Building a 1911 . . .

Discussion in 'The 1911 Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, Nov 21, 2007.

  1. I have what I think might be an interesting question for the 1911 "fanatics" around here (Terry, Shooter, Pick, Berto, et al. are you listening? :D) Assume for a moment that you had decided to put together your own 1911 pattern pistol from parts readily available from the various custom pistol makers, Wilson, Baer, Brown, McCormick, etc. or any other sources you think are worthwhile. How and from what parts would you build such a pistol to get the optimum possible handgun in terms of reliability, accuracy, and general "shootability?" In other words, what receiver would you choose, what barrel, what magazines etc. to come up with the best possible 1911? For the sake of this exercise, let's assume you want to do very little or no "gunsmithing" on the piece; i.e., you basically want to use "drop in" parts.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 21, 2007
  2. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

    Doublestar frame, Briley barrel,(is Briley still in business? Last thing I bought from them was in '88) Wilson internals & Sights. Finish with a Colt slide & grips.

    I own a doublestar 1911 and am crazy about it. The frame works for me.

    I really am not that picky if the end result is death to an opponent.

  3. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Well PS....."been there, done that".....back in the ancient days (around 1970) when bowling pin shooting came in, and before a lot of the newer 1911 aftermarket stuff became available.

    A friend of mine owned a good-sized gunshop and had boxes of old 1911 parts.

    I started off with a new Essex frame, rummaged thru the parts box until I found a tight fitting Remington Rand slide and lapped it in 'till if fit the frame perfectly. Splurged and bought a Mk. IV, Series 70 National Match barrel and matched collet bushing.....then tapered and polished the feed ramp of both the barrel and frame until the junction with the frame was seamless. Added a National Match trigger...and polished and honed all the interior mating parts.

    Took the slide to a machine shop and had the ejection port enlarged.....and added an MMC adjustable sight.

    Added a long-tang grip safety, Pachmayr wraparound grips and Pachmayr flat mainspring housing.

    The old girl didn't look like much....but she'd shoot an inch to an inch-and-a-quarter from a machine rest at 25 yards (a helluva lot better than I can shoot hand held).

    She still doesn't look like much.....but she's an old friend, and still shoots better than I can, and I wouldn't sell her for a million bucks!!!
  4. AngelDeville

    AngelDeville Member

    Aug 28, 2007
    There really are a plethora of excellent parts out there,but depending on how fancy you want to get, most things are a drop-in but some will require gunsmith fitting.

    For slides, I have heard good things about the AMT Hardballer (the ONLY AMT product I would consider), and even the Norinco slide.

    Grip, Colt would be on my list, and Most any other would suffice.

    Internals, I'd go with Wilson, or Baer etc...

    I like the MMC adjustable sights, same size as most low mount fancy doo-daa sights.

    Magazines, I really, really, like the Chip McCormick Shooting stars, AND Stock Colt Mags with the McCormick follower, and spring.

    I have some Wilson Mags, but I really don't like the plastic follower and plastic base plate.

    -OR- You could just buy a 70 series Colt, and enjoy the hell out of it....
  5. I've always wondered if it would be worthwhile to pick up a good Series 70 Colt and build the pistol with that as a base. I do like the old Colts! I would certainly want to change out the barrel, all the springs, the magazines, and sights. What I would do to it depends largely on what I wanted to use it for; i.e., primarily as a carry weapon or a target piece.
  6. s+w1911

    s+w1911 New Member

    Nov 20, 2007
    If I were to build a 1911, it would be a pipe with 1 round, 1 nail, and a claw hammer to strike the nail and hit the primer.

    That's why I let someone who knows guns build mine:)
  7. bmac1911

    bmac1911 New Member

    Dec 6, 2007
    Actually, I like the caspian stuff - especially if you get the slide engraved with "This just killed you" on it, LOL. Seriously, their frames and slides are pretty good and don't get up into the price ranges that the others do.

    I can't believe somebody mentioned Briley up there! I have 2 Briley barrels (on different guns :p) and I think they're pretty neat; that sleeve idea in the bushing is ingenious - but it does wear out quick in comparison to the standard bushing. Anyway, I actually did see Briley's in Brownell's also.

    As for guts - just gimme a box of surplus stuff, a torch, some oil and a rockwell and I'm all set :) LOL

    the grips - a nice chunk of Bubinga will do (hell, if you're gonna make the gun, why not go all out :p)

    sights - Bo-Mar or Wichita, though those are hard to get - I just love how wide they are

    Wolfe spring kit
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA

    ".....then tapered and polished the feed ramp of both the barrel and frame until the junction with the frame was seamless."

    You now know this is wrong don't you ????

    So others don't think this is correct:

    According to JerryKuhnhausen's "The Colt .45 Aitomatic---A Shop Manual" Page 67 Figure 95 and everything else I have read, the barrel, when down on the frame (slide all the way back), should have its ramp 1/32 inch ahead of the frame ramp. That is, there should be a jump from one ramp to the next. A "seamless" transition from frame ramp to barrel ramp is wrong, if that's what was meant (??).

    Sorry but I sure don't want people to think a "seamless" ramp is correct. I hope you didn't mean it like it sounded (??).

  9. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    LD there are a LOT of .45s out there, some done by some famous names, like Steve Nastoff, early Wilsons, the Jim Clark pin-guns....with a "seamless" transition from ramp to throat, polished like a babies behind, that will feed empty cases.

    It is "OK" to have the throat in FRONT of the ramp (behind it at all would obviously cause the bullet or case to hang up on the edge of the barrel throat,) BUT seamless works too....

