As soon as Tactical Machining announced they would have an 80% 1911, I started researching all the parts needed besides the receiver. I’ll go over how I chose each part.
Budget or Top-Tier Parts?
I first leaned towards a very budget build such as from Sarco, but after reading one really detailed blog post here, I decided to go with all “top-tier” parts since they would require the least fitting/machining. Definitely add the link above to your resources list.
It is possible to build a 1911 out of el cheapo components, just like it’s possible to fall out of an airplane at 30,000 feet and survive. That doesn’t mean making one’s plans contingent on a possibility is at all advisable.
Almost forgot, I’ll be building a 1911 Government .45 ACP Series 70. I believe the Tactical Machining frame will support Government and Commander slide lengths. Different calibers and lengths will need different parts.
I’m assembling most of the parts from Brownells and Amazon with some accessories and extra tools.
BUT, I did really like Midway’s 1911 schematic. I ended up printing it out and crossing this off old school.
Popular/top-tier/expensive slide options include Caspian, Ed Brown, Les Baer, and Nighthawk. They are all around $200-300+ with the lower end of the spectrum cheaper since they do not have cuts for your sights.
I ended up going with a Fusion Firearms Slides 1911 slide which were highly regarded in forums. The one I chose was $230 and already had Novak sights cut (Bomar is another option). I liked it since it had thicker rear serrations.
Keep in mind that at least for me there was no communication of when my slide shipped, but I did get it in a reasonable time about 10 days after ordering. Only thing is they sent me a slide with thinner serrations. It still looked awesome so I didn’t want to go through the fuss of returning and waiting again.
Another thing I wish they wrote in their descriptions was that the firing pin hole is for 9mm/.38 and not .45 ACP.
I was not looking to fully gunsmith fit my barrel since I felt if there was one important part I don’t want to mess up on, it’s keeping the barrel inside the gun. The end goal is still just a safe and reliable 1911.
I went with a 5″ .45ACP Storm Lake Pre-Fit barrel kit for $180 shown above. Other 1911 Barrel Options should work fine but are a little more expensive. They should all come with a fitted bushing and the lug already installed.
The combo of Fusion with Storm Lake seems perfect. The barrel fits in super tight and there was the most minimal filing I needed to do to fit the bushing to the slide.
- Cylinder & Slide Drop-in Trigger Pull Set ($100): got a drop-in so I had to do as little as possible to get a nice crisp trigger
- Wilson Extended Thumb Safety ($32)
- Wilson Extended Ejector ($30)
- Wilson Ultralight Match Trigger ($35): Many choices to choose from, chose this well-reviewed one with an over-travel stop screw
- Mainspring Housing ($47): Many choices again, I like it flat (no palm swell) with aggressive checkering
- EGW Raised Magazine Catch ($30): Cheaper choices available but I like it being extended
- Wilson Beavertail ($40): Will likely need to be fitted to the frame, but I did not want a gap with a Wilson Drop-In Beavertail version
- Wilson Slide Stop ($33)
- Wilson Extractor ($17):
- Brownells Spring Plug ($5):
- EGW Guide Rod ($15-25): Government size or the full-length
- Ed Brown Firing Pin ($8): Make sure which size your slide uses, Fusion is usually 9mm
- Wilson Hammer Strut ($8)
- Wilson Hex Grip Screws ($7)
- Wilson Grip Screw Bushing ($7)
- Nowlin Plunger Tube ($16)
- Magazine Release Lock ($3):
- Ed Brown Firing Pin Stop ($13): No fitting necessary on the Fusion slide
- Wilson Complete Spring Kit ($15)
- Wilson Pin Set ($9)
- 1911 Grips ($18): WAY too many options, I just went with Magpul ones since I could stipple them
I love finishing my firearms and for this 1911 I’m planning on using Gunkote. I won’t have access to bead-blasting (update: I ended up doing it) the surfaces so I’m just going to prep with degreaser (local auto store), K-Phos, and the GunKote.
Part 1: Intro (Finding the 80%)
Part 4: Basic Fitting
Part 5: Cutting the Slide Rail
Part 7: Hammer & Sear Pin Holes
27 Leave a Reply
I just finished my build out of a sarco $210.00 kit with a frame from palmetto state aromry for $130.00 in stainless with black kote and minor fitting shoots 6 inch groups at 25 yards not bad for under $400.00 bucks!
Thanks for the tip! I've heard about the affordable sarco kits but just never see them in stock. Glad yours turned out awesome.
Hi Eric i'm building my 1911 now I have a quick question what pound springs are you using for your Recoil spring and Mainspring? I'm going to use the Wilson 18 1/2 Lbs Recoil Springs but not sure what to use for my mainspring
Hi, thanks for your question. Factory mainsprings are 23 lbs but a lot of people use 19 lbs. I use the 18 lb one that came with my trigger kit.
