The 1911 handgun has been one of the most popular for over a century, and for good reason. Powerful, easy to grip, and popular as a day-to-day carry option, the many models that have been introduced by various manufacturers make it a perfect choice for any gun enthusiast.
The .380 caliber choices are compact and lightweight for concealed carry options, while larger .45 calibers are more reminiscent of its original design and purpose as a military sidearm. This makes a perfect firearm for upgrades and modifications for a more customized fit and firing feel. Check out our top 1911 upgrade and mod choices to create your perfect handgun for any purpose.
The Popularity of the 1911 Model
Popular for over a century, the 1911 handgun model is powerful, easy to grip, and comfortable to carry. Most gun enthusiasts have one or two in their gun cabinet and have one for self-defense or home protection, as well as use as a competitive shooting pistol. Made by various manufacturers, most accessories and upgrades are easily interchangeable- but always be aware that some brands are proprietary, and you will need to watch for compatibility.
The 1911 pistol is made by a variety of manufacturers, each boasting its own set of size and comfort options. It was originally designed to carry a .45 ACP cartridge and was a standard issue military sidearm from 1911 to 1985. Various changes through the years have resulted in a modern single action, semi-auto, magazine fed and recoil operated pistol that is highly popular for day to day carry situations, both open and concealed. It is available in just about any caliber you desire depending on the make and model, providing options for all carry situations and preferences.
Benefits of Upgrading a 1911
There are a lot of reasons why you might want to upgrade or modify any handgun. Many people think it is only for comfort or ease of carrying situations, but there is so much more to it than that. Effective upgrades can make you a more accurate shooter during competition, or even create a safer shooting experience.
Some upgrades are incredibly easy to install, while others may require a professional. But no matter what you decide upon, it will be worth the effort. Take a look at these popular parts that you may want to customize for your own personal use.
Grips are super easy to swap out and can change the comfort of your gun when shooting, increase accuracy, provide friction, or help fit your hand for a more custom feel. Luckily, there are many aftermarket grips you can pick and choose from for a more customized take.
Guuun 1911 Colored Grips
Made from durable, non-slip G10, the GUUUN 1911 grip offers are pretty incredible in their color and texture variety. The aggressive sunburst texture is created to help you keep a sturdy grip no matter the weather or circumstances, and even works great with gloves. Cut for ambi safeties, they have a beveled bottom as well for precise size control. Be sure to match the grips with the make and model of your weapon to ensure the perfect fit. Full size, slim grips, and compact options exist in just about every color and texture pattern.
Cool Hand 1911 Full Size High Polished Wood Grips
These high polished wood grips come in various color stains to provide you the texture and style you desire. Smooth cut and ambi safety cut, these are the solution to ditching a highly textured grip to provide a smooth, sleek look and feel without sacrificing your hold. Wood warms and wears to your handprint with time as well, creating a more customized feel.
Tek_Tactical 1911 Grips Nickel Plated Grips
Tek_Tactical specializes in custom designed, nickel plated grips. Their stylistic designs reflect military branches, cultural reflections, and modern designs to provide you a wholly unique addition to your firearm. These are exactly what you want when you want to make a statement personal to you.
Magazine Release and Catch Lock
If releasing your magazine is something that takes more than one try, or isn’t as quick as you would like, you can change out the shape and size with ease. This is especially nice for competitive shooting scenarios.
WILSON COMBAT 1911 EXTENDED MAGAZINE RELEASE
You don’t want to fumble your firearm when competing, and a smooth magazine release for a quick reload is an absolute must. This extended magazine release with a fat checkered button makes it easy to find, and smoothly releases for a more accurate time.
WILSON COMBAT 1911 STAINLESS MAGAZINE CATCH LOCK
This is a quality part designed to help you build, or bring a gun back to spec. It is made from stainless steel, it durable and gets the job done without worry of snagging or poor fit.
