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Taking the 1911 dive... on a budget

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by BigBL87, Jul 31, 2018.

  1. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    So, a friend recently asked to buy my Marlin 795, which added to some money I've already saved up puts me in striking distance of some of the more inexpensive 1911's. I was originally going to buy a bolt action 223 for coyote hunting, but decided my AR is adequate for that and I'd get more enjoyment out of a 1911.

    I've never owned one or shot one. I have held them but never actually got to try them out on the range. I've done a little research, and I think the main things I want in addition to the basics are:

    Extended Beaver Tail - I have pretty meaty hands and feel like hammer bite would be an issue.

    3 Dot or Fiber Optic Sights - 3 dot sights are what I'm used to, and even my LCP II I painted the front ramp for contrast. I usually paint the front sight fluorescent orange and the rear fluorescent yellow/green for contrast. I've never used fiber optics but feel like they'd work just as well if not better, and seem to be more common in 1911s than 3 dots.

    I also would like rosewood grips, but those I'll probably buy later from Altamont Co. so there's really no need to have them out of the box.

    So, the makes/models I'm looking at are (going with 45 ACP):

    RIA Rock Standard FS, $428 (I'd probably end up buying a Dawson Precision FO front sight, and heck probably a rear too if I'm going to replace the front. Never installed a handgun sight before so not overly confident in my ability to do that. Most in depth I've done is spring and trigger swap on my Marlin.)

    RIA Rock Ultra FS, $529 (Nothing I'd really need to change that I can see)

    Remington R1 Enhanced, $579 (Found a site with it for that price, don't know if that will last until I have all the money together though)

    Any experience with these, or additional suggestions? My budget is sub $600, the lower the better as I need to buy ammo and mags too.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
  2. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    You've named some pretty good choices there. I'm relatively inexperienced with the 1911, too. I got my first, a Tisas A2 ("GI"-type) maybe two years ago or a little less, and a Remington Enhanced Commander in stainless last year. The R1 is pretty slick and solid. No three-dots, but the Novak rear and F/O front work well together.

    If it hadn't been for the Remington rebate at the time, the Ruger SR1911 might have won out instead.
     
  3. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    Sights are a big deal on a 1911. Unlike a Glock, Beretta, SIG, etc., not all 1911's use the same sight cuts, and not all sights are available for the same sight cuts. Even within the same 1911 family, Colt is a good example, they use a variety of different sight cuts depending on the model.

    Front sights - most non-tritium/non-fiber optic front sights on factory 1911's (especially in your stated price range) are not dovetailed into the slide. Most aftermarket tritium/fiber optic front sights require a dovetail. If you're changing your front sight, chances are good you're looking at getting a dovetail cut for a new front sight ($).

    Rear sights are even more complicated. Typical budget 1911's use a GI type rear sight which is a narrow dovetail. Stepping up a level, the Novak cut rear sight is a common one, and the dovetail is wider, but there are many Novak-like rear sight dovetails that don't directly take a Novak rear sight without some work ( https://www.novaksights.com/Content.aspx?PAGE="Sights 101" ). Adjustable rear sights typically have a different dovetail than fixed rear sights. Choose wrong on your rear sight, without paying attention to factory dovetail, and your aftermarket options, and you're looking at grinding or welding your slide and some extra money to a gunsmith.

    If you're picky about your sights, up you're available cash outlay to include the sights you want from the factory, or at the very least pay attention to the sight cuts on the gun you choose to make sure your desired sights fit the dovetail on the gun you pick.
     
  4. John G C 1

    John G C 1 Member

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    JTQ makes really good points. After market add-ons can cost a lot if you do not plan ahead.

    If you get GI sights and they are off, that might really be a problem if you want to target shoot at a distance.

    I am sure you will get lots of info from others more experienced than I.

    Have fun.
     
  5. drband

    drband Member

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    You can get the rock ultra for about what your upgrades would be added to the basic model.
    They seem like a good package.

    If you choose to add sights to the basic model, be sure to go with Dawson AND purchase from their web site. They can confirm the sight will fit your exact gun.

