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A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding 1911 Frames

You thought the 1911 was just one gun, right? Wrong! Worry not – today we’re taking a look at all the different 1911 configurations and frames you might have seen on the market (and some you’ve never heard of). Let’s dig in with a beginner’s guide to understanding 1911 frames!


1911 Frame Materials

  •         Aluminum Frames: First, the big news: 1911s are no longer big, heavy, bulky guns. Our new 80% 1911 frames are proudly manufactured in the U.S. of A. from mil-spec, forged 7075 T6 aluminum. This reduces overall weight by 60%!
  •         Metal Frames: The 1911 was originally developed to be a dump truck that fired big .45 rounds. As such, the O.G. 1911 was built from heavy-duty, forged 4140 steel. Today, many 1911s are available in stainless steel.
  •         Polymer Frames: Thought not wide available on the market, some 1911s are available with polymer frames.


1911 Frame Types

  •         Government Frame: The original configuration of the 1911 frame, the Government profile 1911 frame weights approximately 2.4 pounds and accommodates a 5” barrel. The total length of a Government 1911 is 8.25”.
  •         Commander Frame: This shorter 1911 frame was introduced in 1950 and weighs approximately 2.25 pounds, though a Lightweight Commander variant, made available after 1970, weighs just 1.68 pounds. The Commander allows for a 4.25” barrel with a total length of 7.75”.
  •         Officer Frame. The shortest 1911 frame available, the Officer frame is based on the US Military’s 1975 Concealed Carry Officer’s Pistol. The Officer frame weighs just 2.1 pounds with lightweight versions weighing just 1.5 pounds. The Officer frame accommodates a 3.5” barrel and is a popular choice among concealed carriers.

1911 Frame Finishes

  •         Bluing: The original M1911 featured a blued finish with a deep, glossy, blue-black hue. After wartime production, Cold switched a gas oven bluing process that resulted in a satin finish.
  •         Parkerizing: Perhaps the most recognizable finish, the 1911’s parkerized option most closely resembles the matte black anodizing found on today’s service rifles.
  •         Anodizing: With the introduction of aluminum frames, the 1911 can now be finished in the same bombproof Hardcoat anodizing as most mil-spec weapons. Combined with a melonite-coated slide, an aluminum 1911 frame reportedly boasts the greatest wear tolerances of any 1911, ever.

1911 Frames and Calibers

There are so many conversion kits available on the market, it can get confusing what, exactly, your 1911 could be chambered in. We’ll make it simple: You can go smaller, you can’t go bigger. Most .45 ACP-chambered 1911s can be converted to a plethora of other rounds, including 9mm, .22 LR, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, and even 460 Rowland (basically it’s a magnum .45 ACP).


Some high-end niche makers have even developed a 6-caliber 1911, capable of hosting most of the mentioned rounds – but it’ll set you back a cool $4,999 plus $500 for every extra caliber.


Pick Your 80% 1911 Frame

We hope this brief summary will help to guide you to your chosen 1911 build! Whatever your application (concealment, speed-shooting, simple enjoyment), we have the 80% Frame and Jig Kits you need to build your 1911.


DISCLAIMER: If you are new to the world of DIY gun building, you likely have a lot of questions and rightfully so. It’s an area that has a lot of questions that, without the correct answers, could have some serious implications. At 80Lower Jigs, we are by no means providing this content on our website to serve as legal advice or legal counsel. We encourage each and every builder to perform their own research around their respective State laws as well as educating themselves on the Federal laws. When performing your own research, please be sure that you are getting your information from a reliable source.


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