Quantcast
  1. Sign up now and join over 35,000 northwest gun owners. It's quick, easy, and 100% free!

Your opinions: my 1911 of unknown pedigree

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by dobeman, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. dobeman

    dobeman Hillsboro Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    1,073
    Likes Received:
    547
    so I have this full size Essex 1911 - a Colt copy. Been carting it around for years. I bought it like over 20 years ago from a friend at the time who had his FFL. I was clueless about guns (probably still am :laugh:). My FFL friend told me then it was a 1911 built on an Essex frame and accurized by some un-named gunsmith. I've shot it over the years - shoots well for me. But the older and wiser I have become and after a few shooting safety classes - I've been thinking how well do I really know and trust this gun... how does one tell? I've had a local gunshop look at it. They claim to have shot it and checked it out. Said it looked in working order to them. So maybe it's not a primary carry weapon that I need to 100% trust, but it can be a plinker I keep in the stable. Or, should I even trust it at all? thoughts?
     
  2. MarkSBG

    MarkSBG Beaverton Oregon Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,467
    Likes Received:
    31
    I am very picky about the guns that I would trust. Sure reputation comes into play, but the primary sign of reliability is if I have personally put many many rounds down range without failure.

    If your rand does not misfire, fail to feed, or fail to eject after many rounds, I would call it reliable.
     
  3. Outrider

    Outrider Oregon Active Member

    Messages:
    363
    Likes Received:
    153
    I agree. If you've put a large number of rounds through it and it has worked well, you already have tested its reliability. That's not to say it can't break in the future, but you've established that the original work was reliable for use.

    In some ways, there is way too much deference given to some of the individuals who have known names in the field. There are plenty of capable people out there as gunsmiths. The same holds true with firearms instructors. (Unfortunately, there are also plenty of individuals who are incompetent.) The thing about a known name is that it is a brand. You're getting a known standard of gunsmithing work or a known standard for instruction. You don't get that with an unknown gunsmith.

    With firearms, this can be important if you go to sell the gun. A 1911 with Hilton Yam's work is considered to be good out of the gate even though it is theoretically possible that he could have messed something up on a particular pistol. A 1911 that has been customized by an unknown gunsmith may in fact be every bit as good as one worked on by a known gunsmith but it's difficult to sell someone on that unless he or she has personal knowledge of that gunsmith's work or has actually inspected and fired that pistol.
     
  4. asiparks

    asiparks PDX Active Member

    Messages:
    421
    Likes Received:
    120
    So, you're saying that you've had the thing for 20 years and not put enough rounds through it to know if it works well enough to trust it ?
    Have you had misfeeds, has accuracy been good ? Has it done anything in 20 years to suggest it's no good ?

    i'm just trying to figure the root for your concerns.

    If you take it to a gunstore to check out, they're going to do a basic function and safety test which is no different than what you would do yourself; do the thumb and grip safeties function, does it load fire and eject correctly etc. They're unlikely to break out the dykem and start checking for proper fit.

    New guns can be a crapshot too, if you buy another gun to replace it, are you likely to shoot it enough to know that you can trust it ?
     
  5. dobeman

    dobeman Hillsboro Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    1,073
    Likes Received:
    547
    Yes. over the years I actually have not shot it that much. 20 years ago when I first got it, I did shoot some, then it has basically followed me around year after year move after move in the case. I was young and ignorant back then, didn't really have a concern about gun pedigree, who had worked on it etc. I just bought this neat looking used gun. I have shot it recently as well. It does not jam or misfeed. Accurate enough considering the shooter. When I took my CHL class over a year ago, it was stressed by the instructor to know your gun and to have it checked for safe operation. Made me think about this old 1911 of unknown pedigree. And I've read differing opinions about the varying quality of Essex frames which this is.
     
  6. Outrider

    Outrider Oregon Active Member

    Messages:
    363
    Likes Received:
    153
    Well, there's a bit of difference between the two statements. The first one gives the impression of a pretty good round count and demonstration of reliable performance. The second one, the clarification, makes it sound like a rarely shot pistol.

    You are correct when you say Essex frames have a mixed reputation. Part of it comes from new 1911 builders wanting to start with something that is inexpensive in case they make a mistake. Use an Essex, make a mistake, sell the mistake at a loss and then someone says the 1911 he has was built on an Essex frame and it's a jam-o-matic.

    Essex frames are not considered high end. That alone does not mean a good quality firearm cannot possibly be built using them. There have been some decent builds using Essex frames. There have also been some totally botched 1911 builds using all top shelf components. -If you start to look into building a 1911, you will begin to see how much is involved in the process and begin to understand how much hand-fitting of parts is involved. That is why how good the gunsmith is does matter and why known gunsmith names carry the weight they do.

    I believe the knocks against Essex are that their frames are cast (but so are Caspian's) and Essex is not as precise in its frame cuts for pin holes and the grip safety as others like Caspian are. That makes assembling a good, finished product more of an adventure.

    If I was at all interested in keeping it, I'd take it to the range, put it through the paces, run drills with it, and see how it performed. If I wasn't interested in keeping it, I'd sell it or trade it. To me, it sounds like the class spooked you...
     
  7. huntpotter

    huntpotter SW WA Negotiator Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    1,800
    Likes Received:
    44
    I've built 1911s on Essex frames a few times. They always worked out good. There is nothing wrong with a half and half, as long as you use good quality parts, and they fit good. I just build 1911s for me to shoot. I trust my own work. But if you aren't sure who built it, I'ld have a gunsmith check it out to make sure it is ok to shoot. They might look for parts that are worn, and ready to fail, or make sure somebody didn't throat out the barrel too much, or to make sure the barrel lockup is correct with no peening over on the barrel lugs, ect.
     
  8. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,374
    Likes Received:
    797
    Come up will inspect it for free. Will even assist you on detail stripping, things to look for, all function checks etc.