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1911, Why upgrade parts?...

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by Mr. Black, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. Mr. Black

    Mr. Black Zigzag, OR Member

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    I have been seriously contemplating getting a new/used 1911 (something sub-5" in .45 and American made would be nice.. oh, and under $1000 would be just swell...)

    And it seems as though I keep reading that certain things need to be replaced/upgraded as soon as you get the gun. Be it the trigger, beavertail, or some other part..

    My question is why. What makes the factory parts less than optimal?..

    Without getting into the "because I can" or "because I want to" arguments, what should I know?..

    Oh, and I realize that parts break, but if the gun is new- do I still need to replace certain things?..

    Thank you..
  2. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    Several reasons come to mind. First, some factory parts in new guns are polymer (such as the trigger and mainspring housing) or MIM. Putting in solid steel parts makes it easier to work on the trigger and makes the gun a little tougher and nicer looking (in my opinion, I dislike polymer on 1911's).

    Parts I would change on a factory 1911 and why:

    Mainspring Housing: Eliminates internal lock (on Springfield), can change shape and texture.
    Trigger: Length, material, looks, fit.
    Grips and Grip screws: Looks, grip, and hex head screws don't bugger like slot heads.
    Sights: Most standard sights just suck.
    Thumb Safety: I like a small extended, rather than a gov't style or target gun style.
    Grip safety: I have to put a beavertail in. Otherwise my high grip causes the slide to bite the web of my hand on recoil.
    Disconnector and Sear: These are often MIM or cast parts and if they are polished, often it can make the trigger pull worse as casting flaws can be revealed by polishing.
    Magazines: Everyone has their preferences, but the bottom line is that some work better than others.

    Other internal parts can be replaced, such as the extractor, ejector, firing pin, FP stop, and others. Springs as well. Unless they fail, I usually don't replace these parts, although I usually re-work the extractor to put a bevel on it and make sure the tension is right...
  3. Sasquatchvnv

    Sasquatchvnv Port Orchard Active Member

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    I hate Ambi safeties. Off it comes.
  4. longcolt

    longcolt Zephyrhills, FL Active Member

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    I have several 1911 pistols and have never had to replace anything. One is a Colt that I have had since the 1970's and the others are 10-15 years old.

    So it depends on the manufacturer of the gun you buy and how it has been cared for.

    A good quality Colt, Kimber, Springfield, Para, Sig, etc will last one heck of a long time without much care other than the normal cleaning.
  5. NK777

    NK777 West of Portland Member

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    Upgrading a 1911 :D IMHO there is no reason to upgrade the parts unless you buy a crap copy. Only reason in my humble opinion if you buy a quality 1911 to upgrade anything is simply personal preference. You can have it tuned for accuracy, reliability, or have the trigger modified to your liking but in my humble opinion it is not necessary only preferable to the specific owners.

    I too have a few 1911's and have owned others in the past. I have had zero breakage of parts. Even back when a had a cheap $300 dollar philipino made one nothing broke and I even set it up to handle 45 Super. I got it to dabble with 45 Super, I figured I'd start with a cheap gun just in case I wrecked it loading it very hot! I sold that one only because it never was a very accurate gun but it was as reliable as a stone hammer. They are built like tanks.
  6. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    That used to be true, but even Colt has reverted to MIM and polymer parts on their guns. Very depressing... :(
  7. Ethereal

    Ethereal Kent, WA Member

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    ..... and I have to have them being a lefty. Back on they go! :D
  8. asiparks

    asiparks PDX Active Member

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    i will usually; change the grips, as I prefer the way Gunners feel, add a long trigger as it helps me with finger placement, remove the overtravel screw as i never use them,and replace any full length guide rods with a GI setup.
    None of the above are in any way necessary, they're just my personal preferences.
    Likely 95% of 1911's out there are happily chugging along completely stock, 3% have parts changed because their owners like to dabble, and 2% have parts replaced because of mechanical shortcomings....
  9. Bajablast

    Bajablast Hillsboro, OR Active Member

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    The only internal part I switched out on my Taurus PT1911 ALR (yes a Taurus) was the hammer. I had a skeletonized Wilson Combat hammer installed. After it was installed, I had some light strike problems. To cure that problem, out came the plunger safety, in went a spacer/shim, and a little filing/stoning to release a sticking hammer strut pin.

    Now it is good to go, with no failures whatsoever.

    Why did I switch out the hammer? Well, the first reason was that the Taurus internal lock is built into the hammer, as well as it is a MIM part that is known to crack. Plus the Wilson hammer looks wayyyyyy cooler.

    In my case, I have a very reliable 1911, that cost a whole lot less than some high end brands, and it is every bit as accurate and now reliable as any other brand.

    I also installed a Hogue wraparound grip, which is better than the hard plastic grips that the gun came with.

    I have considered a Wilson Combat trigger, and titanium firing pin, but since it is such a nice firing pistol, I have decided to keep it just the way it is now.


  10. Kanewpadle

    Kanewpadle Washington Member

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    If you spend a little extra, you may not have to replace parts. For example, Dan Wesson makes a fine 1911. Look for a used one.

    A well known 1911 maker that does a great job of marketing doesn't even come close to Dan Wesson in quality.

    If your only going to buy one 1911, get a good one.

    The first things I lose are the full length guide rod if it has one. And the factory mags. Buy Wilson or McCormick mags.
  11. huntpotter

    huntpotter SW WA Negotiator Bronze Supporter

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    You get what you pay for, so lots of parts are mim, not machined from solid stock. Mim is easier to produce. Cheaper guns come with less expensive components, and sometimes come from the factory with cr@ppy triggers. Some peoples hands get bit by the GI grip safety, so that is commonly replaced by the beavertail.

    Customize for personal feel. Some like High ride beavertails, some like memory bump beaver tails.

    Some peoples hands fit better with either an arched mainspring housing, or a flat msh. Checkered, serrated, whatever feels better for you.

    Some like classic looks like parkerized finish, some like space age titanium nitride and ceramic coating finishes.

    Trigger pull affects accuracy, so lots of people replace stock parts with a hand tuned sear/hammer/trigger/spring kit, and have improvements in acuuracy.

    Triggers come in different lengths, to fit different peoples fingers.

    Full length guide rod improves accuracy in some guns, but is harder to feild strip, so it depends on your needs.

    Sometimes you just want to put on some fancy, flashy grained wood grips, purely asthetic.
  12. Lange22250

    Lange22250 Milwaukie Active Member

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    Cost does not seem to be the determining factor in over all quality. I had to replace everything on my series 80 Colt Gold Cup, their top of the line, except the barrel, slide, frame and rear sight after only 10,000 or so rounds. The quality of the metal just sucked.
  13. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    I tell folks go out and shoot them, then figure out what you may want to change/upgrade. I wouldn't do it just to do it.

    A quote that I think sums it up best;

    A modern production 1911 typically needs a little gunsmith attention at some point in its life. It is not the same as the GI issue gun that was carefully handcrafted at the Colt factory nearly a century ago. When Colt first started producing the gun way back in the day, they were the only ones making it - their parts, their mags, ammo to their spec. The design has been around for so long that any particular 1911 is now made with parts made to various specs that have wandered away from the original for one reason or another, and is fed with ammo and mags that have similarly changed or evolved. This is the reason why the 1911 does well with tuning by a skilled hand, something that it typically does not receive at the modern factory. The gun also needs proper cleaning and maintenance to reach its full potential. Take care of your 1911 and it will do its job for you like nothing else can.