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Shopping for 1911 on limited budget

4154 Views 12 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  BillD
I would like some recommendations on selecting a new 1911 in 45 ACP. I have a limited budget to work with, like it or not, and I have to keep it within about $1500 or so. I figure I can get a Kimber and have it worked on (can anyone recommend a good smith and how to contact them?), get a Valtro "as is", or possibly a Wilson KZ-45. Service after the sale is another important consideration for me. I have had some difficulties dealing with Kimber in the past, and I know nothing about the service or warrantee that comes with a Valtro. Wilson has been good to me in the past which makes me somewhat more comfortable dealing with them. Any feedback would be appreciated. Additionally, what kind of leather do you like for a gov't model?
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Buy a Kimber Classic Custom and send it to Scott Mulkerin @ SDM Fabricating. Check out his web page. http://www.sdmfabricating.com . Great quality, great price, great turn around time, and really nice guy. This is what I did and it turned out great. I bought the Kimber with the black oxide covered stainless frame and he turned it into a two tone custom pistol. It is really nice. If you want to see a picture email me. When I figure out how to post a picture I will. It looks like a Supermatch. But I haven't seen a Supermatch yet that is as tight or has the overall quality in craftsmanship as my SDM. Tell him Jim Miller sent you and he'll charge you twice as much. What are friends for! His number is 330-723-3098.
http://communities.msn.com/IDPA/shoebox ... &PhotoID=1

Here is a picture of JEM's gun, the work is still in progress. I hope this picture works.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ricky T on 2001-10-25 11:33 ]</font>
Scott at SDM just did a custom 9x23 gun for me that is terific. His work attention to detail is great.
It may depend on what you want on the gun. If you can buy one off the shelf that has what you want, that may be better. OTOH, if you get a basic gun and have a competent smith work it over, you will have something that is specifically what you want. You may be able to save money or get more features by going with a custom smith, too. One potential downside of going with a custom smith is that, depending on what work you want done, it may take a while to get it back. If you buy off the shelf, you are good to go.

Any smith worth dealing with will stand behind their product and make you a happy customer.

I have been extremely pleased with the work that Dane has done on my base Kimber. www.burnscustom.com
Holsters first. For concealment, IWB is less comfortable, yet lower profile. I like Kramers IWB holsters and have carried a Delta Elite in one quite often. Will soon have my Lightweight Commander back and carry it. For outside the waist band, I like my bianchi shadow and have also used a kydex holster by Blade-Tech. I have one of the new Uncle Mike's kydex holsters, and find it superior to the blade tech. It holds the gun in position better and more comfortably, and has better retention.

As to the gun, there are so many options (unlike the Glock, eh? I have a couple of them, so I can say that) for complete guns, custom guns, etc. It really depends on what you like and what you want to use it for. If a few hundred dollars is standing in your way of getting what you want, keep saving. It'll be worth it to get what you REALLY want. You will pay more, but you'll cry only once. =)~

STI's Trojan ($1000) is a great value and needs virtually nothing. Impeccable fit and finish. Don't care for the rollmark, though. STI's customer service is very good.

Springfield's TRP ($1250 to $1350) is another contender, but has that ugly "TACTICAL" on the dust cover. From what I've seen, Springfield's customer service has a great reputation, unlike Kimber.

Kimbers are good base guns, and the high end kimbers are good, yet sometimes need someone who knows what they are doing to tweak them a little.

Baer's guns are well built, and beautiful. People rave about them. Customer service is supposed to be improving, and I've seen posts of extrememly satisfied customers when they needed something fixed.

If you really want a Wilson, it's not that much more than $1500.

Of course, there are few things so fine as a truly custom 1911. One setback is that that the many of the good smiths are backlogged. Quality is a consideration, so is delivery time. I've waited from 3 months to 3 years for guns. In each case, the wait was worth it, but I had other guns on hand that I could shoot.

In choosing a smith, talk to them first. Tell them your wants/needs/questions and let them tell you what they think. In most cases, they will give you good advice and you'll be pleased with the end result.

A few smiths who immediately come to mind are Dane Burns, George Smith at EGW, John Yanek, Mark Morris. Shops include Wilson, Baer, Springfield Armory's Custom Shop.


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You need to look at a Rock River Arms, they have pistols in your price range. I don't mean to start a war here, but 3 years ago there was not a Kimber more than $650. I was at my gun shop yesterday and I did not see one less than $800. I cannot imagine spending $800+ on a pistol and then having it tweaked. I am still not convinced that they are worth the money yet. I have handled and shot many Kimbers and my SA Champion and Glock 30 are just as good (I know, Glock and 1911-apples and oranges, I mean this from a fit, feel, accuracy and relaibility)

I think the RRA is the finest gun for the money on the market. Refer to some of the post on this forum and see what other owners and shooters have to say.

As an aside, Colt 1991A1 pistols with the pretty new roll mark are going for around $500. You can get alot of goodies to go with that for $1,000.
at $1199 ( ... $1200 :razz:) the Valtro is a very difficult package to beat. No worries about after-sale service either. Availability would be my only concern. With $300 left over you might consider magwell options, tritium, different grips etc.

a pic of the Valtro

a pic of John's magwell work

Feel free to give John Jardine (510-489-8477)a call about them and ask why the Valtro over other guns or a custom. You might find that you want John to build something for you! =]

a pic of John's custom work


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: izrafil on 2001-10-28 15:12 ]</font>
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For $1K, I have been very happy and impressed with the workmanship and lock-up of the s/s KZ-45 I just picked up on my way home from Rangemaster's Dallas class(warfare). I am mandated to carry a Glock on the job, so the feel of polymer is familiar and comforting. (I also know that dropping this frame on an oak floor won't bend the dust cover.)

I have plenty of traditional 1911s, and have been extremely intrigued by this variant. This particular one is the first I've seen with the new-style (tritium) sights. Alas, it has no ambi safety, so after break-in, it goes back to WC.

If an all-steel 1911 is your real desire, keep in mind that a really good 'smith is back-logged and will have your gun for some time. For a gun to carry and shoot out of the box, a WC Millennium Protector or a Gunsite GSP2000/2001 is within your price range. If you pick the carbon-steel WC MP or KZ, be sure and specify the tool-steel hammer & sear upgrades. (The s/s guns currently come standard w/these s/s tool-steel parts.)
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All of the above is good advice. If I was going to have one gun and service was very important to me, I'd look for a clean used Wilson CQB or Protector. You should be able to find one under 1500 bucks. The beauty is that Wilson will treat you just like any other owner - as their service and warranty policies extend beyond the original purchaser.

I have a lot of good guns - RR, Brown, Vickers, etc. My compact CQB really shoots well and is IMO one of the best in that price range. Armor Tuff isn't the finest cosmetically, but it is functional for a carry gun.

When you get up around 1800 bucks, a whole new arena opens up - Brown Kobra, new CQB, etc. But I'm assuming the 1500 is a hard line for you.
If you are a "do-it-yourselfer" you can check out my web project. I walked through step by step on how to build a great pair of custom 1911's out of surplus Sistemas.... 300 bucks each.

Check it out:

I wish $1500 qualified as a limited budget around my house!!!
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