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How would I get the most bullseye accuracy out of a stock RIA 1911 9mm?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Captain33036, Aug 30, 2010.

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  1. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    Hello

    I want to begin a bullseye competition with an old friend, who is a long time shooter. I am pretty good with various platforms and have tried a SIG P226, Colt .45, RIA .45, SIG P228 and Beretta 92. I recently settled on a RIA 1911 9mm and am happy with it (mostly for price). Slightly better with a 1911 .45...which is probably expected...but for cost considerations...want to stick with 9mm. So, with price in mind....how could I get the most bullseye accuracy out of this gun?

    Option 1: Sell it :) and start with another platform? Not sure a SIG P226 would be inherently more accurate. Wonder if a CZ SP-01 might be or perhaps, go with a Springfield 1911 9mm or STI....but wonder if the cost of several hundred to a grand is worth it.

    Option 2: Upgrades. Would a match barrel really yield all that much of an improvement? What other upgrades would make a significant difference (besides trigger)?

    Option 3: Optics. Yeah...using reading glasses now....am thinking that a red dot might be good. SO....perhaps the most significant question....would a red dot be such an improvement in shooting accuracy as to out weight all the other options above? And if red dot....would a Burris Fastfire II mini mounted to the rear sight be as good as a larger red dot mounted to a mount that was fitted to the frame (as I see many competition guns have)??

    Any combination of the above?

    Thank you for any and all advice. I greatly appreciate it.

    Best

    John
     
  2. sniper5

    sniper5 Member

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    Been a while since I bullseyed with a 1911 but IIRC your key areas to look at (may not need upgrade in all, but points to consider): Match barrel, trigger job, barrel bushing (gunsmith will probably recommend that with the barrel installation), slide to frame fit (either a tightener or have a gunsmith tighten it up), grips, and sights. Not familiar with your platform but usually the platform is not that relevant. In fact, back in the day, lots of people I know used to buy Llama 1911's. Reason: Cheap. And we used to throw everything but the frame away and start over anyway because all we wanted was a stripped receiver, and those were scarce.

    Nowadays tho, it is possible to buy a nice auto with bells and whistles already installed.

    Probably would be worth a call to Clark Custom to price upgrades and see about cost difference between a package vs. a Bullseye ready gun.
     
  3. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    For informal bullseye shooting, all it really needs are better sights (assuming you started with a "GI" model) and perhaps some trigger tuning. If you want to get into serious competition where everyone else is using accurized guns, you will want to perform all the necessary upgrades. But this gun strikes me as something to be used and enjoyed as is, not really to make extensive upgrades to. Most gunsmiths who do this type of work will want to start with a forged frame and slide, I would think, especially for tightening the slide/frame fit, which requires reshaping and displacement of metal.
     
  4. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    If you are going to shoot bullseye you are eventually going to need a .45 to complete the match with smallbore (.22), centerfire (.32+), and bigbore (.45). Few people use a separate centerfire in 9mm or .38 like they used to, they just shoot the .45 twice. You would be better served with a .45 and a reloading press.

    Of course if you are just shooting for lunch with your friend, get what you like.
    Adjustable sights would be nice but if you are only shooting at one range, you can drift and file fixed sights to zero. A fitted barrel bushing will get the most out of the stock barrel at relatively small cost. A trigger job will help you get the best use out of the sights and bushing.
     
  5. Strahley

    Strahley Member

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    I'd venture to say that in stock form it's probably more accurate than most people can shoot it
     
  6. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    Hi Guys

    Thank you for the kind and helpful responses. I appreciate them.

    I should have detailed the gun. It is a RIA 1911 framed 9mm, Tactical model. New. The fit and finish are excellent, as far as I can tell. Seems a very tight slide to frame fit...though of course....may not be on par with a truly high end, gunsmithed gun. Still, seems good...no play at all that I can detect and seems even better than my friends Colt.

    Trigger seems fine and i shoot well with it...but...point taken: Is there a good trigger I could order and drop in? Recommendations?

    So...advice seems to be: use this platform. Yes?

    And...get a match barrel and bushing? Is this correct? would this be helpful? Could I order one from Brownells, put it in myself and gain some improvement, or is this something a 'smith really must do to improve the accuracy??

    Finally, sights. The sights on the gun are Novak type, black. I have painted them and that helps. I could get 3 dot night sights or fiberoptic. But....what about a red dot?

    Great replies, looking forward to more advice. Thanks!

    J
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    For bullseye, black would be better, especially with non-adjustable sights.

    Colored sights tend to reflect light off of them differently as the sun angle changes. SO, your zero wanders during the day.

    Match shooters blacken their sights with carbide lamp soot to stop reflection changing zero under changing light conditions during a match.

    rc
     
  8. schmeky

    schmeky Member

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    Captain33036,

    What size groups are you presently getting at 25 yards with the RIA?
     
