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I'm tight on 1911s. Sure don't need any more. That's not a guarantee that there won't be any more however.

Every so often I read of others and their custom 1911 guns and feel a slight twinge of inclination to start down that path of 1911 ownership. There are already too many competing collecting tangents clamoring for for my time and funds so I've held off so far.

All my life I've enjoyed endless opportunity to shoot with always convenient places to shoot, so shoot I do. I'm in my 42nd year of 1911 fun and frolic and greatly enjoy them, collecting them, and feeding their appetite for handloads.

I've been lucky with 1911s. They've always performed for me in unmolested original condition and have given perfect satisfaction. I enjoy not mod'ing them or fiddling with them, all while avoiding the supposed pitfalls that are encountered (a) because I didn't choose to accomplish the requisite modifications du jour, or (b) because I monkeyed with "improving" them so as to render them problematic.

When I was young it was Colts and U. S. military 1911s in our family for the first 1911 clone hadn't been introduced yet. The 1911 reputation within the family was fully equal to the reputation that the Glock enjoys today, that of perfection and flawless reliability. Somewhere along the way a generation arose that has viewed the 1911 as finicky, persnickety, and not to be taken seriously. I yet hark back to a time when the 1911 was the serious automatic.

What is the appeal of the custom, high dollar 1911? What can it really accomplish that good ol' factory Colt Government Models, the best of the 1911 clones, or the military contract pistols cannot do? I'm inquiring from a state of extreme ignorance, but I do want to know if I'm really missing out on something.

I read about various high dollar custom 1911 creations, their makers, and the accolades heaped up on them by owners. I've handled and shot a few over the years and they are nice, but yet somehow less than meets the eye. Perhaps it's a case of: "if ya' have to ask then yer too dumb to comprehend it."

I can appreciate the yearning to modify or customize as a hobby for its own sake. Perhaps it's like a deuce coupe. I can appreciate the updates, performance features, reliability enhancements, and artistic appearance enhancements. I think I would prefer to own an all original '32 Ford though.



 

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What is the appeal of the custom, high dollar 1911? What can it really accomplish that good ol' factory Colt Government Models, the best of the 1911 clones, or the military contract pistols cannot do?
I get it. I totally do.

When I first wanted a 1911 I wanted something along the lines as much as a USGI as possible. When I couldn't find a Springfield GI or MIL I stepped up a little for a 1978 made Colt 70. Same thing, same sights but bright blue.

Not knowing anything else, and I was still new to the shooting hobby I was totally sold on Springfield marketing for the TRP, and got one. Then wanting "more" I eventually became a Les Baer fan boy.

HOLLY MOLLY!!!!!!!!!!!!! The act of shooting a GI type 1911 verses a 1911 with a large safety, extended beaver tail, front strap checkering and modern sights is a WORLD of DIFFERENCE even though the 1911's are 90% the same across the board.

It's like taking that old Model-T and putting on powder steering, disc brakes and fuel injection. Even though the horse power and suspension are the same how it drives is the same but doing so is much easier.

Now I own a legit CMP 1911 and is straight up USGI right out of the Army's armory I don't need any replicas. So all my wannabe GI type 1911's are gone, and my high round count 1911's are Les Baers.
 

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I have close to two dozen 1911s, and only two are what anyone would remotely call "custom" (beavertail, fancy sights, etc.). One was shot a lot in my early years, while the other is rarely fired and I may even sell it. Aside from that, all I rock are straight-up GI-spec 1911s with the spur hammers and narrow grip safety. The custom ones are faster if you're shooting under pressure (like at a match), but honestly the bullet does all the work and it doesn't care what it was shot out of. If you like GI-spec 1911s as well by all means get one and be satisfied. You can always customize it later.
 

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I have a Sistema Modelo 1927, It's very close to a US 1920's Commercial Colt in overall look, features & feel.

I also have a Springfield Loaded. It comes with a whole heap of modern features.

