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Custom Built 1911s. Who builds the Best?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Michael A Ferber, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. frogfurr

    frogfurr Member

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    I have a couple of 1911's and like them a lot. The most I will spend on a handgun is about $1200.00. If all the nice 1911's cost $1200.00 I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Baer.
     
  2. dr3d

    dr3d Member

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    Add Guncrafter to the original list.

    Mark Chuck Rogers of Rogers Precision as the premier builder.
     
  3. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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  4. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    I don't think anyone is afraid. The bigger possibility is that you will have fewer members on this board, instead of a 1911 dedicated one, with first hand experience with all the listed makers.

    I have no qualms about posting good or bad about any semi custom maker that I have first hand experience with. So with that said. I prefer Nighthawk, GI and ACW over the others, yet own guns from EB and WC too. I no longer own any LB's, but that could change any day..

    It really is about preferences.
     
  5. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm Member

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    For a mass produced 1911 I'd go with Dan Wesson. A full on custom? Chen.
     
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  6. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Member

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    And luck.
    If anything this thread shows how finicky and moody the 1911 can be. One $2000 gun might be a dog, the next one down the line might be the greatest competition gun ever.
    Trouble is you don't usually get to test drive a custom/semi-custom gun. Plunking down 2 grand on one you've never seen is a gamble.
     
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  7. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm Member

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    For most of the smiths listed in this thread $2k isn't even a down payment.
     
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  8. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    I dont know about that. I think your chances of a bad gun are much higher with a production gun. Your complaints about LBs blueing and finish are exactly why they are cheaper than the other semi custom makers (sight and tunnel excluded) Did you call them to make it right?

    All manufactures
    will eventually let something out of the factory that shouldn't have and I have seen evidence of such. It's how they take care of you that makes a difference. I've seen requests for the guns to be sent back for darn near microscopic anomalies. Something that I certainly wouldnt have noticed nor cared about. I treat my 1911's like my Glocks though and expect them to run and have never called any of the makers after owning a few dozen.
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  9. JR24

    JR24 Member

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    Well, for semi customs I can answer as I actually have some experience. I've shot Wilsons, Nighthawk and Brown. I'd buy Wilson myself, just like them best.

    Me too, have two and they are the best below Brown for my money. I routinely outshoot my father's Wilson CQB with both my VBob and Valkyrie, but it's probably just trigger time on each specific gun.

    That said I'm not upset that when my Dad decides he's done shooting; that Wilson is coming my way.
     
  10. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    While I don't usually bury mine in dirt, I do expected them to run if they get mud on them during competition or in a training class. I ran mine ($4k) for a week at Gunsite without cleaning it...I did add lube.

    The 1911 I've carried the most was my first duty semi-automatic. It was a Colt Combat Commander which went straight from the store to a gunsmith for reliability/function work which increased my out-of-pocket cost by 50%...this was before there were common aftermarket parts available.

    The last 1911 I carried was built on a Colt 1991 frame with a Caspian slide fitted. It was valued at about $4k and it was what I started in IDPA competition with
     
  11. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    I wouldn't argue with the above.

    Of the ones listed in the OP, I'd go with Nighthawk...with esthetics being the tipping factor

    Based on function, still in the semi-custom category, I'd get a Springfield Armory Professional.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
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  12. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    For the most part that is what I mean. I run em hard and put em away wet. They need to work dirty or clean or they are gone.

    +1
     
  13. HankB

    HankB Member

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    My experience with a Baer is very different than PO2Hammers. Now, I bought mine very gently used for a great price, but in addition to being very tightly fitted, all the individual problems PO2Hammer had are conspicuously absent from mine. It's been completely reliable with everything I've fed it - even when deliberately limp wristing it, it continued to work. Accuracy is phenomenal, trigger is crisp at just under 4 lbs . . . everything just plain works, and works very well.

    Unless you're building some sort of race gun, or want things like petrified mammoth ivory grips, engraving, etc., I don't see how you can get any better in a 1911.

    More expensive yes . . . but not better.

