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1911 selection

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by Tangodelete, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. Tangodelete

    Tangodelete Western Oregon New Member

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    I have heard a lot of discussion regarding 1911 selection. There seems to be a lot a varying opinion out there on makes, manufacturers and which gun is best for whom. The gun community is full of many armchair experts with many strong views. As we all know...Opinions are like @%$holes. Everyone has one..And most of them stink. I am not going to tell anyone which company or model is best in my view. I just wish to give some general unbiased info on whats out there and what my experience has taught me.

    Well here's my two cents. Generally speaking all 1911s aren't created equal...Exactly. There are approximately three general tiers. First, there is the entry level gun ( $400.00-$700.00) put out by a dozen or so companies with loose tolerances and varying quality of materials coming off an assembly line. Most of which are fine after a few hundy rounds break in, maybe a little research on the the ammo they "like" to feed, and a possible tuning. This should be mostly all you need to have a functioning hogleg capable of doing basically what you want will little or no frills. albeit with quite a bit of slop in function present with more than a few models.

    Then comes the semi-custom/assembly line custom market. ($700.00-$1300.00) These guns have a little more attention to detail but are generally still line produced. They have a higher degree of fit and finish with some factory extras included. Some guns in this category are finished by hand. Generally speaking they also tend toward having more mim parts (molded rather than machined) This may present an issue for some concerned about faster wear and less tight tolerances when shooting. Most shooters would not notice the difference here and would be very happy with these (semi) custom guns as far as accuracy, reliability and good looks are concerned.
    Lastly we have the full custom market. ($1300.00-$6000.00) Theses guns are produced from the ground up by hand. And you will pay for it. All parts are generally machined on site by a small group of professional 1911 craftsmen. Some of which are family members. This is generally a cottage industry with small facilities, top quality materials, and good customer support. You may order to your own particular specifications right down to the smallest detail, and you will be strongly catered to during the process. But again, you will pay for it. These guns are pretty, high functioning, and durable. These companies stand behind their work and you will be able to rely on them for the life of the weapon for support and repairs.
    I have shot handguns for most of my life. More importantly, I have listened and talked to many fantastic shooters from both the professional and recreational communities over the years. The overall concensus is this. Most people will never need the level of precision that the full custom gun offers. Certainly not for combat or self defense purposes. In fact the "tightness" of some of these guns can be a detriment at times to some people. It has been said that it is desirable to have a little "Slop" in your fighting gun. With such you are more readily able to "feed what you find" to your weapon in terms of ammunition. This is seen in some circles as a strong tactical advantage. Looser tolerances can make it easier to manage your gun in myriad conditions that may include dirt, mud, ice, sand, water etc.
    My advice is this. As long as you have a good frame upon which to operate, you are fine. Find the features that you need or like in a 1911 from the factory. Maybe even visit a qualified gun smith after the fact to add the flourishes you like if not present at purchase. Buy what you can afford within reason. You will probably be happy if you spend a "little" extra here. But for heaven's sake, You do not need a $4000 Cadillac gun to do 95% of what most shooters do. This includes even tier 1 SF operators. If you want to spend $4-5000 on an heirloom piece, then fine. Have fun and enjoy it. Just don't expect it to shoot $3000 better for your expense. I have owned and shot both and have to say not only did I not notice a significant difference in overall performance, but I would be hesitant to take something so finely made as a Wilson or Nighthawk into the field for fear of getting it mucked up or scratched.
    The bottom line is this...Quality abounds in the 1911 market. Going slightly above middle market is going to yield the most favorable results in shooter satisfaction across the board. Taking into account all factors mentioned above, most of us would and should be happy with that. Just remember this. Most any decent production gun is capable of shooting better than the operator can shoot it. So it really boils down to whats feels good and shoots best for you the shooter.:thumbup:
    Have fun and happy shooting.
     
  2. Cougfan2

    Cougfan2 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    Very well said and welcome to the forum. :thumbup:
     
  3. nick425

    nick425 Eastside of Lake Washington Member

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    Nice writeup.
     
  4. smurf hunter

    smurf hunter Auburn, WA Active Member

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    Thanks and welcome.

    You said:
    "As long as you have a good frame upon which to operate, you are fine."

    How does one evaluate what a "good frame" is? Are there good frames available in the $400-700 starter range you mentioned?
     
  5. gehrheart

    gehrheart fidalgo island Well-Known Member

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    Never had an issue with any springer.
     
  6. tattoo

    tattoo NorthWest Active Member

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    Come over to the 1911 forum. Look up 69Charger. :)
    Dave
     
  7. Tangodelete

    Tangodelete Western Oregon New Member

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    Smurf,
    Good frames are somewhat relative. But I have a close acquaintance that builds custom 1911s who always starts with a Springfield frame. I personally shoot Kimbers. I guess the custom 2 could maybe be described as entry level. But probably not. I have recently been made aware that Remington has entered the 1911 market with a fairly nice little mil-spec type gun. I have looked it over and for a basic starter it looks very solid. For me, all steel frame and slide with modest lines and good fit is a good start. I don't demand a whole lot more than that. I am not a serious tourney shooter however. My needs are more general. Some tactical matches. Lots of concealed carry. Lots of shredded paper and dented steel.
    In summary here, I would say at the price point you mentioned a Springfield Mil-Spec or comparable would suffice for a reasonable frame and slide upon which to build a quality critter. My GS friend says that the frames etc coming from the Brazil Springfield plant are top shelf. I cannot say this from personal experience however. Its worth looking into.
    Good shooting:)
     
  8. Cougfan2

    Cougfan2 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    Back in the late 70's and early 80's when I worked for BE Hodgdon Inc we were a midwest disti for Taurus. They one's that I saw back then were really junk and the fit and finish was marginal at best. They were also very inconsistent. It was primarily the result of using outdated metal casting and metal working technology and not having some of the best trained workers. Starting I believe in the late 90's many of the brazilian firearms makers made significant invesments in upgrading their manufacturing technology, i.e. computer assisted machining and a more experienced better trained workforce, and the quality out of firearms mfg's like Taurus took a giant leap forward in quality. The Springfield frames certainly show this as well as the current line of Taurus pistols despite some of the Taurus bashing you still hear.
     
