1911 Conversion Advice

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1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Keyholed on Sat Aug 08, 2015 12:34 am

'Evening, gents. Long-time reader/lurker, first-time poster. Sorry if this runs on a little long.

For background, I shoot rimfire indoor BE (50 ft) exclusively, mostly NGCs, three seasons a year. I average ~275 in a ten-match season (increasing a couple points a year), breaking 280 on a really good day. Starting to plateau a bit.

I'm thinking of (finally) upgrading from my Ruger MkIII (6 7/8" fluted barrel). While it's accurate and reliable (my last alibi was when my firing pin wore out, ~3600 rounds ago), I've noticed a couple problems. The trigger is a little inconsistent (whether dry firing without a target, or shooting slow or sustained fire, or using iron sights), despite an aftermarket hammer bushing. On a gauge, it runs between 3 lbs 9 oz and 3-15. I'm also finding it pretty muzzle-heavy lately, which makes it feel heavier than it is, and I think that contributes to how I perceive the trigger. It makes it hard to maintain an uninterrupted, "authoritative" trigger pull (my slow fire mantra). I know what I'm looking for, and I know without scoping when I find it, but then I lose it and can't pick it back up again.

I checked out off-the-shelf options, but I'm thinking that a 1911 .22 conversion might be the way to go. I much prefer the balance, grip angle, and straight-pull trigger over the Ruger. They're also very rare locally, which I have to admit I like.

I have a Springfield Loaded, Brazilian frame, a few years old, that shoots very nicely. The trigger is pretty good, slightly lighter than the Ruger's and much more consistent. It feels a lot lighter than it actually is. I acquired it used, so I've no idea what, if anything, has been done to it. I'm thinking of picking up a Nelson conversion for it. I'd still like to swap it back to .45 for summer shooting, but this would be very occasional. Long-term, I'd consider either sending it out for a proper bullseye trigger job (maybe a roll trigger, if I could ever find one to try), scouting around for a used BE lower, or even having a dedicated lower built for it if I save up my sheckles.

I'm expecting at least close to the same trigger feel as the 1911 currently has, and accuracy on par with my Ruger.

(1) Is my plan dumb? Am I doing this for the right reasons? Are my expectations in check?
(2) I don't have the tools or knowledge to do any fitting work. I know the installation itself is simple, but can I reasonably expect a decent outcome without any fitting/polishing/etc?
(3) Will swapping back and forth between .22 and .45 ACP (only occasionally--shoot .22 fall through spring, swap to .45 in the summer, repeat) cause any wear problems with the trigger? It's my only .45 auto at the moment, although I wouldn't object to dedicating it to bullseye.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by dronning on Sat Aug 08, 2015 12:59 am

It's a good plan. I know several that only have a conversion and a 45 and use their 45 lower for the 22 match during a 2700.
1) the conversion will not need any work to be accurate
2) the trigger is the big question - having a good trigger (crisp or roll) is a must
3) installing a full length guide rod in the 45 it makes it very easy to swap from the 22 to 45 and back. The full length rod keeps the spring and slide together, so there is less chance of parts flying down range.

The only downside is you will have to shoot the heavier trigger for the 22 match but many do it successfully.

- Dave


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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by james r chapman on Sat Aug 08, 2015 6:44 am

I'd second all that. I'm also happy with my Advantage Arms Target conversion unit.

Jim c

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by JayhawkNavy02 on Sat Aug 08, 2015 9:26 am

I can't recommend Nelson's conversion enough.  Larry is the man.

I used the same lower for both but this year, but now I have a lower dedicated and did a trigger job.  The cost will exceed a M41 at that point, but I appreciate having the same ergonomics and trigger, although lighter on the 22.  I used my hardball with the Nelson and was able to shoot in the 270s switching back and forth and I'm not particularly good.   Looking forward to a lighter trigger.


