1911 to buy, then to build

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by tackleberry45, Oct 16, 2010.

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  1. tackleberry45

    tackleberry45 Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Tampa area of Florida
    I am looking for a 1911 to purchase but one that will be a solid platform to build on. I would rather start with something that already has the dovetails cut so I can play with different sights, a good forged frame, etc. Just a good base to build on. A Springfield Loaded has been suggested.
  2. Lar1911

    Lar1911 Member

    Nov 22, 2009

    Check out what the custom shop can do for you.

    I have a loaded and want to upgrade it to the TRP. Also i want it two toned black Kote slide and green frame. They can do that

    But you can start from a GI and build it up. Starting with a loaded might be the smarter cheaper way.

    I know a gunsmith that liked a 5 inch GI, then just changed the sights.
  3. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

    Feb 12, 2009
    Central Florida
    I agree with Lar1911 a Springer GI 1911 is a great gun to start on. A loaded might be easier to start with, but then some of the work has been done for you.
  4. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

    Mar 28, 2009
    Yakutsk, Sakha Republic
    Colt Xse, or depending on how far you want to take it, Dan Wesson.

    Fusion has some kits that are prefitted in the critical areas.

    Colt XSE:

    Dan Wesson:


    Building a custom build with a Springy as a base, is like building modern architecture out of a McDonalds billboard on the freeway. Unless you want "not really Springfield Armory" or "Tactical" engraved into your slide. I wish there horrible marketing billboards would just go away. I want a combat handgun, not a 2 page Kimber add on my slide. ( I can make an exception for Colts scribbles because they look like classy old 1911's to me.)
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2010
  5. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    Whatever you do don't get a Dan Wesson...you won't have the fun of adding and changing stuff on it because they are almost GTG as they come...especially the CBOB.

    All you'd ever need to add would be to change out the Slide stop for a HD machined one and maybe clean up the trigger and add some checkering to the front strap...well if you're going to do that, I guess you should get a checkered MSH too. I guess you could have fun changing sights to find what you'd really like best...but then you'd have a 1911 of a build quality of an Ed Brown Kobra.

    I usually tell folks a nice starter 1911 that won't be a hindrance when you add stuff to it is the Springfield Mil-Spec
  6. Valkman

    Valkman Member

    Jul 31, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    I agree that the Mil-Spec is a great gun to start with, or maybe a Series 70 Colt. These are fun to work on!
  7. Zach S

    Zach S Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    Western NC
    I would recommend the Mil-Spec over the GI. The Mil-Spec has a flared ejection port, a beveled magwell, and sights I can see. Well worth the additional cost IMO. If the front sight was in a Novak dovetail it would be perfect IMO.

    I bought one with the intention of building it up. I got as far as swapping in a colt trigger and flat MSH (out of the parts bin), and adding Kimber rubber grips, and I shot it. And shot it, and shot it. The magwell, sights, beavertail, and safety I bought for it? Never installed. The more I shot it, the more I liked it.

    Although to be fair, it was parkerized. If it was a stainless pistol I probably would have had the parts installed. The sights at least.
  8. DasFriek

    DasFriek Member

    Jun 5, 2009
    Id vote Spinger or Colt also.
    As in the end the guns value will mainly be determined on what frame and slide its built on.

    Dont be like me, And here is why.
    I bought a Taurus PT1911 as my first 1911 and as a teaching tool to learn how to work on 1911's. It soon became my most used ccw weapon and my favorite range toy.
    While trying to do a fluff and buff on the firing group i messed it up, So as a birthday present my folks bought the needed parts to replace the botched ones.
    Of course i ordered all high end stuff.
    Then i wanted other better parts on it.
    Then it got to the point all that was left of the Taurus gun is the frame/slide/barrel. Every other single part is Wilson or Ed Brown and a few other big name parts folks all hand fit by me. Even all the springs and pins were replaced.
    Boy did i learn alot!

    This week i started the carry bevel/melt job which is now half done.
    In 2 weeks my Bobtail will be started and done by me and the week after that it hits the refinishers for an all "Blackout" look.

    So guess who gonna have around $1300+ just in parts in a gun worth $500?
    Had i done it to a Colt it would be worth alot more than i put into it.

