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Range Officer 1911 9mm Newb, what to upgrade?


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Hey guys!


Was hoping to pick some of your brains. I currently run a CZ Shadow 2 for production class (B shooter), purchased a range officer in 9mm and so excited to play with single stack but it is my first 1911 and new with them. I am going to go with Techwell TGO magwell, Techwell slim agressive grips (I have small hands) and a Dawson front FO sight. I also need an ambi as I am a lefty. I like the DAA Racer pouches as I use them in production and CRSpeed Belt. I also like the Dawson Supreme mags.

What size FO did you guys use in the front. .090? and I assume the .180 factory height will be fine with my 124gr?

Do I need to add a full length guide rod?

Recommendations on an Ambi?

What size mainhousing spring? Any other springs to replace?


Thanks for your time!


Edited by Weever82
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I went with a .180 tall x .100 wide sight.  The width is subjective though and depends on your eyes and shooting style.  If you previously had the .090 on your Shadow 2, I'd go with that.  With the adjustable height rear sight, you should be able to adjust it enough that it should work with your bullet combination.


Thumb safeties are a bit subjective as well.  I went with the Wilson Combat ambi safety as they tend to sit higher.  There are all sorts of shapes as well and ones with thumb shields so the slide does not rub your thumb.  The Shadow 2 really offers a  few options compared to what is available to a 1911.


For the full length guide rod, you may want to check how much it weighs after you put everything on.  It's really easy to go over the 43 oz weight limit.


A 1911 in 9mm tends to be picky with mags.  I've been running the Tripp Cobra mags although I've heard good reviews on the Dawson.  If you have friends with a 1911 in 9mm, see if you can borrow the mags to see if they work.


The best bet is to get your hands on a bunch of different 1911s to see what you like or do not like before you pour a ton of money into it.

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I'm a huge fan of the EGW ambi TS.  Newer ROs don't use the ILS system, so you have to check.  If ILS, it will cost about $15 to convert it to GI spec.  If you retain the Ti Firing Pin, you will probably want more than a 17lb. mainspring.   Otherwise, use a 17 and a SS Firing Pin.


I like the .090" FO front sight.


Magazines ARE a problem.  Most of the problems revolve around mag catch shelf height and the cutout in the mag.  The Springfield mags my friends use in their ROs and Loadeds run fine with no issues.  Start with them.  There is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

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This is what came out and stayed out. What went in......Dawson front 90x180, S&A  magwell, VZ grips, Wilson trigger,  EGW and Ed brown for everything else.

PS, had to use hollow GI spring guide to make weight.


20190413_112312 m.jpg

Edited by shootin-blanks
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If you use an aluminium MSH you shouldn't have to worry about the weight of the guide rod as long as it's steel. If you DO use an AL MSH make sure to polish the spring tunnel to prevent galling. Brownells sells a special tool for it, but I just wrapped some sandpaper around a cleaning rod jag, chucked in the drill and went after it. It may not even need to be cleaned up. You can also use an AL guide rod to give you more room on weight, but the recoil spring will gall it and there is no fix for that. I use a steel guide rod.


Here is the list of what is on my SA Loaded 1911

  • Factory adjustable rear sights, Dawson Front Sight- .180 x .090 (I would get .07 if it were an option)
  • Dawson Firing Pin
  • Steel 1 piece full length guide rod
  • EE Litespeed 2 Hammer and disconnector 
  • Factory sear
  • Dawson Mag Release w/ lo pro button
  • STI polymer curved trigger
  • Dawson Aluminum MSH and Magwell with the gap
  • 10lb recoil spring IIRC 
  • 17lb Mainspring 
  • Colt or Wolff Sear Spring


I make weight, but I can't remember how close I am. I also undercut my trigger guard so that may have helped weight, but I doubt it did much. Remember to include weight of your empty magazine. The trigger breaks at 2.5-2.75lbs and is very crisp. All the gun needs is for me to shoot it more haha.