The Springer's sights are noticeably better but that's the only significant difference to me. The other "improvements" on it are just chocolate sprinkles. Nice, but not needed. So the old, Argentine gun is fine for my purposes.

Note that I'm NOT a competition shooter. And I don't log my Round Count or use a timer.
 

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I’m too frugal, yet want the most bang for my buck. I have USGI versions of the 1911a1, I’m very happy, they all function well, they will all stay untouched orginal. I did chose a Chinese norinco 1911a1 to use as a platform for a build. I wanted to see if a mix of new bargain basement parts could be accurate, with me doing all the fitting. I purchased every 1911 tool from brownells. Every how to dvd I got my hands on.A surplus USGI $59 barrel, ect. She shoots clusters and cloverleafs at 25 yds. I can’t see any other 1911 doing any better. I’m very happy with my workmanship.
 

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If you don't shoot competition then you don't need a 1911 that has been accurized and made more user friendly. Once you do shoot competition then you understand the reason behind a 1911 that will place an entire magazine into a 1 inch hole. Custom 1911s are not made for looks though a lot of owners seem to think that way these days and a lot of guys seem to buy them for that reason alone and have no intention of learning to improve their shooting skills.
 

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When I got my first 1911 in 1982 it was an electroless nickel Colt MK IV Series 70 that functioned just fine with JHPs, including the Speer 200 grain JHP. It had the old style drop tang grip safety and that style grip safety never gave me any heartburn.
The 1911 worked fine for military, civilians and cops before it got all gussied up. I do have two expensive, for me anyway, 1911s. But if that series 70 had stayed with me and been my only 45 auto for the last 38 years* I'd still be liking it just fine.

*I'd also have a lot more money set aside if I had that fiscal discipline with gun spending.
 

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What is ever “absolutely necessary”? :) The semi and full custom 1911s that I got my fat little fingers on at shoots or shows convince me that they are the way to go. Will I ever spend the $3-4K on a full custom with other life priorities is a separate question. But they really are nice.
 

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If you're already feeing a "twinge" then I might suggest that you're not really perfectly happy with a basic 1911. I don't think a full custom would be required to fulfill most people's desires though. A good quality semi-custom made with your choice of options to tailor the gun to your preference would probably suit you just fine. I'm talking about choice of sights, trigger, slide and frame treatment (such as serrations, checkering, carry cuts, etc.), choice of magwell (or not), grip and thumb safeties, recoil spring type and even choice of caliber all await you. It's all YOUR choice.
 

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Part of me would like something like a TRP. Or even a Wilson or Nighthawk. I can't justify throwing that kind of money down on a want though. Which answers the question I suppose. Are they absolutely necessary? No. But they're nice and people want them.

I also think the definition of 'reliable' has shifted somewhat. It's either flawless for ten thousand rounds, even if it's never cleaned/lubricated/maintained and been dropped in the mud/sand/filled with fine dust, or 'the gun is trash!' I think often times the internet has a tendency to magnify and feed the intensity of any given urban legend. One or 2 FTFs in 300 rounds and the internet says, "I couldn't get through a single magazine without a malfunction! This gun is awful!" YMMV.
 

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Excellent observations and advice above in several posts. Not necessary unless you want to shoot bullseye competition. I've shot most makes of 1911's from RIA's to Springfields to S&W's to Colts to Kimbers, all have been solid shooters for almost all applications. I still have 3 Kimbers left (all 8 performed very well), and several Wilson Combats in various calibers; variety is a good thing. My EDC is my Wilson Tactical Supergrade Pro in .45 ACP - shows plenty of range and holster wear, as do several of my other Wilsons that I use for classes along with the Kimbers. I buy them to use them, but I get the folks that buy a really nice full custom or semi-custom just to look at - different people have different uses, including safe-queen. If you're feeling the itch, do your research on build philosophies and options, then choose accordingly to your purpose.
 
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My expectation of a custom or semi-custom is not necessarily an accuracy thing, though in general, I'd expect your average Wilson Combat would be more accurate than your average RIA, though you can probably find some RIA that will outshoot all kinds of custom guns.

