Building a 1911

Discussion in '1911 Forum' started by lonyaeger, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. lonyaeger

    lonyaeger Active Member

    I've decided to go ahead and try to take on this project. It might take me months, it might take me years, but I'm going to start, piece by piece, as I can afford the pieces.

    From you 1911 experts, can I get your opinions on makers of slides and makers of frames that I should start considering. I hear a lot of good thing about Caspian....

    Thanks for your help.
  2. BillM

    BillM Active Member Supporter

    What 1911 do you want? Plinking gun? Carry gun? Competition gun?

    Sounds like cost is a factor for you. Unless you just REALLY want to
    do a ground up 1911 build, save your pennies and buy a basic gun.

    Then modify it as needed to fit your idea of perfect. You can get a
    mil-spec 1911 with a few bells and whistles for around $400, maybe less
    if you shop around for a used one.

  3. lonyaeger

    lonyaeger Active Member

    I have 1911s made by Nighthawk, Les Baer, Ed Brown, Wilson, and Colt, so I'm not new to the 1911, plus I'm an experienced shooter. You can see that I've spent a good chunk of change on these pistols, but I don't want to say "money is no object," because it IS, as it is to probably almost everyone on this forum.

    I like projects and I need a new one....that's why I'm taking this on. I don't want to go with cheap parts....but they don't have to be gold-plated, either :)
  4. NGIB

    NGIB New Member

    Get the Brownell's 1911 catalog. You'll need a bunch of special tools & jigs to do a ground-up build. They have a huge selection of stuff in the catalog - same stuff online but it's easier to find in the catalog...
  5. lonyaeger

    lonyaeger Active Member

    I will do that, thank you Sir!

    I've owned a lot of things before that I didn't build, like cars and houses. If I were to build a car or a house, I would certainly tap in to the expertise of people who have much more experience than me in building those things.

    That's why I'm asking you all. I've never built a gun before, but I know I have a great support system with you guys in the FTF and I'm handy enough that it's something I can pull off. Thanks!
  6. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

    When I started my 1927 Sistema project, I found that some of the fitting was beyond my talents and I'm a pretty skilled guy. Fitting the barrel was definitely over my head, so I wound up having a professional gunsmith do it.
  7. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

    Big plus one on what NGIB and CA357 are saying.

    Building a good quality 1911 is something that is more science than luck. And the tools are definitely not cheap.

    The basics will be no problem if you can understand the basic uses of springs and levers. It's not brain surgery, but the custom fitting, like with the barrel, is something that is better left to real experts.

    Tips like Squeezing the frame to get the tight tolerances aren't talked about much, which is why it might be better to find a true 1911 'Smith and work WITH him on your build for the first time out of the gate.

    Kudos on undertaking such a big project though, it should lead to many eye opening events and make you appreciate the weapons you have already, that much more for their care and craftsmanship.

  8. lonyaeger

    lonyaeger Active Member

    Thanks JD, good advice from all. As I said, this will be a very long-term project. I knew I could count on y'all for the right direction.

    In the meantime, I've ordered the Brownell's catalogue as NGIB suggested, and I'll take this in "baby steps." I don't even know a gunsmith around these parts yet....but I'm going to move back to Arizona in around five years to retire and I'll probably wait to set up my bench until then.

    Right now, I still gotta work to be able to retire in that time frame!
  9. BillM

    BillM Active Member Supporter

    OK--that puts a little different light on it.

    Unless you just REALLY want to fit a slide to the frame, I believe that
    Caspian and STI both offer a pre-fit slide/frame combo. Beyond that the
    sky is the limit. Brownell's is the ultimate wish list catalog, and you will
    spend hours figuring out what you want. You can't go too far wrong with brand name components, and Brownells doesn't sell junk. It pretty
    much comes down to personal preference and what purpose you want
    the gun for.

    To see what the competition guys are running, a visit to the Brian Enos
    forums might be an idea. It's not all race guns---USPSA Single Stack
    division is (somewhat) stock 1911's.
  10. lonyaeger

    lonyaeger Active Member

    Thanks for that. Although I have some good 1911s and have a lot of shooting experience, I've never built one before. That's what I want to do. Appreciate the advice.
  11. BillM

    BillM Active Member Supporter


    If you want to learn more about the 1911 platform than would seem
    humanly possible, Jerry Kuhnhausen wrote a couple of books. Not
    really exciting reading, but a LOT of information.

    Schuemann barrels has a cute little "barrel fit" check kit that's available
    for the asking. Has a few strips of shim stock, and a couple of pages
    on how to check the fit and Will Schuemann's considerable wisdom
    on the subject.
  12. lonyaeger

    lonyaeger Active Member

    Thanks, Bill!