The pic "shooting Blanks" posted is about the same bag of parts I have. I just didn't change my thumb safeties. The SS safeties on the loaded are nice as is the grip safety.


I'll echo ZZT. The factory mags run great. I only had 2 so when I ordered some I went chip mccormick. The only issue I had is seating a 10rd mag with the slide closed was near impossible. It could have been the dawson mag catch, but I'm lazy and clipping half a coil solved it and I've had zero malfunctions. I literally can't think of a time the gun has had a hiccup. 


I have small hands. For my grips I bought some walnut (lightest wood) unfinished wood grips $5-20. I sanded them down thin to 3/16"  in the middle and stuck some grip tape on them. Just another option opposed to the techwell. The red is a little smart in that picture, I had just put it on. It' subdued a little now. The red makes it 5% faster.


Best of luck with the new build.


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The RO comes with an excellent frame, slide and barrel.  The internals are MIM, but they are good MIM, so they will last a long time.  When they go, replace them with good billet or bar stock parts.  The trigger pull is not the greatest, even after you get rid of ILS.  However, after about 500 rounds it smooths out and you end up with a decent 3.5 lb trigger.  If you want better, throw in an EGW or Extreme Engineering kit.


A FO front sight and magwell will help your game.  You said you need an ambi safety.  If you need it right away, buy an EGW sear and drop it in, then fit the safety to that.  Personally, Id install an EGW lightened hammer at the same time.   If you take a little too much off the TS, the drop an Extreme Engineering sear in.  They have a little more meat than the EGW.  If that doesn't work, but a Harrison Custom TR sear.  They are really fat at the TS point.  Buy a 10-8 Armorer's block.  It makes life easy, especially for fitting a new TS.

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I'm having good luck with CMC and Metalform Mag's, the same manufacturer for both, both are about as low priced as can be found.  Midway will have a sale on them at times, got some Metalforms in the $19 range a while back.

If your RO has rails under it, you may need a GI guide rod and an aluminum MS housing to make weight.

I have a Taylor Arms 1911 in 9mm, looks the same as the RO and is made by RIA or Armscor, and I needed the above items to make weight with VZ grips (hollowed out also) and had to use the aluminum mag well that came with it.

But it's running great with no issues and is a tack driver.

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18 hours ago, shootin-blanks said:

Can't believe you told him about the red grip tape secret..damn it...

Here was the disco ...uggg



That was your factory disco... yuck. 


I told him it made you 5% faster.... I left out the part about 10% reduction in accuracy :eatdrink:

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I used the Dawson Optic Front, but used the .170 Tall by .100 Width as that was as thin as they made in the .170" tall front. You should measure the height of your existing factory front. My Bo-Mar type  rear sight was to high for my taste to hit were I wanted and allowed me to adjust it down so it was better supported and protected. https://dawsonprecision.com/dawson-precision-springfield-1911-fiber-optic-front-sights/

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I really really appreciate all the responses. Being my first 1911 I am really seeing that it's like the AR-15 of the gun world. So damn many aftermarket parts and it's hard to choose. I don't wanna waste money on the wrong stuff. I was asking around some of the guys last night shooting SS to hold their guns and that helped.


I'm gonna do .180x.90 for the dawson. Techwells are super popular here in AZ but the S&A you suggested looked really nice and cheaper.

I gotta pull it out of the box and see if it has the ILS... if so, it's gone. lol


Thanks again!


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15 hours ago, Weever82 said:

I really really appreciate all the responses. Being my first 1911 I am really seeing that it's like the AR-15 of the gun world. So damn many aftermarket parts and it's hard to choose. I don't wanna waste money on the wrong stuff. I was asking around some of the guys last night shooting SS to hold their guns and that helped.


I'm gonna do .180x.90 for the dawson. Techwells are super popular here in AZ but the S&A you suggested looked really nice and cheaper.

I gotta pull it out of the box and see if it has the ILS... if so, it's gone. lol


Thanks again!


