customizing a 1911

boatdoc

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the ? keeps arising-- custom 1911 vs semi custom or production gun.

some of us have limited budgets and big dreams.....so the ? begs..if you use a nice 1911 as a base gun... what upgrades would you add to make it shoot and feel like one of those expensive custom 1911s? are upgrades able to improve the guns enough to make them shoot like (or close to) what a custom 1911 would ?

(please do not just say--action job-- include the details of what you think will make it better..parts and work to include)
example
I KNOW many guns can use a nice action job and the custom gunsmiths (who upgrade guns as well as build them )are very capable of performing magic on them. the issue is what to ask for. is it enough to just ask for a action job? do you specify trigger pull #s?... what parts might you ask for? or do you let the master decide the best way to improve your guns?

aesthetics are easy. we all know what cuts we like, what finishes push our buttons. I am looking for mechanical upgrades that matter during range use

thanks in advance for your replies
 

1911U004

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Doc, I just deleted a much longer post in favor of this. What are you not happy with on your current pistol? How many custom pistols have you handled to see what features you want/can live without?

I'm in Ohio and am willing to let you play with anything I've got in the safe and I'll bet there are several members on here that feel the same way. Find out what you want and like and go from there.

If and when you decide on the changes you want made go with name brand quality. MIM parts work and function fine but you are paying more per hour for a smiths time than the cost of the better parts.
 

boatdoc

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@1911U004

I am not unhappy with my guns at all. I have read so much about thos e customs and I spoke with Joe Chambers recently (and he explained a bit about his trigger/action work) and it peake d my interest. I am NO expert here. many triggers/actions and barrel set ups shoot very well. I was just wondering how a custom gun would shoot, how much better it might be than a semi custom gun( most ar e kits an d have very little hand fitting) , what barrel work might do to improve the shooting accuracy + or the feel of the gun while shooting

we have plenty of members who order these guns. they are on to something and I wanted to know what they feel they are getting in a custom that we do not in a production(like a DW) or a semi custom. there are very valid reasons they buy those customs..it is not ego though.it is functional. Any gun can have aesthetics added

thanks for your generous offer. I live in CT though...but thanks again
 

azpoolguy

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That’s an interesting question and one I think about often.

I don’t know what the actual definition of “action job” is. I know the first thing any pistol must be is reliable. I focus on that first. Then i know what features I like. Clean trigger break, nicely fit trigger shoe, checkering , big sights, and a nicely fit thumb safety and grip safety. After that some cosmetic features I want and I’m set. That all can be found on a Springfield Pro, Les Baer TR or Wilson CQB. So after that I think you start to get into the nuance of the builder/smith.

Just researching barrel fit and you get 5 different answers from 5 different smiths on hood to breach face fit and total upper lug engagement. So then who is right and who is wrong. We know if it doesn’t run at all that it wrong but I guarantee you that Burton, Lou, Chuck, Joe and Ted all have a different take on triggers, barrels and actions.
 

boatdoc

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@azpoolguy -thanks for the info. from what I have seen of your posts and collection , you know where I am coming from

you have named some of the top gunsmiths and there is a reason why they are the best. seems like I have opened a can of worms huh?
clean ,crisp trigger break is a must. low #s to achieve that( 3.5-4 I am guessing). the barrel work is a pur e mystery to me
 

1911U004

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To ME once you go past Guncrafter, Baer, Nighthawk...it becomes aesthetics. Unless your last name rhymes with Zins you won't be able to out shoot a 1.5" Baer. Having said that..I was amazed at how different my 1911 university pistol felt during firing. Joe C is an accuracy NUT (so am I) and after listening to the stories of why he does things this way or that I began to understand that there are a thousand little things that all add up to a CCP gun. The way he fits a barrel and the Marvel disco cut being the two real noticeable things that make the pistol noticeably smoother.

In the end none of the top tier smiths are going to send out a pos. Find one that has the features that you want and TALK to him. Just as an FYI if your chosen builder is too busy to answer email or the phone walk away.
 

boatdoc

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@1911U004
lucky you to get to attend the UNiversity. I would like to one day ..I may have to just sign up for the Video version for now .

Joe make s a lot of sense when he explains why a custom gun is something special. accuracy is one aspect, how the trigger moves and how the shots break because of that is another.Not having shot a custom yet, I can only imagine how the "little things" like polishing some parts, adjusting others, fitting barrels and working on actions might take a gun to anothe r level.

I agree with your advice too. Joe always seems to have time to talk things out. I am very impressed
 
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WC145

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For me, custom guns are about more than just performance. Yes, they need to function reliably and shoot accurately first and foremost, but I'm also interested in aesthetics so the work being done often goes beyond just mechanical upgrades. I'm after a particular look and feel to go with the performance, it's a package. If all I wanted was a very accurate and rugged 1911 I'd buy a Baer and call it a day.

