1911 Modifications

1911 Modifications

This is a discussion on 1911 Modifications within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; For those of you have and those who want to carry a full size 1911 what, if any customization would you do? How would you ...

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Thread: 1911 Modifications

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Pitmaster's Avatar
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    1911 Modifications

    For those of you have and those who want to carry a full size 1911 what, if any customization would you do? How would you prioritize them as being necessary or doing first? For example, ambidextrous magazine release, safety, extended safety, beveled magazine well, bobtail, new sights, trigger job, checkering, safe frame (?) etc.

    Cost is not necessarily relevant to the decision.

    I just purchased a Kimber TLE II and its my first 1911. I have rented 2 1911's before. After dry handling the Kimber I'm thinking of a few things I may want to do. The gun won't be my primary carry but it will be carried occasionally. I will shoot it reasonably often and will use it during a weekly tactical gunfighting class I take with my primary weapon (Walther P99). I would likely train with the 1911 every 4th session. At least until I get a lot better with the Walther.

    I'm leaning towards the ambidextrous magazine release because I all ready use my right index finger to trip the trigger guard release on the Walther. Same finger, same job, and similar operation seems like a good deal to me. Plus I have to adjust my grip more when using my right thumb. I'm not sure about whether to go with an extended safety/ambidextrous safety or the beveled magazine well.

    I appreciate all comments but really want to know what you do and why vs. what I should do. I like to make my own decisions based upon why people do something vs. what they tell me to do. I'm stubborn like that.


    HELGA: Where are you going?
    HAGAR: To sign a peace treaty with the King of England.
    HELGA: Then why take all those weapons?
    HAGAR: First we gotta negotiate...

  2. #2
    New Member Array davegran's Avatar
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    Southern Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by Pitmaster View Post
    For those of you have and those who want to carry a full size 1911 what, if any customization would you do?....

    I'm leaning towards the ambidextrous magazine release because I all ready use my right index finger to trip the trigger guard release on the Walther. Same finger, same job, and similar operation seems like a good deal to me. Plus I have to adjust my grip more when using my right thumb. ....

    As I said in another section of the forum, I own a 1911 and an SW99, which is the US version of the Walther P99.

    I've found the Smith to be much quicker in changing mags, because of the ambidextrous release. My method is to leave my trigger finger along the frame and bring up my middle finger to release the mag... safe and fast. Instead of changing hand position on the 1911 I just use my left hand to release the mag. I would love to put an ambidextrous release on the 1911.

    Understand that these comments are from somebody who shoots IDPA but can't carry concealed because of Wisconsin law.
    Last edited by davegran; April 17th, 2008 at 10:13 AM.

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array edr9x23super's Avatar
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    Ms. Pitmaster;

    You really don't need that many bells and whistles to get really good performance out of a 1911. if you check my post "STI Spartan range test", you will get the basic idea.

    here is what I do to mine:

    1) Take the gun to a gunsmith that does 1911s specifically. have him go through it, and check things out, especially the trigger. A superb trigger sets the 1911 apart from every other handgun made on the planet, period. The other things he will check is the barrel fit; having this done properly will affect accuracy tremendously, as well as function.

    2) You can have the mag release changed if you like, a lot of competitors use their trigger finger to actuate the mag release and that works just fine for them. Another method you may want to consider is to use the thumb of your weak hand to push the mag button when it is time to change mags. This works well for people with small hands. Make sure the magwell on your gun is well beveled, with all sharp edges removed.

    3) Sights; I have pretty much gone to the Novak-style fiber optic sights on my carry guns and will continue to use them. I used to have tritium sights but got rid of them when we started having kids. Now, if something goes "bump" in the night, I want to light it up and ID it with my surefire 6P before I light them up with the firestick.....

    4) Grips; I leave mine pretty much stock, the only thing I do different is I go to the local skate shop once a year and buy a square foot of skateboard tape, and cut a small piece that I put across the front strap of the gun for a better grip. It is cheap and lasts quite a while. Or you can spend the money and have someone cut the checkering into your strap, but I actually prefer the tape.

    In my opinion, that is really about all you need. Don't get caught up in the latest fad "recoil reducer" super tungsten titanium kryptonium alloy guide rods, practice and more practice will tame the recoil issues. My carry gun does not have a full length guide rod, and I took the one out of my Spartan i just bought because I just don't see the need for the extra weight up front. And it has never been proven to actually enhance the performance any.

