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Custom 1911 - what would you get?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by dandean316, Dec 28, 2003.

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  1. dandean316

    dandean316 Member

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    I will be ordering a custom 1911 shortly. Since my budget is under $2500, I will probably go with a Rock River or Les Baer. Most likely the RRA. Ok, it's not really a true custom in some books, but I was hoping to get some opinions on what “add on's†or not, to get.

    Or just people's suggestions and opinions on custom or semi-custom 1911's. (Please don't say get a Sig or Glock - or a Makarov):rolleyes: I am covered there.

    I currently do not formally compete as time is an issue, but I do get out about 3 times a week to shoot. This will be my first single stack, single action 1911 – I have many double stack Para’s – and it will be used for mostly target shooting, maybe pins, and maybe plates.

    It will never be carried and probably never see a holster. I am unsure if I should just get the Basic Limited Match or the Limited Match, but I will for sure get the 1 ½†guarantee as accuracy is my biggest concern. It will be the standard 5†barrel.

    What would you suggest as far as upgrades or deletions and why?

    I will take into account all opinions and suggestions. Here’s what I’m thinking so far:

    Slide: Caspian? People seem to like them.

    Frame: I have no idea. It needs to be single stack.

    Barrel: I hear good things about Bar-Sto, but the owners can't seem to tell me why Bar-Sto is the best. :confused:
    Sights: Dawson Precision optic front and adjustable rear.

    Checkering: I hear different things about checkering of the trigger guard. Underneath some say is like sandpaper rubbing on your fingers everything you fire. Front some say if you put your finger on the front while shooting you will jerk your shots. I like the idea of the front of the guard to get a little better grip while preparing to lift and shoot for pins/plates.

    Serrations: I am leaving them off the front of the slide for sure, but what about the flattened top and serrations? I like my friends CZ75 serrations on top, but they are about as narrow as the front sight. Looks kind of cool. I am not sure about the wider top serrations on the some models, but some say they help with quicker aims.

    Supported Ramp cut – I am leaning no since I am told on .45's you don't need them. Good, bad, waste of money?

    Thumb safety – Ambi or not. Reluctantly I am thinking to do it for weak hand competitions. Then the "wider" thumb safety or the thin ones?

    Mag well – I have no idea here. Any opinions are welcome.

    Finish – I want everything one color. Is hard chrome the way to go? My gun will most likely have little holster time. It will definitely not be carried.

    I will listen to any suggestions and I thank you for all your help.
     
  2. AnklePocket

    AnklePocket Guest

    After a lot of research I went with a Rock River Arms Elite Commando with Heinie Sights and no front slide serrations. I like it clean and simple and that one did it. RRA seems to have shortened their lead times. Mine took about a year and a half, but I think it's under a year now. The trick is to order and forget it. You'll only be frustrated and slow down the process if you take personnel away from the bench. Their customer service is a lot better than it used to be, but the craftsmanship has always been the best value in the business, I think.
    The Heinie rear sight seems to allow for a very quick sight picture for some reason. It just effortlessly whips on target.
    I kept everything else standard.
     
  3. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    2500 Dollar Pistol

    Howdy dan,

    If you have that much to put into a pistol, why not go with the best?
    Contact Ted Yost at Yost-Bonitz Custom Guns and talk to those
    guys about building one to your specs. I've seen a few examples of
    Ted's work, and it's second to none. He does his very best on every gun,
    and his best is very good indeed.. If I were in the market for a full custom, that's where I'd go. The wait will be worth it.

    Disclaimer: I have no vested interest in Yost-Bonitz, nor any personal relationship with Ted outside of these forums. My observations are based solely on the work that I've seen.

    Luck to ya!

    Tuner
     
  4. Cactus

    Cactus Member

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    I agree with 1911Tuner!

    Go buy a Colt 1991 NRM for around $550.00 and send it to Ted Yost. For $2000.00 or less, Ted could build you a VERY nice one of a kind pistol that you would be proud to own and pass on to your children.

    Talk with Ted about what options you want and what he feels will work best for you. I don't believe Ted's turn around time is too bad right now, probably less than the wait for a Rock River.
     
  5. John Forsyth

    John Forsyth Member

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    I agree. If you have that much to spend, why go with a factory-custom? There are several smith's out there who can build you what you want for less than your budget and you still get a 1 of a kind custom pistol.

    My personal preferences:

    Caspian frame and slide
    Caspian extractor, ejector
    Ed Brown safeties (grip and thumb as well as mag release)
    Nowlin fire control (hammer, sear, disconnect, firing pin)
    Wolff springs
    Kart barrel
    EGW bushing
    Novak sights
    Casul trigger
    Nowlin pin set

    My hands are not very large, so I like a medium to short trigger with a flat main spring housing.

    25lpi checkering on the front strap with the main spring housing to match.

    Stainless frame and components with a blue slide.

