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Old June 6th, 2021, 12:00 PM #1
m.ammer69 m.ammer69 is offline
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Building a 1911

Hi guys, so recently got my HQL and bought my first 1911, great piece, brand new Iver Johnson. When researching different brands I saw that because of how customizable 1911's are, you can basically build one from scratch. Now I currently am not looking to do this but I would like to know for future use. I thought it would be awesome to build my own custom 1911. I was curious if anyone has any advice for someone who is looking into doing this. I was also curious if there is a whole lot of difference in the 1911 frames, like if I got a fullsize frame would I be about the put like a 3.5-4in barrel and slide on it? Or I saw that there are 6in barrels for 1911's but I didn't see to many 6in slides.
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Old June 6th, 2021, 01:01 PM #2
bob finger bob finger is offline
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A few questions to get us started.

Are you talking about building one from scratch, ie a few pieces of raw steel?

Would you prefer starting with basic components like a frame, slide, fire control components etc? and making the pieces fit together and work properly?

Do you have the tools necessary to fit these pieces together? I'm asking about files, stones, jigs etc. If not are you willing to make the investment in what you will need to do basic fitting of parts etc.?

Building a 1911 is not like playing with an Erector set. Takes lots of skill and patience and experience to do it well. The guys who do it well get well over $3000 for each one they build and they already have the tools etc. Wait times for one of these can run into years.

My suggestion is purchase a Springfield Armory 1911 then start playing around with it by learning how to fit barrels, stone the sear, adjust the springs, melt a new grip safety, dehorn and so forth. You can gain a lot of experience without putting yourself in much danger.

Welcome to the 1911 club. They are fun to shoot and can be enjoyable to make it yours if that is what you like to do. bob

PS There are 4 basic types of "1911's", Officer, Commander, 5 inch GI and long slide. Some parts are the same on all, some are not. Frames, slides and barrels are quite different between them. Fire control not so much.
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Old June 6th, 2021, 07:31 PM #3
Rockzilla Rockzilla is offline
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Frames there are ramped, non ramped, same with barrels, material of the frame can be Aluminum, Steel, Stainless Steel, etc.
Frame sizes and on.
Won't go into all of it but check here:
https://www.1911builders.com

Next up.
Tools / Jigs / files / stones add up rather quickly.
Patience / skill / time play a huge part in building them.
But they are fun to build, you get out of them what you
put into it. It ain't no AR where you assemble it. You blend
and fit the parts, slide to frame fit, barrel, etc.
Advice if you plan on just building one, buy one already made.
For what you would have in the parts / jigs / tools you probably
could buy 2, just a thought.

-Rock
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Old June 6th, 2021, 08:18 PM #4
m.ammer69 m.ammer69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob finger View Post
A few questions to get us started.

Are you talking about building one from scratch, ie a few pieces of raw steel?

Would you prefer starting with basic components like a frame, slide, fire control components etc? and making the pieces fit together and work properly?

Do you have the tools necessary to fit these pieces together? I'm asking about files, stones, jigs etc. If not are you willing to make the investment in what you will need to do basic fitting of parts etc.?

Building a 1911 is not like playing with an Erector set. Takes lots of skill and patience and experience to do it well. The guys who do it well get well over $3000 for each one they build and they already have the tools etc. Wait times for one of these can run into years.

My suggestion is purchase a Springfield Armory 1911 then start playing around with it by learning how to fit barrels, stone the sear, adjust the springs, melt a new grip safety, dehorn and so forth. You can gain a lot of experience without putting yourself in much danger.

Welcome to the 1911 club. They are fun to shoot and can be enjoyable to make it yours if that is what you like to do. bob

PS There are 4 basic types of "1911's", Officer, Commander, 5 inch GI and long slide. Some parts are the same on all, some are not. Frames, slides and barrels are quite different between them. Fire control not so much.
Yeah sorry, should have been a little more specific. When I said from scratch meant like being able to start from just a frame and building it up from there. I saw there were basically like kits to build a pistol from the ground up, mainly Glock 17&19 and 1911's. I don't currently have any tools but I was looking more at doing this down the road some, so I would have time to gather what I might need. I was kind of thinking of just getting a cheap 1911 (something like a Chippa, Star, rock island or Springfield, so long as it's mil spec) and just start switching out parts and adding on upgrades, until it was pretty much fully customized just so I have something as a starting point. I was also thinking that I more or less was able to piece something together, I would just need a frame to start with. I was thinking of getting a commander style frame (I believe that's the smallest frame) and put a short barrel on it so it would be like a compact 1911. there was also thoughts of trying to customize a GI style 1911to have basically the longest barrel I could put on it and make it like a marksman pistol.
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Old June 7th, 2021, 01:05 AM #5
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To anyone interested in building a 1911 I’d suggest Oldham and Kuleck’s “The M1911 Complete Assembly Guide, Volume 2”. Ignore the stupid name—it’s actually a modern build guide. Also ignore Volume 1, and I’ll dare to say it……people always suggest the Kuhnhausen books, but both volumes are incredibly unhelpful to the novice and fairly outdated.
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Old June 7th, 2021, 08:13 AM #6
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I would suggest novices staying away from a true Officer size, 3-3.5” slide/barrel and short frame. They can be problematic. Recoil spring have a life expectancy of 500 rounds to illustrate their nature.

