The 1911 is arguably one of the greatest handguns ever made. The best part is, if you are allowed to own a gun where you live, you are most likely allowed to build this masterpiece right in your own garage. Of course, you will need some gunsmithing skills and the right tools. But, with some patience and precision, you can easily become the proud owner of a perfectly legal 1911 handgun that is off-the-books and customized to your specifications. With some common sense and a finished 80% lower receiver, you can easily assemble a weapon using a 1911 80 frame.
How Is This Legal?
Before diving into this DIY gun project, make sure to stay up-to-date with federal and local state laws. Gun laws in the United States can get tricky in that individual state laws can vary from, and are independent of, existing federal firearms laws. This means that firearms owners are subject to the firearm laws of the state they are in.
Completing a 1911 handgun using an 80% lower receiver is legal, according to the ATF and firearm legislation. An 80% lower receiver or frame are just hunks of metal and are able to be delivered to your doorstep. They are not able to fire a bullet straight out of the box, so they are not considered a firearm. Keep in mind, it is imperative (and it is the law) that whoever purchases the DIY gun parts has to be the person who finishes or completes the project alone.
First Thing First
To finish building your own handgun, the lower receiver will need to be machined and assembled with a 1911 80 frame kit. The sear hole, hammer pin hole, barrel seat, and slide rails need to be drilled and milled to finish the 80% lower receiver.
You’ll first need to decide whether you want to build your 1911 piece by piece or complete the project using a 1911 build kit. Making the decision to buy a kit or not may be determined by your gunsmith abilities. For convenience and ease, a 1911 complete build kit comes with every part required to finish your DIY 1911 handgun project. Buying a kit also guarantees that all of the parts will work together smoothly, eliminating compatible parts issues. If you decide to build your handgun by assembling individually purchased pieces, you will need to invest in a 1911 80 frame (or a frame blank), a slide, and a parts kit.
On a side note, if you are building with a Commander frame, or a 9mm chambered gun (instead of .45), you may find parts compatibility especially important.
About 1911 Build Kits
Quality matters when it comes to gun parts. Not taking proper precautions can be dangerous in a project like this. When you buy from an established parts supplier, like JSD Supply, you are always able to contact customer service with questions concerning your 1911 80 frames and lower receivers.
If you decide not to go the route of purchasing a kit, these are the parts you’ll need to collect to finish your 1911 handgun:
- Slide Stop
- Barrel, Link, Pin, Barrel bushings
- Adjustable Trigger
- Grip Safety
- Grip Screws & Bushing
- Hammer Strut
- Mainspring Housing
- 11-Piece Pin Set
- 7-Piece Spring Set
- Magazine Catch Assembly
- Firing Pin Stop
- Thumb Safety
- Plunger Tube
- Recoil Guide
- Novak Fixed Sights
- 8-round Magazine
You will not be able to complete your gun without a 1911 80 frame. This is also included in a build kit.
When ordering your complete 1911 parts kit, don’t forget your Phantom jig; this is not included in a build kit. Besides a specific set of tools needed to complete a firearm properly, a jig is mandatory. It is a cutting tool and drilling template to finish your 1911 frame blank. It should work with any available build kit or frame sold by any legitimate manufacturer.
1911 Frame Options
The frame is the foundation for a DIY build of a 1911 firearm. You can find frame profiles for 80% 1911 government model frames, and 80% 1911 compatible tactical frames. Both of these 1911 80 frames are 80% complete, Series 70-compatible and made with 7075 T6 (aircraft-grade) billet aluminum.
No firing pin block safety is a defining characteristic of a Series 70 1911. Series 70 is an updated design that uses a collet bushing to replace the traditional barrel bushing.
80% Government Model Frame
The 80% 1911 Government model uses a 5-inch barrel with a full-length slide. It is considered full-sized and the parts are usually interchangeable with a 1911 Commander model, with the exception of the uppers - barrel, slide, recoil springs, and guide rod. The Government and Commander versions share a full-sized frame and grip.
To complete a 1911 80 frame, the following tasks will still need to be finished: slide rails, barrel seat, hammer pinhole, and sear pinhole.
80% 1911 Compatible Tactical Model Frame
This semi-automatic has one of the most versatile pistol designs on the market making it very popular with gun enthusiasts. The advantage of building one is the ability to freely customize it to your needs. An accessory rail is an integral design included with this frame. The straight mounting bracket is designed to accept lights, lasers, and other accessories. It also allows a sliding/variable-position attachment.
In addition to buying a 1911 80 frame, you’ll need to complete these additional tasks:
- The slide rails need to be cut.
- The hammer pinhole will need to be drilled.
- The sear pin hole needs to be drilled.
- Barrel seat a .08″ deep cut with an 18mm ball end mill or Phantom Jig.
Test Your Build
When complete, don’t forget to test fire your build to ensure all mechanisms properly work and to secure your safety while using.