Although your 1911 may come with iron sights or even fiber optic ones, you want something you are comfortable with and can easily line up. Sights are incredibly easy to swap out as long as you choose options that are compatible. No matter whether you want adjustable iron sights, a dot sight, or a 1911 three-dot sights, you can find aftermarket sights you are sure to love.
TRUGLO TFO SIGHT FOR 1911
When it comes to fiber optic sights that deliver in any type of lighting (or lack of) situation, TRUGLO brand keeps delivering. Available in just about any 1911 make and model you can think of (always cross reference your gun for the perfect fit), these provide a consistently bright, and easy to dial in option for easy target acquisition. Made from a combination of tritium and fiber optics, you can even choose from color combinations for both front and back sights. Mounted in a steel frame, these fit perfectly into your firearm to replace factory iron sights and are sold both separately and as a pair.
CRIMSON TRACE 1911 GOVERNMENT/COMMANDER LASERGRIP
When it comes to laser sights, the Crimson Trace lasergrip cannot be beat. Created to light up with a natural firing grip, it is basically created to work as part of your firearm rather than an addition to your firearm. Available in red and green; both guaranteed to help you with a more accurate shot.
PSA 1911 NOVAK© CUT SIGHT SET
When looking to upgrade your factory iron sights, or replace a fiber optic, consider this quality sight set is drilled specifically for Novack low mount dovetail cuts and dimensions for a more custom fitting look. This makes it easy to swap out and keeps you focused on your target.
Trigger or Trigger Group
The feel of your trigger may not seem like such a big deal, but the length, width, and weight of pull can be a deal breaker for some. Either replace the trigger, or replace the whole group – including trigger springs, sear, and hammer.
WILSON COMBAT – 1911 ULTRALIGHT MATCH TRIGGER
This is the same trigger used in the Manufacturer’s custom 1911 builds, and provides an incredibly lightweight, smooth, and crisp let off that is considered comfortable for any size finger. Perfect for both competition and tactical advantages, it is machined from high grade aluminum alloy and weighs only 0.2 ounces. The skeletonized style helps keep this weight down and provides a curved, long-shoe face for a unique profile. It also is available in a solid design in various lengths and a flat face for preference and feel. Well-defined serrations define the face for finger contact, and the radiused edges are comfortable against your skin.
NIGHTHAWK CUSTOM – 1911 DROP-IN TRIGGER UNIT
When you want to replace the entire trigger unit, this custom quality option is your best option. Complete with a hammer, hammer strut, sear, disconnector, and sear spring, this is an all-in-one drop in option that makes modification a cinch.
GREIDER PRECISION – 1911 V-SERIES MATCH TRIGGER
This is a budget friendly competition-grade trigger option that delivers on quality and dependability. Offered in various lengths and styles, it is designed to help minimize drag and reduce pull weight for a lightning fast return. Go from being an average shooter to a more competitive shooter with this simple, crisp trigger upgrade.
Mainspring Housing and Magwells
Change the look or feel with a housing swap, and tighten up the way your magazine fits with a magwell change. These are minor changes and often are more visual in nature, but hey, it’s your weapon- so why not?
Drop-In One Piece Mainspring and Magwell
Easily expand your mag well opening 100% for easier magazine use and faster mag changes. It also increases the grip length by ¼ inch to give you greater leverage and recoil control.
Guide Rods and Spring Kits
Create a tighter barrel to slide fit with a full-length guide rod. This creates smoother cycling and improves accuracy for many models. Springs are dirt cheap and replacing springs in the trigger group and recoil spring can make a budget pistol fire as well as one out of your price range. This helps the gun cycle better, and is never a bad idea.
WILSON COMBAT FULL-LENGTH GUIDE ROD with Spring
Create smoother cycling and improve accuracy with a Wilson Combat full-length guide rod. 1911 models benefit greatly from anything that replaces springs, and this conversion kit is no exception. Replace the stock plug with reliable reverse plug and single 24# spring for an amazing return. Always be sure to match your guide rod kit with your 1911 make and model as this particular version is designed to fit Colt Officers Model or Para Ordnance P12 with slight modifications.
