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Discussion Starter #1
Good afternoon all.

I picked up a Springfield 1911A1 .45 for cheap not too long ago. It functions fine, but the finish has a bit to be desired. When I got it, the idea was that I could make changes to it and no feel bad.

The only things really wrong with it are that one of the grip panels was discolored, and when I took it apart, one of the grip screw bushings was stripped.

I already intend to strip and refinish it to look like a Sig Sauer 1911 "Nightmare" model (black with silver components). I have some new parts ordered, like a nicer trigger and skeleton hammer to go with the "Nightmare" look. I also have a stainless steel slide coming from someone on eBay. The finish is trashed, but it should clean up nicely. I'm still deciding on what sights to use. The new slide has dovetail grooves.

So what recommendations do you guys consider "must have" modifications?

A little about me. My dad started me shooting with his US Army Colt 1911 when I was about 8 years old, so that puts me at 34 years using the 1911. I'm very mechanically inclined, and have tools to do almost everything. If something is beyond my ability, I'm not ashamed to go to a local professional to do.

I've seen a few postings on trimming out the ejection port a little, but I'm still reading up on that. Beyond the "cut here", I want to know why, so I'll know it's worth it to me.

I was joking about porting the slide. When I looked around, some of them look very nice, so I'm considering it for purely aesthetic reasons. Does anyone have opinions on this, or warnings on where not to cut into so I don't weaken it?

I always considered my firearms for bolt-on upgrades only. Since I got this one cheap and I love the platform, I figured it's a good one to start on.
 

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Buy Kuhnhausen's 1911 Shop Manual. Read it before making any decisions about parts unless you will be satisfied with a pretty paperweight. Use the info in this forum to help you figure how to approach your project. Sights you can see and a smooth, repeatable trigger pull would be first on my list of 'must haves'. After that, shoot it lots to find what else you really need.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ya, I was just looking for opinions on changes to make from the plain vanilla weapon. Obviously sights that are visible and smooth trigger operation are essential. I learned that about ... umm ... 30-some years ago. :) I was just looking for opinions on what's worth changing.

It won't end up being a paperweight. Unless I cut the frame, which I'm not expecting anyone will recommend, I can always put the original pieces back on.
 

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JW. I have a TRP and over the years replaced the internals and made changes to accommodate my grip and sight preferences. There is one change that I found made a big difference I. An a,ready outstanding pistol. I spent 25..00 $ on a custom fit barrel bushing from EGW. This is the angle bore bushing. Take your measurements (see their site on the how to) order the bushing and a coup,e weeks down the road you have it. You will have to fit the lug on the bushing but you will have a rock solid tight fit. Initially it was so tight I could barely rack the slide but 75 rounds down range took care of that. Took a very accurate pistol to extreme accuracy for 25 bucks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Thomgetch. I hadn't seen their site before. Wow, they're showing 84 different bushings. Once I get all the parts together here, and decide which ones are staying on it, I'll have to put an order in. I might get in trouble with that site though. I already see too many ways to spend more money. :)
 

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The problem with the question posed is its so subjective. No two people like their 1911 the same. Some people love the original look, others like myself love the modern and exotic. The only things we can all agree on is decent sights and a trigger job.

But I'll attempt to answer your question. Other than the sights and trigger job, I would put a one piece magwell in it, an ambi safety, a medium length trigger, brand new bbl, flush cut and recessed crown, one piece guide rod, new grips and cerakote.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Jamiesaun, that's actually the kind of answer I wanted. :) I can't take anyone's answer and think "oh, I'll use what he said to make mine". I can ask questions based on your answers though.

I assume you are using the one-piece guide rod, right? I haven't ever used a 1911 with one. How do you like it? Do you see any difference in accuracy or consistency? I've never encountered a problem relating to the rod or spring, just the occasional worn out spring.

I have no problem changing the looks. I like the original look, because that's what I learned on. Since this 1911 isn't a vintage US Army Colt, and has no particularly high value as-is, I don't feel bad modifying the crap out of it. I just don't want to waste time or money on changes that others have tried and didn't like. And I'd hate to not do something very useful now, while I'm making changes.

I've already worked around the one problem I had with 1911's. The magazines are too small. So I have 6 10 round magazines for it, that I notched so I can use them in my Ruger P97DC also. So far they work flawlessly. I've only put a couple thousand rounds through the whole set so far though.
 

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I found front strap checkering to be a pretty good upgrade.
 

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A one-piece guide rod (usually called a full-length guide rod, or FLGR) doesn't really add anything functionally. Theoretically, it can prevent the recoil spring from kinking, but considering how long the 1911 platform performed just fine without one, it's usually considered unnecessary. The only real advantage is that it adds a bit of weight up near the muzzle, helping to reduce muzzle flip slightly.

I find that it makes field stripping the pistol more difficult, so I prefer the original GI setup.
 

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Additions to a Springfield 1911 .45acp

If you have the bucks to spend, it is fun to modify your gun..... However, it is important to determine your objective for using the gun.....whether it is a range plinker, a competition pistol, or a self defense concealed carry gun.... or perhaps you would like to use the gun for all of the above....:scratch:

I modify and build my 1911 and 2011 guns for two main purposes.... competition action shooting and concealed carry for self defense. Although I have built several 2011 5" STI Eagles in 9mm and .40, these are action shooting game guns, and I usually don't carry them concealed for self defense. When I worked a security job, I did carry an STI Eagle .40 for the additional ammo capacity.

For game guns and concealed carry I like and prefer Fiber Optic sights, adjustable rear sights, high rise beavertail grip safeties, and a clean and crisp 3# trigger pull with a short trigger pad. I also like to undercut the trigger guard to be able to get my strong hand grip as high as possible on the gun, which often provides better recoil control which often helps with speed and accuracy on follow up shots.

For my "game guns" I like full circle mag wells, wide paddle thumb safeties, extended mag release, and extended flat paddle slide stops; I usually shorten the paddle slightly. I do a lot of slide lock reloads in IDPA, so the extended paddle slide stop is faster for me. For USPSA, I seldom shoot the gun to slide lock, and if I did, it was a mistake!

I built my own concealed carry gun using a Caspian Commander length slide. I like and prefer an all steel 1911 Commander, in .38 super, with a W/N ramped barrel. I use ten round mags, and carry the gun with 10+1 and one spare 10 round mag on my opposite hip. I have a Smith and Alexander magwell on my carry gun which I have bobbed/rounded off so the gun doesn't print as easily. I really don't think I will ever need to reload for self defense, but I had the S&A magwell in my parts box, so I use it. I use a F/O front sight and Bomar style adj. rear sight. The thumb safety is wide paddle that I have modified so it is not quite as wide. I drilled and tapped the mag catch, and made, used, and fitted a brass button from an old holster. It does not interfere with my grip, and is easier to hit than a smaller diameter mag catch release. I simply use black skate board tape on the front strap, since it was not checkered. My carry gun has a hard chrome finish. Here is a picture of the bobbed S&A magwelll on my EDC gun.... The gun is accurate and reliable....I can easily shoot 20 yd. head shots if needed....but can't imagine needing to shoot that distance in a self defense situation..... you just never know what situation you may face for self defense.....!

Be aware that your new stainless slide may not work well with your existing barrel.....you may need to weld up the barrel (or not!) to get a good fit. Proper barrel fitting and using the correct link is needed to obtain optimal performance (proper timing) and accuracy. It would be the luck of the draw if your current Springfield barrel is a perfect drop-in.....it would be great if it is! :rock:
 

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Didn't some guy who was really smart and like 1911's a lot say something about them? Something like sights you can see and a trigger you can manage.
 

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JW. I have a TRP and over the years replaced the internals and made changes to accommodate my grip and sight preferences. There is one change that I found made a big difference I. An a,ready outstanding pistol. I spent 25..00 $ on a custom fit barrel bushing from EGW. This is the angle bore bushing. Take your measurements (see their site on the how to) order the bushing and a coup,e weeks down the road you have it. You will have to fit the lug on the bushing but you will have a rock solid tight fit. Initially it was so tight I could barely rack the slide but 75 rounds down range took care of that. Took a very accurate pistol to extreme accuracy for 25 bucks.
Exactly. The best and least expensive accuracy enhancement for a 1911. I still use a wrench on mine and use the barrel to tap the bushing out just enough to get may fingers on it. 3/4 to 1 1/4" groups on a bench rest at 25 yds.
 

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I assume you are using the one-piece guide rod, right? I haven't ever used a 1911 with one. How do you like it? Do you see any difference in accuracy or consistency? I've never encountered a problem relating to the rod or spring, just the occasional worn out spring.
Yep, most of my 1911's have a one piece rod. I love full length guide rods. But no, I've never noticed a tangible gain, not even with muzzle rise.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
... However, it is important to determine your objective for using the gun.....
I guess it would have been useful to outline some expectations, huh? :)


My goal is three things.

1) Something I can grab from the safe or bag, feel comfortable carrying, and know I'll be able to neutralize a threat (or paper zombie). The Ruger P97DC and this 1911 stock both do fine for this.

2) Something that I can plink well with at the range. I want a good grouping, even if the accuracy isn't dead on. There is a particular satisfaction bringing a target back and it looks so much better than the shooters on adjoining lanes. :)

3) Be able to protect myself and those with me. The crime rate where I live has been going up, but we can't afford to move and sell the house quite yet. We play the game "gunshots or fireworks" at least once a week. That is, we try to figure out if the noise we heard outside is someone blowing off old fireworks, or if someone is shooting. According to police reports, that has been gunshots with increasing frequency.

I just want to improve the 1911 and make it look good in the process, and not lower it's value. Every weapon I've bought and then sold later, has increased in value. So my firearms are my investment and retirement funds. :)

I don't do competition shooting. I know that regardless of how awesome I get, someone else will have more time at the range practicing, more money invested in the best unobtanium plated magic. The last time I shot competitively was in high school with JROTC.
 

