9mm 1911 Project Gun


I had always wanted a full size 9mm 1911 but for some reason I never bought one. Recently I came across a Kimber Stainless Target II 9mm 1911 parts kit and took this as a sign that it was time to add one to my collection.  Since the kit had just about everything except a frame, I went to see my friends Stan and Darin at North County Firearms to see what they recommended for my project gun.  The Kimber 9mm has a ramped barrel, so a standard 1911 frame won’t work.  Darin recommended a Caspian frame and we were off and running.

The 1911 is one of the oldest and still greatest handgun designs ever. It can be accessorized to no end and you can literally build a gun from a box of parts.  The majority of my parts were from the same Kimber 1911 but that didn’t mean they would simply drop in to the new frame.  This is where a qualified gunsmith comes in.  Thankfully Stan and Darin have one in Ben Holm.  Ben is a professionally trained gunsmith and has been building and repairing guns for many years.  He trained at the NRA Gunsmithing School at Lassen under the expert tutelage of renowned instructor Robert Chavez.  Ben took his training a step further and studied CAD/CAM design and manufacturing so he could build his own creations.

Since the Kimber slide is stainless steel we opted to go with a bead blasted finish on the slide and other stainless parts which included the trigger, grip safety, slide stop, safety, hammer and magazine release. The next question was what finish and color to go with on the frame?  I am a big fan of Cerakote.  If you aren’t familiar with this excellent product, it is a composite of ceramic and polymer that is sprayed on and then baked to cure it.  It gives the part a very hard and durable finish that is extremely resistant to solvents, wear and corrosion.  It can also be had in just about any color you can dream of.  I chose to go with black cobalt.  At this point my work was done and Ben’s had just begun.

Every gunsmith has their own way of doing things but some things are universal. Ben started the project by inspecting each part to determine where fitting was required and to what degree.  The Caspian frames are great for project guns as the come with a little too much material in the critical areas.  This allows for precision fitting.  Some of the custom work Ben had to do included the following:  Fitted and lapped the slide to the frame; filed and polished the inside of the magazine well to allow magazines to drop freely; filed, stoned and lapped the trigger raceway; radius the rear of the frame to fit the beavertail; measured and fitted the proper link for the barrel; fitted the sights; staked the grip bushings and beveled the frame.  The gun was then assembled and test fired and stripped and prepped for Cerakoting.  It was then reassembled and a ready for grips.


There is no shortage of 1911 grips to choose from. For this gun I wanted something with a unique look but also something giving the shooter a firm grip on the pistol as I intend to give this gun plenty of trigger time.  While at the SHOT Show this year I met Brenda Vesligaj of Phoenix Technology.  They are the makers of the very good Kick Lite gun stocks.  Turns out they are now making 1911 grips.  What is unique about theirs is it is actually a two-piece system.  The base lays down first and the main grip then sits on top.  This allows you to mix and match designs and colors.  The grips have a rubberized feel to them and come in different designs, colors and textures.  I chose the “We the People” model which looks like a portion of the Declaration of Independence.  These grips look great, shoot well and are very affordable.

The grips by Phoenix Technologies provide the shooter with a tactile feel while giving the gun a unique look.

Range Time

I obtained some Wilson and Meg-Gar magazines and headed to the range. In addition to its beautiful looks, the gun shot very well.  I ran numerous brand of 9mm ammo through it including several loads from Black Hills and Hornady in both FMJ and hollow point.  The 1911 ate it all and asked for more (ok, maybe I just wanted to feed it more).  The guys at North County Firearms did a great job on my long awaited project gun.

Gun on Case right

Gun on Case left
The Mec-Gar mags ran flawlessly as usual, however, the Caspian magwell needed to be fitted to get any magazines to drop freely.

I have shot many 9mm 1911s so I was not surprised at how enjoyable this combination is to shoot. I really like handing it to shooters who haven’t had this pleasure before and watching their eyes light up.  If you haven’t tried one, add it to your bucket list but be forewarned:  You better plan to be ready to purchase one once you shoot it!



North County Firearms – www.northcountyfirearms.com

Caspian – www.caspianarms.com

Phoenix Technology – www.kicklitestocks.com

Cerakote – www.cerakoteguncoatings.com

Black Hills Ammunition – www.black-hills.com

Hornady – www.hornady.com

Mec-Gar – www.shop.mec-gar.com

Previous articleStreamlight Does it Again
Next articleRam Project Truck – Part 2
John Russo is a life-long hunter, shooter and outdoorsman. He is a retired Police Sergeant from Southern California with over 29 years of service. He has been a SWAT Sniper, Child Abuse Detective and Homicide Unit Supervisor. As the leader of the Police Department's Firearms Training Unit, he has been teaching firearms for over 26 years to law enforcement, military and civilians. His credentials include a laundry list of certifications as an instructor and armorer on all types of weapon systems. John has been writing for various gun magazines for many years and has been published over 100 times on topics ranging from hunting, shooting, guns, training and law enforcement.