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Colt 1911 factory customizing vs. private gunsmithing?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by MarstudIII, Aug 26, 2012.

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  1. MarstudIII

    MarstudIII Member

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    Greetings all!

    I am a United States Marine about to return from a year long deployment in Afghanistan, and my gift to myself is going to be a fully customized Colt 1911. I currently work for a Marine full bird Col. who has had several Combat Commanders customized by a private gunsmith. Ever since MARSOC adopted Colt's Rail Gun, I've been wanting one of those, and Colt currently offers a "Tactical Package," (see Colt's website,) in which they will do most of the customization to the tune of $875. I would also like to add a Surefire X400 Weapons light/laser.

    My Col., who I might add, I have the utmost respect for, suggested that the 5" Rail Gun combined with the weapons light, is on the verge of being too cumbersome for a CCW, which is primarily what I want the weapon for. I have pretty extensive experience carrying an M-9 in a Blackhawk drop holster, but my concealed carry experience has been mostly limited to carrying a Glock 19 in an Occidental Leather IWB holster.

    My questions therefore are twofold:

    1. Should I have the bulk of the customization work done by Colt, or would a private gunsmith do better work (i.e. better parts/value for the money)...

    ...and...

    2. Is it realistic to purchase a Rail Gun with weapons light as a CCW, or would I be better to go with the shorter barreled Combat Commander.

    I would welcome any input from individuals, (particularly law enforcement or military,) with concealed carry experience.

    Thanks in advance for your input on this.
     
  2. conhntr

    conhntr Member

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    You are not going to cc a full size 1911 and a light every day. You might do it on occassion; i carry my goverment (no light) concealed but i dont like to becuase of weight and size. Open carry it is no problem.

    The colt custom shop is well regarded and you will not find the same wuality work for less, especially the tactical package. However the wait is over 6months which is why my colt has not made a trip there!


    Personaly id get a pretty series 70 or 1991 to customize and have as a bbq/range/open carry gun. Do you really want to tuck 2000$+ inside your sweaty waistband?

    And buy a j frame for cc. Thats what i did!
     
  3. 2wheels

    2wheels Member

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    I'm with your Colonel on this one.

    Colts Rail Gun is very cool and as a 1911 fan I want one, but I question the need for a rail+light on a CCW gun (this of course is only an opinion). Also it'll make finding a holster harder and add to the size+weight of the gun, making you less likely to carry as often and possibly less comfortable when you do carry.

    It's doable, but as a dedicated CCW gun a Commander makes much more sense to me. Plenty of people carry full sized 1911s, but in my experience carrying 1911s I've found the 5" barrel a tad too long and I'm much more comfortable with a Commander or Officer length barrel. The weight of a full sized 1911 doesn't bother me, a good belt+holster takes care of that, just the barrel.

    As for customizations, I suspect it may be cheaper to have Colt do anything you want to the gun rather than pay a respected gunsmith to do it for you (I wouldn't trust just any old gunsmith to work on a carry 1911). I'd trust Colts custom shop to do a good job.

    When I get the money together, a steel framed Colt Commander is #1 on my wish list.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  4. wow6599

    wow6599 Member

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    FWIW, I sent my Series 70 to their custom shop for a "Tactical Package" last September, with a 4-6 month quoted turnaround time.......... still waiting for it to come back.

    YMMV
     
  5. MarstudIII

    MarstudIII Member

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    Thanks conhntr!

    Forgive my ignorance, but how do I tell a "J" frame from others? I ask because I don't think they always list that on sites like GunBroker.com, etc.
     
  6. MarstudIII

    MarstudIII Member

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    Good Info...Thanks!!!
     
  7. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    I can't help you on the custom work, but it sounds like a fun idea.

    In regards to carrying a light bearing 1911, on the 1911 forums, guys ask about concealed carrying a 1911 with a light attached on a pretty regular basis. Most will recommend against it.

    The issue really isn't Government model vs Commander size, though many prefer the slightly shorter Commander length. The issue is the extra bulk added when you attach a light to your pistol. Many conceal carry a 5" 1911, and many carry a railed 1911. For a full sized weapon, the 1911 is very concealable. However, when you slap a light on the pistol, you are now moving away from concealed carry and heading into the law enforcement/military area.

