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School me on buying an Open gun


pealandco
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I've been shooting Limited and SS for the last year, and I'm wanting to jump into Open. Both of my Limited and SS guns are BULs, and some of you may know BUL isn't taking orders at the moment. My Limited gun has a polymer grip, which I'm becoming less and less a fan of, so I definitely want to go with a steel grip. I'm trying to avoid hitting the easy button and buying an Open gun that isn't custom or semi-custom. Budget is probably in the $5K-$6K range. Buying an Open gun seems to be a very different process w/ wait times and custom builds. What's a reasonable wait right now for an Open gun and who should I lean towards for a build or if anyone knows of a good gun on the market right now? I've reached out to Don @ Venom Custom since he is local and it looks like he is pretty busy at the moment. 

 

I do reload, so loading for 9 major isn't a problem. 

 

Other than steel grip module and a preference with wanting a thumb rest closer towards the grip (since I have medium sized hands) what are some other things that I should be thinking about in terms of build and customization?

 

I've also thought about buying a Czechmate since they are easy to come by and relatively cheap, but I've been spoiled by 2011s & 1911s. The Shadow 2 grip also doesn't favor my hands. 

Edited by pealandco
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I'm on my 4th Open gun in 4 years (hopefully my last). The last one I had was a Czechmate. If you like the 1911, as I do now, go with it. If it was 2016 again, I would start from scratch. Anything used, you never know what you will get. 

 

Brazo makes a fitted slide/frame/barrel/slide racker short block for around 2200.00. I wish it was 2007, that's the choice I would have made. Then get the parts to finish the frame/trigger/comp, etc... http://www.1911store.com/Shortblock-BCG-Open-lightning-5--LDC-fram-Unique-slide-Bull-barrel-1-1.aspx

 

Currently have a used CK Arms frame with a new Brazo Slide/KKM barrel/Bedell Comp/Cheely Steel Grip and Aftec Extractor. Everything else is used, but works good. You can get these new parts off the shelf, but there might be some machine work that is needed. If you decide to have the slide cut, it would take less time then a complete build. Or have a Comp installed and reamed, same difference. If you have the skills, you might get most of the parts to fit yourself and very little has to be sent out to be machined. 

 

I was a Machinist for 16yrs and have a PM25 Mill, so I have a step forward and able to fit the slide/frame/barrel and comp. It's something you have to decide, what road will you take? This a pic of the finished CK Arms/Brazo/KKM/Bedell/Cheely Open gun I have today. I also used GunKote and baked it for an hour in my oven.

 

CK Arms rebuild.jpg

Edited by Lastcat
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Having done the same routine as you, you have to be friends with some open shooters, ask to try their pistols. Try as many different manufactures as possible before you jump into the deep end. If I'd have bought from my gene pool, I'd have ended up with the more common platform, nothing wrong with them. I was at an Area 1 match ROing and saw something I'd only read about, Caspian, and got a chance to handle one, fit me much better than the others, small hands. Anyways, the point is to see what fits and works best for you. My only regret is, waiting so long to make the change to the dark side. If you go used, try to get something local. If new, and this is where shooting other peoples guns will help you, money is the limitation, what fits the budget. I'm an MBX fan for mags, no tuning for function, no Dawson Precision tuning kit. I've been using them for 6 years, both Limited and open, no tuning. In the ammo department, 9mm is where most shooters are, I'm holding out to the last, 38SC, no wise cracks please. What ever decision, have fun, it's a blast to shoot. Good luck.

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I highly recommend Pat Rafferty. Rafferty custom guns. I have my 2nd gun coming from him any day. Venom is great as well. Any builder worth buying from seems to be backlogged many months. So ordering now would put you into next season probably. There seems to be quite a few quality custom used guns on the market if you want to get going now. I think Pat might have one of his older guns for sale.

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Well, I've been around the block a few times.  I'll second the Brazos short block recommendation.  He is 6 weeks out from having more, because he sold the last in stock 3 days ago.  Order it with the Cheely double undercut steel grip, The Brazos trigger group kit, the STI gunsmith trigger blank (slides right in) and his tuned Ejector.   Everything will fit perfectly.

 

All the rest is easy.  You can get all the rest of the parts from him at the same 10% discount, or you can peruse Matt Cheely's Custom gun site.  I use a good number of his parts because they require a lot less fitting than EGW parts.

 

If you decide to go this route, PM me and I'll send you the list of parts I used for my last Open build.

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8 minutes ago, Explosiveo said:

I highly recommend Pat Rafferty. Rafferty custom guns. I have my 2nd gun coming from him any day. Venom is great as well. Any builder worth buying from seems to be backlogged many months. So ordering now would put you into next season probably. There seems to be quite a few quality custom used guns on the market if you want to get going now. I think Pat might have one of his older guns for sale.

 

Nice. Same as your first one?

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2 minutes ago, zzt said:

Well, I've been around the block a few times.  I'll second the Brazos short block recommendation.  He is 6 weeks out from having more, because he sold the last in stock 3 days ago.  Order it with the Cheely double undercut steel grip, The Brazos trigger group kit, the STI gunsmith trigger blank (slides right in) and his tuned Ejector.   Everything will fit perfectly.

