2011 frame for Nelson

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2011 frame for Nelson

Post by Lawboy on 7/4/2017, 4:22 pm

Has anyone built a dedicated 22 using a Nelson unit and a 2011 widebody frame and Nelson widebody magazines?

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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by willnewton on 1/5/2018, 8:44 am

I found this post using “2011” as the search keyword.  There is almost nothing on this forum referencing them.  I am sure there are many opinions on the 2011 frame and grip in general, but they don’t get much attention in the BE world.  I am sure you can drag out the old , “If they were any good, they would be in use already.” argument, but I am not here to win a National championship with this pistol, just have fun and learn about a doing some ‘smithing on a different pistol style.

That being said, I decided to post up in this thread because I hope to have some thing to add to it in the coming weeks.  I have the parts for a 2011 lower on the way.  I just wanted to give it a try, but did not want to invest in a complete pistol or top end until I had a chance to see how I liked it.  

I have a couple of Nelson conversions already and I have a fair bit of spare 1911 parts around, so why not?  I am going to call it “The Poor Man’s GT45” to give a nod to the Pardini model that also sports a similar wide grip with more angle.  Although after building several guns up from parts I know there won’t be anything cheap about it!
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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by rich.tullo on 1/6/2018, 5:44 pm

Should work, if you have big hands It is worth a try.
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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by 10sandxs on 1/7/2018, 2:30 pm

I built an stI in 40 sw for "fun" games. I put a short trigger in it and it woks just fine, and I have average size hands.

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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by willnewton on 1/16/2018, 2:31 pm

There are so many parts vendors to choose from and sometimes on the Internet you feel like you may be taking a chance when you press the checkout button.

For this project, I ordered all the grip parts and internals for the lower from Brazos Custom, the operator of http://www.1911store.com and they arrived except for one item that was missing in the shipment.  I contacted them and within a day or so, they had a new part on the way with no extra charge or hassle at all.  Even on my original order, which needed a change due to an out of stock part, I received prompt and friendly service.

Also, my Nelson 2011 magazines https://www.nelsoncustomguns.com arrived today as well and I already have one of KC Crawford’s Battle Axe trigger kits https://kcskustomcreations.com.

 Many of us already know these folks really go the distance in quality service, but always nice to give a shout out to everyone involved, especially the small businesses. I just wanted to give some credit where credit is due.  Nobody compensated me for anything.

I think everything is here now and I have already been doing some work, so I hope to be ready for some test firing soon.  I will also be adding some pics to this thread as things come together.
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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by willnewton on 1/18/2018, 10:23 am

So far, I gotten this to the point it can at least be test fired, but it is not done yet.  I still need to install the intended thumb ambi-safety that I forgot to order (just using a regular one I had for now).  There is a fair bit of detailing to finish on the frame, including parkerizing it. Trigger needs fine tuning and I will be switching out the irons rib for the scope rib (maybe-probably not 100% sure yet)

Also there is an issue with the fit of the magazine.  The Nelson 2011 mag. is pretty loose in the grip and bangs all around in every direction.  In addition the slide release lock back feature does not engage properly due to the wobbly mag. positioning.

 I sent an email to Nelson to ask if there was some part that I am missing from my 1911 conversion kit that I need for the 2011 besides the magazines.  I did not receive a direct reply, but did get a shipment notice, so hopefully a fix is on the way.  Not saying anything is wrong with their magazine, there just may be some assembly detail or part that I am missing.  This is definitely not one of those "You need the EGW high catch mag. release" problems.  

I did give the mag. some strategic wraps with electrical tape, which helped snug things up and make it ready to at least do some testing with until the mystery package arrives or I get a reply from Nelson.

As far as commentary on the 2011 frame and grip.  Well, it is interesting.  The trigger frame is not removable once the grip/frame is assembled.  It takes 7 pieces of very small and easily lost hardware to put the frame together.  There are built-up metal pads on the frame at the inside top of the grip over the rails They make it VERY difficult to get into the rails to do the hand filing and stoning.  Also, I thought the STI grip was all plastic and was surprised to see that there are metal plates embedded in sides of the grip.  Smile

Of course EVERY part needs to be hand fit, so some things don't change from building a 1911.

 I could also make some comments about the quality of this frame in particular, as the machining left plenty to be desired, and was done incorrectly in a couple of places.  I have a shop full of tooling and I was able to correct or rework details as needed.  The general opinion is that you work on the cheap part to fit the more expensive part, but in this case I declared the frame the "cheap" part, as it was the most out of spec.  I chalked it up as a learning experience, since I got to redo some machining operations.  The whole 2011 system was new to me and there are some peculiarities, but I really did find myself asking,
"Why?  What is the benefit here?  Why did they make this so....so.....STUPID!"   lol!

