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Discussion Starter #1
I have some specific questions about manufacturer selection for a 1911. Some background on myself. I have never owned a gun before, but have shot various rifles and shotguns, and a few pistols.

I'm in the market for a new 1911 because, well I think I'm preaching to the choir if I tell you why I want a 1911. My current budget is $1100, but the more I can keep for ammo the better. My immediate needs would be target practice and SD, and a future need for IDPA/USPSA. I'm currently considering Colt Government as a customizable option; or SA MilSpec or Loaded; or Kimber Custom II or TLE/RL, as customized options.

The big questions I have are:

- The full length guide bar seems to be a bit of mystery to me. I've read a lot of posts here where people replace it. Do I have to worry about getting a two piece, and if so which models do I have to worry about?

- Reliability. Do any of these have a notoriously poor reliability record? (From what I've read, there doesn't appear to be any winner or loser).

- .22 conversion kit. Is there a particular model that takes to the conversion better than others? (I like the idea of getting the conversion from the manufacturer I go with, ala Kimber).

- Bushing. Which models require the wrench? I like the idea of being able to field strip with out any tools.

- Sights. If I'm interested in night sights, which I'm not married to just yet, should I not even bother with the Government given I can get the other two with night sights from the factory?
 

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As for a .22 conversion units go, the Marvel is unmatched for accuracy and quality. Bob supplies a model to Wilson Combat specs. However, I would recommend that you purchase a Browning Buckmark or Ruger P45GCMKIII instead - and prior buying your centerfire 1911 pistol. They have the same grip angle as the 1911 and will serve you well as a low cost understudy to the 1911, plus giving you something to shoot while your 1911 is at the pistolsmith getting tarted up to your liking.

When it comes to choosing a 1911, I would encourage you to go with a Colt Series 70 or NRM Series 80/1991A1 Government Model in stainless steel. The Colt has good high visibility sights, feeds any quality ammo, and the standard Colt barrel shoots as well or better than most aftermarket "match grade" barrels. Shoot it, go to a few matches, and see what changes you deem necessary while you decide what 1911 pistolsmith or shop should perform them. Colt's Custom Shop offers their Model O Package, which is a bargain at <$375.00 for Novak LoMount rear, Heinie dovetailed front sight, carry-bevel (dehorn) pkg., and a S&A high-ride beavertail grip safety.

Regards,
Andy
 

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What Pistol?

First I agree with the other post.Get a Buckmark 22 first .they are great instead of a conversion.Next as to what brand.I like Springfield.Since you are talking defence I like the GI.I put night sights on it and love it.It looks good,can take a beating and is very reliable.I carry it every day,and the park finish can take a beating.No adjustable sights to worry about getting knocked out of aligment etc.Then after making this decision,you can go nuts on what defence ammo to use!!
Ed
 

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1911a1 101

You don't list your location, but I most highly recommend taking the time to go visit a local USPSA club (or two, if possible), and soliciting opinion there.
Many will allow you to touch (and perhaps fire) their pets.

As for my 'shot into cyberspace' opinion, after years of considering the very questions you asked, I can offer this:

>FLGR is fer-crap.

>night sights are fer-crap UNLESS they fit a specific tactical need (and homeowners aren't in that group; get a MagLite).

>super-tight bushing requiring a wrench is desirable, because it can aid accuracy, and discourage constant wear-inducing removal.

>reliability IS an 'issue' with certain brands. More important, if "customization" is a goal, you want a platform requiring no corrections before custom work starts.

>ditto Marvel.

Now for the Nomex.......

Based on YOUR criteria (since I already own four of my own :grumble: ), I offer the following guns (all 5" steel) as "good choices based on actual experience":

S&W
SIG
used Baer / Brown / Wilson

okay choices:

Springfield Armory (only because if your gun isn't right they will do the best job to get it fixed)
Kimber (except they might not do the best job if things aren't right)

I am not a brand snob; just reporting the reality of my experience.


my first 1911 is a custom-built Caspian 45; my next was an old 1988 model Springfield 45 set up for Bullseye; still a 'work in progress' to make it a more realistic non-task-specific tool.
Then, I bought a used Springfield in 9x19; it required a new bushing to make it accurate; it will require significant work to make it more 'durable' (because it locks up on the link, it's flanging the upper lugs, and its slide-to-frame fit is atrocious, utterly unacceptable for longevity.
My latest is ANOTHER Springfield (can't seem to get away from them), this time a 40 S&W version. It, too, REQUIRED a bushing for accuracy (now stunning), but it, too, will require 'fixing' the slide-to-frame fit for longevity, and some minor personal tweaks.

See, as I gain more experience I use it to make better-informed decisions.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies! I've yet to update my profile, I'm in Northern NJ... I know, I know... I have located and will visit with the local IDPA and USPSA clubs and see what they have going on.

I will look into the Buckmark, thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately here in NJ the permits to buy come few and far between, so I'll have to possibly include that in the first 3 month span I will have once I get my permit issued.

After reading your comment on the super tight bushing, which manufacture/models have this design? Is it part of a standard design nowadays?

