This is a multi part question
Can you legally buy a 1911 frame and slide to custom build a 1911 without a FFL?
If so is are there universal parts to complete the build?
Last question is it worth building a custom gun from scratch or buying a complete gun and customizing from there.
Slide, yes. Frame, no.
Some parts will fit without having to do some work. Most require fitting.
IF you know the 1911 and are mechanical adept, you could build a custom. But money and frustration wise, I would suggest getting your custom made by a shop that is known for its work.
There are plenty of people who can work on 1911s, and there are people who think they can work on 1911s.
I've assembled my share of 1911s and do not recommend that someone who has no experience with a 1911 to build one from parts.
i have to second Dan_Fl comments. pretty much exactly as i would have said as well.
i will add, that building a 1911 from the ground up can be done and i have looked into doing it several times over the years. but by the time you buy all the specialized tools to do the job properly and buy quality components for the build, you could have bought a really, really nice custom built 1911 or a couple of really nice factory 1911's.
unless a person plans on building more than one pistol, the tools would be pretty much wasted money in the long run.
another option is to buy a stock 1911 and to customize it to your tastes. but understand that even so-called drop-in parts for the 1911, may still require some fitting for them to work or fit properly.
Sounds like it would be a fun thing to set out to do.
You know, with a bunch of extra cash and time...
My Fusion was bought as a pre fitted slide, frame and barrel. All other parts were fitted by me. Without including my time over 6 weeks. The pistol and tools put me over $1300.
It can depend on your goals and the standards for the build. I wanted mine to be a tack driving target gun. So, I took my time and bought high quality parts. You can buy cheaper frames , slides, barrels and other parts, and if you aren't looking to maintain the tightest fit with smooth function, they can be cobbled together for less, and still give you a reliable shooter.
Others already pointed out that the frame still has to be purchased through a licensed dealer. The frame is the firearm, to the ATF. It is also the part you want to be the most cautious with when fitting parts. It's often less expense and less hassle to fit the smaller and cheaper parts to the frame, and if you do mess up you only have to buy the cheaper part and start over.
Remember these guns were designed when labor was affoardable and CNC didn't exist. Most "drop-in" parts either don't just fit, or they have a lot of slop or big gaps and look kind of cheap to any other "1911-person".
I looked at building my 1911 as a commitment to getting it right with little threshold for cutting corners. I left the big and expensive parts fitting to the experts. It all worked out well for me. I have a precisely fitted 1911 that functions flawlessly and shoots tight groups.
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