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springfield arms 1911 mil-spec upgradability

16956 Views 16 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  nw_fan
I am trying to decide between the purchase of a spring field mil-spec 1911 or one of their custom loaded full size models.This would be my 1st 1911, and aside from a desire to spend as little for the best gun possible,I thought the mil-spec would be the better gun to break myself in on.I figured it would also be fairly easy to upgrade to springfield custom loaded standards should I wish to do so.

any help you can give me would be
much appreciated.
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This is strictly just a personal opinion. I think it is best to buy the most gun or the best gun you can at the time. Making changes and upgrades later can be pretty expensive. Often you can buy the next best model that has many upgrades for less than it would cost to take a basic gun and later convert it into the upgraded model. If you buy the best gun you can at the time, then you've done all you can do and there should be no regrets. You will also find out that any gun can always be customized later as your experience begins to tell you what works for you and what does not.
My take is that you have made the correct choice. It is as close to right as you need and you will spend nothing on items you may be changing anyway...Enjoy it as is and after a couple thousand rounds, you'll have a much better idea of exactly what will make it better for "you"...
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I have something to throw in the mix here, but I am sure that those more knowledgeable than I will clock in with some good advice also. Here are my questions? What is the gun for? Carry or target shooting or both or what? How much do you shoot? How good of a shot are you? What do you think you are going to change out?

Here is why I ask those questions - If the gun is for carry then you will probably want a dehorn package performed on it. Will you change out the grip safety? The thumb safety? The recoil spring system? The sights? If you are going to change these thigns out then I would get the mil-spec version to save yourself a few bucks. iIf you are not going to change these things then I would say spend the extra money to get a decent beavertail grip safety and good thumb safety already on the gun. Are you a really good shot or average or bad? If you are really good and you can appreciate the difference a match grade barrel offers to you then I would get the milspec version. But here is the rub: If you are going to end up wanting all the good stuff on it you are going to spend over a grand for a dressed up and very cool factory gun. Nothing wrong with that by the way. But if you are going to end up spending 1500-2000 bucks then I say just leap into it and get a really good gun from the get go, then you won't have to wait several times while it is being doctored up. Plus if something goes wrong then wilsoncombat or Dane or whoever will fix it up for you. If you get an alphabet soup mix parts gun then you are kind of on your own when it doesn't live up to your expectations. Almost every single time I have bought a gun I have loved it, and almost every single time about a month later when I came into a few hundred more bucks I have wished that I would have waited and ordered a better gun. Quality is addictive. 1911's are really cool guns, but they are cool enough that you are going to want to make the most of it. I say use the money you are thinking of spending on a factory gun and find a really good smith that you like and respect and put down a down-payment for a serious roscoe. Will it suck to wait and be rolling pocket change to get it? Yes, it surely will. I am doing that now. But when it is all over none of thta is going to matter. You are going to be able to tell yourself, "No, I don't drive a mercedes; No, I don't wear a rolex, No, I don't own an Armani suit; BUT - this gun is the best damn gun in the world. It is as good as it can be. For me, that is the answer, to wait and get something really, truly exceptional. Will it make me a better shooter? No, probably not, but it will instill in me a sense of confidence and pride in the gear. It's going to be a really good friend of mine - I'm going to take care of it and it is going to take care of me. Okay, maybe I should switch to decaf, but ponder it over a bit anyway. Whatever you decide I hope it serves you well. Let us know.
Good shooting.
Jake Salyards

A bad attitude or unsettled mind will destroy focus, guaranteeing failure regardless of training and preparation.
- Mark F. Twight, "Extreme Alpinism"

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Jake Salyards on 2001-10-16 23:38 ]</font>
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I appreciate the information you guys have offered.In light of my research,I'll probably opt for the mil-spec,but I'm wondering how much certain add-on features offered by springfield arms will affect the way the gun handles, fires,wears,etc.
In response to Jake Salyards's question,my shooting ability at this point is moderate , if not completely amatuer, and the gun will see most of its use on the range or deep in the woods of rural R.I. I plan to put as many rounds thru it as possible, to discern to my unpractised trigger finger, what needs to be done to the pistol to make it a better weapon for my purposes.
The Springfield MilSpec is a nice gun for the money. Springfield is also a gun mfg who takes care of its customers. They are really good to deal with. Consider buying the most gun you can afford, it will have features you won't have to worry about adding later. Added features after purchase may be expensive. A gunsmith may have your gun for a considerable length of time. So measure a purchase with getting the most features you can afford at the start. Everyone has their own private reasons for buying a certain gun and I hope I did not trample on your thoughts.
To share a recent "upgrade" example with you,
I recently sent a Springfield milspec Operator back to the Sprinfield custom shop to have the grip safety and hammer changed to the one that is on the more expensive TRP Operator. It is a basic commander style hammer and corresponding grip safety. It cost me $135.00 for parts/labor plus another (approx.) $55.00 in shipping costs to get it done and it tiook 6 weeks. The cost would be the same for any milspec(not just the Operator type). That's Another $190.00 I just invested in a basic gun to upgrade it slightly. Something to think about.
Have you shot both variants? I ask this because you may find that the mil-spec hammer bites the web of your hand. You may also find that you like the sight picture of the Novak sights better than the mil-spec, or vice-versa.

