In the classic .45ACP

By Darby Darrow

Customized pistols? Sure, sign me up. Many folks dream of owning a custom pistol but balk at the price that having a custom pistol built from scratch will cost. Yet one of the easiest pistols to customize is the venerable 1911. The design has been around for over 100 years and a myriad of manufacturers make custom 1911 parts.

THE BLANK SLATE

A few years back, I was going into a local gun shop to browse when I ran into an old school gunsmith, Tim LaFrance, who was walking out with two boxes under his arm. I asked him what he bought and he told me that he had just picked up two Springfield Armory WWII MilSpecs. He then told me that they were a great platform for a custom 1911 build. After browsing the shop for a few minutes I purchased a WWII MilSpec for a future build. The gun proceeded to sit in my safe for about 7 years and was nearly forgotten until a student of mine traded me a custom 1911 match barrel for some lessons. She had won the barrel in a raffle but didn’t have a 1911 herself.

That is all that it took to get the ball rolling for my WWII MilSpec custom build.

The stock Springfield Armory WWII MilSpec comes with a high walled ejection port, low profile “GI” sights, short solid trigger, lanyard loop on mainspring housing, and stock thumb safety and spur hammer. We want to go on the record as stating that there is nothing wrong with the stock configuration, but to make the gun more suitable for our “near the bed” home defense handgun we are going to make a few changes.

THE FINAL PROJECT

We’ve fired right around 1000 rounds through the weapon, and checking our log we don’t have single malfunctions with it. The final result is a purpose built custom pistol that meets our needs in a home defense pistol. This weapon is now a fine addition to a home defense plan.

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY 1911 in .45ACP

The stock Springfield WWII MilSpec. Note the high wall ejection port, the small sights and thumb safety.

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY 1911 in .45ACP

One of the main issues that we have with the original version of the 1911 is hammer bite from the spur hammer and GI grip safety. We went with a Wilson Combat Beavertail Grip Safety, and Bullet Proof Deluxe Commander hammer. Good bye to hammer bite! www.wilsoncombat.com

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY 1911 in .45ACP

For a home defense gun where concealment will not be an issue we like to have a magazine well on the weapon. We had a Smith and Alexander main housing and mag well installed. We chose the flat rather than the arched housing as a personal preference. www.smithandalexander.com

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY 1911 in .45ACP

To make the gun even more user friendly, especially for shooters with smaller hands, we replaced the stock magazine release with an Ed Brown Extended Tactical Magazine Release, and Wide Extended Safety. We also find that a longer trigger feels better and used the National Match Trigger. www.edbrown.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: FIREARMS ARE MACHINES THAT OPERATE UNDER EXTREME PRESSURE THAT CAN BE DANGEROUS IF IMPROPERLY BUILT. WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU HAVE ALL WORK DONE BY A COMPETENT GUNSMITH.

FIREARM SAFETY: Safety with firearms is the absolute top priority. Trucks & Guns magazine reminds you to always be safe and always obey firearms safety rules.

• Treat every gun as it were loaded.
• Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
• Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
• Be aware of your target’s foreground and background.

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY 1911 in .45ACP

The barrel that started the cascade of changes is a Les Baer match barrel. These barrels come oversized and require fitting before they can be used. The gunsmith, Robert Krone, that built this project for us did an excellent job of fitting the barrel giving us a tight lock up deserving of a custom job. In addition to fitting the barrel, RK Gunsmithing also lowered the ejection port to provide some additional reliability. www.rkgunsmithing.com

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY 1911 in .45ACP

A useful accessory for a home defense pistol is a weapon mounted light. SureFire’s quality and warranty are why we opted for the X300 Ultra with the DG-18A pressure switch. The X300 with 500 lumens of light it will provide sufficient illumination for an indoor search as well as providing a distracting amount of light if shone towards an assailant’s face. www.surefire.com

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY 1911 in .45ACP

Some folks swear by the classic GI sights on the WWII model. But for our eyes we like something that we can pick up more quickly. We went with Novacs Fiber Optic front sight and plain black rear sight. With even a small amount of ambient light the front sights pops out for us. It is true that fiber optic rods will occasionally break, but they are inexpensive to replace and can be replaced by the user in a matter of minutes. The original front sight is pinned to the slide. RK Gunsmithing had to machine a dove tail in the front and recut the rear dove tail as well. www.novaksights.com

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY 1911 in .45ACP

In order to attach it to a weapon that does not have an integrated rail, there are several options. We chose the Dawson Precision Rail and Adapter for the SureFire X300. The dust cover on the 1911 must be drilled and tapped for the rail to be attached. Once again RK Gunsmithing came through with a precise installation. Unfortunately Dawson is not currently shipping this rail. www.dawsonprecision.com

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY 1911 in .45ACP

The final step in the build was to refinish the weapon. It originally came with a durable parkerized finish, but adding blued parts would have given it an unfinished look. So the whole weapon was shipped off to W. E. Birdsong & Associates, Inc. for their proprietary finish. The finish is applied in a multi-step process that chemically bonds the finish provide protection against rust, corrosion and external damage. Since we already had a gun with the Black T finish we opted for the Green T finish, with Black T on the small parts. www.black-t.com

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY 1911 in .45ACP

Now that it is done, it is mated to a Chip McCormick Power Plus 10rd stainless magazine giving us 11 rounds in the weapon. www.cmcmags.com