Ruger SR1911 Review

Discussion in 'Chambers Custom Pistols - Obsessibly™ Accurate, Re' started by Joe C, Sep 28, 2011.

  1. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

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    Several members here have asked if I would post the review I did of the Ruger SR1911 back in the summer, so here you go! Many of you may have seen it before but for those that haven't I hope you enjoy it as one persons professional evaluation of an out of the box 1911...



    This is my review of the Ruger SR1911 I received into the shop today. This is a gun I purchased from a distributor personally so there was no chance at getting a “biased” one (if there is such a thing) from a rep. I believe the measurements listed below to be what a person could expect should they decide to purchase one commercially at the time of this evaluation and writing.

    I will first list all the measured specs along with some personal comments based on how I would normally build a gun from scratch. At the end I will give my overall impression of the firearm and recommendations. Please keep in mind that at the time of this writing I have not shot the gun. I have simply taken it apart, evaluated and measured it piece by piece. My personal comments and opinions you will read below are simply that, my personal views. My comments regarding what the numbers are or should be can be backed up by not only the 30+ years of study and guns built by my mentor Bob Marvel, but also the guns I have built in the past that have and continue to perform for their owners at the highest level of reliability and accuracy.

    Slide to Frame Fit:

    The frame rails measure .74860” in width, .0990” and .0985” in height, and the way of the frame measures .1185” and .1180 respectively.

    The slide way measures .7580” in width, .1045” in height, and the rails of the slide measure .1160” and .1165” respectively.

    This allows for a difference of .0094” side to side (horizontal) and about .002” up and down (vertical). Typically when fitting a slide to frame I shoot for between .0002”-.0005” horizontal and less than .001” vertical. The good news is the slide checks out as being parallel in the ways and rails so it would be an easy cure to have the frame rails welded up and re-machined if a person desired a better fit.

    The slide does overhang the rear of the frame by about .008” which would be barely noticeable to most and it a great deal better than many of the production guns on the market today.

    Barrel and Barrel Fit:

    The o.d. of the barrel measures .5812” in the bushing bearing area and .5750” past that area. The area underneath the radial lugs has not been relieved and may cause binding on the frame during cycling. This area should be relieved in my opinion.

    The bushing i.d. measures .5835” for a tolerance of .0023”. While this is much tighter than other “stock guns” I have measured it is not what I would consider “match”. In my opinion a “match” fit bushing should have a difference in tolerance of less than .001” when fit properly with the correct reliefs made to allow for function.

    The bushing o.d. is .6967” and the slide i.d. is .703” for a tolerance of .0063”. The bushing also has play fore and aft in the slide. The bushing is in other words very loose in the slide which is not uncommon on “stock” guns. It does however affect accuracy and is easily corrected with a new properly fit bushing.

    The barrel is not finish crowned which does affect the accuracy as it can cause the bullet to leave the bore unevenly.

    The barrel hood to breach face gap on this pistol measured .008”. The range for best accuracy is from less than .001” to .0025” max with a correct match chamber depth of .905”-.908”. Unfortunately due to the loaded chamber cut in the top of the hood I do not think this issue could be corrected by welding and re-machining the hood. However, I will explore the possibility as I feel it would enhance the accuracy.

    The chamber is not finish reamed and is not polished. It measures .898” from the back of the hood. The barrel throat is the proper concave shape but is unpolished.

    There is no perceptible fit between the barrel legs and the slide stop pin. The legs measure .0915 from the outside edge of the link pin hole to the flat. The link bridge (the part that corresponds to the height of the barrel legs) measures .099” meaning that the slide stop is resting on the link as opposed to the barrel legs. The slide stop link hole measures .204” which is part of the reason the barrel has barrel bump on the front of the legs as the barrel does not have enough movement during cycling due to the tight link hole to help prevent the legs from bumping the slide stop. It may be possible to have some leg fit on the barrel if a new bushing and slide stop were installed in the gun. Having the slide lowered on the frame by means of either accu-rail, peening or welding and re-machining would also aid in acquiring barrel fit on the legs.