I've owned and shot/carried/competed with enough different 1911s of varying quality that I've learned what I like when it comes to things like sights and trigger pull/feel. But, except for smaller jobs that are very specific, when I have a gun done by a 'smith there is a lot of discussion about what I intend to use the gun for, what I expect for performance, what my ideas are on appearance. We kick different ideas around and then the gunsmith makes it happen. There are conversations along the way to make sure things are going in the right direction and invariably little changes are made as the job progresses. I rely on their gunsmithing expertise and artistic talents to bring my idea to life, unless there is a particular part that I really want I leave it to them to choose what sear spring, what disconnector, what barrel link, etc., to use because I know there are parts that they prefer and like to work with and they are far better versed on the advantages of one over the other than I am. And, when the gun is finished it is their interpretation of my vision, and that's what I'm after. The flamed Commander that David Clevinger just finished is a good example, I had a gun pictured in my mind and David created a gun that is all of that and more, it is far better than I had imagined it. IMO, the collaboration between the gun owner and the gunsmith is key in creating a custom gun versus a 'smith just building you a gun from a list of parts you provide him.



More specific to your post and questions, when considering upgrades to a gun but not a full build the best thing, IMO, is to discuss the issues your having or the things you'd like to improve with a 'smith and get his advice. I've had lots of work done on guns but don't always specify parts for the reasons I mentioned above. For example, if I want an action job done I specify a trigger pull weight and how I want it to feel - 3.5lbs +/-, little take up, clean crisp break, short reset - but I've shot a ton of 1911s and know what I want. On the other hand, I might ask for recommendations for accuracy improvements - does it need a new barrel or would just fitting a new bushing get the results I'm after. I think that the best things you can do are shoot a lot of 1911s and learn the differences between them and learn what you like, then find a gunsmith you trust that does work you like and discuss with him the particular gun you want worked on and how to get the performance that you want out of it. If you ask he'll tell you what you can do, what you should do, and what he'd do if it was his. Then you choose which way you want to go with it.
 
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Bender

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This may sound crazy, can you speak with me and hopefully I can explain. To me, I have to have a connection with a pistol rifle for it to mean anything to me. Many years ago I was into Glocks. While a Glock Is a remarkable tool, it lacks soul and feeling and personality. It is a cold machine. When I first shot the 1911, it was a Colt WWI reproduction. It seemed to feel alive, wood and steel that came from mother Earth. A Glock is plastic and steel and simply feels heartless. With all that crazy shit out of the way, I also seem to have to connect with the Smith or the company. I have owned pistols from highly acclaimed Smith’s that I simply could not bond with, those were sold. There are a few companies that I simply have not been able to warm up to. It may be because they are too big or too wide spread with the products or simply only care to do the work that is on their listing. There are other companies that I can bond with due to the nature of the owner or processes in which a pistol is built. On gun, one Smith. Honestly I really don’t have one specific style that interconnects the past as I have. The Chambers Triple Crown is the nicest best I have ever shot. I am blessed with being able to be the caretaker of this wonderful pistol. I’ve met both Jake and Joe so there was good personal connection.

As far as a semi custom, the stainless Nighthawk classic I own has the perfect combination of features that are right for me. The perfect pistol for me would be on that is built upon a WWI repro with features like the Clint Smith model from Heirloom.
 

boatdoc

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[email protected] that says a lot to me as well. the triple crown is a gem. I can see why you love it.

in the end, bonding is a good thing--whether it is to a smith or a gun maker or just one gun. you have to LOVE the gun--that is number 1. you have to trust a gunsmith #2--especially when you leave decisions up to them. liking a gunmaker helps. to me the shape of the gun, the smoothness of the slide during use(especially hand racking), the feel of a trigger and how much travel is involved as well as how clean the break is is VERY important.

PM sent
 

boatdoc

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FWIW.. except for my wessons and baers, I order my guns with a certain amount of options( slide cuts,sights,barrel styles, ...and even trigger pull#.) These are the aesthetics I want and love. They have changed a bit over time. so I thought a couple of guns might need a few changes.

