After several months of working with a selection of files, sandpaper, power tools and a generous amount of research, we have reached the end of our Garage Gunsmithing series. When we last saw the project Springfield Armory 1911 it had been milled, sanded, blasted and dunked into a heated tank of chemicals to begin the parkerizing process. When I originally met with my machinist/gunsmith we had begun to talk about what sort of finish I wanted for my project when it was done. Originally we discussed Cerakote, Duracote, and several other premium style refinishes. At this point of the project I was starting to become concerned about overall costs, that is when Greg suggested re-parkerizing the pistol. I did some research on parkerizing and figured that for my application it would be a nice cost effective finish, and if I didn’t like it, the parkerized pistol would be a good candidate for another finish.
The frame of the Springfield was previously sanded and dehorned and we performed a small amount of modification to the area directly under the trigger guard on the front strap. We figured since we were doing so much other metal work on the frame, that it wouldn’t hurt to give myself a little higher hand hold on the pistol. When preparing for this article it dawned on me that I never showed our readers that part of the build process, so I am including a picture of the frame during the build process.
I did leave the front strap plain and unmodified, this was because I intend to use a small amount of grip tape from Talon Grips along this area. I chose this path for several reasons, mostly the cost of cutting 20 or 30 lines per inch checkering by hand into the front strap. I was researching stippling instead of checkering since I have been very pleased with how stippling has turned out on a previous pistol project I did. The bottom line was that this project was quickly running out of funds and I wasn’t completely sure what direction I wanted to go with the front strap. I can always go back and make more changes if I feel the need.
Early in the project I decided to put an extended magazine chute on the lower end of the pistol and change the springs and hammer strut. I will say that eventually I ended up swapping almost everything on the pistol except the frame, barrel, sear, and disconnect. I was a little shocked at how easy it was to get into changing parts and springs. With all this changing around I decided to install an oversized magazine release since it had to come out anyway. Rounding out the rest of the bottom parts was the installation of a new thumb safety. If you are interested in specific part numbers they will be listed in at the very bottom of the article.
After all the time I spent on this project I knew the slide was going to be the area of the pistol that would make or break the project. It is the biggest eye-catching piece on the project and garners the most attention. The frame and trigger is important but the slide seems to be where people are drawn to a particular gun its all about the look of the slide. So how did it turn out ?
The trip top cut of the slide allowed us to cut slight recesses into the slide but still leave the Springfield Armory logo intact on the slide. My machinist chose to do the appearance of the barrel being ported with the oval cut just behind the front sight. I wasn’t originally aware he was going to do this but in my opinion it turned out to be a really nice piece of flare to the gun and not effect muzzle flash.
Continuing back to the rear sight readers might remember from the last batch of pictures that a considerable amount of material had been removed to make room for the Harrison Designs sights and the blending of the rear of the slide and upper back strap of the pistol. This part of the build took a great deal of measuring and setting up the milling machine to cut and index in the correct spots. This is why I consider myself fortunate to have a very skilled machinist making these cuts and not me with a hacksaw or a dremel tool. I will say that I would never have attempted this part of the project myself.
FIRE CONTROL GROUP
I chose to leave the stock Springfield Armory sear and disconnect in this project and replace the trigger and hammer. The original hammer had to be replaced in order to use the Ed Brown extended beaver tail safety, and the original trigger was just too plain for me so it also was replaced. The sear and disconnect were left stock and simply polished and now break nicely at 4.7 lbs, that’s really a nice improvement and saved me a few dollars along the way on parts. All of the safeties, springs and the fire control components work wonderfully together and so far in testing are continuing to operate just fine. Blending the entire area around the hammer and beavertail safety was a laborious task. Trust me when I say there was a lot of 800 grit sandpaper used and my hands were numb for days from working this are of the pistol repeatedly.
To round out the project I knew I was not retaining the wood Springfield Armory grips which meant I had to search for weeks for the proper grips, luckily VZ Grips came to the rescue. I chose the VZ 320 grips in a color they refer to as Grey/Black, this particular pair is cut for an external magwell and feature the oversized thumb notch. I topped them off with a set of VZ screws known as “Radiation, Black Out” torx 15 screws. I really think the grips go a long ways to tying the project all together.
I want to say I am glad this project is over, while it looks amazing and I had help from my friend and machinist Greg Parret, this project almost got scrapped several times. Starting any gun smithing project is always a gamble even if you have the best intentions and deep pockets. That being said I do feel more of a connection with this pistol that I do many other ones I own because they one was paid for in blood, sweat, cussing and some money. I lost chunks of my fingers and have new marks in my work bench from temper tantrums during the building process but when I look at this pistol I see a dream realized. I hope that our readers enjoyed this series we have brought you, and maybe it will motivate you to try your own project. As promised I have included a list of the parts and part numbers I used on this project. Thanks for letting me entertain you.
Springfield Armory 1911 Parts List
Ed Brown Mainspring Housing (Chainlink II)
Ed Brown Slide Stop
Ed Brown Extended Mag Release
Ed Brown Beavertail Safety
Ed Brown Beavertail Jig
Ed Brown Spring Rebuild Kit
Ed Brown Commander hammer
Ed Brown Hammer Strut
Ed Brown 2 piece Guide Rod
Harrison Customs Rear Sight
EGW 65* Fiber Optic Front .185 Height
Wilson Combat : Ultralight Match Trigger
Wilson Combat Bulletproof Safety
VZ Grips: 320 Pattern
VZ Screws: Radiation Black Outs