Thinking about a 1911, what should I know first?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Corpral_Agarn, Aug 24, 2016.

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  1. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Okay, so I am thinking about acquiring a 1911.

    Probably something like a SA Loaded model.

    I have been shooting Sigs for years but know next to nothing about 1911's except that they feel great in the hands, shoot great, and have a really interesting history.

    What should a 1911 owner know about the pistol/design before he makes the plunge?

    Thanks for any wisdom you may provide.

    Have a great day!
     
  2. guyfromohio

    guyfromohio Member

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    I think you nailed it. I'm no expert, but have owned about a half dozen + and have four now.

    They like to be lubed. Keep it wet.

    First thing you should do is top off the magazines and let them sit until you shoot....hours, days, months....whatever. If rounds get hung up (especially the last round of the mag), it's typically a mag issue that will work itself out through use. Letting them sit loaded will help. I always buy Tripp Cobramags. I've never had one hang up in a Tripp.

    Shoot with the thumb over the safety, pressing down. Some will argue with that, but I find the recoil sends my hand into the safety, engaging it if I don't. Also develops muscle-memory for disengaging it naturally when pointing.

    I'm sure the experts will chime in soon enough (no sarcasm intended). I enjoy them, but there are people with far more knowledge to impart. Enjoy!

    I'll also add that if you aren't left handed, the Ambi-safety is not only worthless, but a nuisance.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  3. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    The thumb safety is your friend.

    Your thumb should always be on the thumb safety from the time you get a full firing grip on the gun in the holster, to presentation, to shooting, to reholstering. Once you get that in your head, you'll have no troubles forgetting to switch it off when you want to shoot or back on when you want it safe.
     
  4. MikeJackmin

    MikeJackmin Member

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    I think there are two things every new 1911 owner should know:

    The Idiot Scratch:

    https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=idiot+scrach&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8#q=idiot+scratch

    Reholstering:

    Placing a pistol into a holster seems fairly straightforward, but it can be surprisingly hazardous and it counts as one of those things that must be performed properly, every time.

    The danger comes when the user gets distracted and fails to set the thumb safety. If the pistol is held in usual grip, the grip safety is defeated as well, meaning that any drag on the trigger can potentially cause a ruinous discharge. The drag can come from allowing the trigger finger to rest on the trigger while the pistol is being holstered, or from the fold of a tee shirt slipping into the trigger guard, or from the soft leather of the holster deforming and rubbing on the side of the trigger - this can happen when you are reholstering while standing or kneeling in an unusual posture.

    I say 'ruinous' because of the potential for the round to find its way into the user's thigh. A tunneling thigh wound is a killer - there are large blood vessels which can be damaged, and they will be deep under powerful muscles which will be hardened by spasm. Stopping the bleeding can be impossible. There are numerous stories of police officers and others who have been killed by 'glock leg' even when surrounded by professional help at the range.

    I believe there are four steps to correctly reholstering a 1911:

    1) Do it deliberately. Understand it's a potentially dangerous moment and give it a moment's attention.

    2) Thumb safety on.

    3) After you check that it's on, reposition your thumb to the space between the hammer and the frame. Leave it there while the pistol is holstered.

    4) As the nose of the pistol enters the holster, find the edge of the holster with the tip of your outstretched trigger finger. If you don't feel it, stop.

    The idea of placing the thumb in front of the hammer is twofold - first, it gets you off the grip safety, and second, if the hammer does drop, you have a prayer of slowing it down. The reason for finding the edge of the holster with the trigger finger is primarily to confirm the finger is off the trigger, but also to provide confirmation that the holster is where you think it is. If this unusual grip on the pistol is always preceded by checking the placement of the safety, the two acts will be joined by habit and become an unconscious part of the holstering process.

    I also like the general rule that a pistol should either be in both hands, or in the holster. Unless you are bullseye shooting, if you find yourself holding it with one hand, put it away.

    These are good habits and they will extend to other makes. Obviously, a Glock will not benefit from either a safety check or a by the placement of the thumb, but the rest of the process is no less necessary. There's no reason not to use the same technique with every pistol.

