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Are 'premium' 1911's worth the money?

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by Joe Link, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I was talking with my cousin today about some of the offerings from the 'premium' 1911 makers, such as Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, Les Baer, etc. We both agreed that they make some amazing guns, but neither of us were sure if they were worth the huge cost when compared to say a Colt or Springfield for the task of concealed carry. What do you guys think?
     
  2. PhysicsGuy

    PhysicsGuy Corvallis, OR Resident Science Nut

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    Yes, and no. The main thing you are paying for with most premium brand is a gun that is usually fully assembled and fitted by hand. Is it more accurate and reliable than regular brands, usually yes. Is it worth it for typical 1911 owners? In my opinion, no. But that's just my opinion. They are most fitted for highly experienced 1911 users, because they will notice the differences. For the novice/average experienced, I would suggest buying a reliable gun under $1k, and spend the rest on training, ammo, reloading components, and/or a .22 conversion.
     
  3. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Yeah, that price difference would buy a lot of ammo!
     
  4. PhysicsGuy

    PhysicsGuy Corvallis, OR Resident Science Nut

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    Well for the $2k price of a premium 1911, you could get a new Dan Wesson, 2 handgun classes at OFA, a case of nice .45 ammo, a .22 conversion, and still have around $50-100 left.
     
  5. Weebs

    Weebs Clackamas County Member

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    I kind of look at the Premium 1911 brands like cars.

    You can get Mercedes or BMW and they'll look really nice, perform really nice generally keep you happy. In some cases they might also get you in good with the ladies. But there is still going to be part of you that thinks you should have nutted up and got the Ferrari, Maserati, or Lamborghini.

    You can get a Kimber or Dan Wesson and they'll look really nice, perform really nice generally keep you happy. In some cases they might also get you in good with the ladies. But there is still going to be part of you that thinks you should have nutted up and got the Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, or Les Baer
     
  6. spider

    spider Hillsboro Well-Known Member

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    I bought a Colt Series 80 government model for $640 and got all the wilson internals and a serrated flattop slide, it ended up costing me $510 for the upgrades so I built my own custom colt for the price as say a kimber tle/rl or a springfield loaded.
     
  7. .45ballers

    .45ballers granite falls Member

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    I am a proud owner of a Kimber eclipse proII. I have to say it is a great shooter. I paid around 1000 for it and I think it was well worth the money. I kinda look at it like an investment. Though I doubt I will ever sell it..
     
  8. Doc In UPlace

    Doc In UPlace Tacoma-ish Well-Known Member

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    I did what Spider did; about $600 in upgrades and tuning turned my $550 bargain 1991A1 into a very reliable accurate piece. She is still ugly but a great performer.

    Does the shopper like doing all the messing around and have the time/skill/knowledge to devote to it? Is the point accuracy and reliability or bragging rights?

    Depending on those factors, maybe yes, a pre-tuned pistol with just the features they want could be a good deal.

    Hard to put a value on "ooh-ahh" bragging rights... hard also to put a price on the time the owner puts into the tuning. Not everybody has access to good 'smiths like my asset John Larsen in Redmond, for example.
     
  9. Frog

    Frog Vancouver, Washington Member

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    Great subject/topic for me!!

    I've been thinking that a 1911 might be the next gun that I 'need'. :D

    However I know next to nothing about the gun. I handled one once, and I've seen and admired them in pictures. Anyway, I figured the time used for saving, will provide the time needed for learning.

    So my limited information and knowledge so far, had me believing that the Kimble 1911 models were the most expensive and the best. However I like getting the best, even if it doesn't have the 'big name appeal'. Example: I own a great motorcycle and it's NOT a Harley! :cool:

    So, if I could spend $600.00, instead of $1200, and get a gun that shoots as well as 'the best' (what ever that is, now :confused:) . What should I be looking for?

    Frog.
     
  10. wakejoe

    wakejoe Beaverton, OR Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I supposed if you look at them as "show" style pieces, they are.

    But I'd say you'd be better off buying a cheaper model, and upgrading from there.

    For instance, I started with a Springfield Armory GI .45, because for concealed carry, the government sights won't snag on any clothing. But I went and put a nice flat mainspring housing, STI trigger, hammer spring, etc etc etc. Made it exactly how I want it. :) I like my stuff simple, so it's still less than a grand. But there's lot's more I could do to it, as well.
     
  11. .45ballers

    .45ballers granite falls Member

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    Not exactly a 1911 model, but I picked this .45 up for great deal. Gunbroker has them for 5-600 dollar range. By far the best shooter ive ever fired..
     
  12. Frog

    Frog Vancouver, Washington Member

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    Very nice!