OK, lets pull back here, this project was about the pistolsmithing and new grip possibilities.  The 'smithing was OK, but frustrating at times.  But how about that grip?  Well, that front strap is WIIIIIDE!!!  This is going to take some getting used to.  The MSH area on the back strap is a bit more similar to a 1911, but you are going to feel the difference for sure between your palm and pistol grip.  

The grip: Love it or hate it?  I don't know yet. I have big hands and install XL sized ortho grips when I use them.  This is going to take some time.  I CAN see how this grip could be despised by some and loved by others.  It is not a "bad" grip, but is it Bullseye?  Time will tell!   Smile

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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by rreid on 1/18/2018, 8:28 pm

I've seen those frames with the grip bushings removed and the frame wrapped with grip tape. would make it a little smaller.
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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by willnewton on 1/19/2018, 8:13 am

@ rreid, I am not sure what pistol you saw, but that pistol you saw was definitely not a 2011 with the original style STI grips.  There is no way to remove anything, it is a one piece injection molded grip/frame assembly, not an internal frame with removable grips.

 The screws at the top of the grip screw into flush bushings inside the metal half, but the lower grip screws are cosmetic only.  There is no separate frame under the grips, such as might see on a Para or Pardini doublestack frame.  I have also heard of folks removing slabs and just using grip tape on those style frames, but that cannot be done to the polymer 2011 due to its one-piece construction.

On a further note, I did take this to the range for very limited test firing yesterday.  Just 15 shots, as I did not fully trust the magazine setup as noted in my previous post, but it had no trouble chambering rounds.  It locked back only once out of three mag reloads due to the magazine and slide stop not engaging each other correctly.

My first thought was that it felt surprisingly good to shoot.  I did not choose this steel frame because of the tacti-cool light rail, but because that rail would add weight to the nose (the 2011 dust cover is MUCH thicker than a 1911).  The light polymer grip and heavy nose do a fair job of keeping the balance point forward and the wide grip keeps it from feeling nose heavy.  As a result, the recoil was noticeably lower than the irons-sight 1911 conversion I brought to shoot alongside the irons-sight 2011.  You would almost have felt like there was the added dampening mass of an Ultradot mounted to the 2011, a nice bonus feature.

No comments on accuracy, as I was just there to verify function and that the sights were getting bullets hitting paper at 30, 50, and 75 feet.  I had two other newly built pistols to function test before our regular League shooting, so could not spend any time getting to know the pistol. I know the Nelson top end is very accurate, so my commentary could only reflect how the grip may affect consistency and I have spent nowhere near the time needed to make an informed comment on that so far.

My initial 10-minute impression is limited, but positive.  I am going to finish it up and get a dot on it.  In the meantime, maybe the package from Nelson will have arrived.  Then I will have a chance to spend more time with it, get it fully sighted in, and will take it out for more testing and will surely give it a chance to be shot at our BE league night.
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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by rreid on 1/19/2018, 8:02 pm

You're right. It was probably the Caspian hi cap i was thinking of.
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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by willnewton on 2/7/2018, 2:38 pm

Well, it has been a few weeks and I finally got up with Larry Nelson from Nelson Custom.  They were at SHOT Show, then they were sick, and I have been having some health issues.  We have been playing email tag for weeks.  It was a bit frustrating. I had such a simple question, "Do I need another part for the 2011 kit to make the mag fit or is this it?".  Instead of an answer to what is pretty much a yes or no question, I would get a reply that they would get back with me later and every week I would send back the same question and get the same reply.  Finally, I just called and Larry returned my call the next day on a Saturday.

Of course, once on the phone, I finally got an answer of "No, the mag is the only difference in the kits."  Larry and I then proceeded to have a nice conversation about the 2011 mags and his ongoing frustrations with the fit.  Apparently, there is so much variation in the 2011 grips, he can can't make a mag. that fits every 2011.  The purchaser will either get lucky with the fit or have to get some electrical tape and do some wrapping.  We talked about adding some "fitting pads" of some type molded into the side of each mag. so it could be filed to a perfect fit.  I don't know what solution he will come up with.  Larry is a nice guy and he wants his parts to perform well, but in this case he can't control other companies standards.

It was unfortunate to have such a hard time making a connection and I have never had this trouble before with Nelson.  They have provided good response to my questions in the past.  They have MANY fans and are known for their excellent service.  I am going to chalk this up to bad timing all around and now know to just call them.  Larry certainly answered my questions and was willing to listen to suggestions and they are actively working to improve these magazines.

ONWARD!