    Good luck to you,
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

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  5. #4
    Member Array 1911packer's Avatar
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    I bought a Springfield GI, which is about the most basic 1911 you can get, to ultimately be my EDC.
    The mods I plan on making to bring it up to being a dependable fighting gun are:
    1. Sights.
    2. Once-over by a good 1911 smith.
    3. Maybe grips to personalize it.

    edr9x23super is right about not needing to fiddle with it much. Browning pretty much had it right when he designed it. Most of the serious mods on 1911s are for competition guns.

    Carry guns need to feed reliably, fire reliably and shoot where you point them.

    That Kimber should be sweet just as it us. Maybe try some Wilson 47D mags.

  6. #5
    Member Array Blackhawk6's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Like most 1911 owners, I have very specific ideas about what modifications a 1911 needs and I could give you a list, but I am not the one shooting your 1911. The TLE mimics LAPD SWAT's preferences in a 1911 but again, you will be the one operating the gun. You need to figure out what is/isn't working for you on the gun and go from there.

    I understand the desire to change the magazine release and get a common manual of arms, but I would hold off. You may find that you prefer the placement of the 1911's magazine release. You may find that you prefer the 1911 to your P99 and the 1911 may become your primary.(its been known to happen )

    Use it for 500-1000 rounds and compile a list of the things you do not like about it. It sounds like your weekly tactical gunfighting class may provide a good venue for you to assess the gun. Some things (like sights) will be more obvious than others.

    Come back to the forum with your list of things you do not like about your 1911 that you are not sure how to fix and then have all the internet "experts" weigh in.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Array Sarge45's Avatar
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    May 2007
    When it comes to the 1911 I'm a purist. I think it works great the way it is for the most part. I prefer nice wood grips so to me, that's the only thing I would change, if they needed changed. I also prefer Novak-type sights. Other-n-that, I'm good to go.

  8. #7
    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    I've got a new Springfield "Loaded" that I'm breaking in.

    This is not my first 1911, but the "Loaded" Model had everything I need on a 1911 for games and defensive purposes. Good Sights, ambi safety and eats what I feed it. The only thing I've considered changing was the FLGR, but it hasn't proven to be a problem, so I stuck with it. Add some skateboard tape and it's GTG.

    FLGR = Full Legnth Guide Rod
    GTG = Good To Go

    I wouldn't get too cought up in modifying or changing your gun. There are enough 1911's out there that you are sure to find one that will meet your needs without having to send it to a 'smith. Having one gone over by a 'smith for function checking and reliability enhancement is not a bad idea, but I'd forget about the other stuff if it were me. Stick with a good "stock" trigger for the first 5,000 rounds and then decide what you want. That will be in a year for me at the rate I'm shooting.


  9. #8
    Member Array Ping Ping's Avatar
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    First, remove all small parts and throw into a large lake. They are either cheaply cast, or MIM. Replace internal parts (sear, disconnector, hammer, strut, sear spring) with EGW hard parts. Replace slide stop with Greider since they are machined and have a little detent cut into the knob for easy installation. Set trigger to your prefered pull, but for carry, I don't recommend going below 3-1/2lbs. There should be no creep and minimal overtravel. Replace thumb safety with extended, single side version, as there is no internal joint to go south on you. Start with King's or perhaps Ed Brown. Have the edges and corners thoroughly dehorned, which makes the gun more comfortable for carry and less likely to snag on anything. Replace mainspring housing with EGW, or Ed Brown two piece extended magwell. This will make for faster and more sure reloads and can be removed for concealment. Replace bushing with EGW extra large bushing and dehorn it for carry. Replace barrel with Kart, or Shuemann NM, for maximum accuracy and durability. Check the ramp and barrel throat for angle, length and offset. Have the barrel crowned flush to the bushing to protect against damage if dropped. Replace mag release with whatever you like, but I do not like ambi mag releases on a fighting gun. Chamfer firing pin hole and replace pin with EGW oversize version, to prevent primer shear and sticking. Replace firing pin stop with EGW square bottom version and lightly radius to reduce perceived recoil. Use 23# mainspring and lighter recoil spring. Replace extractor with Wilson Bulletproof model. Replace rear sight with a plain Yo-Bo Retro, or 10-8 wide U-notch for faster aquisition. Install tritium lamp, or better yet, gold bead into front sight, again, for faster aquisition and better low light performance.

    Bobtailing is a nice option and makes a fullsize Gubmint model nearly as easy to conceal as an OACP.

    Anyway, that otta keep you busy for a while.

    Have fun and good luck.
    "Happiness, is a warm gun" -St. John of Liverpool

    Proud to be an infidel.

