Please excuse the longwinded-ness!
I'm kinda tired of buying an SA loaded or Kimber Custom and paying for options I don't want.
I'd rather put that money (let's call it 3-400$)into the few things I do want.
Also, some things I don't need to be custom-level 'perfect'
eg. I don't need .0000003 moa shooting. I do need 'bang' every single damned time!
I don't need microscopically perfect hand checkering. I do need an extremely hi-cut front strap and short trigger (small hands).
stuff like that.
I'm looking for a gun to shoot the heck out of, and I'm pretty set on a SA GI for two reasons:
a) I've always wanted to shoot the WW2 version for a while, just to see why the mods that we do are so necessary.
b) I can send it back to the SA custom shop to get the mods I want at pretty damned reasonable prices.
Anyhow here's my list of mods I plan to do.
a) grips (VZ ultra thin)
b) short trigger installed/action job
c) SA magwell
d) better sights (maybe TFO's for my weak eyes)
e) front strap checkering and hi-cut
f) ed brown grip safety
g) refinish in Black T or some durable finish like that at some later time cause that's expensive!
145$ to fit a SA magwell and blend it
75$ 4lb. action job
45$ short trigger
25$ tune extractor
45$ Polish feed ramp and throat barrel
65$ undercut front strap
Can I get away with stippling for a decent grip. all I need is somthing to keep my fingers from moving.
100$ Machine checker at 30lpi
They want 90$ for a 'SI beavertail grip safety' - what's SI?
So, without the sights (lets call the VZ grips at 75$) that brings me to 625$, which is - alas - more than I want to spend, but leaves me with a pistol that I can call my own with no forward cocking serrations, guide rods, or any 'tightening' job that I despise (not to mention the light rail that makes it not fit in ANY of my 1911 holsters!).
So first I get a 400$ pistol, shoot the crap out of it, then put 625$ into it, shoot it some more, then get some new sites on it (figure 150$ for sights and install) and walla I'm done (without the refinish that is...)
I'm gonna take that number to my local 1911 guy (who I've never used but comes highly recommended) and see if he can beat it. If he can, then I can pick my own parts and have him fit them..... SS small parts, refinish pistol in Black T, oughtta be wicked....
wilson wide ambi safeties
ed brown grip safety
S&A magwell for thin grips:
C&S short trigger:
and I'll just let him work the innards to give me a 4 lb pull, tuned the extraxtor and make work the feeding process.
So what do we think?
I would think that one would not want to short change theirselves ANYWHERE on the spectrum of shooting fundamentals:
1) proper grip
2) proper sight alignment
3) proper sight picture
Are 3 things that you have addressed in your questions above. With that in mind, I would spend the money on the grips AND on the stippling. The Front Strap and the MSH plays a bigger role that I realized for a long time, so I wouldn't avoid that.
If your eyes need them, the TFOs are GREAT just for that. I have some of the TFOs on my XD and daytime (as long as your outside, in an indoor range, the benefits are nill) and night time shooting are great.
Thats a start in my eyes, hopefully someone else with more experience can weigh in..
Well, I can tell you exactily what I did, starting in pretty much the same place you are...started out with an older (early 70's) Colt Series 70, bone-stock.
Made the following changes (with approx prices; all purchased from Brownell's):
Chip McCormick extended thumb safety ($20)
Chip McCormick longer trigger w/ adjustable overtravel stop ($20)
Nowlin drop-in action kit ($120)
Wilson drop-in beavertail for Colts ($35)
Wolff 16lb recoil spring ($5)
Wilson bulletproof extractor ($30)
Wilson extended ejector ($30)
Pachmayr Signature grips ($30)
Tools required to get it all to fit and tuned: Dremel with a stone wheel on it, and a couple fine metal files.
Total parts expenditure: $290
Now, fortunatly for me, someone had replaced the collet bushing with a normal bushing some time ago, so I didn't have to spring for that part...figure it would have cost another $50 for that part.
The Nowlin action kit dropped right on in with no changes or work.
I had to do some work on the thumb safety and grip safety to get them to work correctly and tightly with the new internals (which they now do, perfectly). Time all told to get both parts perfect was about a 45 minutes, with a lot of test-fitting until it all came together perfectly. I think next time I'll go with a Wilson thumb safety; I like the contour of that one a little better. The CMC part is also very good, just a preference item.
The trigger, I had to take a small file to; the trigger face was very rough to the point where it would slice my finger. I rounded it out very nicely. It's a little longer than the stock Colt trigger, which is simply a preference item on my part.
Once all that was done I noticed I was having ejection problems; the case would get hung up. I replaced the stock ejector first instead of going straight to the extractor like I should have done..but they both cost the same, so who cares. Anyway, I punched out the ejector, fitted in the Wilson, and proceeded to file down and fit the ejector face into something like the stock Colt ejector, except a little longer and contoured better to try and tune the ejection. That part took a little bit of time, but in hindsight, it wasn't very difficult at all.
