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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As I look around for the 1911 of my dreams (that I can afford and shoot a lot), I can not find that "unique" gun that has all the features that I want w/o further modifications. There are about 5 models that come close, but each gun has a mix of what I like and some features that I do not like. I'm definatly staying under $1000. Under $750 would be better. :)

So here's my question: Is it possible for a person with good mechanical skills to buy all the needed/wanted pieces and parts from various venders and build his own "custom" gun for less that a pro-built custom 1911 or a basic 1911 sent out to a gunsmith?:scratch:

It just doesn't make sense to me to buy a $700 1911, only to send it out for $400 more in modifications to get it just the way I want it. That is also out of my price range.

Your experiences and opinions are welcomed on this subject.Thanks
 

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no

Suggest either sucking it up, spending millions, and get EXACTLY what you want, or buying 'close' and modifying THAT yourself (that's my current route; got TWO SA 1911's strewn in pieces across my bench. One 45, one 9x19. 'Course, gotta custom Caspian -- serial # and all -- so I can say that :D ).
 

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I don't think you're going to be able to do what you want to for less than $1000. If you're getting top quality components, you'll easily surpass $1200 with a Caspian frame and slide. On the plus side, while it may not be cheap, you'll have exactly what you want with no compromises and have the satisfaction of doing it yourself.
 

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All depends on what you want when you say features.

My current build on a Caspian frame will probably be 8-900 when it's done, but it is what I want. And all good parts.

I have also done a couple "nice" ones for way less.

Guess you need to be more specific as to what bells and whistles you are wanting?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Modify Gramp's WWI 1911???

I keep having this idea. Some would likely have me "keel-hauled" for what I am about to propose. I'm thinkin': use my WWI Colt US Army as the base for my dream gun! I want to keep it in the family, but right now it is just for looks and it pains me to have a gun that I don't shoot.

I'm told by gunshops that this 1917 1911 is worth about $800-$1000 as is. If I had the slide cut for a set of Novak sights, beavertail grip safety, Commander hammer, a trigger job and a Robar or similiar black coating, I would be near to having a perfect Colt 1911. IMO :cool:

Decisions, decisions. I'm in no rush. Just runnin' ideas around to see what floats or sinks.
 

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I wouldn't touch your dads gun. Worth more as a memory than anything.

For what you want a basic carbon frame and slide, with the sight cuts and beavertail radius would be a good start. Essex or Caspian would do everything you need it to do. Then just piece it together.

My very first build on a Sarco parts kit and Doublestar frame is still shooting fine after three years and untold rounds. And at 7 to 15 yds off hand will make a nice 1" to 1-1/2" hole in the middle, if I am doing my job.

You may want to consider doing something with Brownells gun paint as opposed to sending it our for coating, especially on a budget.
 

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Best45acp said:
If I sell the WWI 1911 to pay for my dream 1911, I would make my Dad dissappointed because he wants me to keep Gramp's gun, not sell it.
I joined 1911forum.com because I came across this post. Please don't sell your grandfather's Colt. Not only would it break your father's heart, you would lose something of infinite value that could never be replaced.

If you do sell it, make sure it is to someone you can buy it back from one day.
 

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I suggest it takes more than just good mechanical skills to make a good custom gun. There was a class I think by Dave Sample where he guides people through this sort of procedure, but it's heavy on the guidance. I don't think you can do this from a pile of parts and Kuhnhausen's book, for example. Not and get it right the first time.

There is such a thing as expertise, which is very much related to experience.

For example, even Ed Brown's first few guns were probably not all that great. His 100th might be getting pretty good. His 5,000th is really great.

One problem often mentioned about old guns is the metallurgy just isn't up to modern standards. Not much point in making a dream gun and having it crack on you. Better to at least buy a more modern starter gun. Especially since it's at least a 50/50 chance that you will screw it up. (No offense...)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
ranger said:
One problem often mentioned about old guns is the metallurgy just isn't up to modern standards. Not much point in making a dream gun and having it crack on you. Better to at least buy a more modern starter gun. Especially since it's at least a 50/50 chance that you will screw it up. (No offense...)
I agree. I going to save up for a nib Colt 1991 Commander and use it as my base gun. Over time I will develope it into the final gun I desire. I'll let the pro's do the skilled work and I'll stick with the simple stuff. I ordered a "Complete 1911 Basics" dvd to learn more about the 1911's internals, tear-down and other fun stuff.

Good viewing during the long cold winters in my neck of the woods.
 

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I'd leave the old GI Colt alone. Don't sell it, don't modify it and shoot it. Most people would LOVE to have that piece of history in thier collection. I cringe at the thought of hacking it up. I feel the same way about cars, I love the old cars in thier original form...but many people are into hotrodding so YMMV.

If your on a budget, get a springer milspec or something as a base gun and build that up. Once you cut into that Colt you won't be able to "put it back" and it will be difficult to replace. You can always build another gun.
 

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DO NOT MESS WITH THE GI COLT..... You'll hate it later if you do.

Anyway, you can get all the cool parts you need and stay under your budget. The problem comes when you need things done that a home 'smith cannot do. When you need dovetails cut in the slide for the sights, checkering on the frontstrap or elsewhere, serrating the top or back of the slide or numerous other MACHINE work requirements. What about finishing? Yeah you could do the Brownells thing and do some type of bake on finish, but do you really want to put a spray can finish on a gun that you spent a LOT of money and time on? All this "EXTRA" stuff is what costs the money. If it were nothing more than ordering the parts and putting them together, then YEAH, by all means full steam ahead. As long as you know there are going to be things that you simply CANNOT do on your own and you'll have to emply the services of an outside 'smith to help you.

Good Luck

Nala
 

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I going to save up for a nib Colt 1991 Commander and use it as my base gun.
That doesn't compute to me. You're likely to make more than one misstep in your first customization effort and you can't put the metal back on. Get a used Commander (a beater even) or a used MilSpec and learn on that. When you've developed the skills, then work on a brand new Colt.
/B
 

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Save The Relic

Every time someone knowledgeable gets hold of my favorite pistol, They keel-haul me for modifying an original 1911. It was a commercial model made in 1923, nickle plated when I got it. I shot it until the slide cracked where they usually do, on the left side at the rear of the ejection port. THEN I got a new slide and some new internals and built a pistol that suits me. I can't count how many rounds have been thru the gun. Learn from my experience. Bag the original slide. If you don't have Brownells catalog, get it. Build a custom top end for your 1911 and replace the original parts that need replacing. I made no effort to keep mine original, installing a mag well and Ed Brown beavertail. You can get a 1911A1 grip safety and have an extension welded on it to shape a safety that won't bite. When it's time, get a new frame and finish the project. A 'modified' 1911 in the hand is worth 2 in the safe.
 

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Iwill echo the above, LEAVE the 1917 alone. I have a 1918 and will never touch it...

Also agree with some posts, why buy new to experiment with. I've seen loads of cheap guns, like a Kimber Custom Classic (loads of MIM parts) slightly used for under $500 at a local shop.

Being mechanically inclined, and having had my GCNM apart completely numerous times, I see nothing wrong with experimenting with parts. I do think many parts can be fit by an amateur, but others I'd leave to a pistolsmith. If you have a good local one, then take it in when you've got problems or when it comes to something like the hammer/sear or extractor, which I believe should be fitted/adjusted by someone with experience.

There is a ton of material on home 'smithing on the sister 1911.org site, and how things work. Read up and if it sounds too complex, then don't do it.

-H
 
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