    A good 1911 holster is stiff enough not to bend and drag on the trigger. It also covers both the trigger and the thumb safety.
     
  5. BP Hunter

    BP Hunter Member

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    Also for safety, I have a holster with a thumb break. The hammer is cocked , safety on and thumb break of the holster is in between the gun and the hammer. Nearly impossible for it to go off accidentally.
     
  6. BlindJustice

    BlindJustice Member

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    Corporal Agarn didn't carry a 1911, more like a SAA from prop dept.

    Colt and then everybody else.

    Original firing system aka '70 Series' and previous civiilian and gov't 1911s
    did not have the Firing Pin Safety system which was added to the 80
    Series and subsequent 1991 series. The 80 series FPS adds about a
    Lb to the trigger pull.

    S&W 1911s have an FPS but it doesn't add to the trigger pull, as it's
    deactivated by depressing the Grip Safety.

    I have a Colt 1991 Series Commander .45 ACP
    Improvements over the original Commander 4.225" BBl len
    * Lowered Ejection port
    * Raised sights with 3 white dots
    * Long trigger
    * Grip safety tang has a notch for the hammer so it must
    sit a bit higher than the 70 Series Cmdrs It doesn't bite.

    Also, a S&W 1911 full size 5" Bbl.
    With the Bell & Whistles Traditional & Non Traditional features
    * CCmdr style holed hammer with
    * Beavertail Grip Safety
    * Novak lo-Mount 3-dot carry sights
    * FPS system
    * Forward vertical serrations on slide
    * 3 Hole alum. trigger
    * Full Length (recoil) Guide Rod

    & the carry a CCO type variant
    Springfield Armory Range Officer Compact
    4" Bbl. with alloy Officers size frame

    Full size & Commander have a height of 5.5" both
    havinng full length grip An Officers frame is 4.75"
    in height, os mags carry one less round thouggh
    a full length mag will work in an Officers frame but
    not the other way

    Colt has offered the Colt Combat Carry Officers aka
    CCO = Commander 4.25? bbl SLide on the Officers
    frame. Some makers offers the 4" slide and Offiers
    frame.

    One's blued, Stainless Steel mattte finish and the Ro
    Compact is Parkerized

    They come in all flavors

    Nothing like a 1911 trigger


    I run Wilson Combat magazines 8 rds, and
    1 7 rd'er for the RO Compact.

    Randall
     
  7. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    I'll basically agree with the first sentence, but disagree with the second. There are lots of very nice 1911 holster that don't cover the trigger, which really isn't needed since there is the thumb safety anyway, and there really is no reason for a holster to cover the thumb safety other than personal preference.
     
  8. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    What JTQ said. The 1911 thumb safety is brilliantly designed, and people who complain about the risks of "forgetting" to take off a safety have never correctly used one.

    Ride the safety. Every single shot. If it feels weird, it's proof that you had a poor, low grip anyway. It forces a better grip.
     
  9. lpsharp88

    lpsharp88 Member

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    Just avoid the idiot scratch!
     
  10. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Oh, he still does, but its no prop ;)
    [YOUTUBE]PFD2UDXRZGA[/YOUTUBE]

    I have done that style of match 3 times now.
    Actually the latest vid is going up soon.

    Thank you for all your advice. I appreciate the detailed response!
     
  11. RX-79G

    RX-79G Member

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    The main thing someone shopping for a 1911 should know is that "1911" isn't a model, or a standard or a set of specs. It just implies what the gun will look like and what sort of parts are likely to fit in them.


    Because of the competition in this saturated market, the specs on individual models from all the manufacturers are constantly changing. Kimber got an amazing reputation with their first series, but later guns were known for their problems. Colt has had many periods of poor quality, but right now is considered a good bet.

    So really do your research. Don't buy a Springfield model that everyone in 2010 loved - it isn't the same gun today. Either by a used gun from an era that was particularly high quality, or read the most current reviews and quality complaints about the models you're considering. Then figure out which of those guns has the features, accuracy, reliability, customer service and flaws that you find acceptable for your price. You may be surprised what brand/model you end up with when you shop with your eyes open.
     
