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Should you buy a custom or not?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by suprmatch, Aug 22, 2007.


Should a custom pistol be purchased or not?

  1. Buy and then customize

  2. Buy a custom

  1. suprmatch

    suprmatch New Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Looking to buy a model 1911 and was wondering if it is better to buy a custom (rock river, wilson, ed brown, etc.) I'm being told, 50-50, to buy a custom, they other half says buy what you can afford and then customize it. What do you think?:confused:
  2. Snowshoe

    Snowshoe New Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Lithia Springs,Ga
    Mine started as a blue commander. Then I was able to select the features that were important to me.

    As my childhood hero said, "Hand built to my specifications"
  3. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    If I could afford it, I would get the Ed Brown -- really fine guns! But, if your budget isn't there, there is nothing wrong w/ getting a good base gun & make the changes to suit your requirements (ie. trigger work, sight work)
    Good luck!
  4. tbtrout

    tbtrout Senior Member

    Oct 14, 2006
    New Jersey
    10-Ring summed it up. For the price Ed Brown's are well worth it.
  5. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Senior Member

    May 5, 2005
    Garrettsville, Oh.
    How picky are you?

    If you can buy a handgun off the shelf that has what you need and quality you are comfortable with, there's no real need to get a custom gun. However, the desire to have exactly what you want and choose the highest quality parts for the build has merit if you've got the cash to do it.

    Personally, I'd rather buy the best frame and slide I can find then add the best parts I can buy to it.

    The reason I recommend buying a quality handgun then upgrading it is the decision making involved. You can use the pistol and decide exactly what changes you'd like to make.
  6. Wayne G.

    Wayne G. Member

    Apr 28, 2007
    I wondered the same thing but didn't find anything from the manufacturer's listed that offered exactly what I wanted, so I opted for a Springer Mil-Spec with the intention of having professional custom work done to it. Therefore, my vote was for Buy then customize.

    WOODROW New Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    I usually buy the handgun that I want and then put each feature on the weapon that I like to have on it, starting with changing the grips. It's usually much cheaper to buy the handgun already customized at the factory as long as you can find the exact weapon that YOU are comfortable with.
  8. jfh

    jfh Senior Member

    Aug 28, 2003
    Maple Plain, MN
    I'll play the contrarian here.

    Twenty years ago, I bought a SA 1911 mil-spec type, but with a NM frame. Over the years I added to it--started with a trigger job and trigger, then put in a beavertail (Ed Brown), low-mount Bomar, extended safety, BarSto barrel, etc., and reblued it. In dollars based in 1987-1993, I had about $1100.00 in it. Finally, about eight years ago I had a Robar duotone finish done--and I considered the pistol complete. However, I really didn't shoot for the next six years or more.

    This pistol is my sentimental favorite--and I enjoyed every minute of doing and paying (as I could afford it) to have the custom gun I wanted. In current dollars, I probably have about $2000.00-plus invested in it.

    Then, about a month ago, I bought a new Kimber Stainless Target II in 10mm. With the exception of the grips and an add-on mag well, it has everything the SA does. However, the fit on the Kimber is better, from the factory. My skills with a file were not as good as the CNC machining they did for the beavertail installation, for example. Their match barrel / bushing linkage is as good as mine, but the slide fit is better, and the overall fit and finish is as good or better than the SA. Its accuracy is noticably better than the SA's setup. The Kimber has definitely needed the 500-round break-in period; I couldn't believe how tight it was (hot it got) during the first 150 rounds of slow-fire target shooting with handload FMJs to burnish the barrel.

    I've concluded that it really is true that Kimber has raised the threshold for a good-quality 1911 feature and quality checklist. Had I been looking for another 1911 in .45ACP, the PX1954 from SA had my eye for purchase. (Probably still does; I love duotones.)

    In cost, the comparison is (nominally) $1000.00 for the Kimber in 2007 dollars, versus the 1400 or so in (average) 1992 dollars for the SA. In short, I spent several hundred dollars on tools (which I have NO regrets for doing) and spent about $1500.00 learning the 1911.

