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Posted: 12/11/2013 6:31:44 AM EST
I bought myself a Colt Commander on black Friday. It's an older model, I checked the serial number and it seems to be from 1978 or 1979. It shots great but has a minor issue. The small beaver tail digs into my hand while shooting. The arched mainspring housing helps with my normal high hold but it becomes a bit uncomfortable to shoot after a while.

SO here's my questions. I want to but a larger beaver tail. I prefer to not use the drop in as they look pretty sloppy. I saw Wilson has a semi drop in, not sure what's the difference. Any thoughts on this or advice would be great. I would prefer to modify the part to fit, not the frame if that is possible.

I was also thinking of replacing the arched housing for a flat with checkering, skip line if I can find it. I understand there will be some fitting with that also. Is there a brand I should be looking at? I noticed very mixed reviews on these. I gun is blued and I will likely just use cold blue to touch up.

While I'm doing these changes, should I replace some springs since the pistol is older and well used? If so what spring rates are recommended?

Thanks in advance.
Link Posted: 12/11/2013 8:22:27 AM EST
Replacing the grip safety with a beavertail is not a terribly difficult job, but make sure you understand how the grip safety works so you'll know how to adjust it if necessary. And expect it to be necessary. As many have said, there are few truly "drop in" 1911 parts.
Also, the fitting of the grip safety is a very visible indicator of build quality--drop in parts tend to leave ugly gaps. Unless you don't mind ugly guns, I'd suggest you buy GS that will need to be fitted and do it right. With the jig available from Wilson, it is really not terribly difficult to get a nice fit. (Just remember, a Wilson jig works with the Wilson GS. If you go with an Ed Brown GS--another popular choice--you'll want the Ed Brown jig.)

I'm going to guess your Commander is blued, so remember: you're going to be removing a bit of steel from the tang, which will leave bare metal. If you work very carefully, you can minimize the exposed bare steel, then use some cold blue to touch it up. A careful job can help you avoid having to pay for a complete refinish.

On the other hand, the MSH is one of the few parts that will usually work without hand-fitting. Pick one you like the look and feel of and it should be an easy swap.

And yes, change the springs. It's cheap insurance that will go a long way towards reliability.
Link Posted: 12/11/2013 8:56:54 AM EST
Originally Posted By Garandboy:
I bought myself a Colt Commander on black Friday. It's an older model, I checked the serial number and it seems to be from 1978 or 1979. It shots great but has a minor issue. The small beaver tail digs into my hand while shooting. The arched mainspring housing helps with my normal high hold but it becomes a bit uncomfortable to shoot after a while.

SO here's my questions. I want to but a larger beaver tail. I prefer to not use the drop in as they look pretty sloppy. I saw Wilson has a semi drop in, not sure what's the difference. Any thoughts on this or advice would be great. I would prefer to modify the part to fit, not the frame if that is possible.
...
View Quote

Round Hammer? Same grip safety as this?




I was also thinking of replacing the arched housing for a flat with checkering, skip line if I can find it. I understand there will be some fitting with that also. Is there a brand I should be looking at? I noticed very mixed reviews on these. I gun is blued and I will likely just use cold blue to touch up.
...
View Quote


I bet you can drop this right in, without needing any fitting or touch-up ( I didn't have to):
http://item.brownells.com/brands/guncrafter-products/1911-auto-lanyard-mainspring-housing-lanyard-mainspring-housing.htm




Originally Posted By Garandboy:
...
While I'm doing these changes, should I replace some springs since the pistol is older and well used? If so what spring rates are recommended?

Thanks in advance.
View Quote

Yup! Factory standard for the Cmdr's recoil spring is is 18 Lb per http://www.gunsprings.com/cID1/mID1/dID2 and if it was me, I'd order this kit near the bottom of that page:
69111
COLT COMMANDER .45 SERVICE PAK TYPE-I

Type I - contains the following factory specification springs: recoil spring, firing pin spring (extra power), hammer spring, magazine catch spring, plunger tube spring, firing pin safety spring and sear spring.

Link Posted: 12/11/2013 11:53:13 AM EST
Wilson makes a drop-in grip safety for the Commander that doesn't look too bad. The frame tangs are shorter than on the Government sized guns, so they make two different grip safeties. You could also drop in the Colt-style duckbill safety. If you decide to go the whole hog and cut the grip tangs for a gunsmith-fit safety, I suggest the .250 radius for Ed Brown style safeties. This gives you a lot of options as far as parts.

Mainspring housings sometimes drop in. If you replace it with an actual Colt part, you shouldn't have to do anything, but finding a steel Colt MSH may be a challenge. I don't think anyone does skip checkering on these... they are either smooth, serrated, or full checkered. Either the MSH pin hole lines up with the frame or it won't. If it's close, you can usually get a round file and widen the MSH hole a bit. Sometimes they need to be filed down where they contact the sear spring, but with a Colt gun you should be OK more often than not.

Like you, I think the narrow rat-tailed grip safety is painful to use. I have a King's drop-in safety for this Commander and it works well and doesn't look awful. I had to modify the part a good deal. At the time I wanted the ability to put the gun 100% back into factory trim.

Link Posted: 12/11/2013 5:06:59 PM EST
Thanks guys. I will look my options. Is there a preference of Ed Brown over Wilson?

The gun is blued so I will likely try Brownell's Oxpho blue for touch ups.
Link Posted: 12/12/2013 4:44:52 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/12/2013 4:45:41 AM EST by ferretray]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Garandboy:
Thanks guys. I will look my options. Is there a preference of Ed Brown over Wilson?

The gun is blued so I will likely try Brownell's Oxpho blue for touch ups.
View Quote


What do you think you'll have to blue after installing drop-in parts? You modify the parts to fit, not the pistol.
I've had great success in just dehorning/lightly melting those rat tail grip safeties. Had to do very minor fitting to new MSH's.
If going with a "Drop-in" GS, I suggest the Wilson.
Link Posted: 12/12/2013 10:05:03 AM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By ferretray:


What do you think you'll have to blue after installing drop-in parts? You modify the parts to fit, not the pistol.
I've had great success in just dehorning/lightly melting those rat tail grip safeties. Had to do very minor fitting to new MSH's.
If going with a "Drop-in" GS, I suggest the Wilson.
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By ferretray:
Originally Posted By Garandboy:
Thanks guys. I will look my options. Is there a preference of Ed Brown over Wilson?

The gun is blued so I will likely try Brownell's Oxpho blue for touch ups.


What do you think you'll have to blue after installing drop-in parts? You modify the parts to fit, not the pistol.
I've had great success in just dehorning/lightly melting those rat tail grip safeties. Had to do very minor fitting to new MSH's.
If going with a "Drop-in" GS, I suggest the Wilson.


As I mentioned earlier, if you're going to custom fit a GS, you should use the appropriate jig--which helps you modify the frame, not the GS. I realize this is the opposite of the standard advice to always modify the cheapest part, but this is how the jigs work.

Brown vs Wilson is a toss-up. Both make excellent parts, so for some, the deciding factor is whether you like the look of the "memory bump."
As someone else mentioned, though, the Wilson jig works only for Wilson grip safeties--the tangs will have a unique shape. The .25" round jigs fit grip safeties from several different manufacturers.

I use Wilsons because I have the Wilson jig and have never seen a need to change. But if I had started with a .25 jig, I'd probably never see a reason to change to Wilson.
Link Posted: 12/12/2013 11:47:12 AM EST
Op, If you decide to go with a beavertail requiring modification of the frame, I HIGHLY recommend you have it done by a professional.
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