     
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  14. rabid wombat

    rabid wombat Member

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    Like JDR above, I had great results with George’s work at EGW.

    Likewise I have had great results with Clark in Louisiana....
     
  15. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    The question then becomes, how many of the ones mentioned in the OP have you had experience with to make that comparison
     
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  16. tark

    tark Member

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    Naaaa. No N.D.A. It's just that I don't think anybodies mind is going to be changed. Everybody has a favorite and everybody has their least liked gun. I think that any of the "Custom Shops", (which are actually semi-custom production lines) can build you a fine gun. But I think Les gives you the best value per dollar spent. His guns are usually quite a bit lower in price than the rest.
     
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  17. wahsben

    wahsben Member

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    1911 guy likes this.
  18. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I have been shooting this Les Baer Wadcutter in Bullseye Competition for five years or so, and I had the pistol more around a decade before that, so I have no idea how old it is. It is a fine 1911 and shoots better than I do. It has a very tight frame to slide fit, tight barrel to slide and bushing fit. Great trigger. And it goes bang each time I pull the trigger, what more do I want?

    OfZ3FcL.jpg

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    This is a David Sams 9mm target pistol.

    ShrCTAD.jpg

    When I got it it did not have the optical site mount, so I sent it off to David Sams. After talking on the phone with David Sams I think he is obsessive compulsive about mechanical fit, in fact the most obsessive compulsive gunsmith I have talked to about mechanical perfection. So, based on the 9mm I own, and my estimation of his neurosis, I think he would be an excellent recommendation. If you can afford his prices, and his wait time. I think the wait time for one of his 1911's is years.
     
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  19. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    Concur in full. Though I have experience only with a LB TRS (should never have traded it off), a WC (also traded off) and an Ed Brown (still have).

    Like the Ed Browns mainly for the clean lines, the lack of clutter with regard to slide/frame markings, and no FCS. Great bang for the buck, too.
     
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  20. wahsben

    wahsben Member

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  21. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    Not all...:evil:
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  22. WVsig

    WVsig Member

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    I do not agree with this at all. I think the chances of getting a 100% gun right out of the box is higher in the semi-custom and custom world vs the production world. That does not mean that high end makers never make a mistake. They do. They are human. Expecting a company to be perfect 100% of the time is simply not realistic. To me it is all about how a company handles the issues when they come up define a company not the fact they produce a lemon once and a while. That would be my biggest complaint with Les Baer. If you have problem Les' first response is did you break the gun in properly. He will then tell you to shoot it more, 500 rounds, using his break in procedure and call him back. Dealing with Les can be a PIA.

    Its not about not wanting to ruffle people feathers it is about being able to meaningfully post about these guns. Not a lot of people have $2000+ on a single pistol so a lot of people don't own one. Having looked at one at the range or shooting a mag or 2 does not really qualify one to make meaningful recommendations so many people are not offering their thoughts. IMHO. I personal have not given a opinion yet... because I think the question is not one that can be answer. At a certain level "the best" is not an objective standard it is a subjective choice. All that said I will play.

    I fall squarely in the camp that none of the guns listed in the OP are custom guns. They are semi-custom guns. You are ordering off a menu of predetermined configurations, parts and specs within the "universe" of the particular builder. This does not make them bad. All those listed make great if not amazing guns but they are not what I call custom. Now lets look at the OP.

    Les Baer: I own a TRS. I have had it for 7-8 years. It is a well built gun. Super tight. The finish is only avg. The blue is thin and not at all pretty. It is a functional matte and it works. The checkering right out of the box was too sharp for my taste so I knocked it down a bit and it perfect for me now. The gun has run 100% for me. I had a issue once with the guide rod contacting the inside of the frame which is when I got to interact with Les. :scrutiny: In the end the issue did not progress so I kept shooting. The gun is more accurate then I am and even though it did not come with his 50 yard accuracy guarantee in the right hands, not mine, it can meet that requirement. All in all a excellent fit & shooting 1911 with a very avg finish. Well worth the money I paid. Great working mans gun. IMHO

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    Nighthawk: I do not own one but have shot them. In the past for me they do not match my aesthetic. So I have never bought one. Some of their newer offerings are more to my liking but if I am spending $4000+ I am going full custom. You cannot argue with their performance. They are slick guns.

