Help me understand 1911s

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Help me understand 1911s

Post by KaceCoyote » Thu May 19, 2011 4:44 pm

So I've been looking at 1911s a lot lately, and honestly I just don't understand. Whats the difference between like a GI sort of basic entry level 1911 and something fancier? It cant just be fit and finish, is it barrel? What ejector configuration is ideal for functionality? Am I a dumb ass for wanting a SiG 1911?

Do I -need- a flared ejection port to have a reliable pistol for instance? Is a Springfield arms GI model going to be trustworthy or something similar? School a 1911-tard.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by AgentBlack » Thu May 19, 2011 5:09 pm

Well that's a question nearly impossible to answer. It depends on the manufacturer and what they put into thier base model and high end model.

BUT generally, a GI, Gov, or basic model is closer to the original design. Meaning a strait barrel, standard ejection port, standard mag well, simple slide serrations, plain sight, sharp edges, multi piece "plunger" style guide rod, barrel lug, single side controls made for a right hand shooter.

The high end Kimber types use tapered "cone" barrels, solid guide rod, no barrel lug, nicer sights, smoothed edges, flaired and lowered ejection port, beveled mag well, front and rear slide serrations, and often ambi controls. Basically applying newer technology to improve or remove what can be considered by some to be design flaws in the original, in an attempt to make the design more accurate, and/or reliable, and safer.

Then there are the differences in the internals. Namely the series 80 style and series 70 style. You will find folks who love both. To the average shooter or beginner it don't much matter. But to builders and comp shooters they are day and night. Hard core fans (purists) generally perfer the series 70.
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Help me understand 1911s

Post by mcfroggin » Thu May 19, 2011 5:11 pm

Pretty much fit and finish. The die hards say otherwise.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by KaceCoyote » Thu May 19, 2011 5:21 pm

AgentBlack wrote:Well that's a question nearly impossible to answer. It depends on the manufacturer and what they put into thier base model and high end model.

BUT generally, a GI, Gov, or basic model is closer to the original design. Meaning a strait barrel, standard ejection port, standard mag well, simple slide serrations, plain sight, sharp edges, multi piece "plunger" style guide rod, barrel lug, single side controls made for a right hand shooter.

The high end Kimber types use tapered "cone" barrels, solid guide rod, no barrel lug, nicer sights, smoothed edges, flaired and lowered ejection port, beveled mag well, front and rear slide serrations, and often ambi controls. Basically applying newer technology to improve or remove what can be considered by some to be design flaws in the original, in an attempt to make the design more accurate, and/or reliable, and safer.

Then there are the differences in the internals. Namely the series 80 style and series 70 style. You will find folks who love both. To the average shooter or beginner it don't much matter. But to builders and comp shooters they are day and night. Hard core fans (purists) generally perfer the series 70.

Ok now we're getting somewhere! Why dont I want a straight barrel vs a cone barrel? Whats going on with the guide rods? Can I add a magfunnel later without biblical PITA? I dont like crazy cocking serrations, adjustable sights or ambi controls anyway.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by AgentBlack » Thu May 19, 2011 5:57 pm

KaceCoyote wrote:Ok now we're getting somewhere! Why dont I want a straight barrel vs a cone barrel? Whats going on with the guide rods? Can I add a magfunnel later without biblical PITA? I dont like crazy cocking serrations, adjustable sights or ambi controls anyway.
I can't really answer that. It's really a matter of personal preference. The thing has had 100 years to prove that it works. Some believe the cone barrel and solid guide rod add a more positive control on the slide and better return to battery. I like something as close to the original as possible. I like the plunger guide and bushing setup, because it's just cool.

I'm no expert by any means. My friend on the other hand...couple months ago picked up 1911 number 12? with no sign of slowing down. He really loves the things and has everything from an original series 70 colt commander to a loaded springfield trophy match to a new kimber raptor.