 

All the rest is easy.  You can get all the rest of the parts from him at the same 10% discount, or you can peruse Matt Cheely's Custom gun site.  I use a good number of his parts because they require a lot less fitting than EGW parts.

 

If you decide to go this route, PM me and I'll send you the list of parts I used for my last Open build.

 

Got pics zzt?

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1 hour ago, Lastcat said:

I'm on my 4th Open gun in 4 years (hopefully my last). The last one I had was a Czechmate. If you like the 1911, as I do now, go with it. If it was 2016 again, I would start from scratch. Anything used, you never know what you will get. 

 

Brazo makes a fitted slide/frame/barrel/slide racker short block for around 2200.00. I wish it was 2007, that's the choice I would have made. Then get the parts to finish the frame/trigger/comp, etc... http://www.1911store.com/Shortblock-BCG-Open-lightning-5--LDC-fram-Unique-slide-Bull-barrel-1-1.aspx

 

Currently have a used CK Arms frame with a new Brazo Slide/KKM barrel/Bedell Comp/Cheely Steel Grip and Aftec Extractor. Everything else is used, but works good. You can get these new parts off the shelf, but there might be some machine work that is needed. If you decide to have the slide cut, it would take less time then a complete build. Or have a Comp installed and reamed, same difference. If you have the skills, you might get most of the parts to fit yourself and very little has to be sent out to be machined. 

 

I was a Machinist for 16yrs and have a PM25 Mill, so I have a step forward and able to fit the slide/frame/barrel and comp. It's something you have to decide, what road will you take? This a pic of the finished CK Arms/Brazo/KKM/Bedell/Cheely Open gun I have today. I also used GunKote and baked it for an hour in my oven.

 

CK Arms rebuild.jpg

what trigger is that? very cool looking, 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, MikeBurgess said:

what trigger is that? very cool looking, 

 

 

 

Hey Mike, I made it on my PM25. 7071 Alum. and Cerakoted. I'll show ya on the 27th.

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I highly recommend Benny Hill at Triangle Shooting Sports.  You might not have to wait till you are too old to shoot it.  Benny guns run, and they are void of expensive fashion accessories, all business and no bulls#!t.  

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4 minutes ago, zzt said:

 

This happens to be on a JEM Guns slide and frame.  Brazos will be done in three weeks.

 

 

Is there a finish on the gun, hard to tell? Looking good. 

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i have a venom from don in 38sc

its perfect and ive never had any issues other than my own stupid loading issues with ammo

 

i recently bought an akai in 9 major and i feel like it shoots better

 

i second the opinion that you should shoot friends guns and get a feel for what you like. 

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Posted (edited)

@lastcat @zzt

Thanks for the idea to go w/ the Brazos kits. I will keep that as an option. I don't have a lot of fitting skills, and generally, when I file the end result is usually worse than before. 🙂

 

@Explosiveo

What's the best way to reach out to Rafferty. I see they don't have a website, so I'm assuming give them or a call or hit them up on FB? 

 

@AverageJoeShooting

I've been able to handle some of Don's guns from some local shooters, and I was very impressed. Just curious what was build time with Don?

 

I'm also thinking of going the Honcho route if I to wait an extended period of time... the idea of getting a gun fitted with a 9mm major, minor, 40 limited setup, and a 38sc barrel is pretty attractive.

 

 

 

Edited by pealandco
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If you are going to go open, save the money and make sure you get what you want the first time.  I started with 2 different open guns, just to end up with a set of Limcats.  

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my advice is DONOT order a custom gun, buy a used 2011 that runs and shoot it at least a season. Do some home upgrades or changes as you go. Really get a firm grip (hah pun intended) on what you like and dislike before getting your custom build...
Been there dun that wasted money in multiple sports,, buying based on web forums or reviews, Only to learn the game and have to start over.

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Mark at Carne Customs is my go to for both of my open guns last year.  Builds an awesome gun the wait time was reasonable.  Don't know where he is at for times currently but would be worth a phone call.

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Nick Berger with Nevermiss Industries . I have him building triplets for me. These are first two still in Raw White. One is finished prepped now and at DLC coating, One is being shot and third one almost ready for test fire. Absolutely Amazing attention to detail.  Twins-2.thumb.jpg.47eeeba07a31beaf5f33e6f0f8c8e22c.jpg

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I recently spoke with Mark at carne, he is running about 6 month lead time as of my conversation about 3 weeks ago. I was going to go with him if I had a new gun built, but wanted to shoot the gun this year and will be planning better for next season. I couldn’t find what I was looking for on the used market for a while, but ended up getting a used Honcho for an ok price. IV only shot about 300 rounds through it so far with only 30 being 9 major (ladder test) so I can’t give an in depth report yet but so far so good.