    Ed Brown: No experience beyond a few mags here and there. They are beautiful pistols but I have never pulled the trigger on one. These days you can get a Special Forces for $1810 shipped from Brownells when they run one of their 10% coupons. Hell of a pistol for under $2000.

    WIlson Combat: I have shot a lot of their 1911s but do not own one. I have a EDC X9 which is a 1911 like pistol. They are a top notch shop. I am not in love with their Armour Tuff finish. I am not sure if it is there prep or what but it does not wear any better than Cerakote which is not bad but for a gun at that price would expect a better finish. The gun is beautifully fitted, accurate and light. Besides the finish there is not a flaw to the gun IMHO. It replaced a custom Alloy BHP as my carry gun.

    Guncrafter: These days these guy are one of my favorite semi-custom makers. They are making fantastic guns. I have a 5" 9mm No Name and it is the smoothest 1911 in the safe. Fit and finish are amazing. I love the naked slide and magwell is nicely fit. Everything about this pistol is smooth. The only downside is the finish. It is extremely durable and has held up well but like Dan Wesson's Duty Coat it is a Melonite finish which will cloud if you use certain CLPs and cleaners. I had to change CLPs in order to prevent cross contamination. This is not a big deal but something to me aware of if you are looking at them. This is the best running 9mm 1911 I have ever owned. A 45 ACP version is one the want list.

    hIIFvhT.jpg

    There was a time I wanted to own a gun from all of the big semi-custom houses. Wilson, Les, Ed Brown, Guncrafter etc... but these days if I am going to pay more than $2,500 for a 1911 pistol I want it to be a bespoke custom gun. I want to pick the smith and work with him to spec out the gun. I like one man shops. Shops were one person owns the shop and does all the work on your pistol. Someone you can call and talk to about the nature of your build. Someone who takes into account your budget, your intended use and your aesthetic. Once you get to a highest level of craftsmanship you are really picking a smith with an aesthetic that matches yours. The same is true in the semi-custom world but in the true custom world you are taking it to the next level. This is what I did the last time I wanted a high end 1911. I bought a 70 series Colt and sent it to Don Williams of The Action Works. This build will cost about what a lot of the semi-custom guns on the OPs list but will be a one of a kind true custom perfect for me but maybe not for you.

    • Trigger job using match trigger
    • Reliability Package
    • Don William's AW Sights with U Notch rear Gold Dot front
    • Harrison Design hammer, sear & disconnector
    • Match barrel bushing
    • Crown & polish barrel at 11°
    • Bevel magazine well
    • Harrison Beavertail fitted & installed
    • EGW Lower Paddle Thumb safety
    • Smooth-Out package (de-horn)
    • True, High-Cut & Checker Front Strap @ 25 lpi
    • Machine Ball Cuts
    • Machine French cuts on slide
    • Flatten & Serrate Slide Top @ 30 lpi
    • Stan Chen Magwell Gen 2
    • Fit Craig Spegel grips
    • Finished in Ion Bond
    Here are some of my personal favorite 1911 smiths. Many of them have closed books.

    Don Williams
    Ted Yost
    Stan Chen
    Jim Garthwaite
    Jason Burton
    John Harrison
    Chuck Rodgers
    Ct Brian
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  23. GE-Mini-Gun

    GE-Mini-Gun Member

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    If you can talk him into it...Larry Vickers
     
  24. WVsig

    WVsig Member

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    I asked him last year at a pistol training course I was taking it was a no go. He has too many other irons in the fire. If he would have said yes I would have given his a check for a deposit on the spot.
     
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  25. GE-Mini-Gun

    GE-Mini-Gun Member

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    Same thing here, only 3 or more years back...told him to give me an hour and I'd have the cash in his hand and to get to it when he could...I'm in no hurry...nope
     
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