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Old 04-01-2008, 09:47 PM
Jim PHL Jim PHL is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Philadelphia, PA USA
Posts: 715
How much can be done with existing parts?

I am just curious how much good hand-fitting may improve what should be a pretty complete gun. For example, an SA "Loaded" (or their Kimber, Colt, S+W, etc. counterparts), are built with all the "aftermarket add-ons" that 1911 shooters believe they want/need. So how much different can these indiviual parts be from the name brand aftermarket versions?...and can accuracy, reliability, etc be improved by some type of hand-fitting these existing parts? I don't know a whole lot about 1911's but I know a lot of aftermarket parts - even the big-name ones - need hand-fitting to get the most out of them. My gun and all these parts work - so how much better can it be?

Most people think guns like my "Loaded" for example is a pretty well made gun, but even the average shooter who owns one can certainly tell the difference when they handle a high-end custom. ("Slide moves on ball-bearings", "one-hole groups", "feeds empty cases", et al)
So I guess my basic question for you gunsmiths out there is: How much can a Loaded or similar be improved by working your magic just on the existing parts, not by replacing them. (The deeper root of my question would be how much of it I can do myself.)

I've been shooting my 1911 for about 6 years and am only now starting to gain interest in "doing something with it".
Jim like guns. Guns good.

Last edited by Jim PHL; 04-01-2008 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 04-01-2008, 10:29 PM
Todd C Todd C is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 645
"Fitting" usually involves removing metal from an oversized part. As such, any fitting you do can only result in a looser slide/bbl/grip etc.

That said, you can improve most trigger pulls using existing parts. You can also de-horn sharp corners for a better feel.

If you are up to (both mentally and mechanically) "smashing" on your rails, you can tighten a slide and get that ball bearing feel that we all clamor for.

You could add some checkering for traction.

You could flare the bushing to achieve a tighter fit the old school way.

You could weld the bbl lugs and hood to tighten them up, but that is probably beyond your definition.

Lastly, you could add a spray and pray finish, unless you consider "paint" to be an add on part.
Polymer is PLASTIC. Steel is REAL!
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:52 AM
WESHOOT2 WESHOOT2 is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Vermont (Caspian country)
Age: 62
Posts: 15,321
two loaded

I couldn't make the barrel bushings bigger: I replaced them.

I couldn't make the magazine releases longer; I replaced them.

I couldn't make the triggers shorter; I replaced them (okay, EGW is replacing one, and I replaced the other).

I couldn't make the MSH lock-crap disappear; I couldn't make the arched flat; I replaced them.

I couldn't make them the way I wanted them using their parts, so one is at EGW and one is waiting until the other gets back.....

However, both got skateboard tape on their frontstraps, and I think I might prefer it to 20LPI.
I could do that.
"all my ammo is mostly-retired factory ammo"
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:55 AM
tightgroups tightgroups is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 411
You can't really do too much with existing parts (internals, besides gently polishing them) but the sear and hammer hooks can be worked on to get a better trigger pull. If you really want to improve your pistol buy over-sized high-quality parts like Les Baer, Ed Brown, EGW, etc. (not necessarily in that order). If you're inexperienced the best way to learn is to dive in, but be very careful and read as much as possible about fitting 1911 parts. Ask a lot of questions as you go, no matter if they seem foolish or obvious.

The last thing you need is an unsafe firearm on your hands.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:17 AM
brickeyee brickeyee is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 3,299
A lot of the older methods (welding up barrel feet, swaging barrel bushings open) were expedients to make use of mil parts for tighter guns.
No other parts could be obtained.

The market for parts is much larger than in years past, and oversize parts for final fitting are easily available from multiple sources.
Even frames and slides are available.
Swaging a frame to tighten the slide is rather far down on the list of needed improvements, and probably only really needed for a Bullseye gun at the higher competition levels.
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