Out of all of the potential practical and cosmetic changes you can make to you 1911 or Government Model, what are you favortes?
I started as a bullseye shooter for which Gold Cups and National Matches are designed for. Over the years Government models have become my working tools of choice. As the my old bullseye herd was ill suited for this use, I've developed a preference for a group of modifications. These are personal and not intended as recommendations or judgements in any way. By making the same modifications to each gun they are pretty much interchangeable tools.
The following (CW from upper left) started their lives as a 1991A1, Series 80 GCT, XSE and an early polished SS Series 80 GCNM.
Here are two closer pictures of the 1991A1 and the XSE better showing the modifications.
Here are closer pictures of the Srs 80 GCNM and the Srs 80 GCT.
The fitting and polishing required for the modifications requires only basic skills, a workable knowledge of the guns functions, patience and time, I helps if you have access to some specialized tools and jigs but it is not crucial.
My favorate modifications are modifications include:
Extended Mag. Release.
Extended Side Release.
Gunsite Low Mount Thumb Safety.
Checkered Fat Main Spring Housing. I like the ones from Wilson and Ed Brown.
Pachmayr Signature grips, trimmed to expose the MSH pin as neccessary.
Sights. With Colt Government and 1911s "drop in" sight replacements are an issue. The factory issued XSE Novak sights are fine. The Bomar sights on the GCT are acceptable. The 1991A sights are not good and the Elliason sight on the GCTM, while having a pretty good sight picture, is a notorious weak link. I left the Novak and Bomar sights alone. I changed out the 1991A1 sight with a 10-8 Performance sight. It is not practical to replace the Elliason sight from a cost standpoint. I've re pined the sight with rod-inserted roll pin. It is holding up so far but I fully expect to have to repin it from time to time.
Light weight Commander Trigger. Except for the GCT on which I found the factory trigger fine.
I don't like recoil spring guides so I changed out the one that came stock in the XSE.
Beavertail safety. A Wilson drop-in except for original colt duck tail as on the XSE and GCT which reguires cutting of the frame to fit. I have not yet done this on the GCT as I;m still deciding whether it is necessary with the lower thumb position afforded by the Gunsite ow mount GS.
Replacement of Fire control system using pre-fitted trigger & sear and matched and springs. I like Nowlin Mfg. A drop-in system saves time but some final fitting and polishing may be required to the the desired pull weight and crispness. In my caae about 3.75 lbs with a slight creep. I personally find no creep unsettling.
In making these modifications I started with the gun I owned, not necessarily the one I would have wanted to. However, each gun already had a good slide to frame fit and barrel lock up. This was crucial to me as I did not want to invest in the slide and barrel fitting tools (and skills) to correct any of these issues.
One change I have not made or deemed necessary is changing the Series 80 firing pin safety. Yes it is a pain in the ass in reassembly and requires extra attention so as not to loose the small parts in disassembly but I have found in experimenting with its absence and its replacement with a frame hole filler, that function is not improved if the original safety parts art properly fit and polished. There is also of course the potential legal liability issues.
The rule I try to follow in making modifications is not to modify the frame. This can't be done if you want to add a beaver tail GS to an XSE or other mode; that comes with a factory Duck Tail GS. I broke my rule with the XSE so evan though I saved all the factory parts, I can never return it to its original configuration.
If I was to get another Gov. Model to modify for working purposes I would stay away from the Gold Cups. They are not well suited to handle a constant heavy loads. I would prefer a 1950s to 1960s vintage Government Model. If I was to go with a new gun, it would be a 1991A1 making sure the frame and barrel fit are good from the factory.