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High End 1911s

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Shell Shucker, Feb 16, 2007.

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  1. Shell Shucker

    Shell Shucker Member

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    Does anyone have personal experience with "high end" 1911s? What can I expect of an @ $2000 Ed Brown, Les Bear, Nighthawk, ect. What about them is "over and beyond" a $1000-$1200 Kimber, Springfield Armory, ect?

    The reasons I'm asking are. I've purchased many guns only to later wish I'd spent a little more and gotten something better. I read many posts telling of problems with "mid grade 1911s. Is the extra money well spent? If so; what brand.

    How does the "street price" relate to 1911 MSRP?

    I have owned several autos but never a 1911. Any insights are appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  2. Black Majik

    Black Majik Member

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    1911s are one of those things where they all shoot differently, but the differences are very subtle. It depends on whether or not you can tell the differences of craftsmanship, smoothness, and the shear joy of owning one of these guns.

    In my opinion, starting out with a base gun will make you appreciate the semi-custom 1911s much more than just jumping straight for the semi-customs. I started out on a plain jane Colt. Bone stock GI sights, short thumb safety, no beavertail, and rattled like most Colt do. But at 7 yards it was still a one hole shooter. Then I picked up a Kimber Series I Classic Royal, and making those one hole shots were easier. At farther distances the Kimber started to show its accuracy advantages more, and the fit and finish was better than the Colt's. The gun was tighter, the safety clicked on and off more positive, and felt very smooth when fired. I still liked my Colt though, but it got less and less range time.

    Then I bought a Les Baer. Tighter than a virgin's whoo-haa. That thing felt like one solid piece of steel. No movement between the slide and frame, barrel lockup was amazingly tight. The gun needed to be broken in, but you could feel the time that went into the gun. The parts were also better, all the parts seemed to streamline with the next. The way it shot? Oh my. I remember first time shooting it. I spent a few minutes shooting it and the rest of the time admiring it. Just shot so dang well. I didn't even have to try to shoot it well. The crisp trigger, undercut trigger guard, beavertail all helped my shooting a little. I felt like I didn't have to concentrate as much to shoot as well as the Kimber did. Then I started using it more and more, and it became my USPSA gun. After all those rounds, that thing is still tighter than the Kimber when I first bought it. But it's now buttery smooth.

    So really, it depends. Would the quality parts and the hand fitting matter to you? Does a Baer, Brown, Nighthawk, Rock River, or Wilson feel different to you than the Kimbers, Colts, Para Ordnance, and Springfields?

    In my opinion, I noticed the difference right away. It's money well spent. But it is a lot of cash to drop down. The regular production guns these days are GREAT shooters also. They can handle some beating and use. Shootability is a little different, but it really depends on whether or not the shooter can tell the difference.

    I've also shot a Springfield Armory PRO. Very tight out of the box, but shot like a production gun. I couldn't tell a difference in shootability etc. But boy was that thing damn accurate. The fit and finish on that gun was flawless also.

    The Browns are the stylish semi-custom guns. In my opinion the smoothest of the bunch. No sharp corners anywhere and it just shocks the person of beauty.

    Well. I'd suggest looking at some, or definitely trying some out. See if they feel overpriced to you, or "perfect."

    Everyone's different. But remember, not all 1911s shoot the same :evil:

    Good luck!
     
  3. briansp82593

    briansp82593 Member

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    get a sti 2011 or vip i shot the 2011 and it was niiiiiiccccceeeeee and very very very accurate :what:
     
  4. robctwo

    robctwo Member

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    I bought a Springfield Loaded, a S&W1911PD Commander and an Ed Brown Exec. Target, in that order, over the past year. For me the Ed Brown is worth every penny. Not saying one bad word about the other two. I did a bunch of upgrades on the SA, but that was because I got the gun smithing bug and wanted a better trigger. I don't regret buying the first two, and am probably not done with the 1911 platform yet, still need one of them there Les Baers I do believe.
     
