1911 Diminishing returns?


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KYamateur
July 22, 2013, 09:10 PM
I want some honest opinions about 1911s. This post is not necessarily about one brand being better than the other. I jumped into the 1911 world about five years ago. I started with a Smith & Wesson. It was okay, but I wanted something more. I traded in on a colt xse stainless. I liked the colt but hated the matte rounds on the stainless. I sent it to Jim Garthwaite and he did a thourough look over, replaced MIM parts (I dont know if that is really that important), did a trigger job, reliability tuning, and bead blasted the entire gun. He did a fabulous job and the colt will fire anything everytime. I knew from the onset it wouldn't be a target gun because he basically tuned it for a reliable defensive piece and I didn't ask him to make it more accurate.
A while later I picked up a Springfield Loaded. It was a fine gun but it didn't do anything the colt didn't do and I ended up selling it. I then purchased a Dan Wesson Valor in SS. It was one of the post 2010 models. The gun was as reliable as the colt, shot very tight groups, and was nice, tight, and the slide racked like a thing of beauty. It was definitely a step up from the colt and Springfield. This is where my question begins.

I sold the Dan Wesson and bought a Les Baer Concept IV. It shoots very accurate but had a few feeding issues during the break in period. It runs well now. However, I can't say that it does anything better than the Dan Wesson did, and the Dan Wesson was a more refined gun with more options. I have considered selling the Baer and saving for a Wilson Protector. However, I'm starting to wonder if there is a point of diminishing returns on your money once you go above the Wesson. When I bought my Baer my friend bought a stainless Ed Brown SF. His gun is beautiful but he is having rust issues. That is the only personal experience I know about Ed Brown Guns. Outside of looks his doesn't perform any better than the Wesson or Baer. I've never had the opportunity to shoot a Wilson, so I can't speak for them. I have seen one of the new Valors with the Duty Coat and it is simply stunning. I'm wondering if I am really getting my moneys worth to throw out 3200 for a Wilson or if I will have just as nice of a gun spending almost half of that and going with the Black Valor.

Right now I just have two 1911s. The colt I will never part with and the Baer

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1858
July 22, 2013, 09:24 PM
I have three Ed Brown Special Forces, a Dan Wesson Valor, a Dan Wesson V-Bob and two Kimbers and I've shot a bunch of other mid to high end 1911s such as WC, Springfield, Colt etc., and it's my opinion that once a certain level of performance and quality has been reached you're paying for attention to detail, quality of parts and longevity. You're also paying for a guarantee of sorts since you're statistically less likely to have issues with an Ed Brown, Les Baer, Wilson Combat etc compared to many of the mass produced pistols from S&W, Kimber, Springfield, SIG etc. I also feel that the vast majority of 1911 owners don't push their pistols to anything close to the limit of performance and don't shoot enough rounds to really see the differences between a $1,000 pistol and a $3,500 pistol.

TestPilot
July 22, 2013, 09:36 PM
It will not "shoot" much better.

It has more to do with the expectation that better fitting parts made with better materials will give you more longivity.

I've shot a Night Hawk GRP which did not particularly impress me. I can shoot my Springfield Mil-Spec just as well. Sure, my Mil-Spec may not do things like hold a 1 inch group at 50 yards, but the gun itself is more accurate than I am.

This is not to say that GRP is not any better than a Mil-Spec. May be it will hold up better after tens of thousands of rounds. Who knows?

If I can make a head shot at 35 yards, I really don't care much about whether if all the lines on the slides are blended in for someone to look at and go "Ooo ahhh."

So, yes. If you go abuve a certain price range, you pay much for difference in very minute details.

wow6599
July 22, 2013, 09:40 PM
I don't have a lot of 1911 experience, but I've owned a few.

My $2300 Colt Custom Shop (100 year anniversary) Series 70 Repro is my least favorite. My favorite shooter? A $725 Springfield Range Officer. As always, YMMV.

sheephearder
July 22, 2013, 09:40 PM
I agree with 1858, most of 1911 shooters will never need better than the colt you have. There is pride in ownership and some times extra confidence in a special built gun. So you will have to answer your question based on what you want rather than what some one else thinks.

As an example trap and sheet shooters can and do some times spend over $ 50,000 for a shot gun. Did not go that far but went through a lot of shot guns, but as I have found out the hard way you can not make up for ability with expensive equipment.

