1911 front strap checkering - who to do it?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing - Assembly - Finishing' started by fieldgrade, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Two of my 1911's both have checkered front straps and having gotten accustom to them it makes my other 1911's with smooth front straps feel naked.

    I'm thinking of having two checkered. They are not expensive 1911's, a Colt and a Springfield, but I am partial to both and don't mind putting a little more money in both.

    I know who some of the bigger name gunsmiths are and I expect there are longer wait times. I'm not looking for presentation grade work as these two pistols are "working" guns that I shoot matches with, and they are somewhat scuffed up as it is.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    After doing a little research, it looks like I'm gonna want to find someone who has machine checkering capabilities, because neither of these pistols warrant a top shelf hand checkering job, and I understand from some old posts on a 1911 forum that the price of hand checkering can be significantly higher.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
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  3. Bailey Boat

    Bailey Boat Senior Member Charter Member Benefactor

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    I've done several and you would not believe what I charged!!!! I made a mistake on the first one at 125.00 but not on the second and third one at 250.00!! You wouldn't want me to do yours......
     
  4. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I did a little more research just now and that's exactly what Night Hawk Custom charges, not including bead blast or refinish the frame, and freight to and from. And the guy did it a few months ago on one of the very same guns I'm considering.

    I might just be better off with stair tread grip tape on the front strap for what I use these guns for, although I hate the idea.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
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  5. Beef15

    Beef15 B or somesuch Charter Member

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    $250 is what Aquila Gun Works charges as well. Probably a pretty standard rate.

    He cut a slide for sights for me, turn around was great, and best price I found. Think he instructs at Montgomery.

    I'm thinking for $250 I'll buy files and a scar up my beaters. Been thinking that for 3 or more years now. Grip tape works.
     
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  6. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I've thought multiple times about just doing it myself, but every time I read about someone doing it it looks like a huge PITA. Good files and a jig are nearly the price of "outsourcing".
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  7. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  8. nbkky71

    nbkky71 Active Member

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  9. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Thanks. I was just reading about those.

    My only possible concern is it could be a moisture trap since it doesn't adhere to the frame, but held on by the grip panels, as I understand it. We shoot through the summer and get wringing wet, but it is an interesting idea.
     
  10. Beef15

    Beef15 B or somesuch Charter Member

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    You can get a whole roll of 3M at Home Depot for pretty cheap. Or PM me, I'll cut you a section and throw it in an envelope. I've lost at least one roll now before I used it all.

    Tools are high, but I have at least three guns to ruin the appearance of, someday.
     
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  11. Button Pusher

    Button Pusher Well-Known Member Benefactor

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    Have you considered laser engraving the front strap?
     
  12. doose

    doose Happy to be here

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    Have you considered stippling the front strap?

    (Yes, i am aware it is steel. ;) )

    A buddy of mine stippled the backstrap of a revolver... mallet and center punch... not as precision a job as checkering...

    Sent from my SM-T820 using Tapatalk
     
  13. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Holy crap.
     
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  14. Bailey Boat

    Bailey Boat Senior Member Charter Member Benefactor

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    Decisions, decisions.... The issue with checkering the front strap is the radius. The more coarse the file, the easier it is to get the first row right. I have files in 24 and 30 LPI and it ain't easy, and then doing the longitudinal (long lines) is a bitch. The whole damned job is a BITCH!!
    BTW: I think ya'll may have misunderstood my pricing schedule, it's not 250.00 for the job, it's 250.00 per line!!!!
     
  15. Jeppo

    Jeppo Very LARGE Member Supporting Member

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    $4.70 for a 9 x 33 roll, delivered. It seems identical to Talon's granulate material. My VP9SK's wearing this stuff now.
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/9x33in-S...fessional-Grip-Tape-by-Black-Diamond/48328070
     
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  16. doose

    doose Happy to be here

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    it actually turned out nicely. Stippling is not my cup of tea, but this did not look bad at all.

    here is a front grip stipple on a metal frame... looks good...[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
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  17. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I ordered the Dawson grip tape because you can color coordinate, like Barbie and Ken. Plus cheap shipping, and I have good luck with their products. Black for my blued Colt and gray for my Stainless Springer.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I agree that looks nicely done, and finished well with the cuts at top and bottom of the stippling.

    If I did it with a hammer and center punch it might look more like this.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
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  19. doose

    doose Happy to be here

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    is that 1911 for sale?

    looks like it would make for a nice cheap truck or tackle box gun after it is cleaned up...

    is the bore in good shape? I can live with a little frosting...
     
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  20. Mike V

    Mike V Lighten Up, Francis Charter Member Supporting Member

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    That will buff right out!
     
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  21. Jeppo

    Jeppo Very LARGE Member Supporting Member

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    That orange grip tape would probably look good contrasting with the rust. :D
     
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  22. CZfool68

    CZfool68 Int'l Man of Mystery Charter Member Sponsor Supporting Member

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    I do not like smooth front straps. That is why I have never owned a really cheap or cost effective 1911. Try finding a nicely checkered front strap on a $600 1911. Guess that might make me a snob.
    All this reminds me I didn't brag about the front strap on my Colt that is FS. Next bump I guess.

    Once you go nice front strap, you never go back.
     
  23. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    The $800 Fusion Reaction 1911 9mm I just bought (and is now my main match blaster) came with a checkered front strap.
    Machine checkered, I'm sure.

