Rick sent us photos of his awesome 1911 build that has a long backstory. Rick wrote …

This is what started as a Colt 1991A1 purchased the day I turned 21. It’s been my favorite gun among many. A couple years ago, the gun fell out of a flimsy back pack it used to be transported in almost daily, onto the highway. The initial impact warped and cracked the grip frame. It was then ran over a time or two which merely did some light cosmetic damage to the slide. The wife, taking pity on me, authorized the purchase of another. Alas, it would not be the same, though a Combat Elite looked aweful tempting. The top end of the gun was still fully serviceable and it would be a waste of a perfectly fitted $250 match barrel. So, $400 dollars and an unknown amount of time later I had a fully functioning, tighter than ever, 1911 again. I am no gunsmith, and am amateur at best, but am pretty good with a file and can handle most any task with proper instructions. With as much time as needed to get it together and good parts it was none too difficult. While it is now a worthless parts or frankengun, it’s a great, reliable shooter that’s better than ever.

The parts list:

New parts are:
• Caspian cast frame with .250 radius and integral plunger tube as options
• Ed Brown beavertail grip safety
• Ed Brown stainless spring plug
• Colt titanium firing pin
• Colt thumb safety
• Colt magazine release
• Wilson Combat guide rod
• Wilson Combat mainspring housing pin
• Wilson Combat hammer pin
• Harrison Retro rear sight
• Pachmayr Signature combat grips
• VZ grip bushings

Parts reused were:
• Schuemann classic match barrel
• Briley spherical bushing
• Chip McCormick slide stop
• Les Baer serrated mainspring housing
• Wilson Combat oversized firing pin stop
• Colt commander hammer

OEM parts were:
• Slide
• Sear
• Disconnector
• Sear spring
• Firing pin spring
• Grip screws
• Front sight
• Extractor
• Ejector
• Ejector pin
• Plungers/spring

It’s still a great gun, now with some character and a story. Hopefully someone down the line will enjoy the Rick A custom as much as I do.

Great job Rick!

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  • Mark

    Liking the gold trigger on an all-black gun. Very nice!

    • I suspect that the trigger came from Kings Gun Works.

      • Rick A

        That is correct. Didn’t realize that was left out.

  • Wolfgar

    I had a gun smith ruin my Colt Gold Cup back in the late 80’s which started me on my journey to gunsmithing. It was a frustrating but very satisfying endeavor through the years. It is a great feeling taking a ruined piece and turning into a reliable ,accurate work of art. Nice story, it brought back a lot of good memories.

    • Rick A

      This was a similar situation. Folks at the range I frequented came in to show off their custom 1911’s built by a local smith. They were quite proud of their butchered guns (obvious even to a neophyte) while I was left aghast.

  • RICH

    A gun with character and a story is always a great gun ! ! !

  • BearSlayer338

    My first gun was a RIA 1911 GI in .45 acp,I installed a wilson full-length guide rod,and hogue grips.The RIA 1911 was supremely reliable with about 600 rounds shot through it,350 rounds of 185gr SWC,150 rounds of 230gr LRN,and 100 rounds of 230 grain +P+(possibly +p++)JHP handloads.(didn’t kick that bad considering the power)It was a great gun but it wasn’t very accurate.(I shoot less than 2″ groups at 25yards unsupported with most handguns)It did introduce me to the 1911 platform though.

    Now I’m searching for another 1911,this time a stainless Springfield GI(I prefer the GI model),this or a S&W 639 would be my preferred carry weapon.(IWB or Shoulder Holster)

    • Rick A

      My gun was “combat accurate” out of the box. The match barrel made it a real shooter. My range buddy at the time had an H&K USP that shot better and I couldn’t let that be.

  • PeterK

    Very nice. Love the story.

  • Uniform223

    I always hear and read that one appeal to the 1911 is that you can build that gun how ever you want.

    • Rick A

      That’s true to an extent. Most parts come oversize and require fitting. How they are fitted can literally make or break the gun.

  • Lee

    Its funny, along with a lot of fellow shooters, we seem to have that common “Can’t wait to turn 21 so I can buy my first handgun!” thing going.

    All my other non-shooter buddy’s, it was buying beer legally for the first time…. I always looked as beer as a waste of ammo money, lolz.

    • Rick A

      Guys would always tell me that I had something to show for while they were out pissing money away. I purchased most of what I own to this day in those years. The 45 was one of three handguns purchased that day.

      I went out every now and then but wasn’t going to make a lifestyle of it.

  • Rick A

    That’s my gun. The event was quite traumatic as that is my most prized possession. The original configuration was a bit gaudy and I suppose the 1911 Gods frowned upon it and struck it down with great vengeance and furious anger. The back pack definitely got upgraded from then on (daily motorcycle rider). It’s in a MEUSOCish inspired style but done my own way.

  • William Wallace

    Yep, I know how you feel. I still have my first handgun that I ever purchased. I have bought and sold many other guns I have acquired through the years, and even contemplated selling that first handgun many times, but just never went through with it… had a few solid offers too.

    But more than just being my first handgun, it also saved my life during a burglary where I was home and I had to face down the intruder. Thankfully he ran out when he realized I had a gun. So, that gun will always have a special place in my heart.

    Good job on this one. You did what you needed to do and made a bad situation into a good one. You have an unique gun that is all yours and built the way you want it to be. Just consider it a push in the right direction into something you would have done anyway eventually.

    • Rick A

      Thanks for that perspective, and it sounds like yours has served you well. What gun is it?

      In my youth I would modify and personalize guns extensively. These days, most often I’ll add a set of grips or an optic if it’s a long gun and leave it be. Then again, we didn’t have the range and choices there are today back then.

      • William Wallace

        It’s an old Smith auto 9mm, nothing special otherwise… but it saved my life.

        I try to leave my guns alone other than night sights, grips, and a rail mounted light/laser as applicable. For long guns, it’s the same except for the AR-15 where you have to spend 2x as much as the gun on accessories. That’s just how those guns work.

  • Core

    There’s nothing wrong with building a franken-gun. The best 1911 smith’s use the best parts, it’s just making it all work together and look coherent is that end goal. Sometimes it’s as simple as a surface finish. The best 1911’s are built in small custom shops from an array of name brand and custom parts. I always love the joint project guns, where the smiths pass them around adding their own specialty to the gun.

  • Get rid of the Pachmeyer rubber grips and put some grip tape (skateboard tape) across the front strap and then put some good looking checkered wood grips on the side. You will find that combo will be much more secure no matter how hot/cold, wet/dry, bloody/muddy your hand is. Rubber gets slippery under many conditions. We’ve bee using skateboard tape for decades in IPSC competition because it works and is a cheaper and easier on the hand than most checkered front straps.