Monthly Archives: November 2021

The 9mm 1911 Project, Part 1

I’ve alluded to a 1911 project in 9mm but details have been a little vague. This post will help that to a degree but there will still be questions at the end. Please bear with me. I’ve got a plan but what I plan and what actually takes place ain’t never but similar, to quote the immortal Jane Cobb. The plan is evolving.

The TISAS Dunty B .45, chosen as the platform. Yeah, I know it’s the wrong caliber. This gun was $500 including tax, shipping and FFL fees.

The plan is to build a rapid-fire pistol for competition, which makes 9mm a no-brainer. In terms of shooting quickly and accurately 9mm is ‘Cheat Mode’ in the 1911 frame. More bullets and less recoil also serve the mission so 9mm it is.

After careful negotiations with The Mistress of Finance and taking into account the generous contributions of my Patreon supporters we established a modest budget for the project. In a world where money was no object I’d have started with a custom Caspian slide and a Les Baer frame, but I don’t live in that world. Top-of-the-line components were for the most part not going to be a thing, and I needed to save what money I could for where they did need to be a thing if that should occur.

After pricing frames and internal components I determined that I could meet my goals for significantly less money by starting with a donor gun rather than buying the parts individually. This would also save a lit of time assembling the gun as I would be starting with everything in place and working. After careful research and consulting with people who should know I bought the TISAS .45 I reviewed in a previous post. Caliber wasn’t particularly relevant as I would be replacing the slide regardless. I had my jumping-off point.

Because, uh, Reasons

The Detonics Mk.1 Combat Master .45

Since I first got to fire one in the 1980’s I have known that the Detonics Combat Master was maybe the best stock .45 ever for double-taps. The light reciprocating mass of the short slide, fast lock-time, and other features combine to bring the gun back on target very quickly. In 9mm it just gets better. It has it’s downsides like the very short sight radius, heavy weight and truncated grip, but overall they are great self-defense guns.

Many of these are easily addressed; the idea of the short slide combined with a full-sized grip has been done, as Kimber does in their Pro-Carry series.

The Kimber Pro-Carry

The perception of softer recoil and fast recovery between shots make this Linda’s favorite 1911 configuration in .45 ACP. This concept is the starting point for my 9mm project, but it’s just the starting point. It’s going to get much more complicated than that.

Getting Started

With the TISAS in-hand I could get started while still waiting for other components to arrive. I began with optimizing the grip-frame.

The standard flat mainspring housing provided with the gun needed modifying both for shape and better traction. I blended the edges first so that the back surface of the safety provided a single smooth arc from one edge to the other and I rounded the bottom edge as well. I then cut 20 line-per-inch (LPI) checkering on the mainspring housing. This creates a comfortable but grippy surface. I also blended the edges of the ‘speed-bump’ on the grip safety to present a similar smooth arc.

I also hand-cut 20 LPI checkering on the front of the grip-frame. I increased and blended in the undercut on the trigger-guard as well. There’s still finishing work needed on the checkering, but it already provides a fantastic and not overly abrasive grip. That was all the work needed on the frame for the moment.

The 9mm Slide.

Originally I planned to get a fully custom slide from Caspian, but that would have entailed significant expense and an unacceptably long time-frame for delivery. On Ebay I found a 3.5 RIA 9mm barrel for $69 and a matching slide for $119. That’ll do. I removed the .45 ejector from the frame and fitted the barrel and slide to the frame. The barrel needed extensive fitting to the frame as it was a ramped full-support barrel but the TISAS has a conventional frame. Machining the frame to accept the barrel would be an incredible PITA with my tools so I adapted the barrel instead, converting it to a conventional-profile barrel. The EGW recoil assembly and guide-rod (About $73 incl. tax and shipping) also required a bit of fitting, but that was almost inconsequential by comparison.

9mm 3.5″ slide and barrel fitted.

As currently set up the gun will easily hand-cycle rounds from the Sig Sauer 9mm magazines I selected to feed the gun, but I am likely to need to do some feed-ramp work if for no other reason than my brain says I should.

