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why mod my out of the box 1911?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by gabeodog, Jan 11, 2004.

  1. gabeodog

    gabeodog New Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    OK i'm new here and have a question.
    I want to get a new 1911, but when I ask which one I should get I get answers like." get the_____ I'ts a great shooter just buy different mags,
    Oh buy this one just put on meprolits and get a match grade bbl.

    There has not been on 1911 that people have suggested to me without needing a mod in some way(according to them anyway).

    I have been reading forums that the 1911 is far superior in many to most aspects. How can that be. Or do i have to get a base gun and build of that to make a really good gun?

    I really want a new 1911 but dont want to spend $900+ bucks for a pistol
    when i can get a really reliable pistol for half that price thats not a 1911.

    The pistol would be for limited cary and some range fun.
    There are a lot of 1911's out there i llike just dont know which one to buy.:banghead:
  2. Ninj500

    Ninj500 New Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Central Ohio
    I had a Springfield Mil-Spec and sold it to buy a "better" 1911. Now I wish I had it back. Everyone's tastes on this are different so you will get different answers. For me, a Springfield or Colt Mil-Spec works, but it might noy for others. You are the only one that can decide what you want/need.

  3. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    May 22, 2003
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts

    Howdy Gabe,

    Trying to advise anybody on what to do to a pistol is like tryin' to tell'em
    which girl to marry. The answer pretty much depends on what you want.

    I prefer the classic lines and looks of the GI pistols, and the NRM Colt
    Governement Model. The standard (not XSE) Commander is also appealing.
    The issue sights are fine...The 5-6 pound trigger is fine...ad infinitum.
    About the only thing that I will do is to reshape the underside of the grip
    safety on heavy-use range pistols, or add a drop-in beavertail. Looks bad,
    but the frame doesn't need alteration, so I can go back to the original,
    and they do stop the pain.

    You may not like these things, and want a more customized look and/or feel. Many people opt for different sights, a more user-friendly grip safety, and some trigger work. I never understood the need for sights until I
    began to get old eyes, and appreciate them a little more, but Colt's wider, blocky standard sights are fine. The 5-7 pound trigger is perfectly manageable, but some have a little creep, and sometimes a gritty feel that can be cleaned up easily...but some folks like a 4-pound crisp trigger, and won't rest until they get it.

    For what it's worth, I think that carry pistols with a trigger that falls below 5 pounds is a disaster looking for an opportunity, but your opinion may differ. If you're comfortable with less, by all means, have at it. There are some very good trigger men out there. be prepared for the wait, though. Do NOT let a smith do such a trigger without asking around about his work. You don't need to go to a nationally famous triggersmith, but save yourself some grief by getting some background from people who have used him.

    There are so many things on a 1911 that can be tailored to suit you, that
    if you can't figure out what you want, you're trying to be hard to please.

    For the best chance of a reliable out-of-box pistol...Colt NRM Government Model. If you're not sure of how to determine a good one from a so-so example, take someone with you who can, even if you have to pop for burgers later. Even the ones with an occasional function issue can usually
    be corrected quickly, as it's generally something simple at the root of the problem.

    Luck to ya!

  4. Andrew Wyatt

    Andrew Wyatt Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Bakersfield, California
    If you're looking for a 1911 that'll go bang every time, and has useable sights, a beveled magazine well and a lowered ejection port, at least consider a springfield mil spec.

    My problem with the 1911 marketplace is i can't for the life of me find an aluminum framed gun without a beavertail, firing pin safety, and front slide serrations.
  5. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Senior Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Colt 01991 series is probably the best bet, as Tuner said. Colt magazines are just fine, you get 2 with the gun, and the only reason I got aftermarket mags was to go from 7 to 8 rounds capacity & get the neat little bumper pads. Functionally, they were fine, the Colt 3-dot sights work fine, and the guns run out of the box. You get the idea.

    Or find an old pre-Series II Kimber, those are quite nice.
  6. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Colorado Springs Colorado
    You sound like you're not terribly familier with the 1911's and all the mods have you a little confused as to whats good and whats not. In this instance I suggest getting a steel framed Mil-Spec and (as Dave McCrackken says) BA/UU/R (Buy ammo, use up, repeat) for a year or so and it will tell you what it wants from you as a mod.

    Don't be too eager to modify it without shooting it a bunch. At points in your shooting, you will KNOW that it needs this or don't need that. (range trips interspersed with research, questions here on the board, shooting others pistols, and thoughtful consideration.)

    Then you won't wind up like the poster who wishes he had his mil spec back, or me who has a G21 and wishes I'd bought a milspec 1911 instead. And when you do decide that you want this or that, you'll have a good steel unadulterated foundation on which to build.

    I never got past the basic reliability mods for my 1911 in the last 20 yrs of reading about all the spacegun custom mods. (ramped, throated, polished, extended ejector, better sights and rubber grips.) Some may scoff at my seemingly too basic pistol...But I have what I want and all that I need, and don't have more than $600 in it total. Although I did get to shoot a guys comped racegun once and it did leave an impression on me, just not enough to make me adulterate mine. So do seek out others with modified pistols that you can try out...

