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Practical 1911 Mods??

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by thepenismightier, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. thepenismightier

    thepenismightier Well-Known Member

    For those who carry a 1911...what are the best/most important modifications to perform on a carry gun? What mods absolutely shouldn't be performed on a 1911 whose primary use is defensive carry?

    I've got a gvt. sized Norinco that's bone stock except for fresh Wolff springs and (recently) a pair of wood grips. What else should I consider doing to this gun that would enhance it's defense/carry capability? If the answer is "nothing", I want to hear that too.

  2. Robert

    Robert Moderator

    Well for me, 5'9" 220lbs, I want to get a nice bobbed carry hammer. My spur hammer keeps trying to tear out my liver. Or I could cut weight...
    Some hi viz sights of your liking. My 1911 Gov't has the old GI style sights. I have small hands so an extended slide release. That's all I would do if I were you but then I am kind of a purest.
  3. Carl

    Carl Well-Known Member

    I'd assume that people who ccw a 1911 don't get the models with the large target shooting sights.
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Nothing, much!

    * Triggers can almost always be improved.

    * A slightly larger "combat" thumb safety if you have trouble hitting the stock one. (Not the huge paddle competition safetys though)

    * Beavertail safety &/or Commander hammer if you get snake-bit by the hammer a lot.

    * Better sights are always good.

    * Mag base / bumper pads help with fast reloads.

    * Reliability work only if needed. Not if the gun runs 100% now with your pick of carry ammo.

    Ambi-safeties, extended slide stops, one-piece guide rods, recoil buffers, match barrels & bushings, slide tightening, etc?

    Save your money for more practice ammo.

  5. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    I put night sights on every gun I carry. When my current set of Meprolights wears out (they haven't been as bright or as durable as Trijicons) I will likely replace them with the trijicons with the notch cut in the front ramp, to allow for one-handed racking. (Or another similar setup.)

    I added Hogue wrap-around finger groove grips, but many 1911 purists think the regular grip shape is perfect. I did try a Nighthawk Custom pistol that was way overpriced, but the Aluma-grips felt very nice indeed. I dropped the full-length guide rod. I think faster field stripping outweighs any benefit the longer one gives. I wouldn't mind replacing my current trigger with a flat black one, but not being a 1911 tinkerer, I know that if you have a good trigger, you shouldn't mess with it. Get good magazines.

    I don't like extended anything. Learn to use the regular slide stop with your left thumb. An extended mag release is a good way to send your magazine clattering down the aisle of your local Wal-mart. My Kimber has a beavertail safety, but I just shot my dad's new Mil-Spec model, with the regular safety, and it feels fine. I was worried that he might get hammer bite, he is very large with full hands, but he says he's never had a problem. I have had some flap holsters which will close on the regular safety but not the beavertail one. Don't doodle with compensators, at least on a carry gun.

    I'm not a laser guy. Some people are, including some very reputable instructors, I just feel like it's an electronic device that can fail too easily. I think that they are something you might graduate to eventually when you are very proficient. I would get the Crimson Trace ones that are integrated into the grips. I wouldn't want a rail or any accessories attached to the trigger guard of my carry gun.

    Just remember, a carry gun should have everything you need, and nothing you don't. Order the free 1911 catalog from Brownells.com. You will be floored with all the stuff in it, just remember to keep it minimal.
  6. CWL

    CWL Well-Known Member

    I think that better sights are the first additions that you add to your pistol for faster target acquisition. Hard enough to see the GI front sight quickly in daylight let alone at night. Only use fixed sights for a SD pistol.

    Beyond that, only make additional modifications based on what you experience while shooting it. (ie. if trigger is sloppy, then fix that; getting 'bitten' -modify hammer/grip safety; problems ejecting magazine -larger mag eject button, etc.)
  7. thepenismightier

    thepenismightier Well-Known Member

    About sights...I try to practice close range without them, but I still use 'em for aimed fire at distance. The stock GI sights...well let's just say they don't jump out at me and I have to hunt for them sometimes.

    Can you guys recommend better sights that are durable enough for carry and aren't likely to snag on the draw?
  8. thepenismightier

    thepenismightier Well-Known Member

    mljdeckard - do the Trijicons snag easily in your experience?

    CWL - any specific fixed sights you'd recommend?
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2009
  9. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    The closer kept to original specs the better. First I'd go for sights. Anything else is nice but you don't need a 3 lb trigger on a SD gun.
  10. Floppy_D

    Floppy_D Member In Memoriam

    I had the same problem, so I painted the ramp on my front sight hot orange:

    Couple coats of plain white nail polish, couple coats of hot orange. Have a girl do it if you want best results, or redo it until your happy. It makes for great contrast, has done wonders for my groupings. Also, it keeps your focus on the front sight, where you want it. That's an easy $5 fix. :)
  11. rtn

    rtn Well-Known Member

    Grips and Ammo

    If it was mine, I'd replace the wood grips with rubber panel grips. Kimber sells them for $20 or so. They have no logo and give excellent purchase on the pistol without snagging/grabbing like Hogues seem to.

    Not a mod, but if it's a carry/self defense pistol, I'd buy top-shelf hollowpoints. You REALLY don't want a squib in a self-defense situation.
  12. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Well-Known Member

    Alot of todays 1911's have most of the mods stock. For example I'm building a TLE and all it needs are:

    Alumagrip ODG slimgrips
    Wilson 47D mag with 2 Wilson 10 rounders for reloads
    18lb Wilson or Wolf recoil spring
    Replace the cast slide stop, safety,and ejector.
    Flat back strap with lanyard loop
    Melonite refinishing when it starts to look worn.
    I might remove the shwartz safety to, I don't know for sure yet.
    I'd like a trigger that deosn't have holes cut in it.:scrutiny:
    1000 rounds

    It allready has:

    decent night sights
    full length one piece guide rod
    fitted beaver tail grip safety
    front strap and under trigger guard checkering
    darn good looks
  13. CWL

    CWL Well-Known Member

    Hey pen,
    I'm partial to Novak sites because they're beveled and angled to prevent snags when drawing. Dunno what front site post you prefer, I like at least a white dot, or tritium front sites.

    If you've received the proper training, then either Yost-Bonitz or Hilton Yam 10-8 rear sites with the notch in it. This is good for one-handed racking of the slide on your belt, holster or boot during emergencies -BUT I don't want to hear about anyone shooting themselves because they don't know know how to properly manipulate their firearm.

    If you are new to firearms and SD carry, keep it simple and practice as often as you can.
  14. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    sights will be the biggest improvement...i'm partial to the Heine and the Yam 10-8 rear sights. the Novaks are slick looking, but are hard to use for one-handed slide racking.

    this addition would be after i've determined that the feed ramp didn't need to be polished or the extractor adjusted

    i like some texture on the front strap, but you can get by with wrap-around grips or skateboard tape

    i also like the Commander hammer/beavertail combo, but it's just a perference for consistent hand placement...as is trigger lenght

    avoid an extended slide release, shok buffer or a full lenght guide rod...at best they aren't needed, at worst they'll affect function
  15. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member


    There are several different types. Some are more rounded than others. Honestly, the only ones I would definitely avoid would be big, squared adjustable target sights. The Novak profile is probably best, but like I say, I would prefer the one with the cocking notch. And like someone said above, the Heine are very popular, I've never used them. This is the main reason I recommended the Brownell's catalog, there is SO MUCH stuff in it. (Including the tools to replace the sights yourself, if you don't feel like paying a gunsmith to do it.)
  16. Oro

    Oro Well-Known Member

    I agree with rcmodel - not much. Practice and experience matters more than parts.

    Unless you are Canadian and talking about some variant not available to us US residents, your pre-ban Norinco would have come not with GI sights, but with tall three-dot sights from the factory. There isn't a whole lot out there that is going to be much better, really. They are solid, the front sight is basically welded on (it will be heck to change it - they were silver-soldered on and are notorious for destroying carbide cutters if you try to dovetail the front). For the cost and hassles on changing the standard Norinco sights, I would learn to use them - they are pretty good as these things go.

    I carried this Norinco in the early '90s. The only real exterior change I made to it to make it more carry friendly was a hammer and hi-ride beavertail. I changed the trigger and MSH only for better fit to my hand and shooting style, not as a "carry" modification (I much prefer 1911 to 1911a1 style).

    I also added a FLGR as it noticeably improved the feel of the gun - the recoils was more linear and smoother. The gun was reliable either way, but it feels better with an FLGR.

    Later on I changed the fire control components to Caspian parts and tuned them, but that was more because I had parts and time on my hand and not because it was necessary for reliability. I have tried extended safeties, mag releases, etc., and those things are for the range. For carry, stock works fine and often better (snags less).

    It is hard to make out the white three-dot sights, but they are on there and that is what is standard on a US market Norinco. This gun now has walnut double-diamond grips (just didn't seem right using the take-offs from my Series 70!) and a commander hammer, but this is pretty much how it's been for 15 years or more:

  17. Kind of Blued

    Kind of Blued Well-Known Member

    The best advice that I can give is to shoot it more and figure out for yourself.

    How reliable has it been? Mag problems? Sights hard to use quickly? Are you missing the safety? Does it point well for you? Are hollowpoints feeding 100%? Any other failures?

    Depending on the answers to those, you'll know what needs to be modified, and what doesn't.

    Some people won't even consider a 1911 that doesn't have a beavertail, magwell, frontstrap checkering, front slide serrations, blah, blah, etc.

    Others can, and have, defended themselves just fine with a GI-style gun and some practice.
  18. TAB

    TAB Well-Known Member

    I agree on every thing, but the bumper pads and the ambi safety.

    Then again I'm strange, I can shoot more accuratly with my left hand as the strong hand, but I am alot faster using my right as a strong hand.

    Stock on the other had is fine too.

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