How good/bad are Essex frames?

Discussion in 'The 1911 Forum' started by Lanrezac, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. Lanrezac

    Lanrezac Well-Known Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm looking at a 1911 in 38 Special wadcutter that has an Essex frame and a Colt National Match slide. All internal parts, including 2 magazines, are said to be Colt. The seller does not say anything specific about the barrel except that it is in great shape.

    Essex was more or less before my time, but I remember hearing bad things about them. Anybody know much about their frames, or have definite opinions about them? I would be buying the gun as a shooter, not a collector's item.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2009
    Central, Ohio
    I bought one 35 or more years ago. It had a Colt slide and barrel in .45acp and was my introduction to the 1911's. It later wore .38 Super parts and then wore a Colt .22 conversion unit and finally it was back to .45 acp with another Colt slide and barrel. Maybe 15 years or more back I had that Essex frame electo/nickle plated and had some adjustable sights installed. It has been down the road and back but is still going strong today and has never given me any problems. It is now on long time loan to a best friend and fellow Old Guy.

  3. TheGunClinger

    TheGunClinger Well-Known Member Supporting Member

  4. Lanrezac

    Lanrezac Well-Known Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI
    Dang, I should have thought of that! Thanks for your help, GunClinger & todd51.
  5. ka64

    ka64 Well-Known Member

    Actually as far as the old Cast frames goes Essex is one of the better ones. I am having about 500 in custome work on one for my Marvel Slide..........
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    I have used several of them to build .45's and one as host to a 22/45 conversion unit. Never had any trouble though they require some fitting.

  7. Lanrezac

    Lanrezac Well-Known Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI
    Thanks JimK and ka64. I guess I heard wrong or mis-remembered. It seems like a long time since I heard anything at all about them. I realize that the performance of a gun like this depends on the skills of the gunsmith who set it up, but at least he was starting from a good foundation.

    The pistol I was thinking of is on Simpon's of Galesburg, IL, website for $695. I've pretty much decided not to get it because I have too many "shooters" to shoot already. :( I'll keep thinking about it, but I just don't go shooting as much as I used to; my bifocals make iron sights a a lot tougher to see.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  8. aa1911

    aa1911 Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    I bought one a few years ago (slide and frame, commander size) from Essex and wasn't too happy; the machine work was slightly off center on the slide and the frame was out of spec in a couple places that required some painful fitting. I won't be getting one again I don't think, gonna spend a little more and stick with STI and Wilson, Ed Brown, etc...

    I used good quality parts from Brownells and put a very nice Ed Brown match barrel in it. It works and is fine but wasn't real pleased with the poor workmanship; I'm sure there are plenty that are true and as a plus to them, the hardness is correct where some other brands vary too much from original spec.

    I build my 1911's as close to original spec as possible, it's a proven reliable design.
  9. Double D

    Double D Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    North Florida
    Uh, doesnt STI use armscor frames? I think so.
  10. aa1911

    aa1911 Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    yes they are the same manufacturer... but the ones sold as Essex arms are about half the price with about half the quality. And that was just one frame/slide so who knows, there's bad ones/mistakes in just about any brand I would guess. I just don't plan on using Essex arms as my first choice anymore.
  11. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    I like them. Slides too.
  12. i have built five complete guns using essex frames,i have never had a problem with them.the one i kept 17 years and still have will outshoot my colt match target gold cup. old semperfi
  13. HossFly

    HossFly New Member

    Jul 15, 2012
    I've built a few with Essex parts- No problems but never kept one long-
    My last was one I didn't start the build but its essex frame & slide, barrel unmarked and of course many various internals i had on hand- Not the best 1911 i've had but a good shooter -

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