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The classic 1911 or the modern adaptation.

Recently I have found myself very drawn to the more classic 1911A1 platform.
The smooth slide, minimal grip safety tang, slim line thumb safety, have all as I grow more jaded about the “customized pistols” become newly beautiful and desirable.

Over the last year or two my eclectic collection of 1911 pattern pistols has expanded to encompass some fine examples of classically configured guns. I have shot intensively.
I have a callous on the web of my shooting hand that is so thick that even when abraded and torn open by the older style grip safety I feel no discomfort. The pistols are worn and show the beautiful patina of much handling and shooting, honest use not abuse.

But bottom line the classic pistols are harder to shoot. The under cut front strap with checkering or other “grippy texture” in conjunction with the high grip beaver tail undeniably allow a more controllable grip on the gun. You can shoot faster and get hits. The sight picture afforded by a nice set of Hienie sights with a good thin front sight blade pick up faster and lend themselves to fast accurate shooting. Where is the reduction in reliability pointed to by traditionalists here? Modern low mass ignition parts with the slightly altered geometry give better trigger pulls…. Once again MIM not with standing there is no downside here!

Lowered and flared ejection ports, may not make your gun one bit more reliable. But then again how can they hurt? So often they provide a more unobstructed path for the spent case to leave the gun. My classic NRM Colts all fire with near perfection but dent brass and sometimes hit me in the head with hot empties. Please explain to me why making that happen less often is a bad thing?

People seem to think that tightly fitted guns are less reliable. That may be true. But all my tight guns run fine. My tightest, a Les Baer pistol, has never failed with a round that would fit a case gage. How much more reliable would a loose gun be? But what about when your gun is filled with dirt and you don’t have it lubed and so on? True if I was still a proud member of our armed forces that was likely to call on a gun when muddy I may be concerned. I can say with certainty that I will not have that problem. When my guns get dirty which is very often….. I just stop and clean them. I have NEVER had a lube or dirt induced malfunction. If a CCW or range shooter lets the gun get so bad it stops working I submit that is not a problem with the gun. So tell me again why a loose gun is what I should be looking for?

Anyway just my thoughts….flame away.
 

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Personally, I don't like the pimped out custom 1911's like Wilson and Kimber. :barf:

I prefer the Colt old school, USGI's and maybe the retro Springfield mil-specs.....but that's just me.....

When I'm ready for my CCW, I'll get a Stainless NRM 70 or 80 Series and customize from there.....

:cool:
 

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bigjim said:
The classic 1911 or the modern adaptation.
My tightest, a Les Baer pistol, has never failed with a round that would fit a case gage. How much more reliable would a loose gun be?
A loose gun just may feed those out of spec rounds that your Baer will choke on.


In general, I think the older style guns are simply collector pieces. People may take them out to the range & shoot them, but they're still novelties more than anything else.
Now with that said, I also think we've gotten out of hand with "improvements" like full-length guide rods, front cocking serrations, shcwartz safeties, external extractors....
 

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BTW, as my dad would say...a retired 06, career Army Aviation pilot...

"A gun is supposed to shoot good, not look good...."
 

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Most stories of tight guns come malfunctioning are from tight guns that malfunction, even though the problem probably isn't the tightness. The stories about guns with a little bit of slide play being inaccurate probably come from guns that have bad barrel fit along with some slide play. When a gun shows a problem people go looking for the cause, and sometimes the thing that is most obvious to many people (tight = unreliabe, loose = inaccurate) aren't really the cause of the problems.

I like the looks of "simple" guns, and rarely shoot enough through an individual gun in one range session to notice the difference between a beavertail and a spur safety. I'd take a spur safety over a beavertail with a speedbump any day, though I like beavertails without the speedbump the best.

I don't know if anyone claims the smaller ejection ports function better, but if they prefer the look of the smaller port and don't have any problems with dented brass or getting hit in the head what's the problem? I've seen dented brass out of the small ports, but reload them just fine and have never been hit in the head by brass from a gun with a non extended ejector.

I could care less which thumb safety a gun has as I don't use a high thumb hold. I have replaced ones to get a better look (very porous casting on a Colt, MIM on Kimber) or to have a properly fit safety when putting in a new sear.

The best trigger I've felt in a less than $800 gun was on a Colt with spur hammer and solid trigger. Much better than any of the Commander hammer and lightened trigger equipped Kimber and Springfields in that price range. I do agree that the lightened parts help on guns like my Gold Match that has a 2lbs trigger, and thats cool, but they don't make a 5lbs trigger thats any better than a 5lbs trigger with traditional parts.

