Building guns, both rifles and pistols, from parts kits is becoming popular. The satisfaction of taking a collection of partially finished parts and, with a little work, assembling a new pistol or rifle is a satisfying experience. However, not all parts kits are the same. Finding the best 1911 build kits can be a challenge
The best 1911 build kits will include everything to complete your 1911 pistol. The frame is the key part of the build. A good kit should have everything but the sear hole, hammer pinhole, barrel seat and slide rails. You may need to purchase a jig to ensure that the drilling and milling of these parts are accurate and clean.
Before you begin any firearm build from an 89 percent kit, you should be familiar with the tools and equipment you need to complete the build. An understanding of how the firearm operates is also essential. We looked at the available 1911 build kits and, in our opinion, these are the best options on the market.
What Is Involved with A 1911 80 Percent Build?
In general, if you buy a quality 1911 build kit, you should get everything you need to assemble a complete and shootable 1911. The frame you receive will be 80 percent complete. Typically, the frame must be drilled and milled to complete the build. You can expect to perform the following operations on the 80 percent frame.
- You can expect to do some hand fitting of some parts. Barrel bushings, trigger assemblies and beavertails are the most common areas where a bit of hand sanding or filing is necessary to achieve that just-right fit.
- You must mill the frame for the slide rail. This can be accomplished using a drill press and a sliding vice if you have the proper jig. This is probably the hardest part of finishing an 80 percent lower and requires patience and care to get the slide rails machined properly.
- Preparing the barrel seat is done using a ball end mill and a vice. This step is critical, and the tolerances are very tight. While this can be done with a drill press, it will require much hand finishing work to get an acceptable product. A milling machine is a better option if one is available.
- The frame must be drilled to accept the hammer and sear pins. Again, using the proper jig makes this step much easier. Making sure that the jig is level and square is imperative. Otherwise, the holes on each side of the frame won’t align, making the pins almost impossible to install.
- Fitting the slide involves hand-fitting the slide and frame to ensure smooth and effortless operation. This step can be both arduous and tedious as it requires finding the spots where the frame and slide don’t quite fit and carefully hand filing and sanding away these spots.
It is the opportunity to build a gun that you know fits perfectly in all its parts that attracts many shooters. The satisfaction of shooting the pistol that you built is immeasurable.
What Else Should I Consider Before I Buy an 89 Percent 1911 Kit?
There are several other considerations to be taken before you order your 80 percent 1911 build kit. The most important of these considerations include these choices.
- Materials – The two most popular materials for 1911 80- percent build bits are steel and aluminum. Aluminum is lighter and usually easier to work with. Steel is heavier but offers considerably more strength. If you are building a kit for a 45 caliber 1911, my suggestion is to choose a steel frame.
- Calibers – 1911 build kits are available in a variety of calibers from 10mm to .38 Super. For me, a 1911 built in any other caliber but .45 ACP just doesn’t make sense. The history and tradition of the 1911 is based on the .45 ACP round, and a 1911 in any other caliber seems a bit heretical.
- Frame Size – Choosing the frame size and style is an important decision. Standard 1911 configurations, called Government, are five inches, while the Commander versions are 4.25 inches. You can also specify a bobtail version of your frame and other finish details on the slide and the frame grips.
Finding an 80 percent 1911 kit with your exact specifications may be a bit of a challenge. However, several manufacturers offer to do custom work to ensure you get exactly the kit you want.
Finding the Best 1911 Build Kits
We searched among the retailers and manufacturers to find the best 1911 build kits on the market. These kits offer a range of materials, styles, and options that should fit almost any shooter’s specifications for a 1911. All these manufacturers offer high-quality 1911 build kits. You will be well served by purchasing a kit from any of these companies.
STEALTH ARMS 80% 1911 Pistol Kit
Stealth Arms has been producing 1911 8-0 percent build kits since 2012. The quality of their products is well known. Every part in a Stealth Arms build kit is made in the USA. In addition to kits, Stealth Arms also makes and sells a line of jigs and tools that make doing the finish work on your 80 percent frame easier and faster.
You won’t be disappointed in the variety of options and features you get with a Stealth Arms 80 percent 1911 build kit.
- Caliber options include 9mm, .45 ACP, 10mm, .38 Super and .40 S&W
- You can choose from a standard style frame, a tactical frame, or a TactSquare frame
- Both Government and Commander size frames are available
- Choose from a standard cut or a Bob Tail cut on the frame
- You can opt to have your front strap checkered at the factory
- Parts can be ordered raw, bead blasted or with a black Cerakote finish
Every part included in a Stealth Arms kit is machined in the US using the latest CNC technology. Each part is hand-checked for tolerances and finish before being individually packaged, labeled, and assembled into a kit.
Stealth Arms frames are machined from the highest-grade aluminum available. These frames are strong and durable and produce a lightweight 1911 that is comfortable to shoot and carry.
What Sets Stealth Arms Apart?
If you want one thing that sets Stealth Arms apart from the other 80 percent 1911 build kit manufacturers, it must be their “One Time Mistake Guarantee.” If you mess up your 80 percent frame for any reason, you can get a replacement from Stealth Arms one time. Nobody is perfect. Stealth Arms recognizes that completing an 80 percent 1911 frame can be difficult.
The Advantages of a Stealth Arms 80- Percent 1911 Build Kit
Purchasers and Users of Stealth Arms 80 percent 1911 build kits are overwhelmingly positive in their reviews. These comments are consistent in almost all the reviews that we found of these build kits.