Last edited by JayhawkNavy02 on Sat Aug 08, 2015 11:57 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by DavidR on Sat Aug 08, 2015 10:17 am

buy a nelson and you will bypass many of the headaches of a marvel, just my opinion as a shooter who has owned and built 5 marvels and one nelson.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Magnusbullets on Sat Aug 08, 2015 11:11 am

Nelson

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Axehandle on Sat Aug 08, 2015 12:32 pm

I'll gyrate back in the 1911 based direction one day.  FWIW I'll have a dedicated platform built for the gun.   The original Kart thing was to shoot the same trigger across the board.   Don't think that concept really panned out.   Not that it isn't a doable thing but... I like a 2 pound trigger when I can have a 2 pound trigger.   I never liked the idea of flipping guns parts around between the 22 and centerfire match either.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by LenV on Sat Aug 08, 2015 12:57 pm

I would suggest a different option. Living in Oregon I have had to shoot against Rugers with these barrels. They can be super light thus changing the weight problem you are having and I would suggest getting a trigger job done on your current frame. You can have a unique tack driver for less then a conversion (with dedicated lower). Check these out. I have no ownership in any of these..

http://www.oregonprecisionarms.com/

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Keyholed on Sun Aug 09, 2015 2:13 am

Thanks, guys. I think I'm going to pick up the Nelson.

dronning wrote:The only downside is you will have to shoot the heavier trigger for the 22 match but many do it successfully.

I don't really mind the trigger weight. I've shot a few guns with 2 to 2 1/2 pound triggers. I could probably get used to it with a lot of dry firing.

As for the .45 match--there never is one around here. There's an annual outdoor 900 a little over a hundred miles north, with both a rimfire and a centerfire stage. Other than that, we are, unfortunately, dominated by IPSC/IDPA.

JayhawkNavy02 wrote:I used the same lower for both but this year, but now I have a lower dedicated and did a trigger job.  The cost will exceed a M41 at that point, but I appreciate having the same ergonomics and trigger, although lighter on the 22.

I've been fortunate enough to shoot several buddies' 41s--a vintage 5", new 5", a 7", a Performance Center 5", and a Clark Custom 5", with a variety of grips. Fantastic guns, but they don't seem to fit me. Which sucks, because I love S&W revolvers.

OldMaster65 wrote:http://www.oregonprecisionarms.com/

Wow, I'd never even heard of that outfit before. Those are some slick uppers. Unfortunately, that would mean ordering, getting it delivered to an FFL, getting a receipt from the FFL, filing for an amendment on my license, waiting for the judge to sign the amendment, and then picking up my gun. If I'm lucky, I might get my grubby hands on it by the first week of October, or about halfway through the fall league.

I don't get to breathe the sweet air of freedom.  Sad

I might eventually decide to tune up the Ruger a little more, in which case I'll keep Oregon Precision in mind. Right now, though, I really want to explore the 1911 route.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Astroimage2002 on Sun Aug 09, 2015 7:13 pm

Keyhold, 

Short story:
Larry's support of the .22 conversion is terrific! If he does not answer leave a message on the answering machine, he will return your call and go over and above to help you. 

Longer story:
My trip to getting my conversion going was a bit of a long one and I thought that I would share with you what I went thru with mine. Note that I am not unhappy at all and just sharing my experiences with you. 

I bought my open sight 22 conversion second hand from a fellow Bullseye Shooter. It caries the NightHawk name on it. The season that I bought it I mounted it on a Springfield Range Officer. It would not run. Called Nighthawk and they said they would have someone call me. Waited a while and did not receive a call. Called them again and got the same thing and the same results. Called Marvel since the conversion has his name on it and was told basically to call Nighthawk. Okay, I was done and packed the conversion away for the rest of the season.

Tried to get it running again and it still would not so I asked here. Rob (the moderator here and thank you Sir!) was able to figure out that I needed a different main spring because Springfield's "stock" spring is too much for the conversion. Changed the spring per his direction and the conversion ran GREAT even with the lightest 22 ammo I own! 

Next step... Multiple Upgrades... Lower was changed to a Les Baer Hardball and I wanted a dot on top of the conversion. The conversion would not run on the Baer and I needed a rail for an AimPoint. I "talked" with a lot of folks and someone brought up Larry and suggested I call him. I did call him and left a message (YES, if your call is not answered leave a message, he will call you back). He called me back and we talked. Found out the Nighthawk conversion was made by him. Big bonus was that he could sell me a rail to mount a dot on Smile! I described the problem I was having and he told me that the mag release was to high in the Baer and how to correct that by filing the magazine. I did what he said and the conversion ran 100%.