    Decisions decisions.:p
  7. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Mentor

    Dec 26, 2002
    Back in the later 60's the 1911 modification craze started, and the idea was born that the pistol was just a starting point for a "good" pistol.

    A gun was purchased, and often not even test fired before the modifications started.
    Sights were replaced, (admittedly they were awful small then) the frame was modified with whatever was the "gotta have it" fad of the day, extended whatevers were put on, the trigger was tuned to the lightest possible, and the gun was accurized to target-grade accuracy.

    What you often wound up with, was a LESS reliable gun, but it LOOKED cool.

    This process hasn't changed today, the only difference is the latest list of "gotta have it's" has changed. Instead of squared-off trigger guards and extended slide stops, we now have huge beaver-tail grip safeties and titanium parts.

    Back in the mid-1980's I bought one of the first Colt Stainless Steel Government Models produced, and looked it over to decide what it "needed".
    Noticing that Colt had put some really good sights on the gun at last, and the trigger wasn't horrible, I decided to do a little test.

    As a working gunsmith, I decided to see what was really needed.

    Instead of modifying the gun, I decided to just SHOOT the gun, and see just what I had right out of the box.

    As it turned out, I had a 100% reliable 1911, with a decent combat trigger, and acceptable combat accuracy.
    Since this was to be a personal defense gun for me, I gave some serious "real world" thought to it, and realized that what I actually needed was a defense weapon, NOT a tricked-out target pistol.

    Since then, the Government model has had a few of Colt's then-famous razor sharp edges beveled lightly, the plastic mainspring housing replaced for aesthetic reasons, and the magazine well beveled.
    It's had no other modifications, is still 100% reliable, (It's NEVER jammed in unknown thousands of rounds) and is still my bedside defense gun.

    The moral to all this is, it ISN'T necessary to do ANYTHING to most guns, to have a reliable defense pistol.
    In truth, most shooters aren't at a level where they need, or can detect the difference any modification can give a top shooter.
    The reason for most modifications is to customize the gun and make it distinctively "yours", and because we see some world class shooter with a mod and we've just "gotta have it".

    It's no secret, that the most reliable combat pistols in history were the old US military 1911's. These guns had NO modifications, were 100% reliable in any condition, and always fired.

    My best advice is, pick out a 1911 you like the look of, then just shoot the gun. In most cases the gun will go "BANK" each and every time you pull the trigger, and it will be fully capable of hitting a man at 50 yards.

    Anything else isn't necessary, and usually lessens the likelihood of the "BANG" happening on schedule.

    If you want a tricked-out gun, by all means get it. But if you want a good defense gun, you don't "need" to do anything to the gun except shoot it to break it in, and keep it clean.

    For MOST shooter's, everything else is vanity, appearance, and the desire to have a "one of a kind" gun.

    PCRCCW Senior Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    The Ice Cream Capitol of the World!
    Honestly..if you get even a stripper model Kimber or Loaded SA you wont have to do ANYTHING to it. Unless you want too.

    Its very gun dependent but 90% of both of them will run like a charm and not need any work.

    Around 600$ and your a happy shooter.

    Shoot well...........
  9. ajacobs

    ajacobs Active Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    VT, USA
    There is some excellent advice above. Function should be your primary concern and a milspec (springfield)or my new favorite the 01991 from colt will serve the vast majority of peoples needs as well as a high end custom job.

    While many of my 1911's are customized it is mainly for asthetic reasons or from back when I though I had to have them, but the gun I carry is a practically stock milspec that I have shot a lot. The only mods I have done to it are replace and extractor (that broke), replace the slide stop (lots of wear and replaced before it broke) and changed the grips. That is why I recomend the colt as those 2 critical parts are of a better quality along with some others that are starting to show wear in my milspec. Everyone has their preferances and will recomend them to you. Their preferances may be based on function but more likely are based on ergomics or asthetics. You need to shoot it allot to see what your preferances are and either the colt or the springfield is a great base to add onto when you figure out what your are, wether they are a short trigger or and arched mainspring or smooth grips.
  10. 444

    444 Mentor

    Dec 26, 2002
    I am a 1911 shooter. I own four, I think.
    A Colt Government Model, Series 80
    A Colt Government Model, Series 70
    A Colt Officer's Model
    A Springfield Armory "Loaded"

    The first one, I have owned for over 10 years and have fired easily 10k rounds through it. I shot it just as it came out of the box for about 9 1/2 years. Recently, for some reason I started getting bit by it, so I added a beavertail grip safety which also required me adding a different hammer. I have recently thought about buying a set of easier to see sights for it. The beavertail made a world of difference in it both in terms of comfort and in obtaining a good solid, uniform grip out of the holster every time. The sights are OK and have served me well, but I have recently become a big believer in night sights and feel they also might be faster to pick up any time.
    The second one, I haven't owned all that long. It is box stock and bites my hand. I have an open wound on the web of my strong hand as we speak. I will add a beavertail to it, and maybe easier to see sights.
    The third one is bone stock. It came with a beavertail and much easier to see three dot sights from the factory.
    The last one was terribly inaccurate out of the box and the slide wouldn't go into battery about half the time. I sent it to Clark's and had an accuracy job done complete with a BarSto barrel. It is now super accurate but becomes unreliable after a hundred rounds or so due to the tight tolorances nessessary for the extreme accuracy.