    I had a RIA mid size that I loved—should not have traded it! I currently have a RIA TCM combo, commander size, that is excellent. I did replace the plain front sight with a Dawson FO sight. Perfect match to the dovetail with minimal fitting.
     
  6. IronBeast

    IronBeast Member

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    I was in the same boat last year. I wanted a 1911 with a fiber optic front sight. I ended up with the RIA Ultra mainly cause the added cost over the basic model was pretty much what the aftermarket sight plus install would have cost me. I read that RIA slide cut can be a little off and didn't want to mess it up installing the sights myself. I love the Ultra and have no regrets. It's a great budget friendly 1911.
     
  7. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    As my gunsmith says, if the factory will do it, LET the factory do it. Buy the model in the configuration you want, modifications to these cheap guns will destroy the savings. Now if your budget was $6000 instead of $600, the answer would be different.
     
  8. thomas15

    thomas15 Member

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    Some of the Remington 1911s have combat dovetail cuts. Key word: some. My advice is make sure whatever 1911 you get has dovetails cut for bowmar or novak. But then again at the price point under consideration you will not get everything. Personally I would tend towards saving up and at the least get something like a SA Range Officer. Reason: you will end up putting a ton of aftermarket stuff on and other things like additional mags so get something decent to start with.

    There is a forum dedicated to 1911s that a lot of user here belong to, consider: forums.1911forum.com Lots of discussion on specific makes and models.
     
  9. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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  10. pblanc

    pblanc Member

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    I own a RIA Rock full-size .45 ACP and installed a fiberoptic front sight on it. From what I can see, the only difference between the Rock Standard and the Rock Ultra are the sights and the grip panels. The Ultra has nice G10 grip panels, a fiberoptic front sight, and an adjustable rear sight. But if you plan to install rosewood grip panels, the money you spend for those G10 grips will go for naught.

    The Rock Standard and Rock Ultra both have dovetail cuts on the slide for front and rear sights. The front sight is not pinned. RIA used to say the dovetails are cut to Novak specs, but I found that is not quite true. I gathered from talking to Dave Dawson and from various internet forums that RIA has used several slightly different cuts for their "Novak inspired" dovetail cuts. Personally, I did not want an adjustable rear sight on my model 1911. If you are into target shooting, you may want one, but for my use an adjustable rear would just have added bulk and complexity.

    The front sight post and the rear sight on the Rock Standard are blacked out. But the rear sight has little dimples that make it very easy to paint in white or florescent dots if you wish. I have found that Testors florescent enamel paints work very well for that purpose. I checked Dave Dawson's site and spoke with him by phone, but I found that he did not make a florescent front sight of the width and height I needed. I bought a Hi-Viz LightWave front sight for model 1911 Novak dovetails from ebay for around $25. The width and height of this sight post exactly matches that of the stock sight that comes on the Rock Standard. I would not say changing the front sight is all that difficult, but you do need some punches and preferably a bench vise. I also had to do a moderate amount of fitting of the Hi-Viz sight to fit the RIA dovetail. This mostly involved filling down the bottom of the dovetail block on the sight. If you do not have the tools, time, or inclination to do this, changing the front sight would be a trivial job for any competent gunsmith. In addition to installing the Hi-Viz fiberoptic front sight and painting in the dots on the rear, I widened the aperture notch a little on the rear sight to allow a bit faster acquisition of sight picture. This is a trivial job if you have some needle files and cold blue. I am now very happy with the sights on my Rock Standard.

    As far as the pistol goes, I think the Rock Standard or Ultra would be a good choice for your price range. I wound up making a lot of changes on mine, many of which were a matter of personal preference, like the sights. But I really detested the ambidextrous thumb safety lever. I am a right-handed shooter and have no particular desire for a safety lever on the right side of the pistol, and the edges of the lever are rather sharp and can cut into your hand. I have heard a number of other owners of RIA pistols with ambi thumb safeties voice the same complaint. Both models of the Rock are going to have the same thumb safety lever. If you want to retain the ambi lever and find the edges too sharp, you could certainly file them down a bit and hit them with some cold blue.