Great article! I have been looking for something like this to help me with my projects. What did your mean by "Another thing I wish they wrote in their descriptions was that the firing pin hole is for 9mm/.38 and not .45 ACP"? Is that in reference to the jig?
Hi, thanks! The firing pin hole comment is relating to just the Fusion slide, not the jig. Just be sure you know what kind of firing pin your slide takes.
So I'm gathering then that it doesn't necessarily matter if your firing pin is the same size as your ammunition caliber? Ex. A 9mm/38s firing pin would work just fine when used with .45 ACP cartridges?
Hi Joe, apologies for the late response. It seems that you just need to match the firing pin with your slide. I've had no problems with my 9mm pin igniting my .45's.
I love your gun, thanks for this guide.
I am totally in the planning stage on a project like this right now.
In your opinion is the investment made on the parts and tools worth it to have a pistol that I made with my own hands? I get the whole "legally make your own gun" concept and all of the other tinkering and nostalgic aspects of this process, but at the end of the day for me it all comes down to dollars and cents. What was your bottom line cost for Everything start to finish? I guess what I am asking is for your opinion on whether I should just buy a good 1911 from a retailer and fix it up how I want it, or would I save any money in the long run building one like you did?
Being budget minded, a$200 for a jig and another couple hundred in drill bits for a one time use seems a little extreme.
I do however have a leg up on the gun kote side of things, so I would save a buck or 2 there.
Hi Steve, thanks for your question. It took a little over 1k with the equipment (not including drill press) and top end parts. You could lower the cost by going with cheaper parts, but I wouldn't recommend it for a first time build.
If it just comes down to cost and you aren't really into the whole building a pistol from scratch thing, I recommend just getting a reputable manufacturer's 1911 from your local gun store and upgrading. I love my Springfield Armory Loaded model and STI Trojan. My buddy just got a STI Spartan for around $800 which is the best price/quality ratio I've seen.
I'm am down to purchasing magazines.........Wilson is my preference. Since there are so many options and that my project mainly consists of Wilson parts, would you kindly recommend an 8 round Wilson magazine that would ascetically fit this frame the best. Thank you
Great to hear the progress. I have a mix of Wilson 8 round full-size black magazines, both the regular and elite tactical. I don't see a difference besides the different base plates. Keep in mind that the 8 rounders will not be flush with the magazine--the black base plate and probably 1/16" of the magazine body will poke out. I went with the black magazine body so there wasn't a huge contrast.
Eric...........Please confirm my assumption that this frame supports an 8 round magazine. Thank you
Yup, I use a Wilson 8 rounder which pokes out just a little underneath the frame.
Hi, I am confused as to whether I should order a ramped or unramped barrel
Hi Bob, great question. The Tactical Machining 80% is already ramped for 45 ACP so you'll want to go with an unramped barrel. Ramped barrels are usually reserved for higher pressure calibers such as 9mm. If you're looking to do a ramped barrel caliber in the TM 80%, you'll also have to cut the frame to fit the two main types of ramps--Wilson/Nowlin or Clark/Para.
And thank you
The Houge mainspring housing seems impossible to obtain.......since I haven't purchased grips yet, would you be able to suggest a mainspring / grip combination that would compliment each other?
Of course! You can go with any known brand for the mainspring housing. Some others besides Hogue would be Wilson or Ed Brown. It boils down to what checkering pattern and whether you want it flat or arched. Also, the mainspring doesn't touch the grips so any combination will work. Only thing is if you go with thin grips to get the appropriate bushings.
As I shamelessly copy your excellent research into your 1911 build I have to ask..... did you opt for the "stainless" finishes rather than the "blued" when completing your project? Thank you again
It's all a matter of personal preference. Here's my thought process:
-Barrels normally come stainless, the pre-fit one also comes with matching bushing
-Hammer kit was stainless, recommend this since you will probably have to fit it
-Went with stainless trigger so front, middle, back had stainless
-Other things I went with blued since I like the natural wear pattern on the safety and wanted a black grip
-If I weren't going to paint, but wanted to fit the beavertail, I would go stainless
-But I knew I was going to gunkote so if I didn't like it, I could just gunkote the parts
-Ended up painting the beavertail and slide stop since I fit them in
Thank you for the quick response! Very much appreciated.
The barrel that was presented to me on the link provided in your build forum led me to the 6" barrel I questioned you about. Very much appreciate your assistance.
Hi Jerry, thanks for catching that!
Hi.....Thank you for posting the details off your build. I am modeling mine after yours.
I have to ask for your barrel if you used part number; 842000-67MB
45ACP 6.055" for Gov1911
Mfg pt GVT 45ACP 606 DIUS
Thank you for all!
Hi Jerry, I got my barrel off of Brownells, it is the model:
GVT-45ACP-506-DI-US-LPB 45ACP 5" Barrel for Government
Looks like the one you mentioned is 6" which is a longer slide.