Best base 1911


PDA






manwithoutahome
August 13, 2004, 07:11 PM
And please, no high end pistols. I'm looking for something that is a base GI type model $450 or below. In RL, I'm actually looking at anything $400 or below.

Right now, I'm thinking the Springfield GI45 (and if I can come up with the extra $200 the mil-spec but right now, just the GI model).

But what others are good base models?

The purpose for the gun is to change out the MIM parts by myself, do twiking on it myself, etc.. So now you know why I want it inexpensive as possible (so when... errr, if... I break it, it won't be so heart breaking and I won't have to spend another fortune at the gun smith shop).

The ones that I've been looking at that has "somewhat" GI features:

Springfield
Para
Rock Island

I need pro's and con's of all these listed and other options if you folks would be so kind.

Thank you in advance.

Wayne

*PS, I've already got a Kimber but I consider those "top end".

If you enjoyed reading about "Best base 1911" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Gary Brommeland
August 13, 2004, 08:18 PM
If you can find a Norinco, jump on it. They have all forged parts (most all other current 1911's use MIM parts) and their overall metalurgy is far superior to anything else too.
A lot of top notch pistolsmiths build both competition and street pistols on them.
If you can't find one, my next choice would be a Springfield GI or Mil-Spec. I would then "gut" it and replace everything except the barrel, slide and frame with forged or bar stock parts. MIM parts are VERY unreliable. Some hold up well, others will break the first time you shoot it. Get a catalog from Brownell's, and you'll be able to get all the parts you'll need.
Good luck!

Missouri Mule
August 13, 2004, 09:42 PM
I am looking real hard at the Springfield GI champion.....

I am just having a heck of a time justifying another pistol right now or another project.

antediluvianist
August 13, 2004, 10:01 PM
Over here in the Philippines, Norincos are plentiful and fairly inexpensive. You are abslutely right : they are forged. Like you, we find them good bases upon which to build. But they are quite all right as they are, although they don't look too good cosmetically - scratches, machine markings and such. Still, a good tough gun. Look at Canadiangunutz.com. Canadians like them too.

manwithoutahome
August 13, 2004, 10:28 PM
Sadly, you can't get Norinco's anylonger (at least here anyway). The chinise(sp) embargo on weapons exports/imports put a halt to that. I may get lucky and find one in a pawn shop, maybe.

Thanks for the replies.

Wayne

Tamara
August 13, 2004, 10:35 PM
If price is a serious object, go with the Springer. If you can scrape up another few bucks, go with a Colt 1991A1.

shep854
August 13, 2004, 11:24 PM
The Kahr/Auto-Ordnance GI M1911A1s are good values. Mine is a very nice shooter. It was in the $420 region.

Black Majik
August 13, 2004, 11:35 PM
NRM Colt Government

1911Tuner
August 14, 2004, 07:03 AM
If you can find a decent, unaltered Norinco, jump on it.

If you can't, Tamara nailed it spot on. Even though there have been a
few issues with some of the GI Mil-Spec Springers, if you're planning on
upgrading the small parts anyway, that's the way that I'd go. The standard Mil-Spec nets better sights and a lowered ejection port for about
the same extra cost as having those areas upgraded on a GI clone.

I can't speak for the Kahr Auto-Ordnance guns, because I can't find one around here to check out...but the older ones that were built by Thompson were generally bad. Once in a while, you'd run into a good one. I have one that's actually very good...but they were investment castings from stem to stern except for the barrels and springs. Don't know if Kahr has
changed anything, except for substituting the cast small parts for MIM.

Anybody know about the frames and slides? SIng out!

shep854
August 14, 2004, 08:57 AM
They may be worth what I paid for them (online, gunshop discussions and all that), but I've heard that Kahr has pretty much turned AO around as regards quality.

If I can make it up to now of your get-togethers, Tuner, I'll make sure to bring mine for study.

Gunsnrovers
August 14, 2004, 09:05 AM
Since you're planning for this to be a platform of a build/project, I would get the Springfield MilSpec. Good frame and slide base to work from.

Pythonman
August 14, 2004, 10:23 AM
If you can swing the price of the GI Springfield, save a few more bucks and get a Colt NRM 1991A1, yule never be sorry for getting the Colt.

Rob96
August 14, 2004, 01:50 PM
$550 will get you into a nice, blued Colt 1991A1. Also be on the look out for an unaltered, used 1991A1. I picked one up that was basically new, for $349. Runs like a champ.

cratz2
August 14, 2004, 01:56 PM
I own a blued 1991A1 (NRM) which would be one of the last guns I would sell and I've owned two ugly rollmark 1991A1s. One was hideous and the other just short of perfect in terms of reliability. I gave $500 for my NRM brand new but one of the nice grips was scratched so the dealer knocked $50 off the $550 asking price. If it were my money, I'd scrimp and save until I could get the NRM Colt myself.