There are a lot of times and a lot of situations where the new parts make no difference in functionality compared to the old parts, so why are they worth the money? What use is a gun with a beavertail, extended safety, light trigger components, night sights, etc. if the gun has a 6lbs trigger and the owner only shoots it 50 rounds at a time during the day at the shooting range using a low thumb hold?
 

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As a lefty, the beavertail gets in my way as it's hard to wrap the thumb on around the tail to disable the hammer safety. The original GI spec ejection ports work better for me as a lefty as I've never gotten a piece of brass in my face with one. I've gotten them in my hair, on my shirt, and off to the side, but never had one flying straight at my eye as I have with lowered port guns. The brass just sort of tumbles as well - when I have gotten hit with flying brass it's no big deal out of the GI port guns.

The fancy sights in all honesty aren't going to be of much help in the real world, and even target shooting I do better with the low military sights as it's what I'm used to. Add to it the fact that taller sights are more bulk to snag as it comes out of the holster and under the shirt and more prone to bite me in daily carry, and it's no contest.

Then again, I've seen time and time again where a good shooter with a nasty gun outshoots an average or poor shooter with a top of the line wondercannon.

Someone who knows how to point and shoot and has a good grip and reflexes and weapon control doesn't really need any of the modern acoutrements, especially against man-sized targets at pistol ranges up to 50m.

Still, if you like 'em, it's your gun. I don't, and mine doesn't have them.

For day to day carry, I lug around my Springfield WW2 Mil-Spec - the best of both worlds in terms of mostly traditional design and a modern gun with a warranty and reliability that I know nobody's messed with.
 

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No need to flame away, bigjim; it's an interesting topic.

I, too, like pretty clean lines. I've found that many of the "classic" problems can be slightly altered, rendering them inert. Like the famous spur hammer bite; a smooth radius on the back of the spur itself often takes away the problem. And, it is indiscernible from a reasonable difference, taking nothing away from that great-looking spur hammer silhouette.

Having trouble with ejection? Lots of other more legitimate places to start investigating before you take a Dremel to the slide body. You get the picture.

As far as Colt's NRM, I just got one and had Novak's installed. The rest of the gun is stock--save for a short alum. trigger--as I can't stand those silly tab 3-dot sights......unless it's a real 'A1, then you don't touch.
 

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I think Col. Cooper hit it on the head with his assertion that a defensive 45 needed a clean trigger, easy to see sights, and has to go "bang" every time.

Traditionalist grumblings aside, the external extractor is probably here to stay. From a manufacturing standpoint it is easier to build , and easier to make it work right.

Looking at the modern 1911 market, I think there are more than enough good choices out there to satisfy everyone from the traditionalist to the buck rogers technology freak...:D
 

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Some thoughts, with the above gun as an exhibit:

You don't need a beavertail and a warp-speed hammer to prevent hammer bite. Just shorten the flippin' spur hammer a milimeter or two and hammer bite goes away.

You don't need a beavertail to get a higher grip on the gun, either... you can just re-shape the Colt-style grip safety for a higher grip. The value of an undercut trigger guard and an uber-high (e.g. Ed Brown) beavertail is a matter of personal preference, not objective performance fact.

You don't need to mill the slide for Novaks or Heinies to get a good rear sight picture. Perfectly useful sights fit in the standard rear dovetail, though the truly tiny GI-style sights probably need to go in the trash can.

A gas-pedal thumb safety is a hindrance to concealing the weapon, though may come in handy on a game-gun where you want a big shelf to hang your thumb on.

Coarse checkering can snag and/or chew up your clothing. Fine checkering doesn't do much. The advantage of either over a set of Pachmayr's isn't real clear to me.

Taking off the sharp edges and beveling the mag well IS a good idea. Stock Colts can be sharp, and there is nothing wrong with making fast reloads easier. But these can be done unobtrusively.

Flash trigger group bits? Um... doesn't matter, unless you are trying to play below 4 pounds. The pictured gun has a Colt hammer (fractionally lighter from being shortened & re-shaped), an EGW hard sear, and a solid (but internally lightened for very low weight) BCP trigger. Trigger is at a super-crisp 4 pounds, but feels more like 3.5 or less. Do I really need a lighter trigger for a practical weapon? If not, the need for a warp-speed-lookin' ultralight hammer is hard to fathom.