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p, I did exactly what @Joe4d recommends.  I bought a used custom Open gun, and then a used semi-custom as a backup.  Both had poly grips.  What I learned was nose heavy guns don't transition well, and poppels can make a difference in flatness, but not always.

 

You are already dissatisfied with your poly grips.  The easiest way to balance the gun is to use a steel grip, or put a heavy brass magwell on the poly grip.  I prefer the feel of a steel grip over a poly, so that is how I went.

 

So I built two Open guns with the intension of balancing them over my left index finger (support hand).  They came out perfectly.  The second looks exactly like the 2011 shown, but on a single stack receiver.  I use that for steel challenge.  Why?  I had a spare 1911 receiver lying around, so I decided to use it.

 

I am a fan of one piece barrel/comps.  It always annoyed me when my comp shot loose, so when I decided to build the Open guns I bought two Trubore blanks and had custom comp cuts put in.   When I shot the guns I thought they were not as flat as I wished, so I added two 3/16" poppels in a V2 config.  I'm delighted with them.

 

Hint:  you DO NOT want to fit a one piece barrel/comp by hand.  It is a tedious, nerve wracking, trial and error process.  I will never fit one by hand again.  That is why I bought a Brazos short block for my next build.  Because I like to try new things, I also ordered the parts I recommended to you.  They are the exact same components Bob uses in his expensive custom builds.  Everything else will be Cheely or EGW parts from the parts bin.

 

When I built my first custom gun, a 1911 45, I did everything by hand.  It was very time consuming, especially the slide to frame fitting and the barrel fitting.  It turned out to run a smooth as silk.  For the second I decided to try a slide to frame fit.  With a machined slide to frame fit you can order it as an interference fit so you can lap it in yourself, or a full fit that will function without any further work.  Either works, but they don't feel as smooth as a by-hand finished 6000 grit polish.

 

Next comes the barrel fitting.  It is tedious by hand.  I recently fit a Barsto 9mm bull barrel to an existing gun.  It was a lot of work, because Barsto does some weird things with their dimensions.  In fact, the barrel would not go into the slide until I removed material from it.  At any rate, I decided it wasn't going to fit barrels my hand anymore.  I rather pay one of two gunsmith buddies $150 to do it on a gig with a mill rather than spend 10+ hours doing it by hand.  I tried that and the results were every bit as good as hand fitting once I did some final polishing.   So the net result is there is no real reason not to start with a good short block.   It saves a bunch of time, ESPECIALLY if you want a one piece barrel/comp.

 

So that is what I have been doing.  For the next build I had been intending to try Warwick Tactical's short block.  I decided against it because they don't offer on piece barrel/comps.  I put those plans on hold because a buddy cracked a slide on his used Open gun.  He asked me to fix it for him.  Unfortunately the frame rails were so worn it was not possible to fit a new slide.  I recommended he bite the bullet and start with a new frame and slide.  Since he was in a hurry I started looking for in stock slide-frame fits.  At Brazos I found a closeout STI Trubore short block at a decent price.  I called to ask about it and was assured it was top notch.  I don't trust STI ANYTHING, but Bob said it met his standards.  I'm sure he had worked on it, because everything was as it should be.  The only thing I had to do to it was align ream the comp.  So I reused all the serviceable parts from the old gun and replaced what was too worn to reuse.  So in two days my buddy had a new, custom fit Open gun for not a lot of dollars.

 

I was so impressed with the fit and finish I decided to use a Brazos short block for my next build.  It will ship out next Wed or Thu.  I expect to be impressed.  I've handled his custom guns and was impressed.

 

So, I've laid out my reasons for going with a short block, and why I recommended a Brazos short block to you.  You don't want to wait for a custom build.  If all the holes are the correct size and in the correct locations, almost everything else is drop in if you bought good components.  For example, the last four trigger groups I bought from EGW dropped right in, because the receiver and frame holes were correct.  I didn't have to do a thing to them.  Really the only things that require fitting are the extractor, the disco head if EGW, and the thumb safety.  You can buy a preconfigured extractor, so the only thing you have to do is tension it.  If you buy a 10-8 Armourer block (you will need one) filing the thumb safety to fit becomes fool proof unless you are impatient.

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On 3/17/2021 at 11:56 PM, SeattleDude said:

Nick Berger with Nevermiss Industries . I have him building triplets for me. These are first two still in Raw White. One is finished prepped now and at DLC coating, One is being shot and third one almost ready for test fire. Absolutely Amazing attention to detail.  Twins-2.thumb.jpg.47eeeba07a31beaf5f33e6f0f8c8e22c.jpg


Nick is building my first as well. Test firing should be happening today and I couldn’t be more happy with my decision to go with NMI. Books should be opening again soon and they are not a mass production builder, so reach out sooner than later if you want them to build you one of these beauties. For what you’d spend on a used one, that could potentially need upgrades/repairs, you can have Nick and Craig build you a new one with amazing craftsmanship.

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Another solid option is D2 Customs in PA. Or Prasky Gunworks in MI. Both can build beautiful guns and they run. 

 

One note is current wait times for finishes are longer then normal FYI. 

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