It is estimated that some 2.7 million Colt M1911 pistols have been produced since the model was introduced more than 100 years ago, and that more than 4 million licensed copies have also been made.
This of course does not necessarily include the countless clones and 1911-style pistols that have been produced over the years by makers like Para Ordnance, Kimber, and Rock Island Armory.
The point here is that their popularity has made them widespread and relatively widely available, and parts for them are equally accessible.
That being the case, there is no shortage of used 1911 pistols on the market, or of 1911 clones. There are also a lot of gun parts kits dedicated to this platform and its clones.
So if you want one (or another) should you buy it, or make it from a kit? That’s your choice, but here are the benefits and drawbacks of both.
In a word, buying is generally much easier. There are plenty of used M1911 pistols (and clones) to go around, and it’s a lot more convenient to buy than to build.
It’s also better for those that are not intimately familiar with how guns work. Think of it like buying a car. Unless you’re a mechanic, it’s easier and safer to buy than to build.
Buying a new 1911-style pistol (such as a new Rock Island 1911 pistol) will also give you the possibility of getting warranty coverage with the purchase, increasing the value of the purchase.
Buying also is the only way to get a 1911-style pistol and start using it right away. You get the instant gratification of going into a store, paying for the pistol, waiting for the NICS check to clear, and heading home (or to the range).
If you decide to buy instead of build, you also don’t have to make any hard decisions about what to include with the build or what, if any, unique modifications you need to make.
While there are plenty of advantages to buying an 1911 or a 1911-style pistol, there are just as many advantages to building your own from a gun parts kit.
One is the issue of supply. While historically it’s been fairly easy to find a 1911 or a 1911-inspired pistol, recently, gun shops have dealt with strapped supply which in some cases limits the availability of some models. Making one from a kit might be the only way to get what you actually need.
That’s unlikely the case, though, so let’s talk about the perennial advantages of building your own pistol from a kit.
One is that you can build exactly what you want and make customizations along the way. Many tinkerers like to outfit their 1911 pistols with compensators, match-grade barrels, custom slides, full-length guide rods, special custom grips, and much more. Building your own will allow you to do this relatively cost-effectively.
It is also convenient, at least for those who understand how firearms work, to make a 1911 from a gun parts kit. Many gun parts kits will come with everything you need to build a functioning pistol minus the frame. Simply get a frame and assemble all the parts and you’re ready for the range.
Moreover, for those who aren’t familiar with the internal workings of firearms, building one from a kit is a great educational process. It will take a bit of learning to get it right, but after building a pistol from a kit you will know, intimately, how the gun works. That will help you when it comes time to maintain or repair the gun.
As far as cost is concerned, that’s a bit of a toss-up. It can both be very expensive to build a 1911 or to buy one. Conversely, you can probably find an aging used model for cheap, or build one affordably from a kit.
Ultimately, cost comes down to the quality of the parts used, the number of customizations made, and the quality of the firearm you intend to purchase.
There is one more advantage of making one from a gun parts kit, especially if you don’t need all the parts from the start. Since most full gun parts kits come with everything contained in the platform, if you don’t use them all from the start because you already have some parts on hand, you’re nearly guaranteed a spare of everything in the platform.
Get a Gun Parts Kit for Your Build Here
Considering taking the first step towards customizing a 1911-style pistol from a gun parts kit?
We have both parts kits and build kits for them. Check out our .45 cal builders kit as a jumping-off point.
Then if you need any suggestions or help along the way, feel free to get in touch with us at 610-250-3960 and we’ll help you out with parts and suggestions for customizations.