  12. BlindJustice

    BlindJustice Member

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    Thumb Safety seems on thread.

    I don't put the thumb over the thumb safety for firing grip -

    some do some don't

    I had a thumb safety break at the pin, on the S&W 1911
    I had it replaced with an Ed Brown Extended Tactical Thumb Safety.
    'Tactical ( hate that branding ) is 1/8" narrower and tapers
    toward the forward point. When I got my stocker 1991 Series
    Commander, handling it and a couple of range sessions, The TS
    was widely sharp serrations upper and lower sides tore up the
    inside of my RH thumb. So I had the same Ed Brown TS installed
    and fitted for it. I like the shape & operation the lower side is
    smooth, and the upper has fine serration.. I'll get the same
    done to my RO Compact soonest.

    Point is there is a large aftermarket of parts to personalize a 1911
    to fit.

    Another example.

    The S&W 1911 I have is 7-8 years since I got it. It had a Polymer
    Arched and 20 LPI checkering on the Main Spring
    Housing. DUg into the heel of the hand. I went to Brownell's and
    options galore,
    * Arched or Flat
    * Smooth / Serrations / smooth / pebbled etc.

    Replaced with a Les Baer Custom Stainless Steel Matte finish
    flat profile w/vertical serrations. matching the finish of the gun..

    * Getting some options over a basic is a good move price wise

    The newly introduced Light Weight Commander is $ 949 msrp
    compared to the 1991 series at $ 799. for the extra $ 150
    yah get the Beavertail Safety and Novak low mount sights
    which would run about twice as much as the difference in
    price if the gunsmitth mod'd a 1991 standard.

    Then there's Forged vs Cast Frame/Slide

    oh, and this manufacturer claims 'match' barrel what does that mean?

    Randall
     
  13. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    I do grip my 1911 with my thumb atop the thumb safety. More than anything else it is to keep from kicking it up during recoil. Your thumb has to be there during the draw anyway, why move it after taking the safety off?

    I would avoid 1911s that use a full length guide rod (FLGR). They aren't needed to control the recoil spring and don't add enough weight to the front of the gun to make much difference in recoil.

    You'll have to index your grip a bit differently than you have with your SIGs. If to take a grip that presses up on the rear tang of the frame, you'll lever the grip safety off.

    An easy way to avoid the "idiot scratch" is the have the slide stop detent notch correctly contoured
     
  14. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Thumb breaks have a tendency to wipe off the thumb safety -- I don't have them on my holsters.
     
  15. guyfromohio

    guyfromohio Member

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    Agree.

    I probably have several hundred dollars in high-end 1911 leather, but they all feel best in my Crossbreed Supertuck.
     
  16. springer99

    springer99 Member

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    Obviously, dis-assembly/assembly of a 1911 is a bit different than SIG's or other polymer semi-s, but after you do it once, it's just as easy and can be done without any tools. Thank Mr. Browning for that. Just avoid the idiot scratch if at all possible. Depending on the level of fit and finish you are happy with, you can pick up a good 1911 for anywhere from $400 to $1000 or more. SA is a good choice to start with.

    The most striking difference you will find with a good 1911 is how much better the trigger is(or can be with a bit of work). Plus, the amount of custom parts available for them is staggering and you can be sure that once you're done, your 1911 will probably be unlike anyone else's. It'll also be a rock-solid firearm that, with some care, will outlast you.
     
  17. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    I have more Colts than other brands.
    I don't ride the safety Can't I am left handed and don't have ambi safety except on a old Colt Officer blue enhance I knock safety off as I begin draw . and make sure I keep finger from trigger. My Colt only ambi safety I haven't broke. I long ago gave up buying them.
     
  18. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    The biggest question is how much $ you want to spend. If I was starting out fresh today, I would lean towards Remington or Ruger.
     
  19. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    I think the sweet spot in 1911s is around $1200-$1500...I really like the Dan Wesson models

    Excellent values at the lower end can be had with RIA Rock/Tac series and at the upper end with a SA Professional
     
  20. drband

    drband Member

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    Find, handle, and shoot as many as you can. Chances are you'll find one that "speaks" to you. My best one is a Dan Wesson Heritage.
     