Bought the rib from Larry and mounted the Aimpoint and the conversion quit running. Took a little thinking on my part... Added the AimPoint and gun would not run... Light came on above my head... Added the Aimpoint and the gun would not run so I looked at the Aimpoint mounting and found that it sat to low and interfered with the slide when the slide hit the disconnector. Added a shim under the AimPoint and it runs 100% until it needs to be cleaned. 

The lesson that I took away from this is to call Larry if I have a problem Smile His support of the 22 conversion is OUTSTANDING! 

Brian

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by JayhawkNavy02 on Sun Aug 09, 2015 7:27 pm

Me too.  I had a minor issue prior to inter service and Larry got me up and running.  I can't say enough.  There are very few gentleman lien that.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Astroimage2002 on Sun Aug 09, 2015 7:43 pm

When it comes to a 22 conversion that is not built by a gunsmith Larry at Nelson will get my call. His conversions are on call and if it don't go BANG he will tell you why. 

Brian

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by rich.tullo on Sun Aug 09, 2015 9:01 pm

I am sure Nelson is excellent, he worked for Bob Marvel and seems to stand behind his product. 

I think a deicated lower, if things dont work out with your Springer is the way to go. 


You can get one built or buy a donor, seem to me a used Ruger sr1911 is the way to go. 

I had a marvel and its ok but people say Nelson is better. I have a chambers ssg and seems to me its the best one available buts its hyper expensive but will out shoor anything short of a aw93 or 208 which was worked on by a top smith.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Keyholed on Sun Aug 09, 2015 11:36 pm

Placed the order--flat-top conversion, four extra magazines, and an 8# recoil spring ($4 is cheap insurance). Thanks again, guys. I've been researching for awhile, and was extremely impressed with Larry's reputation. I'm sure I'll be recommending him around here in a couple months.

Astroimage2002 wrote:My trip to getting my conversion going was a bit of a long one

Thanks for taking the time to relate that. Interesting about the mag release.

rich.tullo wrote:I think a deicated lower, if things dont work out with your Springer is the way to go. 
You can get one built or buy a donor, seem to me a used Ruger sr1911 is the way to go. 

Locally, I'm spoiled for choice. A lot of 1911 shooters, and a lot of used ones filling up the LGS's. Just no bullseye .45s. It's all 41s, Hammerlis, Pardinis, and Walthers.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by JayhawkNavy02 on Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:35 am

Where do you live?  My local gun shops never had that quality on hand.  Nice!

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by robert84010 on Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:01 am

JayhawkNavy02 wrote:I can't recommend Nelson's conversion enough.  Larry is the man.

I used the same lower for both but this year, but now I have a lower dedicated and did a trigger job.  The cost will exceed a M41 at that point, but I appreciate having the same ergonomics and trigger, although lighter on the 22.  I used my hardball with the Nelson and was able to shoot in the 270s switching back and forth and I'm not particularly good.   Looking forward to a lighter trigger.
I am here to tell you that you need to keep a 4 pound trigger on that 22 so when you shoot leg matches it feels the same. Don't worry about the monthly 22 match, it matters not come EIC day. I was around a few guys in S.D. that cared about their 22 scores too much, they never even made the top sheet of scores during the leg. 

keep you eyes on the prize.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by KenO on Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:08 pm

I see its recommended to have a dedicated lower for the conversion. Can you buy just a lower (like an AR15)?

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Dr.Don on Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:25 pm

Typically you buy a frame, something like a Caspian, and build it out.  Alternatively, you can buy a gun and sell the slide assembly.  A used gun often makes a good starting point because you aren't concerned with slide to frame fit, barrel fit, etc.  You just need a frame that will accomodate the quality parts needed for a good trigger job, as well as the fittings you desire to make it "feel right".  If you want cosmetics, that's a whole different story....

