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I am aware that Mr. J.M. Browning's 1911 pistols range in price from the low $400s to over $2000, but I have never understood why. Would someone care to educate this poor, benighted soul on what determines value in things 1911?
 

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just today, i went to my LGS to hopefully get a hold of a 1911...hopefully the Springfield Armory 1911.

they had (on the website) several models.

one, with real wood grips, and 2 magazines.

the other, fake wood grips, and one mag

real wood price, over $700

fake wood price, $550

they had neither in stock, and from what was told to me the factory was shut down?

i also looked at the Taurus 1911, about $700

not in stock.

so rich man, poor man's guns.

too many opinions on pricing. personally, i don;t need a beauty queen, i ain't gonna want to impress no one with all sorts of plated stainless steel, real wood, or one that makes my coffee in the morning.

just the gun.
 

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The devil, and price, is in the details.

In this case, it's fit and final assembly. Low end, price wise, guns don't get the TLC and attention in final assembly and fitting of the parts the high end guns do. They are 'to spec' or 'within tolerances' and go out the door. No hand fitting beyond what is absolutely necessary because hand fitting drives up labor hours (labor= cost which is passed onto the consumer) and cuts productivity.

Think of the hours that can be wrapped up in just perfecting slide to frame fit. Or polishing the inside of the frame so the parts don't have to overcome drag from the machine marks. How about fitting the locking lugs or the barrel bushing?

Attention to detail takes time and time is money.

Think about it. How many custom 1911's have been built with a Rock Island as a base? It's still a Rock, it's just that somebody went through it, paid attention to the details, took the time and did the hand work.
 

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Everyone has provided some good input, so I'll add that most of the features that differentiate a GI 1911 from a Taurus PT1911 or a Colt Combat Elite mean more machining steps or other forms of more complicated manufacture. Here's a GI-ish model:



And here's something a bit more upscale.

Colt Defender 11.JPG

Turning the upper pistol into the lower would mean
Checking the frontstrap
Undercutting the triggergaurd (If you're smart, you'll do this before the checkering)
The cuts at the front of the slide - lots of more upscale pistols have front slide serrations instead of this
The grip safety is a more complicated shape
The sights are more complicated in general, and the better pistol has tritium sights in this case
Extended thumb safety
A lot of higher end pistols have the raised, flat topped ridge along the top to prevent glare

But really, the hand fitting work is the most important aspect. There are dependable, reasonably accurate, quality pistols at just about every price range, it's just a question of what you want.
 

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For what it's worth, here's my input..

Ruger's SR1911 Lightweight Commander 9mm

Specs are:


  • Features a lightweight, anodized aluminum frame.
  • Classic, original 1911 fire control.
  • Precision CNC-controlled machining process results in a superior slide-to-frame fit and smooth slide travel.
  • Positive barrel lock-up allows for superior accuracy out of the box.
  • Traditional design with replaceable grip panels and checkered backstrap. I have tried three different sets of grips to date
  • Lightweight, aluminum, skeletonized trigger provides a very crisp, no creep, light trigger pull with a quick, positive reset.
  • Skeletonized hammer and titanium firing pin for faster lock time. As with the Model 70's
  • Oversized beavertail grip safety provides positive function and reliability.
  • Extended thumb safety and slide stop lever for improved, positive manipulation.
  • Integral plunger tube for slide stop and thumb safety is not staked and will never come loose.
  • Oversized ejection port and extended magazine release enhance performance.
  • Inspection port allows for visual confirmation of a loaded or empty chamber.
  • Features a flat mainspring housing and rear slide serrations for a positive grip.

  • I guess all these little 'enhancements' add to the cost of manufacture but, in my opinion, make for one fine shooting pistol.
    Now regarding prices, when I was 'window shopping' for one in the US two years ago I was finding them averaging around $700-$800 (with two 9 round mags). Mine cost me over $1200.00 but that's just because I'm in GB. Sadly I have only one other pistol to compare mine to and that a very old Remington 1911 that a fellow club member owns. His is .45ACP and really needs some attention and TLC, he rarely cleans it (shame on him) and it's not in good condition.

  • Here's mine (in its various guises - first photo is original form)
    1911B.jpg
    P2.jpg
    1911DD2.JPG
    Red-1.jpg
 

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I selected the Taurus PT1911 SS many moons ago as it was billed by both Taurus and reviewers to have upgrades that others either didn't have or that one would spend money to install. Some of what I remember were the "match" barrel, flared and lowered ejection port, the extended beavertail and the grip safety "bump" and also having the ambisafety. IIRC I paid 600.00 for the pistol with two mags, bushing wrench (which I've never used) and the plastic case and got 75.00 back in rebates.
 