  21. guyfromohio

    guyfromohio Member

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    Admittedly, I haven't yet owned a custom. I do have two Dan Wessons and have had four Colts. My Colts have been outstanding except for a Lightweight Commander XSE TALO. I couldn't get anything to feed and rid myself of it soon after. However, my 2015 1991 Government and 2016 Lightweight XE are great guns. The XE has been 100% out of the box.

    That being said, if you can find a CZ 1911A1, grab it! They go for mid-$700s, only 1000 were made, and they have zero MIM parts from what I understand (debates will follow as to the importance of that). The fit if this gun rivals my Dan Wessons. I found it two weeks ago in a LGS case. They had two. For $789 (I probably paid about $30 more than what I've seen them sell for), you really can't beat the quality. If you can spend a few hundred more, I love my Dan Wessons.....VBOB and ECO. If you can spend in that $1600-$2000 range, people love their Les Baers. I had a used Commanche that wouldn't feed anything for about a week before I unloaded it, but I would try it again in a heartbeat with a 5" model.
     
  22. pblanc

    pblanc Member

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    I know a ton of people own model 1911s and have never had a problem, but the fact is the design (though brilliant) is dated, and they can be fussy.

    The angle of the feed ramp can make chambering some hollow point rounds problematical. Those model 1911s true to the original design with an internal extractor also require proper adjustment of extractor tension and deflection for reliable function.

    I also prefer the original short recoil spring guide rods to the full-length rods, although a full-length rod would not be a deal-breaker for me.

    It might be worth noting the difference between Series 70 and Series 80 model 1911s. Series 70 and 80 were terms coined by Colt but they have been applied to model 1911s of all manufacturers. The original Series 70 pistols had/have no firing pin block safety and thus are not entirely drop safe. Series 80 pistols have additional parts in the trigger assembly that incorporate a firing pin block. Many prefer the Series 70 pistols for simplicity and feel that the additional Series 80 parts detract from the trigger action. A number of makers including Springfield Armory still manufacture Series 70 type pistols.

    Series 70 pistols can be made more drop safe by replacing the firing pin with a titanium pin (less mass and therefore less momentum when dropped) along with an extra strength firing pin spring.
     
  23. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    This.
    They all feel different in your hand even though they are based on the same design. I own several and they all have a different feel. i.e LPI of the backstrap/frontstrap, slide serrations, recoil impulse, etc.
     
  24. Hardtarget

    Hardtarget Member

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    I got a 1911 Colt Govt. last year. My boss gave me a very nice "45th anniversary" gift! All I can say is...go get it! You'll like it, no doubt.

    Mark
     
  25. DaisyCutter

    DaisyCutter Member

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    https://flic.kr/p/Lm716j

    I have a pair of SA Loaded 1911s, linked above.

    I find they are both very accurate, both function flawlessly. Both triggers settled right at 5 lbs after break in.

    Originally I had the stainless, and when I dropped him off to have Trijicon sights installed, I came across the parked one that already had the Trijicon Novaks, for $649.

    Sheesh, I paid $750 for the stainless, and another $250 to have it's sights changed.

    Lemme tell ya, changing sights on a 1911 is NOT like a Glock, $75 amd 15 minutes. No, every 1911 manufacturer seems to have a proprietary slide cut for sights. It took my gun smith a month to trade em out, and it wasn't cheap.

    I didn't like the SA 2-piece full length guide rod. I tried a Wilson GI guide and plug and a 1-piece Wilson FL guide rod. http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=807638

    In the end, the Stainless got the 1-piece FLGR and the parked got the GI setup.

    IMO, the Loaded is a great deal. Kimbers and Colts have firing pin safety blocks, but not the SA. Also, the SA frame is forged.

    My Loaded models couldn't perform any better. Money isn't an object for me, so if I needed an Ed Brown then I'd have one. Both the Loaded models shoot 100%, using about 16 different mags I own, with every bullet I've tried.

    BTW I love the Wilson ETM 8-round mags. They seat as easily as a 7-rounder, which no other 8-rounder I've tried is capable of. The ETM is about 1/8th inch longer than norm.
     
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