    The slide stop appears to be MIM. The pin measures .1965” in diameter and has a flat on the bottom. It is also shaped in such a way on the nose as to cause rounds to bump it during feeding causing accuracy and reliability issues.

    Extractor:

    The extractor is very close to the correct specs for length from the front of the firing pin stop slot to the rear edge of the hook at 2.257” (correct measurement is 2.250” +/- .005”). It does have a bit too much tension but this appears to be caused by the fact that the tip of the hook is slightly too fat allowing the round to be held by said tip on the rebate of the round instead of on the rim of the case by the flat of the extractor. This causes accuracy and reliability issues as it does not allow the round to be held in the chamber the same each time and causes an interruption in the feeding process.

    Guide Rod, Plug and Recoil Spring:

    The guide rod appears to be a solid stainless steel piece of government length. It is not modified on the back side which is allowing it to hit the front of the barrel legs during cycling. This affects both accuracy and reliability. The plug has not been beveled on the inside edge which causes the spring to bind slightly while cycling. The spring is 20 pound which in my opinion is a bit heavy. A correct spring weight would be 18 pounds for normal ball and self defense type loads.

    Frame:

    The magwell of the frame has been opened evenly and cleanly to allow for easier mag insertion.

    The vertical impact surface (VIZ) has little to no relief which over time will allow the barrel legs to strike low in the frame which can cause the legs to break off the barrel.

    The frame ramp is machined to a depth of .425” which is good. However, it appears to have been plunge cut with a 15/32” cutter and is therefore not wide enough to feed most hollow point or wadcutter loads. This needs to be widened. It has also not been moved forward too much which would allow for the fitting of a Kart NM barrel without much difficulty.

    Three of the four grip screw bushing protrude into the frame which can cause certain mags to hang up when attempting to eject them.

    Ejector:

    The ejector is an extended variety that has been pinned in place. It is of a suitable length at 1.060 from front to back. However, the nose has been shaped at a downward angle as opposed to a rearward angle which would be preferred for consistent ejection.

    Ejection Port:

    The ejection port has been cut to a depth of .450” from the bottom of the slide with a radius of 3/8”. While this is sufficient, it would serve better were it lowered to a depth of .400” with a ¼” cutter.

    continued...
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2011
  2. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

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    Fire Control Parts:

    The mainspring housing appears to be made of stainless steel that has been blackened. It sports sharp checkering with enough meat left to remove the checkering if another treatment such as stippling is desired. It is loose in the frame and should be tightened. The mainspring itself appears to be a 25 pound spring which is a bit strong in my opinion but is probably needed in order to allow the firing pin, which is titanium, to set off the primer consistently.

    The grips safety appears to be a stainless steel MIM part. There is a lot to be desired in having it blended to the frame. That being said, the frame tangs have not been overcut as to make it unsightly if it were dressed up a bit. It has been set in such a way as to allow for minimum pressure to release it while still engaging and has the relief cut on the arm to allow it to be removed without removing the mainspring housing.

    The thumb safety appears to be a carbon MIM part. It functions as it should. It does hang over the edge of the frame when disengaged but does not reveal the access hole when engaged. This is a small problem that could be fixed either by blending and re-bluing it or welding it on the inside and refitting it to the frame.

    The sear spring is of the standard variety and has not been modified on the ends of the fingers for smooth function.

    The hammer appears to be MIM. It does have a positive half cock notch. The hooks of the hammer are .0265” long and undressed. The distance from the outside of the pin hole to the primary hammer flat is .200” which is within the acceptable range of .200”-.205” for good geometry.

    The sear appears to be MIM. The oal measures .768” which may appear a bit short. However, the distance from the pin to the engagement surface measures .455” which should be long enough to allow for the primary surface to be cut and polished to a correct angle as it is currently in the rough as is the rest of the sear.