Next, I did some skillful tape wrapping.  
The bottom of the magazine requires 1.5 turns of tape with the overlap on the side, not on the front or back.
The top of the magazine requires you to make a double thick pad of tape on the left of the mag and a triple thick pad of tape on the right side.  Then wrap over the pads and around the mag completely with one turn of tape. Again, make sure there are only single thicknesses on the front and back.

The fit is snug and I am wondering how I am going to feel about it the first time this tape balls up and I have trouble getting the mag. out. Smile

Did you notice something? The top needs more padding than the bottom!  So now the magazine has to be pushed in and pulled out.  It absolutely will not drop freely.  The slide has locked back 100% just cycling it by hand at the bench, so that is nice.

Also I have a new ambi-safety installed because I must have that full 2011 experience.  I was all excited to not have to take the grip off for an ambi-safety and then, I made a new discovery.  To remove or install the safety, you have to take the top end off the gun.  The 2011 frame system continues to upset me with the over-complications.

I should be able to take this pistol back out to the range now for further testing and once that is done, I can wrap up the frame finish and then spend some time getting to know it.
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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by mpolans on 2/7/2018, 3:04 pm

Removing the ambi shouldn't require removing the top end, however, the slide will have to be forward so the left side of the safety can be pushed upward and removed out the left side and the right side's lower leg will rotate out of the retaining slot in the frame and removed out the right side.

Other than the mag issue, what did you find out of spec on the 2011 frames?

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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by willnewton on 2/7/2018, 4:43 pm

My feeling is that when you have to do everything to remove the top end you would normally have to do and you choose to not push it forward the last two inches to allow the slide to fall free, well, I guess you are technically correct, but c'mon.  Smile

As for frame defects, the surface quality of the machining is of poor quality, the disconnector hole in the frame was 100% the wrong size, no attempt had been made to deburr or remove flashing, grip holes were misaligned, the frame has a large gap under the grip safety from the factory, and the interior fit needed all manner of work.  I am not going to get into it.  It is done and I will never purchase a frame from this company again nor mention them by name, as they don't deserve any publicity and will hopefully disappear.  If you come across a website with folks bragging about how they used to work for Boeing and the like, this low quality of this frame makes you wonder if those companies ever called them back for more work after their first job.
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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by willnewton on 2/14/2018, 12:28 pm

OK, I did some experimenting and killed a few of my weaker brain cells in pursuit of a solution to the mag. issues.

On the left you can see the electrical tape wrap version.  This was used as a guide to help me know how much to build up to make fitting pads on the magazine as seen on the right.  There are matching fitting pads on the opposite side of the magazine.

To make the pads, I used a soldering iron and some ABS sprue from a model kit I just happened to build this week to use as a "filler".  Some testing showed that the sprue did not want to adhere directly to the magazine surface. Using the soldering iron, I was able to stir the sprue and mag. plastics together to make a mix of both plastics, creating a bonding surface.  The soldering iron was set at 460°C and I used a narrow chisel tip.  Also, make sure to use a fan and open some ventilation.  I assure you, the fumes are bad.

Then I laid on layers of sprue by melting/smearing/building up on top of that hybrid surface and it bonded nicely. I did a little cleanup afterwards, and it is not exactly a "pretty" solution (that would involve some tool and die work), but it is 100% functional.  The slightly different colors of the plastics made it easy to observe the mixing and how much the pads were building up.  

Using calipers and a file, I was able to match the fitting pads to the tape (plus a bit extra).  With that slightly tight fit, I was able to file a bit off the slide stop side to allow the mag to shift over enough to activate the lock back.

This was not terribly hard to do, but I can see how some folks might screw it up.  I am not sure that it is a perfect solution, but it a decent fix for now.  If Larry tried something like this, my concern would be that someone files off too much and then the phone calls start "Larry, this don't fit, send me a new 'un!"   Rolling Eyes

I wonder if some type of screw adjuster would be the way to go or maybe some type of adjustable sleeve around the standard Nelson 1911 mags.

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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by willnewton on 2/23/2018, 9:01 am

I was able to get to the range and do some actual target shooting with this setup and get to know it a bit better.  I mounted a scope rail and Aimpoint H2 on the Nelson 2011 and loaded up my other Nelson 1911 as well.  On the 1911, I also installed my Nill ortho target grips, just so I could compare wide grip to wide grip as well.

As a quick follow up, the magazine mods worked great.  100% function and lock back.  Also, none of what follows is about the Nelson conversion, which performs great, as it always has.  I am just talking about the 2011 lower.

Well, I don’t know exactly what to say.  I have spent the past months working with slab grips, really trying to understand my grip and to pare away what I have started to label as “grip distractions”.  One of the first things to go was the ergo grip.  I really liked the comfort of it, but I started feeling like the more time I was spending adjusting it and tweaking it and getting to understand how I NEED to grip the gun, the closer I was coming to seeing that the ergo grip itself was causing some problems, so I quit using it.  I reinstalled it solely to compare against the 2011 grip for testing.