1858
July 22, 2013, 09:44 PM
I really don't care much about whether if all the lines on the slides are blended in for someone to look at and go "Ooo ahhh."

I've never bought anything in the hope that someone else likes it ... unless I'm buying it for someone else.

KYamateur
July 22, 2013, 10:15 PM
I appreciate the responses. As to the shotguns I have went through about five up to about $1800 but ended up settling on a $400 Beretta 390 that I purchased at WalMart. It is like a tank and nothing I bought ever out performed it.

Where does a Dan Wesson fit into the scheme of 1911 guns? I know they are not considered semi-custom, but they make very few valors and they are all made from high quality tooled parts. If I am not mistaken they even use some Ed Brown parts. Is there that much difference in what they are doing than what some of the other semi-custom shops are doing? I have also noticed their current prices are on par with Many Baer guns.

I will say the less baer feels like a brick in a good way. It just seems heavy duty - more so than the colt, or even the Ed Brown my friend has. I do wish they would improve their finishes. The Blue looks okay, but for a hard use gun its just not practical for me. I've considered sending my slide for something like a Hard Hat Treatment, but worry it may void any future warranty work if I have a problem.

VetPsychWars
July 22, 2013, 10:15 PM
I wanted a Colt really bad but I didn't have $1100 or more to get the one I wanted. I got a $750 Remington R1S instead and it's darn near a GI gun, especially after I changed a couple of parts.

I still want a Colt but not sad I don't have one.

Tom

http://www.gentledarkness.com/picture_library/guns/redgrip.jpg

tarosean
July 22, 2013, 10:18 PM
A stainless gun rusting??


I own a Brown, Wilson, Nighthawk, Wilson and Colt. They all shoot flawless however they are all differently configured/optioned and they all have a different feel and balance.

If it was my money I'd dehorn and refinish the Baer... You already have a good gun that can only get better. First thing I did with my Baer was ditch the thumb safety for a Wilson unit, added a S&A magwell and VZ's. it will get smoothed over and refinished sometime when I wear the blue off.

It really is about what you want. How they feel to you...
Is my NHC worth the premium over the others? Yes, only because its got all the options serrated rear sight/slide, recessed slide stop, carry cuts, top slide serrations, etc etc etc.

HorseSoldier
July 22, 2013, 10:26 PM
And a certain level of customer service and follow through, as well, I think. I carried a Wilson through my police academy and out onto the street. In the training environment, I put a lot of rounds through it and its mags -- at about the 3000 round mark, one of the 47Ds started to have feeding issues. I emailed Wilson about ordering a replacement spring for it, and they sent me new springs and followers for all three mags that came with the pistol, free of charge.

KYamateur
July 22, 2013, 10:33 PM
I hear Wilson Customer Service is the best, but I've never owned one. That is one of the reasons that I am mulling a Protector.

As for the rust, I have seen a few stainless guns rust. I don't know if its they alloy in the steel or some individual's sweat being more acidic.

Those Remington R1s are nice. My local Gunshop got one of the stainless enhanced versions in and its looks rival anything.

1858
July 22, 2013, 10:44 PM
I mentioned attention to detail earlier. TexasRifleman did a good review of his Ed Brown here ...

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=610505&highlight=forces

"I was very glad to have this gun at Gunsite. I watched guys on the firing line fight with their guns all week in this 1911 only class, all kinds of malfunctions from all kinds of manufacturers. Was very happy not to have to put into use any of the failure drill training."

"Zero malfunctions other than 1 FTF when a wad of medical tape on my hand wrapped around the safety during a draw and a couple of poor draws where I failed to get on the grip safety, so no fault of the gun. The Ed Brown fit and dehorning really paid off here. I saw many guys with hands that looked like they had been through a meat grinder from beavertail misalignment, sharp edges on safeties, checkering, etc. I only had one friction blister from where the web of my hand between thumb and finger rubbed up and down flicking the safety on and off. This is where an extended safety might have come in handy."

He discusses the importance of a well-finished pistol here ...

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=618727

"Gun wise I experienced zero failures during the week other than a couple of draws on the last day where I failed to get a good grab on the grip safety simply from trying to go too fast. I was very pleased with the Ed Brown, and especially happy with the fit of all the parts, no rough edges at all. I can't tell you how many blisters and bleeding hands I saw this week from guns that had rough edges either around the safety or in the grip safety fit. I saw lots of pain from guns with extremely aggressive checkering as well."