On the Springfields MilSpecs, I've had four or five of them including one in 38 Super and none of them had any significant issues. For $400, I would take a MilSpec (not the GI) but again, would really try to find some loose change to get the Colt.

And on the price difference between the GI and the MilSpec, around here, the difference is closer to $40 than $200. Is the price difference really $200 where you live?

Dave Sample
August 14, 2004, 05:24 PM
"What's cheap, is expensive." Get a Colt. They are the only Platform that is worth improving on.

Bill Z
August 14, 2004, 07:38 PM
Gary said: MIM parts are VERY unreliable. Some hold up well, others will break the first time you shoot it.

That is an exception, not the rule. If this were even remotely true, NO manufacturer would use them at all. ALL parts fail, some sooner than others, MIM doesn't have a bad track record at all in this regard, it's just internet hype.

The Norinco frame and slide are great peices, but the internals need to be trashed as there is no quality control on the hardening. I don't know of any smith that reuses the small part on these. The barrels aren't too bad either for an everyday shooter, they just need a good bushing.

pmbiker
August 14, 2004, 08:48 PM
Read this (http://www.signaturegrade.com/baseguns.html), it is very helpful.

Old Dog
August 14, 2004, 09:32 PM
Those GI sights are just to itty-bitty ... My mil-spec feeds everything and anything ... surprisingly accurate out-of-the box, and has never, ever had a FTF, FTE or FTRB. Only 1911 I ever owned that the first 2000 rounds fed through w/out a hiccup, regardless of magazines used. Also, the parkerizing was surprisingly good.

Monkeyleg
August 14, 2004, 11:24 PM
1911Tuner, if you hadn't said what you did about the Norinco's, I would have thought a custom 1911 builder I talked to was feeding me a line of bull.

He swears by the Norinco frame and slide as a base for building a custom pistol. Says the materials as a base are superior to what we get from US makers.

Then I got to thinking, though, about a story I read concerning the Chinese copying current model Chevrolets. They've copied the blueprints so closely that you can take a door off a Chinese "Chevrolet" and put it on a US-made car, and the fit is 100% perfect.

Sneaky little SOB's, aren't they?

1911Tuner
August 15, 2004, 03:19 AM
Howdy Monkeyleg,

The Norincos' are not only to spec in critical areas, they're as tough as a
chunk of pig iron. I dropped my candy when they were everywhere for 250 clams out the door...and didn't buy a dozen or two.

I don't understand why BillZ and Dave have had problems with the internals having been soft, unless they got hold of a bad lot. I've
made it a point to do a hardness test on every one that I can get my hands on, and can get permission from the owner. Everything has met or exceeded U.S Ordnance spec for the parts. I know that they do some pretty precise tuning on the hammer and sear, so they likely require
harder parts for their work. Since I don't do that type of trigger work,
I'm a little less discerning....but on the slide and frame...If a smith figures
on cutting dovetails for custom sights, he'd better have a good, rigid
mill vise and table, and a sharp, good quality end mill and dovetail cutter.

Luck!

Tuner

Tamara
August 15, 2004, 08:35 AM
I don't understand why BillZ and Dave have had problems with the internals having been soft, unless they got hold of a bad lot. I've

Seen quite a few cheese-soft ones myself, too, 1911Tuner. Mentioned (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=74799) it to you before, but maybe you disremembered. Maybe the ones we've seen have been the norm and the ones you've seen have been the good lot. ;)

jercamp45
August 15, 2004, 09:12 AM
A new or LNIB Colt M1991A1 is a great base gun that is functional out of the box.
Springfield if you cannot afford the Colt....but I'd personally wait till I found one with the Dancing Pony upon it.
Jercamp45

1911Tuner
August 15, 2004, 09:34 AM
Tam said:

Seen quite a few cheese-soft ones myself, too, 1911Tuner. Mentioned it to you before, but maybe you disremembered.
______________________


Nah. I didn't disremember. I ignored it. I don't consider parts that test within spec as soft, even though you can cut'em easy-like with a file. The only real reason to worry about hammers and sears that don't hit 65- 70 on the Rc scale is when ya plan on makin' the hooks dead square, cuttin'em down to .020 long and try to stand'em on a sear with a .018-inch wide primary angle....and cuttin' the trigger pull down to about half of what the gun was designed to have. So, I guess when a body dinks around with it that much, those things really gotta be hard as hell's hinges. For those of us who don't need or want a 3-pound trigger, and who understand just how really dangerous they are, those "cheesy soft" parts will do nicely....ma'am.