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We're overlooking a big reason that we all know about. Who's name is on the gun? If you've built a reputation of excellent fit, finish and quality of materials, then that name stamped on the slide will command a higher price. How many times have we either heard or even said "you're paying for the name on it"?
We have makers of 1911s like Coonan, Les Baer, etc. There's other 1911's made in back alleys in the Philippines with no name on them. They're all 1911's for all intents and purposes. If you decide to make your own 1911 with a slide of your choice, a barrel and say a caspian frame you have a no-name back alley 1911 that's been built and hand fitted. Sure, you're gunsmithing skills may be top notch, but unless you make a name for yourself with high quality 1911's, It's still a back alley 1911 or something akin to a franken AR.
 

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You fell way short when you typed out $2,000.

https://www.nighthawkcustom.com/tactical-ready-comp

Honestly this is where worth and value are completely up to the buyer. If you have an extra 5k laying around and want a heirloom piece that combines beauty and function that will be backed up by the manufacturer so long as they exist then go for it. The rest of us will settle for less but in the great scheme of things, less isn't all that less in performance, but it can be a great deal in price. My only Taurus is a PT1911A that I bought on Buds for $600. It's served me well for 12 years now, and only once had a problem and that was due to a batch of low quality ammo. Other than that, absolutely reliable, and shoots great and I've probably got somewhere between 6-7k rounds through her. About 6 years ago I wanted to see how the other half lived. Decided to go with something higher end but not go too crazy, and wound up going halvsies with my father on a S&W Performance Center and we decided to go with this: https://www.smith-wesson.com/firearms/performance-center-model-sw1911-0

She's a stunner, and not just to look at but to shoot. Fit and finish is superb, materials are significantly stronger than MIM and Aluminum. She's more accurate than I could ever hope to be. Do I feel it is worth more than twice what I paid for my Taurus 1911? In my opinion, yes. Do I feel there is a 1911 out there that is 3 times better than this one though? I can't imagine how, but surely someone feels that way as they are selling. Names, materials, and manufacturing techniques and craftsmanship can create a huge divide between entry level bargain basement and high end cream of the crop. Again however the value of such things is entirely up to the buyer.
 

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For the same reason that a Chevy and a Cadillac are so different in price. Both serve the same function, getting you from point A to point B, but one does it with more "luxury than the other. Fit and finish on one is much different than the other. One has more and different options. One is designed to serve a basic purpose and the other is designed to serve that basic purpose and, in some cases, more specific purposes.
 

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There's production guns and what is called "semi-custom". The semi-customs are production guns with a higher degree of hand fitting. The numbers aren't exact, but to me straight production guns are usually under $1,500. Once you get up over $1,500 you're starting to get into the semi-custom range. At that price you should expect performance.

But all of this is fungible as each manufacturer has their own pricing and levels of quality in fit and finish. I've shot some of the low end 1911's and didn't care for them as target guns. The two I have are in the $1,000 range. I wanted adjustable sights. One is Springfield Stainless Loaded Target in 9mm and the other is a blued Kimber Gold Match II in .45.

Of the two I prefer the Kimber's fit and finish. Which is not to bad mouth the Springfield.

The trick is the unit of quality per dollar. In the $1,000-$1,500 range that's Kimber for me. Below that I think Springfield makes really good guns and has awesome customer service for the prices they charge.

Somebody else will have the opposite opinion.
 

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I am aware that Mr. J.M. Browning's 1911 pistols range in price from the low $400s to over $2000, but I have never understood why. Would someone care to educate this poor, benighted soul on what determines value in things 1911?
Quality of the parts, quality of the person (or machine) putting those parts together.
Customer Service and knowledge of the product, warranty whether printed/stated or not!
quite a few quality manufactures will stand behind their product if its workmanship/ parts problem regardless of their stated warranty.
I find that within reason a medium priced 1911 to be a best buy normally, within reason of medium pricing.
now one needs to realize that you also have regular carry duty 1911 and competition level 1911 and what i look for usually is the middle of the road group which are reliable, quality made carry pistols that have very good accuracy and most important reliability.
my best carry priced 1911??--the Citadel
my best carry PLUS priced 1911?--- COLT Elite Match
my best competition priced 1911??-don't really have one as I am not competition quality--LOL
but it would be either my Dan Wesson Point man or my Springfield Armory Range Officer.
 

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I purchased a Taurus 1911 rom a friend, we re at the range when his bushing came apart and springs went downrange, I bough the111 or $20. I eplaced the bushing with a Colt bushing I had in stock. Accuracy wasn't any better than government issue. total tolerance was .023 inches. I ordered a new bushing from Taurus (12.95) so much for lifetime warranty. Total tolerance is now .007 inches.
Why buy an inexpensive pistol and spend large money on it?
 