Zach S
July 22, 2013, 11:55 PM
I've owned a dozen 1911s, and the one I miss is a $400 used Mil Spec Springer.

I don't need, nor am I capable, of shooting a 1" group at 50 yards. 2.5" group at 25 yards is combat accurate IMO. I'm fine with spending $500-$600 a 1911 and doing the final fit and finish myself. Other than an AMT I rebuilt into a rimfire, I probably have the most work in an STI Spartan.

Maybe I just wont buy a high-end 1911 because I cant leave well enough alone.

A stainless gun rusting??
It happens. Most are less likely to rust, but they can. I had a Stainless Colt 1991A1 I had to treat like a blued gun. A stainless Para wasn't much better. My Kimbers can see a lot of neglect before they rust. As a general rule, if a magnet can stick to it, it can rust.

KYamateur
July 23, 2013, 12:19 AM
I know this may sound remedial, but how do people post the full pics?All I can do is upload the little thumbnails.

mljdeckard
July 23, 2013, 12:21 AM
Yes. In my opinion, the cutoff is $1k-1200.

asia331
July 23, 2013, 01:03 AM
I'll go with diminishing returns. Little point in my view to expend more than a $1K on a practical sidearm.

dmazur
July 23, 2013, 01:21 AM
...how do people post the full pics?

If you're inserting an image from an off-forum server like Photobucket, open a window in that application to display the photo you want and then copy the link for that photo to the clipboard. Some sites provide a button for "copy link".

If you're using the forum's storage, R-click on the image's file name in "Manage Attachments", which you already downloaded from your computer and copy that link.

Finally, position the cursor where you want the photo and click on the "Insert Image" button in the Reply window. At the prompt, copy the link to the photo.

9mmepiphany
July 23, 2013, 02:13 AM
I've owned a lot of 1911s over the wears and was lucky enough to have handled and shot more than a few high end 1911s while helping out a 1911 custom smith.

I think the point of diminishing returns for the 1911 platform is about $2000-$2500 for a gun that will do everything you ask of it without getting into extreme accuracy or becoming an Art Gun. I think the sweet spot in the 1911 world is about $1500 for a gun that will do most everything you need with maybe just a little work.

Bear in mind that I'm looking at it from the stand point of a gun I will train with and use as a defensive carry gun

Where does a Dan Wesson fit into the scheme of 1911 guns? I know they are not considered semi-custom, but they make very few valors and they are all made from high quality tooled parts.
Why would you not consider them semi-custom?

I would easily put them on par with entry level Baers, Browns, Wilsons, NHCs and Springfield Professionals.

I envy you, your Garthwaite Colt. Jim is one of the old masters

osteodoc08
July 23, 2013, 10:19 AM
For me the point of diminishing return is a high end production or low end semi custom. In my mind that includes the higher model Dan Wesson, Colt, Springer, Kimber. Retail price point 1000-1500. Semi custom I think Les Baer. More accurate than I am. Good looks. Reliable.

1858
July 23, 2013, 12:04 PM
I've never put much thought into accuracy when buying a 1911 and I certainly didn't assume that I was paying for better accuracy by spending $2,500 vs. $1,000. I knew that all of the 1911s I've bought would be more than accurate enough for what I need, and they are. I was far more interested in reliability and longevity in addition to specific features that are important to me based on how, when and where I shoot. For me, that meant spending $1,900 to $2,500 ... basically buying pistols in the price range mentioned by 9mmepiphany.

I remember a match a couple of years ago in which a young shooter had the extractor break on his < 1,000 rounds Springfield TRP. I've seen many other failures during matches and it's been my experience that when you start pushing a pistol hard, that's when you start to see differences between various makes and models. Just as TexasRifleman pointed out in his Gun Site class ...

"I watched guys on the firing line fight with their guns all week in this 1911 only class, all kinds of malfunctions from all kinds of manufacturers."

Too bad we didn't learn more about the malfunctions and the manufacturers.

9mmepiphany
July 23, 2013, 03:05 PM
I attended that class with TR and the most common fault were sharp edges around the thumb safety and grip safety...folks were bleeding from Day 2 from the web/thumb of their shooting hands...the areas just weren't blended correctly when folks were shooting 300 rounds/day, drawing continuously and performing magazine changes at speed.