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    In the eventuality that a person of ill-intent lays hands on your weapon and attempts to divest you of the same, ambi-safeties will cut you and permanently disable your weapon, ambi-mag catches double you chances of dumping your mag.

    BarSto and Kart represent money better spent on ammo & training. You do not need (nor can most appreciate) 1.25" MOA @ 100 yards out of a 1911...especially when running, ducking or clubbing with said 1911.

    I like Briley spherical bushings.
    I like FLGRs. Some do not.

  11. #10
    JD is offline
    Array JD's Avatar
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    If you're not a lefty, I'd say that the ambi safety is not a requirement, if you are a lefty it is IMHO

    My basic NEEDs on a 1911 are good sights, an elongated single side safety, and a beaver tail grip safety.

    A dehorn may be extremely necessary, my Colt is too edgy, my Springfield is OK, the Kimbers I've had were all "melted" CDPs, and my Baer is slicker than snot on a greased axle.

    I like one piece mag wells, but I don't think they are a requirement, just personal preference.

    I like Ping's listed sights, but I'd also add either XS Big Dot sights and Heinies to the the list as well.

    *Regarding MIM* I'd ditch most of the small(non ignition) for piece of mind, but I would definitely replace all the ignition parts with quality steel after market parts.

    I see no benefit of the full length guide rods, and the addition of one will negate one method of one handed cycling of the slide. I pull them out and replace them with original style plugs and spring guides.

    The TLE has good checkering, so at least you don't have to worry about that.


    I prefer micarta or G10, I'm leaning more toward the G10 grips, as I love the ones I added to my Hi Power, and just added a set of them to my Baer (thanks blgoode), if the cost of such grips is an issue, I like the Hogue grip panels with palm swell, I need to get a new set of the nylon ones to check out, and I gave my rubber grips to my Dad for use on his Commander.

    Regarding the ambi mag release, I've got to give a thumbs down on that idea, but in all honesty I've never used one, if you're a lefty, I could see some advantage, but as a righty, looking at my gun using a high, firm, grip it looks like my trigger finger and middle finger would be riding on the ambi mag release, which does not seem like a good thing in my book.

    The bobtail: I really like this option, and if I could stop buying guns long enough to save up a bankroll, my Springer would be bobtailed.

    You may want to add a match bushing, you may not, if the Kimber shoots as good as it should, I don't think you'll need it.

    I don't like the Kimber beaver tails, I'd add an Ed Brown and have it installed. To clarify, I don't like the gaudiness of that big hunk of grip safety, I prefer one with a nice bump to it and that's all, they just fit my hand a bit better, but if the factory safety fits you, stick with it or replace it at your convenience.

  12. #11
    Lead Moderator
    Array rocky's Avatar
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    I would also suggest shooting it first for a while lots of fancy gimmicks are just that.
    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson

    Nemo Me Impune Lacesset

  13. #12
    Senior Member Array mojust's Avatar
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    I've got a Smith 108285 that's almost perfect like it is. I've changed the grips to VZ operators and the pistol looks terrific. I might add night sights, and I will very probably get the trigger pull lightened, but I don't think I'll do much else. Sweet gun right out of the box.

  14. #13
    VIP Member Array Supertac45's Avatar
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    I'd it all up and you could have purchased a Baer Thunder Ranch for less money. No MIM, nights sights to start with, and a really great gun. Sorry, but that's my line of thought.
    Les Baer 45
    Sig Man
    N.R.A. Patron Life Member

  15. #14
    Senior Member Array Pitmaster's Avatar
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    Great thread. I'm pausing my decision making but not my quest for experience and information. I had never thought about using my left thumb for releasing the magazine. I'll start trying that to see how I it works for me. I don't plan on turning this into a race gun. At most some minor tweaking. I will shoot it over the summer to break it in and get a feel for it.

    HELGA: Where are you going?
    HAGAR: To sign a peace treaty with the King of England.
    HELGA: Then why take all those weapons?
    HAGAR: First we gotta negotiate...

  16. #15
    Member Array ExSniper's Avatar
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    1911 must be 100% reliable so that is the first "modification" if necessary.
    2nd mod is a really good 4 to 5 lb. trigger pull.
    3rd is really good sights, which is purely what works best for you.
    Everything else is just personal preference or gee whiz factor. Most tacticool products are not designed to make the gun better or easier to operate, but just to sell more gizmos.

    View this tip about using the mag release with thumb.
    Then on the same site look at all the shooting tips. Great stuff.

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