    The disconnector appears to be MIM. It is unpolished and measures 1.305” which falls within the proper specifications. The slide does stall slightly on the disconnector due to the lack of the MCP disconnector cut in addition to having a great deal of pressure on the middle leaf of the sear spring.

    The hammer strut is a rough stamping and is rubbing both the sear spring and the mainspring housing. This part would be suitable to use if it were corrected and dressed to clean up its appearance.

    The trigger itself is of excellent quality. The fit of the shoe is good both vertically and horizontally. The bow protrudes into the frame and is not polished. This allows the bow of the trigger to rub against the mags as the trigger is pulled affecting the feel and weight of the trigger pull.

    The trigger pull from the factory on this gun is a crisp 4lbs 14oz. There is sometimes a bit of a click when the trigger is starting to be pulled which is probably due to the unfinished surfaces of the hammer, sear, disconnector and trigger bow. This is nothing that could not be fixed with a proper trigger job.

    The firing pin is appears to be titanium and has a tip diameter of .093” which is considered the standard .45acp diameter. It could be replaced with a standard steel firing pin.

    The firing pin plate is fit much better than on other production guns. While it is not “match” tight, it is not sloppy loose either and does not allow the extractor to clock or move fore and aft.

    The mag catch does not appear to be MIM. It appears to be made by a popular parts maker of whom I will not name but whose parts I know very well and feel are of excellent quality. The nose of the mag catch does hit the mag follower during cycling which can cause accuracy and reliability issues.

    Sights:

    The rear sight is of the Novak variety and the bottom of the cut measures .185” from the top of the slide. This would prevent installing another style of sight without installing a Dutchman and re-cutting it. There are adjustable sights for this cut made by KFS which helps for those desiring adjustability.

    The front sight .210” high and is a bit shorter in length than a traditional sight being cut forward to the rear of the dovetail with a forward raked angle. It has a white dot which corresponds with the dots on the back of the rear sight. It has been relieved on the sides and there is no gap between the sight and the slide unlike some recent production guns.

    Grips and Screws:

    The grips are very nicely done cocobolos that have been checkered in the double diamond fashion with a boarder on the front and back. They sport the black Ruger logo coins in them. They are held on by hex head grip screws which is a nice touch in my opinion.

    Overall Appearance:

    To be totally honest with you, I like the look of the gun. The slide has a nice bevel on the bottom edge that is not commonly seen on production guns in this price range. The rear cocking serrations are just enough. The finish is very even. The front of the slide is slightly beveled, unevenly, but beveled none the less. My gun did come with a very slight ding on the trigger guard and front strap, but it is not a huge deal considering the cosmetics I have seen on other production guns. I like the memory bump on the grip safety. The grip safety could have been blended a bit better, but again; it is a production gun and fits a lot better than others. The thumb safety pad is pretty flat, but at least it is extended and serrated evenly.

    Opinions:

    Over the years I have had the “pleasure” of evaluating nearly every maker of production class 1911’s on the market in some form or fashion as well as many guns built by other custom smiths. Most would say that I tend to be a bit too critical. However, I take my work very seriously as I feel the consumer deserves the best product for their money especially when said product may be used to save a person’s life someday.

    There are a few reservations I have regarding this pistol as a professional custom pistolsmith. On one hand I am very happy that Ruger decided to laser engrave the markings on the gun as it makes it very easy to remove the logos on the slide and the warning on the bottom side of the dust cover. On the other hand, the serial number seems to be engraved rather lightly which would most likely prohibit sanding and polishing the frame. That being said, there is nothing wrong with an all blasted matte finished stainless steel gun in my opinion.

    Another reservation is that the plunger tube is integral to the frame. Is it really an issue? Probably not, unless you happen to crush it in such a way that it renders the thumb safety in the up position and inoperable during a desperate time of need. Which begs the question, have I ever seen one crushed? Yes I have. But it is very rare and because of its rarity I would not consider it a downfall of the gun. It is much better than having a plunger tube that has not been staked properly that comes loose after a couple of hundred rounds.