  9. Strahley

    Strahley Member

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    Maybe it's just me but I tend to shoot the most accurate with the "GI spec" sights on a 1911. I'm not as pinpoint accurate with larger dots

    But anyway, as far as the platform goes it'll be great. The 1911 is very accurate by design. Put it in a ransom rest and I'd be willing to bet it will shoot very tight groups at 25 and 50 yards right out of the box

    However like has been stated, it may be easier to just use a .45 so you don't have to have two guns for two stages, just one for two. I'd still keep the 9mm around for practice though
     
  10. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    Hello

    I am pretty consistantly able to get 1.5" groups at 21ft off hand, 5 rounds, with this gun. This is using crappy range ammo (UMC 250 packs). Could do a tad better with the RIA 1911 .45 Tactical.

    Can get 4.5" groups, off hand with no support or rest, at 50ft.

    Have not shot to 25 yards on a rest...have not had that available on the range I go to.

    I can get to about 80% of the above with the stock Glock 19 that I have. And have hit 1.5" groups with a Glock 26 (probably should have kept that one...).

    I would like to do better...one of my issues is seeing the sight picture. I am at that age where I need reading glasses. So....that is why i am thinking of a red dot. Or different sights. I do better with the Glock 3 dot night sights.

    But...still want to make this gun as good as I can. If that includes a match barrel and trigger, I may go that route. Seems a decent investment.
     
  11. Fremmer

    Fremmer Member

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    Keep the gun, a 9mm 1911 pistol is pretty cool.

    I think if you're going to modify it, you'll want a Smith who specializes in 1911's do it, and one who has worked on 9mm 1911's. I wouldn't try and just drop in parts to accurize it, I'd have a Smith work on the trigger, the bushing, and whatever other parts need work.
     
  12. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

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    You don't know the gun is holding you back until you test. If no Ransom Rest is available, use bags and carefully, deliberately, shoot 20 rounds at 50 yards. Probably try a few different loads of 20 each as well (the load matters more in 9mm than it does in 45 - the latter are more tolerant of 'close but no cigar' than the zippier 9s).

    Whatever the group you get, can you do approximately that well offhand? If Yes, think about the barrel upgrade. If No, then you'll benefit more from more rounds downrange than a new barrel. A well fit bushing is a cheap and effective upgrade - depends on the fit of what you have.

    A trigger job (not a drop in where you hope the frame holes are well aligned and the kit mates well) is almost certainly a necessary investment. May as well do it on quality parts so junk the MIM, buy some barstock and have a knowledgeable 'smith do a trigger job.

    Sights - depends on your eyes. I'd shoot irons if I could still see them ... a dot exaggerates your wobble and can be a real distraction. Unfortunately, I need glasses to put the key in the front door lock so, dot it is. UltraDot are the BE gold standard - tough and lifetime warranty for cost of mailing. A 1 inch tube is plenty - the 30 mm with adjustable dot are too big and more suitable to turkey shoots. 1 inch tube, fixed dot, variable brightness, all you need somewhere a little under $130.

    Most BE shooters use slide mounted optics, not frame mount. Think about the nunber of tolerance interfaces - fewer with a slide mount, makes sense. Clark has a nice rib, Rock River sometimes has a great rib with iron sights built in but they're on and off with production.

    Ammo matters a lot in 9mm - do some reading around; might want to try Atlanta Arms for some pricey but good rounds.
    /Bryan
     
  13. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    Hi Everyone

    This was taken today. 10 rounds UMC 115 ball ammo (very cheap). 21ft.

    Gun: RIA 1911 9mm Tactical model. New, unmodified (except for painting the sights and installing an extended slide stop).

    Sorry for the bad pic...cell phone cam.

    The trigger does feel a little mushy.
    Barrel and bushing are tight as I can possibly tell. Seem very tight. Still recommend a match barrel and bushing?

    I went back to my regular prescription contacts today and used +1.50 reading glasses to shoot. My normal reading glasses are +2.0. Felt much better, the sights were much clearer than when I use contacts that were +1.0 diopter less than my prescription.

    Great suggestions. I think I will have to try a rest and see what can be done. Will see if the range has one...perhaps they do..I never asked.

    So...maybe...not do the barrel right now (that saves $200+), put the money into a trigger job and perhaps slide mounted mini red dot. And...use better ammo?

    Very interested in all comments. These are very helpful and seem spot on.

    Thanks

    J
     

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  14. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

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    Yes - most stock barrels can outshoot their owners for years ... fitting is more of an issue than the barrel brand. It's not the item you need to start with.
    /B
     
  15. Jolly Rogers

    Jolly Rogers Member

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    For the $ a tightly fitted barrel bushing is the biggest pay off IMHO. More money will be spent with any other changes for less benefit. See what your barrel can do first before you change it. Lightening up the trigger may help too but it will cost a lot more unless you do it yourself.
    Joe
     
  16. fattboyzz

    fattboyzz Member

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    Getting a few rounds in it to settle everything together might save you some time an $$$$$....
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  17. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Member

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    I’d leave the pistol OEM with no modifications’. Target it at 25yds with your load of preference from bench rest. Adjust sights for POA as required. Stand up and shoot. Become proficient then tinker and tweek.
     
