Do it yourself 1911 customization?

This is a discussion on Do it yourself 1911 customization? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have a almost totally stock series 80 Colt 1911A1. The only thing I have done to it is swapped out the factory mags for ...

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Thread: Do it yourself 1911 customization?

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Rollo's Avatar
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    Do it yourself 1911 customization?

    I have a almost totally stock series 80 Colt 1911A1. The only thing I have done to it is swapped out the factory mags for Chip McCormick power mags. I also changed the grips While I do love my 1911 I am not what you would call a "1911 guy". I don't know the in's and outs and such other then I think it's a great gun.

    I am wondering if there is a decent amount of "pimping" one can do to a 1911 without being a gunsmith. It would be nice if I could kind of make this my "project gun". Like every pay check pick up a new part or put money towards a part. Is this possible or if you want a custom 1911 do you just have to buy it that way from the factory?
    -It is a seriously scary thought that there are subsets of American society that think being intellectual is a BAD thing...

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  3. #2
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    Call Brownell's. Ask them to send you a copy of their 1911 catalog.
    That will give you a great start.



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    Distinguished Member Array Gideon's Avatar
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    Some guys have an apptitude for this other's don't. Are you good with your hands? Do you go to the internet, read how to do plumbing and electrical and then get the tools and do it successfully?

    Are you good at precision work? If you answered yes to this then you may be able to do this, however...I wouldn't do it on a Colt unless you don't care if you mess it up.

    Also, I think doing custom work piece by piece like this tends to end up costing more than if you just buy one. But if you accept that and are willing to buy a good reference book and some tools I believe you can do it but you may damage a thing or two along the way and if you're going to mess with fitting a different safety, etc. you need to be sure you are good at researching, understanding, and following instructions to ensure you've safely modified your weapon.

    I've replaced a mainspring housing and I tried to fit a Wilson Single side tactical safety but the safety wouldn't work out even after I filed on it a bit

    If I was going to do this to learn and have fun, I think I'd buy a RIA or cheap used 1911 and then mess with it and then do my Colt next.

    If you do do it, be sure to show us and post some pics!

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    Member Array wheel's Avatar
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    The first thing you should do (if you haven't already) is become familiar with all the parts in the frame, how to completely disassemble it and put it all back together. That includes the mainspring, leaf spring, grip safety, sear, all the various pins etc.

    Once you're comfortable with that, there are some things you can do without major gunsmithing tools. For instance you can do a nice trigger job with a sear jig and a couple of stones. There are numerous links in the forums that show you how to do it. Or you can install a tighter fitting trigger, or a mag well, etc.
    Gun control is not the answer. Gun control is the question. The answer is NO.

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    VIP Member Array jbum's Avatar
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    I am soooooooo book marking this thread for the sake of the guy who said how do I make my shotty cool and got beat up. No offense to you Rollo if I had a 1911 it would be tricked out.

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    VIP Member Array Rollo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gideon View Post
    Some guys have an apptitude for this other's don't. Are you good with your hands? Do you go to the internet, read how to do plumbing and electrical and then get the tools and do it successfully?

    Are you good at precision work? If you answered yes to this then you may be able to do this, however...I wouldn't do it on a Colt unless you don't care if you mess it up.

    Also, I think doing custom work piece by piece like this tends to end up costing more than if you just buy one. But if you accept that and are willing to buy a good reference book and some tools I believe you can do it but you may damage a thing or two along the way and if you're going to mess with fitting a different safety, etc. you need to be sure you are good at researching, understanding, and following instructions to ensure you've safely modified your weapon.

    I've replaced a mainspring housing and I tried to fit a Wilson Single side tactical safety but the safety wouldn't work out even after I filed on it a bit

    If I was going to do this to learn and have fun, I think I'd buy a RIA or cheap used 1911 and then mess with it and then do my Colt next.

    If you do do it, be sure to show us and post some pics!

    Seems like sound advice. I am pretty good with my hands and can do damn near anything if I have some sort of reference. I guess I don't really mind if I mess it up as I traded a 1st gen S&W sigma (That I paid 250.00 for) and 50.00 cash for the gun. So I don't really have a lot invested in it. And from what I hear the series 80's "Kinda suck" but like I said, I'm not really a 1911 guy. It just sounded like a good deal.
    -It is a seriously scary thought that there are subsets of American society that think being intellectual is a BAD thing...

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    VIP Member Array Rollo's Avatar
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    Here are a couple of pics of the gun in it's current form.
    Attached Images
    -It is a seriously scary thought that there are subsets of American society that think being intellectual is a BAD thing...

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    Senior Member Array jca1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheel View Post
    The first thing you should do (if you haven't already) is become familiar with all the parts in the frame, how to completely disassemble it and put it all back together. That includes the mainspring, leaf spring, grip safety, sear, all the various pins etc.

