1911 on a budget

Is A Budget 1911 A Smooth Move?

Beauty about the 1911 pistol is that there are a whole lot of them out there, from budget 1911 pistols to handmade pistols that will set you back about as much as the average sedan. The thing some people wonder is whether getting one of the budget models is worth it.


After all, the idea is to get a working example of a venerated pistol platform that you can enjoy without going broke. The gun is great for the range and definitely is worthy to put in a holster, strap to one's self with a quality leather gun belt and carry as a personal sidearm.


Just How Good Is A Budget 1911 On Its Own?


cheap 1911

Actually, a lot of the budget 1911 pistols are very decent on their own. Rock Island Armory's pistols, for instance, have a reputation for handling and shooting nearly or just as well as 1911 pistols costing a lot more. The Remington R1 has also won a lot of plaudits for being a solid shooter for a reasonable price of admission. There are a number of other budget 1911 makers that are likewise known for delivering serious value for money.


However, "good" is rather relative. If you're looking for a gun to go "bang" when the trigger is pulled and hit where you're aiming and that's it, that isn't too hard to find in all honesty.


When it comes to finding "budget" anything, it's almost universally the case that you'll find something that works, maybe even well, fairly easily and for less money spent than you might think. However, it's when you start looking for refinement that things get a bit more complicated.


Largely, It Depends On What You Want From A 1911


reasons to buy 1911

Whether a budget 1911 is worth it depends on exactly what you're looking to get out of it. The thing is that there are plenty of them out there for $500 or less by various makers (Turkish and Filipino brands are most common at that price point...but not the only ones) that you can acquire. For the most part, they'll go "bang" when you pull the trigger and with a bit of regular care, they'll do so for quite some time.


So, if you're looking for a basic pistol as a big-bore plinker or car gun, one of the cheaper guns will certainly do the job.


Or, are you looking for a platform to augment and tune, so you take a bargain basement gun and drag it kicking and screaming into being a finely-tuned instrument of devastation? Just like a muscle car, that's the beauty of the 1911 platform. The bounty of aftermarket parts make that very possible.


Or are you looking for a concealed carry gun? If you're okay with carrying a GI-spec, Government-frame budget banger, that's one thing; if you want the bells and whistles on a Commander or Officer frame, that's quite another.


Common 1911 Modifications In Case You'll Want Them


common mods for 1911

For a safe queen, nightstand gun par excellence or carry pistol, there are some 1911 modifications that most people either desire or want to have done at some point. If these mods are non-negotiable for you, this is important to know about because the overall cost of the upgrades may make a budget gun cost the same as just buying a factory gun with the same kit.


Good news replacing the recoil spring, trigger springs and so on is cheap.


However, one of the first upgrades to handguns is the sights. Novak, XS or Trijicon sights for 1911 pistols are very popular upgrades, and they don't cost too terribly much (a couple hundred at most) but herein lies the rub: you might need the slide machined. You see, slide cuts for sights aren't the same across all manufacturers of 1911s. Price varies by smith, but you might be adding a few hundred dollars for the parts, labor and fitting.


Also, you're going to want to toss the factory mags as a matter of course and buy some Wilson Combat, Chip McCormick, ProMag or MecGar magazines. You'll need at least two, but having four or more is best. Wilsons go for at least $20 per for the GI magazines, and $35 for the 8-round carry mags.


What about the grips? Stock grips usually aren't the best, and a lot of people swap them out at some point. Granted, grips are fairly cheap but good ones can set you back a bit. That's anywhere from $30 to $100.


Oh, you want that barrel to be match grade? That's another $200 or so.


And so on. It isn't unheard of nor is it even that difficult to spend the purchase price of a $400 or $500 gun into upgrading it, and at that point there are factory models from Kimber, Springfield Armory, Para Ordnance and others that have all the same goodies.


So really, is a budget 1911 worth it? If all you're looking for is the base model that will shoot, then sure. But if you want all the trimmings...you're probably going to end up spending the same amount on the upgrades as you would on a factory model.




Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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