Tight vs. loose? Commercial Colts from the 1930s weren't loose. Neither were the 1930s National Match guns. But they weren't uber-tight, either, and they shot the lights out. Loose isn't more traditional, except insofar as 1940s 1911s being shot in the 1980s were shot into sloppiness in military service with hundreds of thousands of rounds.

The bottom line of all this is that while a modern, flashier approach isn't bad, the presumption that a more understated firearm is somehow a less practical weapon is superficial and largely inaccurate.
 

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CastleBravo said:
You don't need to mill the slide for Novaks or Heinies to get a good rear sight picture. Perfectly useful sights fit in the standard rear dovetail
Good point. I've got King/Tappen hardball sights on my Delta and like them a lot.
 

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CastleBravo said:
You don't need a beavertail and a warp-speed hammer to prevent hammer bite. Just shorten the flippin' spur hammer a milimeter or two and hammer bite goes away.
True enough, but it isn't the hammer that chews my hand up as much as the grip safety tang. A beavertail is a necessity on all but my 9mm 1911's.


You don't need to mill the slide for Novaks or Heinies to get a good rear sight picture. Perfectly useful sights fit in the standard rear dovetail, though the truly tiny GI-style sights probably need to go in the trash can.
True enough, I can get by just fine with a set of black target sights.


Coarse checkering can snag and/or chew up your clothing. Fine checkering doesn't do much. The advantage of either over a set of Pachmayr's isn't real clear to me.


IMO, checkering doesn't look like ass. I can't say that about the Pachmayrs, or grip tape. Either is better than a slippery frontstrap, I like 30 just fine. But given checkered grip stocks, any kind of grip enhancement on the frontstrap is mostly just for style.

Here's one of my "minimalist" 1911s, incorporating functional custom touches without too much done strictly for fashion's sake.


 

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ken_mays said:
True enough, but it isn't the hammer that chews my hand up as much as the grip safety tang. A beavertail is a necessity on all but my 9mm 1911's.
Probably not. You could have just rounded the edges on the stock part instead. The problem is the sharp edge left on the thing, not the fact that it ain't a ducktail thingy. But almost nobody does anything about it; they just dump the part and throw in a beavertail instead. Which isn't "wrong" (I've had a couple very nice beavertailed guns myself), but I've found it funny that so little consideration is given to simpler solutions vs. what is trendy.

In a way, it is sort of funny: "I need this weapon for concealed carry, so let's start by adding BIGGER protrusions to the back and side..."

:biglaugh:
 

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CastleBravo said:
Probably not. You could have just rounded the edges on the stock part instead. The problem is the sharp edge left on the thing, not the fact that it ain't a ducktail thingy. But almost nobody does anything about it; they just dump the part and throw in a beavertail instead. Which isn't "wrong" (I've had a couple very nice beavertailed guns myself), but I've found it funny that so little consideration is given to simpler solutions vs. what is trendy.

In a way, it is sort of funny: "I need this weapon for concealed carry, so let's start by adding BIGGER protrusions to the back and side..."

:biglaugh:
When I read what he wrote, my understanding was that the tang on the frame was giving him problems. This is the same problem I have. That and the fact that you and round the edges all you want, it's still narrow and I find it uncomfotable to have it pressed into the web of my hand under recoil.
 

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"You don't need..."

Excuse me but who are you to tell me what I need or don't need. This is the problem with so many people on these web sites. Their experience or opinion becomes the only way to look at something.

My hand is different than yours. My grip is different that yours. How in the sam-hell do you know what I do or don't need?

As my department's cheif firearms instructor I was responsable for training and qualifying 400 armed personnel. That ranged from a 250 lb guy who won gold medals every year in the police olympics for power lifting, to a 4' 11" girl who only topped 100 lbs when she strapped on her duty rig (with the gun loaded). Since retiring I have been training civilians to qualify for CCW permits. In 9 1/2 years I have trained over 1000 people. Trust me, they are of every size, shape and level of experience.

If nothing else, I have learned that no one gun, no one technique, and no one opinion applies to all these people. They are individuals who require individual solutions. I've had a guy whose hands were so big he could not pull the trigger on a J-Frame S&W. I had a 65 year old woman who couldn't get through a magazine with a SIG 239 without a malfunction (limp wristing) but qualified with a perfect score with a borrowed Glock 19 (which is supposed to be subject to failures from limp wristing). Go figure!

Can most people shoot a bone stock 1911? Sure. Can some people shoot better (faster and more accurately) with some modifications to their 1911? Sure. Do some people go over board and add stuff they don't need or can't really use to their gun because they saw a picture in some gun magazine? Sure.

