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Advanced Weapons Technology Builder's Class 2011??

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Shooter's Connection has advertised a 1911 builder's class at Advanced Weapons Technology in Kentucky with Don Fraley.   4 days, and you can make a 1911 or a 2011.   $1,200 plus your parts.

 

Wondering if anyone has done that?   Or, would you consider building your own to use in Limited?   Would you feel comfortable using a first time build in Limited?  I suppose that's a question that's slightly silly--if it works, it works.  

 

Considering the class as a mini-gunsmith lesson on the 1911/2011 so going forward perhaps I can change out broken parts, tune as needed, etc. 

 

Folly, or no?

 

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I just took a Bruce Piatt 1911 Build class last week, and I wouldn't hesitate to use that gun in competition.  My experience leading into it was limited, basically keeping my single stacks running for the last few years.  The guns we built in class were solid and dead reliable, thanks to hands on instruction with Bruce.  From what I know about Don, I don't have reason to think it would be any different.

Edited by TheSandMan491

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That’s really cool!  I’d be real interested in hearing from folks who actually took a builders class or from those who built there own 1911/2011.  

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I have had don do lots of work for me. An I’ve shot two of his open builds an a limited gun. They are top notch guns. He’s even better person

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I stumbled through building my wife a SS gun that she's run in USPSA for a couple years now. Since then I've done a Limited gun and a SS for myself. I'm still learning, but it's fun for me to tinker with stuff. I just ordered all the parts to build her a Limited gun, and plan to build myself another Limited-ish gun soon too.

 

I'd say go for it.

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I built my own 2011 for USPSA Limited from an 80% frame, mostly because 2011s are hard to get at any reasonable price here in CA.  Been using my custom built pistol for a few months now.  It has been my first 1911 pattern gun ever so I have learned just about everything the hard way.  I read a ton of books and watched a ton of videos, then took the plunge.  

 

I actually saw the ad for the class on Shooter's Connection today and considered taking the class, it would certainly fill in a lot of gaps in my knowledge.  

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Fraley has been doing 1911s for a LONG time.  Couple of friends took a builder's class with him probably 20 years ago and they thought it was great.  I'm sure it's worth the money.  You'll learn a lot and have a nice piece at the end.  

Edited by ltdmstr

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I'd say 4 days of hands on instruction from a top pro is well worth $1200. Though truthfully I would rather do Piatt's class as I know what frame and slide I'd be starting with. ;)

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I actually just finished the class at AWT and I would be happy to discuss the course.  If you have a desire for a top notch 1911 (or 2011) and want to build the firearm, this class is a fantastic resource.  Not only will you learn how to fit each and every component you will learn about the platform, learn how to tune your pistol and magazines, and learn how to troubleshoot various potential issues.  

 

We started off by going over the design per the mil-spec and understanding how the pistol functioned.  We proceeded to fit the slide to frame and then the barrel to the slide.  This is made easy by a template that was created by Don at AWT.  You can see in the pictures posted where we cut the frame for the Wilson/Nowlin cut and cut the feet of the barrel for a precise lock up.

 

We went over all the internals and then proceeded to fit each and every component.  In this class you will learn how to fit each component, make adjustments, and a few tricks that make assembly and disassembly a breeze.  After the pistol is assemble you will go over several important quality checks to ensure proper function prior to test firing.

 

We test fired the pistol to see what adjustments (if any) were needed.  We then went back to the shop, dissembled the pistol and discussed all the possible adjustments that we can make to tweak and tune this pistol into a 100% reliable pistol ready for competition or defense.  Don was great in explaining how to tune and make adjustments to the pistol and magazines which is very important with 2011's.  He highlighted the causes and effects and after making several adjustments we went back out for testing and the pistol performed with out any issue 

 

We can buy a 1911 and even watch YouTube videos on how to fit several components.  The difference for me was learning to what tweaks and adjustments I can make to adjust the pistol to my flavor and ensure 100% reliability.  This class cover so many little tidbits that you just done see in books and online.  Its a testament to AWT's knowledge and experience.

 

This course is a great opportunity to learn from a top notch experienced gunsmith.  I could not be more happy with the outcome.  If you have any specific questions from this course I would be happy to answer them for you.