    So does my new Wesson 9mm Valor, which obviously costs somewhat more. So now my two .45's feel nekkid in front.
    Full frontal nudity, as it were.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
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  24. CZfool68

    CZfool68 Int'l Man of Mystery Charter Member Sponsor Supporting Member

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    How is the Fusion doing? They seem like a great deal.
     
  25. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Firstly, I really like it, but it required some attention.

    -Extractor crapped out (didn't break) in 200 rounds, but only needed to be re-tentioned (hat tip to @Amp Mangum for that), which remedied it, but I still fit a Wilson Bulletproof extractor for good measure.
    -They don't come dehorned at all, especially the mag release, thumb safety and bottom of the checkered front strap which was all fairly pointy and sharp, but that is easy enough to remedy with a stone and a blueing pen, which I did.

    Everything else I did was just to get it like I wanted it. New front sight, fit a different thumb safety, added S&A magwell, and some grippy grips for those hot summer days (VZ Operator 2)
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
  26. Mightyox04

    Mightyox04 Das Ox

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    Still works
     
  27. CZfool68

    CZfool68 Int'l Man of Mystery Charter Member Sponsor Supporting Member

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    Minor issues. Cool. Might have to add one to the heard someday.
     
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  28. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Ed Strickland at Deep River in Sanford is the dealer from them in this area.
     
  29. CZfool68

    CZfool68 Int'l Man of Mystery Charter Member Sponsor Supporting Member

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    Unfortunately for Ed my gun budget is currently $0 until my Colt sells. And maybe even after for a while. :(
     
  30. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Happy to be here

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    I’ve always liked the checkered front straps. My 1911 is a Series 70 Gold Cup with vertical grooves. I found a local “shade tree gunsmith” who has experience checkering steel but he refused the job because he was concerned that once he cross hatched the factory grooves that the result would be to remove too much metal.

    I had to content myself with the removable piece from Wilson. Grip tape is not an option for me because it’s not allowed under the rules for Wild Bunch Action Shooting.
     
  31. Hashknife

    Hashknife Member

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    Who was the member here machining the 80%CNC lowers, knobs and other parts?? He posted some videos of CNC milling on the forums.... Maybe he could set up and do the checkering?? Sort of automate the process with some micro dovetail cutters..(??)
     
  32. NoNameHaveI

    NoNameHaveI All government is tyranny Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
  33. premise

    premise Member

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    How is the Wilson removable piece? Easy to kink or pull free from the frame? I have "inexpensive" 1911s (Colt, Ruger) and I would like at least some serrations on the front strap.

    Edit: meant to add that one of mine has 20lpi serrations (came that way) and I find that more than adequate for grip, plus it is a lot easier on your shirt hems. Looks to run about half the price of a checkering job).
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  34. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Poor man's front strap checkering...

    fullsizeoutput_a3e.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2018
  35. Dirtydirtysouf

    Dirtydirtysouf Active Member

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    I've had that same setup on my 1911 for 15+ years
     
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  36. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I like it so much after a trip to the range yesterday I’m going to do another one like that this week.
     
  37. fieldgrade

    fieldgrade Well seasoned member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Did a stainless match blaster this time. Springfield RO.

    I have a bunch of this Dawsons adhesive grip tape in both black and gray leftover if anyone wants to do their own. I'll drop some in the mail to any paid supporting member.

    fullsizeoutput_a45.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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  38. BatteryOaksBilly

    BatteryOaksBilly A SHOOTER Benefactor Life Member Supporting Member

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    Stippling done right is attractive to me. I have had a couple of Jim Clark guns that had the Tiger Tooth treatment. Not particularly attractive but you couldn't make the gun move.
     
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  39. premise

    premise Member

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    I broke down and picked up a couple of the Wilson's front strap checkered add ons.

    First thoughts is that they are Wilson products - well thought and quality. One side is pre-bent, so loosen one stock and take the other off. Hook the prebent side around the slab insert cutout of the front strap, pull it taught around the front and check checker alignment to frame. In both instances, it fell right in line at the contours of the frame, so I tightened up the loose stock. I pulled the other side around and used a brass rod to index/crease the Wilson part on the other insert cutout of the frame, kept it pulled tight and put the other stock on.

    First impressions, the blue matched better than the stainless did to the Ruger, but it still looks nice, though it doesn't conform to the frame as nicely as the Colt; I may try and remedy that. It's fine for the average person, but I'm a nitpicky weirdo. Nice and grippy, no issues so far, but I just ran 4 or 5 mags through at the creek. Function wise they are perfect. My hands are pretty rough, so they were in the sweet spot of grippy but not painful in the least.

    Verdict - easily worth the 10-15 bucks they cost. I'll eventually get the Colt serrated, but this will work fine until then.

    Photos to follow, please don't judge me for the idiot mark on the Ruger, I didn't put that beauty there. Also, safety is off on the Colt but it wasn't loaded (I know, all of them are always loaded), because I know somebody here has to be that guy.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
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  40. Scsmith42

    Scsmith42 Member Benefactor Charter Life Member Supporting Member

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    Ash, if I were you I would give serious consideration to Jeff Abernathy at Tommy Gun's in Mt. Holly, NC. http://www.tommygunsusa.com/

    I own a 1911 that Tommy built for F.J. Hale III back in the early 2000's and the craftsmanship is superb.

    Frontstrap.jpg


    Backstrap 2.jpg
     
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