Remember, you can get a nice base model and have just about any gunsmith flair the port and well. There are so many parts out there you can do what ever you want. BUT, the thing is the tighter you make one the less reliable they become. A good combat 1911 should have some slop to it. A tack driving target 1911 will have a certain number of failures to deal with. Guys have spent the last 100 years trying to dial the design to get a happy medium...which is where the high end production models came from. Kimber, Wilson Combat and the like started by producing a pistol that came from the factory with the most popular mods already done.

So I guess the question is what do you want the gun to do? Range toy or EDC?
If it's an EDC, then KISS. Basic design, not to many bells or whistles, a little slop, beveled mag well, flaired ejection port, and night sights. Now you can get a cheap mil spec model and add the things you want (without going overboard).
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by crypto » Thu May 19, 2011 6:10 pm

KaceCoyote wrote:So I've been looking at 1911s a lot lately, and honestly I just don't understand. Whats the difference between like a GI sort of basic entry level 1911 and something fancier? It cant just be fit and finish, is it barrel? What ejector configuration is ideal for functionality? Am I a dumb ass for wanting a SiG 1911?

Do I -need- a flared ejection port to have a reliable pistol for instance? Is a Springfield arms GI model going to be trustworthy or something similar? School a 1911-tard.
In really basic terms, the "USGI" 1911's try to stay as true to the original blueprint as possible. One of the VERY important and often overlooked things that this means is in terms of clearances and tolerances. Original USGI 1911's are loose, by design. They have large clearances, to accomodate for the larger manufacturing tolerances of the day.

Since then, there have been many changes made to the 1911 platform, chief among them a desire to 'tighten up' the gun, which means reducing clearances to take advantage of modern manufacturing method's ability to repeatably achieve smaller tolerances in parts dimensions. One of the things everyone notices on a high-end 1911 is that it feels more solid, less rattley, and better built. This is simply a function of parts fitting closer together.

Other than that, there are many changes that companies adopt once they depart from the blueprint, that others have covered: different slide stops, safeties, mag releases, enlarged ejection ports to prevent failures to eject and ease malfunction clearing, chamfered/bevelled magazine mouths to aid in quick magazine changes, extended beavertails to aid in grip lockup and indexing, different sight systems, etc.

But what remains is that one of the biggest things that impacts the platforms reliability is the clearance issue. Looser, sloppier guns tend to not feel as good in the hand, or maybe be as accurate or crisp as a high-end 1911, but they're frequently more reliable.

Anyway, thats my knowledge of 1911's distilled into a few paragraphs.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by Biggin » Thu May 19, 2011 6:35 pm

I was gonna come drop some knowledge here, but Agentblack knows more than I do by a few novels haha.



I will say this, learn how to REALLY maintain your 1911. I learned on a cheapo GI 1911 and now I can isolate most problems on OTHER people's 1911s and tell them how to fix it (no I don't volunteer to).

Example: Guy bought a Kimber CDP from us. Comes back a little while later because when he releases the slide the hammer would drop to half-cock. That is a sear issue. If it were my gun, I would have bought a sear (or just gotten one laying around at work) and swapped it out myself. Saves time and sometimes money.

Kimber fixed it for him free of charge (and yeah, they just replaced the sear) but it took about 5 weeks. If you get a 1911 and plan on using it a lot, learn your way around it.


As far as differences between GI and modern 1911s? The most noticeable difference for me is front strap checkering, the grip safety, and sights. I hate GI sights and I hate the GI grip safety, and believe it or not, that checkering makes a big difference.

ETA: You can do MUCH better than SIG for a 1911 at that price.... imo
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by Dooms » Thu May 19, 2011 6:39 pm

The 1911, like the AR-15, is one of those firearms that you can pretty much "Have It Your Way." There are a few common differences (frame size, series 70/series 80/or swartz, internal or external extractor, guide rod configuration, ect) but, for the most part, there are so many different parts manufacturers and builders out there that, the only way to truly know what you want in a 1911, is to look an a bunch and see which features you like and don't like.

