As some of you may know, I can never leave well enough alone. I've had this 1911 for less than two weeks, and haven't even shot it yet, but I felt the need to change a few things.
The first thing that sort of bugged me was the full length guide rod (FLGR). My first 1911, a Remington R1 Enhanced came with a GI or short length guide rod. I'm not going to get into trying to justify one style over another, there are fans of both and the topic has been argued since the beginning of time. Some say that the full length guide rod enhances reliability, supposedly because it addes a little extra weight to the front end which theoretically reduces muzzle flip. Other's say the full length rod will prevent the recoil spring from jamming up. I've also heard someone say it makes it faster to swap out their .45 upper for a .22lr upper.
The advantages I've read about the GI length guide rods is that it's really a lot easier to take down, that you definitely won't need a barrel bushing wrench (well, you don't have to use one with a FLGR set up either, but it certainly makes things easier on your thumb if you do). For the self defense types, you'll see them prefer the GI length because if you get a jam and you only have the use of one hand, you can clear it by pusing the end into the edge of a table to clear it. Then there are the guys who like to customize their spring guide caps.
For me personally, it was really just because my first 1911 came with the GI length rod and it was what I was used to. As for the main spring housing (MSH), again, just personal preference because my first 1911 came with a flat one and I didn't like the feel of the arched one. So I stuck with what I was used to, nothing fancy or custom, and picked up a bunch of Wilson Combat bits and pieces, a Colt MSH (yes, it's plastic, but it was cheap and it does the job just fine), and the final touch was a set of LOK Grips - Spec Ops Custom in brown/black. These are pretty good quality, G10, excellent fit and finish, offering some really good grip for a affordable pricing. I would say they are definitely on par with VZ grips.
I've used the Wilson Combats parts before, in my Norinco 1911, and what I found was they just drop right in, they're not super expensive and they work without any issues.
The GI guide rod and spring cap are pretty straight forward, simply swap the parts when taking down the pistol. The MSH can be a bit of a pain in the dick, but not impossible. First tap out the retaining pin.
I found that it helps to maintain some pressure on the MSH when knocking out a really stubborn pin. With the Para, there was very little resistance. My Norc on the other hand, lol different story.
Next, I tapped out the main spring cap pin. The new colt MSH didn't come with any of the internals, so you will need to swap all the parts over (main spring, main springhousing pin retainer, mainspring cap and main spring cap pin).
It helps to keep pressure down on the main spring cap when tapping out the main spring cap pin so the whole assembly doesn't come flying out.
After it's all apart, drop them into the new MSH and assemble in reverse order of the disassembly, again, applying pressure down on the main spring cap so you can slip the pin back in.
The next thing you have to ensure is the hammer strut slips into the MSH and sits on top of the main spring cap. If you don't line this up properly, you will know soon enough when you try to push the MSH back into position.
Using your thumb to apply pressure to keep the MSH in place, you can tap in your mainspring housing pin.
I bought these grips off Amazon.ca, they are apparently made in the USA out of G10. They have terrific reviews, and they look a lot better in person compared to the photos on Amazon. As mentioned earlier, they are well made, fit perfectly (they did not need any fitting, dremeling or removal of material whatsoever.
LOK Grips Spec Ops Custom in brown/black.
I'l be honest, my selection in style of grip and color was heavily influenced by this pistol:
My Para didn't come with the original Para grips. If it did, I would probably still swap them out. Mine came with those rubbery Pearce grips, but they looked a bit worn and felt like they belonged to someone else, so off they came. I had an extra set of Magpul grips, which were fine, but these LOK units just add so much more gripping power.
Now I just have to shoot it, lol!
A good reference for the names of all the 1911s parts: