The mainspring will remain full strength in my guns, but if going with a reduced power spring, I would not go below 19 pounds.


Figure 130: This shooter's solution to the personal protection pistol was to build one. While the quality of the end product is highly dependent upon the individual's work, very good pistols can result. This is the Patriot 1911 as built in Dave Sample's on-line class. Representing a more costly approach, this user wound up with an extremely accurate and dependable 1911. This gun was carried for a time in a police duty holster.  It has since been replaced by a near duplicate that was built on the same lines, but of stainless steel and hard chromed by Virgil Tripp. Most of us will not wind up taking this route. The majority will use an existing factory pistol or have one customized to meet our perceived needs. This pistol has proven itself utterly reliable and exceptionally accurate. Its stainless counterpart has followed suit. 


I suggest going with an all steel 1911 for this gun if it is to be your only defensive 1911.  The aluminum frame guns are not fragile, but it is generally accepted that the steel frame guns last longer.  Either will take a heck of a lot of shooting, but the heavier pistol will also be more pleasant to shoot during range sessions.  If a person does not anticipate shooting his 1911 for many thousands of rounds, either will do. Should he opt to go ahead and use an aluminum frame 1911 and have the grip strap checkered, I suggest going with 20 to 25 LPI rather than 30. Aluminum is softer than steel and potential dings are more easily "cleaned up" with the coarser checkering, which is less likely to be damaged in the first place.


In discussions with serious 1911 fans, opinions are mixed on the add-on magazine well.  Some opine that it is slightly faster in a speed reload when fumbling occurs. Others say it makes the butt longer and harder to conceal.  On a gun to be worn openly, the magazine well might be a viable addition.  (Be sure that the magazine base pads are of sufficient thickness to guarantee positively locking the magazine in the gun at speed.) I prefer the common beveled magazine well on the frame of the gun for the 1911 carried either openly or concealed. A shooter who has survived more than one gunfight advised me that he didn't think it made any difference.  The reason was because in situations where he had to reload, he was behind cover. I do not have a strong opinion on this one way or the other.


Controversy exists on "tight" vs. "loose" fit for reliability. Some strongly suggest that to be reliable, a 1911 must fit loosely with generous tolerances. Those preferring loosely fitted 1911's say that this lets the gun work even if dirty. Others say the opposite, citing that closer tolerances can keep the debris out in the first place. Given my druthers, the defensive 1911 would have minimal play in the slide-to-frame fit.  At the same time, I'd want the slide to freely move all the way rearward on a stripped frame if the front was raised about forty-five degrees.  If lowered by the same amount, it would slide off the gun.  Dave Sample refers to this as the "gravity test". I want the barrel to have no perceptible movement when the slide is in full battery. Could I have but one or the other, I'd go with the better barrel-to-slide fit than frame-to-slide.  The gun should go into final battery and lock up without hesitation or noticeably greater force needing to be applied. I've heard 1911's having this type lock up referred to as "crush fit." They "snap" into battery with a firm push of the thumbs but if eased forward, will not.  There is no doubt that these can be exceptionally accurate, but I remain unconvinced that it actually improves accuracy to any meaningful degree in the self-defense arena. The SIG P210 is generally considered an exceptionally accurate 9mm pistol.  It does not use the crush fit and these pistols are frequently shooting into 3" or so at fifty meters. That is better than most of us can shoot. I also believe that "crush" lock up can contribute to a malfunction in a dirty gun. A friend of mine uses a 1911 with such a barrel-to-slide arrangement. He reports that after about 400 rounds, the slide will get sluggish or hesitate at locking.  In three different 1911's having solid lock up without the crush fit and slide-to-frame fit with no perceptible movement, I quit worrying about it after 700 rounds without cleaning in each gun. (This was just for "testing." I clean any defense gun after shooting.)  For most shooting, this is not an issue as guns are cleaned before carrying.  However, if I get a cartridge with a tiny burr on the case or one that's just barely out of spec, it could do the very same thing as the filthy gun: malfunction. While I do not believe that the "loose as a goose" gun is essential for reliability over lots of shooting, I do think that the super-tight locking 1911 is better suited for the fifty-yard bullseye range than the street. At the same time, I strongly suggest that the defensive 1911 can be a precisely accurate pistol. It is well within the gun's design to shoot inside 2" at 25 yards and still be exceptionally reliable for those wanting better than the often quoted 3".