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Sa-tevp on Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:57 pm

Palmetto State Armory has some good frames for putting under a conversion. The dimensions were in range of the Kuhnhausen books. Since mine has grip tape on the front strap, it feels the same and has the same balance as my Range Officer.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by robert84010 on Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:23 pm

Shocked


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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Wobbley on Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:50 pm

For me, having a separate lower with a light trigger is no issue.  If you want to learn to shoot the ball gun, shoot the ball gun as often as you can.  That would mean for both CF and 45 events.  Shooting a wad gun for most events then bringing out the HB gun for EIC events is a much harder proposition as you never get the shot process down.  

The 22 is where you can refine the whole shot process as the recoil is less intimidating.  So a different gun or a light trigger on the dedicated lower doesn't hurt you as much and you can learn faster.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Jon Eulette on Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:56 pm

I agree with Wobbley 100 percent. The .22 is whete you learn to shoot. You can see what's going on. The light trigger still takes a good fundamental squeeze to shoot well. Any frame will work. You don't need anything special. The conversion barrel doesn't know the difference between one frame and the next. I highly recommend the Nelson. Excellent product, and best customer service on the planet. Larry Nelson will help you with any problems.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Keyholed on Sat Aug 15, 2015 12:30 am

JayhawkNavy02 wrote:Where do you live?  My local gun shops never had that quality on hand.  Nice!

New York. These are all special orders, and old pick-ups. Nothing that nice in .22LR is commonly-stocked, so it's more a function of me shooting mostly with older, retired gentlemen who've had the time or disposable income to pick up nice hardware. Anything with a magazine forward of the trigger guard is an "assault pistol", so they can be possessed, but not sold in-state. You used to see the occasional Walther GSP, but not for awhile even before they were banned. But hey, if you want to spend $2000 on a factory custom CCW or IPSC/IDPA 1911, those are just sitting there.

What I saw visiting shops over the winter (~3 shops in total):

--Beretta Model 89
--FAS OP 601, very unfortunately chambered in .22 Short, the price was really quite excellent
--~60s-era M41, 5" barrel, passable condition (finish is faded, not a lot of scratches), stock grips
--Colt Diamondback .38, 98 or 99%, blued, no high-mirror finish
--plenty of early-model S&W DAs, only the occasional pre-numbers one, and no enticing K-38s

One shop has a Benelli MP95E with a 90S trigger group installed, just sitting on a shelf. The guy dropped it off for work a year ago, and never picked it up. Can't even make an offer on it, and I'd give it such a good home  Sad

All the guns I've been able to try, I've found people are really quite happy to show off their gear.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by Keyholed on Fri Sep 04, 2015 2:58 am

My Nelson conversion arrived Tuesday, just got a chance to shoot it today.

Zero'd from offhand in a couple minutes, then shot a practice NGC. Shot to call just fine. I boned my first three slow fire shots real bad (6-6-7), but recovered and squeaked out a 277-10X (85, 95, 97), which I'm pretty pleased about. Dropping any one of those bad shots would have put me into the 280s, and they were very plainly just bad shots I shouldn't have taken.

I was really surprised at the reliability. Of the 40 or so shots I fired, I only had one cartridge fail to feed. And that's brand-new, out of the box. Ejection was clean and consistent. I was expecting to spend the next few weeks putting rounds through it to break it in before the fall league started. Last round lockback is kinda hit-or-miss, but I'd expect that to correct itself over the next few hundred rounds.

The balance is exactly what I wanted, and the trigger's consistent from before the conversion. My hold is a lot more steady than I was with the Ruger, and trigger control is a lot easier. About the only ergonomic complaint I have is partially my fault. My left thumb is a little worn from the aggressive slide serrations, but that "problem" is exacerbated by my having mounted my red dot almost all the way to the rear. Small price to pay for balance, though. An option for a slide racker would be welcome, but really, who cares? The thing works, deal with it.

Overall--money well spent. I'd like to thank everyone here at Bullseye-L, and especially those that replied to my thread. I'm really enjoying my "new" pistol, and I don't think I would have taken the plunge without the insights, advice, and experiences you guys shared with me.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

Post by KevinB on Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:31 am

I'm waiting on my Nelson too, hope it comes next week.  Enjoy.

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Re: 1911 Conversion Advice

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