Custom Built 1911s. Who builds the Best?

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

  1. HankB

    HankB Member

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    9mmepiphany said:
    The question then becomes, how many of the ones mentioned in the OP have you had experience with to make that comparison


    That's actually a good question, but I'll respond with a question of my own: in the context of evaluating a basic 1911 pistol if one is extremely accurate, operates flawlessly, and has great sights, trigger, checkering, safety, etc., . . . exactly how would you define "better" from any standpoint other than cosmetics?

    I've tried Ed Brown guns, and they don't seem any better than my Baer - except they cost more. And the last time I took a pistol class, by the second day all the guys shooting Wilson Combat pistols had band-aids all over their hands from the sharp edges. (That was a while back - don't know if it's the case with today's WC pistols.) As far as some of the more expensive guns I've seen . . . some were pretty, but I don't know if they could truly be called "better" than something that already works flawlessly.

    (Race guns with optical sights, muzzle brakes, etc., ought to be evaluated in their own category.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  2. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    Then why the Baer instead of a Production gun that can range from a cheap import to Dan Wesson?

    There was a reason you went with that..
     
  3. HankB

    HankB Member

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    Not many production guns - especially cheap imports - are extremely accurate AND operate flawlessly AND have great sights AND a great trigger AND great checkering AND a great safety etc. As an example, I also have an E-series S&W 1911Sc that is actually a good, reliable gun - but it's not quite as accurate as the Baer, the trigger isn't as good, and it's not as smooth either.
     
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  4. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    Then why is unfathomable that someone would want more than LB offerings? As his finish leaves a lot to be desired. Thats not even getting into his Commanders that are lopped off Gov Frames.. instead of the correct abatement's.

    wSgazYS.jpg

    My Last Baer BTW.
    WWppGWE.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
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  5. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    This is one thing that needs to be pointed out. The cost of Semi customs have gone through the roof as of late.
     
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  6. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    I believe it is due to folks being unwilling to wait the time it takes to go through the waiting list and then the time for the work to be completed by a true custom 1911 smith.

    If you've never handled anything on that level, the best you can imagine could very well be a semi-custom, or even a production, build. For some folks there is no difference between machine checkering and hand checkering...or the increasingly popular hand-finished checkering. Some folks can't believe that a correctly built 1911 should cost about $2500-$3000. That is all fine as the 1911 market now has good offerings at many price points. But there really is a difference.

    What a lot of people don't understand is that the market is driven by demand. A top tier 1911-smith can limit the demand for his offerings by continuing to raise their price until the demand abates...it isn't as if they are losing any money with less demand as there is a finite limit to their ability to produce work. I remember when Richard Heine stopped taking orders for his 1911 builds several years ago as he already had enough of a backlog to last until he was 70
     
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  7. CoalTrain49

    CoalTrain49 Member

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    Can't I just take a few classes and build my own?:D
     
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  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I've seen one of those. The student paid attention and it came out well.
    You could buy a pretty good gun for the price of the class, parts, tools, and travel. But now he has the knowhow, too.
     
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  9. JR24

    JR24 Member

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    My father and I have discussed wanting to do this some time. Sure you can get a good gun, probably better, for the price of the class but the know-how and experience are certainly worth something.

    Doubt we'll get around to it though
     
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  10. CoalTrain49

    CoalTrain49 Member

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    I look at 1911's as nothing more than a functioning firearm like an AR. You can build a pretty good AR from parts selected to fit your style and needs. A custom 1911 would be nice and it will probably shoot extremely well, but I think one could get the same performance from a DIY custom build. The HQ parts are out there. Resale on customs isn't that great anyway, like custom hot rods and custom bikes.

    Years ago I wanted a good graphite fly rod. Instead of paying $500 for one I built my own from a blank from a high end mfg. I built it after taking a class from some knowledgeable rod builders and a dry run on a fiberglass rod. Turned out great.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
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  11. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I agree, I have built a couple really nice ones over the years. The parts are out there but the parts are out there to build race cars too, the difference is how they are put together. You’re not going to put together a great pistol like a snap together model as a kid. If you have the machines, tooling and knowledge to use them, it’s not that hard, even if it’s a time consuming process.

    Some, like SV make all of their own parts and I think they don’t even sell all of them individually to builders any longer as they thought some poorly assembled ones were giving them a bad name.