    It will be in my hands next month. :D
     
  6. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    i would take a look at the valtro before deciding to buy something else

    www.valtrousa.com

    it is wildly underpriced (about 1k under your budget) right now and you can have custom features (i'm partial to the ed brown thumb safeties) added by the designer himself (john jardine) when you order

    as a more direct answer to your questions:

    1. caspian make outstanding frames and slides
    2. barsto really is the best (QC), but are you a good enough shot to see the difference?
    3. checkering is the standard but it doesn't hold up very well if you happen to bump :what: it, i actually prefer serrations or conamyds www.m-guns.com
    4. serrations atop the slide really do help align your eyes to the sights...they should cover a width determined by the base of your rear sight, you don't even need to flatten the top
    5. if you are not going to carry the piece, go with the wider thumb safety...more space to lean your thumb away from the slide
    6. i prefer a flared mag well with a long leadin rather than just a bevel...looks more "custom"
    7. blued is beautiful when maintained well, hard chrome will hold up to rough usage better...it is easier to pickup black sights on a light cloured slide
     
  7. JiminCA

    JiminCA Member

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    Barsto are very good barrels. Rock River uses Kart barrels, which are just as good, if not better, as far as accuracy goes. Most of your best bullseye shooters use kart. But Kart barrels are not stainless steel.

    Here is a pic of my two RR elite commandos. I think these are the best value in the business - about 1350 each with 1-1/2 accuracy guarantee back when I bought them. Went with Hienie straight-8's and brown thumb and grip safeties. Wish I'd thought to skip the front serrations, but I'm still a happy guy. Took a year to get.

    If you do a search at 1911 forum you can find my range report on these guns. All the little bugs are ironed out now.

    Good luck in your decision.

    RR1.jpg
     
  8. slh02

    slh02 Member

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    I know that if I had the money, I would go with Valtro. The pistols are nothing less than art, and the stories I have heard about customer service are almost unbelievable.

    One day, I will own a Valtro!
     
  9. John Forsyth

    John Forsyth Member

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    One more suggestion, call Terry Peters, http://www.pt-partners.com/ . He deals in the upper level of 1911's, Ed Brown, Les Baer, Wilson Combat, etc. Sometimes he a Vic Tibbets or Ted Yost gun for sale as well. The man knows custom 1911's and will not BS you.
     
  10. Tim Burke

    Tim Burke Member

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    RRA does good work, and I agree with JiminCA that they are one of the best values in the market. However, $2500 will buy a lot of 1911. If you are willing to wait, you could go to any number of custom builders and stay under budget. I'd recommend Chuck Rogers but I think his wait is getting long. If $2500 is the maximum, but you would like to save some, then RRA sounds reasonable.
     
  11. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    OK, I've had 2 custom guns made for me (by Dane Burns and then Ted Yost) and here is my take on it:

    1. Don't sweat the slide and frame choice. Rock River Arms uses their own brand of forged frames & slides, and they are fine. Other makers will build on Caspian, Nowlin, Wilson, CMC, etc. frames & slides, or start with production guns like Colts. You almost have to go out of your way to find a BAD choice here.

    2. Kart and Bar-Sto are the most popular barrels for competitive bullseye pistols, with Bar-Sto having the rep for best accuracy with hardball (as opposed to light semi-wadcutter loads). But Nowlin, Ed Brown, KKM, Wilson and Schuemann are also good choices, along with others I may have forgotten. Arguably, the most accurate pistol barrel you can buy is a Schuemann AET, but they are priced accordingly.

    3. Checkering: totally personal preference here, no real objective benefit one way or the other. I don't like checkering at all.

    4. A flat-topped & serrated slide makes the front sight look taller & easier to pick up, but to tell you the truth I've had guns with both & they don't make a lick of difference to me.

    5. Skip the ramped barrel unless you are playing with cartridges with high pressures (unlike .45 ACP). Total waste of time otherwise.

    6. Thumb safety is just personal preference. For a game gun I'd get the big gas pedals, for a practical weapon I'd get the smaller ones, or just skip the lot of them & use a single-sided Colt commercial-style thumb safety.

    7. Magwell is nice for a game gun, less so if you actually want to carry the gun around.

    8. Hard chrome is about the toughest thing going and will reduce corrosion better than bluing. I've got it on one of my guns and am very happy with it.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. dandean316

    dandean316 Member

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    Thanks for all the advice guys. Keep 'em coming if you want :) as it's interesting stuff here.

    Based on various posts and a lot of thought on this, I am kind of thinking of ordering the RRA Basic Limited Match with the 1 1/2" guarantee and a Dawson front sight - kind of a "stock custom" then getting one of the Yost's of the 1911 world to build me something totally to my specs.

    I figure you can't go wrong with 2 custom 1911's.
     
  13. MoNsTeR

    MoNsTeR Member

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    http://www.experimentalmachining.com

    I'm getting ready to order a 6" SV-framed gun from Brian Hawley, which will run me about $2500 all told. His prices are reasonable, his turnaround times are good, and he's very responsive to e-mail. I'd check him out.

    Though, if I were to get a nice single-stack, I'd probably go with a Valtro despite the wait. The value is just too good.
     
  14. Greg45

    Greg45 Member

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    I bought a NRM Colt and sent it off to Ted Yost several weeks ago for the 1* package. I also added chrome plating, tritium front sight, and front strap serrations. Even with all that, I'm still right around $1700.
    About $200-300 less than a Brown or a Wilson, and a think a much better gun. Plus I don't have to look at those ugly front slide serrations.