The Commander is a 4.25” slide/barrel on a full size frame. Some makes label their 4.00” guns as commander length, though that is a misnomer. A sweet set up is what is known as a CCO...a Commander slide/barrel on the Office frame. Make sure you round butt it a little bit and you’ll have a sweet shooting carry gun. Make it a 9mm and an aluminum frame and it won’t be tough to shoot.

For a novice, start with a full 100% machined frame. One poster suggested starting with a Springer - Mil Spec, my addition to the Springer recommendation. You start with a working gun shoot it. Determine the aspects of it you want to improve. Then do one change at a time. That way, if the pistol is problematic after the change you know what area of the pistol the problem lays. It will force you to look close at function and dimension. The Mil Spec, for minimal $$$ can be made into a very nice pistol (it is to start with). The configuration would be what you really want or need in the pistol. Some of the MilSpec pistols have a well, almost gunsmith fit barrel. It will depend on the tolerance stack in the pistol. If you have that...well smile big.
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Old June 7th, 2021, 08:21 AM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob finger View Post
A few questions to get us started.

Are you talking about building one from scratch, ie a few pieces of raw steel?

Would you prefer starting with basic components like a frame, slide, fire control components etc? and making the pieces fit together and work properly?

Do you have the tools necessary to fit these pieces together? I'm asking about files, stones, jigs etc. If not are you willing to make the investment in what you will need to do basic fitting of parts etc.?

Building a 1911 is not like playing with an Erector set. Takes lots of skill and patience and experience to do it well. The guys who do it well get well over $3000 for each one they build and they already have the tools etc. Wait times for one of these can run into years.

My suggestion is purchase a Springfield Armory 1911 then start playing around with it by learning how to fit barrels, stone the sear, adjust the springs, melt a new grip safety, dehorn and so forth. You can gain a lot of experience without putting yourself in much danger.

Welcome to the 1911 club. They are fun to shoot and can be enjoyable to make it yours if that is what you like to do. bob

PS There are 4 basic types of "1911's", Officer, Commander, 5 inch GI and long slide. Some parts are the same on all, some are not. Frames, slides and barrels are quite different between them. Fire control not so much.
All good points, and all reasons why although I fundamentally understand what would be involved, it's also the reason I'll stick to buying mid-tier 1911s like Dan Wesson that are pretty much good to go out of the box.
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Old June 7th, 2021, 09:16 AM #8
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All good points, and all reasons why although I fundamentally understand what would be involved, it's also the reason I'll stick to buying mid-tier 1911s like Dan Wesson that are pretty much good to go out of the box.
^^^ Yeppers. My experience, until you get to a true customized configuration and quality level it is more cost effective to buy the pistol you want. The catch 22 is one often doesn’t know until they have tried several configurations - that is expensive.

Or you fit, build, file, shape, sand, blend, polish...finish until you know what you like. That is more cost effective. Then you talk to a one off custom shop...you find out the prices start at $5k. So you select, fit, build, file, shape, sand, blend, polish...finish (or send out for finish) your true custom for 30- 40% of the cost. But the requisite understanding and skills are needed to get custom quality and fit.
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Old June 7th, 2021, 09:30 AM #9
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But the requisite understanding and skills are needed to get custom quality and fit.
That right there is the statement of where the rubber really hits the road. I think my Dad could have done it - I saw him put together parts 1911 pistols more than once - but he also knew that platform really well because he'd been tinkering with 1911s for decades.

I just don't have that knowledge, and I don't know how many tries it would take me to get a good handle on what to do, or even more importantly, what not to do, in order to really finely hand-fit a 1911.

At some point I do plan on taking a whack at it, but it will be at a time when I have the time to really devote to it. I think it's a fascinating subject though - the ability to diagnose, fix and improve guns is IMO a good skill to have.
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Old June 7th, 2021, 10:01 AM #10
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“I just don't have that knowledge, and I don't know how many tries it would take me to get a good handle on what to do, or even more importantly, what not to do, in order to really finely hand-fit a 1911“.

If I ever see you at the range or a match ask if I have my Marvel topped 1911. The frame assembly is...lots of learning. It, and the original 45 top end I still have for it, used to cower in the corner of the safe every time I opened the safe door...fear of more experimenting. But the frame and both top ends run. One of lessons we learn is knowing when to stop.

Frame just told me, “Yeah, but not in MY earlier days!”
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