I wanted to get a 1911-style .45 and I ran across the Rock Island Armory brand. They are made in the Philippines by Armscor and only run about $300. Despite what some of the 1911 "snobs" think, they have a pretty solid reputation as a good shooter and a reliable firearm. It's a good starter for trying my hand at a little gunsmithing...better than messing around with a $1000 Kimber!
As promised, I couldn't leave well enough alone! After the first 100 rounds with the RIA, it underwent a few modifications. I replaced the trigger and hammer, added a new beavertail safety (had to get rid of the hammer bite!) and Pachmayr wrap-around grips. Next will be some new three-dot sights. I also have my eye on some nice grips that will really "dress it up"....
Below are some closeups of the beavertail safety. It was a Wilson Combat drop-in and I was pretty happy with the fit "as is".
I installed the King 3-dot sights. The rear sight dovetail was a little too big for the slide, so I had to file it a bit. I did manage to scratch the slide and the sight a little (on the right side, so you can't see it in the picture!), but it wasn't too bad. The original front sight didn't want to come out, but after a little work I finally got it free. Installation of the new front sight was pretty easy with the staking tool.
The sight picture is MUCH better than it was with the factory sights. Now I just need more practice!
I liked the look of the Desert Blonde Micarta grips from VZ grips, and they finally came out with them in the 320 style. So I ordered a set and installed them. They feel good and I like the contrast of the light grips against the blued RIA. It's a pretty inexpensive way to completely change the look and feel of the gun!
Here's the RIA sporting some custom grips from GunGrips.net. These are Alumagrips with my ship's crest - a great memento from my time in command.