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I am about to inherit my father's WWII 1911 which he got when he was active in the Navy, issued about 1942 or '43. He says it was made by Remington-Rand, and knowing that they did make some of the 1911's during the war, I'm assuming he's reading that off the pistol and is correct about it. Most of my experience has been with revolvers and 9mm and I have a few questions about this 1911.

1. It has not been fired for probably 30 years, and obviously before I do anything else, I'm going to take it to a gunsmith for a thorough going over. Is there anything in particular I should be aware of or ask for/about?

2. After it is back in firing condition, I want to get to know it as it is, and then do some customizing on it. My goal is to retain it's heritage, but make it more mine, and more usable as a modern gun as well. Self-defense is my primary use. Anything that comes to mind that I should consider in this regard?

3. Any suggestions for custom gunsmiths in the San Francisco/Northern California area (I live in Napa Valley)?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Bob
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Bob,

That was one of the contractors who did 1911s in WWII, and should be stamped on the gun somewhere.

Getting it checked out - good idea - although it's probably fine.

Modifications to a self-defense gun, well that's a big can of worms. Sights on issue 1911s are poor at best, trigger is probably not great, and gun was designed for FMJ ammo so may not feed hollow-points.

Springs are probably old and tired. If you shoot it much probably should replace.

Accuracy on a military firearm was second to reliability. It could range from OK to terrible.

All in all..... I suspect that there are a lot of modern pistols that would make a better carry gun. Lighter, more concealable, more reliable with hollowpoints, better sights, etc. It's a grand old gun but not necessarily the best for CCW these days.

Congrats on your new gun, hope you enjoy it, it's a great piece of history.
 

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Hi, Bob:
I've got one. Your's should have:
REMINGTON RAND INC.
SYRACUSE, N.Y.U.S.A.
stamped on the left side on the slide. FJA (Lt. Col. Frank J. Atwood, gov't inspector) should be stamped on the left side of the frame, behind the trigger. My `43 has serial number 134XXXX stamped on the right side above the trigger.

Check out the USGI forum at http://www.1911forum.com/forums/ and the link to M1911.ORG at the top of the page.

This is another good site, except that it crashed my computer. Finally got it loaded with Netscape 6.2. The M1911A1 Notebook PDF file is a regular book on the 1911.
http://www.sightm1911.com/

Took me a while to get back up after the crash. I'll add a bit more tomorrow.

Bye
Jack
 

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Hi, Bob.
It is your choiceof course, but I would be a little cautious of modifying an original .45. After WWII a lot of these guns were Arsenal rebuilt, parts all mixed up, etc. They were still serviceable, so they went back into the inventory until the Beretta replaced the 1911, so were pretty well worn. Your Fathers should be much better, not all mixed, worn out parts. I would recommend replacing the firing pin spring and recoil spring and picking up some new magazines, but leaving the gun stock after having it checked by a competent gunsmith. Modifying the 1911 can run into big money without a lot of real gain in my opinion. Sights are pretty small on it, but I had a Springfield 1911A1 repro and the sights didn't bother me that much. You may have trouble getting your gun to feed hollowpoints, but Corbon makes an expanding round with a FMJ type profile that should be reliable in any .45. In my opinion (which ain't worth much) a lot of the mods to the 1911 are not really worth doing, you could re-shape the ejection port, and polish the feed ramp but the Corbon ammo is cheaper :)
Sorry this post got so long, but I would really think twice before modding your 45.
Andy
 

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Discussion Starter #5
To MikeG, Andy and Jack -

Thanks a bunch for your replys. Just the kind of stuff I was looking for. You have helped me to start forming my thoughts on what to do.

And I'm still open to more opinions. So keep 'em coming.

Nobody has come up with a 'smith in NoCal. Any better ides than sending it to Cylinder & Slide?

Bob
 

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Hi, Bob:
Back again. I had to download the latest version of Java before http://www.sightm1911.com/ would run in Internet Explorer 6.0 or Opera 6.05. http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4.1/download.html 8megs, 36 minutes on dial-up.

Where was I? Andy's right, a Remington-Rand in excellent original condition is worth almost as much as a new 1911A1. Mine wasn't in original condition when I bought it. The small sights are it's biggest fault. They were replaced early on. The other annoying habit is ejecting the brass onto your head, in your glasses, or down miladies cleavage. That's NOT funny when it really happens. Lowering the ejection port helped some, but a long King's ejector fixed it. Now the brass goes over my right shoulder with room to spare.

My trigger is good, but I put in a long trigger with an over-travel screw. Accuracy wasn't bad to start with, but a match bushing and a Dyer Group Gripper brought it into the black. Both of these fixes are reversible, if you're concerned about collector's value. The slide will be loose on the frame. This isn't near as critical to accuracy as barrel to slide fit.

Hornady and Remington hollow points feed fine. Most of the 1911A1's reputation for feeding problems are due to poor magazines, or the old Speer 200 grain Flying Ashtray. It's nose is too wide for the feed ramp on the original barrels. Another factor was the formerly popular modifcation where the feed ramp on the frame was moved ahead until it lined up with the barrel's feed ramp. The barrel should be ahead by about 1/32".

Jerry Kuhnhasen's gunsmithing book, The Colt .45 Automatic, is excellent. It's available from The Sight or Brownells, and will save you a trip to a gunsmith for a checkout. Be cautious about aftermarket parts. A lot of them aren't as good as what's in the old girl now.

Get a new 16½ lb. recoil spring for factory loads and one about 12 lb. for light target loads. The 16½ lb. spring will come with a new firing pin spring if you get a Wolff. Don't abuse that old girl with hotter than factory loads. That is, 230 grains at 850 fps.

Bye
Jack
 

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I hav a similar RR 1911 that I got from my grandfather a few years back.

I still shoot it regularly and it works fine.

As for customizing it goes, you may want to look into buying another top-end for it (slide, barrel springs and so on) and just use the frame.

You can add just about anything to the frame short of a beavertail safety without changing it from its original state.

That way you could easily put it back to its WWII form if you change your mind down the road.
 

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I also have a Remington-Rand .45. I inherited it from my Father. My Grandfather was a B-17 pilot in WWII. Finished his tour of duty over occupied Europe, came home to Sarasota, and died in a training accident a few months later here on friendly soil. My Dad was a toddler at the time. All I have of him is a couple service photos, his flight log, and the .45. It is the most cherished gun I own. When I first got it, it had a terrible case of hammer following the slide. I put a new sear in it and it works perfectly with Remington HP's. I'll never make another modification to it. It is too precious to me in original condition.

Sweetriver, in 30 years all of that Mil-Spec lube has probably turned to varnish. Give it a full fieldstripping and clean the daylights out of it. You may be surprised as to how well it functions afterward.
 

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sweetriver,

Here is another vote to leave it as it is.

No mater what the nay sayers say about the 1911-a1 it was and is probably the best of the combat handguns ever designed. As yours sits it needs no modifications, it doesn't need a beavertail grip safety, or a big sights, or a huge gouged out magazine well. To some those things are of interest, to me they are a waste of time and a good gun.

If I had or was about to inherit my dads gun I would make sure it was in good shootable condition, replacing ONLY those parts necessary. I would not modify it in any way.
Especially if it is an original Remington-Rand that has not been armory rebuilt. There arn't many of those left.
So many good 1911's have been ruined by being modified that I feel it's a shame to modify another one.
Especially when there are modern made ones on the shelf with all the geegaws you can imagine.
Yuck!!! Give me a Springfield 1911A1 Mil Speck and I'm happy.

JMNSHO ~ YMMV
 
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