John D. Suttie Project Gun No 2: The “Black Beauty” 1911

Homemade Goodness!

Nothing is better than homemade bread, pies or guns! Guns? Sure- there’s no better way to get just what you want, for a lot less (usually) than store-bought. So here’s one of my favorite recipes, and the finished product:

  • Take: 1 early Essex frame (stainless), 1 GI slide and barrel.
  • Add: Your favorite parts and accessories- here, I’ve used an assortment of Wilson Combat, STI and Carbon Creations.
  • Mix: Using assorted files, stones, vises, punches and abrasives, to your personal taste.
  • Finish: Sand-blasted, and baked in a coat of Norrell’s Moly-Coat.

Fitting and refining the safeties

Contouring and smoothing the frame

Gi slide, hand-inletted for national match sight

Finishing detail

Homemade Fresh!

This of course, is not meant to be a “how-to”; there are sources on the internet for all of that. I re-crowned the barrel, fitted it with a match bushing and over-size link, and slid in the slide.

I removed the slide serrations and cut stippled panels into front and back. I also did a complete trigger job, set for a clean, crisp 4lb pull. I contoured and finished the safeties and slide-stop by hand.

After countouring with hand-files, I finished the frame by sand-blasting. I blasted and finished the slide with Norrell’s Moly-Coat. I did the inletting of the slide for the Colt rear sight just to see if I could. There are many better choices available (involving a lot less work).

With simple hand tools and whole lot of time, it can be a lot of fun to build your own custom gun. While it won’t be possible to match the finish and precision of cnc machining used by today’s professional gunsmiths, the finished product won’t cost $2500. [ED: depending on how you value your time.] I built this bad boy for just over $400. And nothing can beat the satisfaction of firing a gun made by your own hands.

comments

  1. avatar Brett Solomon says:

    I will definitely give you your props, but $400 plus the cost of most items in the Brownell's catalog? And gotta be at least 30 hours in labor. But it is gorgeous…

  2. avatar John D says:

    Thanks Brett- parts for this project were accumulated over a long time- many were used , store close-outs , or gun show finds (I got the slide for $10.00) $400 is the approximate total, not including shop expendables such as abrasives, degreaser etc..The only item new from Brownells was the trigger. The Carbon Creations grips represent almost 25% of the total project, but I had to have 'em. You're right though, to duplicate this all at once, with all new parts would cost a lot more! Since it's a hobbby, I don't count labor, but yeah, I couldn't make a living doing this by hand.

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  4. First, I have to say that I am in awe of the finished product and blown away (no pun intended) by the seemingly flawlessly executed craftsmanship. Ego stroking aside, I am very interested in your opinion as to whether or not a sidearm could be crafted by hand without the benefit of any/none, no factory prefabricated part’s? Also, I understand that you did not create this as a tutorial on building 1911’s however it would be greatly appreciated and helpful if you would be gracious enough to list the tools that you used, nothing specific, I’m not quite a novice, but also not at your level of skill. But with a general idea of the tools you used I will be able to take it from there. Thank you for such an outstanding job and for bringing such a fantastic firearm into existence. Thanks again in advance for your time and help, sincerely, Cpl.Kline II, Garrett USMC, former.

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