After you decide what features you do and don't like, then it comes time to look for a brand who makes a 1911 that's close to what you want. One thing to keep in mind is that, the 1911 was designed at a time when labor was cheap and most modern manufacturing processes weren't invented yet. Therefore, the design tends to be very labor intensive vs. more modern firearms designs where parts simply drop into place during assembly. Because just about everyone and their brother makes their own brand of 1911 pistol now the difference in quality, fit, finish, and reliability tends to be all over the place. A lot of people are willing to pay more for 1911s from certain brands as they believe it ensures a certain level of fit, finish, and quality. Often times, this tends to be the case (i.e. the whole "you get what you pay for" thing), but not always. Sometimes even more expensive 1911 manufacturers take shortcuts to keep costs down, with varying levels of success.

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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by Haji » Thu May 19, 2011 8:23 pm

KaceCoyote wrote:
AgentBlack wrote: Ok now we're getting somewhere! Why dont I want a straight barrel vs a cone barrel? Whats going on with the guide rods? Can I add a magfunnel later without biblical PITA? I dont like crazy cocking serrations, adjustable sights or ambi controls anyway.
Coned (bushingless) barrels are meant to add weight to the end of the muzzle, which is why they're illegal in competition in many of the gun games. Full length guide rods are said to prevent the spring from kinking. Put a recoil spring in the dust cover some time and see if there's enough room for the spring to kink. All the FLGR does is make the gun harder to take apart. Dunno if SIG made their own main spring housing. If they didn't, then changing the part won't be a problem. If they did, then you're trying to find a part made for one particular type of 1911, which will undoubtedly lead to consternation. SIG's 1911's aren't renowned for running, so if you want a reliable 1911, look elsewhere. SIG 1911's are like ordering a steaks from Waffle House: they do 'em, but you're way better off lettin' 'em make what they know.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by KaceCoyote » Thu May 19, 2011 10:07 pm

Haji wrote:
KaceCoyote wrote:
AgentBlack wrote: Ok now we're getting somewhere! Why dont I want a straight barrel vs a cone barrel? Whats going on with the guide rods? Can I add a magfunnel later without biblical PITA? I dont like crazy cocking serrations, adjustable sights or ambi controls anyway.
Coned (bushingless) barrels are meant to add weight to the end of the muzzle, which is why they're illegal in competition in many of the gun games. Full length guide rods are said to prevent the spring from kinking. Put a recoil spring in the dust cover some time and see if there's enough room for the spring to kink. All the FLGR does is make the gun harder to take apart. Dunno if SIG made their own main spring housing. If they didn't, then changing the part won't be a problem. If they did, then you're trying to find a part made for one particular type of 1911, which will undoubtedly lead to consternation. SIG's 1911's aren't renowned for running, so if you want a reliable 1911, look elsewhere. SIG 1911's are like ordering a steaks from Waffle House: they do 'em, but you're way better off lettin' 'em make what they know.

So if I'm correct the general thought is to buy less, modify to accomodate personal preference and run the fuck out of the thing.

Is there much of a realistic difference between something like a Para expert(their entry level 1911) and a Springfield GI? I'm not looking for match quality accuracy, just a practical, reliable pistol in a format I've found interesting for awhile now.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by Southron Boy » Thu May 19, 2011 10:18 pm

Poke around over here for a while http://forum.m1911.org/forums.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; you might find what you're looking for.

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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by TacAir » Thu May 19, 2011 10:44 pm

KaceCoyote wrote:
Haji wrote:
KaceCoyote wrote:
AgentBlack wrote: Ok now we're getting somewhere! Why dont I want a straight barrel vs a cone barrel? Whats going on with the guide rods? Can I add a magfunnel later without biblical PITA? I dont like crazy cocking serrations, adjustable sights or ambi controls anyway.
Coned (bushingless) barrels are meant to add weight to the end of the muzzle, which is why they're illegal in competition in many of the gun games. Full length guide rods are said to prevent the spring from kinking. Put a recoil spring in the dust cover some time and see if there's enough room for the spring to kink. All the FLGR does is make the gun harder to take apart. Dunno if SIG made their own main spring housing. If they didn't, then changing the part won't be a problem. If they did, then you're trying to find a part made for one particular type of 1911, which will undoubtedly lead to consternation. SIG's 1911's aren't renowned for running, so if you want a reliable 1911, look elsewhere. SIG 1911's are like ordering a steaks from Waffle House: they do 'em, but you're way better off lettin' 'em make what they know.