- These are complete kits with everything labeled clearly.
- You can order a kit with a wide variation in caliber, style, size, and options.
- These frames a lightweight yet strong. The frame weighs only 4.5 ounces.
- Stealth Arms provides the most detailed instructions available for finishing your 80 percent build kit.
- The One Screwup Policy is fantastic and allows novice builders room for error.
The Disadvantages of a Stealth Arms 8-0 Percent 1911 Build Kit
Some builders using the Stealth Arms Kit do mention a few downsides to these kits. Fortunately, these downsides have nothing to do with quality.
- Stealth Arms kits are some of the most expensive on the market.
- You should purchase a jig to properly finish one of these kits.
Stealth Arms does market a jig to complete their 1911 build kits. The Stealth Arms jig allows you to finish the frame using a drill press instead of a milling machine.
US Patriot Armory 1911 80 Percent Build Kits
US Patriot is perhaps the largest retailer of 1911 80 percent build kits. This company sells their own line of 80 percent 1911 build kits and kits from most of the other manufacturers. US Patriot Armory has a reputation for quality in its kits and for providing exceptional customer service.
80 percent 1911 build kits made by US Patriot offer features and options that usually exceed what other manufacturers offer. You can expect to find choices and features from US Patriot Armory that include:
- US Patriot offers 1911 build kits made from steel or aluminum.
- Commander and Government size frames are available in both materials
- A variety of finishes, including different colors, is available on some US Patriot kits.
- You can customize your kit by specifying standard or bob tail cuts as well as checkering.
- All parts included with the US Patriot kits are CNC machined and fully inspected.
What Sets US Patriot Armory Apart?
US Patriot Armory is one of the few manufacturers of 80 percent 1911 frames that offers color options on their aluminum frames. Currently, you can order a kit with a frame and slide finished in midnight bronze, OD green, or shimmer aluminum. You can give your 1911 build kit a distinct and personal look.
The Advantages of a US Patriot Armory 80 Percent Build Kit
Reviews of US Patriot Armory 1911 build kits are uniformly positive. Most purchasers of these kits comments fit into one of these categories.
- Well machined and finished parts. Very little hand fitting is required to assemble the gun after the frame is finished.
- A wide selection of styles, finishes, and options allows you to get a kit that meets your individual needs and expectations.
- Great customer service and help if you are a novice 1911 builder.
- You can purchase the Stealth jig as part of your kit when you make your order
The Disadvantages of US Patriot Armory 80 Percent 1911 Build Kits
Some users comment on some minor problems that deserve to be mentioned and considered.
- Machining and fitting one of the colored frames and slides can be tedious to avoid damaging the finish.
- If you order custom work, it can take a much longer time to receive your kit.
US Patriot Armory 80 percent 1911 build kits are a middle-of-the-road option. You can spend more money on a build kit. You can also spend less. If you take your time, do the necessary fitting and finish work, you can produce a remarkably high-quality 1911.
1911 Builders 80 Percent 1911 Kits
If you want choices, 1911 Builders is your go-to manufacturer of 80 percent 1911 build kits. The product lineup includes more options than any other manufacturer that we found. 1911 Builders offers 80 percent 1911 kits in the following categories.
- Government Kits
- Commander Kits
- Officer Kits
- Pro Carry Kits
- CCO Kits
- Double Stack Kits
You can be assured that you can find an 80 percent 1911 kit that fits your idea of the perfect 1911 at 1911 Builders. In addition, the features you expect in a quality 1911 80 percent build kit are all included. For example:
- You can select from a list of optional sights on most kits
- Both aluminum and steel options are available for most kits
- 1911 Builders will custom laser engrave your frame identifying your pistol as a home-built model
- Different grip styles and finishes are available
- Some kits are available with stainless steel frames and slides
- 1911 Builders offers a double stack edition to increase the magazine capacity of your 1911 80 percent build kit.
What Sets 1911 Builders Apart?
The wide variety of options, materials, and styles of 1911 80 percent build kits sets 1911 Builders apart. If you want to truly customize a 1911 build, the options you can choose at 1911 Builders could make your project easier.
The Advantages of 1911 Builders 80 Percent 1911 Build Kits
By and large, purchasers of 1911 Builder kits find these products of high quality. Many mention ease of finishing. Overall, builder comments about these 1911 Builder kits fall into these categories.
- 1911 Builders is one of only a few manufacturers that offer a stainless steel option for their frames.
- Most 1911 Builder kits come with a hand-cutting rail jig at no additional cost
- Consistent machining and quality control produce high-quality parts that fit well with little hand finishing.
- Excellent customer support and service
The Disadvantages of a 1911 Builders 80 Percent 1911 Build Kit
Just like any other product, some users have complaints and issues. Most of these we found didn’t speak to the quality of the kits. Most users found an issue with other things such as:
- The instructions with the kit are sparse and printed on cheap paper.
- The packaging of the kits is minimal and can lead to scratches and marks on the parts during shipping.
1911 Builders is a great choice for a first-time or experienced 1911 builder. We suggest starting with an aluminum frame for your first build. The steel and stainless frames are harder and more difficult to finish.
Getting into the Build Business
At some point, most of us toy with the idea of building a gun from an 80 percent kit. Building your gun can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. The satisfaction and pride that comes from carrying and shooting a gun that you built is the reward for your work and time