As Turnbull gears up for the 2016 Shot Show in Las Vegas NV, we would like to share past reviews on our 1911’s. The article below is from the October 2014 American Rifleman issue, where they did a review of the Turnbull 1911. Enjoy!
History of The Colt 1911
As the name of the gun implies, the Colt 1911 was first crafted in 1911. This pistol was designed by John Moses Browning. However, its history began around the year of 1906. During this time, the United States military started to look at a wide range of possible pistol designs, which included the new .45 Automatic Colt Pistol. Over the next few years, the number of designs was whittled down until the Colt pistol remained as the last one standing. Read Story
Were all the parts machine fit or hand fit?
The biggest cost variable is whether or not a gun’s parts were machine fit or fit by a skilled Gunsmith. The cheaper the gun, the more likely all the parts were machine fit. In a lot of cases, machine fit parts have a tendency to be put together poorly and be out of tolerance. Parts that are out of tolerance can cause the gun to wear down more quickly. When this happens, parts may touch or wear in places that they were never intended to, potentially shortening the life and performance of the gun. With hand fit parts, a Gunsmith will measure, calibrate and fit each part to ensure that they fit and function properly. The Gunsmith will know what imperfections to pay attention to when building the gun, and knows how each part should function to reach its optimal performance. The extra attention paid to the each step, makes assembling the gun much more time consuming, thus driving the cost up. You can always buy the 1911 cheap and fix all the parts yourself, however, it takes strong knowledge and experience, as well as time to get all the parts fitting properly. One of the biggest issues people have is they tend to shave too much metal off the parts, to get them to fit properly, and they compromise the integrity of the gun. A hand fit 1911 will be a high performing and aesthetically pleasing gun, is what you want to look for when buying a 1911 pistol.
Were the parts made overseas or made in America?
Where the parts of a gun are made can certainly influence the price of the gun. As a whole, anything made in the USA tends to be more expensive, for a variety of different reasons (mostly political), and this certainly applies to gun parts. The difference between American made and non-American made parts has been hotly debated over the years, but it is largely based on your personal preference (similar to the car industry). When I am buying a gun, my personal preference is to have all the parts made in the USA as I like to boast that my gun is 100% American made. Typically, guns that are made from American made parts tend to also be hand fit instead of machine fit. In this writer’s opinion, there is nothing like a classic American Colt Model 1911 WWI style gun made in all American parts, nothing says AMERICA, better than that.
What kind of finish and polish has been applied to the gun?
When looking to buy a quality made Model 1911, you want to make sure the colors are kept to their authentic, age appropriate finishes. If the 1911 has been blued, you want to make sure that it is colored to the age period specific tone, so it maintains its historic look. The closer the match, the more expensive the gun will, or should be. Some companies have almost perfected the technique of matching the finish of the gun to it’s original age period finish, and thus they charge a premium for it. The process is time consuming and the better the match, the longer the process will take. Another important detail that many people overlook is the direction on which the polish was applied. Each model of gun is made differently and that includes the direction to which the gun polish is applied. If the polish is not applied in the correct direction, it may make the gun look odd and, to an experienced gun enthusiast, will not look age period appropriate. It is also important to ask if it was machine polished or hand polished. The machine polishing process does not produce a gun that looks age appropriate. By hand polishing it, the gunsmith is able to work the polish so it comes out as close to the authentic look as possible, this hand process is an art form. Anytime a craftsman manufactures something by hand, the quality and attention to detail are usually top notch, and this is no different when it comes to 1911’s and the polish that is on them.
It is important that any 1911 you buy meets these standards. If a gun manufacturer cuts corners on any of these standards, they may also have cut other corners during other stages of production. It is always important to ask your gun shop a lot of questions, like these, to make sure you are buying a quality item that will retain its value and become a family heirloom.
To learn more about how guns are manufactured, please feel free to visit us at www.turnbullmfg.com.