Wilson Combat Flat Wire Recoil Spring Kit
Included with this full-length guide rod is a chrome silicon flat wire recoil spring. The replacement of both in your model pistol can help improve cycling and overall operation, and allows you to experience smoother cycling, and more enjoyable shooting.
Wilson Combat Full Length Guide Rod and Plug
Replace your 1911 stock and recoil spring guide and pug in a full size bushing barrel with this easy to install, flat wire full-length upgrade. It includes a hole for simple pin-style takedown and can help improve cycling and create a smoothing shooting experience.
This is wholly a matter of opinion, but many people feel that factory magazines are often cheap and, in the worst case, junk. After market options are popular for a smoother feed and larger range of capacity.
Mec-Gar USA Inc 1911 Magazine With Removable Buttplate
Mec-Gar magazines are popular, durable, quality options offered in various finishes to provide you with the extra magazines you want on hand for competition or a long day on the range. Slim, lightweight, and easy to carry concealed, these extra options hold 8 rounds and are made from a corrosion resistant stainless steel.
Springfield Armory Magazine 1911 45AP
Springfield Armory is known for their quality products and these aftermarket magazines are perfect for holding 7 rounds of 45AP and provide the extra you want for easy magazine swaps. The stainless steel design is durable and the rough build will last thousands of rounds.
Lefty with a righty gun? Or like to switch it up? Have an ambidextrous safety installed to make your favorite piece more friendly to your grip.
Ed Brown Products 1911 Machined Ambi Thumb Safety
Working on shooting with both hands, but hate having to be forced to work a safety only from one side? This ambidextrous safety is the perfect option to allow you to switch back and forth and become adapt with both hands. You may want a gunsmith to ensure this is prosperity set if you are not familiar with the removal of your original.
Upgrade your hammer to something a bit more lightweight or even stylish . Practical AND tactical, this is an affordable upgrade but may require some fitting. Have a smooth do it if you aren’t comfortable installing.
DOUG KOENIG SHOOTING SPORTS – 1911 LOW MASS HAMMER
Created with competitive shooting in mind, this is a great option for anyone who enjoys pinking or friendly speed rounds. Lightweight and machine skeletonized from steel without sacrificing durability, this hammer only weights 0.5 ounces and provides a “commander-style” match and standard concealed-carry profile. With narrowed sides for clearance, this is not a hammer you ever have to worry about hanging up. With minimal over-cock, this product helps speed up ignition, is incredibly consistent to use, and the design is made for a quick and fast installation that shouldn’t even require a fitting.
WILSON COMBAT – 1911 ULTRALIGHT HAMMER
Created for an incredibly lightweight feel and faster locktime, the serrated combat style spur provides a dependable thumb grip. Comfortable and pretty cool looking, this is a neat aftermarket hammer spur option that you can count on.
Ejector and Extractors
Get your empties out more quickly and create smoother cycling with a change in your ejector/extractors. You’ll most likely need a gunsmith for this process, but it is well worth the effort.
WILSON COMBAT 70 SERIES/BULLET PROOF .45 ACP EXTRACTOR
Make sure your pistol feeds, extracts, and ejects properly each and every time. Machined from solid stock alloy steel and heat treated, this is one tough piece of metal that will be reliable for thousands of rounds.
ED BROWN EXTENDED EJECTOR – .45ACP
Made from heat treated steel, you can’t go wrong with Ed Brown gun parts. Avoid failed ejections with this extended ejector, perfect for builds, or simple replacement modifications. It may need some minor fitting.
It doesn’t take much to upgrade and mod out your favorite 1911. No matter whether you are looking to enhance accuracy and comfort, or simply want it to look even more awesome than it already does, the options we’ve highlighted above are all worth taking a closer look at.
Be sure to match makes and models to each product for the perfect fit, and follow manufacturers instructions for installing and use to get the most out of each.
Let us know your favorite upgrades below, and, as always, please share.