    To some the MIM parts may be a concern. I can say that over the years, on particular makers’ guns, I have seen MIM thumb safeties and mag catches break. I have personally never seen a hammer, sear or disconnector break. I have seen guns with MIM sears go tens of thousands of rounds with excellent triggers though. Again, this would not be as much of a concern to me if I were considering purchasing this pistol as would the oal of the sear.

    My opinion on the sights is really more of a personal matter. I have never cared for the Novak style of cut or sight. Personally I wish Ruger had simply done a GI cut as it would have given the end user the option of having whatever they preferred put on the gun. But then for the price one can’t be too picky and as aforementioned, there are options out there if adjustable sights are desired.

    I would say after inspecting and measuring this gun that for a retail price of around $650.00 +/- (the price I have been seeing on the market) this gun is well worth the money. Are there things that need to be corrected or changed? Yes, but that is the case with all the production class guns being built. There is only so much a company can do and still have a gun that is affordable. But, it appears from this example that Ruger has built a gun that is a solid foundation for either a casual plinker or an everyday use gun, provided some changes were made, in my opinion. If a side by side comparison of popular production guns priced under $1,000.00 (and certainly below $700.00) was done I feel the Ruger would be the winner. And yes, I love the fact that it is a series 70 gun! Your experience may vary.

    Next up I will be taking the stock gun to the range to function fire it as it came with a variety of ammo ranging from standard ball ammo to modern day hollow points and wadcutters. I see no point in ransom rest testing the gun in this configuration as there are a number of factors, not the least of which is the trigger pull, which would adversely affect the results.

    Thank you for reading my review. Feel free to leave comments or questions and I will get to them as time permits.
  3. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

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    Range Review before mods

    Well, it finally dried out enough to go to the range today. Just so happens that a friend of mine wanted to go also. He has never shot a 1911 before in his life. So I thought, well, this will be good. Let someone who is totally a novice at the 1911 have a spin at a gun to see if THEY can get it to malfunction by limp wristing, jerking, or whatever...the results were astonishing...

    First off I'm going to list the bullets and or loads that were shot out of this gun. This is not necessarily the order as at times we were shooting whatever our hands could get hold of to put into the mags. I will say that the pricey self defense stuff was shot by me in an order and manner in which I have experienced it would most likely cause malfunctions. I will also mention that the SR1911 I purchased came with one seven and one eight round mag.

    - 230g ball Armscorp factory load (1999ish)
    - 200g Cast LSWC 5.8g Unique
    - 185g Star swagged LHPWC 3.8g CLAYS
    - 200 Sierra FP 6.0 W231
    - 185g Zero JHP 4.1 Clays
    - 185g Nosler JHP Atlanta Arms Load
    - 230g Sierra HP CorBon Factory Load
    - 185g Starfire HP Factory Load
    - 185g (?) Winchester Silvertip HP Factory Load
    - 185g Cast LSWC TZZ (old milsurp load with short button nose bullet)
    - 200g Speer Gold Dot Factory Load

    In all, 225 rounds were fired in about 30 minutes. In total there were 11 different loads with 10 different bullet types tried. There was not one, and I mean not even a single solitary malfunction. Not when I put it in the hands of the newbie, not when I shot the softest wad loads I use (the 185g Star LSHP 3.8 CLAYS), not when I shot it sideways, upside down, soft handed or off the bench...it just ran and ran and ran.

    Now, that being said, I will be the first to admit that 225 rounds is not that many. However, putting 11 different types of ammo through it of all different nose types and o.a.l.'s is something that I have seen many other stock production, semi-custom and even custom guns choke on while trying to handle. Honestly, I was shocked...and impressed...and for those of you that really know me, you know that is pretty hard to do.

    This is not to say that the potential issues I listed in the initial review are not relevant. The slide stop nose and mag catch nose are still bumping which does affect accuracy. The extractor is still mis-fit, in my opinion, as is the ejector. The slide to frame is still loose side to side and etc. What it is to say is that this gun, out of the box, functioned with 225 rounds of 11 different loads and that is a good thing.