In a couple days the 9mm ejector will arrive, and after installing that I’ll test-fire the gun before going to the next steps. Those next steps are where things are going to start to get crazy. Suffice it to say the GI sights on this slide will be replaced and some other issues will be addressed as well.

OK, the obvious question is, ‘Why not a 2011?’ The answer is simple; they’re expensive. Expensive enough to break the budget, in fact. So 1011 it is.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode ‘Gunsmith Wannabe’s Gone Wild!’

Stay safe and take care

Michael Tinker Pearce, 22 November 2021.

If you like what you see here please consider clicking the link above and supporting me on Patreon.

TISAS Duty .45: Turkey or Turkish Delight?

The Duty .45 comes well set-up for around $450

As an aside I have a helpful suggestion. When your doctor says you need three different vaccines don’t say ‘OK. let’s do it.’ Yesterday in the course of a normal check-up I was told I needed Flu, Pneumonia & Shingles. As a man of a certain age I find it prudent to listen to my doc’s recommendations, so I said ‘Bring ’em on!’ By late afternoon when I was doing the shooting test of the Tisas it hurt to hold the gun at eye-level, so don’t expect my best shooting. Today I feel like hammered crap. I never desired to know what ‘hammered crap’ feels like, but life is full of new experiences. Vaccines 3, Tinker 0.

I’ve had a 1911 project in mind for some time, and the Mistress of Finance agreed to a modest budget. After pricing out what I wanted I wasn’t quite over budget, but the MoF was looking at me sideways. I determined that rather than buying a frame and all the parts it would be cheaper to start with a complete ‘economy’ gun. Enter the Tisas Duty B .45. It has all the right bits, it was recommended by one of my 1911 gurus and for $439 looked to be a bargain. Yesterday we took possession of the gun and I examined it and did a test-fire.

This Gun is Full of Surprises

The gun is based on a Series 70 Colt 1911, embellished with forward slide-serrations, skeletonized combat hammer and trigger, undercut trigger-guard, beavertail grip-safety with a speed bump, combat sights etc. It’s finished in black CeraCote.

Another surprise is that I am told the grip safety is an actual Wilson Combat piece, and the Novak sight is actually Novak. I don’t know this for sure, but if they aren’t someone needs to sue someone.

I’m thrilled that a gun at this price has an undercut trigger guard. I’m not thrilled with the way they went about it, but it works so I suppose this is just quibbling.

At first glance only the black plastic grip-panels betray this guns ‘budget’ nature. Lines are sharp, components are really well-fitted. Slide-to-frame fit is snug. Overall the impression is of quality. Except for those grips, which in fairness are serviceable enough, just cheap. The provided magazine holds eight rounds and is well-made and finished.

Beveled mag-well, relieved at the front. Nice feature.

Perusing the literature I was surprised to discover that both the lower receiver and slide are forged. This is widely held to be a good thing. It is also ‘Machined After Hardening.’ This is not merely a good thing, it’s a surprising thing. I could geek on this, but in a nutshell it removes the possibility of distortion in heat-treat, It’s seriously unexpected in an inexpensive gun but it drastically reduces tool-life, which makes the process more expensive.

The provided 8-round magazine is well made and finished
Three-dot sights aren’t my favorite, but these are fine. I’d like a slightly narrower front site, but this one works well enough.

The trigger is pretty damn good. It’s not ‘tuned race-gun’ good, but as production triggers go? A bit loose on take-up, but the break is crisp, overtravel minimal and rebound is short and positive. It’s also pretty light compared to most box-stock 1911s.

Disassembly yielded more surprises; the interior machining is clean, sharp and free of tool-marks. This is a really nicely made gun. There was also no ‘protective’ gunk inside, just a slightly excessive coating of gun-oil. With no need to clean the gun I went straight onto the range.


I was taken by surprise that my background-check was returned so quickly so I didn’t do all of the reloading I intended to for this test. I had fifty rounds of 230gr. ball on hand and some odds and ends. These included 200gr. LRNFPs, Speer 200gr. JHPs, some 200gr. HG68 LSWCs and some 185gr. XTP JHPs.

