Top 5 1911 Mods and Upgrades

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 The three basic requirements from a defensive sidearm such as a 1911 pistol, according to most gun experts, are that the pistol fits snugly in the owner’s hands, has a clearly visible pair of sights and a responsive trigger. These essential requirements are usually not completely met by the stock design of the weapon, so it needs to be modified. There used to be a time when the only way to modify a 1911 pistol was to send it to a certified gunsmith, or place an order for a customized weapon.

Top 5 Mods You Should Consider

Here are the five most crucial modifications you can make to your 1911 pistol to improve its accuracy and efficiency:

Consider Educating Yourself

Before you start modding your 1911 consider taking The Shooters Guide To The 1911 by Sergeant First Class Michael Fouse. If you have a passion for the 1911, this course covers everything from the history, both of evolution and the materials used in the pistol, to its many uses.

1. Grips

If you’re going to be using your gun on a regular basis, a grip with a sharp texture is best for providing maximum purchase. If the vanilla grips on your 1911 are smooth, they will be essentially useless in controlling the gun’s recoil and recovering from firing a shot. For becoming a proficient shooter, you need to give due attention to shot-to-shot recovery, which is only optimal with a textured grip that provides friction.

Try to avoid the rubber grips since they tend to get stuck in your clothes. Exceptions to this generalization include Colt and Kimbers rubber grips that have a checkered texture, are hard and tacky, but are not as sticky as the other rubber grips. By and large, go for a grip modification which will withstand the level of weathering and abrasion caused by your normal work environment.

2. Thumb Safety

Your thumb resides on top of your 1911’s safety – all set to depress it as you aim for your target. Because you are constantly engaging/disengaging a safety as you come towards / move away from the target, it has to fit perfectly in your hand, particularly your thumb. Since factory guns come with safeties whose ledge/lip is quite high, pressing them quickly can be something of nuisance for most shooters. You should consider replacing your stock safety with a low-mount Wilson safety to deal with this issue. Because of the lowered trigger, you will be able to handle the thumb safety with ease, without having to adjust your grip for depressing the beavertail safety.

3. Trigger

There are two considerations when it comes to choosing the right trigger mod for your 1911:

Trigger Length

Trigger Length that matches the size of your hands / fingers is crucial for accurate firing, on both the range and in a confrontation. A long trigger is ill suited for people with short hands since it forces them to wrap their hand too far forward for a proper grip, which leads to the disengagement of the beavertail safety – an embarrassing situation to be in. Most factory 1911s come with triggers that have a long length of pull (LOP). If you find your trigger too long for your hands, you can easily purchase shorter triggers e.g. Brownells #377-000-004 and replace the stock trigger with it.

Trigger Weight

Also called trigger pull, is usually a personal preference but you should give it some thought with regards to the purpose the 1911 will serve. If you are going to be using the gun for competitions, then a lighter trigger will be a sound choice. But if the gun will primarily be used for defensive purposes, you should go for a slightly heavier trigger (depending on the strength of your hands e.g. 4.5-pounds) since lighter triggers can lead to premature shots under stress, during follow through or while you are taking aim. An occurrence such as this in a real life situation can be disastrous.

4. Sights

Choosing a proper sight for your gun is vital for successfully tackling a defensive situation. The majority of confrontations occur in dimly lit conditions, against moving targets in close quarters. The vanilla sights that come with most 1911s are reasonably accurate in good lighting conditions but won’t be able to provide quick combat efficiency for lining up rapid shots on the threat in poor lighting conditions.

In fact, it will get increasingly difficult to aim as you grow old and your eyesight weakens, making stock sights a serious problem for most seasoned enthusiasts. Consider replacing them with three dot tritium sights, such as those provided by XE Sight Systems. The tritium centered, large and round front sight and the V shaped rear sight can be aligned with much more ease, to allow for greater accuracy, even in low light situations. For a tutorial on how to remove your old sights, click here.

5. Magazine Release

If you’ve got smaller hands, or wear gloves while handling your 1911 pistol, you will probably need to change your stock magazine catch. The problem with the stock catches present in most factory guns is that they bind the magazine when they are depressed. These problematic catches require you to release them after depressing them in order to let the magazine fall.

This can be a problem in combat scenarios, so consider going for a modified catch, with good thumb purchase, that has an internal mechanism to prevent magazine trapping. An example of such an extended catch is the 10-8 performance magazine catch which has curved surface for better thumb grip and has an internal relieve mechanism for preventing the magazine from getting trapped.

Final Words

Today, you can purchase ‘custom’ versions of this versatile weapon from guns stores; these are basically modified versions produced by large scale gun manufacturers. If you’re a gun enthusiast, the most enjoyable experience for you will be modifying your 1911 pistol on your own, but to start, you can always grab ideas from Pinterest and find parts on online stores to make your dream 1911. Thanks to its largely modular design, it can be customized to a great degree by anyone who owns a few essential tools and has some basic knowledge about guns and their components.

Remember that the mods mentioned above do not even begin to cover the customizations you can perform on your 1911 pistol. In fact, there may be some mods which could be geared specifically towards you as a shooter e.g. ambidextrous safeties or custom guide-rods for simpler field stripping. Remember to prioritize utility and efficiency over aesthetics when it comes to customizing your weapon. If you don’t I’d suggest taking a look at some courses or even our tutorials to get your started.


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