Educate me on 1911s


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Skribs
August 14, 2012, 01:55 AM
As big a fan as I am of the polymer-frame, striker-fire pistols, I was thinking about giving the 1911 another lookover as a possible candidate for my personal defense choice. I had a few questions I was hoping could be answered:

1) How customizable are 1911s, as far as controls go? IOW, can I get one with ambi controls, or if I get one that doesn't come with ambi controls, are there aftermarket parts available?

2) How interchangeable are the parts on 1911s? From what I've seen, they seem like AR-15s in that more manufacturers make a 1911 clone than anything else, but how interchangeable are parts on different models?

3) Aside from STI and Para Ordnance, how many manufacturer's make double stack 1911s?

4) Does anyone find, when pocket carrying a sub-compact, that the hammer interferes with the draw stroke at all?

That's all I can think of for now.

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MarshallDodge
August 14, 2012, 02:27 AM
The best advice I can offer is to stick with a 1911 as it was originally designed. Seven round mag with a 5" barrel will always be the most reliable.

4.25" is the shortest barrel length I would go and if you use an eight round mag make sure it is a quality product with a good spring and follower.

One rule to remember with a 1911 is that there is no such thing as a "drop-in" part. If you buy something and it does in fact drop in then you either got lucky or you may have just rendered the gun unsafe. To be sure you didn't do the latter then you have to be very competent in gunsmithing a 1911. This is especially true when it comes to safeties and trigger jobs.

Never carried a 1911 in a pocket because I wouldn't own one that small.

2wheels
August 14, 2012, 09:09 AM
1. 1911s are extremely customisable, as long as you're smart enough to do the work yourself or rich enough to pay someone else to do it then it can be done! It sometimes saves to pay extra for a factory upgraded 1911 setup the way you want it, rather than get a "cheaper" 1911 and upgrade it. Stuff like adding an ambi safety really isn't a big deal, aftermarket parts are everywhere and smiths willing to install it are too.

2. Expect to have to fit any aftermarket part you buy. 1911s aren't like AR15s in that respect, stuff rarely drops in without at least some fitting. Depending on the part in question and your skill/confidence level, it might be something you can do yourself or it might be something you're better off taking to a smith.

3. Rock Island might, I'm not sure.

4. Never pocket carried a subcompact 1911, however the hammer on my Sig P238 does not interfere with the draw at all. I don't think the subcompact 1911s make very good pocket guns, but from what I've gathered you've got bigger pockets than me.

Skribs
August 14, 2012, 11:43 AM
Thanks for the reply. Anything involving fitting sounds like something I wouldn't be able to do by myself...imagine Tim the Toolman Taylor without the experience, and you're getting close to my level of unskill in handiwork.

RIA does have one, thanks for the tip.

springer99
August 14, 2012, 11:50 AM
As big a fan as I am of the polymer-frame, striker-fire pistols, I was thinking about giving the 1911 another lookover as a possible candidate for my personal defense choice. I had a few questions I was hoping could be answered:

1) How customizable are 1911s, as far as controls go? IOW, can I get one with ambi controls, or if I get one that doesn't come with ambi controls, are there aftermarket parts available?


2) How interchangeable are the parts on 1911s? From what I've seen, they seem like AR-15s in that more manufacturers make a 1911 clone than anything else, but how interchangeable are parts on different models?


3) Aside from STI and Para Ordnance, how many manufacturer's make double stack 1911s?


4) Does anyone find, when pocket carrying a sub-compact, that the hammer interferes with the draw stroke at all?


That's all I can think of for now.


1 Ambi-safeties are available, but I don't think you'll find an ambi-slide release. At least, I've never seen one.

2 I think there's more interchangeable parts for 1911's than any other pistol platform. The problem is that there are also so many mfg. turning them out. Given that, some minor fitting might be required, depending on what parts you plan to replace.

3 RIA does offer one

4 My pockets aren't that big, or stout enough to handle an all-steel 1911, especially it it's a DS, but my IWB rig is no problem at all.

Skribs
August 14, 2012, 11:55 AM
1 Ambi-safeties are available, but I don't think you'll find an ambi-slide release. At least, I've never seen one.

Yes, but I've realized that virtually nobody makes a lefty-friendly sub-compact single stack with an ambi slide release, so since my goal is a double-stack duty or compact and a single-stack subcompact, I'm left giving up the pipe dream of ambi slide stop. Guess I'll just be slingshotting it, even though I'd prefer to have the quicker release.

coalman
August 14, 2012, 12:16 PM
1) Very.

2) Very.

3) Not sure. Not my deal.

4) Good luck with that. The 1911 is a belt gun IMO.