So if I'm correct the general thought is to buy less, modify to accomodate personal preference and run the fuck out of the thing.

Is there much of a realistic difference between something like a Para expert(their entry level 1911) and a Springfield GI? I'm not looking for match quality accuracy, just a practical, reliable pistol in a format I've found interesting for awhile now.
There are 1911s by Rock Island, all steel, M1911A1. Bone stock GI. MAde by Armscor in the Philippines they offer a good price point and do not have the "safety" (c**p) found on many US made pistols.

I carried a Spingfield M1911 while active and the unit armorer said it was GI pattern - IOW, he could fix it with GI parts if needed. AS with many things in life, you get what you pay for. I like my Armscor 45 - accurate enough for me, and problem free.

It is worth taking some time to look each weapon over before you decide on make - sometimes the smallest detail may make a differece to you - sights, thumb safety and so on.

Good luck, hope you find something that works for you...
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by Sundowner » Thu May 19, 2011 11:10 pm

Southron Boy wrote:It is worth taking some time to look each weapon over before you decide on make - sometimes the smallest detail may make a differece to you - sights, thumb safety and so on.
Pay close attention to the bold letters...these are words to live by.

Best advice on the 1911 - or any gun, for that matter - is to spend some time getting familiar with the platform and then build what you need...not what the latest magazines/forums/friend's opinions/etc. says that you should have. My advice to people that ask any sort of "what should I get" question is to start with the basics, get familiar/proficient, and then find or build the gun that you need. The great thing about the 1911 is that there are a billion different parts and configurations, so you can start with an entry-level or "basic" gun and fine-tune it to no end. If I had to make a suggestion, I'd start with a Commander and go from there...that length fits most people the best, shoots well, and can be concealed.

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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by Biggin » Fri May 20, 2011 1:11 am

If I had to do it all over again and didn't come across an amazing deal on a Kimber, I would probably get a Smith. I really like their 1911s and hear good things about them.

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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by KentsOkay » Fri May 20, 2011 1:51 am

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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by Kommander » Fri May 20, 2011 2:49 am

The best advice I can give is to find something as close to what you want as you can and then make a few minor modifications to it to fit you. For example I was able to get a STI Trojan for a good price but it was not exactly what I wanted. So I replaced the full length guide rod with the standard plug and short rod and replaced the flat mainspring housing with an arched one. This got me the 1911 I wanted for much lessthan a custom job would have cost.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by Matt E. » Fri May 20, 2011 8:25 am

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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by praharin » Fri May 20, 2011 10:59 am

If I were going to buy a 1911 today, it would be a Springfield Range Master. Swap out for fixed sights, and get a smaller, ambi thumb safety. that's all. Maybe some Gunner Grips.

However, I don't really desire a 1911 anymore. They are great pistols, but I don't have room in my life (or my house, wallet, safe...) right now for them.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by ShipWreck » Fri May 20, 2011 11:30 am

praharin wrote:If I were going to buy a 1911 today, it would be a Springfield Range Master.
I assume you mean the range officer, right?

I got bit by the 1911 bug around 96 or 97. I have owned several over the years - as you get more experience, you learn what features matter to you and which do not.

I personally like Springfield 1911s better than any other brand. However, admittedly, many of the production models (the loaded ones) aren't made as nicely as they once were.

I'd skip the GI and get the Mil Spec, if you want an entry level one. The MC Operator is one of the nicest standard production models they make. The fit and finish of the gun is better than on the regular loaded models. The TRP and TRP Operators are nice too - but I find the 20 LPI checkering of the TRPs to be rather sharp (I have owned one once).