    They have some features that are unique as well. Like a removable breech face so you can have the same frame and slide in a number of calibers, like this one in 45 ACP and 9mm.

    28799264-36CE-415C-ADB5-2DA9FDC5C3BD.jpeg

    Those are 50 yard groups.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  12. Old Navy Doc

    Old Navy Doc Member

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    About 6-7 years ago, I took a 1911 Pistolsmithing class w Bob Rodgers when he was at Mountain View Arkansas, before he moved to Idaho. The 1911 I took home has been amazing and the best shooter in my collection. As others have noted, the knowledge obtained was priceless, but the pistol was well worth the cuts and bandaids.
     

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  13. Nature Boy
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    Nature Boy Contributing Member

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    Damn, nice shooting!
     
  14. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Easy for a machine. ;)
     
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  15. WVsig

    WVsig Member

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  16. WVsig

    WVsig Member

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    I have thought many times about taking the Jim Garthwaite course many times. I just have not been able to do it any of the time it has been available. To me it would be the knowledge that you gain from the class and the ability to later customize your own pistols would be amazing.
     
  17. Resist Evil

    Resist Evil Member

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    Every firearm I bought has or had a specific purpose when I bought it. Time came when my wife and I wanted semi-custom 1911s. We wanted 1911-style Commander-sized .45s that had gone through a careful fitting process for reliability with a little fanciness to go with it. It took a year each in order to pay for them. That's two years total. We ordered them, one at a time of course, through George at Gunslingers. We spent a lot of time studying maker's backgrounds, features offered, reviews and appearances of different models. My wife was first and she ordered a customized Nighthawk. Basically it's a Predator II top end on a Lady Nighthawk frame. Once it arrived, it had several problems for the money paid. It was insulting. They ended up making it right through a very long process. It's now a very good gun, but we wouldn't go back to them. Mine is a Volkmann Combatant Carry. Got that one in 2009. It is still my primary carry piece and I've also used it as my IDPA pistol.

    The important point here is why we wanted these expensive pistols. We paid extra for the extra attention to fitting for reliability beyond regular production guns. We couldn't fathom paying significantly more for full custom guns, so semi-custom was the route for us and that was financial commitment enough!
     
  18. Rio Laxas

    Rio Laxas Member

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    A few years ago, I was trying to make a decision between several of the semi-custom 1911 manufacturers named in this thread. I think when faced with a choice like that, it isn't a matter of which one is best, but which one gets you closest to the pistol you want. For me, that was the Guncrafter No Name.

    4JYxsmD.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
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  19. Tensaw

    Tensaw Member

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    About a year ago I bought a Dan Wesson for my first 1911 and was instantly hooked on the platform. I started saving up for a semi custom and spent hours studying the websites for WC, NH, EB, LB, and GI and reading tons of reviews. As late as this spring, I felt like when it was time, I would order a WC CQB. Long story short, when I made my move in late March, I ordered a Prime Elite from Alchemy Custom Weaponry. I should be getting it in early August and can hardly wait.
     
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  20. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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  21. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Buy a Dan Wesson and save yourself a lot of money. They can shoot better than most people. But of course you can't get a ego trip at the range saying how much it cost like the "custom ones"

    Just load your ammo on a blue Dillon and then talk about that.:)
     
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  22. Balrog

    Balrog Member

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    I haven't owned any of the high end pistols mentioned except for Wilson. All the Wilson's I have had (5 or 6, but presently I think I am down to 2), have been functionally perfect, smooth as butter, accurate, and I could not have been happier.

    I do think with the high end guns, you get into the Law of Diminishing Returns. A $3000 Wilson is not 3 times better than a $1000 Colt.
     
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  23. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    Great move, you will not be disappointed..

    ACW is the best value out there right now IMO.

    Mine..
    _20190322_142142.JPG
     
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  24. Steve S.

    Steve S. Member

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    I have a Baer PII and a Wilson CQB - these two models are the starter kits of these makers but I find both to be excellent handguns.
    I was very impressed today looking at my first CZ Shadow Target II - excellent quality and price point for a factory handgun - extremely impressive. As manufacturing science progresses into the future, I think all of us gun buyers will be blessed with great offerings at very reasonable prices - exciting things to come.
     
  25. vba

    vba Member

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    The most accurate guns I own (and I own Many) is are my Baer's (PII and Monolith). I've got many 1911's as well.

    But my Baer's are early serial numbers from Illinois.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
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