I run a 4" for CCW. No issues. However, generally the shorter the barrel the more issues - just like any other gun. I'd go with a 5" ATI to try the 1911. They are a well made, fit-n-finished value 1911 under $500. And, starting with a 5" gives you a baseline for 1911 performance and reliability. If you like the 1911 you'll have a better idea of what you want and can spend more to get more. Otherwise, the SA Range Officer (or any NM serial number SA), STI Spartan and S&W E-Series are nice 1911s under $1000. For $1000-$1500 the STI Trojan or DW Valor and $1500-$2000 a Les Baer. If possible, buy used to save. IMO the Series II Kimbers are over-priced in their class with what else is available.

Other comments in post above.

2wheels
August 14, 2012, 12:34 PM
Thanks for the reply. Anything involving fitting sounds like something I wouldn't be able to do by myself...imagine Tim the Toolman Taylor without the experience, and you're getting close to my level of unskill in handiwork.

RIA does have one, thanks for the tip.
Depends on what you're doing. Some parts are simple and cheap enough that you can risk it, afterall if you mess up it's just a cheap part and not your gun. I installed a beavertail grip safety and a firing pin stop (the plate on the back of the slide that holds the firing pin) myself on one of my 1911s. I think it was about $45 total worth of parts, so I wasn't gonna cry if I messed up and needed to order new ones. Each install took an hour or two of carefully using a file or sandpaper to take a little metal off, then checking for fit, then repeating if it doesn't fit.

Those are relatively simple parts though, anything more complicated and I might go to my local smith.

I did find a ambi slide stop for the 1911, don't know much about it though. The 1911 slide stop is easy enough to hit with your trigger finger if you're holding the gun with your left hand anyways, so you don't really need an ambi one IMHO. I use the overhand method myself, don't touch the slide stop unless I'm locking the slide back.

http://e-sarcoinc.com/451911slidestopextendedambidextrous.aspx

Skribs
August 15, 2012, 03:41 PM
Carefully using a sandpaper or file is a bit outside of my area of expertise.

smalls
August 15, 2012, 04:34 PM
I suggest buying a 1911 with as many features that you want on it as you can get, and then having a 'smith do what you want after.

Or, just starting out fresh and having a custom made.

tipoc
August 15, 2012, 05:25 PM
1.There is no other gun that gives itself to customization as much as the 1911 does. Ambi controls are possible but not the slide release (none that are reliable in my experience). The trigger finger can be used for that. For other things here is one of the many options available...
http://www.cylinder-slide.com/index.php?app=ccp0&ns=catshow&ref=1911_MR

Keep in mind that the 1911 was designed as a U.S. military sidearm and there were never any left handers in the military till recently, at least according to military ordnance procurers.

2. In theory very interchangeable. In practice with well over a dozen manufacturers and the many more manufacturers of aftermarket parts, as well as custom features, added to this the changes to the basic Colt gun over the decades makes drop in parts questionable. If you know what you are doing and enjoy tinkering it can be Disneyland, if not it can frustrate.

3. several have been mentioned.

4. From a coat pocket, no. I've not hand a problem with either a GM, a Commander, a Detonics or a Colt Defender. But then I don't know what you have in mind.

From what you say it seems that you are not overly familiar with 1911s. I'd suggest getting a Colt Commander or similar sized gun and learning to run the gun from there. Maybe with an ambi safety installed. Add what you find you need to it as your skills grow. I've seen a good many shooters new to the 1911 convinced that they need many custom upgrades before they have learned to run one or shot one and a few months later discovered they do not need or care for what they paid for. Not the worst mistake in the world but one that can be avoided.

tipoc

Skribs
August 15, 2012, 05:41 PM
You're right, I'm not familiar with 1911s. They have a manual safety, and up until very recently I specifically wanted a handgun without a manual safety. (Also, most are single stack, which I'm not fond of in a duty pistol).

I have a few more questions now:

1) How well do those aftermarket parts work on double-stack 1911s?
2) I'm used to the terms "Full", "Compact", and "Sub-Compact". What are the different sizes for 1911s called?

2wheels
August 15, 2012, 06:50 PM
1. I'm not very familiar with the double stacks, but most aftermarket parts should work, I think only a few parts are proprietary due to the fatter frame.

2. "Government" (5"), "Commander" (4" or 4.25"), and "Officers" (3" or 3.5").

You may also hear the terms "Series 80" (Colt style firing pin safety) and "Series 70" (no firing pin safety).

"Carefully using a sandpaper or file is a bit outside of my area of expertise."
I understand :)

tipoc
August 15, 2012, 11:27 PM
For reference here are a couple of very good 1911 forums...

http://forum.m1911.org/forums.php?

http://www.1911forum.com/forums/

There are a good many aftermarket parts made for double stack 1911s in particular. This is because the wider frames require some. These parts are available many places Brownell's, Midway, etc.