It is the barrel work, trigger/action work and features that a custom gunsmith can bring to the table which I am most intereste d in. They are the experts. I am the novice. Kind of like my patients. they come in for help..I prove the best I can. we talk, I work, , we discuss, I treat. I always wish them the best. This is the way I want to be treated by a gunsmith. Impart knowledge , provid e info, help me make the choices that will improve something I love already...it is all good

great posts on this thread...keep them coming :) and thanks for the effort
 

azpoolguy

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This may sound crazy, can you speak with me and hopefully I can explain. To me, I have to have a connection with a pistol rifle for it to mean anything to me. Many years ago I was into Glocks. While a Glock Is a remarkable tool, it lacks soul and feeling and personality. It is a cold machine. When I first shot the 1911, it was a Colt WWI reproduction. It seemed to feel alive, wood and steel that came from mother Earth. A Glock is plastic and steel and simply feels heartless. With all that crazy shit out of the way, I also seem to have to connect with the Smith or the company. I have owned pistols from highly acclaimed Smith’s that I simply could not bond with, those were sold. There are a few companies that I simply have not been able to warm up to. It may be because they are too big or too wide spread with the products or simply only care to do the work that is on their listing. There are other companies that I can bond with due to the nature of the owner or processes in which a pistol is built. On gun, one Smith. Honestly I really don’t have one specific style that interconnects the past as I have. The Chambers Triple Crown is the nicest best I have ever shot. I am blessed with being able to be the caretaker of this wonderful pistol. I’ve met both Jake and Joe so there was good personal connection.

As far as a semi custom, the stainless Nighthawk classic I own has the perfect combination of features that are right for me. The perfect pistol for me would be on that is built upon a WWI repro with features like the Clint Smith model from Heirloom.
Why so much Glock hate ?

I get it though. There was only a few Glocks ever built by Lou. The one I acquired has a bit more love and feeling in it as well as the relationship I have with the smith that built it and he guy that owned it before me . It’s almost enough to give it some soul.

A 1911 for me is about the sum of the parts and the work that had gone into it. I don’t know if I would like 1911s as much as I do if I only had a stock option from a major manufacture to choose from.
 

1911U004

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It sounds like you already have a good idea what you are looking for. The two areas I
that I was scared of are the same as you have: barrel and trigger. Once someone that you trust explains things you will be like "that's it?" I haven't seen the CCP videos but I'll assume that he will take as much care producing them as he did in person. I will extend the same offer @Bender did. Call me and we can talk all you want.
 

Bender

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Why so much Glock hate ?

I get it though. There was only a few Glocks ever built by Lou. The one I acquired has a bit more love and feeling in it as well as the relationship I have with the smith that built it and he guy that owned it before me . It’s almost enough to give it some soul.

A 1911 for me is about the sum of the parts and the work that had gone into it. I don’t know if I would like 1911s as much as I do if I only had a stock option from a major manufacture to choose from.

No Glock hate......you know better than that. They're just cold, soulless Tupperware. They do their jobs, and rather well, I might add. But Ive never had a connection with a Glock, they are simply a tool.
 

WC145

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FWIW.. except for my wessons and baers, I order my guns with a certain amount of options( slide cuts,sights,barrel styles, ...and even trigger pull#.) These are the aesthetics I want and love. They have changed a bit over time. so I thought a couple of guns might need a few changes.

It is the barrel work, trigger/action work and features that a custom gunsmith can bring to the table which I am most intereste d in. They are the experts. I am the novice. Kind of like my patients. they come in for help..I prove the best I can. we talk, I work, , we discuss, I treat. I always wish them the best. This is the way I want to be treated by a gunsmith. Impart knowledge , provid e info, help me make the choices that will improve something I love already...it is all good

great posts on this thread...keep them coming :) and thanks for the effort
The relationship you have with your 'smith makes all the difference, you'll see it in communications, explanations, recommendations, etc., and it speaks to how much your build means to him. I'll use David Clevinger as an example, again, because working with him has been great. When we originally planned the build he was going to use an EGW grip safety and recontour it to be similar to the old Hoag grip safety, I sent him pics of my Hoag Colt so he could see what I was talking about. Not too long after I'd sent him my gun I saw a post by Greg Derr where he'd used his new bobbed grip safety in a build and it was very similar to the Hoag and had the look we had discussed. I immediately emailed David with a pic and a link to the post so he could check it out. He emailed me back and told me that he had already ordered one for my gun. I was pretty impressed that we were both on the same page to that degree and that he was on top of it that way.

Another example is a question I was asked after I posted the pics with the flames, someone wanted to know how it was done. I was able to explain the process and had pics showing each step because David had taken the time to explain it to me, take pictures and update me with them. All of this stuff really added to the build experience.
 

ThePlumber

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I really can’t expound on what has been said thus far. Everyone has covered it nicely. To me, it’s about feel of the gun. The subtle edge breaks/bevels, the feel of the front strap treatment in my hand both while shooting and drawing. The engagement/disengagement of the thumb safety. Even comparing multiple guns by the same smith, some feel more special in my hand. When I shoot certain custom 1911s next to semicustoms etc, I can tell a difference in accuracy.

Hell, maybe it’s all in my head.
 

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