So, how nice IS (semi) custom?

Discussion in 'General 1911 talk' started by Blue Ridge, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. Blue Ridge

    Blue Ridge Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2011
    I am a life long shooter, and have been collecting guns in earnest for the last several years. Almost all of my discretionary income goes towards guns, ammo, mags, optics, and various cases/holsters/etc. for them. I practice every weekend, and conceal carry daily. Last year, a shooting buddy bought a Sig 1911, and I went shooting with him and a friend of his who had a couple of Kimbers. My 1911 shooting experience had been limited to Paras, RIAs, and the like, and I thought they were a neat but antiquated platform -until I really enjoyed shooting those "nicer" ones. So I saved up and bought my first 1911, Wade's Vbob last Thanksgiving. It hurt to send off enough money to buy 3 "mortal" pistols for one 1911, but I have zero buyer's remorse. I shoot that thing at least as well as my carry guns with thousands of rounds more practice with. It has become more a thing of beauty as I've gotten to know it, compared to my typical experience of finding "warts" and things I would change in a gun. Now I want another.

    I have a bobtail commander, so it seems natural the next one should be a full sized government model. I looked at a black Valor, which is a known quantity. Nothing I can think of to improve on that gun, and I like the look of it. But as usual, I started playing "for a few hundred more, what could I get?" Wilson's are probably out of range even used, but the GI No Name and Baer SRP might not be too big a financial leap if I buy used. And every time someone here posts theirs, I stare at it like a super model. But it's an extra $1000, and I'm no wealthy man. I drive a $2000 pickup truck and have an AR lower I've been waiting to build an SPR on for 3 years. I have $1600 saved up, which could either buy me a Valor or a nice Vltor SPR upper. Or I could save longer/put down a deposit, etc. on a GI or similar. But part of me wonders if I will even be able to tell the difference in it and a Valor, when it comes to accuracy, fit & finish, etc. I'll appreciate it for what it is, and surely love it. But will there be that noticeable jump in quality in the GI over the Valor like there is from the Valor over the Sig? I know I can't "afford" it, but I do have a pile of guns in my safe I bought in the $600 price range that I'm not in love with and don't have to keep, either. Obviously, I'm posting this on a 1911 forum, so I doubt many people are going to tell me to build the AR! Only I can answer whether or not it would be worthwhile to tap my savings and sell off 3-4 guns that I own for one "nicer" gun, but an idea of how much "better" rather than subtle differences these semi-customs have will help me make up my mind. Thanks in advance.
  2. Fire-Medic

    Fire-Medic Back At It

    Jan 10, 2012
    I hear you brother, I drive $1500 mini van with 160K miles on it. I o have my Harley but that was a fluke and it cost me less a month than a new car would have. I just got my Wilson and I have ZERO regret on aging the cash down, I played the for a few hundred more game as well. I wen to look at a Black Valor at my local LE shop where I get a discount. The Valor was $1850+ tax at LE price, my old CBOB cost me $900, lol. Now I know there are improvements in the new DW guns, but to me DW has priced themselves out of being a good value for the money. I could have bought a new LB TRS for what they want for the Valor, to me the Baer is the better pistol I owned a used one years ago after owning a Valor. I talked it over with my old a lady (boss) and she said I work very hard and should save a little more for the Wilson, so that's what I did. She said what difference does it make if you drop $3K on one great gun now, or buy two productions 1911's spread over time that add up to $3K? You know what she's right. I'm glad I did it, the Wilson is a great gun, and my TRP is just collecting dust since getting it. I just finished loading some more ammo and I'm heading to the range with the Wilson again since I won't have a lot of down time next week, busy work schedule.

    At some point you really need to turn the computer off and sit back and think about what YOU want, and the end of the day, they all put holes in paper, but which one gives you the warm and fuzzies? Most people will only give you opinion on what they own, some people will give you opinion on what they read online, and only a very few truly have the experience to give you an objective response to advice you ask for because they have thousands of rounds down range with various brands, makes, models, and types of pistols.

    Seek out someone with the knowledge to give you advice, but most importantly find someone or somewhere to let you put your hands on the guns you are considering. I almost bought an EB Special forces, I would have been pissed if I had without holding it, that Gen 3 coating is slippery as all hell over the chain link and the gun doesn't bite into your hands, I would have ended up having to customize a new gun to suit my needs. But I like rough textures on my handguns, most people don't. If you ask a guy who has girly hands what he likes, he will most likely tell you never to buy my Wilson or my TRP because they tear your hands up and make you bleed, lol.