You CAN upgrade a mil-spec to look just like a Springfield loaded, but I bet you CAN'T do it for the same $$$.

Let's just say that a mil-spec is $500 and a loaded model is $650. (you may find them for more or less, but let's just use these numbers.)

If you get the mil-spec and then want Novak sights, figure on $150 to have the dovetails cut in your slide and have them installed. Your slide may need to be refinished at that time also, which is more $$$. And you aren't close to the "loaded" model yet, because you don't have the beavertail, etc., but you've already paid as much as what a loaded model costs.

Just shoot as many 1911's as you can and then you can decide what you want on the gun you will buy.

Many of the other responses to this thread offer great advice as well.

Best of luck to you in whatever you decide.
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one of my concerns W/ mil-spec springfield are the sights.I take it that I can't just switch them for Novaks, etc. without having the slide dovetailed.Anybody know the price difference between buying a second slide or having the original "smithed" for dovetails?

My thought on this is that unless you know you want the specific features on the loaded model that are not on the milspec, stick with the basic gun. Then when you have an idea of the type of upgrades you like, you can get them. If will probably be easier to make those upgrades on a milspec than a loaded model.
All these posts offer good advice. I have some 1911's with a few mods, and several full-house guns. Currently, I have a mil-spec undergoing the full-house treatment.

There is nothing like a fully customized 1911, which can be quite expensive. IMO, if you are willing and able to spend $1500 to $3000, go the full custom route. You'll only cry once.

Since you are on a budget, get the most gun you can for the money. The SA loaded 1911's are a very good value, and have many of the most popular mods already done. If you buy a mil-spec, you'll want a better trigger, then better sights, then a beavertail, etc.

Examine in person a milspec and a loaded. You'll see the difference. For a carry/defense gun, I like the parkerized loaded model with novak tritium sights. Don't recall the model number, though.

My first 1911 was (is) a Kimber Custom Eclipse II. It was everything I wanted before I had any idea what I wanted. Great gun, don't get me wrong. Will not leave my collection, but it was a $1000 learning experience. In the three months since I have ordered a RRA with custom touches and a Springfield mil-spec. See, the specs on the RRA will directly reflect what I learned from my Eclipse. The mil-spec is a reliable gun backed by a company that truly cares about it's customers, that will allow me to start from scratch once I've learned more from my RRA. After that I'll send a Kimber to Dane, have Shawn Herman build me a custom from the frame up, and order a Brown Kobra.

My point is that those sights that are thrown in the package for a loaded pistol are great, but what if you end up not liking them? Then you still have to pay that extra money for new sights. And all sights don'require the same size dove tail, so you may spen upwards of $200. You may not like the supplied grips, or checkering, or flat mainspring housing, etc. The 1911 is special. You can change nothing and have a great gun, or you can change everything and have a great gun. The hard part is finding out what you like. Buy from one of the top manufacturers (or gunsmiths, of course) and you will get a great gun. Take some time to find out what you like and you will feel better about your purchase in the long run.

Be Well.
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This was my IPSC Limited class gun in the mid-1990's.
It started out as a Springfield Armory Mil-Spec 1911A1
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I've had the m-s now for a few years and like it alot. It is usually the one I carry. I had a nice trigger job(3.5#) and a MCM trigger put on it, but otherwise it's stock. It shoots as good as expected, certainly for combat shooting. Some wood stocks and it looks good too, very traditional.

I don't like the grip safety bite, but am living with it- it's not a target gun.

What I do want are night sights... Let me know if you find any for the m-s.

Best of luck with your new toy.

You never mentioned what you got?

I ended up finding the "loaded" for $627 (I've seen them on the net for $600, as well). The Mil-Spec was $499. For the $127 difference, the decision was already made for me. 8) I was originally planning on swapping to the upswept beavertail and probably a new trigger. So there was no thinking about which was right for me.

One thing I don't care for is the full length guide rod, requiring an allen wrench to disassemble the gun. Takes away from the history of the 1911 being an "all tools included within" gun. I don't like the wood grips. I'll be replacing them, as well. They are sharp/rough and tear up my hand. They do look nice, though. But I'm not planning on keeping the gun on display. It is for target practice. I'll probably switch to a different style wood grip.

I have yet to find an answer to why Springfield makes the full length guide rod. Is it any better than the original?
Just for fun.... The full size 1911 in this picture started out life as a MilSpec Springfield :)

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