easy as the sellers said it was. There was some legitimate use in building custom guns, but the frames were generally not high quality, as some of the custom folks found out. Most of the interest came from buyers who thought they had found a way to get around sales restrictions or obtain guns with no "paper".

Alas, finishing an 80% frame required a bit more than a file and a hand drill, and most of them ended up in the junk box.


March 7, 2012, 06:18 PM
Triumph guy, With respect,
I offer you a small idea based upon personal experience.
Buy yourself a Caspian Arms frame and slide
with the safety, slidelock tube integral.
Ask that Caspian mate the slide to the frame for you.
You then can add and fit all the other items as you choose.
Cylinder & Slide or Wilson, or any very high quality hammer & sear set will be the heart of your project, buy the VERY best there.
Pick the rest of the parts to fit YOUR desires & fit them to your project.
Buy your barrel from Bar-Sto or Kart, they's the best. (Bar-Sto will even fit their barrel to your frame / slide - - a very worthy idea)
When you are done, you'll have an accurate, reliable 1911 pistol that you'll be proud of.
I built mine 25 years ago, virtually the same as what I suggest. There's still a LOT of hand work needed, but the really critical stuff I had done by experts.
Today, after many many thousands of rounds through my pistol, it still shoots less than 2" groups at 50 yards and functions flawlessly with decent ammo.
I have never had any parts break, fail or cause problems. I did it right the first time.

Bill DeShivs
March 7, 2012, 07:16 PM
I'm sure if you advertised in the forums you could find several. People bought these and (as already stated) realixed there was no way they could complete them.

March 7, 2012, 08:56 PM
Good idea, Bill. I'm really not looking to doge paperwork and I'm sure it won't save any money. Just looking for something interesting to tinker with (and an excuse to buy some new tools).

James K
March 7, 2012, 11:52 PM
Sorry, Triumphguy, didn't mean to imply that you were looking to dodge paperwork, and I got an e-mail with some heat for implying that those who bought the 80% frames were anything but honest custom pistol makers who needed extra material to work with.

Well, I was around way back then (what 4-5 years ago?) and I well remember the postings by folks who were going to build guns that weren't on paper and then when the SHTF and BATFE came around to seize all the guns .... well, you get the picture. I don't think any real custom builders were interested; they knew those frames were not up to their standard of quality.


March 8, 2012, 09:03 AM
No offense taken, Jim. I did find some info about rules that BATFE changed in 2008 that probably helped kill things off. It seems that to qualify as a "paperweight" and not a gun, they can't have more than two out of four specific holes drilled in addition to the slide cuts. Can't recall exactly what four they were, but that probably didn't help their popularity any. There are still plenty of other things to try like an 80% AR receiver, or just buy a slide and frame like Velocette suggested.

March 19, 2012, 08:51 PM
Funny, I just dug out my completed 80% build that I had done several years ago. At the time I was just getting into handguns and wanted to understand their fit and function by building one. The 80% was inexpensive and I did end up learning a lot. The frame was made by Olympic Arms, it's their 1911 frame with the finger groove. I kept a pretty good record of parts costs then and just compared them to today's prices. It turns out I picked a great time for the build as I paid a fraction of the going rate of today.