    I love the gun as for one my 40th B-day present from my ailing parents are the heart of my gun. I did all the work myself with nothing more than files and dremels. And NO-ONE would ever believe how well this Taurus shoots.
    Ill never get rid of it even if i was offered the $1300 i have invested.
  9. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Johnson City, TN
    This already has the "bells and whistles" on it, leaving you with little to customize. If you go with Springfield I would suggest the basic "GI" model, or better yet, the "Mil-Spec" model. This already has the lowered ejection port, ramp and throat job and sight cuts, leaving you with fewer things to do. Another alternative is one of the "base model" Colts. Whatever you choose, shoot it first to establish reliability. If it has any functioning problems, the custom work will not automatically fix them.
  10. loop

    loop Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    NW Arizona
    I do quite a few custom builds and only build on Colt, first generation Kimbers and Norincos.

    I will offer the "short list" of why.

    Norincos because they are built closer to original 1911A1 specs than anything else I've ever run across and they make excellent finished products. They also are made of better steel than any other 1911s I've worked on. My favorite builds are Norks.

    Colts and older Kimbers for the same reasons. They are built to spec and any quality part will fit (perhaps with some "adjusting," but they fit). It is a worthwhile investment to build them. You can create a gun that will get you your money back should you decide to sell it. I've turned down offers of $2,500 for the Kimber I frequently carry. I've built similar ones and sold them in that price range.

    I don't use Fushion, Baer, Wilson, et al, because the custom fitting they charge so much for is part of what I do when I build a gun so I'm paying a lot for something do anyway.

    I do not do builds on Springers, Taurus, Rock Island or any other gun imported from a Third World country. They all have some oddball deviation from 1911 specs and some you will only find after you have invested in an expensive part and find you cannot use it. Besides, no matter what you do to them they are still imports from Third World countries and will never be anything else. They also have a ceiling in terms of value. It is possible to build a $2,000 to $3,000 Colt or Kimber, but a Taurus is a Taurus and a Springer is a Springer.

    Despite being unable to get top dollar from a Nork they are still my favorite builds. They are harder to work on due to the high grade steel, but they make an incredible finished product.

    My wife could choose between a number of custom Colts, Kimbers and Norks and she picked my favorite Nork to lay claim to. I'm still bummed about it. It was my favorite carry gun.
  11. dewalt-2

    dewalt-2 Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    I went the exact way DasFriek went. Started with a Taurus PT1911 as a build platform. After making sure it ran well in it's out of the box state. I made change after change until the only Taurus parts left are the frame and slide. The scariest part was adapting the frame for the grip safety, but all turned out well.
    So now I have an Ed Brown, C&S, Wilson Combat, etc. pistol. I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out, and the learning experience was priceless.
    A lot of work, and a lot of money, but my working knowledge of the 1911 was worth it all.
  12. Jed Carter

    Jed Carter Member

    Oct 19, 2008
    Loop, wives know don't they, and you know your 1911s.
  13. MolleMan

    MolleMan Member

    Jul 27, 2010
    Ga, Go Dawgs
    I recently started a build on a Regent 1911 and for a $500 gun with a bar stow barrell, wilson combat recoil buffers, beaver tail, sights, hammer, polished sear and feed ramp, rosewood grips i've got over $200 in the gun and have pearce front strap ordered along with a trigger, extended safety.

    For about $800-900 that I will have in the gun i could have bought i higher end pistol with all of it allready done and been worth more in the long run.
  14. schmeky

    schmeky Member

    Mar 17, 2006
    West Monroe, Louisiana

    MICHAEL T Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    outback Kentucky
    Buy a good used Colt Commander if for carry . Then go from their . You can make a colt bobtail

    I have a friend buys a good used Colt sents to Wilson they do work and refinish He love them Claims best 1911's he has ever owned.
  16. Bones11b

    Bones11b Member

    Feb 6, 2007
    Coral Springs, FL
    I personally opted for a Springer because the gunsmiths I wanted to commission to work on my 1911 listed it as one of the models they would work on, some listing it as the only brand other than Colt. Being that many "Made in America" guns are actually built with foreign parts, the country of manufacture didn't weigh as heavily in my decision as did reputation for quality control, customer service, and warranty.
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