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1911 Mods that work for YOU.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Dr.Rob, Aug 8, 2004.

  1. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    After that long and informative thread on 'bells and whistles' I thought a new thread was in order. I have three Colts, none of them are set up the same.

    1919 Commercial "Government Model" (pre A-1) Flat MSH, wide checkered hammer, long trigger, small sights. I like the trigger and hammer on this one but the sights are small. The safety works flawlessly with a positive 'click' but the slide stop is a bit skinny to reach without changing my grip. hate the lanyard ring as a fast magazine change will sometimes result in a blood blister on the heel of my left hand.

    The pistol feels very 'skinny' compared to my other two, overall re-blue knocked down most of the sharp edges long ago, has nice 'old school' look to it.

    Attached Files:

  2. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    1954 Commander, stock except for replacement grips.

    This has a matte finish round top slide with highly polished deep blue sides thats really slick looking. The egdes are still sharp and it has seen some knocks over the years. The is one has bitten be so many times i have permanent scars on the web of my right hand... it's also bitten a few other TFL and THR members over the years. I'm reluctant to make any changes to this pistol though the short, grovved trigger and hammerbite are a pain.

    The arched MSH cives me a better grip one handed, the safety and slide stop are stock but are much smaller/thinner than the standard Govt. models.

    Attached Files:

  3. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    1991 A1 Colt Upper/ODI Viking lower Seecamp conversion.

    This is the only full custom gun I own. The sights are stock but nothing else on the pistol is.

    That's a Wilson extended safety and slide stop, and swoopy beavertail that came with the "bump" which I had the 'smith grind off. The trigger is wierd beyond words with a 3.5 lb single action pull, and a 12 lb DA pull. The cool thing though is the trigger is wider than the trigger guard, you literally can't put your finger in the wrong place on the trigger or over squeeze it. (But unlike a trigger shoe it's NOT attached to the trigger unless it's in DA mode) This has an action job, barrel throating, a slightly beveled magazine well and stiff springs. The Houge grips make it easier to hang onto "the machine" but it does make hitting the slide stop difficult. This feels like a BIG pistol compared to my Govt model... and it's more than just the grip. I'd like to shave down the insides of the grips to make them skinnier... or maybe try a different pair someday and cover the frontstrap with skateboard tape. This is definitely a belt gun/range toy and not a CCW piece... quite frankly it's finicky, and it needs a trip back to Milton Morrison for a check-up.

    The lower is parkerized stainless and the upper is parkerized carbon steel. I liked the matte tacti-cool look to it, (and I was pretty near out of money at the time to have it polished and blued like my Commander).

    I only run McCormick or Colt magazines in it.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2004
  4. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    So I guess my point is... my NEXT 1911 is going to have:

    A long, smooth trigger. Big sights. Skinny grips but maybe finger-grooves up front. Extended slide stop and safety. Beavertail? Not if it has a wide, checkered hammer ala the pre-a1 days.

    I think I'd like the whole thing in stainless.

    And it needs a little horse prancing on the slide.

    Is anything going to change on your next one?
  5. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    I would think that by now you'd be tired of getting bit by the Commander. A slightly modified Government Model grip safety will cure most if not all of it, and unlike a beavertail you don't have to make any alterations to the gun itself. To "bite" the hammer has to have an anvil so it can pinch a fold of your hide between the top of the grip safety, and the bottom of the hammer spur. Eliminate that and you're in business.

    Be aware that Colt used wide-spur hammers on 1911-A1 pistols well into World War Two. Those made during the 1920's and forward were slightly shortened, and the end of the spur was rounded. This elininated some of the pinching problem.
  6. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus


    My mods are so subtle that you'd have to look close to see most of'em.

    I lightly recontour the underside of the standard grip safety and melt
    the corners just a bit. I do a light bevel on the top right at the sides
    near the back. I remove the serrations from the narrow spur hammer
    and bevel the edges and rear corner a little. Commander hammers are
    lightly beveled on the sides along the rearward curve. The top face of the
    hammers are lightly beveled.

    On the forward right side of the trigger guard, I "roll" the inside corner just barely to give my finger smooth access.

    The rear sight is rounded and smoothed on the corners, and the front sight
    is low, wide, and black.

    I use a flat mainspring housing, with the serrations or checkered ones
    getting a light pass with a scrape to blunt the points. Stocks are standard
    checkered wood or hard rubber, with sharp checkering likewise blunted.
    If the panels are a little thick, I'll thin them down to about .200 inch thick.

    I like a long, smooth trigger, and the ORM Colt plastic triggers are fine.