Since the ejection problems weren't cured, I focused on the extractor. After dressing and tuning the stock extractor I decided to do an end-run around it and just get a Wilson. Again, after doing some dressing to it (making sure some edges are beveled, etc), and dropping it in, all my reliability problems totally disappeared.
The standard wood stocks it came with were ok, but I decided I wanted something..grippier, especially if my hands are sweaty or otherwise wet. I threw on a set of Pachmayr wrap-around Signature grips..those fit the bill. The gun is downright COMFORTABLE to shoot now.
I did not swap out the sights and I find them pretty good as-is.
I haven't swapped out the mainspring housing out yet...I may get a flat one just to see if I like it any more, but arched seems to be working well for me.
You don't need to spend a lot of money to get something very comfortable...
I'm nowhere near competent enough to work on a 1911 like that.
A lot of guys like using skateboard tape on the front strap to improve the grip. Probably the cheapest way to do that and you can do it yourself.
Ed Brown beavertails don't work with Springfield guns. Smith and Alexanders or Wilson Combat makes a great beavertail.
Don't get a mag well. They aren't all that great. You may find problems seating mags fully.
You will want a full trigger job.
On the sights- Heinie/WC/Yo Bo sights have the best sight picture. Black is fine. Fiber optics only work during the day anyway.
Stippling is completely acceptable, but cosmetically....bland.
A tighter bushing is a good idea too.
And you gents know who builds my pistols already anyway.
Several years ago I decided that I wanted a Kimber Ultra CDP, but simply didn't have the funds at the time to get it. So I took my Charles Daly ECS (Officer-size Field grade model) and did my first "smithing" job. Took like 80 hours, but I have still been happy with the results to this day.
Filed all sharp edges with hand file. Even rounded the OUTER edges of the bull barrel (stayed away from the rifling!)
Stippled front-strap and mainspring housing. Had to file the verticle grooves off the the housing first.
Added the "memory grooves" to the beavertail safety.
Made a "tiny" bobtail cut on the mainspring housing. Wanted to go with a full bobtail, but that was beyond the scope of my abilies at the time. I could probably do it now.
Replaced stock thumb safety with Wilson part.
Replaced stock blade rear sight with one from Brownells.
Painted frame with Gun Kote.
Added Brownells rosewood grips.
And voila... a gun that looks like the CDP for half the cost (+ 80 hours of hand labor).
P.S. The stippling job was easy. You just take a punch and hold it 1/4 inch from the frame and hit the punch with a ball peen hammer. Your hand recoils to its starting position and you hit again. You do this hundreds or thousands of times until you've covered the area. I used a small punch and if I were to do this again I'd go with a bigger punch and harder hits so the stippling is a little more rough like checkering. But I'm happy with it nonetheless and it get an improved grip.
I ain't claiming that my first smith job is as good as something a real smith would do, but I'm happy with it. I'm just one of those guys who'd rather do something and learn myself than pay someone to do it. There's a real pride in doing something if you have the ability.
Before and after shots...
Exactly what I don't want. nothing tight - takes alot of skill (in my experience) and money to make a tight pistol work every time. I'd rather have 'on the paper' accuracy and bang every time then have even a single failure.
didn't know that. I see wilson has a similar one.
and I do want a magwell. all my mags have more than enough bumper... I find a bevelled mag well helps, but I've tried an add-on and like it alot.
Suit yourself. A tighter bushing drops the groups size by around 50%. I don't see any effect on reliability, either.
+1. A tight bushing is NOT the same as a tight gun. A properly installed bushing will be tight but still removeable without a wrench, AND greatly improve the accuracy.
Your plan is excellent. Seriously. And when you sell it 3 weeks later, I'll buy it for $600!
The mods you're looking at are nice and conservative and they all make sense. I'd go with the stippling myself as I'm not a big fan of agressive checkering.
BTW... I did almost the exact same set of mods to an old Mil-Spec that I had. I had a Brown's beavertail installed (it does work but there is a small gap at the top... no big deal), new sights, flared and lowered the ejection port, S&A magwell and VZ grips. Its incredibly reliable and accuracy is good enough for a carry gun.
I guess I just fear sacrificing reliability for tightness. It's clear which one I prefer.
who did the work?
We all understand what you prefer. A properly fitted bushing will not in any way sacrifice reliability. You should have no worries about it.
www.vandenbergcustom.com He's good and he's fast. Turn around was only 6 weeks.
Accurate Plating and Weaponry did some stippling on my Series 70, it was a cover up job for bad checkering.
They did a great job. It was about a 5 week turn around.