    It's my gun, and I ordered with the options that I wanted.

    If you can stand the wait, this is the only way to go. It's still alot less wait time than ordering from Rock River.
     
  15. scalinghammer

    scalinghammer Member

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    Everyone here has I lot of good ideas. I would only add information about one thing. Blueing wears and can rust. Chrome does not wear hardly at all and in far more rust resistant. There are several nickel-teflon type finishes that are almost as hard as chrome but resist rust much better and are much sliperyer(sp) that chrome. I have NP3 and Diamond Coated guns and chrome I am happiest with the NP3 and Diamond Coated guns. They need less lube and run dirty better. If you shoot 350-800 rounds per days for several days and either won't or don't clean everyday it helps to have a gun that will work dirty.

    Ed
     
  16. HankB

    HankB Member

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    Many good 'smiths do really nice work. But it all depends on what you're looking for.

    IMHO you should be able to get a really nice 1911 for around $1500, give or take a couple of hundred. For that, you'll have a well fitted, accurate, reliable, durable pistol, with good sights, a good trigger, ambi safety, checkered front strap, and beveled mag well. Maybe add a little for hard chrome, NP3, or other finish, but spend much more and you're only getting eye candy or paying the BNP premium. (BNP = Big Name Pistolsmith)

    Now, I'd also consider a "combat dehorn" which will break all the sharp edges on the pistol a bit . . . usually if you shoot a couple of boxes of ammo you won't have a problem, but I've seen MANY fairly experienced shooters with their hands bandaged up after shooting well over 1000 rounds of hardball over a weekend class. I personally like just a *little* bevel done at the rear of the trigger guard near the mag release.
     
  17. cratz2

    cratz2 Member

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    I generally agree with most of the opinions expressed above... $2500 is a lot of coin for a single gun, esp if you don't have much experience with 1911 ownership. For $1500, you can get into a nice RRA or a Nowlin. Or if rollmarks aren't as important to you as functionality, a goon NM serial numbered Springfield and $800 spent with a custom tweaker/tuner.

    There are plenty of great top names out there... some specialize in trick metal work, some specialize in race guns but almost all of them will build a very nice but relatively basic full house gun built up from scratch. Many like to work with Caspian frames and slides but there are plenty of other options. If you do go the full 'from the fround up' custom route, my best advice would be to do some research on different smiths and narrow it down to a couple names then tell them what you are generally looking for and give an honest open ear to them.

    On the other hand, for someone that has never owned a single stack 1911, there's a lot to be said for picking up maybe a couple used guns - maybe a basic Springfield MilSpec or NRM Colt and either a Springfield or Kimber with a few more 'custom' features and see what suits you. You aren't going to lose much money on a used Kimber. You'll likely lose a crapload on a custom gun if you decide you want something significantly different.
     
  18. Tracy Hightower

    Tracy Hightower Member

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    5 Glocks

    Sorry, Could'nt resist.

    :D
     
  19. dandean316

    dandean316 Member

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    Good advice. Anyone see the RRA .40 on GunsAmerica? He has $2400 into it, and is looking to sell for $2200.

    The reason I looked into the RRA was I walked into the shop looking for a Kimber Super Match or maybe a Kimber Gold Match. The owner told me for the same money, I can get the RRA which he had in stock. Then I noticed you can get the RRA however I wanted, which lead me down this path.
     
  20. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    Taking only a $200 loss on a used gun is hardly taking it in the shorts.
     
  21. dandean316

    dandean316 Member

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    Agreed, but no one has bought it yet either.

    Maybe you should buy it and rebore it into a 10mm?:D
     
  22. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    Sorry, my wallet is in recovery mode. :neener:
     
  23. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    Given that kind of budget, I would personally spend it on a Springfield Professional and be done with it. The Pro already has all the features I'd want in an "anything goes" 1911, when money is no issue.
     
  24. cratz2

    cratz2 Member

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    Yeah... a 10% loss isn't much to worry about but I think we've all seen guys sell very nice guns made by some very elite smiths for a considerable loss. :(
     
  25. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    Such as...? Not to be a wiseass (believe it or not :p), just curious. Because I haven't heard too many people getting hosed because they bought a Swenson or a Heinie. On the other hand, I wouldn't recommend custom guns as an "investment" either. To me, the whole question of resale value kind of misses the point of the exercise. Did my Dad buy that really nice table saw as an "investment"? Did he get "hosed" if table saw resale values tank? ;)

    Funny thing is, I had no problem selling my Burns custom gun without taking it in the shorts. Found a buyer in about a day. It sucked having to sell it, but the "work" of selling it was pretty painless.

    The whole point of getting a custom gun in my mind is to get something that you can't get off the shelf. If a Pro gives you what you want, why pay a 'smith to reproduce it instead of just buying the Pro? On the other hand, not everyone wants a gun with the features that other people think they should have on their gun, either.

    One thing I'd suggest is that if you don't already have clear-cut preferences for features on a custom 1911, maybe you shouldn't go buy one yet.
     
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