Why Customize a Pistol?
Many Shooters are self-taught and they have
learned to shoot pistols that don't really fit their physiology or their manner
of carry and shooting. First, there are two distinct categories:
Self-Defense (carry) and Sport Shooting. The requirements for these two
categories are very different.
When a factory produces a pistol, the design is
intended to fit as many people's hands as possible. The end result is that
it is a perfect fit for a narrow cross section of all shooters, about right for
many more, and a complete misfit for those with extremely large or small
hands. Immediately after WW-I, when the .45 1911 pistol became popular in
the civillian market, special grips were being made to order that would
compensate for smaller or larger hands. These were not mass produced,
since the makers tried to make individual compensations. When the pistols
were sold or otherwise changed hands, they were often a misfit for the new
owner. Certain handicapped shooters demanded modifications to compensate
for their disablilties.
Next, special fixed and adjustable sights were
developed for quicker sight pickup and adjustment of point of impact.
Until the 1960's, all modified parts were
usually made by a gunsmith to customer specification. Then a large number
of aftermarket manufactures offered a wide spectrum of more accurate barrels,
adjustable triggers, large grip safeties, extended magazine releases.
Modifications to the ejection port were often needed to accommodate long
ejectors. New pattern extractors were developed. Many sizes and
styles of grips appeared on the market.
Magazine well funnels appeared and specially coated
internal pins and parts with added lubricity. New tools, fixtures
and gages became available to determine the level of reliability and
accuracy. Bull barrels and reverse plugs replaced factory barrels and
bushings to add accuracy and provide more forward weight. Several
excellent replacement slides appeared that were forward weighted...made by
casting, forging and from bar stock.
In short, there is a dizzying array of available
aftermarket parts. You can now take a stock slide and frame or a
specialized set and build either your dream competition pistol or your most
reliable and accurate carry pistol. Every phase of pistol use has been
addressed and finished guns not only look distinctive, but they are superb
Depending on your needs, this can either be a
low budget project or an unlimited one. Just remember that you need to
justify the end result against the difficulty and cost of the