    The above conclusion, of course, says NOTHING about the sheer joy tool-users have in building something. I'm a guy who not only 'liked shop' in junior high, but who went on to work on (residential) construction in the summers during my college days, and later went on to use those skills to build my own house--i.e., I even poured the footings, laid the block, and went on up to the exterior, then did all the subcontract services myself.

    I think every serious pistol gunny needs to build up his own 1911 at least once. But, I now have to admit that I like the predone Kimber just as well. Now, the question is, how can I upgrade the Kimber, beyond putting on my own grips and replacing that silly plastic mainspring housing?

    Jim H.
  9. vanilla_gorilla

    vanilla_gorilla Member

    Jun 10, 2006
    You can buy my carry gun, a Springfield Armory Loaded model, and refinish it. You can do as I have done to some 1911s and add Ed Brown internals, you can change the grips and add sights and accessories. You will probably end up with a terrific gun that you wouldn't hesitate to use....but it still ain't an Ed Brown, if that's what you're after.

    I love my Springfields, and they are terrific. However, when you compare the slide fit or hood play on a Kobra to a TRP or Loaded, it's obvious which one is the Brown. ;)
  10. browningguy

    browningguy Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2004
    Houston, TX
    There are advantages to both. If you buy a high end factory job, Baer, Brown etc., you get a very nice pistol and most offer a variety of models. You also get a warranty.

    If you buy then (professionally) build you'll get exactly what you want. But you generally spend (a lot) more money and take more time, and what happens if it doesn't work when it's finished?

    Don't get me wrong, I do this with rifles so I'm not against it, you just need to know what you are getting in to. I was hoping to have my .300 Win Mag ready for hunting season last year, I'm on my second gunsmith now and I'm hoping it will be ready for this year. I could have bought a good factory rifle for 1/2 of what I've spent. But at the end of it, it will be exactly the rifle I want.

    Top pistolsmiths are currently taking orders for mid 2008 to 2009, are you prepared to take that long? If you want to do it a little bit at a time it could take years, because you'll have to wait every time you are ready for the next step.
  11. suprmatch

    suprmatch New Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    I almost put money down on a rock river pro carry. It would have given me 5-6months to pay on it. I have 5 factory pistols it would be like a treat for me, no I'm not in my mid-life crisis stage. I shoot hte hell out of those pistols and was thinking since I want a 1911 why not splurge, but then those second thoughts kick in. I got to handle a pro carry, working the slide was like two pieces of wet glass running over each other, where's my york peperment patty music.

    MICHAEL T Senior Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    outback Kentucky
    I carry my 1911's so I see no reason for a custom pistol. When a stock Colt LTW Commander or my Defender will do the job. Now I been looking at a Brown and its a fine pistol but it still just shoots a bullet. The same bullet as my Colt . How much more accurate than normal factory, do you need your weapon to be at 10yds or less. 1/2" instead of 1" Other than bragging rights at range I see no real reason for any thing in cost more than a stock Colt or Kimber. A RIA if relieable will be as good as a custom gun in SD .
  13. horge

    horge Senior Member

    Aug 23, 2003
    Since you already have other working-grunt 1911's,
    I don't see why you can't go a little nuts and splurge,
    if you really want to.

    That last line is key.
    If you don't REALLY want to, you could wind up stuck in 'dem
    really expensive OhGodWhyDoIHaveAnotherM1911pistol blues.
  14. mballai

    mballai Member

    Feb 4, 2007
    A lot depends on what the gun is for. I really can't see putting $2,000-$3,000 in a carry gun. A Springfield loaded with a couple of mods seems more than sufficient, or you can just by a TRP. A comp pistol is a different animal and you could by a name pistol or order something built from scratch to spec.

    If you are new to 1911s, you need to shoot for a couple years until you know what you want. I have one custom Colt, my first really good gun, that I slowly made into the gun of my dreams. It's still great, but it could use one or two minor tweaks. I also have another Colt that someone else had done. Its terrific and the only thing I did was swap the grips and a few parts.

    Most 1911 shooters will eventually have more than one. Aim for one that most closely meets your needs--how you get there doesn't really matter.

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