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Thread: Spend a week in College and Build your own custom 1911 pistol-no experience required

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    28th April 2019
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    Spend a week in College and Build your own custom 1911 pistol-no experience required

    The NEW 1911 build course at Deep River Customs (formerly taught by Bob Marvel) is a golden opportunity for 1911 enthusiasts. The NEW build class has 5 expert instructors working together with 8 students over 7 days to build 1 incredible 1911 each. The defending, 2-time World Champion Bullseye Shooter Jon Shue offers his pistol building insights as well as his expertise in shooting. The other instructors range from full-time gunsmiths to a director of a gunsmithing program and an engineering professor. I was in the first class in May of 2018 and saw multiple pistols built that shot under 2" groups from 50 yards. One test group was under .88" at 50 yards with a .45. Each step of the build process was preceded by in-depth explanations of how the 1911 works and what is important when building one. I wrote a detailed review with pictures for those interested (below).

    In a nutshell, it costs $3,995 to build your own 1911 (Slide/Frame and most parts from Nighthawk Custom) over 7 days (Sun. to Sat.). You get a full-color notebook, tools are provided, fully equipped college classroom, machine shop available, and firing range onsite. You will learn how a 1911 is supposed to function and how to build one for accuracy. Plus you get a brand new custom 1911 built by your own two hands to take home with you. There are only 2 classes scheduled this year May 12th and July 28th. The May class is probably already full, and the July class will fill up soon (only 8 spots). The class is held on a college campus in Troy, NC, but most folks stay in nearby Asheboro, NC. No prior knowledge or experience required. You can e-mail Hugh "info@deeprivercustoms.com" to reserve your spot. If you like the 1911, then you’ll love this course.

    I can't recommend it enough! I just wish I had done it sooner.



    Detailed Review of The NEW Deep River Customs 1911 Build Course

    I had the distinct pleasure of being in the first Deep River Customs 1911 Build Class without Bob Marvel, and it was truly incredible. There were eight students in the class and as many as five instructors at times (depending on the level of difficulty and degree of precision required). I am currently writing a gunsmithing book and was invited to come observe the class to collect information for my book. They did not pay me to write this review. I just wanted to share my experience. Along with top-notch classroom presentations on the mechanics of 1911 fitting AND functioning, there were hands-on demonstrations of proper fitting techniques followed by individual guidance as parts were being fit. In addition to the notes taken during class, there were full-color handouts detailing the fitting procedures and custom worksheets to simplify and organize the measurement data to take home for future reference.

    Knowing how to fit 1911 parts is valuable, but understanding why they need to be fit that way is priceless. At the start of the class, everybody wanted to build an extremely accurate and reliable 1911. At the end of the class, we went down to the firing range and tested each pistol for reliability and accuracy. That’s when everything got real!

    I know multiple people (in addition to myself) that have taken a build course with Bob Marvel that said he claimed the pistols would shoot groups smaller than some number (like 2-inches) at 50 yards, but that the class was running behind at the end and never actually tested any of the pistols for accuracy. I have also heard that some 1911 companies might not be shooting their 50-yard test targets at 50 yards. This is all just hearsay, but I was pretty skeptical about accuracy claims coming into this course.

    All of that aside, I was also pretty nervous that this class might not produce pistols that would shoot under 2-inches at 50 yards (or that we would run out of time before testing and I would never know for sure). We spent most of the last day testing for reliability and accuracy. Since everybody built their own pistols to differing degrees of precision and attention to detail -despite receiving the same instruction, I began to worry that only one pistol would shoot under 2-inch groups while the others did not. When Mark Dye started clamping pistols in the Ransom Rest, 50 yards was looking like a long, long way for those bullets to fly straight. The first group shot was definitely under 2 inches at 50 yards and measured in at 1.65” center-to-center (5-shots).

    The first group shot was impressive, under 2” at 50 yards, and the best I’d ever seen in person. However, I was willing to award the gold medal for anything under 1.5” (since that was the best I had ever heard of before this class). Well, the second pistol shot a 1.26” group as shown in the photo below, which is definitely under 1.5”. I just couldn’t believe it. It was like seeing “Big Foot” with your own eyes. You hear the stories, but you never really believe them or think you will ever see anything like it. While I was ready to hand out the gold medal at this point, there were still six more pistols to shoot.




