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  #1  
Old 05-26-2018, 01:22 PM
Liberty45 Liberty45 is offline
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RMR 9mm 1911 Build

After becoming a fan of 9mm 1911s more than a year ago (resulting from a Dan Wesson purchase), I decided to do my second 1911 build. The attached picture is my new project, an aluminum bobtail frame, Commander-length, 9mm 1911, including Trijicon RMR. My first effort several years ago was a Govt Model in .45 ACP.

From Caspian, I purchased the carry-cut (bobtail) aluminum frame, and also had it cut for a Wilson/Nowlin ramped barrel. They also provided the commander-length carbon steel slide with standard front and rear cocking serrations. They also milled the slide for a Trijicon RMR mount. Walt and his colleagues at Caspian were very helpful and responsive, and it took about 8 weeks to receive my components— including all the milling required.

Caspian did some of the slide/frame fitting, but I did additional hand-filing to get enough initial “reciprocation” between the two parts. I left the fit a little tight under the assumption that the firing process would further smooth things out (more about that below).

Working an hour or two each evening, it took me about 3 weeks to gradually assemble the pistol. I used a mix of different manufacturers’ components, though primarily with Wilson Combat parts, including their pin kit, firing pin, recoil spring guide and plug, trigger, hammer, sear, disconnector, extractor, and thumb safety. I also used an Ed Brown extended length ejector and plunger tube. Fusion parts were slide release and aluminum bobtail mainspring housing (the only manufacturer I’ve found who sells an aluminum one with standard checkering). I used a Caspian grip safety to reduce the amount of fitting I would need to do to the frame. I purchased the Trijicon RMR from Eurooptic.com (they were having a very nice sale), and I got the mount from a reliable source on Ebay. Finally, I decided to also try a match-grade Remsport 9mm Wilson/Nowlin ramped barrel.

Based on some helpful instructional videos I found online, I anodized the frame using sodium bisulfate (vice battery acid), a battery charger, and some aluminum strips to create the cathode and anode leads necessary. I also attempted to dye the frame black, but for some reason that failed… I may try again with a future build. But, it was easy to Cerakote the frame instead; using a small compressor and airbrush combination, along with black Cerakote, that I procured from Amazon.

I cold-blued the slide with Oxpho-Blue from Brownells. I’ve done this before with my first build, and I’m quite happy with the results once again. Certainly, it’s not as resilient as a commercial hot-blue job, but it’s so easy to do touch-ups whenever I want to (either with the Oxpho or with just a Presto bluing pen). To my eye, the finish from this cold-bluing process is nonetheless quite pleasing.

As with my first build, I learned an enormous amount from building this new pistol. I made an number of mistakes, but only had to re-do a few things. For example, I screwed up the first grip safety… filing too much of it in various ways, so I had to re-order the part from Caspian, and was much more successful the second time. I also discovered that the milling job for the Trijicon mount for the RMR didn’t quite align perfectly with the frame’s channel for the firing pin stop… and I had to do a small amount of filework on the top of the firing pin stop so that it would “fit” into the intended slot in the bottom of the Trijicon mount… but it was pretty minor.

I used a Marvel sear jig to prepare the Wilson Combat Sear, and using a USB microscope to examine the results, I was very happy with how crisp the resulting bevels were. I used hand-files to shape the extended length ejector and the extractor; benefitting from useful tips in some Wilson Combat gunsmithing videos on YouTube, and extractor tension was set using a Wiegand Combat tensioning tool (from Brownells).

Regarding the ramped Remsport barrel, I’d read some good things about them, and primarily because it was so much cheaper than other advertised match barrels, I figured I’d give it a try. They offer a barrel that includes both fitted bushing and link, and advertise it as “match” quality. It’s also advertised as “drop-in”, but it wasn’t quite (which, in retrospect, I’m quite happy about).

When I first placed the barrel into the Caspian frame, it didn’t quite lock into the lug channels, but it was VERY close. After just a few strokes of a lug file, the barrel snapped into place very nicely, with no play or slop… almost too good to be true. I also learned how to use the 1911 Auto Lug Fitting Kit (from Brownells) to shape the lugs enough that the barrel would lock up when assembled with the slide, frame, and slide stop. The kit didn’t have to remove a lot of metal, but it made the process so much easier than hand-filing. The resulting barrel lock-up is positive, tight, and with no wiggle or movement whatsoever.

One thing I learned about the Remsport barrel is that it has tighter chamber tolerances than any of my other pistols, including my 9mm Dan Wesson. Commercial ammo so far chambers fine, but since I reload 9mm, I have to check every round with a Lyman 9mm cartridge gauge… if the round is even slightly out of spec, it will not chamber in my new pistol (though it such small variances will typically feed in my Dan Wesson, in my Glock 19, etc.) I’ve read that this can also happen with other match-grade 1911 9mm barrels, so I wasn’t surprised to encounter this “pickiness”.

Installing the Trijicon mount and the RMR and front sight was very straightforward, and quite easy to do. Everything is locktite’d.

I am a fan of slim-grips, so I bought the slim version of grip bushings off of Ebay, and got the VZ grips, with the thumb scoop, from their website.

When I first attempted firing the pistol, I saw immediately that the slide was short-stroking, and often failing to eject spent brass. My Dan Wesson uses 12 lb springs, so that’s what I started with. After checking with some helpful forum members, it was pretty clear that recoil spring weight was the problem, so I spent some time experimenting with different weights. At first, I had to go all the way down to a 10 lb Wolff spring to get the pistol to cycle consistently, but after a couple of range trips, I’ve been able to move back up to 12 lbs and the slide fully cycles. My assumption is that the reciprocation between slide and frame over several hundred rounds smoothed out the cycling, and allowed return to the heavier spring weight. Ejection is solid and consistent.