The tour started with a fantastic speech by our Owner and CEO Doug Turnbull, where he described how Turnbull Manufacturing made its roots and how we got to where we are today. From there, people were able to walk through the production floor to see how each step of a restoration and gun manufacturing takes place. Turnbull staff members, Doug Turnbull, John Gligora and Sam Chappell, explained the process that takes place at each work station and showed examples of actual work that is currently in production. Each of the Turnbull staff members was able to field specific questions that visitors had, to better explain how and what goes on here and at each step of the process. Many visitors were able to share their experiences and ask questions about guns they are or have built, making this a great learning opportunity for both visitors and us. At the end of the tour, the RIMES group, led by Ken Nelson, Don Miller and Don Allis, treated the Turnbull staff to a very nice Dinner at Mickey Finns, who did a fantastic job with the event.
As well as offering tours of our facility, Turnbull is more than happy to offer companies, or individuals, the opportunity to have a series of Turnbull Model 1911 handguns custom made, when you purchase 25 or more. As part of the customization, we will come out and sit down with you and or your company, to help design a custom gun, just for you or your company. Some custom options include custom engraving patterns, company logos, custom serial numbers and personalized/initialed guns. If anyone has interest in this offer, please contact Tracy Halpin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or John Gligora (email@example.com) at 585-657-6338 for more information.
Pictures of this event are available, at no cost, for anyone who would like them. For more information about the event or pictures of the event, please contact Aaron Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 585-657-6338.
Again, thank you to everyone who attended the tour, we hope you had a great time, and hope to see everyone again real soon.
Restoring the Model 1911 handgun allows the owner to bring the life back to this once proud pistol. As one of the most experienced restores of 1911’s, Turnbull knows that the keys to restoring them are, attention to detail and maintaining the historical authenticity.
Attention to detail is a must when restoring a 1911 pistol. To start the restoration process, each piece of the pistol must be meticulously disassembled and labeled (for reassembly purposes). Once disassembled, each piece will be cleaned, polished and remarked before the proper period finishes are applied. They are then assembled and tested to ensure it is in top working condition. This may sound relatively simple; however, this is more of an art than it is an exact science. Some metals react differently to the finishes making it relatively difficult to accomplish the desired finished look. When looking for a restoration service, you will want to make sure they are capable of bringing the gun back to its original luster, and experience cannot be undervalued.
Maintaining the historical authenticity of the pistol can be just as important as attention to detail. You don’t have to get the pistol restored to exact color or finish, but you do want the handgun to have its true and original markings. Again, this may seem like a simple process, but it is anything but simple. These roll marks need to be sized and shaped perfectly, in order to match the original markings. They also need to be in the same position on the slide and or frame. Without experience in this field, you may end up with an odd looking marking on your newly restored 1911. Again, finding an experienced restoration expert cannot be overlooked.
Manufacturing new 1911 pistols has recently become a growing market. As one of the leaders in restoring them, Turnbull has taken that knowledge and applied it to our own line of new Model 1911 Handguns. When looking for a new model you will want to look for one that maintains the historic look of the pistol. However, there is more room for personal preference when buying a newly made one opposed to having one restored.
The 1911 is a classic look that people recognize and love, and buying one new allows the buyer to have more design options that are more appealing to the individual. Opposed to restoring, you can get relatively creative when manufacturing these classic handguns. With new model’s, you still need to pay attention to the historical authenticity, or it won’t be recognized as the iconic piece that it is.
Companies, like Turnbull, have put their own twist on these models now. Adding different coloring to the slide and frame and applying new grips, can really make these handguns standout. Classic engraving styles can also be added to these guns turning them into beautiful show pieces. When looking for a company to buy a newly made 1911 from, historical authenticity and attention to detail is still the most important thing. Hand cut engravers, experienced metal finishers and experienced restorers make the perfect shop from whom to buy from. Whether you are looking to use these handguns for sport or for show, the Model 1911 is a perfect choice for a handgun collector.
Whether you are an experienced collector or someone who is just beginning to collect, finding an experienced company to restore or buy new from, is a must! Without experience, you may end up with a devalued restoration or a 1911 that is not historically accurate. Done correctly, these classic handguns will continue their storied tradition in American History.