Custom 1911 gurus: who are the top names today?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by 1KPerDay, Sep 21, 2022.

  1. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    I'm doing some research and wanted to ask the "in the know" 1911 community who their favorite full-custom smiths are today. I think I've got a reasonably good handle on the semi-custom hand-fitted Wilson/Nighthawk/Dan Wesson/Ed Brown market, but I don't know much about the truly high-end.

    thanks for any info!
     
  2. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    @WVsig will have a good idea.

    Yost, Burton, for sure.
     
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  3. WVsig

    WVsig Member

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    Once you get to a certain level it is all about the aesthetic of the builder and how it meshes with your wants. This is not in any real order. The problem these days is getting on one of these smiths list. Most of their books are closed or they have a 2+ year waitlst.

    Ted Yost
    Stan Chen
    Jason Burton
    Don Williams
    Chuck Rodgers
    Lou Biodno BEC Customs
    Karl Benning KBG Customs

    The best 1911s I have were made by Ted Yost and Don Williams from Colt base guns.

    Ted Yost

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    Don Williams

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  4. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    ^i will add to WV list with Reid and Jardine

    my money would go;
    Chuck
    Lou
    Jeremy
    John
     
  5. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    Were I in the market, I'd talk to Greg Derr at Derr Precision.
     
  6. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm very partial to the work of Stan Chen.

    1. Making his own frames and slides gives him great control of the final product.
    2. His texture work can be a matter of taste, I prefer it to checkering, but really makes the pistol stand out while still being understated
    3. His magwell (non-SI) is outstanding without adding any length to the frame.
    4. His thumb safety and beavertail grip safety are very nice, but I still prefer a rear sight from Ned Christensen
     
  7. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    Chuck Rogers, Joe Chambers, John Harrison, depending on what you’re looking for.

    Rogers builds exclusively for the defense minded, Chambers builds for accuracy but branched out into defense, and Harrison makes a solid, old school beautiful and reliable pistol.
     
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  8. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Seems to me there is a point of diminishing returns. Anything above the top guns listed by the OP, what is the purpose.?
    It's more of artwork and prestige, Sure I love top quality stuff but it's still just a gun
    Dan Wesson is good enough for me.

    But then I do not do Rolex watches either.:)
     
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  9. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Certainly valid points. The "best of the best" in any format (cars, planes, boats, motorcycles, guns, watches, computers, whatever) may not be actually the practical best or even the most reliable in varied conditions. But creating functional mechanical art is more about the experience and the pride of ownership than pure economic pragmatism. Me, I'm mostly a honda accord/SIG P226 kinda guy. But if I had the dough... I'd have at least a couple custom 1911s from the dudes above.
     
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  10. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    You can't really argue with either of the above.

    A custom 1911 really is a piece of functional mechanical art.

    I don't think you even have to get to the OP's list to reach the point of diminishing returns. An upper tier Dan Wesson or a Springfield Armory Professional will do anything they will

    Having said that, I have sold all my lessor 1911s and use a defense focused custom for IDPA competition or carry. It was built by an up and comer who studied with some top names...thought I'd get in on the ground floor...but who seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. I have another that is "in the que" with an "OG 1911 smith". I haven't completely given up on eventually owning a full house Chen eventually
     
  11. AustinTX

    AustinTX Member

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    Stan has had my deposit for 7 years, 6 months, and 17 days now. I wonder if I’m done with even half the wait . . .
     
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  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I played that game with a Python waiting for some years on Jerry Moran's convenience.
    When M. Ayoob said he had changed specialties from Pythons to Contenders, I gave up and sold the gun.

    I didn't get my gun from another guy until I chanced to get his wife on the phone instead of him or a flunky.

    No more. If I want a custom gun, I will haunt the sales sites and see if I can get by with somebody else's choices.
     
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  13. johnmcl

    johnmcl Member

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    The joy of shooting a mid-tier 1911 for the years I would have been waiting for one of those high end 1911s made the decision for me. I admire, but lust not for one of those masterpieces.
     
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  14. AustinTX

    AustinTX Member

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    I wasn’t actually complaining. I want a Stan Chen 1911, and this is the only way I’ll ever be able to have one. There’s no opportunity cost to me in continuing to wait — the deposit amount is pretty trivial, and there’s no base gun involved.

    Stan is a stand-up guy, and he recently refunded the deposit of someone who had been waiting a little longer than I have and who decided he didn’t want to go through with a build anymore. I don’t anticipate ever making that decision, but if I did, I have no doubt Stan would do the same for me.
     
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  15. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    To have something no one else has?
    Look at the machine work on this gun. How many hours do you suppose it took? Do you work for pennies per hour?? Why would you expect a professional to do so?

    upload_2022-9-23_8-7-24.png
     
  16. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    I had Ned Christianson add those Conamyds to the front strap of my aluminum framed SIG 220...also opened up the magwell, rounded the trigger guard, and made a custom rear sight...back before his wait time got into 4+ years. I sent it in within a week of talking to the phone with him and it was back within a month...that included sending it out to have the frame refinished.

    They work really well...much better than checkering
     
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  17. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I was scolded on another board because I said the fixed sight on a Yost gun looked like a Heinie with the hangy down part cut off for a simpler installation. And that a Karl Beining gun still had the Heinie trademark after that alteration.
    I was sternly informed that Karl has not been in the business as long and still has to resort to commodity parts while well established Ted hacks the same thing out of pig iron, which makes it better, somehow.
    Reminds me of the guy who said he demanded hand checkering, that the gunsmith OWED him a case of tennis elbow. My local smith got over that real quick and built a fixture to mill front strap checkering.
     
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  18. gwpercle

    gwpercle Member

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    Clark Custom Guns
    www.clarkcustomguns.com
    Jim Clark Sr. grandsons are still working their 1911 magic .
    They haven't been around for so long for no good reason ...
    You might want to check them out ... my absolute favorite for trigger work .
    Gary
     
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  19. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    The early Gold Cups right out of the box ,with a 70N serial are very accurate guns, if in good shape & not modified.
    Every 1911 should have click adjustable sights & accuracy guarantee of 3" @ 50 yards, or better.

    March auction- Screenshot_20220923-192932_Chrome.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2022
  20. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator Staff Member

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    Reading this thread reminds me how little I really know about custom guns. I ran a couple of searches on the names I saw (Stan Chen and Ted Yost) and what I saw was amazing.
     
  21. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    I've known Stan for a while...before the group Louder Than Words build the collaboration guns. I was introduced to him by Ned Christianson, who had done work for me, at a SHOT show. They were both thrilled when I introduced them to Bruce Gray...who they had idolized from when they started in the business.

    Stan was just starting to seriously consider having his own frames and slides manufactured because he was tired of the time he had to spend correcting the flaws in Colts before he could start his modifications. It is that attention to detail that you pay for when you have a top tier smith build a custom 1911
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2022 at 2:07 PM
  22. Ric

    Ric Member

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    Paul Liebenberg at Pistol Dynamics makes excellent guns
    29E7D196-484D-44CB-AA1F-CD03CDC91E9B.jpeg BE83339F-C0F9-4527-8372-D18518D0E783.jpeg
     
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  23. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    Tons of guys make “ high end “ 1911’s but the one that blew me away was a …Troy Harp.

    Me ? I want to shoot um not just look at um
     
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  24. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    Is he still building?
     
  25. Ric

    Ric Member

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    The website is still up and running, not sure if Paul is still doing the work
    https://www.pistoldynamics.com/
     
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