There are few inventions that are created so perfectly they become an immortal part of life. One such invention is the M1911 handgun. It’s over a hundred years old but still a favorite in government agencies and among recreational shooters. It is an understatement to say that the M1911 is the most respected handgun of all times.
That is why the race to find the best 1911 parts kit is always a hot one.
But before we look at the best 1911 parts kits, a brief history of the 1911 will help you appreciate this legendary handgun.
Best Of 1911 Parts Kit Comparison Table
The M1911 – A Brief (But Very Explosive) History
For the history of the Model 1911 to be appreciated, it must be traced back to 10 years before the pistol was ever heard of – and halfway around the world in the jungles of the Philippines. With all their military firepower, the US soldiers and Marines were having a hard time containing and controlling the tribal Moro warriors – for a good 15 years.
The tribal warriors used guerrilla warfare tactics that warranted the use of close combat firearms, but the standard military pistols they were carrying were proving ineffective. The Moro tribesmen, using long-bladed knives, were not just hacking down US troops, they were also hacking down their morale. The ghostlike warriors, fueled by religious zeal, tribal fanaticism, and drugs, seemed immune to the .38 caliber double action revolvers the American forces were carrying. The warriors were simply absorbing the bullets and charging on.
The .38 caliber revolvers were seriously lacking in power. A quick solution was needed, and old stocks of the Colt M1873 .45 caliber revolvers had to return to active service. They quickly proved that .45 caliber handguns had enough stopping power to turn the situation in the US armies favor as the drugged tribesmen were being stopped by a single well-placed shot.
The battle against the Moros led to the historic Thompson-LeGarde tests that were conducted by the US Military in 1904 in a quest to find the best cartridges in terms of penetration and stopping power. It was discovered that the best military pistol or revolver to have adequate shock effect and stopping power, it should have a .45 caliber or more.
John Browning’s M1911 – Shooting Down the Competitors
In 1906 the US Military began evaluating several pistol designs along with the suitability of a new cartridge that was named the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (or .45 ACP for short). In the next several years of testing, the Colt pistol was clearly leading the pack. Small wonder as the pistol being tested was designed by “the Father of Automatic Fire”, John Browning, the innovative, visionary gun designer.
John Browning’s cutting-edge pistol designed for the tests was a magazine fed, single action semi-automatic pistol that proved to be highly durable, very simple to use, and a reliability no other pistol could match. It was formally adopted by the US Army on March 29, 1911, and was thus designated as the Model 1911. Four years later, it was field tested in Mexico when a 5000 strong US troop was ordered to capture the notorious Mexican rebel, Pancho Villa in 1916. Though the mission was not a success, it proved the effectiveness of the M1911.
The M1911 – Hero of Many Battles
The M1911 went on to be a prominent feature of the first and second world wars and other wars after that. Battlefield experiences led to improvements and the M1911 just kept getting better, more reliable, and easier to use. This led for an unprecedented demand for the pistol and many more companies (including Singer which produced 500 units which have gone on to become collector’s items) were contracted to produce the epic M1911 – both on domestic soil and abroad. Because of the high number of M1911’s produced during the war, the government canceled post-war contracts for the production of the pistol and instead opted to recall and refurbish the ones already in circulation. All refurbishments were done at U.S. Arsenal and Service Depots, with each depot engraving their initials on the frame and receiver of the pistols, for example, RIA for the Rock Island Armory.
To date, the M1911 is still popular among U.S. government agencies (with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit still developing new variants) and civilian recreational shooters.
Hopefully, that colorful history has solidified your passion and desire to build your own 1911 handgun. But, where are the best 1911 parts kits to be found? Well, that’s exactly why we’re here. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The 6 Best 1911 Parts Kits That Will Give You A Bang For Your Buck
This is the part you’ve been waiting for. The time we look at the best 1911 parts kits that are friendly on your pocket, but lethal on your next target (hopefully a board at the target range). These are not listed in any particular order.
The Sarco 1911 parts kits come with all the parts you need to build your 1911, less the frame. Sarco supplies different kinds of1911 parts kits to help you put together your own .45 government pistol. This much sought after 1911 parts kit usually runs out of stock as it really gives you a bang for your buck at $$ per kit. This kit is especially for beginners as it allows you to make less expensive mistakes in comparison to other 1911 parts kits on the market.