Engineer's Cardinal Rule:

When you change somethin', you usually need to change three other things to compensate for the "improvement".

Bill Z
August 15, 2004, 09:50 AM
Let me correct my post then. I do know one smith that will re-use the campfire parts, I just cannot figure out why.
Now, professionally speaking, I wouldn't invest one-half hour of my time in something I couldn't warranty for a lifetime, and I got a lotta lifetime left, I hope. I wouldn't want my reputation to stand on sub-standard parts just because they might work with out of square hooks that are cut extremely deep and so on. The difference between an assebled firearm and a custom one is measured in the thousanths, would anyone disagree with that?

Tamara
August 15, 2004, 09:51 AM
I'm not talking about parts that were not suitable for a 3-pound trigger pull, I'm talking about parts that got peened up under normal usage.

Like Dave mentioned, easier to just replace with stuff that is a known quantity.

I'm no engineer or gunsmith, just an end user. "Ug. Gun not work right. Make work." I'll leave the whys and wherefores to you folks that know what the heck's going on. I have, however, been fortunate enough to observe a few things filling out job tickets for the last ten years, and have tried to take notes. :)

1911Tuner
August 15, 2004, 10:46 AM
Bill, I understand what you're saying. I'm not challenging your work and certainly not disregarding your skills as a pistolsmith. My only point is...
and always has been...that in-spec parts(48-52 Rc) have always been perfectly suitable for a stock, lightly tuned trigger set-up. I don't do sub-4 pound, glass rod triggers on 1911s because I believe that their proper place is on a bullseye course...and I don't build bullseye guns. You do them because that's what your customers demand in a high-end gun...and your job as a custom smith is to deliver what the customer wants. CAN I do a trigger job like that? Of course I can. I'm a toolmaker.

Over the last 5-6 years, I've been the man to bring a problematical 1911 to
in this area...maybe a 60-75 mile radius...not for custom work, but for the ones that don't work right, or for periodic detail-stripping, cleaning and inspection. I've seen a lot of Norincos, because there were a buttload of'em sold around here before they dried up. I've never seen one that has had the small parts peened into unserviceability with normal use, as per Tam's description. Since we don't know if someone has abused a gun
by letting the slide slam on an empty chamber or dropping it on the cocked hammer spur, when I do see things like that, I have to assume abuse.

Peening indicates impact, and when I see impact damage, I figure that was what happened, whether the owner will admit to it or not. I have known
people to deny abusing a gun when they bring it back to a store in an attempt to get it repaired or replaced for free. I worked in a gun store too. I was their gunsmith, and I knew the difference between normal wear and abuse at a glance. Sometimes I fixed the problem and sometimes I called BS...depending on how good a customer I was dealing with.

Neither have I seen any undue wear on the parts, and nothing that would send them to the junk bin.

I have also had occasion to address several hammer followdown issues that resulted from trigger jobs with "known quality" parts...from several different pistolsmiths. The jobs were all pretty much the standard fare, and were all nicely done, with one exception...and the smith has since moved on. The short hooks and narrowed sear primary angles don't provide as much wear allowance, relying on the hardness of the parts to offset it. The problem is that, when two parts aren't of equal hardness, the harder one wears the softer one, and the only way to know if they'll compliment each other is to test the interfacing parts. When you know, you know. When you guess, you have to hope to get lucky, because
that nice, crisp new trigger job is a different animal after 10 or 12 thousand rounds on it. Things wear and change. Springs get tired. The slide and frame get slicker and recoil speed is faster. All these things add up.

Browning provided long, undersquare hammer hooks and a wide sear tip to
compensate for that wear. I learned a long time ago that the man really did know his stuff, and stopped arguing with him.

And yes..if you have any good unaltered Norinco hammer/sear/disconnector
sets laying around...I'll take'em off your hands. PM me with a price and we'll make the deal.

Bill Z
August 15, 2004, 11:02 AM
Well, to each his own and to whatever works best. I unfortunately, or fortunately, don't have the time or resources to have each and every part Rockwelled, so I rely on quality manufacturers for their consistancy. The varience of these campfire parts is more than I can accept, even for the majority of the work I do at 4 to 4.5 lbs.
There is no doubt that JMB knew what he was doing, I would never question that, but why should someone have to wait 10,000 rounds to have a good trigger?