Double stack 1911's often show up in competition guns where the additional rounds are an asset. The extra weight is a deterrent to many for regular carry. Most often they are seen in GM (Government Model, full size guns) or Commander sized guns.

tipoc

X-Rap
August 15, 2012, 11:51 PM
I never got into the real high end 1911's but I was certainly caught up in the allure of the platform.
I have had a
Gold Cup
Delta Elite
Para Limited 14
Para Limited 10 (Commander sized)

I have a
Springfield Loaded
Kimber Ultra Carry
Kimber Pro Raptor.

I don't carry any of them as my personal defense guns. I am fond of the Raptor with a 22 conversion for rabbit hunting. (makes for about a $1300 rabbit gun, elmer fudd would be proud)
I wouldn't take any of them I have or have had as a trade for my lowly G19 gen 2.

Jim Watson
August 15, 2012, 11:55 PM
"Customizing" a 1911 is not like "building" an AR.
Kind of like working on a watch versus stacking Legos.

The 1911 was designed in an age of artisan workmanship with skilled machinists and fitters.
The clone labs with their CAD CAM and ersatz materials have been more interested in cutting costs and offering frills and furbelows (kind of like bells and whistles, only older) instead of insuring the interchangeability the Army insisted on a hundred years ago.

Skribs
August 16, 2012, 05:49 PM
Well, I'd like to thank everyone again, but I have decided that the 1911 isn't for me. While I am not as adverse to the platform as I once was, I just don't see it offering any benefit over my polymer-framed, striker-fired choice, but I do see the disadvantage of a significant price increase.

However, having learned more about them, I feel that I have made a more educated decision. I initially turned them down because of the manual safety, but now I just simply can't justify spending that much for a pistol when I don't see the cost as providing me with something more useful.

MarshallDodge
August 16, 2012, 07:21 PM
Well, I'd like to thank everyone again, but I have decided that the 1911 isn't for me. While I am not as adverse to the platform as I once was, I just don't see it offering any benefit over my polymer-framed, striker-fired choice, but I do see the disadvantage of a significant price increase.

However, having learned more about them, I feel that I have made a more educated decision. I initially turned them down because of the manual safety, but now I just simply can't justify spending that much for a pistol when I don't see the cost as providing me with something more useful.
Out of curiosity, what is your polymer gun of choice and what is making look at other guns?

If you are not happy with the gun that you have then you may want to go out and try a 1911 and some other guns just to see how they shoot.

It all really comes down to what you are comfortable shooting. If it isn't enjoyable then you aren't going to practice and if you don't practice then you would be better served with a polymer can of pepper spray. ;)

Skribs
August 16, 2012, 08:00 PM
Well, I currently own a XDm 40 Compact. I chose the XDm because I liked its features, and I chose the 40 because I couldn't decide between 9 and 45. I also realized that I shoot better left-handed, which has me really pushing for ambi features. I'm trying to make the later decision now (not part of the scope of this thread), but what I've decided I want is as close as I can get to the following:

2 pistols, one a duty or compact double-stack and the other a sub-compact single-stack, both with the same caliber, trigger mechanism, and placement of controls, preferably with ambidextrous features. Pretty much no sub-compact single-stacks have ambi slide release, so that's out the window (I'll just have to use the slingshot method), and with something the size I want and with the most ambi features (and factoring out DAO pistols or pistols with the paddle mag release, which I can't stand) I ended up narrowing it down to XDm+XDs or a 2011+Officer 1911.

As a left-handed shooter, I must say the firearms industry leans way too far to the right...and I'm not talking politics ;)

ETA: Basically, the only things "wrong" with my XDm are that it doesn't have ambi slide stop, and a few other minor issues (i.e. I prefer the serrations on the M&P, I wish the grip safety didn't prevent racking the slide when on. However, I prefer the similarity of XDm+XDs over getting a M&P and getting another pistol that's different, even if it's M&P+XDs. The Shield lacks too many ambi features for me to consider it similar to its bigger brother.

tipoc
August 16, 2012, 10:48 PM
I meant to mention it earlier, with most semis the leftie can can drop the slide release using the left hand trigger finger.

tipoc

banjotx
August 16, 2012, 11:15 PM
or just a common no frills like a Rock Island.

Skylerbone
August 16, 2012, 11:52 PM
Google Randall 1911 or look up Joe Chambers of Chambers Custom if you hit the lottery.

Skribs
August 17, 2012, 12:59 AM
I meant to mention it earlier, with most semis the leftie can can drop the slide release using the left hand trigger finger.

I find it much more intuitive for the only control I manipulate with my trigger finger to be the trigger, and everything else with thumb.

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