What are some things to look for when buying a 1911?

Discussion in '1911 Forum' started by ACRhino, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. ACRhino

    ACRhino New Member

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    I'm going to a gun shop to test fire a few 1911's before I purchase. I'm familiar with the weapon and have fired them on many occasions, but I'd like to know a few points to look at to tell things like wear and tear or if the weapon has life left in it. Any glaring areas I should focus on or questions I should ask? I have bought hand guns that have felt and fired fine before but had some defects that I should have perhaps noticed first, so I would like to identify a few things to keep an eye out for first this time. They are priced used in the $450 to $1300 range where I'm looking. New ones seem to be a lot pricier in my neck of the woods and it is just going to be a range gun, not a carry weapon.

    I'm looking for a standard 5" barrel one, not a short.

    Thanks for the input.

    Rhino
     
  2. jismail

    jismail Member

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    Assuming that you have no preference on mfg. I would really look at the tolerances on the weapon. When I wal looking for a 1911, I found that many of the entry level weapons had a lot of play in the slide fit. I would also make sure that your choice will use standard 1911 parts throughout. Some do not and that can limit upgrade options later on.
     

  3. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

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    Take a look at the sticky Cane posted in the 1911 area, also.
     
  4. Firearms4ever

    Firearms4ever New Member

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    One of the biggest things to look for is whether it is the 1911 original configuration or the 1911a1 configuration. The original configuration has the flat mainspring housing, and long trigger, where as the 1911a1 configuration has the humped mainspring housing, and short trigger. You need to get a feel for both configurations and see which one you like the best. Another thing to look for is make sure the grip saftey and thumb saftey work, because I've encountered numerous guns that are used that have had their safties tampered with.

    Another thing to note is that if you buy lets say a Springfield 1911a1 configuration you can still replace the mainspring housing and trigger to make it the 1911 original configuration if that's what you prefer. Since it's going to be a range gun you need to decide if you want either a G.I. configuration or a more customized firearm.

    I recommend you look into the Colts, Springfields, Kimbers, and Para Ordanance 1911s.

    Also when you're buying magazine's for example online or government issued ones keep an eye on the magazine springs, because sometimes they can be weak and hang up the rounds when trying to cycle them into the chamber.
     
  5. ACRhino

    ACRhino New Member

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    I believe that this vendor has both 1911 and 1911a1 models in that price range and the manufacturerers are springfield, para ord and auto ord.
     
  6. Jay

    Jay New Member

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  7. KMO

    KMO Member

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    Make sure it is stamped, "Prescott, Arizona" as the place of manufacture...:cool:
     
  8. ACRhino

    ACRhino New Member

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    Why is that?
     
  9. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

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    He is saying "Buy the Ruger 1911" (not that he is bias or anything.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011
  10. JonM

    JonM Moderator

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    if my 1911 doesnt rattle i dont trust it to function ;) my colt series 70 and war issue ithaca rattle more than a democrat's knees explaining why they are pro-crime. they will shoot rings around tight tolerance guns. but they alo are 100% reliable and will feed everything from fmj to empty cases.

    anyway i look for severe wear marks and frame cracks. take a good magnifying glass and inspect the barrel link frame firing pin block safety. those are where cracks will show first. cracking in any of these places are signs of heavy use while only frame cracks are a deal killer.

    barrel can be checked using a round of ammo and sticking the bullet into the muzzle. if the muzzle hits brass barrel is liekly worn and seen heavy use. barrel should be bright and shiney if not it either needs cleaning or is shot out or rusted to bits. sometimes a gunshop will clean the barrel to make a sale. worn barrels arent deal killers as they are relatively cheap to replace.

    worn parts with exception of frame cracks can be used to knock the price down :) a good magnifyer and a current blue book is your best friend when shopping used guns
     
  11. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    +1 Jon.

    My dad used to say if he re-assembled his 1944 Ithaca M1911A1 his first function check was to shake the gun, sans mag*, and if it didn't rattle like "...a democrat's knees explaining why they are pro-crime." he would strip it again to find out what went wrong. (No, he really didn't say exactly what Jon posted but damn close!)

    Up until a couple of years ago I continued to shoot that rattler (no pun intended) with all original circa '44 parts without a single fubar.

    I think the insistence for tight tolerances in an auto-loading 1911 pattern pistol is simply justification for the cognitive dissonance experienced by the new owner for the price he paid for his "premium" piece.

    Every one of my 1911's clink and clank like a "Ruger Rattle" transfer bar. The difference is the Ruger rattles all the time. That's why I included the "sans mag*" caveat. It's my belief that most 1911 pattern pistols, regardless of price tag, are loose when they are unloaded. There is a functional interference fit of a full mag inserted into the mag void. The top round is by design, pushing up on the slide so it's ready to position itself for proper loading when the slide returns to battery.

    Try this with your vintage of 1911. See if a loose rattle doesn't show up without the pistol in condition one. All my noisy 1911's are tight and quiet in C1.
     
  12. Quentin

    Quentin New Member

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    I have to side with JohM and Cane, I'd rather have a 1911 that has a little looseness since it's probably a reliable pistol, all things else being equal. Too tight isn't always good. And at your price range I'd make sure Colt was near the top of the list.

    My Colt Series 70 that I bought new in 1976 had a little rattle right out of the box. Today there's a little more but it's been right by my side all those years and never failed to function when I had the right ammo in it.

    Heck, you want to talk sloppy loose I had an Argentine Ballester Molina where the slide moved side to side about 1/16" but the darn thing always worked and held 2.5" at 25 yards!
     
  13. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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