My new pistol is a little more finicky about magazines than my Dan Wesson is, but not dramatically so. My Wilson Combat ETM 10 round magazines (my EDC mags) feed perfectly with both commercial and reloaded ammo, but my 10 round Mec-Gar mags are a little more problematic (sometimes the first round gets stuck on the barrel ramp because it ‘noses-down’ too much during feeding. I’m going to try putting different followers into the Mec-Gars to see if that fixes the problem.

I’m still relatively new to red-dots on pistols, though I’ve been using a Shield RMS on a Glock 19 for about 4 months now, and have been very impressed with that combination. Now that I’m using the RMR on this new 1911, I’m sold on the concept— there will be more red-dots on my pistols in the future. I’m significantly more accurate with the red-dot than I am with iron sights, it’s easier for me to keep both eyes open during shooting, and this new build has solidified/strengthened my affection for the 9mm 1911 that began with my Dan Wesson many months ago.

Overall, even with some mistakes and having to re-order a couple of parts, the pistol overall is a great addition to my collection, and probably cost me only about 50% of what a store-bought, commander length, RMR equipped 9mm 1911 would have cost me. I went to the range this morning, put 300 rounds of ammo through it without a hiccup… and it’s super smooth and very accurate. My thanks to all those on this forum who helped me along the way.
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9mm RMR Cdr.jpg  
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  #2  
Old 05-26-2018, 03:47 PM
XmechanicX XmechanicX is offline
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Very nice pistol. Great detailed write-up. Thanks for posting it.


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  #3  
Old 05-26-2018, 03:52 PM
log man log man is offline
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NICE!

Using a finish reamer will improve the chamber and the leade, and is a standard after fitting a barrel.

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  #4  
Old 05-26-2018, 07:08 PM
Liberty45 Liberty45 is offline
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Thanks, log man... I'll give the finishing reamer solution a try.
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  #5  
Old 06-09-2018, 12:45 PM
Liberty45 Liberty45 is offline
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Well, log man's advice was exactly what I needed. I bought a Nowlin reamer from Brownells, and a suitable tap wrench from Amazon. Following a couple of helpful YouTube videos, I set up my Remsport barrel in a vise, doused the chamber and the reamer with cutting oil (also from Amazon), and inserted the reamer into the barrel. About 5 turns resulted in small pile of steel shavings, and immediately I found that some of my "slightly out of spec" reloads began chambering properly. I did another 3 turns, and checked both commercial and reloaded ammo. Everything I now have chambers properly. I went to the range this morning and shot both, and everything ran well, and I lost absolutely nothing in accuracy (including that my 25 yard zero is unchanged). This forum continues to be a wealth of helpful advice and info.
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Old 06-09-2018, 08:35 PM
liggett liggett is offline
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Very nice pistol and great write-up. I wish I had your skills and patience.

I'm also hooked on RDS on pistols. At 68, the dots have brought back lost accuracy.

I only have two presently, the first one a Vortex 6moa Viper plate mounted on my XDm 5.25 9mm. (Last August.That one was the hook.) My Wife's going to shoot it tomorrow in USPSA, to see how she likes the dot in a competition environment. If she does, I have a 1911 to get a slide milled for her.

My 2nd one (Feb) is a Kimber KHX OR 9mm that's very accurate and reliable, finally. I went with the Kimber because it was the only sub 3K 1911 optic ready I could find at the time and I don't have your skills to build one from the frame up. I was lucky with the barrel/bushing/slide/frame fit. All other internal parts needed replacing with Harrison and/or Wilson and some professional gunsmithing. Burris FF 3 8moa on that one. I also had to have the chamber finish reamed, my handloads were getting stuck in the lands.

I totally agree about the wealth of information and help available on this forum.
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  #7  
Old 06-09-2018, 09:13 PM
Liberty45 Liberty45 is offline
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Thanks, and best of luck to your wife and with your pistol projects!
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Last edited by Liberty45; 06-09-2018 at 09:17 PM.
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  #8  
Old 03-20-2020, 02:50 PM
jhtravor9206 jhtravor9206 is online now
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Amazing build! This inspired me to do the same on my Springfield 1911 in 9mm !


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  #9  
Old 03-20-2020, 02:52 PM
jhtravor9206 jhtravor9206 is online now
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Did you loctite the mount and rmr with blue or something stronger?


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  #10  
Old 03-20-2020, 09:10 PM
Bob Rockefeller Bob Rockefeller is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by liggett View Post
My Wife's going to shoot it tomorrow in USPSA, to see how she likes the dot in a competition environment. If she does, I have a 1911 to get a slide milled for her.
It's a shame USPSA CO excludes 1911/2011 pistols - SAO need not apply.

At least IDPA CO is an option.
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9MM: LTT Beretta 92 Elite, M&P Pro 9L C.O.R.E., SIG X5 Legion, 1911 Build No. 2
.45 ACP 1911s: Wilson Combat, Nighthawk, Colt, Dan Wesson, Springfield, Build No. 1
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  #11  
Old 03-20-2020, 10:06 PM
Liberty45 Liberty45 is offline
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I use only Blue loctite for both attaching the mount, and the Red-Dot to the mount.
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  #12  
Old 03-21-2020, 01:00 PM
teal teal is offline
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Very nice work. I hope to do something similar but 38 Super.
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  #13  
Old 03-21-2020, 04:36 PM
warp2diesel warp2diesel is offline
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Looks great.
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