I started off feeling the same way about the 2011 grip.  It feels OK, heck, it even feels pretty good.  I have a big hand and it does fill it nicely.  The wide front strap was certainly pleasant.  I can see why folks would buy this style pistol and grip.  It gives you a pretty good first impression.

OK, we are past first impressions and need to focus on what is happening during single hand BE shooting.  Here is where I began having issues.  What follows is super opinionated and relates to my preferences, my hand physical  dimensions, and my past grip experiences.  You may be of a completely different mindset and experience and also be 100% correct.

 Issue one: Trigger access.  I installed a short trigger, as I felt there could be some issue getting my finger joint to the trigger.  It turns out that was not the issue.  The blocky upper area of the 2011 frame and grip itself gets in the way.  At first I thought my trigger finger hitting the frame might give me a nice anchor point to come back to, but in actual shooting, it just got in the way.

Issue two:  The front strap.  Really, the thing I was just giving props to for comfort is a problem?  Yeah, it kinda is.  It is so wide that you have a large contact area and that is the problem.  EVERY tweak of muscle in your finger shows up in the sights.  The more I shoot slabs the more I understand one thing and that is that a minimal contact grip limits how much your hand and fingers can affect the grip.  The 2011 has 4-5 times the width of contact area across the fingers than a 1911.  I thought this was a benefit and the reality was the complete opposite.  Even on my Nill grip, the wood does not extend onto the front strap, basically keeping the 1911’s narrow front strap feel at the fingers.  The 2011 grip might be nice for two hands, but for one hand...

Issue three: The back strap and grip shape.  The 2011 has a somewhat normal back strap.  The grip is wide at the front and narrows toward the back.  This is a good idea that keep the grip from feeling huge, but also causes a problem.  It acts as a wedge.  Tightening up your grip causes the gun to start to rotate under your palm. This is not an issue with slabs, as there is limited side contact, so you are primarily only contacting the front and rear only, limiting the twist your hand can impart. On the ergo grip, there is a wide flat at the top rear and the grip narrows significantly near the base, preventing this twisting.  I have held Pardini GT45s as well and the back strap is blocky, which gives you a good flat to pull against.  The 2011 grip will almost put you directly into a Zins style grip, which seemed cool at first, but once I started to try and firm up and settle into a shooting grip, I just could not seem to find a way to feel like I had a solid hold on the pistol.

I have already complained about the 2011 design and construction, now added in my thoughts on the grip itself as it relates to singlehand shooting, and finally I have my own targets to compare.  I am far from a Master shooter and at best am a middling Sharpshooter, but it did not take any kind of talent to see the difference between my 2011 and 1911 targets.  I generally keep them in the black or on the repair center with my 1911, yet my 2011 targets looked like a shotgun was fired at them, with holes at all points of the compass and everywhere in between.  I have not shot targets that ugly in a long time and it was the final nail in the coffin.

So here we are, I wanted to try something new, learn some stuff, ask myself some questions, and all that was accomplished.  Some of you with your own 2011 experiences, may have totally different opinions and not agree with mine, and that is fine too.  I have definite issues with the 2011.  Possibly with a few months of practice and strong effort, I could overcome some of them.  At the end of the day, I have no intentions of doing so.

The 2011 seems like solution to a problem that never existed. I have a solution that suits me just fine and is all the challenge I need to work with without dividing my attention.  I have a pistol built with some common sense practicality toward assembly and maintenance.  I own a 1911.

When the result of a build, test, and review is that you are trying to sell off the pistol lower to other shooters at the range so you don’t have to take it back home or ever bring it to the range again, well, I think that says it all about my opinion on the 2011 lower.
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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by willnewton on 2/26/2018, 4:56 pm

Well, in spite of my disappointment from a BE aspect, I finished out the pistol.

Did a little parkerizing on the stovetop. It came out nice!


2011 frame and ambi-safety fresh from the bath. I also redid the park. job on a crappy muzzle brake for a rifle.
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Re: 2011 frame for Nelson

Post by willnewton on 2/26/2018, 5:04 pm

I made some pretty strong comments in my review and I still feel that I won't be shooting this pistol for BE, but it is not a bad pistol.  First of all, I built it myself and I learned some new stuff along the way about a different style of pistol.  The building of the pistol was a lot of fun, if not a little challenging at times and I got a chance to weld plastic.

When life hands you lemons that are expensive as hell, then you need to make some pretty badass lemonade!  

Just swap out the threaded Marvel for the Nelson top end, add a twist of suppressor, then garnish with laser and a touch of silly-ass magwell.  I am going have fun with this pistol whether I like it or not. Twisted Evil

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