    Standard thumb safeties and slide stops, with a preference for the old
    GI-style thumb safety. I also prefer to underspring the slide slightly.

    Not very impressive-sounding...is it?:p
  7. Correia

    Correia Moderator Emeritus

    I require a few things. I need a beavertail. I've got enormous hands and I like to shoot with a high thumbs grip, really high up on the gun. I like an extended safety, which because of my grip, my thumb is planted on top of. It works, and works well, for me.

    And I like Ashley Express sights.

    Everything else is open to debate. :)
  8. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

    I took the sharp edge off the end of the hammer spur on my Sistema about 3/32nds and replaced the front sight with a wide square one, with that I needed to square out the rear notch. That is it.

    I was not getting pinched with the hammer and spur but the sharp edge was cutting my hand.

    The dinky sights were just too small for my eyes.

    That's all Folks.....
  9. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Well-Known Member

    I like a flat MSH, long trigger, lowered ejection port, low smooth fixed sights, no front strap checkering and hard (not rubber) grips. I do not like extended mag catches, safeties, mag wells, etc. YMMV. They are nearly infinitely customizable. KISS.
  10. Dave Sample

    Dave Sample member

    I have a drop in grip safety on my Commander that was made for a 5" and it takes the bite out of it. I don't need much for a gun that is carried a lot but hardle ever shot.

  11. 45auto

    45auto Well-Known Member

    I must have a WELL fit, smooth high grip beavertail, extended thumb safety, high grip mods on the frame with a flat MSH and long trigger. All frame areas where my hand contacts are smooth...not sharp.

    Various 1911's feel differently to me since I shoot one particular 1911 95% of the time.

    That doesn't make my choices in parts and fit "right", it just makes me picky about how I like it. Perhaps if I shot different ones with some regularity, I would be more flexable. ;)

    A good trigger, at the least, and better sights are a plus. There are other odds and ends, but all minor. The worst out of the box 1911 trigger I have felt was still better than a Glock and the sights about equal...so everything is relative to the gun style.

    This is, assuming, on a "good" 1911 by the way...which we know can't be assumed anymore. :cool:
  12. Barry in IN

    Barry in IN Well-Known Member

    Ya know, since the Tuner Ducktail thread started, I've been thinking.
    Yes, I have thought before.
    Anyway, I was thinking that of the 1911s I have, and have had; I haven't set any ONE up the way I really want.
    So, with that in mind, here's my planned ideal 1911 features (or de-features in some cases), by taking bits and pieces from a few different ones. In no particular order...

    *1- Standard 5" barrel. I was a Commander nut. I liked the balance so much better. But in the past year or so, I've gone to the 5".
    Fit the bushing so I don't need a wrench.
    *2-Sights I can see. To sorta kinda paraphrase Tuner from the Ducktail thread, being able to use the sighs is a luxurious bonus. But, if I get the chance to use them, I want them.
    I like the Heinie rear sight, although the one that Yost-Bonitz is making looks good too. I like the idea of being able to work the slide by hooking the rear sight and pulling, so the Novak is out. I stand one on a million odds of needing that, but as before, I want the option.
    I like white dot front sights. against a dark background, the white shows up. Against a light background, the black silhouette of the post shows. I used to think a gold bead was the thing, but it changes shape with the light's direction for me.
    And, once they're set- weld them.
    *3-Standard thumb safety is fine. Not the G.I. type with the "knob" at the fwd end, but the one Colt used for a few decades. An extended will do, but not a wide one. No ambi.
    And no sharp serrations on the bottom.
    *4-Standard guide rod.
    *5-Grip safety. I'll take a beavertail, but would like to experiment with some reduced size ones.
    *5A- Commander hammer. The round one, not the "stretched" thing. Hopefully, one without a hole can be found.
    *6-Mag well. No "funnel". A bevel doesn't hurt.
    *7-Grips. I want to experiment here, too. I like the feel of thin grips I've felt, but don't like the plunger tube left without a lip over it that standard grips have. I've never "lost" a plunger tube, but have had them loosen, so want a safety net.
    I like the Browning HiPower grip shape. Since it is smaller at the top, it locks my hand in. I've wondered if tapering a set of 1911 grips so they are thinner towards the top would create a similar effect. I'll try it sometime. But, I'll leave the plunger tube lip at the top.
    Checker them all over, but not quite pointed up. They'll wear that way anyway.
    Wood's nice, but a synthetic will do, if it's not rubber.
    *8-Mainspring housing. This is a tough one. There are things I like about the flat and arched. I'll keep trying them out.
    *9-Caliber. 45ACP. Almost forgot that one. It's the reason for me to carry a 1911. Otherwise I'd carry a HiPower all the time.
    *10-Finish. Something rust-resistant. Stainless probably. I carry IWB most of the time, so I turn blue guns rusty fast. Too bad, as I really prefer blue.
    *11-Trigger. I like long ones. I have short, medium, and long right now, but like the long. I want a solid one- no holes or slots, unless they're internal. No overtravel stop screw either. I break the corner where the finger comes over the face with a needle file and emery cloth. I'd really prefer no serrations on the trigger face, but it's not that important. Make it 4-6 pounds-I'm not picky. But I do want a little takeup.
    *12-Checkering, serrations, etc. I've decided I like some front strap checkering, but not pointed up. It lets my hand slide into place, but grips when I squeeze. Mainspring housing-same.
    I can happily live without fwd slide serrations.
  13. Zeke Menuar