    Once you're comfortable with that, there are some things you can do without major gunsmithing tools. For instance you can do a nice trigger job with a sear jig and a couple of stones. There are numerous links in the forums that show you how to do it. Or you can install a tighter fitting trigger, or a mag well, etc.
    I 100% percent agree with this. Learn all the parts, how they fit and what they do and how they do it, first.
    If I gave a crap about what you think about my guns.....it was early this morning and I already flushed it!

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    I would not "trick out" a 1911 just for the sake of tricking one out.

    Though this is America and folks can do whatever they want to do to their own personal firearms. It's their money.

    Really though you should shoot a "box-stock" 1911 for a while first so that you know what exact changes you want to make to it so that it better suits you.

    For instance...I need a flat mainspring housing and I prefer a short trigger.

    I despise the Ambidextrous thumb safety so that would always go into the trash can.
    I also prefer the "old style" 1911 Thumb Safety so I "convert" the newer style into the old style.

    Better sights are usually a worthwhile modification.

    I personally would always get rid of a 1911 guide rod since they do absolutely nothing for a self-defense firearm.

    Thinner or thicker grips often improve the "in hand" feel for different individuals with larger or smaller hands.

    A properly fit Beaver-tail is a slight improvement because it does seat the firearm a bit lower in the hand. Personally I never had a hammer bite problem though.

    Then there are usually internal parts that I upgrade since I have a personal quirk against MIM parts even though they have greatly improved.

    Hummm...so what else do I do? - I change out the recoil spring for a Variable Chrome Silicon because I honestly believe they are better springs and they stay consistent for what seems like forever.

  11. #10
    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    Some light modifications

    I have a Series 80 stainless Gold Cup that I have modified somewhat, doing some of the mods myself. The gun has:

    1. Wilson beavertail (I bought, gunsmith installed)
    2. Wilson hammer (I bought, gunsmith installed)
    3. Brown barrel bushing (I installed)
    4. Millet front sight (previous owner installed)
    5. Smith & Alexander magwell/MSH (I installed)
    6. New grip panels and screws (I installed, of course)

    The gun looks a lot different than it did originally, and is a better shooter now, in my opinion.

    Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington

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    A lot depends on what you want to do. Installing an extended magazine release or mainspring housing is pretty simple, requiring only common sense and some basic tools you probably already have.
    Replacing sights, installing a beavertail grip safety, extended thumb safety or adjustable trigger does require a certain amount of know how, some specialized tools and plenty of patience.
    I learned by watching others, studying custom guns and even watching gun smithing tapes.
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    Is the subject 1911 your primary CCW? If so, installing a different type (flat/arched) mainspring housing or swapping out the slide release is something you may want to try as a DIM project.

    As a novice, installing a new thumb safety can be a bit tricky as some require minor tweeking. Swapping out the grip safety for a fancy beavertail will most likely involve modifying the tang on the weapon. Not an easy job at all.

    AND...I would definitely stay away from trying to do a trigger job. It doesn't take much to ruin a Trigger/Sear.

    I highly recommend that you find, purchase and study the Kuhnhausen shop manual before you start modifying your 1911. It's regarded by most as the Bible of 1911 shop manuals. I acquired mine 24 years ago.

    Here's a photo of the Manual....



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    Senior Member Array Sportsterguy's Avatar
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    If you are mechanically inclined and really good with precise measuring and measurements I'd say go for it if it is a 1911 you are not going to use for self defense or CC.

    If it is a 1911 you'll be using for SD have a reputable gunsmith do the work for you, especially when it comes to trigger and safety jobs.

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  15. #14
    Senior Member Array Rigrat's Avatar
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    I've modified both my RIA 1911's, though I don't consider them cheap just less expensive or the best buy in 1911's especially for a starter 1911.

    The full size I have modified the grip safety fro a new hammer, changed out the hammer, bobtailed the grip, and added Trijicon sights. I have also tried my hand at painting it with Gun-kote spray paint.



    The Compact, I have also modified the grip safety for the hammer, modified a stock GI hammer, did a soft melt on it. Still have to change out the sights and refinish it with Gun-kote.



    Both together in current form.

  16. #15
    VIP Member Array Rollo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigrat View Post
    I've modified both my RIA 1911's, though I don't consider them cheap just less expensive or the best buy in 1911's especially for a starter 1911.

    The full size I have modified the grip safety fro a new hammer, changed out the hammer, bobtailed the grip, and added Trijicon sights. I have also tried my hand at painting it with Gun-kote spray paint.



    The Compact, I have also modified the grip safety for the hammer, modified a stock GI hammer, did a soft melt on it. Still have to change out the sights and refinish it with Gun-kote.



    Both together in current form.
    Im going to go ahead and de-rail my own thread here :) How do you like that RIA compact? I have been eyeing one for a while. Also, do you happen to know how much it weighs loaded?

    Never mind, 2.16 pounds empty. Way to heavy for me :(
    -It is a seriously scary thought that there are subsets of American society that think being intellectual is a BAD thing...

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