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.