    Just when I was about to phone up the Guinness Book of World Records to see if a .45 had ever shot a tighter 50-yard group than 1.26”, the next group came up from the firing range and made everybody’s eyes go wide and jaws go slack. Under 1”? Yes! Actually, it was under .88”. Randy was a bit of a perfectionist, but I thought he was a very likeable guy (at least until I saw the group his pistol shot). I stopped taking photos and notes at this point because I had to start packing up for the trip home, but I am pretty certain Randy had the tightest group in the class. Don’t get me wrong, there were some larger groups shot too. I don’t have the photos and didn’t write anything else down, but I think there was one group around 2.6” to 2.7”. In my opinion, anything under 3” at 50-yards is still a very accurate custom 1911, but everyone built their own pistols with their own hands, errors were made, and some shot better than others.




    The instructors:
    Mark Dye (the full-time director of the gunsmithing program at MCC) has been building custom 1911’s for decades having started his career working with Jim Clark Sr. at Clark Custom Guns. James Amburgey is an Engineering Professor from UNC Charlotte. Jon Shue is the two-time and defending world-champion Bullseye Shooter (formerly on the Marine Corp Pistol Team) who currently builds and upgrades custom 1911’s when he isn’t competing or teaching shooting workshops. He was free with his pistol building advice (particularly interesting info about trigger adjustment for precision shooters), and he brought in his $10,000+ custom 1911 that he competes with and passed it around for everyone to check out. Ronnie and Hugh are the full-time gunsmiths at Deep River Customs. They are both excellent gunsmiths (having trained with Bob Marvel, Fred Kart, and multiple others) and were very helpful in class, but they preferred to answer questions and help folks one-on-one instead of lecturing to the entire class. Having five instructors allowed each one to teach and help students in the areas where they are the very best. Maybe it takes 5 gunsmiths to get students to build 1911’s that shoot under 1.5” (or even under 1”) at 50 yards.

    The facilities: The classroom was well-equipped with a chalk board, overhead projector, high-resolution video projection camera for demos, reasonably comfy chairs, and a wide selection of individual tools and equipment. Everybody had their own workstation with a vise, Foredom tool, a selection of files, wheels, stones, and custom 1911 tools.




    Just outside the classroom was a full machine shop with dozens of mills and lathes ready to use. Right across the parking lot was a 100-yard firing range with a bunch of individual lanes and a Ransom Rest.




    The tools & techniques: The techniques were designed to be able to take them home and re-apply them to a new build with a minimum of tooling and setup. Multiple custom tools made by Deep River Customs to save time and do a better job were made available for use in the class. There was no push for students to buy these tools, but a few of us did ask and were able to buy some tools at very reasonable prices to take home and continue our gunsmithing. Just about everything required to build each 1911 was provided. Everybody was not required to buy three specific $50 files from three vendors that were only used once if there were needed at all, which was refreshing having been to courses where this type of thing did happen.

    The parts: All parts were premium quality. Most of the 1911 parts were from Nighthawk Custom (like the slide and frame) or Deep River Customs whose parts are machined to their specifications from barstock. This class was definitely not rebuilding Springfields or using cheap MIM parts.




    My (hidden) agenda: I’d really like to get the folks at Deep River Customs to offer a 2011 build class or an “Advanced” 1911 course for folks that have already built a few 1911’s, but they did not seem to think that enough folks would be interested to fill a class up. They only have 8 spots in each class, and I just cannot imagine there are not enough interested folks on this forum to fill up multiple classes of each variety. If you are interested in attending one of the new courses with me (or the excellent existing 1911 course that I just wrote about), then please e-mail Hugh at “info at deeprivercustoms dot com” to put your name on the interested list(s). You just won’t find a better class, better facilities, or better guys to teach you custom 1911 pistolsmithing.

    COST: How much does it cost for a complete course (and course notebook) on how to build an accurate 1911 with 5 expert instructors, with tools provided onsite, with great facilities (classroom, machine shop, and firing range), AND a premium quality 1911 built with your own hands that comes with a test target that you know is accurate? About the same amount most competitive shooters will pay for a custom 1911 without the education on how to build a 1911, the experience of building your own pistol, or the test target verifying the actual performance of your handgun. It only costs $3,995. So, stop shopping for a better 1911 and just sign up to go and build one. You still have time to enroll, you can find more information of the July 2019 Deep River 1911 Build Class here. Only 8 spots in this course, so don’t wait and miss out. E-mail Hugh to get your name on the list.

    They need a course motto like “Great Guys, Great Fun, and Great Guns!”
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    Likes (2) :
    Mark75H (30th April 2019), Shives (1st January 2020)


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