I have a Colt 1991A1 combat commander. It has a parkerized finish with black rubber grips and combat sights.
I'm wanting to make a few changes to it and I'm wandering how much trouble would it be.
Everything I plan on changing on it will be in stainless and mostly for cosmetic appearence.
2.full length guiderod
7.beaver tail safety
8.mainspring housing with mag guide
12.wood grip panels and stainless hexhead screws
13.and all the pins I want to change to stainless as well.
Will many of these parts have to be fitted by a gunsmith or is this something I can do myself? I've never customized any 1911 style pistol before.
Most of the parts I've seen in catalogs say drop in but I wonder if they really drop in or need minor fitting.
Also the beavertail safety I saw from S&A say you need a .250 radius fitting jig. Whats the jig for? I thought the beavertail was just slid into place and held in by the thumb safety.
Can anyone give me any good advice on the modifications I'm wanting to make?
One more question before I forget. Whats the difference between the Government, Commander, and Officer models of 1911 pistols?
I've done jsut about all of that... and most of it is no big deal. The one place you may need some gunsmitihng/machining is with the guide rod. My father picked up a "drop in" version. Not so. IT needs some reliefs machined into the back piece. Everything else is pretty much drop in. Make sure the barrel is drop in.... some of the older barels won't fit properly. FAC has some half decent stainless barrels that are drop in.
I've customised a few 1911 style autos over the years, including some of the 1991A1 Colts.
Most of the things you've mentioned can be purchased as drop-ins.
The beavertail requires a jig to guide the removal of the rear portion of the frame to fit the radius of the inside curve of the beavertail. There are a couple of different radii so be sure you get the correct jig for the one you wish to use. Wilson Combat makes a nice drop-in beavertail that blends well with the frame without metal removal. Of the work you've mentioned (still using drop-in parts) the beavertail fitting is probably the most difficult. Easy enough to do, but take your time. It's easier to take metal off than to put it back on. The thumb safety will probably also require some fitting to make sure it functions properly. I'd forget the full lenght guide rod myself, I prefer to use a standard rod.
There are numerous books and videos that can help you with this project.
Bascially, the differece between Gov't and Commander is slide and barrel lenght. The Officer's Model is even shorter in slide and barrel and also has a shortened frame and magazine.
I had thought about doing some of these things with mine, I decided against it in the long run. the thing shoots so well now that I'm afraid to change it.
Thanks for the advise guys. Once I get everything ordered I'll start puting it together. If I come across something I feel I couldn't do I'd take it to a good gunsmith to keep from messing anything up.
Two things I really dislike about this pistol is the sights and beaver tail. The sights are just black. I'd rather have white dot sights or maybe nightsights. Can anyone recomend a good set of sights? I'd prefer the low profile sights since I might start carrying this pistol.
The beavertail is just too narrow and bites into the web of my hand when I shoot it. I need a wider, higher beavertail like the one on my Springfield 1911A1.
Almost forgot, where can I send this pistol to checker the front strap of the grip? I wanted it checkerd 20 LPI.
I would like to personally suggest you avoid doing the barrel & bushing change yourself & have a pro do it. I would hate to ruin a $600 gun because I wanted to "tinker".
The best gunsmith in TN (maybe the South) is Jeff Walle @ Specialty Arms, 615-793-9696. They're in LaVergne, just outside of Nashville in Rutherford Co. Jeff can do your checkering & the rest of it. He built my Springfield, it now outshoots Gold Cups.
The bushing and barrel are drop in. Why would he want to waste money on a gunsmith? It's a one minute procedure with no machining necessary. I just don't see the necessity of a gunsmith for this. Would you call the gunsmith to change magazines? it's that simple.
NH, I have done the "salt & pepper" thing on 1911's, Ruger MKII's and even a S&W 469.
The results are even more dramatic when the SS parts are brought to a high polish, depending on what effect you are trying to achieve.
As stated above, most parts are drop in, but if you find one that is troublesome, you can always reinstall the original pieces until you figure out the course of action.
The rear sight is easy, it just "knocks out".
The front sight is "staked" in and is best not messed with, as far as ripping it out.
But, you can dot it yourself...I use a hammerless punch, putting it where needed, leaving a indentation, then follow with a drill, sized depending on how large you want the dot to be.
Then either a mixture of epoxy and white enamel or just white (model car) enamel, fill in the hole with a toothpick.
I like my front dot "painted" flush so I can wipe my finger over it to clean it while shooting.
Most factory jobs are concave, holding in debris.
Good luck on your project.
Here is what the beavertail fitting jig is used for:
It is mostly a guide to let you know where to stop cutting.
You can get by without it, but it takes quite a bit more time.
The drop-in beavertails usually work in my experience, but the gaps they require for clearance make them look kind of ugly.
The thumb safety will likely also require some minor fitting.
Depending on what brand of barrel you get, it may drop right in or it may become a nightmare. Just remember the rule of thumb, "always modify the cheapest part first."
I'm going to disagree with the barrel being a drop-in part. It can be drop in, but to do it "right" it should be fitted.
There are a number of sites on the web pertianing to the modification of 1911s:
blindhogg.com (I think this is the name. It's got the best directions I found when looking about a year ago)
I only added a sear, hammer, lighter hammer spring, and drop-in grip safety, all from Wilson. A little fitting was only required on the grip safety. I was prepared to stone the angles on the sear but it was perfect as it came from Wilson. I could have only made it worse. The only other thing I did was polish all the sliding surfaces in the trigger mechanism and tweak the trigger return spring to get the correct pull weight (3 1/2#). The only issue I've had is a "click" in the trigger travel caused by the series 80 crap (trigger travel must exist to actuate the series 80 firing pin safety.) Remove the crap, no click, install the crap click comes back. It's not bad, just not the perfection I was looking for. I'll tear into it again one of these days when I have lots of patience on tap.
Have safe fun, I enjoyed working on mine. It's a great gun to make a project out of.
Well... I can only attest to the pistol i own... a 1991A1.
I have never had to fit anything. I have replaced mainspring housings, barrels, bushings, guide rods, triggers, grips, sears, mag catches, ambi-safteys....
The only tihng that ever requred any fitting was the guide rod. and that was due to shoddy machining on the guide rod. Some Ambi-safteys require fitting, but mine didn't.
Now... im not trying ot sart some flame war here.... I'm sure lots of parts need to be fitted. I'm jsut trying to say that in my partucular circumstances, it hasn't yet been needed. Maybe im the exception to the rule.
I may have made the incorrect asumption that the barrel was being replaced with a match barrel for greater accuracy, rather than one cut to factory tolerances to replace a shot out barrel.
Blindhogg has information on fitting a match barrel.
Hey Bob, Specialty Arms is where I bought this pistol a few years ago. I've bought a few pistols from them. I didn't know he did that kind of work there like checkering a pistol grip. I'll give him a call.
I might go with 30 LPI instead of 20, not sure yet. I have 20 LPI on the mainspring housing of my Springfield and I like how it grips but on the front strap it might be a little much. I'll talk to Jeff and see what he recommends.
No, it's not that "simple". Barrels & bushings are not always "drop-in", the better ones need to be fitted. The ones that are drop-in are usually too loose for any sort of good accuracy.
You want to ruin your guns, go right ahead & do so but I've learned the hard way to let the pros do the work on mine.
Jeff will do you right & usually save you $$$$ & aggravation.