    The biggest reason is there are very few concealed carry holsters for a light bearing pistol. There are lots of "tactical" holsters for light mounted pistols, but not many for the concealed carry user. There are some leather models, but most light capable holsters are kydex and of that group, less are really very concealable. Another thing to consider is the mounted light is used as a retention point in most holsters, so if you remove the light, your pistol will not work right in a holster designed for a mounted light.

    Some holster models I know of for a light capable 1911 are the Pure Kustom in leather and Raven Concealment Phantom (and any of the many makers copying this design) in kydex. One advantage to both is they can be worn IWB or OWB, so when you determine you just can't stand sticking that pistol with a mounted light inside your pants, you still have a perfectly good holster to wear OWB.

    Pure Kustom http://www.purekustomholsters.com

    Raven Concealment http://www.ravenconcealment.com
     
  8. 2wheels

    2wheels Member

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    Smith and Wessons small frame revolvers are collectively known as "J-frames". If you go to the revolver section of their website you can browse through them. There are a lot of options.

    Probably the most popular are the 442 and the 642, both hammerless DAO snubnoses in .38 Special. I've got a 442, it's a nice wheelgun, but far from a 1911 if that's what you want.
     
  9. conhntr

    conhntr Member

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    The jframe is just a small 5 shot 38 (comes in other cal as well). The advantage is you just put it into a pocket holster, and slide it into your pocket. I can carry mine without even wearing a belt. Whereas the 1911 i need a substantial stiff belt and its just not comfy. Main difference is i actually carry the pocket gun

    Btw for my brothers commisioning i got him a nice colt gold cup trophy with These http://www.GunGrips.net/ grips customized with his name/ us navy.

    Well worth the money to make it yours!
     
  10. MarstudIII

    MarstudIII Member

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    JTQ

    Thanks alot.

    It's already becoming readily apparent that the light is not the way to go for CCW. I think it's one of those bells and whistles that sounds really cool in theory, but not so much in practicality.

    I've already been experienciing the heartache that you're referring to about holsters as well. I found the Raven website, but not the Pure Kustom...thanks again for that!!!

    Still torn on the the Rail Gun vs. the Commander though. If the Custom Shop is going to take 6 mos. to a year anyway...it kinda' seems like a wash. I think my decision will be based on whether I go with the rail gun...in which case I'll have Colt do it, or if I go with a Commander, I'll have a private gunsmith do it.
     
  11. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    At first I thought that sounded like a pretty good deal, until I realized that it was $875 on top of the cost of the gun...plus the 6 month wait.

    In that price range, you might be better off with a Dan Wesson CBOB or an STI offering. Even if you had to have the de-horning performed by a gunsmith after purchase, I think you'd be time and money ahead for a like product.

    I've carried a full size 1911 and a Combat Commander as duty guns and the shorter Commander length slide/barrel really does make a difference in comfort. The last Commander I carried with any regularity was a S&W 1911Sc (the current model is the PD) and the lighter alloy frame made a large difference in comfort level after a long day.

    I'd also strongly reconsider the need for a Weapon Mounted Light (WML) on a CCW pistol. Having a WML attached to a CCW pistol will make holster selection more complicated and concealment in general more difficult. A more practical solution might be a flashlight on the belt.
     
  12. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Member

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    I personally would not want to carry a 1911 with a mounted lite as my concealed carry. If you want a Colt, buy it as a range gun and I would have Colt do any custom work as I think it will maintain a better value. There are numerous guns that make good carry guns. You have to decide on whether you want a semi or revolver. For me, the S&W model 60 J frame fits the bill but the choice of makes and models is almost unlimited.
     
  13. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I've carried a full-size M1911 since before your Colonel was born -- literally.

    It's no trick to carry an M1911 -- the gun is flat and thinner than most automatics. You need a good holster (I design and make my own) and a good stiff belt. For concealment, I like my "tuckable" design.

    Carrying any gun with a light attached is impractical in daily life -- just as impractical as wearing body armor and a helmet.

    I'd frankly go with a stock M1911 -- I like beavertail grip safeties, a good trigger pull and a Heine rear sight, but that's about all the customization I need.
     