  9. sandman1212

    sandman1212 NW Oregon Active Member

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    I have had a Rock Island Armory Officer and put about 1200 rounds through it so far, and picked up a Kimber Custom II today. No problems with the RIA, great shooter, comfortable and reliable. I must hold total judgement on the Kimber, I only put 75 rounds through it today. It is comfortable and accurate, not sure about the reliability yet. I had 2 FTE today, but it is a used gun and I don't know how many rounds have been through it.

    The Kimber is a fairly accurate pistol, but I want to pit it against another 5" 1911 to see the difference. preferably a RIA, just because they are a good entry level, lower cost pistol and I enjoy my Officer. Mostly just because it is and excuse to get another 1911.:thumbup::winkkiss:
     
  10. Rix

    Rix Tacoma Active Member

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    I did. That's why I got rid of it after finally making it work right, I was disgusted with it.
    I kept the STI.
     
  11. Themallardk5

    Themallardk5 The Pacific NW New Member

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    Couldn't have said it better
     
  12. Tangodelete

    Tangodelete Western Oregon New Member

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    Sandman,
    I wonder if your failure to feed issue was as a result of magazine choice...Are you running stock Kimber mags? Was it the last round in the magazine that had FTFs that you can remember? And does your custom 2 have an external extractor? (Kimber only used those for a short period and they had some trouble)
    Replacing the magazine with either Wilson or Kimber "tactical" mags would probably be a good idea. Their springs are sterner and made of much higher grade steel. Maybe this will remedy your issue if it continues.
    Good day.:)
     
  13. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    Overall a good post, but I differ on the price and titles.

    Entry level would be pretty much what you state.

    A notch above entry level would be the next tier, so to speak. Such pistols would include Springfield's Loaded & TRP etc. Better than entry, but still loaded with junk parts, and not a whole lot of love by the assemblers.

    In the 1911 circles I run in, Wilson, Nighthawk, Brown etc are considered semi-custom. They are your better made guns, but are still line produced. You won't find a semi-custom in the 1,300 price range. More in the tune of 1,800+

    A full custom would be guns from such 'smiths as Ted Yost, Chuck Rogers and the like. Wilson will also do a full custom to your order upon request.

    In tests with the fitting of the slide to the frame, it really made little difference in accuracy, as compared to a proper fitted barrel and bushing.

    Thanks for the post, and welcome to the forum!
     
  14. Tangodelete

    Tangodelete Western Oregon New Member

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    Thankyou for the educated reply.
    When I said semi custom I meant companies like Kimber. Just to be clear on that. I appreciate the addendum though.
    Have a great day.
     
  15. asiparks

    asiparks PDX Active Member

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    I would put Kimber very much in the regular "production" catagory. Their pricing structure might suggest "semi custom" but the product is absolutely not in the same class as the off the shelf guns produced by Baer, Brown, Nighthawk, Wilson, RRA or similar.
     
  16. atypicalparkie

    atypicalparkie sowfeast poetland, ohraygun Member

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    ...in the Kimber's defense though, I think one of those was due to noobish me firing it :eek: ! And tangodelete, that one particular FTE was the 3rd round, don't know if that's relevant, or if me limp-wristing, maybe I didn't seat that round correctly in the magazine or something could've been responsible? 1911 addiction has caught me in its trap, sheesh I was so ready to run up the credit card seeing a used RIA similar to the one he mentions. Hah, I was imagining the conversation with my wife--"but honey, it was on sale!" I think my carry Kahr will soon be going in on trade... it was a trip, first time ever firing a 'real' 1911 (the aforementioned Kimber), I was more accurate with that .45 than I almost ever am with my 9mm Kahr. Something amazing about SA semi-auto... and for shaky me, I bet a small 1911 in 9mm would be pretty much ideal for cc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010
  17. Tangodelete

    Tangodelete Western Oregon New Member

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    If you read the beginning post the description was "semi-custom/assembly line custom". I consider that reasonably clear as to what was meant. It is semantic to argue so closely about this. I was giving general info to help the layman generally not meant to be the last word on anything.
     
  18. Tangodelete

    Tangodelete Western Oregon New Member

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    Yes Kimber may not be full custom. But the price of even the baseline Baer, or brown is many hundreds more than a Kimber. In most cases well over one thousand more. I am no expert at all. just a person who has owned and shot Kimbers, and owned and shot Nighthawks etc. I would and have trusted a Kimber in the field. And will do so again. My original point is that you can have a tough, reliable, and handsome fighting gun for much less than 2 or $3000 all knit picking aside.
     
  19. Tangodelete

    Tangodelete Western Oregon New Member

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    Proper bushing barrel fit is critical. I'm sorry I hadn't mentioned it in my original post. :) I generally like to start with a quality frame/slide combo and work my way back from there.
     
  20. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    I agree, it doesn't take a 2,000+ 1911 to get a reliable combat/fighting gun.

    But sadly enough, there aint much love put into guns these days by the makers when the almighty dollar rules.

    Used to be the lower end stuff was a nightmare for reliability, now its a common place for those costing well over 1K to give the owner a pain.

    As long as the gun is in spec, it'll run...its a machine, it doesn't have a choice.