  5. YoPedro

    YoPedro Member

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    Slow Hand

    My first 1911 was a Springfield Trophy Match. It's an awesome gun, I love it. I shot that for a little more than a year then I was ready to upgrade. I ordered an SVI Infinity, Target Master 6" 1911 in .45 ACP. This is a sweet machine. I'm still getting use to the balance of a 6" bull bbl. At the same time, (yes, the very same day) I ordered a Sprinfield Custom Shop 1911 .45 Bullseye with a Bomar Rib. These are not off the shelf custom guns. You wont find them in gun shops, they have to be custom ordered with the features you want. Both guns are significantly different than my original Trophy Match, and I am comfortable with each. Now I am looking to add match grips to my guns to see if that will help on the accuracy department. although I can shot both guns 10x at 50 ft., one handed. I'm slow, but I'm accurate.

    As for the big difference: The fit and opperation of each is amazing. Both have flawless triggers and the slide to frame fit is without exception. The Springfield was a bit tight at first but it is running smooth now.

    One note though: My shooting buddy has an off the shelf $700 Springfield Target 1911, and he can slow fire 10x at 50 ft, single handed.
     
  6. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

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    My first 1911 was an old plain Kimber Custom Classic. It was my entry gun into the 1911 world. And I knew it would be. I knew I'd want a 1911 LW Commander in 9x23 at some point, but I wasn't going to make that decision until I had some time with the standard 1911 and discovered my preferences.

    Later I had Jim Garthwaite build that for me on a Colt LW Commander frame. And I later returned to his shop to spend a week with him and built a LW Commander in .45 ACP under his instruction.


    The differences between a "production gun", a "high end production gun", and actual "custom built guns" aren't accuracy. They're all accurate enough. They are handguns, not precision rifles. The difference are found in handling, features, especially customized "made to order" features in the "custom built guns", and asthetics. Aesthetics includes articles such as finish, extreme attention to blending of parts (for extended carry that doesn't destroy your clothing), and personal attention to items that are important to you.

    I'd suggest getting something basic at first, the basic the better. Even that base Colt can be worked on by guys like Ed Brown to be upgraded into a fine custom gun. Considerations for things like sights are open to more possibilities on a gun like that; once the slot is cut for a Heinie sight, or Novak's, you pretty much are committed to that sight and can't change without major costs involved. On basic guns, the sight channel is cut for that old GI sight, and you can have that cut to whatever you later decide you have a preference for.

    If one can appreciate a custom gun, its quite well worth it. If he can't, then its a waste of money in his eyes.
     
  7. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    I prefer Les Baer's Thunder Ranch 1911 for my own use. Comes with a 5"
    Kart barrel, factory Trijicon night sights, NO ambi safety's (which I'm glad
    of), no sharp corners, three magazines, a Baer patch, a small bottle of
    lubricant, very thin Thunder Ranch logo grips, and 30 lines per inch
    checkering on the front strap (cut really high, for a more firm grip).
     
  8. 45auto

    45auto Member

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    Keep in mind you are really not spending " a little more" for the higher end 1911s.

    You can buy a full featured, so to speak, production 1911 for $700-$850 (roughly) and you will spend 2 to 3 times that for a "high-end" 1911.
    So, that's a lot and it can or cannot be worth it for the above-mentioned reasons.

    On the flip side, and to your point, once you get into the $1200+ "production" level 1911's, I would think real hard about a Baer, for example in that $1500-$1600 range.
    Now, you are getting "close" IMHO. Still far from the Browns, Wilson, etc though.
     
  9. critter

    critter Member

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    I have to vote with Black Majik and Ala Dan here. I recently bought a Les Baer. I fell in love before I ever shot it! Fantastic gun and built to fantastically close tolerances. HARD to cycle the slide. I thought 'no way in the world this thing will EVER work cause it is SO tight'. WRONG! Never a bobble!

    I now have 1045 rounds through it-factory-RN, reload-RN, roload-SWC, JHP's, whatever. The LB doesn't care-it eats them all like candy. And now (they say it takes close to a 1000 rnds to break them in) it is as slick and smooth as a talcumed baby's butt.

    Accuracy? Better than ANY 1911 I've EVER shot. Fantastic. If they aren't all going where you want them, it is YOUR fault-believe me.