    The trigger action on the Rock is very good and the beaver tail grip safety is very comfortable. I would up installing a longer trigger shoe because of my hand size, but the stock trigger shoe should be perfectly good for most shooters. I do not like full-length guide rods and wound up changing the guide rod and plug to standard "GI" types which also simplifies disassembly. The Rock Standard comes with two sets of grips, one rather thick and perfectly smooth wood and the other much thinner checkered polymer. The thick wood grips were good for my hand size, but afforded insufficient purchase, so I installed different grip panels and a Pearce grip sleeve.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
  11. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    The remington R1 is a real solid gun for the money. I've seen them in the $550 range. I'm not really a remington fan but I've held and shot the R1 and it is a nice gun. I don't personally care for the rock island guns because I am biased against foreign made 1911's and the finish on them is pretty rough. People that own them say they are great though. Don't overlook the used rack, there are some great deals out there.
     
  12. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    If you've never shot a 1911, go shoot one first.
    Since you're on a budget, all those add-ons will cost you extra
    and JMB designed a pretty nice pistol as it came straight out of the Hartford.
    If you don't need the options, why pay for them?
    But the only way you'll know is to shoot a 1911 first.
    Rent a few with the gingerbread as well. and then decide what you want to spend your $$ on.
     
    dr3d and RetiredUSNChief like this.
  13. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    I'm pretty sure the Range Officer has an LPA rear dovetail that will put you in a bind if you want to have a Novak rear, or pretty much any fixed sight option (there are some, but most are not very attractive).

    My point with my first post was that folks living in this "Glock generation" where they think all dovetails are the same, don't pay enough attention to the sight cuts on 1911's, and they end up putting themselves in a bind when they choose a gun that doesn't have appropriate sight cuts for the sights they intend to use.

    Interestingly, the gun that made me realize this problem was the Springfield Range Officer when it was first introduced. The gun was designed as an entry level competition gun (you know, for "range use only"), but since it was new, everybody recommended it, even for those looking for a concealed carry 1911 over established Springfield models like the Loaded. It's not hard to understand how all these new Range Officer owners were disappointed to find there were no night sight options (at the time), and the sharp corners of the LPA adjustable sight was uncomfortable in a concealment holster and it was tearing up their cover garments, it was fragile and breaking, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
  14. thomas15

    thomas15 Member

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    Correct.

    I believe the RO does come with an adjustable rear sight. I believe also Dawson Precision sells sights to fit this 1911. This is not the case with my Remington R1 I'm either 1. stuck with the factory plastic fixed sights, or 2. need to have the dovetails recut.

    But I agree with you in the main.
     
  15. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    The Turkish and Filipino 1911's that I and my family members have owned have been good guns. It's easy to get a new one for $400ish. The only problem with the basic "GI" models, in my experience, are the tiny sights.

    The OP should purchase a 1911 that already has the sights that he wants. They might not be cheap or easy to upgrade.

    My FiL enjoyed shooting my GI model, but was wiser and bought himself one that already had the bigger sights, the extended beavertail, and nicer grips. His is from a Filipino company that I believe is called Metro Arms. He got it for less than $400, but it was a ridiculously good bargain because of some mistake on the seller's part (I misremember the details). It is a very nice firearm.

    Be careful with the grips and grip screws! He decided to refinish his grips for no particularly good reason, and managed to bugger up the inserts that the grip screws go into. Some are standard, some are metric, and some are a horrid combination thereof. Figuring out exactly what he needed and obtaining them was annoying for him.

    I wouldn't be afraid to buy one used. I rarely buy new handguns anymore. The 1911 seems to me to be a pretty stout firearm. I doubt that the average person could manage to wear one out just by shooting it at the range every now and then.

    Let us know how it turns out! :)
     
  16. WC145

    WC145 Member

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    Save a little more money and buy more gun. I'm not a gun snob but buying a $400 RIA to put a couple of hundred into sights and machining and refinishing the slide doesn't make good economic sense because it's not going to be worth the investment. You're putting money into the gun but not increasing it's value, it's still going to be a $400 RIA.