FLGR. Is this now standard? Not one of the manufacturers lists it as a "feature" on one of their pistols, but I'm sure some if not all have it, given all the grumbles I've heard. If it's unavoidable, what am I looking cost wise to replace it, with either a one piece or standard size GR?
 

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Let me add the Smith & Wesson SW1911 to your list. In my opinion, and I own a Kimber and a Springfield Armory, S&W make the best production 1911s on the market today. There are no modifications that need to be made to the pistol. In general it's perfect right out of the box, and unlike Kimber should something go wrong their service is world class and for life. 100% made in the USA this is the Lexus of 1911s. You should be able to find one brand new for around $800. They also make a target model for $50 more.

http://www.gunblast.com/1911_ShootOff.htm Note: this is a stock off the shelf base model S&W against the best of the best from everyone else...
http://www.gunblast.com/SW1911.htm

My second choice would be a Springfield Armory 'Loaded'. Like the S&W this pistol comes from the factory with everything you would want already done to it with one possible exception. In general the trigger is not as sweet as the S&W's. Other than that leave it alone. It will shoot better than you or I can. Service is world class and for life and the price is about the same as the S&W.

Kimber is going through a time where success has overstretched their ability to reliability deliver a quality product. This wouldn't be so bad if so many didn't complain about their service department and the short warranty.

As for night sights... I have them on every pistol that I keep primarily for self defense. There are plenty of situations where you can identify your target without clearly seeing your sights and unlike a flashlight they won't give away your position. It basically boils down to this... if you ever have to defend your life you are going to want to give yourself every edge that you can get you hands on. There is no substitute for a quality handgun and lots of practice, but every little thing that you can do to give yourself an edge is worth it.

Other goodies. You will need some good quality spare magazines. Chip McCormick are as good as anything on the market and much better than most and reasonably priced at under $20ea. For IDPA you are going to need a good competition holster. From what people I respect tell me it's pretty hard to beat Comp-Tac in your choice of belt or paddle holster. They are known for quality and a lightning fast draw. Bang for the buck these are excellent competition mag pouches. You'll need a good quality gunbelt. And finally lots of practice ammo - see your local Walmart. They seem to consistently have the best prices.

Oh and for a .22 I find the conversion kits a waste of money. The Browning or Ruger 22/45 are both good choices. The Ruger being my 1st choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the great posts! This was exactly what I was looking for. I'm going to try and rent a S&W as is it now on the top of my list.

Sholling if S&W is looking for a sales guy, it would appear you're qualified! :D I guess I'll see how it shoots when I rent.
 

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dcal said:
Thanks for the great posts! This was exactly what I was looking for. I'm going to try and rent a S&W as is it now on the top of my list.

Sholling if S&W is looking for a sales guy, it would appear you're qualified! :D I guess I'll see how it shoots when I rent.
Thank you but I don't even own stock in S&W. I'm just very picky about 1911s. I'll link you to something that I posted on another sight about a subtle nit-picking difference between S&W & Springers.

But just to show you that I put my money where my mouth is... I have one of their high-buck hand-made Performance Center 1911s on order. I'd planned on buying their already excellent normal production target model but I got such a great deal on my dream 1911 that I just couldn't pass it up.

By the way if you order before the end of December they have a free leather holster and mag pouch promotion going on. Coupon Free is always my favorite price. :D
 

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The gentlemen have given you some good advise, dcal...

Mine would be to get a Colt Series 70 Government reissue (a Colt is a good representation of the 1911 platform for your first purchase -- and you get to 'prance with the Pony' besides owning a nice pistol)...

After you take delivery of your Colt and have read (cover to cover) the owner's manual, buy a bunch of 230gr hardball ammunition, get some good training from someone who knows their way around handguns, range procedure, and technique before you attempt doing the 'real thing'...

Again, before you strike a live primer with your firing pin on your newly purchased Colt and 230gr hardball ammunition, practice 'dry-firing' until your finger hurts. Get your grip to become as natural as holding a pencil or throwing a baseball. Do it right the first time and you'll never have to relearn the proper way of handling that nice Colt...

After doing all that necessary, non-firing work and before hitting the range, detail strip the Colt to every part a half-dozen times (including magazines). Study and understand the operating principles and break-down procedures of this Colt inside and out, then 'dry-fire' some more while practicing your grip & draw from your just acquired holster attached to your new belt with your newly purchased spare magazine pouch/pouches. Remember, your Surefire flashlight and spare magazines should be placed on your 'weak-side'...

When the Colt begins to feel like an extension of your arm, pack up your vehicle. The items should include (at a minimum): your Colt, plenty of ammunition, owner's manual, targets, tape, spare magazines, ear & eye protection, plus the knowledge you have just acquired...

Now, go out there and make a 'one-hole' group pattern at 7 yards (slow-fire) with that blued or stainless steel 40+ ozs. Colt; it's pure American history in the flesh which you'll soon understand...

Good luck...
 

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pastorpigg said:
Does the S&W have a compact model? The shortest barrel length I could find was a 4.25".
There is a rumor that a 4" officers model (shorter grip) will be introduced in '08 but you know how rumors are. Anyway even though own a reliable 3" Kimber I'm not fan of 3" 45s in general, and will either add to my collection or replace my Kimber when S&W starts shipping their 4" LW Officers.
 

