Kitchen tables & 1911's


January 4, 2003, 06:46 AM
I've got a discussion going in the semi-auto forum about first time 1911 purchase.
Funds don't allow for anything fancy, torn between the Colt & Springfield mil spec models.
Question for the 'smiths is; When the time comes to tinker, how much can one do himself? In other words, when Brownells says "Drop in" do they mean it?

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George Stringer
January 4, 2003, 07:49 AM
When you decide to tinker, get a couple of good books on the subject. Hallock's .45 Auto Handbook, Pistolsmithing by Nonte and a book called Custom Touches are all sold by Brownells and pretty good. Drop-in parts are rarely drop-in. Almost all will require some degree of fitting. George

January 4, 2003, 11:20 AM
You might allso want to get American Gunsmithing Instute tape on the 1911.I have one for my Sig's and one for my FN FAL's.I find them clear and consise.At 30.00 plus shipping no that expensive either

January 4, 2003, 12:18 PM
The problems I see coming across my bench are usually caused by removing too much metal. Quite often, it only takes a few strokes of a stone to accomplish your objective. Other times, you will need special fixtures, tools a lathe or milling machine. You can buy small lathes and milling machines for quite reasonable prices.
Instead of buying a Dremel tool, put the money toward a mini lathe.

January 4, 2003, 03:47 PM
I like to tinker but know my limitations! If it comes to removing metal or needing lathes & milling machines it's beyond my scope. Last thing I want to do is totally screw a gun up.

January 4, 2003, 05:33 PM
None of it is all that hard. Just go SLOW and check everything 5 times before continueing. You can take all the time in the world to do it right, but it takes just seconds to screw it up. Buy the tools to do it right instead of trying to make do with what you have, it will make a world of difference. Go slow and be careful.

January 5, 2003, 10:00 PM

I'm a baby smith with the 1911 with three builds and a few repairs under the belt. It is not all that hard. I would add to your reading pleasure the two 1911 books by Jerry Kuhnhausen. If you can only get one, get the first book. The second is more advanced than most of us mere mortals will ever need. When was the last time any of use tolerenced a disconnector.

Just go slow, if it looks like the only way to do it is with a special jig or tool, buy the stuff or farm it to someone who does.

As far as those drop in parts, naybe the following definition chart will help clear it up.

1. Drop in fit....hire a gunsmith

2. EZ Fit.........hire a gunsmith with a milling machine

3. Some minor fitting....hire a gunsmith with a complete machine shop

4. Gunsmith installation only......hire a gunsmith with a machine shop, CNC, is competent in autocad, and employs a staff engineer.

Have fun....:neener:

January 5, 2003, 10:50 PM
i picked up my 1911 for pretty much the same reason...i wanted to customize it, but didn't have the money for an already custom pistol. i started w/ a colt.

my first 2 attempts at adding parts were a wilson combat drop-in beavertail and a chip mccormick hammer(commander)... both of these parts were true drop-ins. i did nothing except pull out the old and add the new.

what is great about the 1911 is that it is a perfect gun for customizing a piece at a time... but, some custom touches you'll definitely want your 'smith to do (barrel hood, slide-to-frame fit, barrel-to-slide fit, etc). you'll know when you are over your head.

i really enjoy tinkering w/ my guns myself, first. i know when i am way over my head, and then the 'smith gets it, but for the most part, i'll try just about anything before i give it to the smith (yes, sometimes it results in me handing the smith a box full of random parts saying, "uhhh...i'll call ya in a week or two", and then run - fast!).

good luck w/ your choice. the 1911 is easy and it is truly fun.

January 5, 2003, 11:13 PM
If you go with the AGI tapes (and I recommend them) get their more expensive professional series. You only need the first 3 to get a very good idea of what hand tools can do, and what parts are available.

The books mentioned above are great, but I find it's nice to have the visual refernce also.

Kahr carrier
January 6, 2003, 07:08 AM
Just stay away from the DREMEL power tools for fitting parts ,I seen a lot of 1911 and other guns at the range that people have removed to much material fitting parts to their guns.OUCH.:(

January 6, 2003, 08:09 AM
I've decided on a Colt mil spec, plan on shooting it out of the box for a while then maybe doing something with it.
The only things I think of (without having the gun yet) that I'd like to change right away would be the sights and trigger.
Beavertails look cool but if it doesn't bite me I may just leave it alone.
Think I'll order the Kuhnhausen book, just missed it on ebay.

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