Custom 1911 Project: Part 3- fit and blend grip safety

Custom 1911 Project: Part 3- fit and blend grip safety, Presented by and Brownells

This is the third installment of our Custom 1911 project- in this post we are going to fit a Wilson Combat grip safety.

  1. Custom 1911 Project: Part 1- getting started
  2. Custom 1911 Project: Part 2-undercut trigger guard
  3. Custom 1911 Project: Part 3- fit and blend grip safety
  4. Custom 1911 Project: Part 4- Machining a chain link front strap
  5. Custom 1911 Project: Part 5- milling the slide for low mount sights
  6. Custom 1911 Project: Part 6- flat top and chain link top of slide
  7. Custom 1911 Project: Part 7- machining ball cuts on a 1911 slide

custom 1911 full right side of pistol

Our custom Remington R1 is outfitted with the following Wilson Combat parts:

One of the defining features of a well made custom 1911 is a well fit grip safety.  The two most prominent designs are the so-called Ed Brown and Wilson Combat style grip safeties.  Both require modifications to most standard frames and each uses a different cut.  For our project gun, we will be using a Wilson Combat grip safety.  I like the lines and flow of the Wilson and think it will be a good fit on the project gun.

Before we proceed, please read the following disclaimer:

Warning:  The contents of are produced for informational purposes only and should be performed by competent gunsmiths only. and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.

Any modifications made to a firearm should be made by a licensed gunsmith. Failure to do so may void warranties and result in an unsafe firearm and may cause injury or death.

Modifications to a firearm may result in personal injury or death, cause the firearm to not function properly, or malfunction, and cause the firearm to become unsafe.

R1 factory beavertail

A close up view of the grip safety provided from the factory with our Remington R1 pistol.

wilson beavertail on R1

This is the Wilson Combat full fit grip safety #298BBP.  Note the smooth lines when compared to the factory model. Installation of a grip safety like this requires the use of a commander style hammer.

wilson beavertail filing fixture

To help fit the grip safety to the frame, Wilson Combat makes this hardened steel filing fixture #402, 1911 beavertail fitting jig.

beavertail fixture in place on R1

The fixture simply clamps to the frame and acts as a guide for a file during the initial fitting process.

r1 beavertail on grinder

I elected to take most of the material off of the frame with a belt grinder.  Keep in mind that the grinder will cut through the file fixture so extreme care must be taken not to cut too much and destroy the frame.

R1 beavertail on grinder 2

A quick look at the frame as it comes off the grinder.  I gave the fixture ample space.

r1 beavertail and file

Next I use a file, coated in chalk to finish shaping the profile.  Note that the filed parts shouldn’t have oil, oil is bad for a file.

wilson beavertail fitting with tapered punch

Using a tapered alignment pin, I can take a look at where more material needs to be filed in order to fit the safety.

R1 beavertail with punch 2

As the cut approaches the correct dimension the parts will draw closer together and the tapered pin will fit further into the hole for the thumb safety’s shaft.

r1 beavertail ready to be blended

When the radius is the correct size, the thumb safety’s shaft will fit into its hole and the grip safety will swing freely back and forth.

blending R1 beavertail

Now is the time to start blending the areas surrounding the grip safety.  I start with files and work down to fine abrasive cloth. During the blending process I cut down the very end of the grip safety so it didn’t sweep so high, this was purely for cosmetic reasons, I thought it went up too high.

Prior to final assembly, the front tab of the safety will be adjusted to allow the trigger to move when it is engaged.  At this point, the metal work is complete.

The grips safety looks great on the finished gun!  Take a look below!

custom 1911 left rear

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