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JW. Other than making it pretty how much have you shot it? You may have what you need right now. Let the things that bug you when shooting guide your plans.
 

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What Thomget said. Run it and see what bugs you. I had a Colt that the grip safety rubbed my thumb knuckle the wrong way. And the trigger was too long for my short finger. Once I figgured that out a then made a call to my smith. Next I wanted thinner grips and a flat mainspring housing, that was a month later. No hurry, just make wise decisions .
 

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This is an extremely open ended question. As others have posted what I like may not be the same thing that you like.

The list of options is just about endless. In your case I'd suggest going to a range that rents weapons and trying several. Take a notepad or some paper and take notes about what you like or don't like about certain features.

Not everyone likes/wants/needs ambi safeties. Not everyone likes/needs/wants tritium night sights.

Basically try before you buy.
 

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If the gun works most stuff is preferencial. I like a high rise grip safety, extended manual safety, flat mainspring housing, long trigger, and a full width set of grips. Mine got a match barrel and bushing as well, but that's 'cause I like accurate guns. "Combat accuracy" sucks.

My next 1911 is on layaway and is supposed to be pretty good out of the box. It's already set up as I like save for the grips. Easy fix! When I purchased the first a gun like it would have been an expensive custom. It's nice to have choices these days.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
JW. Other than making it pretty how much have you shot it? You may have what you need right now. Let the things that bug you when shooting guide your plans.
This particular one? About 500 to 1000 rounds. I don't really keep track. I generally don't shoot anything less than 100 rounds when I go to the range unless I'm teaching someone.

Really, I bought this one to modify. Tear it down, and refinish it similar to the Sig Sauer 1911 "Nightmare". I got this Springfield used for $300, which is a lot cheaper than the $1,250 that Sig shows for the Nightmare. The Sig picture is attached to this post.

Most of this exercise is just me wanting to do it myself, and asking you guys for your opinions on what you'd do. I know a lot, but someone may swear by some mod that I've never even heard of. It would be worth looking into.

The things that bug me are ...

1) The trigger isn't long enough, so my finger hangs over. I have a longer trigger on order similar to the style in the attached picture.

2) One of the pips on the rear sight came off while cleaning it in our ultrasonic cleaner. I know, I could repaint them, but what fun is that? I'm looking at the tritium based sights. There are sellers on Amazon and eBay for cheap enough to try them out.

3) [already fixed] Originally, the grip was discolored. I got a pair of black Magpul MG524. They aren't like the ones on the SIG, but they're comfortable and I like them. That's how I found someone overtightened the grip screws and broke one of the screw bushings. A set of oversize bushings are already ordered too, so I can tap out the holes and replace all 4.

I ordered the stainless steel slide that's already dovetailed so I can slide new sights in, rather than working the embedded front sight out. I got that particular one because it was a good price, and since the finish is already a mess, I won't feel bad by redoing it.

I also ordered an ambidextrous slide stop/release. I like to practice both strong and weak hand, "just in case". Honestly, I don't set my safety much, but the slide stop/release is used all the time.

I haven't ordered a new barrel quite yet. I ordered one of those compensators that goes in place of the bushing. I know they're nothing more than decorations, but ... it's a decoration.

I've been looking at some barrels that come with thread-on compensators. Again, decoration since I do fine without. I might just get a threaded barrel for that extra inch of barrel, and then go through the paperwork to own a silencer. I never really "wanted" a silencer, but I was impressed by the FPS Russia video "SILENCED NIGHTHAWK 1911". I'd link it, but I don't know the policy on newbies posting links. That would be a future purchase though.

There is an eBay seller who has a 16" 1911 barrel. I put a low bid in ($20). It would be neat to have, but it's not like I'd ever carry it with a barrel like that. I pondered the 6" slide/barrel combo, but I couldn't talk myself into it. I don't think I'd ever try to concealed carry that.

Barrels are easy enough to change out later. Redoing the finish and potentially grinding metal on the slide needs to be done before the finish.

I don't think I mentioned this earlier, but ... I like doing things myself. I do my own stuff around the house. I work on my cars, including deciding on how to make major changes to things. For example, my SUV had a fuel injected 350, but the stock injection scheme sucked. When taking it apart to fix something else, I decided to rebuild it as a classic smallblock Chevy muscle car. Modifying and/or fabricating pieces isn't beyond me.

And I guess I should mention again, I'm not a newbie. I already have what I "need" in my Ruger that I carry.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
This is an extremely open ended question.
It was, because I'm asking for opinions. Everyone has one, and I probably don't know them all. :)

Thomgetch's comment about the bushing was the kind of thing I'm looking for. I had never thought about changing the bushing for one perfectly sized. So I learned something new, and even where to buy it.

The list of options is just about endless. In your case I'd suggest going to a range that rents weapons and trying several.
I have, and I own a few weapons. This is a pic from last year. I haven't bothered lay them all out for pictures again. I sold the rifle at the bottom, added another 9mm, and changed the stuff bolted onto the AR-15. I've used just about every common caliber, and I do rent weapons when there's one to rent that I don't have experience with.
 

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