    I am not real big on 1911 modifications. They work fine right out of the box. As I noted, there are a few basic mods that I think would enhance the comfort or performance, but nothing real dramatic.
  11. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Elder

    Dec 24, 2002
    Get a good basic pistol, then change out what you would like improved ;) In the end you'll end up w/ a sweet pistol, just don't take shortcuts along the way.
  12. gabeodog

    gabeodog New Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    Thanks for all the replies. some are very indepth. thank you.

    Let me expand on my question, Just a little.
    I already have a kimber TLE and I love it. I also have several other guns, P229. G-17.G31c,4506,USP-40,629, and am an RSO for the Navy. I've done a fair amount of shooting and instruction. So I know guns.
    Now knowing that. I have the 1911 bug and I cant seem to shake it.

    Since I have a limited income I just dont want to spend a lot of cash on any
    one gun. I want to get several but not regret my purchase.
    If that makes sense.
    My wife works in a gun store, so I get my guns at cost (Lucky me).

    I just dont know enough about the 1911 to make a good call.

    I will take advice from this board and look at the models mentioned here.
    But as I said I just want one (or 3) that I need not modify.

    I will use it to carry sometimes. So I would like one I can trust.
    If I do mod one it will just be for looks like grips.
    Thanks for you help and I will still welcome any suggestions.
  13. garrettwc

    garrettwc Participating Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    I'm not an expert, I can only speak from my experience.

    I have a Kimber series 1 that has had no modifications. It has been 100% reliable, accurate and a joy to shoot. It is also my main carry gun.

    I have a plain jane Colt Commander NRM also. I have changed the sights on it, not because they needed to be, but because I wanted to.

    The 1911 platform is the most customizable pistol out there. There are hundreds of ways to tune it to the individual shooter. Some of these mods are more popular than others, and have become somewhat of an "urban legend". People have changed these so often it is now common belief the 1911 "needs" the mods.

    Follow the advice given here. Buy a plain jane Colt or a Mil-Spec Springfield and shoot it for a couple thousand rounds until you find out for sure what you like and don't like about them.

    Here are some places to go for good 1911 info:


  14. dsk

    dsk Active Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    Yesterday I went into one of my local gunshops. I took at the 1911 case (yes, a case dedicated to 1911's), and noticed most of the guns in there were used. What I also noticed was that EVERY single one had be modified to some extent, whether it was cheesy aftermarket sights or swapped triggers and hammers or a crappy-looking refinish. Some folks just don't know when to leave well enough alone, especially when it comes to 1911's.
  15. Top_Notch

    Top_Notch Member

    May 28, 2003
    I have a Springfield Loaded (PX9151L) in stainless. I have been totally happy with looks and performance out of the box. I don't have a lot of rounds through her, but I also haven't had a single problem. I, too, am not big on modifications, but one thing I may change out is the ILS, and that to only improve on an already nice trigger pull.
  16. George Hill

    George Hill Mentor

    Dec 22, 2002
    Uintah Basin, UT
    Ever put custom wheels on your car?
    I have. Nuthin wrong with the old wheels.
    Thought the new ones made the car look better.
  17. fix

    fix Participating Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    Wonderful Northeast Georgia
    IMO the only things you need to do to a milspec 1911 are add sights that your eyes like and add grips that your hands like. Beyond that, the gun will tell you what it needs over time.
  18. Sunray

    Sunray Elder

    May 17, 2003
    London, Ont.
    Usually, you only really need to put on more visible sights, do a trigger job and maybe change the grips. It's not because the 1911A1 is good or bad, it's because the factory has liability and cost issues to deal with. That and they know these are the things shooters change most so they don't put much effort into these parts. Triggers because of liability and the other two cost. Look for a used 1911A1. Won't cost you a ton of money and you may not have to do anything to it.
  19. 45auto

    45auto Participating Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Since you already have a Kimber TLE and like it a lot, I don't think you would be happy with a basic mil-spec. That would be a step down in comfort and handling.

    I'd suggest, since you want another 1911, a Kimber or a Springfield Loaded type model in a 4" bbl, steel or aluminum, depending on how much you carry compared to actual shooting. That should give you the reliability you need at close(perhaps) to what you want to pay, given your wife's discount.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2004
  20. Will Fennell

    Will Fennell Active Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Rock Hill, SC USA

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    There has been an abundence of post, especially in the past 6 months or so, with the theme that modifications to the basic 1911 means that you will have malfunctions. Some seem to sing this as gospel.

    If this has been your experience, you need to find a new gunsmith.

    For those that are attempting modifications themselves, and expecting perfection, please.....PUT DOWN THE DREMEL TOOL, AND STEP AWAY FROM THE 1911:rolleyes:

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