Gary Brommeland
August 15, 2004, 12:12 PM
Bill Z quoted me as saying"Gary said: MIM parts are VERY unreliable. Some hold up well, others will break the first time you shoot it."

Bill Z then stated:" That is an exception, not the rule. If this were even remotely true, NO manufacturer would use them at all. ALL parts fail, some sooner than others, MIM doesn't have a bad track record at all in this regard, it's just internet hype."


Unreliable by it's very definition means inconsistant performance. I stated that some MIM parts hold up quite well, while other's do not. That IS inconsistancy, and therefore unreliability.

I know (or know of) guys that have had brand new Kimbers and Colts experience a major parts failure in the first 100 rounds (Like one guy that bought a brand spankin' new Colt and the slide stop broke on the third round, sending the slide and barrel downrange).
If an MIM part is made properly, it's going to hold up well. If not, it will fail. The problem is that there is no way for the consumer to tell, until it does or does not happen.

My carry 1911 is a Norinco w/ a Nastoff bar stock hammer/sear set and a Videki trigger. The rest of the internals are stock ChiCom and have lasted thousands of rounds.

Please keep in mind that to a gun maker, the firearms that they produce are merely a product to be sold at a given price point. They will play the statistical numbers game of how many units shipped VS the number of units returned for service. Whichever construction method yields the best bottom line will be utilized, unless their sales begin to falter.
The only problem is when you, the consumer are in a life threatening situation and the damn thing fails, it is no longer a numbers game.

Regardless of who's name is rollmarked on it, there is not a current production 1911 in the US (with the possible exception of the Sig) that I would not gut and install bar stock parts into it before trusting my life to it.

1911Tuner
August 15, 2004, 12:17 PM
Agreed! :cool:

You asked:

but why should someone have to wait 10,000 rounds to have a good trigger?

They don't. It's possible to get a smooth, clean trigger in the 5 to
5.5 pound range without altering the angles or hook lengths, other than to make them equal...without the need for expensive stones and spending less than 45 minutes on the whole job. It does entail having a high speed steel 5/16ths lathe blank ground to an 89 degree angle, but any machine shop can handle that in about 30 minutes. I've been suing the same one for years, and it only requires lightly resharpening periodically on a hard Arkansas stone.

If you ever get to the NC Piedmont, I'd be happy to demonstrate it...A trick
taught to me by an old-school armorer. Coffee's on the house. Hope ya like Collies.:D

bradvanhorn
August 15, 2004, 01:08 PM
Hi Tuner,

I'd like to see that demonstration... I don't drink coffee, but I do like collies :). BTW, how far would you guess it is from Camp Lejuene to your place? Maybe 5-6 hours drive? I'm moving back to NC in Oct, so I'll at least be in the same state.

Regards,
Brad

Rob96
August 15, 2004, 04:16 PM
I know (or know of) guys that have had brand new Kimbers and Colts experience a major parts failure in the first 100 rounds (Like one guy that bought a brand spankin' new Colt and the slide stop broke on the third round, sending the slide and barrel downrange).

Colt slide stops are, and have always been from what I recall, forged.

1911Tuner
August 15, 2004, 05:12 PM
'Twas said:

I know (or know of) guys that have had brand new Kimbers and Colts experience a major parts failure in the first 100 rounds (Like one guy that bought a brand spankin' new Colt and the slide stop broke on the third round, sending the slide and barrel downrange).
____________________

I've heard of things like that, but have never seen it personally
in any of my Colts. MIM parts' quality seems to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and since the parts are outsourced rather than made in-house, it's a vendor problem. I've seen one Colt MIM sear fail after thousands of rounds, and the failure wasn't catastrophic, mainly due to the fact that a change was noted in the trigger pull, and firing stopped immediately for a teardown and inspection.

Apparently Colt has (or has had) a good vendor with an eye turned toward
quality control...but that could change with the next bid.

I DO have personal experience with MIM parts from other manufacturers
failing prematurely, and again...it's a problem that the manufacturer needs
to take up with its vendor(s)

A truly good MIM part can meet or even possibly exceed steel barstock...The problem lies not with the process, but with the quality control OF the process. MIM is still pretty much in its infancy, and the day WILL come that the bugs are ironed out, and really good injection molded metal products will be as consistent and as commonplace as good forged steel. Until that day comes, I'll be hesitant to trust it for certain parts in a pistol that my life may depend on.