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I would have to disagree with the Colt option. The edges are just too sharp. If you do much carrying or shooting it will eat up your hands in short order.
They look good and they run great but you will have to put some $$ into the hands of a gunsmith to make it nice to hold.
 

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Colt is a good way to go, so is Kimber, Springfield and some of the other better made pistols.
I have to disagree with whover said don't get night sights. They are invaluable and as you vision gets worse, will become indespensable.
Get at least 4 magazines [recommend Wilson 8]
and a good cleaning set up.
Buy cheap ammo to practice with and premium for defense. Be sure you know where it shoots and try to get something with low muzzle flash.
If ou can afford a 22cal converter, it is a great way to go. When you are ready for that, be sure to ask on this forum what to get.
Best to ya, shoot safely.
Oh, and if you are new to pistols, find some people to work with you on safety a few weeks. You will be so glad you did.
 

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Buy paper before you buy steel. I highly recommend that you get a copy of The Modern Technique of the Pistol by Gregory Boyce Morrison.

The the problem with the S&W and Kimber internal firing pin safety system is that they are totally dependent on acquiring a good grip and complete depression of the grips safety in order to make the pistol fire. There are a lot of timing/fitting issues that come into play. Colt owned the Swartz system but abandoned it back in the '30s for this very reason. They knew then that this was a fighting handgun and prople like to tune/desensitize the grip safety to accomodate their grip; something not possible with the Swartz system. The Colt Series 80 does not have this problem, and the original design (aka: Series 70) even less so.

Regards,
Andy
 

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BillD said:
I would have to disagree with the Colt option. The edges are just too sharp. If you do much carrying or shooting it will eat up your hands in short order.
They look good and they run great but you will have to put some $$ into the hands of a gunsmith to make it nice to hold.
But isn't it true that any production 1911 will need some finishing touches to get it just right just for you?

I suggest you get Colt 80-series and customise it according to your likes. It should be within your budget.
That 80-series could use a beavertail, an extended thumb safety, an extended mag release, a dehorning job and if you want those - Night sites.

A thing about Novac night sights - you loose some functionality by going to a snag-free setup. There are some good reasons to stay with the regular combat sights - being able to rack the slide one handed on your belt is one of them.
 

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I wouldn't reccomend buying a "full featured" pistol as your first. Usually it works better to shoot something simple, and then figure out what you want or what you don't like about that first pistol, and THEN modify it or buy what you want.

The best choice for a basic 1911 right now is probably a colt series 70 re-issue because it has a good barrel and no firing pin safety and is something most smiths would be happy to work on down the road.
 

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Andy said:
The the problem with the S&W and Kimber internal firing pin safety system is that they are totally dependent on acquiring a good grip and complete depression of the grips safety in order to make the pistol fire.
Now isn't that true of every 1911... No disrespect intended but theory and 'I read' are fine but nobody seems to be having problems with them anymore. Probably 50% of all the 1911s sold today have the Swartz system and I have yet to hear or read one verifiable report of an issue with modern pistols out of how many million pistols?

What I do recommend to everyone new to 1911s is a day or two of training and one of the better assembly/disassembly/care & feeding videos.
 

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Basic Colt, either a new 1991A1 or the ORM 1991A1. Plain Jane basic gun, decent trigger, decent sights,no fancy doo-dads you don't need, ability to customize it to your specific needs AFTER you get used to the pistol.
Use it for self-defense, IDPA/IPSC, and general plinking. Any of the after market .22 conversions are gonna fit a Colt, that's what they are designed for. Ceiner or Marvel, actual Colt units are a bit pricey nowadays, like $600.
Plain, workman-like pancake holster, 10 mags, double mag pouch and lots of practice ammo.
 

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Dcal, . . . you seem to have your head on straight as to what you want, . . . and that being the case:

1. Get either a Springfield Armory parkerized GI model (for around $450 to $500 most places) or a Rock Island Armory for $50 to $75 less. Both have excellent warranty/fix it policies (Kimber lets you die alone after 365 days).

Either of these guns are "basic" weapons, . . . with old fashioned GI sights, regular guide rod, easy take down/field strip, and are inexpensive enough that you can figure out exactly what "mods" you want to add to them and make yourself a CUSTOM piece you will be proud to take out and display as well as shoot.

2. For $204 you can get a Ciener .22 conversion kit that goes dead straight on the RIA in all of about 45 seconds. I imagine they will do the same in the SA, but I cannot speak from experience. I can with the Ciener/RIA combo, . . . and it is far more accurate than I am.

Get a catalog from Brownell's, . . . another from King's, . . . and there are many more lurking, . . . these are just two easy ones. Then get a couple of books and DVD's on the 1911 and begin your love affair with it. It'll keep you off the street and occupy your otherwise wasted time.

May God bless,
Dwight
 

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For what it's worth, I vote Springfield Armory Loaded (or variations thereof). You'll have a fantastic pistol lacking very little, loads of money left for ammo, and unmatched service from the company. I have absolutely no regrets.
 
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