“Don’t fix what’s not broken,” my father used to say. Well, like many other firearm owners I like to “fiddle” with things a bit. Meaning, just because something isn’t broken doesn’t mean it can’t be improved for an individual’s tastes. Such is the case with my S&W Performance Center 1911.
First off, I don’t pretend to be able to improve on the work of the master gunsmiths at Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center. They produce firearms that rival any in the industry, and their work is generally regarded as top tier. However, I have enough experience with the 1911 platform to know a little about what I prefer. I like short triggers, single sided thumb safeties that snap on and off with a positive “click,” and grips that run on the thinner side with a gradual transition to the frame (but not true “thin” grips that require modified bushings and screws). While the S&W PC1911 I purchased a month ago is a fine gun from the factory, it lacked these features. While it may not sound like much, the original trigger and grips felt bulky and cumbersome in my hands. And, the original safety lacked the positive “click” in movement that I prefer (plus, being an ambi safety, it had a lefty side lever that is unnecessary for my use).
The beauty of the 1911 platform is that a user can generally experiment with new parts and, if they don’t work out to his/her liking, can easily switch back to old parts as if nothing ever changed. So, I ended up getting the following “toys” from Brownells to customize the PC1911:
- Greider short solid grooved aluminum trigger.
- Ed Brown wide extended single side safety.
- Universal Outfitters G10 double diamond grips.
- Ed Brown stainless grip screws.
In a manner of a couple hours, the parts noted above replaced the factory parts. Fitting a 1911 trigger isn’t difficult if one takes time and fits it properly. The safety was my first attempt at fitting one of these to a 1911 and, following the instructions on the package, turned out well (after some filing, fitting, removal, more filing, fitting, removal, etc.). The grips and screws are something that 90% of people could change in their sleep.
The image at the top of this post is what my pistol looks like now; below is an image of what it looked like prior to making any modifications:
I will say that changing the grips and trigger completely changed the feel of the pistol. It went from feeling bulky and cumbersome to feeling sleek and agile. In fact, out of my 15 or so handguns, this is now the BEST feeling pistol in my lineup. I attribute much of this to how the grips transition nicely to the frame and the shortened reach of the Greider trigger. In addition, the safety works extremely well and now provides that satisfying positive “click” without any hangup in mid-motion.
I don’t advise tinkering with parts like this for everyone, and I highly suggest people keep their factory parts “as is” in case a switch back to OEM specifications is required. However, the beauty of the 1911 design is its relative simplicity and the fact that it can be easily customized to each user’s specifications. I can’t wait to get out and see how this “new” 1911 feels in hand with rounds heading down range!