I have to agree with Dave Sample on one point...You might as well get used to MIM, because it's here to stay. When the technology comes in line
with the process, MIM will be THE way to go for such parts and machined barstock will be pretty much obsolete. I predict that we will eventually
see entire guns made of the stuff...barrels and all...and they'll be very good guns. Until then, I'll stick with what is most consistently reliable.

Cheers all!

Tuner

RogersPrecision
August 15, 2004, 05:19 PM
Here's a coupla my observations:

Colt slide stops are machined from a forging. I've seen more of them fail than any other brand/method of construction. The failure is the inner lobe shears off and the slide will no longer lock back on an empty mag. Also the slide stop can then migrate outwards, tying up the gun. It is not a good thing, but is not as catastrophic as the pin breaking in two.

Colt disconnectors and sears have been MIM for quite a few years now. I gladly offer a 'lifetime warranty' on a trigger job using these stock parts. I've never run into a 'soft' set or seen a premature failure.
I have seen soft, forged Colt sears and disconnects in/from older guns.

Colt hammers are cut from bar/plate and are quite nice and hard. I far prefer the original geometry of these hammers to the 'new wave' altered geometry as found on Kimber/CMC/Brown hammers.

Colt plastic triggers are actually very usable parts. They are light and strong due to the plastic shoe being molded around the bow. I have never seen one seperate or fail. The excessive vertical play is easily remedied by adding a set screw top and bottom, then filing/stoning to fit.

The newer Colt barrels are excellent. They have proper geometry on the lower lugs/link. They will shoot inside of 2" at 25 yds with a match crown and match bushing.

For a serious carry gun, on a Colt, I do recommend prophylactically replacing the extractor and plunger tube. The extractors may or may not be metallurgically sound but I prefer the wider hook of a Wilson.
The plunger tubes are now MIM, not a problem metallurgically but the posts are too short for a proper peen.

I regards to the Series 80 firing pin safety and timing problems, it is very quick and easy to heat and bend the lower lever to accelerate the timing.
No need or advantage to scrounging up an 'N' upper lever and hoping it will be of adequate increased lift. I like to see immediate upper lever travel with any rear movement of the trigger. It is usually quite easy to time so that the firing pin block frees the firing pin in just the take-up stage.

Thanks for listening!

:)

manwithoutahome
August 15, 2004, 06:05 PM
Dang (for Arts Grandma don't you know).

I just want to get a base line 1911 and "trick" it out. I don't know what you'll are speaking about and it all sounds so expensive.

I just want something that is works, can be "prettied up" and will be my BBQ gun. It's not going to be my CCW/CHL (or whatever your state calls it) gun, it's going to be for show, kinda like having a classic car that you only drive on special occusions but one that I helped to work on.

If I buy a gun at premium price and "work on it" and it doesn't turn out the way that I want then I will be very sad and dissappointed. I have not self esteem when it comes to mechanics or my skills.

That is why I ask and started the post. Norinco's, thanks to bush sr., are gone or higher priced. The SA's are "within" the price range and the Colts, why would any sane person buy an original and then try to work on it him or her self?

The Para's and the Rock Islands are cheaper but I've heard good and bad on both sides.

Thanks for the replies so far but please keep my original line of thought in mind.

Wayne

Marshall
August 15, 2004, 07:51 PM
I just want to get a base line 1911 and "trick" it out.

I asked Tuner once, what is the best 1911 to buy while expecting the least amount of trouble on a stock production gun. Although being somewhat vague, for good reason I might add, I came away with the notion that a Norinco is as good of a choice as there is.

harrydog
August 16, 2004, 07:17 AM
Wayne,
A Springfield would be a great choice. The frame/slide quality is excellent and the price is reasonable. Lots of top pistolsmiths, like Richard Heinie and Larry Vickers to name two, build many custom guns based on Springfields. These guys would never jeopardize their reputations if there were any quality issues.

Browns Fan
August 16, 2004, 08:12 AM
Quote:
"If you can find a decent, unaltered Norinco, jump on it."

Tuner,
I saw one at the Raleigh Gun Show saturday for $350. I woulda bought it if I had the money. Is that a good deal?

1911Tuner
August 16, 2004, 08:37 AM
Brown's Fan asked:

I saw one at the Raleigh Gun Show saturday for $350. I woulda bought it if I had the money. Is that a good deal?

Yeppers. You coulda bought it and made 50 bucks on it in
an hour. I'd have met ya at Haw River and shelled out 400
bucks on the spot.:D

cowpuncher/pi
August 16, 2004, 09:56 AM
I was thinking Clinton banned the rinkco's, not Bush Sr? Regards

If you enjoyed reading about "Best base 1911" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!