    Ejection: It was consistent with ball...6-7 feet at 5:00 from the shooter. With the self defense loads it was rather wild and all over which indicates a need, in my opinion, to tune the ejector and extractor a bit. With the soft loads it just dribbled them out of the gun and onto my feet, which is pretty normal when a gun sprung as this one was actually functions with them.

    The trigger: Ah, the trigger, yes, that funny little thing that can change on a whim if you are not careful. It went from being a VERY crisp 4lbs 14oz with a slight tick from time to time at the beginning to being a looong roll of just over 4lbs by the time we were done. This is the way I would expect a trigger with .026" hammer hooks and little to no relief on the sear to feel. It actually doesn't feel bad, but it is long! And this is pretty much what I expected to happen when I shot it as I knew that the fire control parts would mate together over time.

    Accuracy, well, ya. I shot it off the bench at 25 yards with both my accuracy hand loads of 185g Zero HP 4.1 CLAYS (a load that has consistently given me 10 shot groups of less than 1.5" at 50 yards out of custom built and re-built guns) and with a test load that I got from Atlanta Arms that has tested sub 1.300" 10 shot groups at 50 yards in many guns. Both targets were ten shots in wind that was about 20-25mph from left to right. The sights on this pistol need to be adjusted a bit but the groups off the rest were around 4-5". Considering the wind, as it was blowing the target and me pretty wildly, I don't think this is terribly bad and is certainly not out of line with what I have seen from other stock production guns. Although, I think that with better conditions it could shoot better. I did have one 5 shot group during a lull that went into 2.5" with the AA ammo.

    Overall, I was and am impressed with this gun out of the box. I'm not going to bother shooting it another couple of hundred rounds to see if it will fail. Instead I'm going to modify the things that I feel need to be fixed and sell it as my work with this particular piece is done for now. I hope it was as educational for you as the reader as it was for me as the smith. I personally would have no hesitation in purchasing one of these Ruger SR1911's at this time to shoot, enjoy and maybe even fix up for an everyday carry around gun if I was looking for something on a budget or just wanted something that was less expensive for outdoor use. It is, in my opinion at this time, an excellent value for the money.
  4. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

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    The Modifications

    Mechanical:

    - Corrected the guide rod to prevent it from hitting the barrel legs
    - Corrected the mag catch to prevent it from hitting the mag follower
    - Corrected the slide stop to prevent it from hitting rounds during feeding
    - Corrected the frame feed ramp by widening, deepening and polishing it
    - Corrected the ejection port by lowering it to approx .410” from the bottom of the slide
    - Corrected the ejector nose angle for consistent ejection
    - Corrected the extractor for both tension and nose position
    - Corrected the link slot in the frame for proper clearance
    - Corrected the grip screw bushing that were protruding into the frame
    - Corrected the breech face for smoother feeding
    - Corrected the barrel throat and polished it
    - Crowned the barrel
    - Welded and re-cut the barrel hood for a tolerance of less than .001” to the breech face
    - Cut the chamber to a depth of .905” for best accuracy and reliability
    - Replaced the bushing with a match fit MGW stainless bushing (you need a wrench to remove it)
    - I.D. of bushing is .58125” O.D. of barrel is .58075” Total tolerance is .0005"
    - Cut the Marvel Disconnector slot cut in the slide for smoother function
    - Replaced the Ti firing pin with a steel EGW part
    - Replaced the 20lb recoil spring with an 18lb Wolf
    - Replaced the mainspring with a 23lb Wolf
    - Replaced the link with one correctly dimensioned for the barrel legs
    - Blended rear of slide, ejector, extractor to match the frame
    - Complete trigger job with short roll set at 4lbs 2oz
    o Sear at .765” oal
    o Hammer hooks at .018”
    o Disconnector at 1.3015”
    o Corrected trigger bow in frame
    o Tightened MSH to frame
    o Corrected sear spring
    o Corrected hammer strut

    There are a couple of additional things I thought about doing to this pistol that in my opinion would enhance it such as welding and re-cutting the frame rails to fit the slide, fitting a new Kart barrel, replacing the slide stop, hammer, sear, disconnector, fitting a new SS .220" radius grip safety and fitting a new SS stippled Aztec cut MSH. However, in keeping with the idea of the project, that is to keep it affordable to the regular person, I decided to forgo those things for now. The cosmetic stuff was just stuff I wanted to do personally.