  14. MarstudIII

    MarstudIII Member

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    Vern...there's no substitute for experience.

    Please see my follow up question on Series 80 vs. Series 70 Safeties.

    Thanks!!!
     
  15. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    A concealed weapon needs to be "concealable" from a practical point of view, although I suppose you can conceal most anything if you have to.

    But concealed weapons are most often deployed in a situation requiring the fastest possible response. In this context I would be completely disinterested in any accessory attached to the handgun on a rail.

    Over a century has passed since the 19ll pistol was adopted, and it has been produced in many lengths with barrels running from 3 to 6 inches, and occasionally longer, but the original 5-inch length has repeatedly proved to be the most reliable, followed by 4 1/4 inches.

    Not to put anyone down, but although they produce excellent pistols, some of the more renown gunsmiths specialize in making big-boy-toys for playing games, rather then weapons. Be careful whom you choose.
     
  16. Nappers

    Nappers Member

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    I can only add:

    Thank you for your service to our country! I salute you sir!
     
  17. Auto426

    Auto426 Member

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    I've seen some of the guns that the Colt Custom Shop sends back over on 1911forum.com, and they do some very nice work. The tactical package has a nice mix of features and lots of options that the customer can specify. They do have a long turn-a-round time, but you'll find that's the same for most of the larger custom shops out there.

    As far as carrying the Rail Gun, you can try but I doubt you will get very far with it. The rail adds weight to an already heavy gun and a mounted light makes finding a holster nearly impossible. A smaller and/or lighter gun would be a better option.
     
  18. ElToro

    ElToro Member

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    here is my commander that Colts custom shop did for me. it started as a matte blue 1991 billboard colt and i got a new slide, and some other custom work including gold cup style serrations, steel trigger and steel arched MSH and beveled mag well and flared and lowered port. and reliability and ejection tuning. they sold me the new slide and barrel assembly. price was very reasonable and time wait was less about 8 months. including novak night sights i have a full size there now getting done in royal blue. go to 1911forum.com, the colt sub-forum and find Brent. Hes the manager of the custom shop. hes a super cool guy and will answer all your questions and i bet he would hook you up being active duty USMC. i strongly reccommend the colt custom shop, i have had nothing but positive experience.
    b4ac6f3d.jpg
     
  19. kutz

    kutz member

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    Colt carry

    The perfect Colt carry gun is theirNEW AGENT in .45 acp
     
  20. jogar80

    jogar80 Member

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    My Gold Cup Trophy was worked over by the colt custom shop. They high polished it, a little engraving, did an action job and trigger job. Great work and the price was very good, but it took about 6 months to get it back.
     
  21. MarstudIII

    MarstudIII Member

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    The final cut.

    Gentlemen,

    As a final caveat to this, I just called Colt and waited on hold for 30 min., only to have the operator politely explain to me that Colt's Custom Shop is not taking orders for another 2 to 3 months. :(

    Chuck Norris could make me one with his bare hands in a day. LOL

    Semper Fi!
     
  22. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    Anything worth having is worth waiting for. Decide what you want and find the smith you want to make that a reality. It may cost more than you have budgeted but consider it an investment in a pistol uniquely yours. Make some calls, ask questions, choose a base 1911 together then buy it and get on the list.

    I'll edit in some good possibilities with links. In no particular order:

    http://www.combatprecision.com/

    http://www.derrprecision.com/

    http://www.berryhillguns.com/

    http://www.rodgerspistolsmithing.com/

    http://1911doctor.com/Home_Page.html

    If you don't find inspiration at those sites, you don't like 1911s. If your heart stopped, bookmark the page for future reference.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
  23. Auto426

    Auto426 Member

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    Not surprising. Last I heard the custom shop was short handed and was avidly seeking out another qualified professional gunsmith to help with their work load. The entire factory is running at full bore right now with the current demand for guns.
     
  24. wow6599

    wow6599 Member

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    Got a call today from Brent in the custom shop letting me know it will ship tomorrow........ Thursday I will post pics, and hopefully a range report on my Series 70. Funny how the next 72 hours are starting to feel harder than the last 11 months!
     
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