    I believe this is the 8th 1911 I've ever owned. I wish I had never owned the others and just started with the LB. I think I would be a better shot now! Best money I ever spent!

    Good luck finding EXACTLY what you want. For me, LB was it!
     
  10. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    I've owned 7 Colt's over the years. I modified every one over time to my liking, everyone was reliable and accurate (enough). By the time I got done with each one, the cost was just shy of a semi-custom pistol and they had spent quite a bit of time in some smith's shop.

    A year and half ago I bought my 1st Baer, same basic features as my Colt's by the time I got done with them. Difference was it was built "tight" and accurate from the start, and I didn't wait a cumulative year to get it the way I wanted it.

    Now I'm on my second Baer, and I'm scheming to get a 3rd. I agree with the other guys, Brown's are fantastic pistols and I'd rate the finish above my Baer's. But when it comes to function, I think the Baer's are a better value. I don't think I'd treat a Brown the same way I treat my Stinger which is scarred up pretty good from CCW use.

    Not everybody will appreciate a "high end" pistol, and not everybody feels they're worth it. As the others pointed out, if you're looking at a $1100 or $1200 Kimber or Colt, then a $1400-$1500 Baer isn't that far off. For me, once I cross a certain threshold, a little more is moot.

    Whether it's worth it or not is up to you.

    Chuck
     
  11. Lone_Gunman

    Lone_Gunman Member

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    Two Words: Diminishing Returns.

    Yes, your custom 1911 will shoot a little better than your stock 1911. But in the real world, it will not be enough to matter, and even at the range, unless you are paying attention, you won't be able to tell a difference either.

    Custom 1911s look better, and have better fit and finish. And then there is pride of ownership.

    But from a practical, self defense standpoint, they are not worth $1200 more than a stock pistol.
     
  12. Rinspeed

    Rinspeed Member

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    I think Les Baer by far offers the most 1911 for the money. Some don't like the way they are hard fit but as long as they are reliable I'll take a tight 1911 over a loose one any day. They really do feel like you are holding one solid piece of steel. Those Ed Brown guns are very sweet and I will have one someday. STI offers a very nice 1911 for $900 to 1200. Sporting Arms has some very competitive pricing on a lot of different 1911s and they are very good people to deal with.
     
  13. varoadking

    varoadking Member

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    You drive a Hundai?
     
  14. the pistolero

    the pistolero Member

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    I'm guessing Lone Gunman doesn't drive a Hundai, or a Hyundai for that matter, but there's no denying one can be made just as dead with a $300 Rock Island Armory or Norinco as with a $2300 Wilson or Nighthawk. Whoever doesn't agree, that's their right, but in lieu of looking down their nose and making half-witted snarks, for once, just once, I'd like to see them put their money where their mouth is and send a Nork/RIA/<insert low-end 1911 maker of choice here> owner a check for $3000 or so to cover the cost of one of those custom 1911s and a few boxes of ammo to put through it.
     
  15. noops

    noops Member

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    I have an Ed Brown special forces, and it's hands down my favorite pistol. I think it's worth it. The only 1911 makers I'd buy from are Ed Brown, Les Baer, and Nighthawk (maybe Wilson as well). Are they worth it? Sure was to me. Thing is great.

    N
     
  16. Black Majik

    Black Majik Member

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    Guns, cars, they all get the job done. A Honda Accord will get you to your destination just as well as an AMG CLS 55.

    A Rock Island will hit that 10 ring just as well as a Rock River.

    It's just experiencing the moment to get there :D
     
  17. ezypikns

    ezypikns Member

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    I've got a RIA and a S&W 1911.

    I think they're great pistols. But I just might pop for a Les Baer someday to see what the fuss is about. What folks choose to spend on their hobby is strictly their own business. But even if I spend 2500.00 on a custom 1911, I will have only spent a fraction of what my neighbor spent on his Bass fishing rig.
    To each his own.
     
  18. varoadking

    varoadking Member

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    This makes less than no sense...
     
  19. DogBonz

    DogBonz Member

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    I agree with every thing said

    Even Lone Gunman's remark... well almost.