    Colt's Series 70 Competition models have everything on your list and can be had for under $800. You'll have a better quality gun made with better components and you won't have to put money into anything but ammo.
     
  17. Good Ol' Boy

    Good Ol' Boy Member

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    My advice is don't be in a rush to buy.

    When I got my first 1911 I wanted the same things, actual sights (not GI) and extended beaver tail, as well as extended safety. I was also looking cheap.

    I picked this Turkish commander on sale for $370 and it's been great.


    IMG_20170630_180131335_zps8armxlk9.jpg





    I'd also concur with the person who said to keep an eye on the used racks. I recently saw a used fullsize Colt with all the features you seek for $599.
     
  18. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    I'm a long time 1911 shooter - nothing on the used shelves scares me more than a used 1911. Sure, you may find a gun that had a box of ammo shot through it, and the guy said, "boy this is heavy, and the ammo is real expensive, and I just got to get rid of it," and he sells it with nothing more done to it.

    However, in this "Glock/AR era" where folks are used to snapping parts together to either build or upgrade their guns, take one 1911, add in a Brownell's catalog, a Dremel tool, and a credit card, and things can get pretty ugly real fast. My guess is for every one "a box of ammo through the 1911" sitting on the gun store shelves, there are five "I always wanted to be a 1911 gunsmith, and how hard can it be anyway" formerly perfectly functioning 1911's, but now paperweights sitting right next to it.
     
  19. Jonesy814

    Jonesy814 Member

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    A friend of mine has had the RI ultra FS for 3 or 4 years. He has run probably 1000 or more rounds through it with absolutely no problems.
     
  20. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    GunnyUSMC writes:

    I second this. I don't know why I didn't think of it before.

    The OP's $600 budget will get him plenty of 1911 to scratch the itch. It's a good time to buy guns.

    When I bought my Tisas, I actually wanted the "GI" look, complete with the minuscule sights.

    When I bought my stainless R1 Enhanced Commander, I was actually thinking of carrying it sometime (my being left-handed is keeping that on hold for the time being.)
     
  21. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    You just need to know what you’re looking at.
     
  22. Good Ol' Boy

    Good Ol' Boy Member

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    No offense but I don't think tinkering with drop in parts on a Glock or AR is the same as tinkering with a 1911, nor do I think most folks would attempt to do so, at least around my parts.

    YMMV...
     
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  23. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    This is what worries me about trying something even as simple as sights. That's part of the reason I started looking at the Rock Ultra, as it is basically a ready to go setup for me within my budget.

    As far was "wait and save more" that's somewhat difficult as a majority of what I've made is from selling other firearms or accessories, which I'm pretty tapped out on. We have a 10 month old, so spare money in the budget won't go to firearm purchases if and when it exists. I might be able to make a shade over $600, but getting into the $700-800 range or higher isn't happening anytime soon unless I win some money or something.
     
  24. brunowbe

    brunowbe Member

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    Find a gently used Ruger Sr1911 full size 6700. They can be found easily under $600 and still come with Ruger’s lifetime warranty. I bought one NIB and love it. The RIAs are also good guns for the money.
     
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  25. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    By no means is swapping parts with the Glock/AR the same as with the 1911. That was my point. However, there are an awful lot of folks that figure since they've built an AR or swapped some trigger parts on a Glock, they're now ready to do a barrel swap on their .45 ACP 1911 and turn it into a 9mm, since 9mm is a whole lot cheaper to shoot. I mean how hard could it be? (lots of sarcasm) Those guns are out there. I just try to avoid them and I encourage others to do the same.

    Hey, nobody is modifying their SIG P220, or their S&W 4506. They buy them and shoot them, or don't. When they get tired of them, they sell them. Those are good guns to buy used. On the other hand, heck there are all kinds of 1911 parts in the Brownell's catalog, and a whole bunch of folks that think they're gunsmiths, but aren't.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
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