Sarco 1911 parts kits are usually RIA parts, USGI surplus parts, or parts sourced from some defunct 1911 manufactures, leading them to be very affordable. Looking for the best 1911 parts kit that is really value for money? Check out the Sarco line up and take your pick.
The Fusion Freedom 1911 parts kit is truly a “build it yourself” 70’s model 1911 kit as most of the major work has already been done. The kits come completely machined with all the necessary holes tapped and reamed for your convenience. All the heat treatments have been completed, meaning all you will need are a few hand tools to help you get the job done.
Whether you’re a beginner or an ace, you will definitely find pleasure in working with the Fusion Freedom 1911 parts kit. Apart from the magazine and grips, this 1911 parts kit comes with everything you need to build a high quality fully functional 1911 pistol.
All Freedom series 1911 parts kits are made of steel, meaning there will be no 2-piece barrels and no plastic parts to be found in your kit. For $$, you will get the freedom to build your own superior 1911 handgun, but take note – you will need an FFL for shipping as this is the real deal.
- Stealth Arms 1911 Parts Kit
Stealth Arms supplies 1911 parts kits to serious gun builders and hobbyists, hence their prices. But more about that in a minute.
Stealth Arms 1911 parts kits come with a frame, albeit a non-standard aluminum one which reduces weight but increases the way you’ll feel the gun’s recoil. The .45 caliber kit comes with everything you will need to build a Government (5”) or a Commander (4.25”) weapon.
The Stealth Arms 1911 parts kits come brand new as they are manufactured in-house, including their Phantom jig for any minor machining you may want to do. If you choose to build your 1911 pistol the Stealth way, it will set you back $$$ for the full kit. If you want to throw in the Phantom jig, it will cost you another $$. The best part is that they give you one chance to mess up the frame and you can trade it in and get a new one at a lower cost.
1911 Builders have .45 ACP and 9mm kits in stainless steel, standard steel, and aluminum frames for you to choose from. Frames come in Government (5”), Commander (4.25”), and Officer (3”) trims. This gives you unlimited customization options to work with.
The full kit will blow a hole of between $800 - 1200 depending on quality, sights, and frame size. And because their kits are made in-house, they are always available – and so are replacement parts. 1911 Builders have made 1911 building easy, affordable, and fun for the beginner or advanced gun hobbyists like you and me.
The Rock Island Armory 1911 series is a single-action recoil operated semi-automatic pistol. They are designed and manufactured by Armscor in the Philippines and are distributed in the United States by Armscor USA. You can get many of their kits at very reasonable prices – Starting around $$.
These are not as refined as other kits and may need a bit of machining to get them to a good standard for you to shoot. Most of the work will be for the sake of making your piece more comfortable to shoot from as they are a rugged breed of pistols. But for their price point, they are a steal.
American Weapons manufacture 1911 parts kits that are superior quality and 80% ready. These kits come with all the parts you will need to finish your 1911 build, but because it is an 80% kit, you will have to finish of the machining yourself. In particular, you will have to finish off:
The Best 1911 Parts Kit Is…
There you have it. A wide selection of parts kits to choose from. But the question begs to be asked, “which of the five is the best 1911 parts kit?”
All things equal, your best bet would be to go with 1911 Builders. They tick all the boxes that need to be ticked, like quality, availability, ease of assembly, and price. Sure they are pricier than original rebuilds, but their reliability when it comes to delivering the kit puts them ahead of the rest.
Ready For Your “Kitchen Top” 1911 Pistol
Nothing is as satisfying as putting together your favorite handgun and firing it successfully at the range. With the best 1911 parts kit, that satisfaction will definitely be guaranteed.
It may take a little mechanical know how to build your own 1911 from a kit, but the two most important qualities you will need to succeed are patience and passion. If you are a beginner, take your time to familiarize yourself with the tools and parts, don’t rush. You’ll soon get the hang of it and boy, what fun you will have.
So what are you waiting for? Take your pick from the list of the best 1911 parts kits, place an order, and start building.