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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I posted this over in the New Member Intro section, thought i might get some more views and responses here....

I just received a PSA carbon steel frame. I'm looking forward to the challenge but also excited to try something new. This will be my first ever attempt at building a 1911. When the gun is finished, I'm looking for better quality than a cheapie but not something over $1000, if i can help it. I'm also not looking to go crazy with the modifications, say like MosinVirus. I'm going to keep the modifications and metal work to a minimum for my first go at it.

I am looking for info about a few things:

- For my first 1911 build, are there any words of wisdom before i get started? I noticed the tutorials sub-section, i'll definitely be referencing those as i go along.
- Should I just start off with one of these complete parts kits from Metro arms, Sarco, Wilson combat, nighthawk custom or others? (it would be bonus points if it were good value but made in USA parts)
- If you don't recommend a complete parts kit, what retailers should i use to source parts individually? (already know about brownells, midway and optics planet)
- Should i first start my search for the slide i want before anything else? (I like the dual tone steel frame color and black slide look but unsure if i'll need to modify the slide, if its worth it to buy already blued/parkerized/cerakote. I like the idea of de-horning however if i buy an already blued/parkerized/cerakoted slide, it'll defeat the purpose, i'll have to refinish it, correct?)

Thanks for the insight.
 

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Welcome and good luck! First, you need to do quite a bit of research if you haven’t already. Books - Kunhausen, and Kuleck are good starters. Yes, slide and frame fit must be done first before anything else. Without that first the whole thing can get sideways and anything else you do won’t be 100%. It’s a heck of an adventure. Take it slow, piece by piece and expect to make some mistakes and have to try again. Frame and slide fit is super important, barrel fit is as well. Do those right and the rest is replaceable if you mess it up. Research, research, research. Good luck!
 

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I would start with Wilson parts, only because they are relatively inexpensive but still good quality. There are better parts out there but they get expensive. It hurts to pay $80 for a nice thumb safety and over fit it and have to buy a new one. Wilson is a good price point for decent quality especially for a first build. Additionally, stay focused on proper fit and function on your first build. Don’t worry as much about finish and aesthetic stuff like bevels etc. There’s a lot to learn on both ends so start with proper function and worry about all the details of aesthetics later.
 

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The biggest problem you’ll likely face is tools. You need very specific tools to build a 1911 properly and they can be expensive. Consider that in the overall cost as well. If you’re going to build one gun then it may not be worth it. If you know someone you can borrow the items from that will help. If not it’ll get pricey.
 

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Stock up on patience! You need to take your time and do some research. Your first step should be slide to frame fit. You'll need the ability to measure the frame and slide to get the proper fitment. See the recent post by MDP it would be a good one to follow along. Start here and read as much as you can on the subject and when you feel comfortable with the information go ahead and start removing metal. Next up barrel fit - shampoo, rinse, and repeat.
In other words take it one step at a time and read as much as you can. Then go ahead and ask questions here there are some wonderful smiths more than willing to share their knowledge.
Good luck and have fun.
 

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A 1911 build is NOT like an AR build.

Resign yourself to that fact and you'll be alright.

Z
 

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Oh yes, and don't expect to build a better gun than you can buy for $1,000 or less.

Especially a pre-owned gun.
 

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Measure, measure, measure, measure. Go slowly. If something you’re trying to fit isn’t fitting, even though all logic is telling you it should, consider there maybe another dimension you haven’t considered that’s hanging you up.

Go look at YouTube of Harp Custom and peruse much of what Joe Chambers has to offer in the sponsor section of this forum.


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I would call Kuleck's Vol 2 almost a must-have. It provides, in one place, step-by-step instructions for building a 1911. Supplemented by information on this and the 1911Forum gunsmith sections and YouTube videos (especially those by MosinVirus), you'll have a lot of information to digest before starting each phase of the project.

And yes, you'll need a slide next and will likely be best off getting one "in the white" to be finished after the build is complete.
 

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The advantage of a FITTED parts kit is that you'll probably have a gun that works when you're done.
When I didn't have a mill available I bought Fusion fitted frame slide and Barrel kits and did the rest and final blending. They worked out great. It's a great way to start and have a nice gun when you're done. You might consider doing one of those first.
Then
Buy a slide for your PSA frame and learn to fit the slide and bbl. you'll have no push to get it done cause you have your first gun to go and shoot!!! LOL.

Get the books and watch GOOD video's from people who know things as mentioned above.

I've built guns from the ground up without mills and lathes but it's time consuming and take lots of patience. You have to know yourself and be able to stop if you're getting in a hurry!!!
 

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Agree with the above. Plan your work. Decide what you want to do and then do exactly that. One thing at a time because It’s easy to go off on a tangent.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Okay, so with all of this in mind, i'm curious now about what everyone's thoughts are about the sarco or metro arms or any other budget complete parts kits versus buying individually or even buying higher end complete kit? Would the budget parts kit be a better first time option just to see what i'm getting myself into?
 

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n
Okay, so with all of this in mind, i'm curious now about what everyone's thoughts are about the sarco or metro arms or any other budget complete parts kits versus buying individually or even buying higher end complete kit? Would the budget parts kit be a better first time option just to see what i'm getting myself into?
Dunno about using cheap parts. My first build went kinda like this . . . .



Phineas C Zoid (build sheet).JPG






If you're goal is learning and cheap, you might see what quality original take off parts you might be able to procure from members of this forum. I think you might be on target with your frame and slide, but many of us have boxes of never to be used again parts we could part with.

Just make your needs known and see what happens.

I know that I've got parts I could rehome.


Z
 

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However if Wilson combat has a full parts kit in your budget, that would be a good place to start.
 

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I agree with buying used parts to work with/learn on. Buying a complete set including trigger, sear, disconnector, hammer, and sear spring that came from the same pistol; you know that at least at one time the parts fit together well enough to function. However that is no guarantee that they will fit together and function in your PSA frame.

You might try a used (or new) complete RIA or SA MilSpec or other budget pistol to use to learn how to fit new parts. Starting with a complete pistol that functions, fitting and swapping out one part at a time would be less discouraging (at least for me) than a new stripped frame and a pile of parts from different vendors that may or may not fit together without modification by you.

Assembling your own 1911 from parts into a functioning pistol can be done without a mill and other machine tools however, as Zoidmeister said, they are not like ARs where you can just assemble parts from any and all manufacturers and have a functioning firearm ready to shoot in a half hour.
 

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I

First thing first, pick a caliber. Then I would say grab what you can, used. Stuff pops up all the time. Additionally, don't discount Ebay as a source of used stuff. I would also add that if you write it all down you may be less likely to stray from the path.
Plan your work and work your plan.
Also, pick a finish so those with parts know what to discount.
 

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I’m a big fan of the Springfield Mil-Spec as a first “build”. You can get on for $500 and then replace one part at a time and have a reference part that you remove to check your work against. Then if something doesn’t work you can go back with the working part and still have a function pistol.

Then on your second build you have spare parts from the first to use for fitting guides. I’m 3-4 builds in and I’m still using parts removed from my first Mil-Spec for reference.
 
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