View Full Version : Are the original specs by JMB what is intended for a duty / combat 1911?
We see many custom builders that make packages that are both art and highly functional, and we see many high end production models that run the gamut for tightness and feel.
I did read Jason Burton's comments about base guns for a custom build, which is directed I think more toward the blank canvas question about custom builds.
With all that said, if your custom project is going to be a full-tilt gun complete with a match barrel such as a Kart, etc. and you are going to finish the gun with a matte black or hard chrome finish the G.I. is probably a better choice. Again, because it allows the ‘smith a completely blank canvas on which to perform the modifications in his way.
Are the original specs by JMB what is intended for a duty / combat 1911?
If so, then which manufacturer / model is truest to those specs? So I just wonder which out of the box model is closest to those specs if that is the goal? I know that pistols from that era were more hand built rather than assembled.
I don't mean to discount enhanchments such as BGS, magwells, lightrails or sights. Obviously there have been improvements regarding these to the original concept.
I think this is a hot debate, and something you will have to decide for yourself.
I don't have a bone stock firearm in my house, so you can imagine where I stand on this topic!
I don't have a bone stock firearm in my house,
I don't either! The last one I built was on a Colt 1991A1.
I wondered more if the smiths could say what model was closest to Browning's original design.
That's a tough question too. Everyone puts their own spin on the 1911. SPringfield Armory has their GI .45, and their Mil-Spec, but are just a bit different, Colt has the 1911 WWI replica. There are others, but those are just off the top of my head!
My comments above were indeed addressing a base gun for a custom project so you got them correct with regards to the “blank canvas” approach. I was just making the point that, from a ‘smith’s perspective, the more material I have to work with the better... this is of course to be kept within reason. The idea is that the closer the gun is to the 1911A1/Colt Commercial Government Model the better platform it makes for a custom project.
... Are the original specs by JMB what is intended for a duty / combat 1911?
You pose a pretty good question and, while I think that the short answer is yes, it may not be that easy as the intended/specialized use will dictate allot.
A 1911, and more so the 1911A1, in bone stock form will do the job a pistol is intended for. That is to stop short-range fights. The gun has always had the ability and due to its design it has also excelled in this role more than any other pistol. By that standard it is still viable in a fight but the reality is that technology and parts have made the gun better.
We know now, from years of developing the gun, its parts, and the technology by which they are made, that we could build upon the design by making the gun more user friendly and easier to hit with and thus an even better tool in a fight. I also think that as more and more people used the guns, over longer periods, and in various arenas we found other areas of demand with regards to what we wanted a pistol to do and as such the changes began and the custom market was born. Couple that with the evolving nuances of fights and you’ll probably see that, while specific demands of a duty/combat pistol may change, over the last 95+ years the overall intent and purpose has not. While the design as it set in 1911 was what was intended for a combat pistol, should Browning be designing it for the first time today, knowing what we know now, it may very well have had subtle differences. But, IMO, the heart and soul would be the same and no matter what changes we may make the design even in its most basic form is a superior tool in the right hands.
And, as a final thought, I would submit to all that the 1911s ability to accept changes (both subtle and dramatic) as well as develop with the times is one of the big reasons it’s as good of a tool as one can get for the intended purpose.
... which manufacturer / model is truest to those specs?
Well put Jason.
I have to agree that the 1911 has become the pistol that many a gun owner has returned to, for many reasons.
I started on Glocks, and made the move to a 1911, purely because I wanted to learn about them. Now, I have been considering selling all my Glocks to fund another 1911 purchase.
I am not into the retro 1911, I much prefer my pistol to have a lot of the go faster, shoot better additions of todays firearms makers. And I would absolutely love to one day own a handbuilt, or semi-custom 1911.
I have talked for years about having a Yost built for my retirement, but I don't see that happening anytime soon...I can retire in 1.5 years!
I agree with a previous post that the short answer to your first question is yes. By original specs I am making the assumption that the original type of materials, properly fitted is part of that statement. Their are a many great things about the 1911, but the foremost that make it the best fighting pistol is that it (in its early incarnations) is extremely reliable in adverse conditions and delivers a decisive cartridge. As I understand it, and I am not a gunsmith, RELIABILITY is the result of qulaity parts properly fitted. Bells, whistles and doohickeys may do some good things but they do not enhance reliability.
The ultimate 1911 would be a WWII clone (in the purest sense - not some Colt gimmick) with harder steel, better sights, an ejection pattern that was not directly in your face and could feed hollowpoints.
I would say the answer to your second question would be Colt. My fighting 1911 (and soon to be my only one, for now) is an ORM 1991A1. I put a strip of grip tape on the front strap, installed a USGI trigger and a S&A MSH w/ a lanyard loop. That is it and I am completely happy w/ it.
I used to bash gadgets. Each widget and gizmo has a specific purpose but all too often people drop money on stuff cuz that's what is on the cover of American Handgunner and gunwriter Walter Mitty's told them to. Now I can see that these gadgets do help some shooters perform better, going by what they say. To echo another member, the beauty of the 1911 is that you can pretty much "have it your way" in almost every single aspect of this pistol.
While I was pondering what I was going to do with my Kimber fullsize stainless I decided that swapping out the MIM stuff and tuning the trigger would be the extent of my tinkering. I fitted quality stuff from Ed Brown, Wilson Combat, Nowlin, EGW, etc. What I've learned from working over stock guns is that there are a few trouble spots on any factory gun that if fixed will yeald a pretty nice shooter.
My #1 mod is to fit an oversized firing pin stop from EGW along with a WC "Bulletproof" extractor. I've owned a couple of Springfields and a couple of Kimbers and this mod has always served me well. I don't have much experience with WWI-WWII 1911's but this would seem to be the only real issue with the pistol. If that extractor is free to rotate it's going to have issues.
I currently only own 1 1911 (My Kimber) and it's a pure shooting gun. I left the frame to slide fit fairly loose. Same with the bushing. There are no MIM parts and it has Novak night sights with no white on the rear. I have a G.I. recoil setup rather than the full length recoil rod, and I can easily disassemble the pistol with only a pin punch to get the mainspring housing out. I did a nice tastefull bevel job on the magwell, and have pondered getting a S&A magwell and fitting it up but then it wouldn't be as concealable.
I don't see the point in a gun that's so tight you need bushing wrenches and all that to get it apart. I can't shoot well enough to capitalize on that sort of mechanical accuracy.
My #1 mod is to fit an oversized firing pin stop from EGW
I did the same thing when I worked over my 1991A1.
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