    Sit down and figure out a maximum budget and stick to it, then decide what would you want in your "dream" gun, every little detail, then figure out if it's more realistic to buy something or have something built. I would have sent a gun to someone for a build, but I didn't want to wait 2 freaking years. The Wilson I bought came almost to the T how I would have liked it, sans a naked slide and gold bead front, I compromised on those two because if I don't end up liking the fiber optic front, I can have it changed inexpensively, and the XTAC marking on the slide is not a billboard like some other brands, I didn't have to wait for the gun it was in stock, and had just come in.

    Good luck and let us know what you decide.


  3. DAT85

    DAT85 BIG OL' BALD HAID ! Supporting Addict

    Aug 26, 2011

    A REALLY good post! :thumb:

    We all have our price point with which we feel comfortable with.Whether it's cars,home or guns.I have been blessed to have a wife who is comfortable with a small apartment and our lifestyle is not overboard as far as excessive traveling or cars and partying.
    So,I save and trade some guns and now I have 5 Baers and a Brown as part of my collection.
    It's a personal decision we all have to make.
    And,as all 1911's are "variations on a theme",it's all good!

  4. Rockhopper46038

    Rockhopper46038 New Member

    Jan 24, 2012
    I'll tell you to build the AR if you don't already have a rifle that fills that space in your equipment list. A pistol is not a substitute for a rifle.

    Now that that's out of the way, I have two Wilsons and believe they are worth every penny I paid for them. I lucked into a barely used Wilson CQB at $1600, so if you have patience and good to excellent internet search skills, I wouldn't say a used Wilson is completely out of the question for your budget. The DW Valors I have seen are fine 1911s. So are the SIGs and the Kimbers (although the Kimbers do take a bashing sometimes for being priced a little higher than their perceived place in the 1911 pecking order). The Wilsons, Les Baers and Browns are higher examples of 1911s (I've seen but not handled a Guncrafter Industries 1911), but the curve of fit/finish, accuracy, etc vs. cost flattens out pretty quickly as you move up the chain. There's a point where you're paying for the level of hand fitting, top of the line components, attention to detail and "gunsmithing as an art" that your budget will support, more than you are paying for improvements to the 1911 design. After that, the true "custom" pistolsmiths start to come into play as well.

    And I, too, think firemedic's post was spot on excellent.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
  5. Blue Ridge

    Blue Ridge Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2011
  6. Londevil

    Londevil New Member

    Jan 28, 2012
    I can tell you that in my case it has made a difference in my shooting by moving up from a Kimber to Ed Browns and Wilson Combats. If you have the opportunity to handle and shoot one I think that you will also be able to see the difference.

    My advice to you is to sell the guns in your collection that you are not attached to . Do your research about the semi custom builders and what they have to offer. Figure out what you want in your dream gun and place your order or find a used model. I don't think that you will be unhappy with a semi custom 1911.
  7. Bender

    Bender Supporting Addict Supporting Addict

    Aug 15, 2011
    A lot of it for me, as far as semi-customs & customs, seems to be this.
    They feel better, they are better fitted and they look better.
    It seems, for me, to be a great confidence booster for my shooting.
    Yes, a semi-custom, or a custom build can be more accurate. However, when
    I am shooting a higher quality pistol, I just seem to have more confidence &
    I think I shoot better.......does this make any sense?
  8. Blue Ridge

    Blue Ridge Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2011
    Absolutely. I've tried to figure out if it's placebo effect that I shoot my Vbob as well as P99's that I have many thousand rounds practice with.
  9. Fire-Medic

    Fire-Medic Back At It

    Jan 10, 2012
    You're welcome brother, I'm no expert but just try and contribute where I can and based off of my own experience.

    The AR looks great, mine is done sans optic, my next purchase will be to save for the Eotech I want to buy and then the AR is done. I was going to sight it in today but it was too windy and the range was packed. I decided to just shoot the XTAC instead. I finally got the muzzle device for the AAC M4 2000 and haven't shot the sbr yet, really looking forward to that. I don't know how much I trust the Rocksette and 25 ft/lbs of torque to hold the MD on, but I will soon find out :laugh:
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
  10. Fire-Medic

    Fire-Medic Back At It

    Jan 10, 2012
    I agree 100% with Greg and will just add something I left out in my first reply to the thread, what I have found with the more expensive guns that have more hand fitting in any caliber, is that it is "Easier" to shoot it accurately, I can do it with less effort.
  11. 20South