I had the most of them, so the first few mags were the Ball ammo and the gun functioned flawlessly. Spoilers- get used to hearing that phrase. After that it was all randomly mixed mags, which the gun digested without so much as a bobble.

Accuracy seems fine, but it was hard to tell. After the vaccinations shooting was ‘Good Training,’ a military term for doing just about anything that is utterly miserable.

1 shot per second at seven yards.
25 yards. Took me three tries to produce this, uh, let’s call it a group.
The last six rounds, double-taps at five yards.

After around 100 rds. of mostly mixed ammo the gun has yet to have any issues. I’m impressed. It’s possible that issues would crop up with a more extensive test, but all things considered I inclined to think it would be fine. I’d shoot more, but I got the gun for a project and I’ll be getting on with that promptly, which means that it will be a while before this gun will fire again.


If you like 1911s you’ll like this gun. Good quality, thoughtful upgrades and an affordable price. What’s not to like?

Michael Tinker Pearce, 17 November 2021

If you like what you see here, please consider clicking the link above and supporting me on Patreon.

Stuffed to the Gills With Humble Pie

Old-School, 1911 style. It’s not here to make a point; it’s just better to have picture than not.

We’ve all met them. The ‘back in my day…’ guys. Sadly, shockingly and to my surprise I have joined the ranks of that hallowed and totally annoying brotherhood. Here’s how it happened.

I’m 59 years old. My military experience started in 1980. My competition shooting experience started in 1984 and my law enforcement experience started in 1985. I worked on the street for months as a small-town cop before I went to the Police Academy. It’s a cliché, but things were different back then.

If you were ‘trained’ on a firearm it meant you knew the manual-of-arms for the weapon inside out, backwards and sideways. We called it muscle memory. Under stress, when injured or befuddled you would just do it, because under stress you do what you are trained to do. You didn’t ‘forget’ because it was all done unconsciously while your brain was busy doing other things. Sometimes working the situation, sometimes running in circles screaming. Whatever. Needless to say this was an ideal, and not everyone was up to that standard, not by a long-shot. But it’s what we strove for.

That being where I came from, when someone on the internet said a well-trained person would forget to activate the safety under stress I disagreed. No matter how much training someone had if they would not automatically use the safety under duress they were not ‘well trained.’ I pulled up my ‘old-guy pants and started ranting.

Then the power went out for several hours and I had time for a nap and a good think. When I came back online someone had pointed out it was 2021. That brought me up short.

People know I’m a ‘gun guy,’ so when considering buying a gun for home defense or carry they often ask for my opinion. What do I invariably recommend? A modern, polymer framed framed pistol, which generally don’t have a manual safety. Why? Because modern pistols are very, very good and the simplified manual-of-arms is easier for a novice.

Uh… yeah. Oops.

I like older guns. I carry older guns. But I frequently say that if I were back on duty I’d carry a Glock 17 with an optic. Why? Because as a specific tool for a specific job, by any objective standard modern guns are better than the old guns I love. They are lighter, more reliable, and hold more rounds. The same is true of their smaller, more civilian-oriented brethren.

Old guns may be more interesting, more attractive and have more ‘character,’ These days I’m a civilian, and my self-defense needs are served perfectly well by my beloved old guns. But as a modern tool for serious use in the modern world why would anyone choose one over a modern pistol? I can’t think of a single reason. Hell, I wouldn’t. Time and technology have moved on, and they’ve done so for good reasons.

I still maintain that a genuinely well-trained person won’t experience issues if their gun has a manual safety. Bone-deep knowledge of your weapon’s manual of arms should be the starting-point for considering someone ‘well-trained.’ But honestly if someone isn’t me or someone like me why would they choose to bother? They probably wouldn’t; it’s the 21st century and they have other, better options.

It’s been a humbling evening. Gotta go… that pie won’t eat itself.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 15 November 2021