The only things a 1911 needs to be functionally satisfactory are reliability, good sights and a good trigger.
Reliability is often compromised by unnecessary modifications. Stock pistols usually work fine. If not, send them back to the factory for repair.
A large, clear sight picture is essential. Most pistols come satisfactorily equipped these days. For low light shooting, which is likely in a defensive situation, tritium sights are most helpful.
A good trigger is a necessity. It must be crisp and light enough to manage. I prefer 3.5 pounds, but anything up to 4.5 will do if it is crisp. The pull weight has nothing to do with safety. Safety is in the shooter's mind and trigger finger management. If you have more than one pistol, it is nice to have matching trigger pulls set up on all of them.
Other options should be on an as-needed basis only.
If you experience hammer bite, you need a beavertail. Most people don't.
If your pistol cuts your thumb after a hundred presentations or so, a bit of smoothing of sharp edges may help.
In practical use, few people can shoot the .45 well enough to benefit from accuracy modifications. 99% of the money spent on accuracy is wasted.
In this technological society, people feel compelled to improve their performance by "improving" their tools, when it is the operator who needs improvement. Next time you feel the need for a new match barrel or some such, spend the money on training instead. It is a far wiser investment.
It took me thirty years of .45 shooting to figure this out. I am now back to basic pistols and lots of training, and shoot better than I ever did with fancy pistols.
And I have spent enough money on fancy pistols to take every course at Gunsite .... twice.
Well said and so true. Its amazing how smart we get in our old age. All the whistles and bells will not make a better shooter or gun for that matter. Its the operator that needs the tune up work, not the gun.
Thumb safety is my number 1 modification if I had to. It must feel right with my right thumb when flipping it up and down. Other than that is rounded edges (no sharp edges.) I can't stand the gun that can't wait to cut my palm, including the grip panels.
The 1911 is arguably the best combat handgun ever devised. Mr. Browning certainly knew his stuff!
As to add-ons, I think that is perhaps dependent upon the purpose of a particular 1911. If used in compeition (IPSC or IDPA), a magazine well, beavertail grip safety, and combat style hammer are a definite plus.
If just used for occasional practice while it stays on the night stand most of the time, virtually any stock 1911 seems to me as though it would fine. Of course it could be argued that the person using a handgun this way would be better off with a shotgun.
As for my own desires, I want a crisp trigger of 4 to 5 lbs., a flared and lowered ejection port, beavertail grip safety with the commander style hammer, solid easy to acquire sights, positive clip ejection, and positive clip function.
Except for the clips (and Wilson Combats solve that situation) and the trigger being a little light, the various Kimbers fill these desires. I guess that is why I have four of the darn things.
While I agree a good sight picture is imperative, if I don't like a particular gun's sights I won't buy it. I prefer a fixed, three dot configuration and night sights if available. With this in mind, I've never considered sights to be an "addition" to my pistols. Guess that shows how important they really are, huh?
The one thing I generally change on my guns is the stock grips. Having rather small, thin hands I've found that a good set of grips greatly improves controlability and therefore accuracy. My first choice is Hogue - haven't been disappointed yet.
After that, provided the stock magazines work reliably, I buy more magazines. When I go to the range I want to concentrate on shooting and the best way to do that is to not have to stop every 5 or ten minutes to reload mags.
The only item I must change on any 1911 is the standard hammer.They all bite my hand unless the are a Commander type.On an Officers model Colt I always change the recoil spring plug and guide to an Ed Brown or Wilson system.Maybe the magazines.Anything else is un-needed for My applications.tom.
N.R.A. LIFE MEMBER
[This message has been edited by deputy tom (edited 05-27-2001).]
I think the most important part of a 1911 is a reliability package. Any decent gunsmith can do a little tweaking here and there and a little checking here and there. The end result will be a 1911 that is 100% reliable.
Then comes a good trigger, then sights.
Even though you might have the best sights (Heinie) made, a ****ty trigger wont help you hit anything.
For a Carry 45 ? Nothing... explanation below if you're curious.
IF you start with a quality made and maintained 1911 gun with real steel parts, etc, that are properly fit (I carry older 5" Colt's, but that’s just my personal preference). JUST PRACTICE... till the gun feels like part of your arm (I don't switch between glocks, revolvers, 45s.... quality 5" 45's, that's it..) IMHO way too much time is spent on do-dads. Just keep it clean and proper lubed, with springs fresh, and check to make sure you maintain a properly fit extractor and maybe throat barrel for reliability with hollowpoints if you want to use them. And, you guys may not agree, but I prefer the old std. sights on a carry gun (like on a series 70 GM). They don’t snag, and at the most probable defense/combat ranges (12 yards or less), you pretty much look over the top of the sights anyway. I just point and the bullets seem to hit where I look.... maybe it's magic, I don’t know. I've always been of the opinion that, at these ranges, if you are worrying about sight alignment you're wasting precious time.
For a Competition 45? 3# trigger, extended safety, checkered front strap, mag well extension, low mounted Bomars..(or fixed if you are cheap), Beavers, etc...you guys know the list......
I have small hands and am left-handed. My commander-sized carry gun has thin grips, a short trigger, ambi-safety, a front sight w/ white auto touch-up paint and skateboard tape on the front strap (poor man's checkering).
Like some of you, I've spent a small fortune on custom and semi-production guns. They felt great in my hand and the action was as smooth as silk. But, regardless of how great they felt, I shot about the same groups at 15-25 yards as I did with a $500 Kimber. They were also just as reliable.
I was always looking for that one mod or new gun that would make me a great shooter. I never found it. After spending way too much money, I realized that unless you're at the level of the Leatham or Barnharts, it's not the gun but practice.
The only accesory I have done to my Colt commander was thinner grips , I painted the front sight with sight glow green,It is reliable out of the box so I wont change anything, been thinking about putting a front night sight do.