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1911 80% Tactical Machining Build, Part 2: Tools

Setting up with a drill press, vise, jig, and drill bits.

Essential Resources

The 1911 80% is much harder than an AR15 80%.  Disclaimer again.  These two resources have given me a lot more confidence and I think you should check them out since they cover more than I ever could:

My Setup

There’s many ways to skin a cat, and probably even more ways to finish your Tactical Machining 1911 80%.  My resources are pointing me towards a drill press and cross slide vise.  Those combined with the jig should make quick work of the hammer pin, sear pin, and even barrel seat.  The hardest part I foresee is the slide rail.  I’m going with shallow cuts with my vise and finishing up with files and lapping compound.

A mill would probably be the best, so if you know someone that has one, I’d go that route.  But as for me, here’s my setup:

  • Drill Press ($200): Craftsman 12-inch Drill Press.  Edit: Several of you have said the chuck only goes up to 5/8 inches so it will not hold the 18mm end mill below.  You will need to buy a different chuck.  Please let me know which one you went with down in the comments.  The top selling Drill Press on amazon for $160 for the budget conscious.  It is 10-inch which will be plenty but still has the chuck problem.
  • Vise ($45): 4″ Cross Slide Vise, also seen the same thing at Harbor Freight

The vise came in pretty “Made In China” condition.  I took it apart, cleaned everything, oiled, and tightened everything up.  I’ll probably tighten it up even more when it comes time for the slide rail.

Drill Bits

Tactical Machining 1911 80% and Drill Bits
Tactical Machining 1911 80% and Drill Bits

This is based off the info from TM.  Let me know if I made any errors.

I tried to go as much Amazon as possible:

The other drill bit is listed as a #43 bit on the TM site but looking it up (and verified by its Facebook team), it should be #35 (.110 inch).

I found a reasonable 18mm Ball End Mill on Amazon. Edit: Updated to 4-flute which should help bit chattering with previous 2-flute version. Link goes to the search results since they seem to go in-and-out of stock quickly.

3/32 x 3/8 Key Seat Cutter:

Essential Tools

Nice to Have Tools

You’ll probably want to pick some of these up from Brownells to make your life easier:

  • Ed Brown Sear Jig ($50): For the trigger job.  Probably not needed if you went the drop-in match trigger route.
  • Square Ceramic Stone ($25): Super fine stone for sears and other surfaces
  • Plunger Staking Tool ($32):The plunger tube seems really annoying to install correctly so I got the tool.
  • Beavertail Install Jig ($30): Let’s you easily file down the frame.  I put it on and it looks like Tactical Machining’s frame fits perfectly, so it is not needed.
Beavertail Jig on Tactical Machining 1911 80%
Beavertail Jig on Tactical Machining 1911 80%

Next Lesson

Part 1: Intro (Finding the 80%)

Part 2: Tools

Part 3: Parts List

Part 4: Basic Fitting

Part 5: Cutting the Slide Rail

Part 6: Barrel Seating

Part 7: Hammer & Sear Pin Holes

Part 8: Fitting the Slide

Part 9: Assembly & Fitting

Part 10: GunKote Application

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9 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Jason V

    Thanks for replying. I ended up going with a 5/8 chuck and 11/16 End Mill with a 5/8 shank. That's as close as I can get it.

    December 1, 2014 7:55 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jason V

    Does the 18mm Ball Nose End Mill you have linked fit a 5/8 max chuck? I plan on purchasing a 5/8 chuck for that specific end mill and I need to know if I should plan otherwise.

    November 26, 2014 11:59 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Hi, it's a straight bit so you'll need more than a 5/8 inch (.625 inch). 18mm comes out to .708 inch.

      November 30, 2014 11:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Just so you know, the 8in Drill press is too small for the jigs and slide vise to fit.

    October 24, 2014 6:21 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Thanks, that should help out others!

      October 26, 2014 6:34 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Can I use a 8in drill press or does it have to be 12in?

    October 18, 2014 12:39 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Edit: 8-inch drill press is too small.

      I'm not 100% sure but I would lean towards a yes. I chose the 12 inch so I can use it for other projects as well.

      October 18, 2014 5:05 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Awesome! I'm really looking forward to watching your progress on the build.

    July 12, 2014 4:39 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Thanks! Got all the bits, now just waiting on TM's jig. Should have an update this coming weekend.

      July 14, 2014 11:05 am
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