    From a "practical self defense" stand point, a $700 USP or SIG will be just as viable a self defense weapon. However, "worth" is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. Babe Ruth's rookie base ball card is worthless for practical purposes. It is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars because thats what someone is willing to pay for it.

    Anyway back on topic: The day that I shot an Ed Brown Kobra, I sold my Kimber and started saving for one. Then I got the best (or worst) idea ever... why spend $2K on a semi custom, when I can spend a little more and get a full custom. Great idea, right? Well as of today, I have spent $1700 in parts, and my smith has yet to touch it. It's a Caspian Classic SS frame with a Caspian Damascus slide, and all high end parts...

    I'll keep you guys up to date as it progresses, but for now it has been a lot of back and forth with the smith, placing orders, planning, revising plans, changing orders, re-planning... You get the idea
     
  20. wooderson

    wooderson member

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    Hyundai sedan vs. Honda vs. Mercedes, perhaps.
    You might give up a little something between the first two (Rock Island and a Springfield Loaded) - reliability, performance.

    But between the Honda and the Mercedes, you're not really giving up anything except for style and prestige. (on, of course, a much smaller scale)

    Once you've got the feature-set you like (finish, sights, etc., all forged parts/no MIM if that's your thing), I'm not sure there's enough difference between a well-built semi-custom pistol (Springfield TRP Operator, Les Baer Thunder Ranch) and a $2700 Nighthawk to justify the cost in my mind. If I had the money, sure, I'd love a Nighthawk, but $1000-1500 is a big difference.

    And once you're past the $2000 barrier, you get into 'what about a base Springfield or Colt and sending it off to Yost-Bonitz for the 1* package...'
     
  21. Rinspeed

    Rinspeed Member

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    I would take a Baer or Brown over a YoBo 1* any day. No comparison in my opinion.
     
  22. Dobe

    Dobe member

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    I have an Ed Brown, and by far it is the nicest 1911 I own. To me, it was worth the extra $.

    Dobe
     
  23. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

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    I will readily admit I once said to a Team Member, after he told me about his STI, and his IPSC racegun, "I can't justifty owning a pistol that costs $2000. I'll never spend that much on a pistol." Two >$2000 1911's later, I'm planning on when I'll build #3.

    Well, you're also into the, "Jim/Dane/<insert other master pistolsmith's name here>, I'd like <this> built. What frames and slides can we choose from?" and not even have to supply the base gun. The frames and slides will be purchased unfinished and get truly built from the parts up.


    Some folks won't appreciate it, and suggest rounds impact downrange the same from a $3000 full blown custom as they do El Cheapo, and to that I say, "I agree". So, I guess you carry a 100 year old .38 revolver then? The rounds impact the same . . .

    The draw for those guns isn't accuracy. If you spent 3X what a base Colt costs just for accuracy, and you don't make money winning competitions, I'd say you wasted your money. They have other, more practical reasons, and some of them have nothing to do with shooting it at all. A fella who carries a gun in excess of 12 hours every day becomes pretty intimate with it, and might want it made to not tear his clothing or cause him unnecessary discomfort.
     
  24. phantomak47

    phantomak47 Member

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    What about Wilsons, how do they compare with the Baers and Browns?
     
  25. mrcpu

    mrcpu Member

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    IF I had the disposable income, I'd own an ed brown in a second. I shot one a while back, really enjoyed it.

    But I've shot other guns that I've enjoyed that weren't 2000 dollars either.

    And there doesn't really seem to be any reliability advantage, there are certainly complaints about high-end guns failing as well. Whether or not it's statisically valid is anudder problem all together.

    If money is a non-issue, buy what you like.

    If money is an issue, and SD is your reason for carrying, just because the BG is carrying a tricked out Ed-Brown hand-tuned by Ed himself, doesn't give him any more an advantage than any gun you might own that wasn't that expensive that's reliable, and that you've trained on.

    If money is an issue, and you just like guns, then be envious of those that can afford them, because they are really nice.

    For me, while I can throw a large portion of my gun budget into buying an ed-brown, I want variety, so I'm spreading the wealth. Maybe when've bought one of just about everything, I"ll go back and specialize... :)
     
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