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Seems to me this would be a nice project. I have no gunsmithing tools, but am wondering how hard it would be to order stuff from brownell's and piece together one's own 1911 from the various parts.

How much money would this save and how much would you have to spend in smithing tools?

I'd probably start out with a stainless les baer slide/frame...
 

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I used to play with those numbers too. Based on Ed Brown and Les Baer price list, it turned out to be very close to a market price of Baer PII. That's before asking a smith to fit in all critical parts and refinishing. So I bought PII instead.
 

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While the parts may add up to some savings, perhaps even a significant one, the cost of all the tools will far exceed the price of your gun. If you're only going to build one, then you'll have a hard time recouping the cost of tools. If you plan on getting into tinkering in a big way, then the tools will pay for themselves down the line (slowly). There are some corners that you can cut by using certain "drop in" (what a misnomer that is) parts, but remember that your end result will not be anything like running out and buying a custom.

Stainless can be hard on tools and more difficult to work -- use carbon steel components instead. Les Baer's stuff is very expensive, you'll save more by using Caspian components. They're premium quality, but at a reasonable price.
 

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Having done quite a bit of work on my own guns, and building a couple up from scratch (with just a little help) I'd say do it.

This is keeping in mind that I do not recommend this as a way to save money. As the others posted, it will probably end up just as, if not more expensive than a pistol "off the shelf". It's a great way to really learn what makes the 1911 tick though, and it is very rewarding to have a finished product that you built yourself or at least had a hand in building. Just my .02, keep us up to speed if you decide to dive in and build something up.

BTW, I would try to look at getting a frame and slide already fitted. Fitting a barrel such as a Kart easy fit, and the other parts to complete the gun would probably not require a great deal of expensive tools to fit.

[This message has been edited by hhsmiley (edited 12-09-2001).]
 

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I have built a couple of 1911's also. It is a great pass time for me. Feels good to build a shooter. Slow and methodic is the key to it. And a good text to go by. I used the Wilson book alot as well as some of the online sources. Do it right or don't do it.

If I was good this year Santa might bring me a Kunhausen text SET!
 

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A 1911 or other firearm is a machine tool that must function with machine precision while containing explosions in sequence and do so without fail. It requires precision milling and precision fitting. Being a tad off can make the difference from reliable to being a nighmare.

From what I have read, if you have not had gunsmith training, years of personal experience (and even then that may not be enough), or are not a machinist to start with but without gunsmith training, building your own 1911 probably is not a great idea. That was based on my own assessment of the situation. Plus, there is the cost of all the tools to go with the parts.

Something you may ask yourself, how many "drop-in" parts have you purchased that did not fit that you had to successfully fit yourself by modifying the part?

Then again, if you have the time, money, patience, and enjoy a project, then get all the information you can, digest it so that you understand it well, and then give it a go. hhsmiley sounds likes he has some real life experience from which you could benefit. You might do well to contact members such as him, maybe off list, and solicit more detailed considerations. For example, you may wish to order your slide, not only already prefit to the frame, but maybe pre-milled for a particular type of sights. A few cautionary tales of people who have been there can save you an immeasureable amount of frustration and delay.
 

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It's fun, but don't expect to save any money. I built my first 1911 from parts. It cost over $800, using not-always-the-best parts, and still doesn't quite work all the time. I'm almost $1000 into my second one, built with top-quality components on a Colt M1991A1 slide/frame, and while it is very accurate and reliable, It's still $200 away from being finished. You can buy a pretty nice gun for $1200, and if it doesn't work, someone else is responsible for fixing it. The 1911 design is elegantly simple, but proper execution can be a bear.
 

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For those of you considering this you might want to check out the
"online gunsmithing class II"thread here in the gunsmithing forum.
 
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