The worst malfunction was a Ruger SR1911 that loss his firing pin when the Firing Pin Stop dropped out during a string of fire

JERRY
July 23, 2013, 03:18 PM
Im sure some will scoff at this but one of best shooting guns ive ever own is a ria g.i. 1911, which shoots better than the two colts i use to own.

tarosean
July 23, 2013, 03:21 PM
I hear Wilson Customer Service is the best, but I've never owned one. That is one of the reasons that I am mulling a Protector.

I own one but have never needed to contact their Customer Service. I will say that when I went to pick up a gun I bought off GunBroker my FFL had a Stainless Protector with the new round butt magwell. I would have walked out the door with that gun if it hadnt already been sold.

rtz
July 23, 2013, 06:35 PM
Factory guns; hand fit guns.. How about race guns? Built to run and perform. Who makes a good(the best) race gun?

KYamateur
July 23, 2013, 10:39 PM
I've owned a dozen 1911s, and the one I miss is a $400 used Mil Spec Springer.

I don't need, nor am I capable, of shooting a 1" group at 50 yards. 2.5" group at 25 yards is combat accurate IMO. I'm fine with spending $500-$600 a 1911 and doing the final fit and finish myself. Other than an AMT I rebuilt into a rimfire, I probably have the most work in an STI Spartan.

Maybe I just wont buy a high-end 1911 because I cant leave well enough alone.


It happens. Most are less likely to rust, but they can. I had a Stainless Colt 1991A1 I had to treat like a blued gun. A stainless Para wasn't much better. My Kimbers can see a lot of neglect before they rust. As a general rule, if a magnet can stick to it, it can rust.
I never thought that I was capable of shooting well from distance either, but that did change when I stepped up to the Dan Wesson, and especially the Les Baer. Guys at the range will stop and watch me shoot and I'm not a sharp shooter by any means. That is the biggest difference I noticed when going up to the $1800-2000 price range. Its not a necessity but it does give you a bad@ss feeling when you tear the bullseye completely out of the target at 25+ yards. I have fixed sights. I'd imagine you could really reach out there with adjustable sights, I just don't like the way they look.

CDW4ME
July 24, 2013, 09:21 AM
I put Dan Wesson with Baer, Brown based on quality of small parts.
Less than Dan Wesson will have MIM, plastic MSH, maybe a bare metal "in the white" barrel.

jmorris
July 24, 2013, 09:41 AM
I would suggest that before you spend $3200 on a Wilson, just go full custom and have SVIguns.com build you one. Every part on their guns are machined from billet except for springs.

Jim Watson
July 24, 2013, 09:43 AM
My most-shot guns are local shop customs that cost me around $1200... 15-18 years ago.
Last year I scoped out a new project only a bit more elaborate and it would have cost me nearly $2300 from a local guy.
About like a Baer, except Les doesn't make what I was looking at.
Wilson does, for $3030.
I wouldn't have minded paying Wilson for immediate handling and say 90 day delivery to order. Two years? No.
So I studied the situation and went back to shooting my old guns.

SDGlock23
July 24, 2013, 10:03 PM
I've had a bunch of 1911's, but no longer have even one. The best I owned were Dan Wessons (Valor, VBOB, CBOB, and CCO) and I would buy another for sure if I had to have another 1911. To me though, no matter the brand they were always safe queens, with a few exceptions, but for the most part they sat around looking pretty. I really like the 1911 platform, but for what I need a pistol for they're kinda pricey (to get a good quality one not full of MIM).

9mmepiphany
July 24, 2013, 11:01 PM
I must say that I don't really understand the concept of a working, non-art, gun being a Safe Queen.

I did start with a Colt GM which needed to go straight to a gunsmith before I'd trust it for carry. I've watch as production 1911s have been improved as more competition entered the market. At the same time, I've distilled what I really wanted in a personal fighting 1911.

My current, only, 1911 was built on a Colt 1991...which I think still uses the original frame and some small parts. I was told it would take ~$4k to replace, but it doesn't stop me from shooting it in IDPA or from carrying it regularly.

KYamateur
July 25, 2013, 12:33 AM
My colt and Baer are by no means safe queens. I like to keep them looking good, but I shoot the daylights out of them, and sometimes carry them. Thats the main reason I'm looking at the Wilson Protector. I want a gun I can shoot often and that will last. My first 1911 was a Smith &Wesson, it was one of their early models and I had some small parts breakage, and things just loosened up too much for my liking after several thousand rounds.

