my current backlog, I am only
accepting orders for full house
OF THE 1911
THE AUTHOR'S LATEST CUSTOM .45 STANDS OUT FROM THE CROWD
Guns & Ammo Handguns May/April 2011)
polymer pistols have taken a huge share of the pistol market,
those plastic arms can never match the classic 1911's rare
of elegant lines, everyman's ergonomics and sex appeal.
polymer pistols may shoot just as well as a 1911, but they don't
to shooters with an eye for the clean lines and character of
Browning's greatest creation.
1911 lovers are blessed with an incredible variety of excellent
pistols, but for many 1911 devotes, only a true one-off, hand
full-house custom from a top maker will do. I've been
enough to handle 1911's from some of the greatest pistolsmiths
last 50 years, and one whose work I think exhibits a rare
of innovation and Old World craftsmanship is C.T. "Tim" Brian of
Arizona (CTBRIAN.COM (480) 275-2164)
Tim has been a full-time pistolsmith since the
He doesn't install parts or do package work; he
full-house customs, though he first came to mainstream
promenence as a
builder of intricate, chopped-down 1911 carry guns.
to make those tiny guns run with relentless reliability
caught the eye
of many 1911 shooters, but it was the intricate handwork
full-house customs that impressed the 1911 cognoscenti. I've
after one of his hand-built pistols since I first laid
on one in the
mid-1990's, but it was more than a decade before I got
one of my own.
I chose a Colt
70 pistol for my base gun because it's tough to beat for
that rampant pony adds considerably to any custom
value. Tim can make any size 1911 sing, but I
thought it only
fitting that he make mine a Government Model.
Tim scrapped everything but the slide and frame.
He uses Wolff
and ISMI springs and makes the pins himself,
pins to the tightest tolerances.
Tim built up the frame and
then used a file to cut 30 lpi checkering in the front-
backstrap, The checkering is flawless, with
lines, crisp, sharp points, and nary a hint of crosscuts
Next, he rounded the bottom of the backstrap to give the
gun a pleasing
contour that also serves to keep the gun from printing.
cut down the frame a bit and fitted his proprietary
I usually don't order mag wells on concealed carry
guns, but this
one doesn't add a bit of length or width to the butt and
beautifully. It also speeds up mag changes
are hand-carved, exhibition grade, French walnut grips
of figure. They feel great in the hand and enhance
appearance. Tim carves his own grips because every
slight dimensional differences. By making his own,
he can make
sure all the lines are perfect.
The controls all start out as top-quality, machined
products from big
name makers, but Tim modifies them to his own
extended magazine release and thumb safety are Ed Brown
contours the edge of magazine release and competely
extended thumb safety.
Although Ed Brown offers a smaller tactical-style
likes to bring down the oversized part to his own shape,
contour. The result is a smooth, snag-free lever
with just the
right shelf on which to rest my thumb without digging
into my side when
I carry the pistol inside my waistband. The safety
crisply and positively, with just the right amount of
effort and a nice
tactile and audible "click".
The slide stop started out as an oversize Evolution Gun
Tim fitted it and then re-cut the serrations on
top to make them
sharper and added serrations to the underside of the
slide stop at 40
lpi. He also fush-fit the pin and recessed the
hole, which gives
the pistol a more refined look. The machined
Nowlin plunger tube
has extra-length staking studs to keep it locked in
The high-swept beavertail grip safety is a modified Chip
part. Tim shortened the rear of the safety until
it was just long
enough for the Commander hammer and re-contoured the
entire safety, to
include reducing the bump.
The new profile looks and feels great. There isn't
a sharp spot
or snag to be found, and the gap between the safety and
the frame is
perfectly uniform and razor thin. Even though it's
the bump at the bottom of the grip safety makes engaging
it from the
holster pretty much a sure thing. The high-swept
a very high grip on the gun for better ergonomics and
while shortening the bervertail makes it a bit easier to
The fire-control parts include a Commander-style hammer
& Slide and a sear and disconnector from
EGW. I have
small hands, so Tim installed STT's polymer short
unist is adjustable for overtravel and has an electrical
stainless steel trigger bow, which maked for a durable,
Tim found the slide-to-frame fit on the Colt a bit too
sloppy for his
tastes and asked if I would be okay with him sending it
off to master
pistolsmith Bob Keieger so he could install his
Acc-U-Rail system, a
proprietary process. Acc-U-Rails are the only
tritium sights inserts, bluing, hard chrome and
andodizing that are not
done in house.
Once it was back from Krieger,
Tim beveled the bottom of the slide and executed some
Browning Hi Power-styl cuts on the front. An
around the slide flats makes the highly polished flats
Those three treatments make the pistol look more
modern than traditional 1911s.
worked over the top and back of the slide. After
flattened the top of it, he serrated it at 40 lpi in a
The contour at the back of
the slide has been re-cut to match the contour of the
rear sight as
well, so the entire back of the slide - from the top of
the rear sight
to the bottom of the slide - appears as one continuous,
piece. The 40 lpi serrations and contours are
flawless, which is
amazing when you consider it was all done by hand.
The front and rear sights are neatly dovetailed into the
The front is a
simple serrated black blade. The rear is a
that Tim modified by machining away a great deal of the
metal on the
top of the rear sight to make the front half of the rear
sight sit very
low atop the slide. The sight's rear face is
serrated at 40 lpi,
the patteren flowing right into the serrations on the
back of the slide.
The Colts's barrel is a stainless, five-inch match-grade
Kart. Tim worked on fitting the barrel, link and
bushing until the gun locked up perfectly. He
finished off the
barrel and bushing with a recessed barrel crown.
flawless reliability, the feed ramp is throated and
polished, and the
extractor is polished and tuned.
Once all the work was completed, Tim detailed the
carry bevel was executed by hand with a file, giving
each sharp edge an
identically angled cut to straighten the pistol's lines.
removed the factory machining marks and hand-polished
the slide flats
prior to bead blasting the top and bottom of the gun.
was then sent to Glenrock Blue for a Master Grade bluing
I waited a long time for the gun to be finished, but I
was blown away
by the quality when I got it. The attention to
detail is obvious,
with little touches like the recessed slide stop pin and
grips making it clear that this is no ordinary piece.
On the range, the pistol
proved that pretty is as pretty does. I was able
to shoot tight
groups right from the start, but I wasn't surprised
after seeing the
test target Tim fired from a Ransom Rest, a 0.63-inch,
25-yard group with Federal 230-grain Hydra Shok.
The trigger is among the best I've ever felt, and the
flawlessly - feeding, firing and ejecting everything
hollowpoints to 230-grain ball.
The smooth grips and carry bevel package make it a joy
concealed, and the mag well is easy to hit under stress.
checkering is just aggressive enough to give me a great
being too abrasive, and the custom bevertail allows me
to get a nice,
high grip to better manaage the 45's recoil.
one-of-a-kind, full-house custom 1911 with a waiting
time of severeal
years may not be your cup of tea. But if you have
an eye for the
kind of craftsmanship that can produce a firearm so fine
should qualify as art, you would do well to
commission CT Brian
to build your dream gun.