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In addition to the fit, fitting, materials etc everyone has already mentioned. Part of that is also brand premium for some pistols.
 

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Many times you'll also have a myriad of companies including bubba's bait shop and gunmakers putting out firearms in the 1911 style with slight variations over the JMB blueprint and made with God knows what type of components. Now if you have even minimal skills with metalsmithing, you can produce a very high quality 1911. The Manhours on top of costs of components will definitely put the investment price through the roof. The problem is that all these different manufacturers can also do the same things, generally with higher precision. Their price points will also go through the roof. When you have people buying firearms, only a small percentage will buy a 1911. Of those, only a small percentage of them will spend more that about 1100 bucks. Entry level price points for 1911's are in the 350-450 range. Mid entry is 5-700 and better ones are from about 700-1100. So to maximize sales, you'll target the 350-700 range buyers simply because there's more of them. This means your finishes aren't top of the line, your fitting isn't either. Tolerances are loosened and you introduce slop into the mechanics. Different manufacturers will pick different areas to cut corners. Taurus and Colt use MIM parts. Taurus doesn't finish machine every single surface of the 1911. Springfield will use machining instead of hand fitting where they can. Nobody really does a rich, deep blue high polished finish like the old colt revolvers. Each improvement costs money. Yes, some people will pay those higher prices, but you're not expecting that to be the main demographic. Aside from the heat bluing, forging and CNC machining, I can do the rest at home. So yes, I am capable of producing an exceptionally high quality 1911 capable of gracing calendars with. I don't have the name to stamp on it that will increase my asking price. In short, I have a beautiful back alley 1911 made with the best of parts that's all hand finished and tuned that I could sell for entry level prices regardless of the fact I may spend 5 grand to get it to that level. Counter that with slapping a new set of grips on an established company's 1911 and I'd make my invested money back and then some.
 
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One major thing everyone is overlooking is accuracy, extreme accuracy out of a 1911, like under 1 1/2" groups at 50 yds. that takes a lot of skilled fitting to achieve that level of accuracy. That is why Accuracy X pistols cost what do, to get that kind of accuracy either you buy a Accuracy X, have a custom pistol built or build your own if you have the skills, tools and know how. I built my own Bullseye 1911 and it does group under 1 1/2" at 50 yds, yes I had roughly $1500 in parts that all needed fitted and then some more money in tools I needed, I already had most of the tools but there were a few I needed. Now if you have to buy all the tools needed to build 1 pistol it would be cheaper to just buy a Accuracy X.

Many will say I can't shoot as good as the pistol why spend the money, maybe you can't but you will still shoot much more accurate with a pistol that can shoot 1 1/2" groups at 50 yds. than most production pistols that will shoot 8" groups at 50 yds. One of my shooting friends went to the indoor range with me a while back (pre covid) shot my pistol and was very impressed, he said he shot my pistol better at 25 yds. than anything he owned at 12yds. That is what you pay for in the high end 1911's.
 

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The combination of looks and performance really just can't be beat when it comes to a 1911. More than any other gun a 1911 can be what you want it to be, in performance anything from a great home defense gun to a high performance target gun, and the looks and customization are as varied as any firearm ever has been. Just do a web search on custom 1911's and you can easily lose hours, and they will not be wasted at all. There are absolute works of art out there, and I've never once in my life met someone who has shot a 1911 and didn't enjoy the experience because the single action light trigger has always been the height of enjoyment in the shooting world. The fact that the prices are all over the map isn't surprising in the slightest considering the firearm has the widest range of options that any firearm out there does. If I ever hit the lottery I'll be looking at a high end custom 1911 probably before I even start looking at cars and houses. Volkmann would be getting a call from me for sure.

 

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The combination of looks and performance really just can't be beat when it comes to a 1911. More than any other gun a 1911 can be what you want it to be, in performance anything from a great home defense gun to a high performance target gun, and the looks and customization are as varied as any firearm ever has been. Just do a web search on custom 1911's and you can easily lose hours, and they will not be wasted at all. There are absolute works of art out there, and I've never once in my life met someone who has shot a 1911 and didn't enjoy the experience because the single action light trigger has always been the height of enjoyment in the shooting world. The fact that the prices are all over the map isn't surprising in the slightest considering the firearm has the widest range of options that any firearm out there does. If I ever hit the lottery I'll be looking at a high end custom 1911 probably before I even start looking at cars and houses. Volkmann would be getting a call from me for sure.

I love the color case hardened frame. It just brings the slide and grips together perfectly.
 
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