    Cosmetic work:

    - Stippled rear of slide, ejector and extractor
    - Stippled and Aztec pattern cut top of slide
    - Stippled and Aztec pattern cut front strap of frame
    - Removed all slide logos
    - Removed Ruger Warning on frame dust cover
    - Boarder cut top of frame
    - Hand bevel and blend all edges of slide and frame
    - Reblast frame, slide, bushing, plug and trigger

    Fired 100 rounds of mixed loads and bullets with zero malfunctions as a final function test. Total round count to date before and after modifications is 325 with zero malfunctions.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2011
  5. Blayglock

    Blayglock Forum Supporter Forum Supporter

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    Thank you for sharing. We have much to learn from you.
  6. deadguy

    deadguy In a straight jacket Forum Supporter

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    Great job Joe. Thank you for your time and evaluations.
  7. awpk03s

    awpk03s Member

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    Thanks... would love to see some pictures to match this!
  8. Earlsbud

    Earlsbud Forum Supporter Forum Supporter

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    WOW! What a thorough and nicely written review. Please post pics post mechanical and cosmetic if you have time. Thank you.
  9. Blayglock

    Blayglock Forum Supporter Forum Supporter

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    I have a question. Why the 23lb mainspring?
  10. Hokie

    Hokie Active Member

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    Pics man.....pics!
  11. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

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    I'll get you guys some pics shortly. Right now I'm just trying to do some catching up on my work load which thanks to this forum as grown a bit more.
  12. Spokes

    Spokes Forum Supporter Forum Supporter

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    Very nice report.
    Thanks
  13. Midliferally

    Midliferally New Member

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    Could you pm me the cost of doing the work you proposed for this gun? I have one I might want you to soup up Thx!
  14. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

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    Blay, it slows the slide down faster than does a 20lb which, in combination with the correct recoil spring allows the gun to shoot flatter, meaning you keep the sights on the target better.
  15. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

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    Here are a few pics for you guys. Before the gun went out the new owner decided he wanted a stainless grip safety and MSH so I fit those for him. The MSH was cut to match the front strap of course...didn't get a pic of it like that unfortunately but it was very nice.

    IMGP2542.jpg IMGP2543.jpg IMGP2544.jpg IMGP2545.jpg

    Enjoy.
  16. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

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    Midliferally, do you want a price for the mechanical, cosmetic or all of it?
  17. Blayglock

    Blayglock Forum Supporter Forum Supporter

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    Thanks Joe. What # recoil spring and would it still function okay with rounds downloaded for IDPA?
  18. Joe C

    Joe C Custom Pistolsmith Sponsor

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    Blay, the DW Valor in .45 that I just sent out had an 18lb recoil, 23lb mainspring and a rounded FPP. The gentleman that got it said he was shooting a 200g LSWC with 3.9g of clays (read: very light load) and it was a dream to shoot...and said he also shoots hardball loads now with less recoil.
  19. Blayglock

    Blayglock Forum Supporter Forum Supporter

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    Thanks Joe, that clears up some things for me.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2011
  20. jst1tym

    jst1tym What No Delete Button? Forum Supporter

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    Excellent review Joe! I can only imagine how well the Ruger shoots now that you have tweaked it. Outside of doing full custom builds, do you squeeze in some tweak jobs now and then? Not a full pistol but like some slide mods like border cuts and rear slide serrations? I know that your extremely busy and have a lot of customers, but it never hurts to ask? Thanks. Btw, you build some awesome pistols :thumb:

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