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  #1  
Old 10-27-2011, 10:59 PM
parisite parisite is offline
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Essex 1911




I found what looks to be a nice, custom all the way, 1911 with the only writing on it is Essex Arms. It has front strap checkering, a Clark barrel, target rear sight, nice grooved machining on top of the slide.
I just don't know what I have or who built it.
Essex just makes frames and slides and not complete guns, right?
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  #2  
Old 10-28-2011, 01:33 AM
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dsk dsk is offline
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Correct. Essex has been in business for many years (since the 1970s I believe), but all they've ever offered are low-cost, investment-cast frames and slides to build guns out of. Unfortunately their quality control has always been spotty, although it's gotten better in recent years. Their biggest offense is an annoying tendency to make out-of-spec machine cuts and off-center drilled holes, resulting in headaches trying to get everything to fit properly. Therefore the value of a 1911 made using Essex componets is usually very low, around $400 or so for one that looks like it as put together well. If it looks like somebody's home gunsmithing project, more like $300-$350. I have one Essex frame made a couple of years ago that I used to make a dedicated .22LR 1911 out of. I had to draw-file the top of the frame down in order to get the .22 upper to go on, and the cutout for the mag catch was too high so I had to modify the catch itself in order for it to work.
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Try not to fall into the common trap of wanting to replace everything on your new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out, and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot it for at least 500 rounds, then decide what you don't like and want improved. Vintage 1911's should NEVER be refinished or modified because it ruins any value they had as a collectible firearm.

Last edited by dsk; 10-28-2011 at 01:42 AM.
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  #3  
Old 10-29-2011, 12:39 PM
mb3 mb3 is offline
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I would agree that a build from an Essex 1911 will not command top dollar. I built a 1911 from an Essex enhanced upper and lower using Wilson Combat parts and a Kart NM barrel, and I had no trouble with anything being out of spec. To date I have an estimated 3500 rounds throught this gun and it is by any measure a great shooter. If I had to find any fault with the Essex parts, it would be with the finish of the slide. The bluing was not as rich as that of the frame. I eventually had it sand blasted and finished it with a bake on finish- looks good now. Inspect the pistol well, take it out and shoot it (if you can) before you make an offer. Pay special attention to the barrel lugs as the fit of the barrel seems to be where most builders make their errors.
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:17 PM
iShoot iShoot is offline
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Essax lower built with NIB Colt upper from the early 50s. A Colt barrel with a mix of EGW, Fusion and Ed Brown innards. It's a fantastic shooter.

Last edited by iShoot; 10-10-2012 at 07:37 PM.
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  #5  
Old 10-30-2011, 02:17 AM
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Notice how deep the trigger sits in your frame? That's one of the problems with mine. I put a long trigger in it but it looks like a medium-length one. A short trigger wouldn't sit far enough out to work properly.
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Try not to fall into the common trap of wanting to replace everything on your new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out, and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot it for at least 500 rounds, then decide what you don't like and want improved. Vintage 1911's should NEVER be refinished or modified because it ruins any value they had as a collectible firearm.
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  #6  
Old 10-30-2011, 09:15 AM
Magnumite Magnumite is offline
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I used 4 Essex frames through the years. Two frames I used were correct dimensionally, one of which had a casting fold in the dust cover. I sold those two as built pistols. I saw Essex frames on the Midway site one time, new for $77 each with oversize rails. I had good luck before so I bought two. Great, went to fit a barrel. Up to this point I thought the variations were small, maybe a thousandth or two. Bad move. I couldn't lower the barrel bed for proper link down because the barrel hangs on the inside of the slide. I wasn't achieving good upper lug engagement. So now one frame had too much barrel bed relief. Frustrated with that, I decided to "get away from it for awhile" and went to work on the lockwork. The disconnector wouldn't disconnect. Thank goodness for function testing.

This is where I learned to make measurements before doing any work, as I would a before setting a crankshaft into an engine. Got less than $77 worth. After careful observation of what was happening I got out the calipers. The rails were cut .020" too high and the VIS .020" too far back. Using standard barrels this is a nightmare. Serious long linking is in order to make a standard barrel work. I don't care for that technique. Additionally, there was the disconnector issue. I called Essex but they were in the middle of their move to the new location and said to call them when the move was completed.

So after consulting a major guru in the industry about the disconnector issue and deciding I may well be stuck with these frames for life, I decided one would be a Frankenpistol 10mm using a GS Kart barrel since the oversize bottom lugs would allow proper lockup and VIS interface. This is where the statement pistolwrench made about fitting the barrel to link made sense. The other, with the over relieved barrel bed is now a dedicated 22LR. Both jobs are working out pretty good. Time to refine the 22 and soon start the 10, which I look forward to doing.

I did try to warranty these frames. Twice. By the time I got another response from Essex about the frames they were in the process of moving to their new site. Then again after getting settled into their new site, they would not warranty their frames because now they are the Iver Johnson component producers and would not warranty the Essex frames.

I wouldn't have thought a frame could be this far out...now I knowzzz better. There are other little nuances such as indicated by dsk also. Measure before you build.
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Last edited by Magnumite; 10-30-2011 at 09:18 AM.
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  #7  
Old 10-30-2011, 04:12 PM
iShoot iShoot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsk View Post
Notice how deep the trigger sits in your frame? That's one of the problems with mine. I put a long trigger in it but it looks like a medium-length one. A short trigger wouldn't sit far enough out to work properly.

That's a short trigger in the pic, works great.
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  #8  
Old 10-31-2011, 05:53 AM
Magnumite Magnumite is offline
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Short triggers do work well with a hand size/finger length which need that length of pull. What bugs me is when the trigger tracks are cut too far forward or the frame at rear of the trigger is finished too far back exposing ghe front of the trigger bow. dsk alluded to the rear of the trigger opening not being dimensioned to standard specs. Both of my present Essex frames are do not have that part of the frame arced to coincide the the arc on the front of the trigger.

To the OP. Sounds like your gun was put together with good intent. How does it shoot?
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Last edited by Magnumite; 10-31-2011 at 05:59 AM.
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