Building a 1911?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by Millerwb, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. Millerwb

    Millerwb Member

    Dec 11, 2008
    Can one find an 80% frame for a 1911 any more? How easy is it to finish a 1911 with an 80% frame? How about with a complete frame? I have lost of tools, machine shop access, and good skills.

  2. idleprocess

    idleprocess Active Member

    Feb 29, 2008
    I was never particularly interested in building a 1911 from parts, but this site was eye-opening nonetheless... I gather that it will take an immense amount of time and some interesting tools that few have access to in order to build a 1911 from parts.

    EDIT - I see that you have access to a machine shop. Good. You'll still need some small files, be able to press bushings, spring, and pins into place, and a lot of time to fit the many parts together.
  3. MrsFosforos

    MrsFosforos New Member

    Apr 8, 2008
    Caspian sells frames & slides and you can customize your order to have the ejector and plunger tube pre-installed on the receiver at the factory if you don't have the tools necessary.

    My husband built one from a bare slide and frame. The only customization from the factory was the slide and frame were handfitted. None of the parts were really "drop in" - he hand filed almost everything to fit. I think the only specialized tools he had to buy were files and a plunger staking tool. I just peeked in on the project, so I don't know all the details - but it was time consuming! He's not finished yet, waiting on the barrel he ordered for it.
  4. Army 1911

    Army 1911 Well-Known

    Mar 17, 2008
    Dallas Texas or so
    Most of the top 1911 smiths start with complete frames and complete slides. They then custom fit slide to frame, smoooooooooth out all the rough spots, hone the trigger track, hammer slot, fit trigger, Ignition parts, safety grip safety, install sights, etc. They polish, bead blast and finish the gun, tune it throat the barrel etc. Apart from finishing, experienced smiths spend upwards of 60 hours and that is working with frames and slides that are already 100% except for mating to each other and the parts.

    Get the shop manuals from Jerry Kuhnhausen... those are the bible of 1911 building. The tools will cost well over a grand and probably over two grand not counting a mill.

    Get a Caspian or Fusion kit and do that first. Expect to have as much in it when you are done as a good high end factory pistol. $1500 or so depending on what you really want.

    The 1911forum has a good sticky on this.
  5. Shorts

    Shorts TGT Addict TGT Supporter

    Mar 28, 2008
    Well, the appeal of an 80% is that you don't need to have it shipped to an FFL. A source was but they might have been cracked down for "legal " 60% is available at KT Ordnance - Dillon, MT - Products Page They also have jigs and mill bits/finisher kits that make the job easy easier.

    On the 80%ers, you'll need to cut the slide rails. If you've got the right tools, it can be easy (mini-mill, mill...some have done it with a Dremel on a stand). The 60% needs the slide rails cut, the barrel seat cut, hammer, and sear holes drilled.

    If you don't, I'd recommend starting from a serialized frame as it will save you a lot of heartache (Caspian and Fusion frame and slides are available).
    A really good website is: Home Gunsmith Forums If that doesn't work google "Roderus Custom" and it'll be the first hit. You have to register to see all the subforums.

    I also second the Kuhnhausen manuals, I have that first one. Volume I is a must have and II is an even more detailed followup.

    I built an .45 Oacp as well as a 9mm CCO. Good projects, lots of fun and certainly frustrating - but totally worth it if you're one of those who likes to take the time to build it up I'm all about doing more projects!

    Oh yeah, it will not be cheaper than buying a fully functioning 1911
  6. texaspartsman

    texaspartsman Member

    Mar 11, 2008
    Problem with the 60% build is you can't ever sell, trade , or will the gun to someone.
    When you die your wife can keep it but it has to be destroyed after that. Seems like a lot of extra work for the small amount of money you will save. Also, the only way to save any money is if you or a friend already has the tools to complete the frame. A good quality end mill will cost more than the $25 transfer fee that a FFL will charge.
    1911 frames are not that expensive.
    I built a Fusion 10mm and am real happy with it.
  7. Shorts

    Shorts TGT Addict TGT Supporter

    Mar 28, 2008

    Ah, most certainly. Good catch partsman. This includes 80% too...or any firearm that an individual produces for himself. It absolutely cannot be transferred because it is not serialized. You could be in for a real close encounter with ATF :eek:
  8. DarkRook

    DarkRook Member

    Jun 22, 2008
    East Houston Area
    Para Ordnance Parts.

    Any one know where to get Para Ordnance Parts. I can't find part section on their web site. I could be over looking it? :banghead:
  9. Shorts

    Shorts TGT Addict TGT Supporter

    Mar 28, 2008
    Might try Brownell's
  10. 45tex

    45tex Well-Known

    Feb 1, 2009
    I just finished reading the 1911 build article you linked. Thanks much.
    Mostly what I learned was how very much I don't know. But it also gave me the feeling that I might could do this. Thanks again


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