    The reason many now leave the "jump" is to account for wear, from the barrel pivoting up and back, it could wear around the link and lug, so might go back too FAR someday,,,,but mine was done seamless, on every barrel it has had, and it NEVER wore like that, with more than 100k rounds of full house IPSC through it...

    And as far as "drop-in" parts, something has to be said for Ed Brown Hardcore....I used his skeleton hammer, sear, disconnector among other parts on my last rebuild, and it truly gave a true "drop in" crisp 4 1/2 lb pull....even though it is not ADVERTISED as "drop in....."
  10. stash247

    stash247 New Member

    Oct 18, 2003
    Central Texas
    Pistol, for the time involved, vs money, I would call Ed Brown, or Les Baer, and have one of them send me a gun.
    I have built a lot of 'frankenpistols', out of poverty, but the effort exceeds the monetary savings, IMHO.
    Even if the result was to be 'unique', ie, a subcompact, subweight, pistol, they have already 'weathered the storm', on the learning curve!
    'Re inventing the wheel', if you are seven or eight lines down, from the top, is a tedious, taxing, adventure; buy the gun, with some warranty, and the cost is optimised!
    Just my .02.
  11. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Actually LD, it is seamless. I cast my own bullets, and for bowling pins, I used a flat-nosed, 255 grain bullet (actually designed by Elmer Keith for .45 [long] Colt)....similar to RCBS #82050 (,D...creenlabel=index&productId=3339&route=C12J059), but with a flatter nose. This mould is now discontinued.
  12. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    I haven't a clue why the gun, designed by John Browning, was setup originally to have a jump from ramp to ramp. I'm not about to argue with Jerry Kuhnhausen, who is the gru of 1911's. Or with John Browning who probably had very good reasons to do it that way (??). I'll not set up any of my 1911's with "seamless" ramp transistions.

    The risk of deviating from the original concept is if it doesn't work you may loose the frame and the barrel in the process. It may work this time in this gun and not in the next?????

    Anyway the correct way is the jump. Deviate from this at your own risk. That's my opinion and yours may (and obviously in some cases does) differ.

  13. stash247

    stash247 New Member

    Oct 18, 2003
    Central Texas
    JMB had no intention of a 'jump', in the ramp, but allowing for manufacturing tolerances, dimensioned to make it a 'downhill' jump, if it was to be there!
    As any good engineer, he toleranced in the direction of 'heads I win, tails, you lose' format, meaning on one end, a 'perfect' example, the other, a 'workable' one!
    Never was a 'bump in the road' intended, but design dimensions put it on the 'safe' side, if it should occur!
    If Jerry K is the 'guru', where does one put Armand Swenson, who was building guns, on this pattern, that 'could not be built', 40 years ago?
    He was my tutor. mentor, and friend. He said there ain't supposed to be a 'bump', if you got the numbers right.
    Anybody want to speak up, and show me a Swenson gun that has feeding problems?
    Jerry K is sorta right; if there must be a 'bump' in the ramp, make it down hill, but wrong, in 'building it in' as good shop practice can avoid the 'bump' entirely!
    I have done entirely too many 'short guns' to build a problem in, when I can avoid it, by careful work; a 3" gun, that feeds resized emptys, mag after mag, without a hitch, should be proof enough, and I have a half dozen of these!
    IMHO the 'Jerry K Way' is an expansion of tolerances, in the direction of reliability, which is not a 'bad' thing, just an un-necessary option, for a competent smith.
    "Fit" the link pin, link, and barrel feet, to the slide stop pin, as they were originally designed to be fitted, and the 'bump in the road' ceases to exist!
    I do not claim to be a 'guru', on the subject, but learned, at the feet of a 'smith, Armand Swenson, who might well deserve the title; having seen the number of "Impossible" pistols, that rolled out of his shop, totally reliable, and accurate, as well, makes me think he might have 'had a clue', as to how the design works!
    His attitude about "tolerance" was simple; he had 'tolerance' for impatient clients; not much, 'You'll get it when I'm certain it is right!', but no such attitude, about his work; nothing 'shipped', until it was perfect!
    I now own one of the very few 'Bullseye' pistols he ever built, apparently, unfired, since it was blued, after testing, and before shipping; I have yet to fire it, partially out of the thought that it may well shoot better than I do!
    But, to the point, a bump in the ramp is a 'tolerance' issue, not a 'design' issue; put it 'downhill' and the gun will still run, eliminate the bump, and it will 'run', smoother.
    "Seamless" was and is the design goal.
    According to Armand, and JMB.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2007
  14. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA

    You are right! But everything has to be perfect, because if the barrel raises ever so little off the frame during loading then the edge of the barrel will be presented to the bullet and the bullet may catch. Get it all perfect and hope that it never wears to "no longer perfect" and it works fine.

    Now, the average guy who "tunes" his 1911 himself will probably never make it perfect and will not be so on top of his 1911 that he'll check for wear in this area. Would you honestly recommend to him that he make the ramps seamless, knowing of his limited skills and tools? Remember if he does it wrong or not perfect he may destroy his frame and barrel.

    I say recommend to make it with the jump for the home gunsmith or gun tinkerer and a gunsmith like you and other masters can do it for others the way you feel best about.

    So your way is not "Wrong" as I implied earlier. Its just not as safe from a reliability point for home gunsmiths as the way John Browning designed it and Jerry K. recommends. Jerry's books are more about gettting the gun to stock tolerances rather than match tolerances and that does indeed make your position stronger for match tuned guns, as you said.

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