 

Regards,

David

 

 

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So, you actually learned to use the mill for doing it? For me, that would be worth the money all on its own. Still, good to know how to fit one up by hand as well.

 

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I was signed up fo the last class and had to cancel due to work conflicts. I’ve had Don build a few guns/top ends for me and he’s a true craftsman and fantastic gentleman. I’ll be going to one of his next classes. The class fee is well worth the knowledge and insight you’ll get from him. And of course the gun you leave with would be great for competition, since you’ll know EXACTLY how it works and was built!

 

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I have built 1911s way back when we peened the frame rails with a hammer and squeezed the slide in a vise......now that I’m back and technology has progressed....I agree the cost of the class is well worth it.

 

A small CNC mill is on my Christmas list (OK a small mill as I have a Gecko drive and steppers on the shelf).

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Yes we learned how to use the mill for slide and frame cuts. You can fit the slide to frame and barrel to frame by hand (and We discussed it) but the mill makes it easy and quick.

 

Example....I had to take .026in off the side of my barrel hood. You can do that by a file but it is going to take a while be very difficult to keep the file square the whole time for a precise fit. Two passes on the mill and the barrel fit perfectly and square 

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21 hours ago, dyoung said:

Yes we learned how to use the mill for slide and frame cuts. You can fit the slide to frame and barrel to frame by hand (and We discussed it) but the mill makes it easy and quick.

 

Example....I had to take .026in off the side of my barrel hood. You can do that by a file but it is going to take a while be very difficult to keep the file square the whole time for a precise fit. Two passes on the mill and the barrel fit perfectly and square 

 

Yeah I remember doing all the fitting by hand with files and stones. Notice the word “fondly” was not in the preceeding sentence. Also, machine tools makes it easy to keep things square and parallel.

 

I once had to have a little material TIG welded to a hood that I filed a little too much off of which would have been way easier to get right in a mill with CNC and a digital readout.

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I built my first 1911 using mostly hand tools and a Dremel.  In another life I was a tool & die maker, so I was familiar with all of it.  Using a file, stones, a surface plate and various grits of sandpaper down to 6000 grit, I fit the slide.  It took a long time, because of the constant measurement to keep everything square and parallel.  I fit the barrel by hand using files.   After that I swore I would never, ever do that again.

 

The two Open guns I shoot were machine fit.  The two guns I am currently building were machine fit.  The slide and frame were milled to an interference fit.  The slide would go onto the frame, but tightly enough that it would not function.  Motor oil and burnishing mated them perfectly.  The barrel was also fit with a mill.  It is so much easier, quicker, and more precise I cannot imagine doing it any other way.

 

If you can't do it yourself, pay someone to do it for you.  Slide to frame fit is really not so important.  I'm anal, so I want it perfect.  Barrel fit is.  You can easily fit the hood by hand with files.  The bottom lugs are not so easy.  You could use a lug cutter, but if you are looking for perfection you need a jig and a mill.  As an example, the bottom lugs of the two current barrels were milled 0.0005" oversized for a 0.200" slide stop pin.  They go into battery, but tightly.  That affords the option of removing a tiny bit of material to dial in the lockup tension you want.

 

I do use the first 1911 45 I built in competitions.  It came out amazingly well.

 

Whether it is worth it to you to spend $1200 on gunsmithing training depends on what you hope to get out of it.  It is certainly not required if all you want to do is replace worn or broken parts.  If you intend to build more guns, I think it would give you a leg up.  There are some things you are better off not learning the hard way.

Edited by zzt

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I can tell you from first hand experience that you will not find a better person on this planet to be taught the fine workings of a 1911 / 2011 . if my schedule permitted, I would be in the class myself.  I along with Gary Stevens, Chuck Bradley of Shooters Connections , Layne Simpson of Shooting Times Magazine can only speak highly of Don Fraley. Don has been with the shooting sports for many, many years. Don has carried not only the top world class skills, but the world class ethics to pass on to others. Don has been there and done that. Don is a great shooter in his own right and knows what works in not only pistols , but also rifles as well. His custom prices are a steal in the current market .  Jump into the class, you will not regret it one bit.

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