    What brand & model is it. Shows how little I know about Trade Makes! :eek:

    Frog
     
  13. AndyH

    AndyH Keizer, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I have had the pleasure of owning several 1911 over the years. I have to think that my story is similar to a lot of 1911 owners out there. IMO All 1911 coming from a decent manufacture will meet the needs of the novice to average user. Fit and finish are better on the upper models in addition to better quality materials and hand fitted assemblies for smoother action and reliability

    I started cheap with a $375 Charles Daily this was a decent gun at a great price. Just recently sold this one, it was always a good shooter but after about 1000 rounds the gun just started to feel loose.

    Next I purchased a Springfield MIL-SPEC 1911 for $650 i believe at Sportsman warehouse.
    Build quality and fit and finish where better than the Charles daily but it shoot the same. This one two went to a new owner at about 1000 rounds. The difference with this one was at 1000 rounds it still felt as tight as the day I brought it home.

    Next I acquired through a trade a Kimber pro carry II
    again the pattern repeats A few hundred dollars more and a little better fit and finish and build quality but it shots the about same as the previous two. I still have this one technically... although is is on loan to my father and I am beginning to question if I will ever get it back.

    My current carry gun is a Wilson KZ45 Compact and @ $1350 at the time it seemed like a lot to me when I purchased it. However this is where things start to change fit and finish are superb and personally I can shoot this one far more accurately and at greater distance than any of the previous.

    I have bit the bullet and ordered a hand built custom 1911 from a gentleman in Texas, only time will tell if the premium price is worth it.

    In summary
    IMO I think there enough of a difference in the quality of materials and workmanship between a $500-$600 and a $900-$1350 gun to justify spending the extra money even for the average user.


    Just my 2 cents worth.
     
  14. bcp

    bcp SW WA Member

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    The 1911 is a great gun because you can easily replace all the parts with good ones.

    :D

    Bruce
     
  15. .45ballers

    .45ballers granite falls Member

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    Its a S&W model 745 I.P.S.C.
     
  16. packman

    packman coast Active Member

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    i went from $400-500 1911's to $1000 after shooting a kimber custom shop i found the difference easy to notice but not so obvious above that but i am sure as stated by others the difference between $1000 to $2000 is probably for the very experienced shooter. i found the $500 increase well worth it
     
  17. Frog

    Frog Vancouver, Washington Member

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    Thanks. That's one I'm going to keep a eye out for!

    ..... and for understanding my mis-spelled word. Of course it should have read, 'Trade Marks'.

    Frog.
     
  18. Zhivago

    Zhivago Everett, WA Member

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    I've had this conversation many times with many people and a lot of people feel that the best value to be had under $1000 is a Dan Wesson from CZ. I tend to agree from my experience with them. If I had the money, believe me....I'd have Ed Brown's entire collection, maybe a few Wilsons and Nighthawks and a Novak custom for variety. As things are, my next purchase is going to be a Dan Wesson once I sell my Kimber. The Kimber has been great but I want to step up from Commander size to Government size.

    On a side note, I have no direct experience with them, but I've read a few things that tend to point out an interesting point about Les Baer 1911s. It seems that they are made so tight, that the slightest obstruction can cause reliability issues. One writer said something to the effect of "a single cotton thread could force the slide to a grinding halt." More than likely exageration but something to keep in mind. Ed Brown's motto is "It doesnt need to be tight, it just needs to be RIGHT."
     
  19. PlayboyPenguin

    PlayboyPenguin Pacific Northwest Well-Known Member 2016 Volunteer

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    I will be another one that says "yes and no" but for me it is mostly just "no."

    I personally have shot most every 1911 maker around and I am just not refined enough to notice much of a difference between the higher end 1911's and the high quality production models. The differences are probably there but I am not sophisticated enough to notice them.

    You also have to keep in mind the "law of diminished returns." Once you reach a certain level of quality you start to get less and less return on any additional money you spend. You really start paying for tiny differences that may or may not make any actual difference beyond the psychological ones.

    I have several 1911's of my own. Some of them are more expensive than the others. Some have more features than the others. Some are a little more refined than the others. My personal favorite happens to be the most "barebones" one of the bunch, my Stainless Colt Commander, so I am probably not the best to ask about higher end 1911's.

    I will say that I think my Dan Wesson is easily on par with guns made by the smaller shops at two and three times the price and anyone would be hard pressed to show me otherwise. Just look at the attention to detail in the fit of this gun.

    SlideFit.jpg
     
  20. Doc In UPlace

    Doc In UPlace Tacoma-ish Well-Known Member

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    They sure have the slide-to-frame tight.