Warranty is nice, but I just prefer whatever gun is made to last the long haul. Shipping and Insurance when you don't have an FFL is over $100 every time you have to ship it off. I can handle replacing springs, but anything other than that I leave to someone who knows what they are doing. When my kids are older I would like to take one of the 1911 armorer classes, but with work and kids I just can't do it now. Thats why I want a gun with the best quality parts I can buy. If I give $1,000 for a gun and start shipping it off for a few custom things, and then have to ship it a few times for some parts replacement, I would have been just as well off spending more money if I could have gotten some better quality parts, not to mention the time the gun spends out of my hands. I guess that is really the question I was trying to ask about diminishing returns above the $1800-$2000 price range. If the Baer and Wessons will hold up as long as the Wilsons, Browns, Custom makes, etc. I really don't want to spend over $2,000. I know 1911s are a pricey platform, but I don't find any other gun that gives me the satisfaction a 1911 gun does when I shoot it. Its hard to beleive that it took me so long to buy my first one. I use to only shoot 9mm pistols, but since getting in to 1911s they hardly ever get fired anymore.

rklessdriver
July 25, 2013, 05:03 PM
I feel like it's totally personal whether there is a point of diminishing return on the investment of a 1911 pistol... I think everybody except those that have more $$$ than sense have a point where the ends just no longer justify the means... not that you can't appreciate something you may or may not be able to afford just that it's not worth it to you to own it.

So it really comes down to - How much can you appreciate the fact that every part is the best materials avaliable and that every part is hand fitted to perfection?

In my mind, that question alone tells on how much your willing to spend on a 1911 - or any firearm for that matter...

I have a Baer PII with the 1.5" guarantee... It's a nice gun. I can totally understand the quality of the base materials, the time and the skilled work that was put into the mechanical accuracy componets of my Baer...

Once I bought it I could also look at the outside and it had a very utilitarian look to it..... I could see the med rough looking sand marks on the flats of the slide and frame where they left about a 120 grit polish on the metal before it was blued (BTW for a fee Novak's fixed that).... This gun was where MY $$$$ per inch of perfection hit it's limit.

I can totally appreciate a nicer/better finished gun and I know there are smiths out there that make them, but for me at this time in my life, it's just not worth the $$$$ to own one.
Will

9mmepiphany
July 25, 2013, 06:34 PM
I can totally appreciate a nicer/better finished gun and I know there are smiths out there that make them, but for me at this time in my life, it's just not worth the $$$$ to own one.
There is a lot to be said for this.

A few years back I picked up a CZ 452 (bolt action .22lr) rifle for about $300 (which was an awesome price), but I also bought an Anschutz 1712 for about 5 times as much...but then I've been lusting after that Annie for 40 years, so I could justify it; I haven't made the leap into the Cooper price range yet

rjk2475
July 25, 2013, 09:32 PM
Zach S said: 2.5" group at 25 yards

i must move with a weak crowd--at least no bullseye shooters. i just don't see handgunners shooting 2.5" at 50 feet!

9mmepiphany
July 25, 2013, 10:15 PM
Zach S said: 2.5" group at 25 yards

i must move with a weak crowd--at least no bullseye shooters. i just don't see handgunners shooting 2.5" at 50 feet!
You need to either hang with a better crowd :neener: or they can more likely use some formal instruction :p

Any gun used for serious purposes (SD, Carry) will shoot into less than 4" at 50 yards...which would mean likely less than 2" at 25 yards. Granted this isn't shooting at speed, but while taking deliberate shots

KYamateur
July 25, 2013, 10:55 PM
I let an old timer at the range teach me to shoot with both eyes open and to use a more natural stance and it made all of the difference in the world. I can now shoot tight groups from a distance. Like I said in an earlier post, the Les Baer makes doing so almost too easy compared to my other pistols.

9mmepiphany:

backing up a bit, do you think I would get a noticeable difference out of long term reliability and durability going from the class of Baer/wesson and spending more money on Wilson, NH, Brown, etc.?

rjk2475
July 26, 2013, 12:02 AM
it's local club shooting; 2.5" at 17 yds in IDPA

9mmepiphany
July 26, 2013, 12:09 AM
9mmepiphany:

backing up a bit, do you think I would get a noticeable difference out of long term reliability and durability going from the class of Baer/wesson and spending more money on Wilson, NH, Brown, etc.?
No

When you get much above $2.5k, I think you are better off getting a custom gun built...assuming that you have developed a sense of what you want in a 1911. The thing about having a 1911 built is that there isn't any instant gratification

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