What I expect from the semi-custom/custom gun, is a gun with better parts, put together by more skilled craftsmen, that has better tolerances than the typical production gun.

I expect to be able to feel the better parts and more refined craftsmanship right out of the box with smoother operation, but more importantly, at the 50,000 or 100,000 round mark, where the better parts and the better construction will most likely still be apparent in the higher end gun, while the gun with the lesser parts and less accurate assembly may not be functional at those round counts.

The other thing I expect from a higher end gun, is a higher end company. Some hand holding, if you will. If I have a problem, which can happen with any gun, I'd expect the higher end company to do a better job of taking care of my problem than the production company. I'd have more confidence calling Wilson Combat trying to get a problem fixed, than calling Colt and trying to get the same issue addressed.
 

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A VW vs a Porsche...both will get you down the road. A Craftsman wrench vs a Snap-On wrench...both will turn the bolt. A Glock vs 1911...or a production 1911 vs Semi Custom or Custom 1911...

Your question (or its variants) has been asked a million times on just about every gun forum out there. Only you know what speaks to you. Telling you what speaks to me is pointless. Because only you can decide if the perceived value of a custom 1911 is worth it to you.
 

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Yeah and a Toyota Carolla for $19k has four wheels like an $85k Audi A7.
A $45 Casio keeps time better than an Rolex Milgauss that costs $8,300.
A $500 RIA Armscor functions almost as well as a $8,000 Ted Yost.

If you have the means which would you choose?

Thank goodness this is America where we still have a capitalist's freedom of WANT and not NEED, and nobody can tell us what we WANT.
 

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I own several semi-custom 1911s. I find the craftsmanship worth the extra money. It's not for everyone though, and I get that too.
The issue I have is with people who say you HAVE to spend $2000 or more on a 1911 if you're serious... and then they still continue to bash the platform as finicky and unreliable. Hate to tell those guys, but I've been running virtually nothing but plain-jane 1911 pistols all my life, and even the cheaper sub-$1000 ones run 100% and get the job done provided the extractor is properly tensioned, the recoil spring is fresh and the mags are of good quality. I've never had a desire to plop down $3000 or more on a Wilson, as good as they are. Problem is, I'm not Rob Letham and a $3000 Wilson isn't going to run any better in my hands than a $750 Colt. I'd rather save the money and practice some more, and maybe someday if I'm running against timers and keeping up with the rest of the cool cats I'll consider spending more money on a high-end 1911. Until then it's just a frivolous expense, and to be honest if I had that much to spend on a 1911 I'd be tempted to just buy another vintage Colt or GI M1911A1, not a Wilson.
 

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Definitely not necessary, but they are quite nice to have if you have the budget for one. I’ve owned some Springfield 1911s from the basic loaded series all the way up to a pro, and I’ve had other brands from the Ruger SR1911 up to my current favorite, the Nighthawk Costa. You feel the fit and finish difference as you go up, at least up to the high $3000s range which is where my experience ends, but the Ruger will make the same hole in a threat as the Nighthawk will. So yeah, I like them but I get it if there are many people who would rather buy 3 $1000 1911s over 1 $3000 1911.
 

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No-not necessary at all. But unless we are living at subsistence level we don't make do with just "necessary." So as a kid I walked to school with cardboard covering the holes in my shoe leather.

Later, I bought some pretty high end boots "just because."

I have had two custom guns. Neither shot as well as a Colt Gold Cup I once owned. (Why do we trade away great guns?)

One interesting point about the 1911 becoming known as finicky...someone made a grwat point about that on another thread. He said 1911's became known as finicky when everyone started making them. So parts were sourced differently, tolerances were different etc. Made sense to me...
 

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If you appreciate and can afford quality a custom or semi-custom 1911 is a wonderful thing.
Overall smoothness, a clean trigger pull, better accuracy, reliability, better finish etc. are nice.
 
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