80% 1911 for the Cheap Noob


How cheap can you go?

IDK but here’s a breakdown of what I spent on a noob build

RIA Kit 459.00 .40/10mm, frame included
Drill jig/bits 65.00
Rail cutter 170.00
Stake tool 35.00
4 wilson mags 156.00
Flared magwell 30.00

Also bought a 65* reamer for the pin holes to sit flush, harbor freight, cheap
Valve grinding compound, autozone cheap

About $950.00 bucks total

Beer, not cheap, Subs, cheap but good

I did not go easy, used a drill

And took off bigger pieces than likely intended, but hey, fewer passes right?

Matrix rail cutter

This is a very handy item for a tough job, (slide lapping) but doesn’t work well on a bushing-less slide,
so pass on it if thats what you’re building, otherwise add to cost, this one was I believe 25.00 on GB

Also, if your slide is bushing-less add a paper clip for assembly/disassembly

pin holes drilled

Assembled and operational but not finished or fired

RIA kits are easy for the noob on a budget, no barrel fitting, really very minor fitting over all
I’ll add more as it progresses further


because there wasn’t much actual smithing I pinned the grip safety and flattened it out


Overall a decent kit, you can see the skeletonized hammer and ambidextrous thumb safety

pachmayr grips were leftovers from the past, not added to $$


And if you are a even cheaper noob


So what was it not counting reusable tools?


I did not count tools on hand, surely some may need to be purchased, caliper for instance, I have a dial, a digital is recommend, files are needed


These aren’t reusable?? Sorry if that’s a dumb question. I don’t know any better.


Absolutely yes, but mandatory really, so added to initial cost to build, the next builds wont need to have these expenses added.


That’s what I was getting at - How much is start up cost versus actual parts cost.


And that varies also, I posted only what was used on this build above, but I bought other tools not realizing the RIA kit didn’t need them, a barrel seat cutter for one, needed for other 1911 builds, not the RIA

1911s are much more extensive than these kits, but, I believe overall its well worth trying for anyone wanting a firearms related hobby, without going all in, if I was content to call it good and stop this would be a 1k gun, pretty average gun price in my view, less if the tools were sold off.


Dude! Awesome write up. Good move on pinning the grip safety. I am starting to want to build my own now!


I have (or had) a spreadsheet that I used to track all of my purchases for an 80% build. My situation is different than others but the number was sobering. There were a lot of tools that I bought that I ended up not using on this project but used on others. I have a different situation as most of the tools become a business expense as I use them for gun business.

I will see if I can find that spreadsheet. It has all of the part numbers on it of almost everything I purchased. However the prices do reflect my FFL discount to Brownells.


Lets not be depressing anyone :tired_face:


Trust me, I bought WAY too many things that weren’t needed for the project (I feel an article or two brewing on TRB). But I had an excuse and cash burning a hole in my pocket.

Even with the extras that I bought. I never regretted it and learned way more than the total price of the build with the extras. After all, how many people get to build a 1911 in 88 magnum? :rofl:

It took me 5 years to build up the courage to do an 80%. I think I read every article, blog post, forum and watched every YT video out there. From what I have seen on the Full30 Forum, that knowledge is pretty well represented in one place (or two if you include @Mosinvirus videos over at the stream site of Full30) and there are contributors here that are extremely helpful.


It all comes down to what someone already has (tools).

I believe I have seen threads where guys were buying used tools off Ebay, and then selling them after the build. As for parts, they were finding deals at local shows.

And in all seriousness, I am no expert on the subject, but the Kuhnhausen books are extremely useful. I like to have hard copies, but I believe I saw someone uploaded them in PDF.


Alright, it went from above,

to this

To this

And, thinking I like the industrial look,

does anyone know of a finish to keep it from rusting and keep this look?


Nice craftsmanship so far!


It seems people have done it

I’m looking into cold blue as the easiest choice, obviously the prep work will be done :blush:


Anyone here ever used a blembuld.com kit
There not as cheap as the op’s kit but not as exspensive as a stealth arms kit




Probably because the “i” is missing…


Yeah, I really make’s a difference :grin:

but kinda wish I was still left out :astonished:

As my credit cards are already maxed and theres a BIG sale :sleepy::tired_face::sob: