Check out some of the threads on my Home Workshop forum and see what you think. My Kimber project threads show the kind of work it takes just to upgrade/rebuild a factory gun. If you're a beginner to shooting or to 1911's, then it'd be a bad idea all around. It's not impossible to put together a good 1911 yourself, but the big boys get the big bucks for a reason.
I think a relative beginner can build a quality pistol, but you have to do it "smart". And "smart" isn't cheap.
For example, you could buy a Caspian Frame and a Les Baer slide and a Bar-Sto barrel and an Ed Brown Beavertail, etc. etc., but you will spend a ton of time fitting these parts, not to mention the tools you'll need.
However, if you buy a Chip McCormick (CMC) easy-fit frame and slide and easy-fit barrel, a CMC grip safety and mag safety, etc., etc., you might not have the flexibility in all the options, but you have a lot less fitting because the parts are designed to work together.
If you are really serious, buy Jerry Kuhnhausen's 1911 shop manuals, volumes I and II, do a lot of reading, make sure you get the tools you need, and then start building and have fun. Be prepared to make mistakes and throw away some parts (hopefully not many!) and then (if you're anything like me) you'll learn to slow down and do better.
But be prepared for your project to cost substantially more than a NIB Kimber or Springfield "loaded".
I have mulled over this idea some and here is the conclusion I came to: Sure, you can build yourself a great gun. But, when I did all the math, including the shipping and the parts and the tools and the necessary books I figured out it would cost more to build it myself then it would to have Dane build me one of his nice ones. Also, I would take me an awful long time to get it done. Lastly, I would definitely do it if I had an the extra money to play with and didn't need the gun to be finished anytime soon. The upside to all this is that I believe Dane and Heinie and Swenson and all of the great ones had to ask themselves this very same question. Thankfully, they all decided to give it a go and we have some very good smiths out there now. So, for me it wasn't a good idea, but if you can swing it I say go for it, you may be the next great gunsmith. The bummer of that is that we all have to make mistakes to learn to do something well, and I just can't afford to be making mistakes on things that cost as much as quality gun parts do. If you do it please keep us all informed and post a lot of pictures. We're behind you brother.
All i can say is sometimes its best to call a professional!
i have built up my own 1911, not from scratch, but have added almost all thinkable parts. now, if you want to drop the cash and have the gun NOW, its better to just buy one from a gun smith, or wilson/baer/kimber/springfield, or another custom manufacture. if you want a part here and a part there, and take 6 months to a year to do it or want to invest a Tiny bit of money at a time, then do it your self, but to me, one i get a real job ( currently college student) i won't mess with much custom work after that.
Go for it I did, one thing i recommend is buying agi videos on building 1911`s
Gene Shuy is awesome. I just finished my first one, para frame and caspian slide. slide to frame fit the whole 8 yards. had alittle help from some friends. the biggest part is buying the tools you will need.
go for it, have fun, you will learn alot
i did. by the way when i finished it, I went out and put 250 rounds through it and it worked flawlessly AWESOME TOTALLY AWESOME
If money is not an object and you can wait until the next class, I would suggest going to Cylinder & Slide's pistolsmith class (only because this is the one I attended). I know that other pistolsmiths offer classes, but I have no experience with them. In the C&S class you purchase all the tools and show up to class with a box stock 1991A1 and you leave in five days with a pistol you made with hand tools. The instruction is great, the pace is fast and the end product is up to you. Go to their website to see more about their class.
Get a Brownells catalog and add up all the parts you'll need. Do you want a cast frame or a forged frame,theres a big difference in price. You could go for an Essex frame and slide,but after all your hard work you still have an Essex gun. They funtion but resale value is nill. Just a ballpark figure for Quality parts will be about 1100-1200. When you finished with all you labor you can throw in another 200 for a finish plus shipping. Or, you can buy quite a few Semi-Custom gun for 1000-1500. Or, you can pick up a nice used one for a little less. Custom guns are great if you know exactly which parts you like. If you put a Wilson Beavertail on and then you decide you want a Ed Brown....It could be a money pit. A friend of mine bought a Wilson and then didn't like the thumb safety and the grip safety and then the hammer and sear and then a Smith and Alexander mag well and grips...well you get the point.
On the other hand if you are mechanically inclined and use the project to get away from it all, then its worth doing. Some people Golf to get away and it cost 40-150 a round to chase a little white ball for the afternoon and at the end of the day you have nothing but a scorecard and less balls to show for your efforts.
If you choose to build your own. It will give you a lot of personal satisfaction and create a family heirloom. I have 3 kids and I've built 2 pistols from the ground up......they're fighting over them all ready.
Go for it, the satisfaction and pride will be worth the extra cost for tools and you will still have the tools. It's not rocket science as some would have you to think. As posted before get the AGI or Wilson video's and you'll be fine.
I recently built my first 1911. There are lots of pistolsmiths on the 'net that will help you, i.e. Richard Heinie, Les Bengston (retired), et al. There are others that won't help due to liability, etc. If you want to get dealer pricing from Brownells, as well as dealer pricing from such places as W.E. Birdsong (Black-T fame), you can get a C&R (Curio & Relic) FFL (type 03) for $30 and good for 3 years. You WILL recover the $30 and more in savings from Brownells. Example: CMC Frame, Slide, & prefit Kart NM barrel retails for $666, dealer price $500. Granted, you still have to go thru FFL (type 01) for the frame. That cost me $20 (plus no tax).
You will also invest lots of money in tools, but they can be reused (for more pistols). I have $1400 invested, including tools. My CUSTOM CMC,Ed Brown,Cyl&Slide,Richard Heinie, Les Bengston and last Elbert Mays 1911A1 shoots 1" groups at 25 yards from sand bags.
and you don't have to do it all yourself, either.
Do what you're comfortable with and let a trusted smith do the hard stuff, fitting the barrel, etc.
Still probably come out way on top $$-wise, and have mostly your own gun.
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