You can't go wrong with EGW, ever. And if there is somehow an issue they will make it right from what others say. 


I missed the part where this is your first 1911... It may be like an AR-15 when it comes to parts availability, but don't expect "drop in" parts. Prepare for EVERYTHING to need proper fitting by filing/sanding.  many 1911 parts come oversized for proper fitting A set of needle files and sandpaper in various grit will be needed. You will be fortunate and encounter some parts that need little or no fitting, but not most. Nothing is very complicated, it just takes time and patience to fit properly. 


The dawson front sight will most definitely be oversized. You will have to file the angle on the dovetail (of the SIGHT, not the slide lol) on both sides until the sight will slide halfway in the dovetail on it's own. You should be able to tap it the rest of the way with a rubber/nylon mallet and put a drop of blue 242 or red 271 loctite on. I had to do the same on mine. DO NOT just beat it in... I know from experience, not me, but previous owner of my loaded did and it deformed the slide slightly and also bent the sight blade 🤬 . Which led to me replacing it.


You'll want to polish the sear spring where it contacts the disco and sear. Sandpaper and a cotton dremel wheel will work fine. Beyond that if you have issues with the sear/hammer and the sear spring is adjusted correctly. Take it to a smith or someone who understands 1911 trigger jobs that you trust. 


If you put a new trigger bow in. When installing in the empty/stripped frame you should be able to point the frame up and it will fall out the back freely. If it doesn't it is binding on the frame. Sand/polish the outside of the trigger bow. You'll want to do this anyway where the disco contacts the trigger bow at a minimum. Also check the the top and bottom of the trigger shoe and sand accordingly if needed. Not likely but if the trigger bow is not square that will cause issues. While the bow is out of the gun it's also a good time to slide it over your magazines to ensure none of the mags are contacting the bow and causing additional pressure on the trigger.


That's good you have no ILS. The techwells are popular, but I've never fitted them. Due to the cost and using proprietary grips I stuck with the dawson setup.


Good luck.

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I second the No Gap Dawson Ice Magwell and Dawson mags. It helps reduce those catastrophic reloads and the mags will run after being dropped in sand and dirt. I had the RO Elite but the only stock part that had issues was the firing pin stop. The first one broke and the replacement they sent had started to crack. The trigger was actually really nice with just a sear spring adjustment. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I like the Dawson IPSC magwell for one reason, you don't have to buy basepads. And it's aluminum, so it's light.


GI guide rod. Just looks better. 


My Springfield Loaded 9mm needed a bunch of other stuff (all internals, barrel, bushing, controls, etc), it was a joke how much it cost and how much was needed to make it right. But it's nice now.


I like Kimber ambi safety, low profile, but not so low my thumb slips off it. I like how the off side lever (I'm left handed) is retained by the hammer pin, similar to EGW, but not as robust or costly. Have them on all of my 1911s for years and have yet to have one fail.


I think the only Springfield parts left are the frame, slide, rear sight, firing pin and FP spring, extractor, pins, plunger tube, and BTGS. While it was a rattly, loose, and over-priced gun, it was never unreliable. Now it's not rattly or loose anymore.


Metalform mags have been great, and affordable.


If I was doing it again, I'd get a Sig Max. Comes with all the good parts, just needs tuning.

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Here is the laundry list from the latest overall.

Springfield loaded stainless 

Dawson .090x180 front sight

Dawson extended firing pin with wolf firing pin spring.

S&A magwell

STI Hammer and sear

EGW ball disco

EGW bar stock HD safety

EGW .200 bar stock slide stop

EGW sear spring

10# wolf recoil spring

17# wolf main spring

Reduced power mag release spring

Ed Brown GI recoil spring guide

Ed Brown extended mag release

Ed Brown  recoil spring plug

Ed Brown firing pin stop

Wilson Combat Hardcore extractor

Wilson Combat ultralight match trigger medium curved

VZ grips


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