  18. schmeky

    schmeky Member

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    Don't take this the wrong way, but 21 feet is only 7 yards. This is considered defensive range. You have to establish a 25 yard, bench rested group before you do anything. You must have a baseline to gauge the benefits of each mod. This is the only way to know if you are on the right track.
     
  19. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    Great suggestions. Thanks.

    Do not think I will tinker with it too much right now. Might look at a trigger job and different sights.

    Very good advice to bench test to 25 yards. I think there is a place locally where I can do that. I will see if they have a bench rest, they might. Should be interesting.

    Thanks

    J
     
  20. larryh1108

    larryh1108 Member

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    +1

    A tight barrel bushing is a must. Any play will affect the groupings. A crisp trigger break and you're good to go. Then get used to how your gun shoots with X ammo and dial it in. Anything more is overkill, IMO, and a waste of money until you and your gun become one.
     
  21. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    Hi Guys

    Thank you, that makes sense. How do I know that the barrel bushing is tight enough? I have checked it every way I can think of and it seems as tight as any 1911 I have ever handled (perhaps). There is NO play in it that can be managed by any amount of my leverage. Bushing to slide fit is tight (as far as I can tell), bushing to barrel is tight (again...as far as I can tell).

    In checking...my observations are:

    Cannot feel any movement with any amount of force that my hand can manage when the slide is in the forward, ready to fire position.

    Slide racked back: front few mm of the barrel, the lube is worn off. Barrel play within the bushing seems less than 1mm. Bushing seems very tight to slide...cannot be moved by anything I can do with my hands.

    Barrel black finish is beginning to wear (this is a new gun) in almost uniform rings from the first couple mm to about 1cm back or so. Might be able to see that in the pic I posted...not sure.

    Should the barrel to slide fit be tighter when the slide is racked back, as mentioned above (1mm or less)? I would think that would cause the weapon to malfunction.

    Appreciate any and all advice.

    Thanks

    ps - still thinking: trigger, sights, optics (red dot)

    And note: target shown was two separate 5 round groups, the second one shot after reloading.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2010
  22. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

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    Bushing sounds good ... bushing will be looser when out of battery since the barrel has to have clearance to link down - when in battery it's actually about 1 degree higher at the chamber.

    Get some sights and load some good ammo - try a few different of the many standard BE loads and see what it likes. Practice, and maybe a dot, are the best investment. Trigger job if it doesn't smooth out acceptably after more use....trigger weight is a lot less important than a smooth, creep free pull.
    /B
     
  23. schmeky

    schmeky Member

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    It is very doubtful a stock RIA is going to have a truly properly fit barrel. The front barrel bushing is only part of the equation. Lower lug fitment, rear barrel/hood clearance, a properly fit lower link, headspace, and the barrel bushing are the holy grails of 1911 accuracy.

    My guess is your going to get 2.5-3.0" groups at 25 yards. If so, this will not allow you to be competitive in true BE competition. A professionally set-up 1911/9mm can do an inch or less at 50 yards.
     
  24. Demitrios

    Demitrios Member

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    Frame to slide fit is good but a very small part of a 1911's accuracy. Schmecky actually said it best, simply put barrel to slide fit is much more important and will account for more accuracy in a 1911.

    A personal opinion of mine is to get a trigger job, I prefer my trigger pull to weigh a little more than my actual 1911 (most of my 1911's weigh a little over 2 1/2 lbs so I like my trigger pull a little above 3 lbs.).

    Also technique is very important, one in paticular that's very useful with the 1911 is once you pull the trigger and the shot is fired is to line up your sites THEN slowly release the trigger until the trigger resets. Now you have no travel in the trigger break.
     
  25. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    Well, as far as RIA pistols go, I found this review of a RIA 1911 GI in .38 complelling:

    http://ezine.m1911.org/contents.htm

    (see Vol II, Issue 4, FEB 2007)

    The reviewer demonstrated a 1.3" and 2.0 groups at 25yards with the GI version of the gun.

    That pistol should be as close to my 9mm as one can get, without finding a 9mm review.

    For serious BE competition, I think one must go to serious $$$. For $450, I am optimistic that this gun will serve me in friendly or even local competitions. I would like to make it as good as it can be for just a few $, if need be.

    For shooting at 25 yards...I think, for me, better glasses will help more than a better side arm :) .... or a red dot. But...I might be able to get to a range next week to try.

    Thanks

    J
     
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