    20South Active Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    This is great advice. As for BRR and your question or at least as I understand it, only you can answer where that line is. Obviously its not just function that defines any of our purpose for a pistol or we'd all be toting polymer and saving ourselves a ton of money. I looked hard at a custom build from Jardine last year and knew I could exactly what I wanted in a pistol It would have been one of a kind and built for me. In the end, I decided that for my purposes, Wilson, Guncrafter, Nighthawk, Baer, Brown, Springfield, etc. could put together anything I really wanted and that I would absolutely be happy with it (at less then 1/3 the cost). So narrowing the list further down became a function of those guns I got to shoot, general feel for customer experience/service, and of course the ever important internet lore quotient :hail:. Eventually, my first semi-custom became a NN, and DRC is largely responsible for tipping the scales away from Wilson. Most of the reasoning to get there was purely subjective. I did eventually order a Wilson (before all of these crazy price hikes) and I don't believe I would part with it given how much it would cost me to replace. In any case, I guess what I am trying to say here is if you are saving discretionary funds to buy something nice for yourself, then make darn sure you are getting exactly what you want - even if you have to wait. One route to go is George at gunslingers. You can order absolutely anything you want from him with 0% interest for a year. Oh and that year doesn't start until the pistol comes in. So its almost like an automatic gun savings plan. He is a great guy to deal with and makes the whole process very easy. I got my Wilson from him and am just about finished paying off my Volkmann. I am done with 1911's for a while as I have what I think is right for me and my kids. Its back to my own AR build for now. FWIW - New NN build times are anywhere from 16-20 weeks it seems nowadays. Send in your deposit and keep saving at your rate and you'll have it in your hands the day it rolls off the bench. Good luck and keep us in the loop!
  12. Glock2740

    Glock2740 1911 addict Staff Member Moderator

    Aug 16, 2011
  13. Blue Ridge

    Blue Ridge Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2011
    Agreed. Taken to heart. Even put a couple of ads up!
  14. Ditto_95

    Ditto_95 Why oh why? Supporting Addict

    Nov 5, 2011
    I have been exactly where you are. I started with a $500 series 70 (In the 1980's) and moved to a Gold Cup.
    I wasn't quite happy with those. I tried the Delta Elite and that didn't get it.

    I did some reading and came across a guy named Ed Brown that did custom work on 1911's. I called an spoke with him about my series 70. Next thing you know, I cashed in some savings Bonds and off goes my pistol.
    I got it back and it was a thing of beauty. It performed like nobody's business. Somehow, it was stolen when I got divorced.???
    So I bought a new Ed Brown. Then I discoverd Les Baer. Now I have one. A TRS.
    I can't explain the feeling of having a pistol that is a work of art and will always out shoot me. It is like Christmas every time I open the safe to get one out.
    I have sold and traded lesser guns to get the ones I have now. I try to maintain the basics, .22 pistol, .22 rifle, duplicate carry guns and a couple of centerfire rifles. I have one shotgun that has two barrels. A Benelli M1 I got in 1985 when they were imported by HK. It does everything I need it to do so why have more?

    I think going for a Semicustom is in your best interest. It just takes a while to get there.

    R0CKETMAN NRA member Supporting Addict

    Dec 24, 2011
    So you have a working AR and the lower you want the upper for is just an "add on"? The Valor is at the top of your initial budget, but you could wait longer and spend more?....sorry I skimmed..whole lotta big a$$ paragraphs in this thread.

    Be patient. If you spend above and beyond what was your budget ceiling, you could easily end up with buyers remorse. Forced to sell one or more of the firearms you never intended to is no fun.

    It sounds like you have the self discipline to wait until buying the one you want is easily affordable. The problem there is if you stay on here too long the price of the one you want keeps climbing.
  16. Haraise

    Haraise A=A

    Dec 10, 2011
    So, to hijack this with 'just a few hundred more' yet again...

    Semi custom vs full custom. I'm considering dropping 3k on a Springfield Armory Custom Shop gun. Is there anything above this? It's for open/concealed carry, but I'm all about getting the best and doing it once... should I or the OP stop looking at semi custom or is 'true nirvana' at full custom?
  17. Blue Ridge

    Blue Ridge Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2011
    Amen to that! I have a 14.5" AR carbine for close-in fun stuff. Just don't have a scoped semi-auto rifle that isn't rimfire.
    There are 1911's posted here with price tags north of 5K. I'm not even terribly envious of those, it's like looking at a Lamborghini -I don't even see those as something I could have. Off the top of my head I have about 12,000 in all 20 something of my firearms. No way in the world my collection would be something I'd trade for 2 or 3 custom guns, it just wouldn't be worth it *to me.* But I have enough guns I never shoot that I would consider liquefying some of to get me closer to my goal. Deciding what is the hard part... at this point there's nothing in my collection I'm not attached to.
  18. knedrgr

    knedrgr Low capacity, low tech...

    Aug 15, 2011
    To split the hair on this, but SACS is not a full blown custom house. They will build a gun to YOUR specs and use other manufactures' parts. But they won't do a naked slide for you.

    And vice versa, what you'll find with some other semi-custom houses, is that they will only use their parts and build to your specs, and will do a naked slide.

    R0CKETMAN NRA member Supporting Addict

    Dec 24, 2011
    I see a 7.62x51 semi in your future:biggrin1:

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