Lightweight Commander Project

Discussion in '1911 Forums' started by Gaston_Convert, May 27, 2017.

  1. Gaston_Convert

    Gaston_Convert

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    This is a Colt 1911 Lightweight Commander originally purchased from my LGS during the Clinton AWB in 1996. The intent was to use it for CC, but eventually it fell out of rotation in favor of lighter carry pieces and because I didn't want to risk ruining its finish. Recently I decided to change the grip panels to something a bit more traditional and replace the beavertail because its finish didn't match. One thing led to another . . .

    DSC_2076_01.jpg DSC_2077_01.jpg DSC_2079_01.jpg

    This is an enhanced version (identified by an E suffix and the end of the serial number) that Colt made for a few years in the early to mid '90s, from 1992 - 1998 to be exact. (This one was born in 1995.) For the purists, I still have all of the original parts.

    Colt Lightweight Commander 1911 left side 061996.jpg
    Mine looked like this originally except that the grips were checkered, not pebbled.

    The enhanced models were Colt's attempt to offer consumers some factory options that many individuals would have done themselves using aftermarket parts. The enhanced series had a flat-topped slide with a plain rib and forward slanted serrations like the Gold Cup series, three-dot hi-profile combat sights, a lowered and flared ejection port, undercut trigger guard, beveled mag well, skeletonized Commander-style hammer with an oval cutout and a "duck bill" grip safety. They were not particularly well-received and when Kimber hit the market in 1996, Colt was losing out to its new competition who were producing semi-custom 1911s with many of the same enhancements as Colt's enhanced series, but also with upswept "beavertail" grip safeties which many preferred. For Colt, the enhanced E series was replaced by the XS series and then by the XSE series a year later.

    Magazines are Colt 8-rounders and I've never had any issues with them.

    When I first got it, Dad asked, "What did you get that for!?" His experience was with loose fitting worn out Government models from his service days as a Marine. This one was very tight and when he tried it, his face quickly broke into a big grin. "This is fun!"

    My experience was that after about 50 rounds the web between my thumb and index finger became sore. The original duck bill grip safety didn't work for me. I never got hammer bite or drew blood, but it wasn't comfortable after dozens of rounds. The replacement beavertail is a Wilson Combat drop-in model.

    Early on I replaced the original wrap-around plastic grips with fat Hogue wrap-around grips with finger grooves. While I liked the feel, I had a hard time in the accuracy department. It points much more naturally now with the new Altamont rosewood grip panels with snakeskin checkering. It no longer feels like a flipper (which is how it seemed after shooting Glocks). The final touch was to replace the original arched plastic MSH with a flat Ed Brown snakeskin checkered one. Wow, is it grippy! And the feel is much better in my hands than it was with the arched housing.

    The ambi tactical safety is also an Ed Brown product. The adjustable skeletonized K trigger is a Fusion Firearms part as is the stainless barrel bushing. Internally there is a Wilson Combat full length recoil rod, spring and buffer which makes it a softer, more enjoyable shooter. Trigger pull is short, light and crisp as one expects from this platform.

    Since I tend to make things my own, this 1911 is just another reflection of my tastes and what works for me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
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  2. ironhead7544

    ironhead7544

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    The Commander is the best carry version of the 1911, IMHO.
     

  3. Glock40man

    Glock40man

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    Agreed. I like the 4.25" add an Ed Brown Bobtail, and I'm even more happy.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk
     
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  4. Gaston_Convert

    Gaston_Convert

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    At one time I considered the bobtail for carry, but I'm not sure that I would like the feel of the grip as a whole. Yet, I have no problem with a G26 and factory mags with no extensions. I may have to try one.
     
  5. asltrfl

    asltrfl

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    I have 3 Colt l/w commanders. Carried one every day for 18 years. Plus many others. First one was early 90's production. Unreliable as crap. I took it to a guy named Tussy in Santa Ana, Ca. He did a bunch of work and it ran perfectly after that. I didn't like paying the price, but I didnt want to send it back to CT and hope it got fixed the first time. Since I worked in a machine shop, I bought a few books on building/repairing 1911's.

    After carefully studying what Mr. Tussy had done, i felt comfortable working on them myself. They are awesome to work on if you have some shop experience. The small block chevy of pistols. One thing I've done lately to lighten them up is add "Fusion" aluminum checkered msh! Top notch stuff from fusion, they sell on ebay as well. Also, I've discovered aluminum full-length guide rods for commanders and full size, at Power Factor.com. These two lightweight parts make the L/W commander the perfect Colt carry gun. 100's of rounds through two of them and not a single hiccup. Toss the plastic msh in the trash, I know they work just fine, but really Colt's? Shame!
     
  6. Gaston_Convert

    Gaston_Convert

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    I've never had any issue with this "project" Lightweight Commander except for the sear spring weakening over time which caused the grip safety to stop working as a safety. I hesitated on replacing the MSH because I wasn't sure it would feel right with a flat housing. It feels great now! The Ed Brown MSH is steel so it doesn't lighten things any, but it sure feels good in the hand.

    I grew up with the small block Chevy, so I can relate to your analogy.
     
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  7. FLIPPER 348

    FLIPPER 348 Bigfoot enthusiast enthusiast

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    IMG_3662.JPG V
    I put a Hogue G10 MSH housing on this one, feather light and works great

    ATTACH=full]334290[/ATTACH] My carry lightweight commander build, still 15% Ruger! I now carry it in the wilderness instead of the .357mag as the only real threats are 2 legged. Ruger did not make a lightweight version when I built it
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
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