    Zeke Menuar Well-Known Member

    My LW Commander came with pretty good aftermarket sights, two piece guide rod, Kings Gun Works ambi-safety. I shortened the (insert expletive here) extended safety levers.

    Everything else here on the gun I added:
    Ed Brown Wedge mainspring housing
    Videki Trigger
    McCormick Hammer
    Wilson drop-in beavertail safety
    Wilson sear
    18lb mainspring
    Plastic mag funnel. The Ed Brown funnel is too heavy and cumbersome for carry use.
    Pierce fingergroove insert
    Super light mag release spring. Males it easier for a lefty to drop mags.
    A very accurate comfortable gun.

  14. Darkside

    Darkside Well-Known Member

    Zeke, Did you do the undercut of the trigger gaurd? I thought I was the only one who liked that Mod.

    The two most inportant mods on the 1911 for me are,

    #1 Beavertail/commander hammer because they just go together. I shoot with a VERY high grip, that coupled with very "meaty" hands makes it more enjoyable to shoot. Having blood dripping into my holster got old a long time ago.

    #2 BIG SIGHTS, I want smooth Novak style night sights. I respect the people who want to work the slide using the sights on their leg. But in a gunfight I will work the slide with my teeth if I have to. Hopefully I will be carrying it more than using it to fight off BGs' and If it digs into my side with every twist, chances are I won't carry it.

    Now I will describe the 1911 I am building.

    I started with a used blued Colt Ser 80 5" that already had a beavertail/commander hammer and lightweight trigger installed.

    1. Exsisting beavertail was replaced with one that has the "speed bump" from Wilson.

    2. Elongated the hole in the commander hammer(cause I like that look)

    3. Replaced the plastic mainspring housing with a Wilson flat checkered(left the points sharp)

    4. Replaced the mag release with a Wilson extended version.

    5. Fit a Wilson Low-pro extended thumb safety. Kind of think I should have gone with the ambi, since every once in a while I like to shoot weak hand only.

    6. Stippled the front strap, I want a pistol to grab ME. But couldn't afford to have it checkered right now.

    7. Double diamond, dark rosewood grips with beveled base.

    8. Beveled mag well. I don't like the extra bulk and weight of the funnels.

    9. Slight rounding of sharp edges.

    10. Ceramic coated in satin black. Inside coated with "perminent slicky stuff"

    Hey look, I have made MY ten commandments for MY 1911 :D

  15. stealthmode

    stealthmode Well-Known Member

    on my SA mil spec i just put on the hogue finger groove grips on and it feels so much better than the plastic stock grips and when i sweat (which is alot) i dont have to keep wiping my hands every other round. i dont think i will do any other mods until something goes wrong its already a good shooter and works fine for me.
  16. Zeke Menuar

    Zeke Menuar Well-Known Member


    I did not do the undercut. The gun is a LW Commander. The frame was cut that way from the factory.

  17. Darkside

    Darkside Well-Known Member

    Zeke, Thanks, I had a ser 70 LW Commander for a short time and it was not undercut. I didn't know they were like that now.

  18. Andrew Wyatt

    Andrew Wyatt Well-Known Member

    swenson ambi safety, flat MSH, short trigger, thin smooth grips. If the frame is undercut, i can go bigger on the grip panels.
  19. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

    How do I like 'em set up?

    Look and guess. ;)

  20. NMshooter

    NMshooter Well-Known Member

    Got to have decent sights. Three dot night sights. Other than that, standard controls are OK, the only mandatory item is a standard slide stop. I do not like extended slide stops. Everything dehorned is nice, I do not like sharp edges either. Never could decide whether a flat MSH or an arched one was better for me, so I stick with whatever it comes with. Oh, and no extended slide stops.:p

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