The only absolute is: Can you hit what you're shooting at? How you get there is up to you as an individual, and (brace yourselves) that will change with time and experience.

"You don't need..." someone else telling you what you do or don't need. You need to figure it out for yourself!
 

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Old school. About the only other modification I would consider are to pin the "grip safety" and higher sights.
 

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Dave T said:
My hand is different than yours. My grip is different that yours. How in the sam-hell do you know what I do or don't need?
People determined to find something to be offended about it tend to be very good at finding it.

:rolleyes:

This whole topic was started as a discussion of one way of doing things vs. the other. People automatically say, "to cure problem X, you must get a beavertail," and I suggested alternative ways to solve the problem. I say the beavertail ISN'T the ONLY potential solution to cetain problems, and you get your panties into a bunch? Cry me a river.

It is an objective FACT that for many people you do not "need" to cut the frame for a beavertail to get rid of hammer bite. Hammer bite either happens or it doesn't; shortening the hammer often makes it go away for many people without the added expense of cutting the frame for a beavertail. I've taken pains to point out that there is nothing wrong with adding a beavertail, for instance... but to know that, you would have to actually read my posts instead of getting hysterical. Quoting myself:

Which isn't "wrong" (I've had a couple very nice beavertailed guns myself)
My whole POINT is that there ISN'T only one way to skin the cat vis-a-vis things like hammer bite, grip safety bite, good sights, and so forth... but again, reading is fundamental. You don't like the fact that I've advocated a point of view and suggested solutions other than the expensive ones? Boo hoo.
 

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DaveT - Your post is a perfect explanation of why I have no interest in the "production custom" sort of 1911 that seems to be what is now held up as the ideal. Just because some famous or self-promoting person has been happy or successful with his high-cut front strap, high cut beavertail, forward cocking serrations, 3-dot sights, commander hammer, titanium trigger bow, etc., etc., doesn't mean that's what I want. I've shot, and own guns with lots of bells and whistles, but when it comes right down to it, all you need is good sights, a good trigger, and reliable operation; everything else is a preference.
 

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CastleBravo said:
The problem is the sharp edge left on the thing, not the fact that it ain't a ducktail thingy. But almost nobody does anything about it; they just dump the part and throw in a beavertail instead.
I have rounded off the grip safety tang, believe it or not, and even after a radical meltdown it does dig into my hand more than I like. Years ago I even ground off the tang completely and that's an improvement over any solution I've seen that leaves the tang in place. Of course a shortened hammer is a good idea with this if you don't want to worry about hammer bite, and longtime 1911 guys look at you kind of strangely when you show up with a gun like that.



Still, I feel the beavertail is more comfortable, and doesn't make the gun any less concealable. The hammer on a cocked and locked 1911 is right there anyway, and I think the BT adds some degree of protection against snagging the hammer on clothing. Another reason I like aftermarket BT's is that with a high-thumb grip the stock grip safety doesn't always deactivate for me.
 

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Call me a neo-traditionalist ....

One of the nice things about having a 1911 fetish/addiction is the variety of features you can equip a gun with. A wide variety of stock guns and a nearly infinite combination of aftermarketparts.

That being said, 2003 has found me gravitating towards what I would call a neo-traditional style. I bought a pair of Colt WWII repros and am looking for a pair of the new WWI repros. I'd like to take one of the WWIIs and tweak it just a bit:
- bar-sto barrel
- trijicon sights
- replace most of the parts with Ed Brown Hardcore
- nice blue job with brushed flats, detail the rollmark, proofs, lines, metal finish for a very sanatary look.
- all the gunsmith goodies you don't see: tighten slide/frame fit, trigger job, polish this and tweak that.

I think I'll have the hammer bobbed just a tad to help with the hammer bite and smooth out the grip safety. If it proves out that you-can't-go-home-again, then I can always add a beavertail and commander hammer downstream. Same with foregoing the checkering - if I really miss it, I'm only out a reblue.

My "design theme" for this gun would be a WWII take-home that a GI would have then lightly modifed for defensive purposes (well baring the fact that only Area 51 aliens would have had radioactive tritum in the 50s).

I love the P7 - especially as a carry gun and own multpiles of it. However, they are all pretty much the stock same. The only variation is the finish. Whereas with the 1911s, I can have a whole rack of them and each is different (well, the wife thinks they all look the same :) )
 
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