A few years ago, after working my way up the ladder - I decided that I was tired of looking at the Nighthawk catalogs and other brands of high end 1911s. I decided to get one myself.

When I finally held a few nighthawks, I wasn't that impressed. They just didn't feel as "beefy" as the Springfields I had previously owned. I then saw that the Springfield Custom Shop sold a custom full rail operator... A custom version of the production model I always regretted passing up years before. So, I ordered one in 2008. It was an 11 month wait. But, it was worth it.

I also picked up an Ed Brown 1911 1 month before the Springer Custom came in...

Over the time I owned both, I discovered that I actually prefer the feel of the Springfield grip safety over the brown. Maybe that has been 1 of the appeals to me about Springfield 1911s all these years (since I've owned several over the years).

ANyway, I sold my Brown a couple of months ago, and used the $ for a couple of guns and other stuff that I had been wanting for a while. I've dumped having 45 caliber guns, and am all into just 9mm now. Its less costly, easier to find, and I shoot it better consistently (less recoil).

And, I still have my Springfield Custom, which I will not sell... It's a 9mm 1911.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by DarkandShiny » Fri May 20, 2011 11:37 am

I don't have any useful information to add for the OP; a bunch of really go information has already been posted. I do have two higher end 1911's - A Springfield trp and a Kimber tacpro. Both are quality guns with over a thousand rounds down the barrel each with no failures. I have no problem recommending either, but my personal favorite is the Springfield TRP. These aren't cheap weapons but I do agree that 'you get what you pay for'. I highly recommend shooting as many different 1911's as you can before you sink a ton of money into gun you might not like (or a little money into a gun you are sure not to like).

Beware though, once you've tasted the 1911 punch, people tend to drink deeply.

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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by SeerSavant » Fri May 20, 2011 11:38 am

Nothing to add, save I love my Springfield 1911, and will probably get another and another, and........




However, if your gonna run a 1911, you probably need to learn the basics design and quirks of the platform, it's the type of gun that requires you to understand and occasionally work on it.
If you want a gun that you can simply shoot and reload with a minimum of effort or investment in learning, look elsewhere.



My personal preference is a GI or Milspec springfield, i prefer the looser tolerances for EDC, reliable is more important than tack driving to me, however, that S&W 1911 is looking pretty hot...



Think of the 1911 as they AR of the pistol world. Ultimately customizable, and with accessories available everywhere you look.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by ShipWreck » Fri May 20, 2011 1:50 pm

I've never had any real issues with any 1911. Clean it after every range use. Re-oil it before shooting it if it's sat a while. Change the recoil spring every 2k. And, the firing pin spring about the same.

Go, go, go. Never had any real issues. DOn't understand all the hubub, and I've been a 1911 guy for many many years.

Now that I've had two high end guns, though, I have trouble going back to a standard production 1911. The finish and attention to detail is much nicer.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by KaceCoyote » Fri May 20, 2011 2:00 pm

ShipWreck wrote:I've never had any real issues with any 1911. Clean it after every range use. Re-oil it before shooting it if it's sat a while. Change the recoil spring every 2k. And, the firing pin spring about the same.

Go, go, go. Never had any real issues. DOn't understand all the hubub, and I've been a 1911 guy for many many years.

Now that I've had two high end guns, though, I have trouble going back to a standard production 1911. The finish and attention to detail is much nicer.
I'm likely to flog this thing to death. Think of this as an attempt to get a pistol so I can get familar with the platform, and decide what I'd want from a nicer gun. Thus my interest in the more entry level stuff. ATI seems to be interesting if cheap, will have to go get my paws on one.
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Re: Help me understand 1911s

Post by ShipWreck » Fri May 20, 2011 2:39 pm

Well, I'd look at a Springer (milspec, loaded or MC Operator, depending on your price range). Or, look at the brand new Ruger 1911. I have held a few, and they seem pretty nice.
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